Image“The Headless Way – in contrast to those that combine Eastern spirituality with Western psychotherapy – is not concerned with deliberately watching the processes of the mind, or with the psychological probing as such, or with meditation aimed at raising repressed mental material to the surface; or (for that matter) with stilling the mind. Rather it takes the line of Ramana Maharshi who taught: “To inhere in the self is the thing. Never mind the mind.” And of the Chang Chen Chi, who (in his valuable guide The practice of Zen) points out that Zen isn’t interested in the many aspects and strata of the mind but in penetrating to its core, “for it holds that once this core is grasped, all else will become relatively insignificant and crystal clear.”  Our own position in this; of course it’s crucial that our psychological problems – in fact what ever thoughts and feelings happen to arise – should be clearly seen for what they are, but always along with What they are coming from, along with Who is supposed to have them.  Their Seer must not be lost sight of. The clinical value of modern psychotherapeutic techniques isn’t in question, nevertheless our radical answer to psychological problems (as to all the rest) is two way attention –  simultaneously looking in at this absolutely stainless and pollution-free and unproblematical Nothingness and out at whatever murky problem is presenting. Their ultimate solutions lies in firmly placing them off-Centre where murky things belong, not in trying to clear up the murk itself. To use the matchless Eastern image, it’s a hugely reassuring fact that the purest and most exquisite flowers – the lotus of enlightenment – blooms in the muddiest and unhealthiest of lowland swamps, amid the mire of the passions, of all  that sordid an silly mind-stuff, of all our evil and pain. Clean up the swamp (what a hope!) or try to transplant the lotus amid the aseptic upland snows of an otherworldly and esoteric spirituality, and it withers. Zen goes so far as to say that the passions are enlightenment, the swamp is the lotus.”

Excerpt from D E Harding “On Having No Head”

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