I will never forget the golden late summer afternoon that I sat outside and read 'On Having No Head' in one sitting. Nor the days since, when it's been so easily possible to feel that unwitnessed wholeness familiar from childhood, and to access an inner sense of true peace and silence of such depth and wonder. It feels like coming home. It is coming home. M.
I feel like I've moved from a seeker to a finder. What I've found isn't an ending, but rather a key that can open many doors worth exploring. S.J. USA
I first read On Having No Head about 20 years ago, while a member of a group which was a rather eclectic combination of Gurdjieffism, Sufism, Freudianism and the cult of the leader's personality, I would say. In any case, I was much too complicated and looking for "big" things to really SEE what Douglas meant. This past year, after working intensively with some books (one especially helpful example is Thomas Cleary's translation of The Golden Flower, which is all about "turning the light around"), I began having occasional flashes of headlessness, which called to mind Douglas' book, but only in a very general way. I worked in whatever ways I could figure out to encourage the experience, and finally one day came across a copy of On Having No Head in a bookshop here.
This time, when I read it, I SAW just what was meant, and was able to answer for the first time, a nagging koan-like question that had been chasing me ever since the time (again, about 20 years ago) it descended on me: I was driving a taxi at the time, and had fallen asleep at a cabstand. I suddenly awoke, aware of nothing but snowflakes against a black sky and the question of why there was Anything instead of Nothing. On the heels of this came a worse question: If there were just Nothing at all, where would(n't) it be? Well, upon this recent rereading of Douglas's book, I realized that the Where in question is of course Right Here, where I am. I thereupon had that happy experience I suspect is familiar to all of you, i.e., racing back through passages of favourite books and teachings, seeing them in a "new light" and mostly laughing at the simple obviousness of it all.
So I wrote to A.S, whose address was in the book, and wrote to Douglas and ordered his videotape, and ordered some material from Richard, all to help keep on this path. I just received the current issue of Share It the other day, and couldn't put it down. It is very helpful to read other people's views and suggestions, and if any of the contributors are online here, thanks.
In closing, I will offer two little exercises of my own: The second exercise would only be useful to anyone who might share my hobby/vice of long-distance bicycle riding. I've noticed that when I become tired, it's mostly a psychological manifestation that springs from using mental energy to "project" myself forward through space, from one village to another, etc., as if my mind believes it is accomplishing the work. As an antidote, I simply look down for a moment, instead of "ahead," and what do I see? A stationary bicycle, with some legs going round in a circle, and pavement speeding by underneath, but I'M not going anywhere, of course, and there's nothing to be tired about.
I also tried this walking down the street, when I realized that even in walking, I was projecting myself mentally from one point to some destination, whereas it's perfectly possible and infinitely richer and more enjoyable, to walk along with a perception of one's stationary essence and let the world go by, as it were. T.P. Denmark.
I happened to come across "On Having No Head" in the library, and it looked interesting, so I checked it out. I thought it was the clearest, most practical, concise, articulate answer to THE question I've ever read. My "spiritual path" has taken a long and circuitous route, beginning with the book Be Here Now, by Ram Dass, over 30 years ago. Shortly after reading it, I had my first enlightenment experience, if you will, soon followed by a second, and to this point, last one. To make a long story short, having for the last several years found a home in the practice of various styles of Buddhist meditation, reading Mr. Harding's book seems to have brought me full circle. While I haven't, as yet, had that "dropping off of body and mind" again, the book has given me a fresh glimpse of it, and has elevated my practice to a new level. Or you could say it has shown me more how to settle into my practice right where it is. Either way, it's a case of a much appreciated teacher having found me, as they say. Steve
In the early eighties I did a workshop with Douglas Harding in Belfast,
N.I. He chose me to look into the tube with him. I remember feeling
somewhat embarrassed and didn't quite "get it". Now, aged 72 with many
years of Yoga and Zen under my belt, at last I am now walking the
Headless Way! Better late than never! Jennifer.
I have been exploring with the headless exercises for sometime now and find them very simple and effective. The pointing to no-face has somehow incorporated into my daily life. I find the headless exercises to be very useful and a shortcut in seeing that there is no holder of a story as a separate entity called me. The exercises miraculously shift perception. Mabel.
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