Birthday

The best day of my life – my rebirthday, so to speak – was when I found I had no head.

Thus begins the classic On Having No Head. As Douglas Harding sometimes writes, this is it. One doesn’t need to know or understand more than this simple statement. However, there are deeper and deeper implications to this simple seeing (of headlessness) that we can all access and which point, simultaneously, to both the void and the fullness “within.”

Let’s take a moment to look at our surroundings. There is a window, through which some trees and an apartment block are visible. There is a wall, and a half-open door. Here is my table, on which my teacup and the computer rest. Here are my hands, my torso–and, very manifestly, no head. For me, this sudden recognition triggers a sense of a void within which all is operating. There is a feeling of lightness, of not being trapped within my skull and my body, and an urge to laugh with a sense of freedom. Particular sensory imputs–colours, shapes, sounds–stand out in sharp focus.

This is a glimpse of freedom, according to me. However, the thinking process does something interesting with this glimpse. The thinking process wants this experience to be repeated and to live “continuously” in this glimpse. At that point, it is an interesting experiment to relax and see that these insistent thoughts are themselves arising and subsiding in a perfect void that is essentially clear.

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