THE NO-HEAD CIRCLE
Commentary by Richard Lang
You are the One that includes the Many.
Let’s test this claim. See if the following description is true for you.
Stand in a circle with some friends - between say 3 and 10 of you.
Put your arms round each other so that you are close, and look down.
You are looking down into a circle of bodies. Obviously the people there are distinct from one another, each occupying their own space. They do not merge into ‘one’. Each person has their own background and history, name, age, nationality and so on. There we are separate and different from one another. There we are many.
Look at your own body - it disappears above your chest. You are headless. Your body emerges from being, from spacious awareness. There are two sides to you – your individual humanity down there, and this spacious awareness at the top of the circle.
Notice that the other bodies also fade out above their waists or chests - into the same spacious awareness that your body fades into.
Here at the top of the circle there are not many spaces - just one. Here in this edgeless awareness are no dividing lines.
This one awareness belongs to you. It is you – the innermost You. As this consciousness, you include everyone present. All these bodies disappear into and emerge out of your innermost being. They are within you. There we are many, here we are one.
Each of us has our own special point of view, our own thoughts and feelings. Most of this is hidden from others. I don't know what you are thinking, nor what your past is. I might not even know your name. Nor do you know what I’m thinking, and so on. We are distinct and different. To a large extent we are mysteries to one another.
But at the top of the circle you are not different from me, are not hidden from me. Here I see not only Who I really am but Who you really are too, for here nothing divides us, here nothing is held back or concealed. Here I see that you are, like me, open, clear, still, boundless…
Here at the top of the circle, in the silence of being, in this clear vastness, this simplicity, all our differences dissolve, all separation is overcome - without denying or destroying those precious differences revealed down there. The One at the top has room for every point of view, room for every being.
Being The One, The Alone
Looking at the Looker I come home to the One, to the Alone, to Who I really am. Down there in the circle I am one amongst many - others stand either side of me, apart from me, with me, perhaps even against me. But here, above the line of our chests, there are no others. Here all divisions are healed, all separation overcome, all otherness dissolved.
Here, including us all, is the One within all beings. You are that One.
When I assume I am only what I look like, overlooking my spacious inner being, then I consider all others to be outside me, distant, not me, other – and potentially threatening. I confront them with my own face, appearance, body, nationality, age… Confrontation so often leads to conflict. It is a “me and you” situation, an “us and them” scenario.
What difference does it make when I awaken to my spacious being? I am still aware of being a separate individual – I see my body is separate from yours, I know my experiences are different from yours. But I am also aware of being no one and everyone, of being the One that includes all beings. Now I realize you are not simply “other”, you are also myself. Your body is in my being, just as my body is in my being – I am capacity for us both. Now I don’t confront you face to face but include you, space to face. I am you.
To the extent I take this fact seriously, this awareness will change the way I relate to “others” – for now I see that “others” are also myself. Once you have awoken to this deep truth, once you have seen this deep truth, then keep seeing it, keep returning to it, keep being it consciously, keep living from it and exploring what it means. See how it affects the way you respond to others. Enjoy the wonderful, incredible discovery that others are also yourself!
In a crowded railway station, in a café, at a party, at the office, at home, in the supermarket – wherever I am I can choose to be aware that I include and contain everyone and everything. How intimate. How deep. How beautiful. How life changing. How true.
Awaken to and enjoy your inner oneness with all beings!
Continue with another experiment
Comments on this experiment
We are all more or less ill till we find by Self-enquiry our Oneness with everyone else. D.E. Harding
One is the Alone not by way of exclusion but by way of inclusion. D.E. Harding
Here we sink out differences – or rather, we sink and leave our differences floating. D.E. Harding
When he awakens and sees nobody in the house but himself, then he says, ‘I am, and there is nobody other than I.’ Rumi
Turn thy face towards thine own Face: thou hast no kinsman but thyself. Rumi
I am alone. I am the supreme Brahman. I am the Lord of the Universe. Such is the settled conviction of the Mukta. All other experience leads to bondage. Devikalottara
Fear comes when there is a second. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Just want to tell you about the reaction I had to my first glance at the picture of the No-head Circle. In one instant my state of consciousness switched from ordinary seeing (normal sense objects awareness) to headless seeing, (emptiness awareness). It was dramatic! I could almost feel the switch over. I guess the two states do have a different feeling content. In the headless seeing I was aware only that I was aware. I felt big, centred, peaceful, everywhere present. It lasted perhaps a minute or two. Subsequent glances at the image of the headless circle of people again reproduced the headless awareness, but it took longer to get to feel it.
I have now cut out the No-head Circle illustration on the front of your workshop brochure, put it into a smart little frame and I have it standing on my desk, facing me.
Repeated glances at it during the day are helping me to cement the headless seeing into a more permanent and recognisable mode of awareness. R.B. South Africa
What was my immediate response on seeing the drawing? [the no-head circle] “The Tenth Man is the Absent Man who is looking.” I so often ‘play this game’ when in company, whether there are 3 people or 10 people! The circle is enlarged or decreased depending upon those present. Who and what I am as Douglas puts it so clearly is “this disappearance in favour of others.” R.N. South Africa
I found the experiment of forming a circle very interesting, in spite of its simplicity. In this experiment, which we usually do at the end of our meetings but sometimes (like yesterday) at the beginning, participants gather in a circle, each one’s arms on the shoulders of his or her neighbor, and at first all look down at all the legs hanging like clothes on a clothesline. In this experiment, my own legs don’t seem to belong to me any more than to one of the other participants, and moreover, the awareness of all the legs doesn’t particularly belong to me either! Amazing! Then we raise our heads and look at all the heads – one missing, of course. Must the awareness then become mine and not someone else’s? It’s very perplexing! R.W. U.S.A.
Continue with another experiment
back to top