Douglas Harding: On Guilt And Forgiveness

By January 24, 2011Articles, Gnosis, Psychology

douglashardinga5Here is the Place where Bare Consciousness, losing its innocence, shoots up like a great multi-coloured firework, sinister as well as glorious, from the dark depths of Unconsciousness. As the one I LOOK LIKE – as the man you see, as the right-way-up second or third person who’s pictured in my passport, head and all, all of me well above that Bottom Line – I’m held responsible only for what I get up to and not what you get up to. In law and in common sense it must be so. Society would be impossible any other way. But as the one I AM, as the decapitated and nameless and upside-down one I SEE, my Bottom Line cancels the head which isn’t only my identity card but also my certificate of no-blame. Here I let poor old Douglas Harding off. Here I take responsibility for him, as for all others above the Line. Here I am responsible for all I give rise to. Right here and right now I have to face the awesome fact that as First Person Singular I am guilty of this world and all the deeds done and the pains endured in it. To ignore that fact is as unwise as it’s stress-building.

This isn’t merely how it looks but how it feels. When I really attend, when I’m honest with myself, I find it impossible to wash my hands of the wickedest or stupidest or most contemptible or saddest creature in the world. It is not a case of ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I’ but of ‘There go I – into the prison cell, into the psychiatric ward, on to the scaffold, no less than happier places’ – for the simple but truly devastating reason that Who I really, really am is what you and all others really, really are. We don’t sport a Bottom Line apiece. There’s only one World’s Beginning and World’s End and Ground of Being, and the sooner I firmly take my stand on it the sooner is my guilt assuaged. Only when I see that I am totally to blame am I totally forgiven, and the stress of guilt goes the way of all toxic and superfluous stress. It is up-ended and tipped over the Edge into the Dump of Nowhere and Nowhen. Here, the guilty One and the forgiving One and the forgiven One are One and the same. The One who is to blame for the world is its Saviour. Don’t our hearts, undaunted by the mystery and paradox and terror of it all, tell us that this is the only way, that this is the truth, that this is wisdom, and that ultimately all is well?

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