I’ve only just encountered the ‘Headless Way’ — a way of seeing Who or What you really are, pioneered by D E Harding and currently taught by Richard Lang … it’s an amazing thing to have discovered, especially given my past experiences of encountering the boundless space, and the changes in view I’m just going through.
I’ve had a very slow internet connection over the last few days; so slow that web pages sometimes take a couple of minutes to load. The www.headless.org site has been no exception. Interestingly, as the page loads, instead of the top tabs reading “Home”, “Douglas Harding”, Experiments” etc., in the brief moments before loading properly, they all read “home”. And that’s how I feel just right now. I have found “home”. All my remembered life, I have had glimpses of the eternal boundless space, but, paraphrasing Eliot, “I had the experience but missed the meaning”
Climbing in the Welsh mountains, poised on a rock face, my boundaries dissolve and I am one with the universe. Every small plant, the sky, the rocks, are glorious and detailed, glowing with light and I am not separate from the sky, from the mountain goat who springs through the mist, from the misty valley below Walking up a valley in the Wiltshire downs one spring morning, suddenly it’s as if someone has switched on a glorious light I have never seen before. I am nowhere but everywhere. The spring flowers glow, the sky is a heavenly azure blue, bird song is the most delightful sound I have ever heard. I am not separate. I am the world, the universe.
In church on Easter morning at dawn, under flickering candles. Instead of reading a sermon, Robert decides to fling open the doors and we sit in silence listening to the sound of a solitary blackbird. I am no longer “me”, the identified me which is within this parcel of flesh and bone and skin. I am everywhere. I am unbounded space. The sounds of the bird arise from within the space and fade and rise again in a glorious ripple of notes and silences. In a retreat centre in Bleddfa, doing the washing of the feet meditation. I am transported. I am not me, I am Mary washing the feet of Jesus and knowing I am going to lose him. I am in that eternal boundless space but full of the grief of the world.
In literature, certain things have moved me and stayed with me for reasons I have never been sure of. At school, I particularly loved Edward Thomas’ poem :”Adlestrop”, with its simple and elegant description of those timeless moments. Similarly, Eliot’s Four Quartets (for reasons which seem obvious now) and that glorious line in Kahlil Gibran’s “the Prophet” which reduced me to tears when first encountered: “For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night.”
At one stage in my life I even longed for death. When confronted with cancer, I spent quite some time contemplating what death would be like, and far from finding it terrifying, eventually came to the point where death to me would be a reunion with the glorious boundless space. In my meditation as I “died” I felt myself distributed in particles of golden light back to join with the infinite, deep and tranquil unbounded space. Like a cosmic orgasm. On “return”, back to my body, I felt immensely sad and full of longing. Why did I have to spend more time away from this space? Why spend more years in my earthly body, when I could be part of the unbounded eternal space?
All these experiences which came unbidden have been transitory. I have revelled in the feeling of boundlessness, but know it will fade and I will be left lumpen in my solid and all too fleshy body, sad and full of longing for these glorious experiences. And as I think about them now, they have also all been experiences of losing myself completely in the boundless space… I no longer am “me”, but the boundless space (but if so, who is recognizing the experiences?).
I have, for the most part, conceptualized it as an either/or. Either I am “me” in my body, or I am the boundless space. The only real experience of anything other than this has been in Tantra practice, when I have had the experience of being both the boundless and infinite glorious universe surrounding me, and also at the same time, me. Shakti and Shiva, the giver and receiver, both at the same time… being in my body, and being the infinite space surrounding my body. Quite a glorious, but again relatively transitory experience.
Last week, by complete accident (or is anything ever a complete accident?) I found a link to the Headless Way website. It sounded quite whacky… but being a fairly experiential person, when I read the word “experiments”, and knowing I had some idle moments I decided to give them a go.
Exercise 1 — the pointing exercise. I point at the walls of my boat, at the table, at my knee, at my hand. I take in the shape and form, the edges and boundaries and the space between. I really look. And then I turn my pointing finger towards myself, towards my eyes. I feel my eyes going cross-eyed, trying to turn my eyeballs backwards to look at myself.
Then.. WHAM.. I’m looking into unbounded space. I am unbounded space (and apparently, everythng arising in it) — at this moment … and always!
~ by Carol Dent