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I met Douglas, some 20 years ago, in Stockholm. He was conducting a workshop that changed my life. His name was at the top of my list for a search when I was starting to surf the Web a couple of days ago. To my surprise he was still around. He must be 90 something! It's been an interesting (to put it mildly) process since I lost my head. Difficult to talk about with my friends. It has completely changed my stand in life. Or should I say it has put me firmly up-side-down. Before I was unfirmly down-side-up. M.E. Sweden.

I also wanted to say a bit about the effect an awareness of headlessness has on an individual. I was worried that my personality would change, that I would turn into a blob with no will, or I might lose capacity for joy and pleasure. I quizzed Douglas about this at the time and his reply was that awareness of one's headlessness doesn't make any difference. This is the way it is, one has always been headless, one has always acted from one's essence. But it makes a huge difference in that one KNOWS one's true nature. Not a lot of help but this is the nature of this whole thing--it is a paradox! My personality probably has changed over the years. I am perhaps calmer, appear more confident, more empathic etc. but nothing very drastic as far as I can tell. S. UK.

S., You are right, I think, that in the end it is all paradox. I find that the problematic personality remains where he belongs, out there and not here where there is only Empty Clarity, the problem and stress-free zone. In this sense, then, with seeing, myself as a person does disappear, but only from the spot where he never was anyway. As a result, my life and it's problems continue on, but somehow they are held differently than before, within a context of spaciousness, which allows them to come and go with a lightness, compassion, and lack of clinging (and with humour even!) that would not be possible from the third-person perspective alone. It is also true that some problems do just simply fall away with seeing, and others transform. Nevertheless, the rule for me is "There are no rules, just look and then see what happens". And then everything in the end, at the deepest level, is all right. C. Canada.

Something I'm experimenting with at the moment: I seem to be very good at procrastinating in certain areas. Making a 'difficult' phone call, for instance. Bearing in mind the practice I have been doing of Douglas' work, I'm noticing the effect of the 'First Person Singular' approach.

For instance, instead of 'making a difficult telephone call', what am I actually doing? Why, these hands I see are moving this thing I call a handset. These fingers I see are making those little buttony things move up and down. I hear sounds which I seem to interpret as words coming from somewhere on my left (or right). I feel a sensation which seems to be connected with sounds which are being produced somewhere below and in front of me. etc.

It's the external view, and the judgement of it, which makes the act difficult. Viewed from inside, all acts are equal - and equally miraculous, I guess. J. UK

I'd like to tell you guys about a neat experience with Headlessness and a business meeting I ran over the last two days. It was our ("we" are a fairly large Energy sector Engineering/Construction company) yearly Strategic Planning Meeting, sixteen senior managers, the VP and Chairmen and me, the most junior person, who was the 'facilitator', essentially running the meeting.

A potentially stressful event like this can bring out insecure (or pushy) behaviour in me, but I'm learning humility slowly over the past many years.

Whenever I started to assert myself, things went downhill, whenever I receded into quietness ("letting them get on with it") things went downhill.

The knack is being humble and confident (I expect I'm reporting lessons many of you have learned long ago).

Anyway, I was going into 'headless space' from time to time as a better place to operate from, but the striking thing happened at lunch. I experienced them as 'in me', a factual observation, but real, nice. And effective. We had the best planning meeting we've ever had and "I" (the one without a head) was complimented on how I managed the meeting.

This Headless stuff is as insubstantial as air, yet equally useful. A. Canada

I've been wanting to address myself to a question asked some time ago by V., who wondered what the practical applications of this Seeing might be. I've been thinking about a few possible applications in my life, V., and thought I'd share them with the group.

I'm cautious about sounding like I'm offering a testimonial: Seeing saved me from a train accident! Without Seeing I would have had pneumonia! etc. And I'm also aware of the difficulty of measuring whether some particular phenomenon is indeed due to noticing one's Absence--maybe it's the pollen level or the banana I had for breakfast. Since it's already 24 years ago that Alan R. put me into a paper bag, it's probably impossible by this time to figure out how my life would have been different if he had kept the bag in his pocket.

But a few things do seem to result from Seeing; I'll try to articulate them! First, taking risks. A recent headless correspondent spoke to me of being able to play the fool in business meetings, to question the status quo, because from headlessness, he saw he had nothing to lose. (One could also say, nothing to gain.) I noticed that risk-taking also seems easy for me in some contexts--especially the ease of public speaking and being able to do outrageous things in teaching, with acting, humor, etc. I don't experience being able to take risks in all situations, and I do feel restraint, self-control, prudence at the same time--I haven't yet squandered my fortune at the race track. But I feel more able to be vulnerable and to experiment than I perhaps would have without seeing this "Nothing here to lose."

A second possible benefit: being open to people. I think of another story of C. from the summer -- "I was taking care of my grandchildren in the country this summer, and there was a dreadful woman living next-door. I thought 'Oh dear, I'm going to have to deal with her for two weeks--I had better be very kind, careful what I say, virtuous to her.' Then I stopped myself and said 'No, that won't work.' The next time I saw her, I just made her the center of my attention and noticed my absence at the same time. I got out of the way for her, and ennobled her. Soon, I felt as if I wanted to hug her, and then, she became a good friend."

Well, I experience this, and sometimes I deliberately practice it if someone seems especially difficult or unpleasant. Seeing No-thing here makes their difficult traits less difficult--those people become quintessentially themselves, playing their part better than anyone else could play it! Seeing "there's nothing here blocking the way" lets them in. (However, as with risk-taking mentioned above, there is still caution and necessary self-protection, even if there's no perceived self to protect! And not every person appears in this void equally lovable and interesting - they are variegated in that respect, just as in size and shape.) It's the lack of lovability, size and shape where I am that's uniform, accepting and inviting.

The last benefit I'd like to mention is in creative work. I'm a composer, and in that work I frequently notice what seems another Seeing by-product - what I call the Toaster effect, where sounds and ideas just pop up! I was trained at a time where control and intellectual understanding of what one was doing was considered important--considering each part of the piece in relation to the whole, working toward a consistency and unity, and so on. Those underlying constraints and considerations still operate, though perhaps not in a fully conscious way--that's what having a technique means, and you can't be an artist without it. But in addition to technique, there is this amazing spontaneity--ideas just appearing from the mysterious void. Fun to experience more and more freedom. J.H. USA.

Reading today Reflection 6 I was reminded of a recent unexpected, and potentially very upsetting and stressful situation that came my way. As I started to feel distressed I suddenly remembered and did the pointing experiment. I found the stillness and not only was I then at peace but was able to attend to the situation and bring about what has turned out to be a very positive and rewarding resolution. What a blessing it is to See. Jane. U.K.

Its interesting that when I point to myself I feel an incredible release. My breathing slows, my shoulders relax, I feel more open. I guess that is what happens when you touch base with who you really are - you feel better immediately! Jim.

I'd like to share with you how I am doing since I do the experiments:
I feel totally at ease and very quiet most of the time. It is as if the mirror has been wiped clear, or better said: a lot of old dust just evaporated. The 'eye of God' is just looking. Sometimes a well-known old thought pops up: how long will it last? I then am afraid that I can't hold it. But I know now I don't need to hold anything what is always there; I just then need to refocus, to point at my no-face, and there I am again! So simple.
 
On my daily life it has a great impact:
- more clarity,
- I just do what has to be done, without resistance,
- my wife can relax more with me now that I live from this peaceful space,
- I respond in stead of react to others and situations; I am the capacity for everything happening,
- I immediately see when a movie is starting up, before unfolding his full potential, I am the witness of rise and fall of emotions and thoughts,
- my mind is much clearer now
- very special: I looked at lots of video- and audiotapes from enlightened men and women. I didn't really understand what they pointed at. Now I see from which space they are talking and I really understand what they mean. ONE HEART.
Berend



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