Look for Yourself
The Science and Art of Self-Realization
by Douglas E. Harding
“. . . my sensation is that
you have written a work of the highest genius.”
– C. S. Lewis (commenting on one of Harding’s earlier works)
Excerpt by Douglas Harding:
“The field of religion is huge and in places very wild, but it certainly isn’t trackless. It contains all too many paths or ways, some more like trunk roads and other barely discernible tracks. Every sect, and indeed every spiritual innovator, hacks a new route through the jungle and sets up signposts and makes some attempt to draw a map of the route’s twists and turns, its staging posts and rest houses, and to give some idea of its destination. So many paths there are, crisscrossing or running parallel, converging here and diverging there, and leading – where? That’s the question.
A few centuries ago the religious scene was, for the great majority of people, far less complicated. Comparative religion, and the explosion of literature about the world’s faiths – first scholarly and then popular – more or less covering the whole field, had yet to come. For nearly everyone nearly everywhere, one’s religion was simply that of one’s family and social group from time immemorial. In effect, there existed only this one true and sacred path. Other religions and sects, insofar as one heard of them at all, were believed to lead nowhere, or more likely to some very unholy and unhealthy regions right off the map.
But nowadays, for increasing numbers of us, the situation is nothing like so clear-cut and simple. We are presented with a fast-growing and bewildering choice of paths, many if not most of which run through country in which psychology and psychotherapy and spirituality are inextricably tangled. Visit a store selling books on religion and allied subjects, and you will see what I mean. There the books are stacked floor to ceiling, thousands and thousands of them. The trouble is that, until you have actually traveled one of the many highways and byways that compete for your patronage, you cannot know where it leads; and when at last you do get to the end of it (after who knows how many years and decades or even lifetimes, if you ever do) you have left it rather late to try any of the others. In that case, how are you to discover which of them all is your path, the right one for you and leading to your heart’s desire and the ultimate truth, the end of all your troubles?
What can be done about this absurd state of affairs? Is it avoidable? Yes it is, and in this chapter I want to show precisely how . . .”
“Insight derives from images more than it does from reasoning,
and the image Harding hit on is a powerful one.”
– Huston Smith