On the Value of Headlessness
Recently, a friend asked my opinion on the value of Douglas Harding‘s work. Specifically, how could a method relying on perception be an “experience” of the Absolute? In other words, what is the ultimate validity of an experience that occurs through the body? Is such an experience an artifact of the body, and therefore destined to vanish with the death of the body?
This is a valid question and one I asked when first exposed to a Harding workshop. If it takes my eyes to see I have no head (that I am the space in which all occurs), then what will I be when I have no eyes? How will I know of my spaciousness? Of course, Harding has developed experiments for the blind, but still the experiments rely on the senses.
This line of thought leads to the question, “What technique does not utilize the body?” Everything we do is accomplished through the medium of the body. Every experience requires a body, a mind, an “I” in order to be known.
Therefore, I do not equate the experience of Harding’s Seeing of Headlessness with the Absolute/Final Realization/God/Truth. However, the Seeing is a doorway to an experience that is not an experience. All doors are formed of the body and mind. All doors are of the human dimension. Yet where does a door lead? A door leads to another place; in this case, a place that is not a place at all. A door leads out, away, and beyond. The body may recognize that which is beyond itself. The body may stand at the edge of the void, and come to accept that it is not the All, that the body is but a tiny thing and that home is through the door.
For some, the body may not accept so easily. Harding’s experiments may instill the Great Doubt that haunts the body. With the Great Doubt comes the great search and with great honesty may come the undeniable presence of truth. The body is carried kicking and screaming, by the mechanism of one’s lifestyle and an uncontrived acceptance, into Headlessness.
I now recognize that I have no head and that where I had a head is now infinite depth — a depth that leads to utter silence and dark waters upon which no thing moves. Painted upon this is the world of experience and of all things — which are but a part of me. Do not take my word. As Harding says, “Look for yourself.”
For more on my experiences with Douglas Harding, read my book Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment.