A New Adventure
It is quite astonishing to me how I have studied Zen and Theravada Buddhism for such a long time, traveled far for it, while, 'next door' (I'm Dutch), in England the headless movement was flourishing. I can now see how much dogma, silly costumes, and unnecessary practices I went through. I find this quite hilarious. I am sometimes overwhelmed with the richness of the experience. When it fades I simply point at my no-face and it is back straight away. One has to be a bit careful not be seen as a bit crazy. I was doing the pointing experiments with a friend in a restaurant yesterday for example.
I would like to tell you a bit more about my seeing experiences: When I was a child and later a teenager, I 'saw' all the time. I was terrified of it as I had no references to it. When I was 27 I had a very strong experience that lasted for months. I went through extensive psychotherapy and the sense of 'non-self' and 'becoming the other' was described as a kind of illness by well meaning professionals.
It was then that I found Zen to try to understand it. I practised Zazen and mindfulness (through Japanese calligraphy) and later Theravada Buddhism for 30 years, stayed in monasteries, almost ordained as a nun (and did not because of the inequality between men and women in Buddhism).... I came across Douglas Harding's work only months ago and it has given me all the answers I was looking for. Simple as that. Most koans and mysterious remarks by teachers made sense. And those that did not made sense I could disregard as nonsense and know why they were nonsense. I have done a tremendous amount of sitting, reading, going through pain, bowing, strict eating habits, etc, etc.. I'm 57 now and suddenly look back to it quite amused. I had to drift away from Zen and Theravada to find the headless thing. What a long and winding road! I finally can make perfect sense of the experiences I was so terrified of a long time ago. This of course is a massive relief, but it is also very simple and plain and not a peak experience at all, really. As they say in Zen: Before seeing: cut wood, fetch water, after seeing: cut wood, fetch water.
What the experiments have done so far is: they make my 'mind' really small. It is there, amongst all other things. It has jumped out of my broken head and it has joined the enormous world. In the first weeks of pointing it literally felt as if my head was disappearing bit by bit. The last bit that went was the back of my head. This is most relaxing.
It is now a matter of keeping it up by mindfulness. To this I'm looking forward. Getting older suddenly does not seem a chore anymore, but a new adventure. Douglas Harding and you are the cause of this. Thank you!!!!!