Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Space Between Finger & Thumb

Hold out your hand and press your forefinger against your thumb as hard as you can…Notice where the stress is, on present evidence – namely, in those things. And notice where the absence of stress is – namely, in yourself as the no-thing that is taking in those things, along with their shape and colour and opacity. Notice how you are no more stressed by the stress in that hand than you are shaped by the shape of that hand, or clouded by that hand’s opacity.
(Douglas Harding, ‘Head Off Stress’, pp.9/10)

If we take the time to analyze, as Douglas Harding points out above, where the sensation of touch is arising on present evidence, what do we find? In other words, what exactly is it that is aware of your forefinger pressing against your thumb? Closing one’s eyes to focus on the sensation, turn attention around to attend to that that knows all of this. Who is that? What are you, at center – a stressed body that’s pressing finger against thumb, or a spacious knowing that is awareness itself? Please leave a comment and let me know…

‘Head Off Stress’ by D.E. Harding is available from the following website:

The Headless Way


puthujjana said...

Hi Gary,

I find it relatively easy to come up with the “right” answer when conducting these experiments at a time and place of my choosing.

Yesterday afternoon I was hanging bird feeders over the deck. I stood on a chair and reached for the hook. The chair broke. It was very much ME – head or no head – that slammed on to the deck, flat on my back, in pain and wondering where it was coming from. LOL! It seems it is these unexpected field tests that point to the need for further exploration.


Barry said...

Black type against white screen. Sound of fingers on keys.

G said...

Barry: Very haiku-esque - and very true.

Kris - Good approach to it; investigate, investigate, until when the fall comes it's just a fall with no one falling!

Be well in the Dharma,

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

I am just a beginner, and it seems like "my" mind sensing the pressure between "my" fingers and thumbs! Too bad? And when I closed my eyes to concentrate on this I saw faint dark stripes which I think were some sort of after image of the right side of your blog. But I don't think this led to my enlightenment. I'll keep on gently trying.

G said...

Hi Kristi.

Being a beginner is the best approach to seeing our innate Buddha Nature. Too many ideas of what 'it' is and we're lost. So, stay a beginner!

Yes, it is 'your' mind that's sensing the stress between finger & thumb, but then what is this sensing-mind in? Where do your thoughts occur when you turn attention to their origin? What does this 'mind' actually look like? All these questions are, ultimately, one question which prompts us to become aware of what it is that is aware in this present moment, Kristi. Keep at it!


steve_loir said...

Another experiment. You need a friend for this.

You and friend put palms together, left hand to right, just the one hand for each. So thumbs and fingers are against each other. Then with the other hand, gently stroke finger and thumb up and down a pair of fingers, that is the back of your finger and the back of your friend's finger. Most people find this rather disturbing. I think it is because your body/mind is expecting to feel something and it doesn't. We are very used to certain sensations from out bodies and it is good to be surprised into noticing that we are not our bodies. Or we are our bodies in the same way we are everything!


G said...

Interesting experiment, Steve.

Nothing/Everything; Nirvana/Samsara...

Be well,

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