The Headless Way
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1. Touching My "Head"

Richard Lang

A common objection to headlessness is:

“I can’t see my head, it’s true, but I can touch it, so I do have a head here!”

Let’s explore this not through debate but through direct experience.

When I touch my 'head' I see my fingers disappearing, followed by the experience of touch sensations.

Touch your 'head' now. What do you experience?

Are those sensations happening on the surface of your head – heads are solid, coloured, shaped things – or in spacious awareness?

For me they’re happening in spacious awareness.

Here’s Douglas Harding on this subject:

“And if it occurs to me that all this is very visual, and that I can actually feel this solid thing here, filling up the seeming void at the centre of my world, why then I start stroking and pinching and pummelling this thing. Only to find it still isn’t any thing at all, let alone a pink and white and hairy and opaque and all-together-in-one-piece thing. Instead, I find a succession of touch sensations that are no more substantial than the sounds and smells and tastes and so on, which also come and go in the same space.” (from On Having No Head)

Of course I’ve learned that a particular sensation manifests to others (or to myself when I look in the mirror) as the appearance of my mouth, say, or my ear, and so on. And of course it’s vital to know this. It means I understand there’s a direct correlation between what I feel here and my appearance over there. Without this understanding I couldn’t function in society. But this understanding, as much as it is vital for living in the world, doesn't make me into a thing here at centre, separate from every other thing.


If sense-data are literally inside the brain we are committed to the conclusion that they are always smaller than the things to which they belong, (or else) that our own head is very much larger than it appears to be from touch. H.H. Price

2. Touching Things

Steve Munroe

Not only do we 'take on' the appearance of what we see and hear but we also take on the texture of whatever we touch - as we can now see by doing this quick experiment:

Extend your index finger and touch any object or surface that's close at hand. It can be anything - the chair, the carpet, your clothes, anything.

What is it that can be sensed here?

Is it a case of feeling the tip of your finger and the object being touched? Or rather, is there only one sensation present, that of the object at hand? The texture of the cloth, the smoothness of the wood. In fact isn't it true to say that the tip of your finger has magically transformed itself into the object you are touching? Your finger tip is that object! Your finger tip has to be empty of itself so that it can take on the texture of the object. In fact the same is true of all your skin over all your body, and of course, of all your senses.

Here is another way of showing ourselves our real and true nature, that is, emptiness for the world to happen in.

Continue with another experiment


To know a thing is to become it. Erigena

The whole great Earth is nothing but you. Hsueh-feng

All knowledge is, in the strict sense, assimilation. St. Bonaventure

The proper consideration for one of highest spiritual capacity is the absolute unity of knower, knowing, and known. Gampopa

A sudden perception that Subject and object are one will lead you to a deeply mysterious wordless understanding - you will waken to the truth of Zen. Huang-po

Bodhisattvas are able to expand their bodies to the ends of the universe. Gandavyuha Sutra

For a Self-realised being the body does not exist. Anandamayi Ma

Unform thyself. Tauler


After contemplating some of the touch experiments on the website I made a small discovery of my own today which you might find interesting...

If I rub my hands together I find I am all fingers and thumbs. If instead I close my eyes and explore my left hand carefully with my right - caressing the fingers, exploring the spaces between, touching my finger nails, my wedding ring - I find my left hand takes solid shape while my right hand disappears completely! The amazing thing is that if I then explore my right hand with my left, I find (on the other hand) that my left hand now disappears in favour of my right. Not only now without a head, I have also lost a hand -
though I can't tell which. I wonder if I shall lose myself completely?

In these days of much hand-wringing this a useful pointer to my true nature which I can practice anywhere without arousing too much suspicion! Mark.

Continue with another experiment

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