Book Reviews - Neti neti (not this, not this)
by Suma Varughese
Doing Nothing; Author: Steven Harrison;Published by: Wisdom Tree; Pages:132; Rs.: 195
There comes a time when all seekers discover that there is nothing to seek and nowhere to go. Or that there really is no one there so the question of being enlightened does not arise.
Most are then prompted to broadcast this revolutionary truth, but one wonders how useful is this wisdom in hindsight for those trudging on the path burdened with a destination, a goal and a ‘self’.
Steven Harrison spent 25 years seeking answers to life’s questions which brought him predictably enough, to India and the Himalayas. In the course of this long and winding journey, he arrived at the realisation that ‘he’ does not exist.
This book, then, is a radical negation of all the processes a seeker undergoes – therapy, going to a guru, meditation, religion and so on.
None of these work, says the author, because they all operate on the premise that there is a self. But in fact, there is no self.
He says, “Quantum physicists describe a world of possibility waves with no inherent objectivity or measureability. There is no-thingness in this quantum physical world until consciousness enters and creates reality by its observation or contact.
“This emptiness does not negate the reality of thought and the cognition of thought. The world does not disappear in this emptiness, it occurs in this emptiness, and it is transformed by the recognition of this emptiness.”
The clarity of the thinking is so stripped to its bare bones that it is almost startling. “We will spend a great deal of time looking for enlightenment. But, looking is useless because it is not there… It is not here. It is not anywhere. Enlightenment is a concept, an idea, a belief.”
One wonders if Harris would have arrived at these conclusions had he not searched for 25 years. Surely it is only the journey that brings you back to the starting point and makes you see right?
Nevertheless, if you are looking and don’t know what you are looking for, this book’s strong and uncompromising lucidity might help shed some light on your questions.