Douglas Harding - on having no head

Tommy K, modified 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 12:00 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 12:00 AM

Douglas Harding - on having no head

Posts: 5 Join Date: 11/7/14 Recent Posts
I was watching the recent Sam Harris/Dan Harris video interview about Sam's "Waking Up" book, and during it Sam gave a version of Douglas Harding's "no head" instructions. I'd already read the instructions in Sam's book, but for some reason watching and listening to him made the instructions easier to follow. And, amazingly, they appeared to work. Or at least, they may have; I'd be interested in opinions.

All I did was as Sam suggested: I attempted to observe myself observing the scene around me.  And just for a flash their was something like the winking out of my sense of "I". It was very subtle but pronounced, and then faded as soon as I tried to latch onto it. But then I tried it again, a few times, and each time there was the same effect. I simply can't describe what it felt like other than acknowledging, yes there was something "headless" about it. 

Of course, it may all just be wishful thinking on my part. Maybe I felt what I hoped I'd feel, based on Sam's description. But I can't be sure of that either. I'm open to the possibility that I was indeed stumbling onto the phenomenon originally described by Harding.

Anyone else done this?
What did you do to develop the experience further?
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 4:30 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 12:19 AM

RE: Douglas Harding - on having no head

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Tommy K:
I was watching the recent [url=]Sam Harris/Dan Harris video interview about Sam's "Waking Up" book, and during it Sam gave a version of Douglas Harding's "no head" instructions. I'd already read the instructions in Sam's book, but for some reason watching and listening to him made the instructions easier to follow. And, amazingly, they appeared to work. Or at least, they may have; I'd be interested in opinions.

All I did was as Sam suggested: I attempted to observe myself observing the scene around me.  And just for a flash their was something like the winking out of my sense of "I". It was very subtle but pronounced, and then faded as soon as I tried to latch onto it. But then I tried it again, a few times, and each time there was the same effect. I simply can't describe what it felt like other than acknowledging, yes there was something "headless" about it. 

Of course, it may all just be wishful thinking on my part. Maybe I felt what I hoped I'd feel, based on Sam's description. But I can't be sure of that either. I'm open to the possibility that I was indeed stumbling onto the phenomenon originally described by Harding.

Anyone else done this?
What did you do to develop the experience further?

Yep. Would have dismissed it as trivial a few years back, but recently rediscovered it as a simple, direct and fun way of restoring the innocence of first person perspective, the one that predominated before we learned to play the "face game". What you actually experience where your head ought to be is an open aware space encompassing a world. It's the literal truth of our immediate experience, but so easily overlooked and/or dismissed as trivial.

To develop it further: get further sensitised to the difference between being "at large", being a "built open" space of awareness in which things happen, versus imagining oneself as an object-unto-others peering out from inside a 'meatball'. As well as restoring perceptual innocence and immediacy, it's a really simple, literal and direct way of loosening the grip of the "face game".
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 3:23 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 3:23 AM

RE: Douglas Harding - on having no head

Posts: 1448 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Tommy K:
But I can't be sure of that either. I'm open to the possibility that I was indeed stumbling onto the phenomenon originally described by Harding.

Anyone else done this?
What did you do to develop the experience further?

Try his website - http://www.headless.org/experiments/pointing.htm He has exercises. See what you think.
~D
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 4:44 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 4:15 AM

RE: Douglas Harding - on having no head

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:

Try his website - http://www.headless.org/experiments/pointing.htm He has exercises. See what you think.
~D

And to read Harding in his own words: http://www.headless.org/harding-essays.htm
Tommy K, modified 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 12:14 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 12:14 PM

RE: Douglas Harding - on having no head

Posts: 5 Join Date: 11/7/14 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
...What you actually experience where your head ought to be is an open aware space encompassing a world. It's the literal truth of our immediate experience, but so easily overlooked and/or dismissed as trivial.

Any idea how the experience correlates with any of the dharma maps -- Therevadan Vipassana, or such like?
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 4:57 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/8/14 3:52 PM

RE: Douglas Harding - on having no head

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Tommy K:
John Wilde:
...What you actually experience where your head ought to be is an open aware space encompassing a world. It's the literal truth of our immediate experience, but so easily overlooked and/or dismissed as trivial.

Any idea how the experience correlates with any of the dharma maps -- Therevadan Vipassana, or such like?

When you say "the experience", you mean what Harding is pointing to, right? Well, it's not a special experience or state to be attained; he's just trying to get people to notice that this is their actual experience right now. You don't need a path to this... it's there all along, and what we make of it is up to us.

Edit: For Harding's own thoughts on experience and meaning:
http://www.headless.org/articles/experience-and-meaning.htm

For me personally, as I said, it's more about restoring perceptual innocence and immediacy, and loosening the grip of the "face game". I don't invest any more or less significance in it than that.
Andreas, modified 7 Years ago at 11/9/14 6:36 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/9/14 6:36 AM

RE: Douglas Harding - on having no head

Posts: 216 Join Date: 11/4/14 Recent Posts
I've always had issues with the no head thing. Yes of course the camera cannot film it self. I can clearly see that I can not see the seer because that is what sees so to speak. You can never shine the light where you stand. But intellectual understanding have never brought me anything useful.

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