Douglas Harding

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Douglas Edison Harding (12 February 1909 – 11 January 2007) was an English philosophical writer, mystic, spiritual teacher and author of a number of books, including On Having No Head, Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious. He was born in Lowestoft in the county of Suffolk and raised in the Exclusive Plymouth Brethren, a Christian sect, from which he apostatised at the age of 21.


In 1943, aged 34, after some ten years of intense self-enquiry, study and writing, Harding had worked out that he was made of layers, like an onion. In other words, what he was depended on the range of the observer. As a result of his studies, Harding was convinced that he was human only at a certain range. Closer to, he was cellular, molecular, atomic... Further away he appeared as the human species, Life, the planet, the star, the galaxy... At very close range, therefore, he was almost nothing. It made sense to him therefore that at centre he was a mysterious 'nothingness'. Then, in 1943, he stopped thinking and speculating and simply looked back at himself. He noticed that from his own point of view he was headless. He was looking not out of two eyes but a 'single eye', a boundless openness – an openness that was self-evidently aware, and was also full of the whole world. Here was direct experience of his central identity, his True Self. No longer did he have to rely on speculation. Following this he spent the next 8 years exploring the scientific, philosophical, psychological, religious... implications of his discovery, presented in his book The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth, described by C. S. Lewis (who wrote the preface) as "a work of the highest genius". This book was published by Faber & Faber in 1952. After taking time off from his profession, Harding then returned to architecture.

Harding continued to write, however, but it was not until 1964 that he clearly shared the experience of 'headlessness' with another person - his secretary. Following this, Harding gradually began to share 'Seeing' more widely. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Harding developed his 'experiments'. Harding described these experiments as 'a breakthrough' in terms of making easily available the experience of 'who we really are', our True Nature - which is No-thing and Everything. Harding was emphatic that people tested out his claims for themselves - "you are the sole and final authority on you". He rejected the role of 'guru', always pointing others back to themselves. "Look for yourself". Harding said of this meditation, "While it lasts, this is an all-or-nothing (actually, an All-and- Nothing) meditation which can't be done badly."[1]

As well as writing many books and articles, and developing his experiments, Harding also designed his Youniverse Explorer model, which beautifully and elegantly models the layers of our body/mind, from the galaxy to particles, and includes at the centre of all these layers a clear sphere, symbolising one's True Nature - one's No-face.

Harding travelled widely, sharing Seeing. In the 1990s and early 2000s he travelled and gave workshops with his second wife, Catherine.

Harding was married twice and had two sons and a daughter. He died at Nacton near Ipswich, England.


  • The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth ISBN 978-0-9568877-1-9
  • Look for Yourself: The Science and Art of Self-Realization ISBN 978-1-908774-11-8
  • On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious ISBN 978-1-908774-06-4
  • Head Off Stress ISBN 978-0-9554512-0-1
  • Religions of the World ISBN 978-0-435-46531-5
  • To Be and Not To Be, That is the Answer: Unique Experiments for Tapping Our Infinite Resources ISBN 978-1-908774-17-0
  • The Trial of the Man who Said he was God ISBN 978-0-14-019363-3
  • The Little Book of Life and Death ISBN 978-0-9554512-1-8
  • Open to the Source: Selected Teachings of Douglas E. Harding ISBN 978-1-908774-50-7
  • Face to No-Face: Rediscovering Our Original Nature ISBN 978-1-878019-15-8
  • As I See It: Articles, selected by Richard Lang. ISBN 978-1-908774-51-4
  • The Face Game: Liberation without Dogmas, Drugs or Delay. ISBN 978-1-908774-48-4
  • Visible Gods: A Modern Socratic Dialogue. ISBN 978-1-908774-01-9
  • The Science of the 1st Person: Its Principles, Practice and Potential. ISBN 978-0-9554512-3-2
  • Journey To The Centre Of The Youniverse. ISBN 978-1-908774-46-0


  • On Having No Head: Seeing One's Original Nature


  1. ^ 'The Toolkit for Testing the Incredible Hypothesis', D.E. Harding, Shollund Publications, 1972 (out of print)
  • Chapter from On Having No Head quoted and reviewed in The Mind's I - Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul. Hofstadter & Dennett, 1981 Penguin.
  • Rowlands, Alan (2007-02-15). "Douglas Harding, Mystic writer 'of genius'" (reprint). obituary. The Independent. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  • The Man With No Head: The Life and Ideas of Douglas Harding. Richard Lang & Victor Lunn Rockliffe. ISBN 978-1-908774-24-8

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