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Five Useful Headless Resources

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Well it turns out there’s been much more interest in Douglas Harding’s Headless Way than I initially thought. I’ve had quite a few lengthy comments and a lot more emails than normal. Evidently Headlessness has struck a chord with a lot of you, and people have a lot of questions.

I can’t explain everything about it here though, for three reasons. First of all, I don’t want to write about the same topic for too long because I know not everyone is interested. Secondly, I can’t do nearly as good a job describing headlessness as Douglas Harding can and already has. And finally, this is a method of self-enquiry, which means you’ll have to do most of the exploring and experimenting yourself to get the most out of it.

So here are five excellent resources on headlessness, all available from your computer chair.

1) www.headless.org

Most of you have been here already. The center of the Headless community on the web, it’s run by Richard Lang, Harding’s good friend and the co-ordinator of the Sholland Trust, a charitable organization formed to help educate people about the Headless Way. www.headless.org has loads of information about headlessness, including videos, interviews, articles and stories.

The experiments section (which you’ve probably already visited) is the key to understanding headlessness. Each one demonstrates a different aspect of headlessness. There are about a dozen experiments in all. “Seeing Who You Are” is a particularly good one.

None of them are useful unless you do them though.

2) On Having No Head

If you’ve found something intriguing in Headlessness but could use some clarification, there is no better resource than Harding’s first book, On Having No Head. He’s a sharp writer, engaging and hilarious. The book covers the initial seeing, making sense of it, and the progression of incorporating headlessness in your life. He deals with the common “so what?” response (he had it himself), the practical application of headlessness, and the formation and dissolution of the ego. It’s really quite entertaining and he does a much better job at describing it than I do here.

It’s available on Amazon for about ten dollars, and you can preview the book there as well. You can also buy it through www.headless.org’s bookshop if you prefer to support the Shollond Trust. Neither are affiliate links. On Having No Head has had a bigger influence on my quality of life than just about any book I’ve read.

3) People’s accounts of headlessness

I love this section of Headless.org. It’s a collection of comments and anecdotes about ordinary people’s experiences with headlessness. It really helped me reconcile my own experiences with what I was “supposed” to see. I learned that a lot of the people had similar experiences to what I had, and to the experiences many of you described in the comments here on Raptitude.

These are so useful because different people tend to describe headlessness in different ways, with different words. It gives you a lot of angles from which to think about it.

The comments are divided into dozens of categories, including experiences with mirrors, first experiences, how headlessness clarified scriptures to people, and more.

I draw your attention to the “First seeing” category. For many people, the first try was quite disappointing, but it didn’t remain like that.

4) Catharine Harding’s Podcast

This is a three-part podcast of a talk by Douglas Harding’s wife Catharine. Each part is about 30 minutes long. Much of the podcast is guided experiments administered by Catharine to an Australian interviewer, but the first ten minutes is an excellent introduction to headlessness, as she talks about what led Douglas to his discoveries. If you’ve only got ten minutes check that part out.

Here is part one.

She’s quite well-spoken and likable. Thanks to Jeremy Ramsay for finding this.

5) Reflections: A free course in seeing

Richard Lang puts out a great Newsletter, which is a series of instructional articles followed by short reflections on headlessness, mostly poignant excerpts from Harding’s writings. It begins with a welcome from Richard, in which he explains where to start and where to go from there.

Occasionally he sends out news about headlessness, such as where there are workshops being held and where you can find new publications on Douglas Harding. In the last edition, there was a link to “A good article on Douglas Harding” and when I clicked it I was surprised to find it was mine.


I’ll publish one more post related to Headlessness on Monday and then it will be back to your regularly scheduled programming. But this topic is so widely applicable it is bound to make more appearances on Raptitude in the future.

Have fun exploring.


Photo by mugley

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Jaky Astik August 26, 2010 at 1:25 am

I watched the first video and am hooked. Watching the other three videos now. It’s amazing to realize who we are. Experiments are fun!

Eric | Eden Journal August 26, 2010 at 7:08 am

I like the comments section that you recommend. I really enjoy reading about the lightbulb moments, when the experiments finally click and they can see the world from their headless perspective.

David August 26, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I just found this incredible passage by John Updike that describes emptiness perfectly:

Two sensations stood out as peculiarly blissful in my childhood… The first has been alluded to: the awareness of things going by, impinging on my consciousness, and then, all beyond my control, sliding away toward their own destination and destiny. The traffic on Philadelphia Avenue was such; the sound of an engine and tires would swell like a gust of wind, the head- light beam would parabolically wheel about the papered walls of my little room, and then the lights and the sound would die, and that dangerous creature of combustion and momentum would be out of my life. To put myself to sleep, I would picture logs floating down a river and then over a waterfall, out of sight. Mailing letters, flushing a toilet, reading the last set of proofs-all have this sweetness of riddance. The second intimation of deep, cosmic joy, also already hinted at, is really a variation of the first; the sensation of shelter, of being out of the rain, but just out. I would lean close to the chill windowpane to hear the raindrops ticking on the other side; I would huddle under bushes until the rain penetrated; I loved doorways in a shower. On our side porch, it was my humble job, when it rained, to turn the wicker furniture with its seats to the wall, and in these porous woven caves I would crouch happy almost to tears, as the rain drummed on the porch rail and rattled the grape leaves of the arbor and touched my wicker shelter with a mist like a vain assault of an atomic army. In both species of delightful experience, the reader may notice, the experiencer is motionless, holding his breath as it were, and the things experienced are morally detached from him: there is nothing he can do, or ought to do, about the flow, the tumult. He is irresponsible, safe, and witnessing: the entire body, for these rapt moments, mimics the position of the essential self in its jungle of physiology, its moldering tangle of inheritance and circumstance. Early in his life, the child I once was sensed the guilt in things, inseparable from the pain, the competition: the sparrow dead on the lawn, the flies swatted on the porch, the impervious leer of the bully on the school playground. The burden of activity, of participation, must clearly be shouldered, and had its pleasures. But they were cruel pleasures. There was nothing cruel about crouching in a shelter and letting phenomena slide by: it was ecstasy. The essential self is innocent, and when it tastes its own innocence knows that it lives forever. If we keep utterly still, we can suffer no wear and tear, and will never die. John Updike, from A Soft Spring Night in Shillington.

Cameron Hurd October 27, 2012 at 10:45 am

David – thanks. That passage dovetails beautifully with the headless odyssey that’s unfolding in my life right now.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) August 29, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Thanks for the link~ signed up for the newsletter

Guy June 8, 2014 at 8:46 am

Many, many thanks for ‘pointing’ me in the direction of headless.org

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