The Headless Way in Three Dimensions
by Brian Tom O'Connor
Many of you have heard of Douglas Harding's spiritual technique known as "The Headless Way," which we discussed on a previous episode of Awareness Explorers with guest explorer Richard Lang.
For those not familiar with the Headless Way, here's a little background: Douglas Harding was a twentieth century British philosopher and spiritual teacher who was deeply influenced by the great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi, whose the self-inquiry method encouraged devotees to look within themselves for their true nature—that is, instead of what is being seen, what's doing the seeing.
Harding came across a drawing by Ernst Mach which was a self-portrait, but from the point of view of what is looking out of his eyes. In other words, it depicted only his body below the head. This triggered a realization that what was looking was not some separate self within his head, but instead "space for the world," as Richard Lang puts it—boundless, timeless space.
Harding, and later Lang, devised many methods to bring about this self-realization, beginning with a simple technique of pointing your finger at your head, drawing your attention inward and seeing that all that is seen and all that can be seen is within, and none other than, yourself.
You can learn more about Richard Lang, Douglas Harding, and The Headless Way at headless.org.
Fast forward to a few months ago when I met Tomas Peeters, an artist from Belgium, now living in California, who deeply resonated with the Headless Way experiments. Tomas has created gorgeous and ingenious three-dimensional interactive sculptures, called "Observatories," designed to give you a direct experience of seeing yourself "at zero distance." They're based on Harding's Headless Way two-way looking, but they use physical, artistic, and immersive techniques to foster a whole new way of seeing yourself as you truly are. They have an uncanny way of softening the boundaries of identity between you and the world.
Here's how Tomas describes them:
"At the center of my Observatories are empty mirrors collapsing your sense of being located within a head. By encasing the oscillating reflection of your head inside spherical lenses, these monumental sculptures suddenly turn around the arrow of your attention. They visually make you see you are looking out from this boundless unmoving space. Making visible this infinite, still space at your center—is my art! As the Observatories collapse all distance, you find yourself no longer looking into the world—all of the world is looking out of you. There is seeing, but no one looking!"
Take a look at some of these mind-blowing videos of the Observatories:
Visit The Observatories
ZeroDistance The Film — The Art of Seeing nothing appear as everything
Observatory III on top of mountain
Observatory V on top of mountain
I see I am timeless inside this headless space — Kate in Observatory 3
ZeroDistance YouTube channel
I hope you enjoy the beauty of Tomas's observatories, and the timeless wisdom they point to.
As Tomas says, "Come for the Beauty—Stay for the Freedom!"