One of the things I love is unexpectedly meeting someone somewhere with whom I feel a deep connection. Someone in whom I suddenly experience wide openness, someone who speaks a language I also understand, someone who warms my heart. Someone whose appearance might not suggest this intimate connection….

Unexpectedly meeting someone who immediately gets to the heart of the matter with a sense of obviousness, who dares to speak unconventional words and dares to articulate radical views. Someone I’d like to invite for a coffee at the cafe around the corner because I’ve become curious. Whom I would like to ask: How did you come to this understanding? Which paths have you walked? Who were your teachers? What pitfalls have you stepped into? Which paths did you later say goodbye to? All of them? How did your insight change your life?

And I would like to tell about the paths I took to find answers to nagging life questions about myself and the world around me. How that search came to an end by simply looking and seeing what is given, every moment. About how my life became extremely ordinary then but at the same time very adventurous. And how I love meeting others who have undertaken a similar journey. Who have also found the radical truth that they are essentially free, both from themselves and from the world, and totally embrace both at the same time. Lovers of truth who accidentally meet, either in person or in the written word.


In you, nameless writer of this verse, I meet such an unexpected friend, in an ancient scripture from a tradition I am hardly acquainted with. From what you say I can underline every word because your experience is mine: “The true nature of Reality has to be seen with the Eye of your own clear Awareness. No learned Knower can do this for you. The beauty of the moon can only be enjoyed through your own sight. What use is someone else’s sight to you?” (56)

And you continue: “Liberation is not possible through all kinds of systems, such as Yoga or Sankhya, or through rituals or knowledge of rituals. It is possible only through the Realization of the Absolute, or ‘one-ness’ of yourself and the Absolute. There is no other way.” (58)

I imagine us having a long conversation in which we talk about that miraculous moment when we suddenly realised the simple truth. In which we share what our paths or practices did or did not bring us, and how they did or did not prepare us to see reality. And we wonder whether ‘getting ready’ is actually necessary.

I would tell you that at first I thought there was only the classical teacher-student model to reach insight and that this of course could take years or decades.

That now I have discovered another approach in which you immediately see who you really are, and that this ‘Seeing’ is the start of a new life journey. That facing and letting go of anything not in accordance with this Seeing takes a lifetime anyway. But that it can be done from having this distinctive insight yourself without being dependent on a practice or teacher doing it for you. That this may well be the new paradigm if we are to wake up collectively, as humanity. I wonder what you, my new friend, would say to that.

“A disease is not cured by mentioning the name of the medicine – you will have to drink it yourself. Similarly, there can be no liberation just by talking about the Absolute. Liberation is only possible through immediate experience.” (64)

Yes, I would reply…

….. and add: but I also like beautiful language. I like original words. I love the stammering of someone who has just received the decisive insight and tries to find words to share that experience.

I love spiritual teachers and writers who develop their unique jargon to communicate their insights. I love all the attempts to find the exact right word to indicate the truth, the fine precision someone uses in trying to choose their words. As editor-in-chief of InZicht, I love the variety by which writers present their insights.


But even more I love the fact that direct experience is wordless. With relief I drop all language and correctness and rest in the silence from which every word emerges.

The silence from which I myself emerge, just like you, my new friend. The silence that hangs between all words, uninterrupted, timeless, placeless, almost tangibly present. Can words refer to this? Sure. Can they stir the silence itself? Impossible.

It is the silence which I prefer to communicate with. With my cat who understands this flawlessly. With the children I work with. With my beloved, my friends, the people in my workshops. In those moments when our eyes catch each other and, in between words, that moment of relaxation, that smile, that quiet happiness arises which we all know and share. The silence I share with you when I let your words rest on the paper for a moment…

As I write this, I am visiting relatively uninhabited northern Canada, where the vastness even reinforces this silence, making it almost tangible. A single human sound immediately sinks into its boundlessness. But it’s the same silence that was present in the busy urban café where I wrote the first half of this little piece. Everything comes and goes. All of life comes and goes. This consciousness too comes and goes, sinks back into the unfathomable wordless and eternally silent depth from which it emerged.

Translation from Dutch by Henk Vaassen

Verses 56, 58 and 64 are from ‘Viveka Chudamani’ by Shankara, c. 800AD. This article was first published in InZicht.

I Am Not Catherine

I am not Catherine

Published in Feb 2016 by InZicht in Dutch

from the upcoming book 'The Life and Vision of Catherine Harding'  by Karin Visser

More and more I realize that I am not at all Catherine, the little Catherine. I am the eternal universal consciousness, experiencing life in the form of Catherine, just as you are the universal consciousness experiencing being you. But at the root of ourselves, at the core of ourselves, we are this universal clear consciousness. That is why we are one. If we take the trouble of turning our attention around 180º and we reach this wonderful place, the universal consciousness within ourselves, we SEE it. I think this is very important.

Little Catherine is only a vehicle, a tool. But I don't become it. If I take a hammer it’s an extension of my body but I don't become the hammer. If Catherine is my instrument I don't become Catherine totally, I use Catherine. That is why you have to look after it. You have to keep your instrument in good shape when you want to be able to use it. That is why I'm trying to keep going as best as I can because obviously I haven't died right now. That is why I am trying to improve my physical condition so that my instrument is doing a little better again.

For me the most important thing has become to live from this, rather than talk about it. Obviously it is what is asked from me now. So I am learning and learning and nothing but learning. Learning how to be more here. Learning to see WHAT I am more often. And learning to be slow. Everything is really slow for me now which makes you look at things differently. It puts a distance between yourself and the things you used to think were important. When you take the time to just be and look from here at everything you see that all of that is not so urgent. You don't have to do this or that. Whereas when you identify yourself with your little person you think “Oh, I must do this, I must do that, which is often not true.”

I am learning to give up the attachment to my appearance. This body is deteriorating all the time. When I look at my body I think “This is incredible, this is not me!” Only now I get the message that this body really is a temporary envelope that I was given to manage in this short life. It is not who I am. It is just a tool and that is good because I don't care much anymore about my appearance. I do care about it for others. I don't want to give my children the spectacle of an old deteriorating lady. Especially your children get sad when they see someone they love turn into a bad state. And I realise how incredibly short life is. Everything is NOW. All the memories are now. My life has gone by in a flash. It is just a point now. It has all sunk in time.

The art of life is really the art of disappearing. I am constantly learning the art of disappearing. Peace and joy and serenity belong to the place where we are gone as little persons. I am not here as Catherine. I must disappear as little Catherine in order to be as the big One, which is to be pure unconditional love, serenity and timelessness. All this I become when I disappear as the little person. And this is not always easy in everyday life.

So when I talk about the art of disappearing it’s actually what I practise. Every time I find myself caught in the prison called little Catherine I know she has to go. Then I have to do what seeing truly is: turn my attention 180 degrees, look in and see that there is no Catherine here above my shoulders. Here is nothing at all, absolutely nothing.

The world is there. And I can let the flow of love move into it. Actually I don’t like the word love anymore because it is so misused and overused. It is more a compassion. But not compassion in the sense of feeling above the people you have compassion for. Actually I don’t like the word compassion either. What I mean is a feeling of oneness with the whole world, with my flowers here, with you, with this bird, with any creature. You can only have this sense of oneness if you disappear as a little person. Then it is bliss. Then you are free. Free to be, free to love and free to accept everything. As long as you are in the prison of the little person you are too conditioned. It is very painful to accept the hard things then. But when you disappear you see that there is no little person here. There is no Catherine here above my shoulders. Then I am free and everything is different.

Concerning our global evolution I think that Darwin is right. Physically speaking we have evolved from the tiny bacterium until the human being. That is the evolution. Although a human being seems to be the very accomplishment of the evolution to me it seems that this is not the end of the evolution. What can come after a human being?

What is left for us to do, and for nature also, is the evolution of consciousness. I think there are many levels of consciousness and slowly slowly mankind, human beings in general, will have higher levels of consciousness. Probably there will always be low levels and high levels at the same time but now it seems there are increasingly higher levels of consciousness among us human beings. Maybe the last step of the evolution is the evolution of the levels of consciousness. Of course consciousness itself can't change or evolve but our level of consciousness can.

Lately I notice that a whole wave of people is getting interested in full consciousness, in 'la pleine conscience', which is mindfulness. To me it is a sign of a higher level of consciousness even though it is not the end of it. People like Douglas are helping us to make a great step forward. I don't think that this will change the world into a perfect place but it might become a little better. I know some people say that nothing has changed but I don't think it’s true. A few things have changed, even for women. Women are still oppressed in many parts of the world but less so than centuries ago. Nowadays there are more countries where women fought and got most of their rights.

In other fields of course we are now faced with the terrible problem of this barbarian cruelty of these people in the Islamic army. Maybe you can't expect to have a regular evolution. Maybe it goes step by step, maybe a step forwards and a step backwards. But if one could spread seeing, if people would see that it is a fact that we are all the same here, that we all come from the same clear light, then maybe that would bring a better understanding among people. Most of the bad and terrible things that are happening among people happen because people think that they are different. They think that they are separated. If they could see that the differences are so superficial and that we deeply are the same, maybe it would be easier for them to, if not to love, then to accept the others. I am just thinking that it’s a possibility.

I have heard this story about a hundred monkeys: On an island lived a big family of monkeys and they ate potatoes. They stole the potatoes from the fields and at them without washing them. One day, probably it was a lady monkey, had the idea of washing the potatoes and she found that this was so much nicer. She showed her family and her friends and all the surrounding monkey mothers started to wash their potatoes. When the hundredth monkey did it, they all did it and suddenly, on the other islands, the monkeys started to wash their potatoes too.

There is a time or percentage of people who think or do something and then suddenly the whole species does it. I don't know if it is true but here is what I think: the more individuals among us are trying to see and find out who they really are the more it will spread.

So the best we can do is to share the good news and Douglas' wonderful experiments which make seeing who you are so accessible. But we can't force people into practising it or really living it. It is a personal choice or decision. It can remain a dead thing or a nice intellectual view. I think that living from it is much more difficult but it changes everything. Yet the key to our global evolution is how many people are seeing who they are and really living from it.

(See Books for more information)



Breakfast In Salisbury

Breakfast in Salisbury

One morning, at the breakfast table of the yearly Headless Gathering in Salisbury, I was chatting and joking along with some friends. Suddenly, by a flash of enlightening awareness, I realized we were Dutch, German, English and Israeli. As a people we had been at war with each other some 70 years ago. There was no trace of this left. Not even a thankful healing, and not even the remembrance had it not come to me. I realized this is the power of Headlessness, and also the benevolent universe that naturally erases our wounds in time if we don't hold on to them.



No Medal – poetry


Spirituality pins
No medal
To your chest.

It is a raptor
Tracking you
Until you turn
To be its prey.

Raw and alive
He chews you
Swallowing you
Bit by bit.

His dark belly
Extracts your essence
And transmutes that
In his guts.

When he is done
He leaves behind
A little heap
Of gold.

from ‘Tiny Signposts in a Desert’ Karin M Visser, Eloquent Books New York 2009