Brief overview of the Headless Way approach to finding what we are.
If you are that person in your field… if they are in a positive state they are spreading positive energy and you are that positive energy, and if they are spreading negative energy you are that negative energy, so the company you keep becomes more important if you are living from that space.– one of the hosts of the Rising Laterally podcast in an interview with Richard Lang, ca. 40 minutes in
Richard answered this very well, and I thought I would explore it a bit for myself.
The context of this quote
The Rising Laterally folks interviewed Richard Lang who spoke about the Headless Way and the headless experiments.
Through the headless experiments, we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us. We are that which the world, as we experience it, happens within and as.
We are the content of our experience, including whatever people we encounter or are with.
When the host said “if you are that person in the field”, he referred to this. That we are capacity for other people, as we experience them, and they happen within and as what we are. We are them, in a very immediate way, for the time they are with us and in our experience.
What does positive & negative energy mean?
I am not sure.
I suspect “positive energy” can mean someone intentionally “positive”, which can be very annoying and not helpful in the long run for the person feeling they need to live that way. It can also mean someone generally healthy and content with life.
And “negative energy” may refer to what happens when we are in pain and react to that pain, for instance through catastrophic thinking, blame, going into victimhood, or something similar.
The different layers
When we notice what we are, how do we relate to others?
Do we, as one of the hosts of the podcast said, avoid “negative energy” more carefully? Or does something else happen?
Whether we notice what we are or not, our human self still has personal preferences. We’ll still be drawn to some people and less to others. That’s natural and not a problem.
When we find ourselves as capacity for our world, we also realize that as capacity, we are not really touched by any of it. We don’t need to avoid “negative energy”, whatever that means.
Depending on our maturity at our human level, we may not see it as “negative energy”. We may see it as someone in pain. Someone struggling with their pain and trying to deal with it as best as they can. We may come more from empathy and understanding. We may make ourselves available, for a time, for this other person and listen, be with them, and see if something else is appropriate and seems helpful.
At the same time, we want to be a good steward of our life. We may spend some time with people who are in pain and react to their pain in different ways. Although, we may not want to marry that person or someone we don’t resonate with at a human level.
The complexity of it
It’s a complex topic. We will have our preferences at a human level. We find that what we are is not touched by how others are. We may have more understanding and empathy. We may want to be a friend to the person and spend some time with them. We’ll want to be a good steward of our own life.
How we see and relate to others when they are in pain depends on a wide range of things. Our maturity. How much we have healed ourselves. What we have gone through at a human level. How much we generally have investigated ourselves. Our relationship with that person and the role we find ourselves in. And so on.
The world is our mirror
What much of this boils down to is that we relate to others as we relate to ourselves.
If we have trained ourselves to think about something as “negative energy” and to shun and avoid it in ourselves, we’ll tend to do the same when we encounter it in others.
If we have explored this in ourselves, found that it comes from our reaction to our own pain, that it’s innocent and comes from a desire to protect ourselves, and generally befriended it and seen more clearly what it is about, we may not feel we need to shun or avoid it. We see that it feels better to meet it, be with it, find love for it, and investigate what’s behind it. And if that’s the case, we’ll tend to meet it in a similar way when we encounter it in others.
What would Jesus do?
Since Jesus is an archetype of sorts for living from this space, as capacity for the world, what did he do? According to the stories, he spent his time with the outcasts of society, with prostitutes, tax collectors, and similar people others shunned.
Why? Perhaps because he knew these people needed a friend more than many others. Perhaps he wanted to see what was left in him of old conditioning. Perhaps he did it as an example and pointer to those in the mainstream who tended to shun these groups of people.
The simplicity of it
Ultimately, it can also be quite simple.
When we meet someone in pain, and perhaps are caught up in reaction to their pain, what would an ordinary, kind human being do? It doesn’t have to more complicated than that.
I just started listening to the audio version of On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious by Douglas Harding, narrated by Richard Lang.
Although it’s several years since I discovered this book, Douglas Harding, and the Headless experiments, it feels fresh and new. And I am reminded of how much I enjoy and love this approach to finding what we really are.
The approach is simple, direct, honest, and pragmatic, and can be profoundly transformative for anyone sincerely exploring it.
The best way to begin may be with this book, or the Headless Way website.