In my last post, I suggested the journey has no beginning and no end, we travel no distance, and the destination is our essential nature that has always been right here. We have expectations of a magical encounter that will set us free. We are confident that there exists a better version of ourselves that, when awakened, will take over and lead the way to happiness. But when we wake up from the dream, everything changes. The briefest of glimpses is all it takes. One flash and we realize the journey was just an aspect of the dream, a wonderful dream, but no more substantial than any other part of the dream.
If we end up where we started, why take the first step? Why do we look for guides to help us? Why do we follow a pointing or read another spiritual book or go on a retreat or meditate for hours or…? Why should we do anything? I think we are wired for something more. I believe being human is going up and down, in and out, back and forth on our journey of discovery. We are compelled by our true nature and to experience life from an awakened perspective. It doesn’t mean difficulties and challenges disappear, but now we see a journey worth taking. That’s why we take the first step and need guides and books and blogs and community and the whole lot. Even after a powerful awakening experience, the journey isn’t over. It’s just begun.
I have read books, listened to podcasts, gone on retreats, studied the masters, followed the guidance, attended church, prayed, been filled with the spirit, healed the sick, gone on mission trips, fasted, meditated, chanted, unlocked chakras, and more. Even on the frustrating detours, the journey has shown me that if you are stuck, you might need some help. I would like to share some of my experiences and guides with you. Hearing confirmation or being pressed to expand my search helped me through the sticky spots in my own walk. I tell my kids they will find what they are looking for in the last place they look for it if they keep looking.
A definite search pattern expander has been Douglas Harding and his successor Richard Lang. You can check them out on their website or on the headless way app. Douglas wrote several books, lead a large following, and is still influential today with his provocative approach to a direct experience of our essential nature.
Douglas’s approach points out our headlessness through direct experience. Insert pause for dramatic effect. I did say provocative.
He shares his own awakening experience and lays out the foundation of his approach in his seminal work ‘On Having No Head.’ It’s a short read but is incredibly more impactful than its page count. Check it out for yourself. The book is well-written, entertaining, and life-changing.
In later posts, I will share some of my insights provoked by an experience of headlessness, but for now, how about trying his most basic experiment.
Start by pointing at something across the room. Hold your hand out in front of your face and point at an object over there. Take a good look at your thing. Admire its edges and uniqueness. Open your gaze to include the rest of the room out to the edges of your field of view. Now point at the floor between you and your object. Keep your gaze wide but your attention on the floor. Now point at your feet. Notice how they fit in the scene. Now point at your shirt. Take in the whole scene and admire your awesome shirt. Now turn your hand and point at where your head should be. Look at where you are pointing. Do you have a head? Do you have a face? Into what is your body terminating? At what are you pointing?
Richard Lang says this about what he finds:
Looking into the place where others see my face, I find no colour or shape here. I find boundless capacity or awareness this side of my pointing finger. This capacity is empty, clear, transparent. It is self-evidently awake, aware.
At the same time this capacity is full of everything happening in it: my finger, my view of the scene beyond, sounds, feelings…
I am now seeing Who I really am – seeing the boundless One at the very heart of myself, the One in whom the world is happening.
What do you find? Are you also looking out of this wide-open, crystal clear, awareness?
The most enlightened, realized, fully awake person on the planet still has to discover what life is like from a radically new perspective. In an absolute, non-dual sense, all our answers are found in what we are, which is everything there is. Sometimes we need a little help seeing past our conditioned limitations. The recognition of headlessness, what is at zero, space for the world was a powerful, mind-altering revelation. I hope it does the same for you. Your first reaction may be, “so what?” but don’t let that frustrate you into not looking again. It may take a while to unravel what you have worked so hard to construct.
Yep, there is no place to go and no path to get there, and no thing to find when you get there, but the journey is worth it. Hopefully, headlessness will help you on your way, especially if you are stuck…in your head.