by contemplativeinquiry

Last Sunday evening I returned home from Look for Yourself, “a residential workshop to explore the headless way in every day life and how to explore it” (1).

The workshop was four days long. It brought together some 50 people, with varied levels of experience, who practise the headless way. The note was one of experiment and celebration. The facilitation was excellent.

This was my first experience of working in community in this way, and I am immensely grateful for it. Sharing my experience, and exploring its meaning with others dedicated to the same practice, provides a reference point and resource for my everyday life.

In this tradition, ‘Seeing’, being a ‘Seer’, involves an initial surrender to naivety and seeing through the eye of the infant. Pointing away from myself, I see light, colour, form. Pointing in, where others see my face, I see nothing – and light, colour and form fill the space and sit on my shoulders. I discover myself as clear, awake space – and capacity for the world. Ultimately, I AM the nothing, which contains everything.

Seeing is a valley experience. Although I feel open and inclined to be friendly, I do not experience bliss or euphoria. I do not feel that I know everything or have gained special abilities. Seeing is just what it is, with a certain understanding. It is reliable, repeatable and doesn’t go away.

When I move into Seeing in my morning practice at home, it feels like a sacrament rather than a meditation. I have even evolved a brief liturgy for when I move out of the formal practice – imagining Sophia both as Wisdom and as Love:

Wisdom says I am nothing; Love says I am everything.

In the silent stillness of Seeing, I AM.

In the cosmic web of creation, i become.

It acts as a reminder that I have learned how to open the gates of Heaven gently, from within, understanding my true nature. James no longer has to look for ways of getting them to open from the outside – whether through humble prayer or siege by meditation.

Most of the time i am James, timebound in 3D reality, and i like this, enjoy it indeed: the task and privilege of a human is to live a human life. However Seeing involves being able to distinguish the i of James and the I of Awareness (the little one and the big one as we would say in the workshop). In Seeing, we take the goal as the path. We begin our exploration of the mountain from the top. Part of the work, then, is to refine our understanding of the experience and of an I/i, One/many cosmos (where these identities are distinct but not separate). The rest of the work is to maintain access to the experience and connection with its meaning. We can then learn to live our human lives out of it.

As I see it now, Seeing is our awakening. The headless way offers a minimalist yet subtle teaching, without any prescribed path or normative ethics. It also provides a loose-knit yet strong seeming community. The form of contemplation is the simplest possible – just Seeing: the simplest, yet also the most profound.

(1) http://www.headless.org