On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious Paperback – 1 Mar 1986
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What do I think today? Well, let's take the simple sentence: 'I have no head'. It splits into subject ('I') and predicate ('have no head'). An obvious approach to this is to take 'I' as read and skip straight on to considering the predicate: 'have no head'. My approach nowadays though is to take 'have no head' as read, as a "done deal" if you will, and then ask myself what 'I' is, that it should have no head. Douglas Harding's hierarchical "layers of the onion" approach is helpful for this, but no amount of cogitation can substitute for doing the experiments and looking for yourself.
Buy this book instead of eeking your way through the blue cliff records, it will save you imense amounts of time in your spiritual quest.
As the title suggests, the core idea is not only that the writer does not have a head, but that no one else does either. So you start reading, moderately intrigued as to what he could possibly mean, spurred on, it has to be said, by the quite considerable amount of blurb that tells you what a fantastic book it is. But disappointment quickly appears, quickly followed by anger as you start to smell the con. For it is soon apparent that the main evidence Mr Harding presents for his ridiculous central thesis is a dodgy sketch of a person sitting down, as seen by that person. In other words, a sketch of that part of his own body which he can see without using a mirror. So because he can't see his own head without a mirror... he hasn't got one.
If we tried very hard and credited Mr Harding with realising that he is not the centre of the universe, but merely a very insignificant part of it, it is as far as anyone could reasonably go in finding any redeeming feature at all about this book. And although it has obviously produced a few bob for him since it was first published, I would never dream of advising anyone to part with any money to buy Mr Harding's big revelation, which is: we are not the centre of the universe... well, duhhh.
The subject is fantastic but the writing is just a chaos, an unreadable mess.
It has paragraph long sentences. One sentence was 17(!) lines.
It's like he starts to write down a thought but in the middle of the sentence he starts another. And this just goes on and on.
It is like a word search: you must find the key words from a pile of useless letters and add them up to get the message of the author.
Very, very difficult to follow. I like the subject and I know what he was writing about. But why it has to be in this form? Why is this terrible way?
I hope those whom are new to this spiritual way will not read this book first. If they do, they will loose all their initial enthusiasm. Guarantied!
I think the worst thing one could do to a book to burn it. I did throw this in the fireplace. I don't want anybody to go through the struggle what I had to and waste their time.
It is a waste: paper, ink, time.
I'm also wondering this book might be a test. They wanted to see, how many people buy a worthless book because of its impressive title.
Sad, it is very sad.