Harding and Whitman


This article is an extract from Krishna, Whitman, Nietzsche, Sartre (KWNS), published in The Headless Way, Spring 2000, No. 21. The full chapter is at Whitman Part Four.

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Introduction: Pure Consciousness Mysticism
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Krishna, Whitman, Nietzsche, Sartre



Douglas Harding

Whitman's expansiveness is so unique that he illuminates Jefferies and Krishnamurti rather than the other way round; this means that we have to look at a complementary teaching to shed light on him, and to do this I have chosen the work of Douglas Harding. He is a retired English architect and physically reminiscent of Whitman, both in appearance and in his manner of engagement with his eleves. His teachings, which are as explicit, direct, and persuasive, as Whitman's are elusive, subtle and indirect, can leave much the same impact on one. Any reader who has come across Harding's books may be baffled that I should find a connection between them and the work and life of Whitman, especially as Whitman more than any represents the via positiva, and Douglas an exponent of via negativa (though not entirely). Whitman's clear-cut distinction between body and soul is common to both men, but Whitman immediately refutes any hierarchy between them and welds the two together: Harding rends them asunder and makes it clear to us where his home is: not with the mortal part. Both tell us however that they, and by extension any one of us, are not what they seem to be: Harding has an up-front anatomy of this, almost a science, whereas Whitman uses poetry and indirection to merely hint at it. Harding was trained as an architect (and has lived for many years in a house of his own design), and it is typical of the architect, who, as an artist that has to deal with obdurate physicality in all its aspects, from the sculptural to the engineering to the provision of sewerage and running water, is temperamentally inclined to be the mechanic of the soul.

My understanding of Harding is not through his books however or through biographies, but first-hand, and, I suspect, a little at odds with his writings. I first met him in my mid-twenties, and participated in one of his workshops alongside many other meditation and psychotherapeutic activities. His methods have hardly changed since then, apart from minor refinements and a few additions. At the time I was wholly involved with the Rajneesh movement (more of which later), but Douglas had at least as big an impact on me. Rajneesh was in favour of the guru-disciple relationship that we have examined and he placed a definite value on a 'transmission'. He said many times that the relationship, regardless of the teaching, was not just important for the aspirant at a time where their own realisation was partial and shaky and therefore needed the example of one who was fully established in it, but for a love that was mutual and self-justifying. While I accepted this, there were simply too many people around Rajneesh for me to establish this kind of relationship, and so it remained a theory. Harding has never attracted the huge followings of Rajneesh or Krishnamurti, and was thus more available to personal contact, which began for me about fifteen years prior to the time of writing; however he is explicitly against the guru-disciple relationship (as was Krishnamurti), and as an example of this dissects with great humour an imaginary relationship with an acolyte in The Trial of the Man Who Said He was God. [63] His point, of course, is that the infinite and eternal (to use my terminology) that another lives in is of absolutely no use to the aspirant: it is their own apprehension of it that is vital, and guru-worship can so easily be used to postpone the moment of realising it oneself (and for Harding this has to be done now; no preparation is needed or is possible). Yet, for me at least, Harding's own access means that his presence alone always has meaning for me, and, while not indulging my devotional instincts in the way that the fictional Sister Marie-Louise does in the Trial, I have not suppressed them either. Harding not only does not require external expression of devotion, he forbids it, but at the same time I suspect that he is aware of moments when his teachings come home to the seekers around him: he commented once to me that something had happened between us. Like all teachers he lives for the ones who are not 'baffled' by him.

I have mentioned a few times that I possess a kind of imagination that can encompass the sun and the moon and the stars as within me, a 'cosmic' imagination if you will, but at the same time not the fiction-creating imagination, rather some faculty for resonating with the sublime that artists and mystics seem to share. The physical presence of Harding has evoked this in me at times; I have sometimes felt it as though he were a fountain or volcano, but I want the reader to be wary of this imagery, in just the same way as one should be of Arjuna's cosmic visions (or Vivekananda's or Andrew Harvey's). Bucke's description of it as a light-headedness, or falling in love, are also appropriate: in one of my poems I compare it to being hit with an iron bar (see Appendix). My purpose in raising again the experiences that students may undergo with their teachers is not to attach any undue weight to such experiences or feelings, but merely to illuminate the quandary that teachers always find themselves in: like a parent they are needed temporarily, but unlike parents, they must ensure the independence of the aspirant at the very start. In theistic religions the devotional can be deflected towards the deity, but Harding simply ignores it, outwardly at least.

Harding's methods bear no relation to any established religious practice, or to any other teacher in history, and are so simple as to be almost impossible to convey. He is widely read in mysticism and can relate what he does to any of the world's religious and mystical traditions, but this is apres-ski; his unique ski-slope is described as headlessness. It really is a slippery slope, his teachings, leaving one with nothing to hold on to, least of all one's head. After all the Zen teachings of no-mind, and the psycho-babble talk of coming out of one's head and into one's heart, Douglas faces one and points out the literal fact that one has no head. Leaving aside memory and imagination, he will intone in his hypnotic baritone-bass, what have you got on top of your shoulders? On present evidence, he will say (and I can hear him say it in my mind, such is his curious and almost insidious way of getting inside you), discounting all that you have been told, what is in its place? And the only answer of course is the whole world. The following passage both explains the origins of Harding's teachings, and illustrates the condition:

    What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped thinking. A peculiar quiet, an odd kind of alert limpness or numbness, came over me. Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down. For once, words really failed me. Past and future dropped away. I forgot who and what I was, my name, manhood, animalhood, 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 trouserlegs terminating downwards in a pair of brown shoes, khaki sleeves terminating sideways in a pair of pink hands, and a khaki shirtfront terminating upwards in absolutely nothing whatever! Certainly not a head.

    It took me no time at all to notice that this nothing, this hole where a head should have been, was no ordinary vacancy, no mere nothing. On the contrary it was very much occupied. It was a vast emptiness vastly filled, a nothing that found room for everything room for grass, trees, shadowy distant hills, and far above them snow-peaks like a row of angular clouds riding the blue sky. I had lost a head and gained a world.

    It was all, quite literally, breathtaking. I seemed to stop breathing altogether, absorbed in the Given. Here it was, this superb scene, brightly shining in the clear air, alone and unsupported, mysteriously suspended in the void, and (and this was the real miracle, the wonder and delight) utterly free of "me", unstained by any observer. Its total presence was my total absence, body and soul. Lighter than air, clearer than glass, altogether released from myself, I was nowhere around.

    Yet in spite of the magical and uncanny quality of this vision, it was no dream, no esoteric revelation. Quite the reverse: it felt like a sudden waking from the sleep of ordinary life, an end to dreaming. It was self-luminous reality for once swept clean of all obscuring mind. It was the revelation, at long last, of the perfectly obvious. It was a lucid moment in a confused life-history. It was a ceasing to ignore something which (since early childhood at any rate) I had always been too busy or too clever to see. It was naked, uncritical attention to what had all along been staring me in the face my utter facelessness. In short, it was all perfectly simple and plain and straightforward, beyond argument, thought, and words. There arose no questions, no reference beyond the experience itself, but only peace and a quiet joy, and the sensation of having dropped an intolerable burden. [64]

We notice in this passage a similarity to the descriptions given by Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi, Krishnamurti, and Rajneesh of a moment when thought ceases and the infinite and eternal takes hold. What is unusual in Harding's expression of it is headlessness. His temperament and means of expression have an affinity with the 'sudden' enlightenment of Zen, and in the early days of his teaching he was promoted by Buddhist groups (the first edition of On Having No Head was published by the Buddhist Society in Eccleston Square). He was too radical for most of them however, provoking this comment: "The talks and study groups [at a Buddhist summer school] run from Therevada to Zen, through Zoroastrianism and Vedanta, to a sort of bizarre synthesis of ancient and modern teachings, whose pundit encourages his disciples to spend substantial periods of time with paper bags over their heads." [65] This is an obvious reference to Harding's paper bag experiment, outlined below, and perhaps typical of how he is misunderstood (he has never suggested spending more than five or ten minutes on the paper bag experiment). In fact all kinds of religious organisations invite Harding to give his unique workshops all over the world (which, at the time of writing, he still does in his mid-eighties), including Ramana Maharshi groups. Harding's affinity with Maharshi lie in the emphasis on establishing or even merely 'noticing' one's true identity; he says of his experience in India quoted above that it had not been the result of any formal meditation or practice, but with a preoccupation with the question of his own identity. Harding cites both the Buddha and Maharshi in the following passage:

    The Buddha's description of Nirvana, in the Pali Canon, as "visible in this life, inviting, attractive, accessible," is clearly true and makes perfect sense. So does Master Ummon's statement that the first step along the Zen Path is to see into our Void Nature: getting rid of our bad karma comes after not before that seeing. So does Ramana Maharshi's insistence that it is easier to see What and Who we really are than to see "a gooseberry in the palm of our hand" as so often, this Hindu sage confirms Zen teaching. All of which means there are no preconditions for this essential in-seeing. To oneself one's Nature is forever clearly displayed, and it's amazing how one could ever pretend otherwise. It's available now, just as one is, and doesn't require the seer to be holy, or learned, or clever, or special in any way. Rather the reverse! What a superb advantage and opportunity this is! [66]

Unlike Krishna who revealed his infinite nature to Arjuna in order to persuade Arjuna to contemplate the imperishable, Douglas helps one see one's own infinite in a more direct and repeatable way. As I have already mentioned, the infinite nature of another person is of no value, according to Douglas, nor is any kind of devotion to the infinite in another of any value. His technique involves a series of 'experiments' with all the exhortations to scientific rigour that the word implies, though they are based on the consensus of the first person, unlike conventional science which is based on the consensus of the third person.

In the conventional physical sciences the first person is the experimenter and the second person (or subject matter) is the object of one's experiment: it might involve lenses and light, electronic circuits and electromagnetism, or biological tissue and chemical substances. The third person, or third persons, is the rest of the scientific community who have an interest in the hypothesis that the experimenter is evaluating, and the possibility to repeat the experiments in order to verify or disprove the hypothesis. Out of this arrives the consensus of the third person and all scientific orthodoxies. In the social sciences, and in particular psychology, the second person in these experiments is just that: a person, or a group of persons, and the route to scientific orthodoxies in these fields follow a similar path to the physical sciences though it is debatable how well the parallel holds. It is still, in its conceptual model at least, a consensus of the third person. Douglas's experiments follow a consensus of the first person in this sense: questions are established (all of which relate to "who am I?") and a group of people carry out a process involving observations on their own perceiving, resulting in answers to the questions. The second person or object of the experiment is the experimenter him or herself; a guide may be present in the form of Douglas, but the third person has no entry to the experiment (and an unprepared third party may even find the proceedings rather comical). The moment that the third person, acquainted with Douglas's hypotheses, wishes to verify them they become the first person in carrying out the experiment. Another way of saying this is that mysticism is a science whose subject matter is you in the first person.

Most of Douglas's experiments revolve around the sense of sight, and are designed to bring home to one an essential asymmetry between the observer and other human beings, an asymmetry that paradoxically brings one to the kind of love for others that Whitman expressed a simple openness to their existence. An example of an experiment to show this involves four people, or more accurately, three people and the observer (first person). The observer stands facing one of the others, while the other two stand in such a way that their line of sight is at right angles to the observer's and across the observer's, i.e. in a little cross-shape. As one stands, looking at the face opposite, one is asked to notice that the 'first-person' type of looking between the observer and the person opposite is quite different to the 'third-person' type of looking that the other two are engaged in. In one's own looking there is no face or head at the observer's end; the only face one possesses is the one opposite. Instead of a face of one's own one has space, space for all the world. For the other two, they are truly 'face to face' closed at both ends of the gap between them by matter matter that has shape, colour, and detail; prone to age, decay and death, quite unlike one's own which has no boundaries, which is colourless and featureless, and thank God! is deathless. One could not read this page if one were not built open for it built open for loving.

In Douglas's workshops he arranges the participants into the necessary groupings to carry out the experiments (four in the above example) and then talks the group through them: he invites one to see what one really sees. I have to confess that I find him an essential part of the experiment, and that when another person acts as a guide for experiment I find something missing. Similarly, I have had little urge to introduce the experiments to others, even when asked about Douglas's teachings; however I regard this as my own deficiency. (I hope to remedy this, perhaps in connections with recent developments in studies in consciousness.) Probably the best known of Douglas's experiments involves the use of a paper bag open at each end. Two participants are invited to fit the bag over their faces so that they look at each other's face unencumbered by any surrounding other than the luminous white of the bag, mostly out of focus at that. It is a claustrophobic experience, and a threatening one: only in encounter groups is one asked to look this closely into another person's face, but of course, with Douglas there is no intention to engage emotionally with the situation. He invites one to notice again the difference between what is at one end of the bag and what is at the other end a radical difference and, in normal life, almost always overlooked. (Harding has commented that at one end there is nothing material, and at the other end there is nothing spiritual.) The simplicity and ludicrousness of the bag situation are an affront to the intellect, and, with luck it retires hurt so that one can get on with noticing the pristine spotlessness and eternal nature of one's own end of the bag. It is as humiliating to the ego as potty-training, and only Harding can get away with it; it is no coincidence perhaps that amongst his many observations about our infinite nature he has commented that in visiting the toilet one connects up 'miles of extra tubing'. Did I say mechanic of the soul? Plumber more likely!

Whether we call Harding a scientist, mechanic, or plumber of the soul, it cannot prepare one for the dignity, warmth and humour of the man, and an unmistakably English quality (I have joked with him that he is one of the few great British exports in mysticism). Douglas's teachings challenges one's identity, as do the teachings of all the mystics though in different ways. He recalls that he was absolutely plagued in his early life with self-consciousness a really 'virulent British sort' (as he calls it) that I know only too well in my own life which was quite destroyed by his discovery of headlessness. He is no longer a small vulnerable mortal physical entity in a vast and indifferent universe (indifferent at best, probably hostile in fact), but the very source of it. In their own unique ways Krishna, Whitman, and Harding are all saying this, and Bucke, I think, had a valuable insight when he proposed that the mystic makes a transition from self-consciousness to cosmic consciousness, despite his desire to see evolutionary implications in it. Harding elaborates further on the various stages on his headless path in chapter four of On Having No Head, and, for the really brave, I recommend The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth [67].
Harding does not recommend long periods in the paper bag, whatever others say, but what does he recommend as a general practice? He offers this:

    Now the "hard" part begins, which is the repetition of this headless seeing-into Nothingness till the seeing becomes quite natural and nothing special at all; till, whatever one is doing, it's clear that nobody's here doing it. In other words, till one's whole life is structured round the double-barbed arrow of attention, simultaneously pointing in at the Void and out at what fills it. Such is the essential meditation of this Way. It is meditation for the market-pace, in fact for every circumstance and mood, but it may usefully be supplemented by regular periods of more formal meditation for example, a daily sitting in a quiet place enjoying exactly the same seeing, either alone or (better) with friends.

    Here, in fact, is a meditation which doesn't threaten to divide our day into two incompatible parts a time of withdrawal and quiet recollection, and a time of self-forgetful immersion in the world's turmoil. On the contrary, the whole day comes to have the same feel, a steady quality throughout. Whatever we have to do or take or suffer can thus be turned to our immediate advantage: it provides just the right opportunity to notice Who is involved. (To be precise, absolutely involved yet absolutely uninvolved.) In short, of all forms of meditation this is among the least contrived and obtrusive, and (given time to mature) the most natural and practical. And amusing too: it's as if one's featureless Original Face wore a smile like that of the disappearing Cheshire Cat! [68]

I have suggested that, in contrast to Whitman, Harding is offering via negativa, that is a focus on the Void as opposed to the Whole of its contents. I believe that the emphasis on headlessness, the Space, the Void or whatever we call it is inevitable in teaching because of our unfamiliarity with it; as Harding comments somewhere the Upanishads pointed out some three thousand years ago that our senses point out to the world and it takes an effort to direct them back at the Perceiver. However, Harding does not wish us to wallow in our superb nothingness either. In Head Off Stress he advocates an identification with both the nothing and the everything as the cure for the modern affliction of stress:

    Two escape routes lie open to you. The first is to become so small, so empty, so exclusive that there's nothing to you, nothing to be got at, nothing to act upon or react. The second is the opposite of this. It is to become so big, so full, so inclusive that there remains nothing outside you to get at you, nothing to pressurize you or to influence you at all, nothing left for you to react to.

    Let's put it differently. Particular things are stressed. If you were no thing you would be stress-free. Conversely, if you were all things you would, again, be stress-free. And if, by great good luck, you were both if you were at once no thing and all things why then you would be doubly stress-free, free beyond all doubt. This way, you would avoid being one of those unlucky intermediate things things which are neither empty enough nor full enough to be free from stress. You would avoid falling between the two stools of total emptiness and total fullness, by sitting firmly on both stools at the same time. As nothing and everything you would be sitting pretty. You would be safe as well as comfortable. You would have arrived at our goal. You would already be established in the promised Land of No Stress, no matter how long it took you to feel at home and to get acclimatized.

    Well, I say you are sitting pretty, you are as lucky as that! [69]

This passage clearly shows Harding's balanced view that both the manifest and the unmanifest have to be embraced; Whitman has no terminology for the unmanifest, so it looks like he sits on only one of Harding's stools. Nevertheless, Harding's work is primarily via negativa, and so complements Whitman (it also provides for an analysis of modern man's alienation which Whitman could observe but not comment on). We could also consider that the impulse or intuition towards one or other of these stools is shown in misguided forms, for example the person who seeks enormous wealth or power is attempting to become everything, while the vagabond, tramp, or beggar attempts to become nothing. Other factors play a part in these extremes of course, but it should be recognised that something deeper is going on with the millionaire and vagabond than just good fortune or bad fortune.

This is a good point to examine the charge laid against Harding and Whitman that their teachings are solipsistic, and to look at this issue in connection with mysticism. The Chambers 20th Century Dictionary gives this definition of solipsism: "the theory that self-existence is the only certainty, absolute egoism - the extreme form of subjective idealism; from the Latin roots solus, alone and ipse, self". Clearly, for many people the term would carry a negative connotation because of the 'absolute egoism' that it implies. The idea that one is the centre of the universe, the beginning and ending of all things, and that all other phenomenon, including other people, are part of a flux the only unchanging and permanent part of which is oneself, is at the heart of the mystics' sayings, and at the same time (at face value) both absurd and egoistic. Another common form of this is identity with God, as discussed earlier; also a statement that can arouses violent condemnation.

Nambiar quotes an appropriate passage from Rumi in which Rumi defends Mansur's 'I am God' against the very same charge of egoism:

    This is what is signified by the words Ana'L Haqq, "I am God". People imagine that this is a presumptuous claim, whereas it is really a presumptuous claim to say "Ana'L Abd", " I am the slave of God"; and Ana'l Haqq, "I am God", is the expression of great humility. The man who says Ana'L Abd, "I am the slave of God" affirms two existences, his own and God's, but he who says Ana'L Haqq, "I am God", says "I am naught, He is all; there is nothing but God". Rumi finds this "the extreme of humility and self-abasement". [70]

Solipsism is also a frightening idea because of the 'alone' part of its Latin root, present in the modern meaning of the word as an implied refusal to recognise others. In Harding's work this appears as an asymmetry: at the near end of the bag there is something (a nothing actually) quite different from what is seen at the far end of the bag - a reassuringly familiar face, even if it is of a stranger. Douglas finds that he is 'gone'; the universe is just 'built' this way, but also finds love in it. It is love of course that removes the sting of this uniqueness and loss of similarity with one's fellows: as one begins to identify with the 'space' for all things and see one's fellows as content of the space love restores to them their familiarity, or better makes them for the first time truly loveable. Edgar Cacey said that we meet only ourselves: how can one fail to love these manifestations of our true self?

The expansive and solipsistic nature of the PCM world-view can lead to the fear of a callousness or indifference to the suffering of others, or to mild forms of megalomania, or in extreme cases to madness. It is vital not to underestimate that the jump from the 'normal' identification to the mystic identification with the cosmos implies a radical transformation of the individual if this is occurs too fast or in an uneven way all kinds of problems can arise. Hence the emphasis in so many traditions on love and surrender, or, as exemplified in Buddhism, compassion. The Mahayana Buddhist teaching, that no individual should 'accept' enlightenment before ensuring that all others are enlightened first is firmly grounded in good pedagogy, but from Harding's perspective one's own enlightenment is the liberation of others. Love, surrender, compassion are emphasised by all mystical teachers, though it becomes hard to distinguish between these as pedagogical issues and as a natural outcome of the unitive state. Harding also counters the notion that identification with the Whole is special, euphoric or any kind of 'high', by calling it a valley experience it is neither a peak nor a valley experience of course (something neutral in fact), but it is good to call it a valley experience to counter the sensation-seekers.

2.7 Whitman and Pure Consciousness Mysticism

Let us return to Whitman and his Leaves of Grass. Where Leaves matches the Gita is in the expansiveness of it; Krishna's long recitation of the phenomenon of the natural world and his underpinning of them, find its counterpart in Whitman's inclusivity. Whitman simply keeps stating that he is this and he is that: just to bring something into his orbit is for Whitman to become it. There are similarities with the Tao Te Ching, as Carpenter pointed out; which is a quiet thing that also insinuates itself into your soul, quite unlike the drama and passion of the Gita. Both Lao Tzu and Whitman strike me as speaking of life after enlightenment, rather than the path to it, as in most Hindu and Buddhist texts. But Leaves is as different from the Gita as it is from the Tao; it has little history (in the West at least) of being read intentionally as a religious text. With the Gita we have to work hard to subtract out the religious and the cultural, but with Leaves Whitman does not inadvertently obscure his message with the religious language of his time; instead he deliberately obscures it through poetical device. Once we know this Leaves can be read, as we have done, as a text in Pure Consciousness Mysticism. We still are left with one cultural influence on his work: Leaves is indisputably American, representing probably all that is best in the truly American impulse: expansive, generous, brash. It nods in respect to its European roots, but moves on, in contrast to Nietzsche, for example, who attempts to shoulder the crushing burden of Europe's decay.

Krishna codified the mysticism of the Vedas, and added his own special something to it, in his sometimes harsh and uncompromising advice to Arjuna to fight. What does Whitman add to our understanding of mysticism? Something quite new, and relevant to our time, I would say: democracy. Democracy was unknown to Krishna: he was a prince, Arjuna was of the warrior caste, and Krishna speaks openly as being the creator of the caste system, the horrors of which we include under the broad heading of feudalism, and try to consign to the past. The industrial and social revolutions that lead to post-civil war America in the 19th Century made democracy a reality, and Whitman is its poet. At the time of writing the term democracy has possibly lost some of the optimistic associations it had in Whitman's time, and clearly Whitman's use of the word democracy is not as a description of a specific form of constitution or governmental and electoral apparatus: it is about its root impulse. Democracy for Whitman had its basis in love, but meant something practical too a recognition of one's fellow citizen from which springs the willingness to listen, to participate, to debate, and to accept the community's decisions, without which the best legislated constitution in the world has no meaning. Democracy for Whitman also gives each person a value that the feudal structures deny, and he is quite clear that the religions that arose in feudal times have had their day and must give way to something new.
What could democracy mean in the context of mysticism however? Clearly the issues of mysticism cannot be decided by voting, any more than an individual can seek election to the eternal and infinite through a mandate from his or her community. No, the relevance must lie in the availability of it. Krishna insists on a devotion to his person (or perhaps through his person) which is a route still open to those who have a strongly developed and instinctively devotional nature; Mother Meera and many others are available as a modern equivalent (though it would be misleading to suggest that she encourages devotion to her person). But it is not really in keeping with the ethos of our time, for it places the object of devotion on a pedestal long since tarnished by autocratic abuse. Whitman is honest about himself as mystic: he is a rare being, and rare will be those who really understand him, but nevertheless, he excludes no-one, and finds that the sun shines on the prostitute as much as on him, that waters glisten and rustle for her as much as for him, and his words glisten and rustle for her as much as for anyone. Everybody has access to his expansivity and deathlessness, if they can but partake of Leaves.

But how can you partake of Leaves if you don't know what you are looking for? Whitman's only pedagogy is the hypnotic effect of his recitations, he offers us no route or method to join him: just a jump across an unbridgeable abyss.

Harding offers us the bridge. He shows us directly the expansive and eternal nature of our beings, in front of our noses. There is no moral elevation, intellectual illumination, or devotional practice involved: we just have to work at it, to see what we are looking out of. There is no need for difficult terminology either, or abstract philosophical concepts: what we are looking out of is plain English for the unmanifest. Harding's truths are not hidden by a furtive old hen, they are plain and stubbornly in yer face, as modern youth might put it, and there is a manifest democracy in his followers too, perhaps due to Harding's lack of emphasis on improvement of the individual. This cuts out the speculation, often rife amongst communities of seekers, as to who is making best 'progress'; instead, with his emphasis on 'seeing' one's infinite nature right now as the space for all that is manifest, one tends to embrace others in something of the neutral Whitman fashion.
Pure Consciousness Mysticism however requires only that an individual identify with the infinite and the eternal; no particular route to it is better than any other, even though Whitman's and Harding's democratic approaches are more in tune with the times than the devotional.



[63] Harding, D.E., The Trial of the Man who Said he was God, London: Arkana, 1992, p. 197
[64] Harding, D.E. On Having No Head - Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, London: Arkana, 1986, p. 1; also in Hofstadter, Douglas, and Dennett, Daniel (Eds.) The Mind's I, Penguin Books, Middlesex, England, 1981, pp. 23 - 24.
[65] Sangharakshita (Dennis Lingwood), The Taste of Freedom, Glasgow: Windhorse Publications, 1990, p. 9
[66] Harding, D.E. On Having No Head - Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, London: Arkana, 1986, p. 43
[67] Harding, D.E. The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth, Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1979
[68] Harding, D.E. On Having No Head - Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, London: Arkana, 1986, p. 50
[69] Harding, D.E. Head Off Stress - Beyond the Bottom Line, London: Arkana, 1990, p. 6
[70] Nambiar, O.K. Maha Yogi: Walt Whitman - New Light on Yoga, Bangalore: Jeevan Publications, 1978, p. 248

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Introduction: Pure Consciousness Mysticism
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Krishna, Whitman, Nietzsche, Sartre