Archives for category: Truth

Seeing into one’s self nature is seeing into nothingness. Seeing into nothingness is true seeing and eternal seeing – Shen-hui

This is a great video of an exchange between the Spiritual Teacher Gangaji with a satsang attendee entitled, The face in the mirror. Where he describes his perspective on headlessness – on having no head.

Here is just emptiness. There is no getting m ego out of the way, and all that stuff. There is just seeing, shining in great brilliance and clarity – Douglas Harding

Douglas Edison Harding (12 February 1909 – 11 January 2007) was an English mystic, philosopher, spiritual teacher and author. He was born in 1909 in Suffolk, and grew up in a strict fundamentalist Christian sect called the Exclusive Plymouth Brethren. The Brethren believed that they were the saved ones, that they only had the one true path to God and everyone else was bound for Hell. 

However he could not accept their way of life and when he was 21 he left against his fathers wishes. From an early age, he always felt that the power behind the world was one of self-giving love.

So he devoted himself to this quest, trying to understand his true nature. He wanted an answer to the question, “Who Am I?” Most people are content and never seek to answer these important questions and are happy with the answers the holy books teach.

He wasn’t about to take others opinions and beliefs about the matter, neither was he going to accept what religion or society told him about himself. He wanted to find this out directly for himself.

At the time, philosophy was influenced by the ideas of relativity. He realised that his identity depended on the observer – from several meters away he appeared to be human, but at close range he was cells, molecules, atoms and from further away he was absorbed into the rest of society, life, the planets, the stars. He realised that like an onion he had many layers.   

But what was the the centre of these layers? Who was he really?

For example, take this writing. I can read  it now only because I am at just the right range – almost 20 inches, and the words are bristling with meaning. Nearer still provided I sharpen my vision with electronic aids – the screen is a collection of patterns called molecules and beyond these atoms, particles, quarks and finally space itself is packed full of energy. Neither the page or anything else will stand up to close inspection.  

The “penny” dropped for him at the age of 33. He accidentally stumbled upon a  drawing by the Austrian philosopher and physicist Ernst Mach. It was a self portrait but with an unusual difference:


What is so unusual about this self portrait? The unusual thing is that you don’t see the artists head.

For most people this fact is interesting. However for Harding he had discovered the keys to his identity, as he noticed his head was missing to. So at the centre of the world there was no head, no appearance – nothing at all. This nothing was special as it was alive and fully awake to the world.

However he was still seeking the answer to the question, “Who Am I ?” And this occurred to him with the realization and so he happened by chance to walking in the Himalayas.

The best day of my life – my rebirthday, so to speak – was when I found I had no head. This is not a literary gambit, a witticism designed to arouse interest at any cost. I mean it in all seriousness: I have no head.

What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped thinking. A peculiar quite, an odd kind of alert limpness or numbness, came over me. Reason, imagination and all mental chatter died down. Past and future dropped away. I forgot who and what I was, my name, man hood, animal hood, all that could be called mine. It was as if I had been born that instant, brand new, mindless, innocent of all memories. There existed only the NOW, that present moment and what was clearly given in it. To look was enough. And what I found was khaki trouser legs terminating downwards in a pair of brown shoes, khaki sleeves terminating sideways in a pair of pink hands, and a khaki shirt front terminating upwards in – absolutely nothing whatever! Certainly not a head. 

– Douglas Harding, from his book, “On Having No Head.”

Douglas Harding had seen his own original face. He saw that emptiness contained a world. And nowhere did he find any evidence of a head. Hence the original face is also a koan in Zen Buddhism: What did your face look like before your parents were born? You are what you experience in the NOW moment.

Think about this for a brief moment! Your head only exists as a concept. You imagine yourself to have a head when there is nothing there but emptiness.

Do the exercises below with an open mind. Simply rely on present evidence rather than imagination, memory or assumptions. Look for yourself – it is only you alone that can see who you really are and no one else can do it for you.

I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books:  I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me – Herman Hesse, Prologue To Demian

I have struggled, it has not always been easy. Life has been painful, disappointing and full of surprises – many highs and lows. But it is life nevertheless, a great spiritual teacher once said that it is because of suffering that you are drawn to the spiritual search. If there wasn’t any pain or suffering in your life, would you have even started the spiritual search?

Do you really want to be on your deathbed, thinking, oh well my life wasn’t too bad, I suppose it could have been better? Do you really want that? Do you want your life to just be okay? Sometimes I feel really good, sometimes I feel really bad. Oh well…that’s how life is. Do you want to suffer or do you want freedom?

When I was suffering, what I really wanted was freedom from suffering, freedom from unhappiness. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise as it led me to start the spiritual search. Your true calling is to discover it for yourself – awaken to your original nature.

Reading books, listening to CD’s, watching DVD’s and going on spiritual retreats can only take you so far. They are helpful in your spiritual search and may point  you in the right direction but you will have to abandon these at some point and start your own spiritual search. On the spiritual search you are your own authority, you just cannot depend on others for your own liberation.

A powerful spiritual practise is to meditate deeply on the mortality of your own physical form. It’s called: Die before your die. Your physical form is dissolving, is no more. Then a moment comes when all feeling, emotions and thoughts also die. Then there is nothing left, yet you are still here.

This is the realization of your true nature. And the secret is to “die before you die” – and find that there is no death. 

desire neither victory nor pleasure nor kingdom, O Krishna. What is the use of the kingdom, or enjoyment, or even life? – Arjuna

In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna tells Arjuna, “Give up everything and come to my feet.” And from our point it seems like an egoistic statement.

Well what does Krishna really tell Arjuna? When he says, “Leave everything and come to my feet,” he means that you should set aside everything and go to the feet of life itself. Krishna tells Arjuna to fight and yet if we look at the dialogue between the two, Arjuna appears to be more religious and what Krishna says is not religious at all, Krishna provokes him to fight, and Arjuna refuses to do so. He says, “It is painful to kill my own people. I won’t kill them even for the sake of a kingdom and a king’s throne. I would rather go begging in the  street,  and commit suicide than kill my relatives, friends and teachers who are fighting on the other side.

Is Arjuna wrong? He is filled with a sense of righteousness, that he is on the path of religion. Some may argue that he is a sage, a man of wisdom. But Krishna says to him, “You have gone mad and are deluded. Your sense of religion has left you.”

He tells Arjuna, “You are mad if you think you can kill someone as no-one ever dies. It is an illusion and you are mistaken to think you can save those standing before you. Whoever has saved anyone? And you can’t escape war, nor can you be non-violent because as long as the I exists – and it is this I that is anxious to save itself and it’s family relatives – non violence is next to impossible. Now, be rid of this nonsense and  face your reality. Accept what is facing you, it is not a temple where prayers are made, it is war, it is war you are facing and you have your part to play. So drop your I and fight.”