Daniel Shai joined us Saturday night in the Awakening Together Sanctuary for a discussion of the Headless Way
Over the past [sixty] years a truly contemporary and Western way of ‘seeing into one’s Nature’ or ‘Enlightenment’ has been developing. Though in essence the same as Zen, Sufism, and other spiritual disciplines, this way proceeds in an unusually down-to-earth fashion. It claims that modern man is more likely to see Who he really is in a minute of active experimentation than in years of reading, lecture-attending, thinking, ritual observances, and passive meditation of the traditional sort. Instead of these, it uses a variety of simple, non-verbal, fact-finding tests, all of them asking: how do I look to myself? They direct my attention to my blind spot – to the space I occupy, to what’s given right here at the Centre of my universe, to what it’s like being 1st-person singular, present tense. (From The Headless Way, a leaflet by Douglas Harding.)
Douglas found direct, immediate and utterly simple ways of Seeing Who We Really Are, as he was searching for a way to share his awakening with others. He called his way The Headless Way.
After his death, his way lives on through his wife and friends, and all the people who have been deeply touched by him. Richard Lang, who knew Douglas since he was 17, has since kept on publishing Douglas’ work and sharing Headless Seeing around the world, through workshops, retreats and speaking annually at such events as The Science & Non-Duality Conference in California.
A great help as the world goes through its awakening, is having all the messages of the great sages become de-mystified and experienced first-hand. Picking up and elaborating on the breakthrough first presented to the world by Douglas Harding decades ago, Daniel Shai powerfully introduces us to our True Self.
Daniel discovered he had great passion to share this remarkable Way with the world. After meeting Richard and other headless friends he set off on a world-tour offering workshops and talks worldwide about non-duality and The Headless Way, beginning in Israel, through Europe and now the USA, as well as giving one-on-one sessions to anyone interested.
The impact of Daniel’s workshops is very powerful and is capable of producing a significant shift in the participant’s view of life thereafter. Now they know Who’s experiencing life, and it is certainly a different and more expansive and free space to live from. This immediate shift is due to the revolutionary tools introduced by Douglas, combined with Daniel’s direct, clear and light approach, inviting us to see what is true and let go of what is untrue. Douglas simply told it as it is. That has made him into a great light unto the world.
Daniel had his awakening while sitting in his living room in Israel: he felt a lot of pressure on the top of his head. Placing his attention on the sensation he realized that in his actual experience there was indeed sensation but no head. Instead of a head there was an absence out of which there was pure looking. In that moment, everything in the room became the same: his body, the living room table, the floor, the couch – it was all the same and it all seemed to be silently laughing. Laughing at what? At that there never were two! Everything was present, except himself as a separate being. There was no experience of effort or wanting, and a great joy emerged in which he felt everything as himself, one with everything while simultaneously untouched by anything. It was an experience of pure light.
Leading up to this awakening were several satoris or as he calls them – headless moments. They began when he was first introduced to Osho’s books, then J. Krishnamurti, and kept happening on his spiritual journey, which included studying and practicing Gurdjieff’s teachings, staying at a Buddhist monastery in Nepal, visiting teachers such as Ramesh Balsekar and working with several other such awake teachers.
Before his spiritual journey, as a teenager, Daniel was very depressed. He was struggling with the question of identity. He saw a frightening world in which no one knew who they were, what they are doing and why, yet they all seemed to go on with the show, pretty much on automatic, afraid to stop and ask the real questions. He hadn’t encountered or even heard of spirituality until nearing his twenties, when a friend had dragged him to a session with a woman who was a channeler and numerologist. At the end of the session she recommended an Osho book to him: Beyond the Frontiers of the Mind. He was familiar with philosophy and psychology, since he delved into them to try and solve his depression. It didn’t help. But right as he began reading the aforementioned book he felt a powerful connection that went beyond words and philosophy: an awakening to his own Being had been set in motion.
After his awakening experience, Daniel recalled that somewhere on his spiritual journey he came across videos of a man who said he had no head. He barely remembered the name Douglas Harding but managed to find it online. You can guess how ecstatic he was reading about this man who had the same realization as himself decades ago. The first time he came across Harding he was utterly unimpressed. It was a shot youtube clip of Harding sharing one of his experiments. He was not ready for that simplicity, and was hoping for a more earth-rattling experience that would match his idea of enlightenment at that time, and therefore overlooked the obvious pointed out by Douglas. Daniel does, however, believe that many people today are ready for immediate and simple pointing, and his experience with his workshops seems to prove that true.
After the workshops, people are not left on their own. There are headless groups online and offline which they can join and share Seeing with, as well as discuss the experience of living from Who We Really Are in this world. Also, Daniel, Richard and others are available and accessible and enjoy connecting with headless friends all over the world and supporting them on their path. There is no hierarchy in The Headless Way as there are no levels to Seeing.