Podcasts/Sacred Tension-STRichardLangHeadlessWay2

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STRichardLangHeadlessWay2 SUMMARY KEYWORDS headless, space, experience, meditation, sam harris, people, world, steven, sensations, satanic temple, boundaries, richard, listening, happening, tyrant, true, head, satan, person, matter SPEAKERS Stephen Bradford Long

Stephen Bradford Long 00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast this is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long, and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com All right. Well, as always, before we get started, I have to thank my patrons. My patrons are my personal lords and saviors, and I truly could not do this without them. So for this week, I have to thank de nom ven winter, Kelly and Julia, thank you so much. I truly could not do this without you. And every little bit helps. And if you're listening to this and you'd like to join their number, please go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long for $1 $3 $5. Each month you get extra content every single week, including my podcast house of heretics with the former Salvation Army officer turned Christian heretic Timothy McPherson, and we talk about politics and meditation and philosophy and Satanism and religion and whatever is on our mind that week. So if that interests you, please go to the link in the show notes. Also, one of the best ways to support this show is to leave a five star review on Apple podcasts that tells our digital overlords that the show is worth recommending to others. You can also now leave five stars on Spotify. So I ask that you do that as well if you are listening to this on Spotify. And finally, this show is sponsored by the satanic temple.tv. The Satanic Temple has an incredibly rich and interesting and creative community. And there's all kinds of fascinating stuff going on over at the satanic temple.tv. It is a streaming platform for Satanists, and the satanic adjacent. So if you are into the occult, if you're into philosophy if you're into ritual, and there's all kinds of other stuff on there, like talk shows, live streams, music, feature length films, documentaries, there's all kinds of fascinating stuff over there. And you can get one month free using my promo code, sacred tension, all caps, no space at checkout. All right. Well, with all of that finally out of the way, I'm incredibly thrilled to welcome Richard Lang to the show. Richard Lang, how are you?

02:47 Hi, Steven. I'm Well, I'm glad to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Stephen Bradford Long 02:52 Yeah. So I'm really, really pleased that you have taken the time to talk to me because you are a teacher of one of, I think, the most fascinating forms of meditation. And I just want to say from the very top to all my listeners, this, this is going it is going to sound crazy. It is going to sound absolutely crazy. And I should appeal to them. Yes, it should. It should. And so I just ask that you hear us out. So I Thanks. What's that?

03:34 That's it. That's a vote of thanks or something? Yes, a vote of confidence.

Stephen Bradford Long 03:38 Absolutely. Just hear us out. And so I first encountered you on Sam Harris's app waking up. And as you know, because this is the the internet, I have to give the caveat that me mentioning Sam Harris, dear listeners, is not a blanket endorsement of everything Sam Harris thinks or believes, right? But he has assembled an extraordinary community of teachers on the waking up app, and you are one of those teachers. And so tell us some about who you are and what you do.

04:13 Well, I'm Richard, I'm in London, and I came across a headless way more than 50 years ago, when I was a teenager, and I was I'd been a Christian. Then I ran out of steam with that it didn't give me what I was searching for, which was really my true nature. And I started reading around when I was 16 or 17. The different religions, read a bit on Buddhism, went to the London Buddhist society summer school in 1970 and met Douglas Harding, who is the person who introduced the headless way. And he showed me who I really was with some simple experiments. And I recognized not only My true nature, but I thought this particular way is brilliant. And Douglas was always open for being visited as friends. He never had students, he had friends. So I used to go and visit him and got to know him. And very soon began running workshops myself, even when I was still at university. I traveled around America with him when I was 21, running workshops, and just fell, it was a great contribution. And he wrote a lot, I read everything he wrote. And I explored other things along the way. But my heart was always in headless way. And so I've I've traveled a lot running workshops, and made a lot of friends and continue to make more friends, people who value this particular way home, and we've got a growing community and all of that.

Stephen Bradford Long 06:02 That's wonderful. So let's go ahead and get into it. To the uninitiated, how would you describe the headless way?

06:11 Well, I would say that, if you read around a bit, the great religions, you'll find a common message, which is that you're not just what you look like to put it in modern jargon, that within you at your center is a great treasure. And this treasure is timeless and spaceless, actually, but it is creative and loving and inclusive. And that message really is in all the great religions, I would say. And I suppose each religion has a different way home to that place. But the headless way is a modern approach to that same treasure your center nearer to you than your breathing. And what it's based on, you could say is that you're not what you look like. What that means is, there's a question, the question is, Who am I what am I? And what am I from my own point of view. And you can start, however, with other people's points of view, which is if you look at me from six feet of a person with a head, you know, if I'm asking the question, What am I? I might say, well, Steven, who do you think I am? And you'll say, well, you're Richard. And I say, well, you're that far away, you see. So you're six feet away. So you can see Richard, but I understand that things change with when distance when the observers distance change. So what happens if you come up to me? And you say, well, at this closer range, you're just a patch of skin? I go, Oh, that's interesting. Come closer, with the right instrument. Oh, you're a cell? Oh, you're a moral molecule. Oh, you're an atom. Oh, my goodness, you've you've practically disappeared. So in other words, I'm like an onion. And what I am changes with range. And in fact, you could go away and you could see that the greater distance my town comes into view, and then my country, and my planet, my style, my galaxy, you see. So then the question is, well, what am I the center of all these layers? It's not Richard, because Richard is one of the layers, which I important there, but just one of the layers. So how do you find out what is at the center? So that's a modern, scientific way of rephrasing the question, Who am I? And half? The question is, Who am I for others? And that changes with range. And the other half of the question is who I am, who am I for myself. And when I look, simply to see what I am, I noticed I can't see my head. And I know I can see it in the mirror or on the screen if I'm on a video meeting. But right where I am, when I look down, my body disappears above my chest, I can see maybe a bit of my nose, I've got sensations, but other than that, no head, and what do I see, instead of my head? I see the world and I could that I think is such a simple observation. Now obviously, you need to explore it more in lots of from lots of angles. But that's the basic thing. What are you looking out of? And society has told you from their point of view, from its point of view, what you are a person, but I'm saying that put aside for the moment what society tells you what your memory or your knowledge or upbringing tells you unlock now, what can you see? You see, and I find this open awareness for the world. So that's a status Steven.

Stephen Bradford Long 09:48 So where your head should be is just the world. Yes.

09:52 And when I look at you, you'll see this changes everything because when I look at you, I see your face but not mine. So I say that from my point of view, I have your face instead of mine, I am face to face with you. I am you. Yeah, now that you see is a game changer.

Stephen Bradford Long 10:10 So I think that what this is getting at is what Sam Harris calls non dual meditation. So I was I was actually as I was falling asleep last night, I came up with this metaphor to try to explain my experience of meditation, it's like the, the way we typically go through life is imagine a river and it's like, I'm, I'm a swimmer, but I'm caught in the rapids. And it's like the, the river is the experience of life itself. The river is our emotions, our reactions, our responses, our relationships, the whole, you know, breath, the whole river of life, right, and kind of our default state is to ride along the top of that river just carried along by it, right. But then it's almost like mindfulness meditation. Vipassana is putting your feet down in the sand in the river bed, and holding still, so you're no longer being carried along by it, and then turning around and facing that incoming flow of experience and just experiencing it and letting it wash over you. But then non dual meditation, and this is where I might lose people. But it's true to my experience, what Sam Harris calls non dual meditation is the awakening to the fact that there is no swimmer, at the heart of that river, there is just the river. And that's it. And so the the experience of you vanishing, that sense of self, of being a, a being behind your eyes, thinking and reacting and so on. That's an illusion. And I remember the first time that I experienced this, and I had been meditating for years, and I've been a yoga teacher, and and, and so on, but it was Sam Harris, who, in his introductory course, on waking up, where he, it was very simple. He, you know, in the middle of a meditation, he said, Look, for the one who is looking look for the thinker, you have a feeling of being a thinker, you have a feeling of being a you have this feeling of being a subject looking at an object. And I'm totally lifting all of this language from Sam Harris, by the way. So the none of none of this language is original that I'm using, and when but when I did that, when I looked for the one who was looking inside myself, my sense of self was snuffed out like a candle, and it was so startling. It was so sudden, and it was so startling to me that it was almost like suddenly, I had my body revolted adjust, and then my sense of self just roared back into existence. And so it, it was like, a second of selflessness. What you are describing is a different another approach using our visual field to also experience that non dual experience of no self and instead open awareness. Would you say that that is a good articulation of what you're getting at?

13:35 Nothing? That's very good. Yes, even. I think that, first of all, the headless way isn't just visual, that's a good way in but this is about testing the hypothesis that you are space for the world that you're not what you look like, and you test it in every way you can. The The other thing is that, actually, personally, I'm not that much of a fan of the phrase non dual, but everyone to their own, you see, because the experience itself is nonverbal. And the experience itself is also the most accessible thing. It's a joke really, though your awakening to your true nature is advertised to be difficult. And you know, looking at an object in front of you is easy, but seeing your true nature is hard. It's actually the other way around. I will demonstrate this now because I think that the listener, and I'm just going to guide our attention to our true nature and then then you've got it then you're the authority. You see. So

Stephen Bradford Long 14:39 before we do this, if people are driving while listening to this, maybe be careful. If people are driving while listening to this podcast, maybe don't do this exercise. I don't know maybe. Maybe they shouldn't do this while while driving. A lot of people listen to the show while driving. So just a quick warning.

14:57 If if you're driving Having then don't do the pointing experiment, which I'm going to take you through. couldn't imagine doing it, I'll do it later. There we go, what do you see what the the are seeing your true nature, which is what it's all about seeing this boundless awareness that you are and then living from that, and exploring living from that. So they, the whole thing is right from the beginning to have the experience rather than wait for it. And so, if you're not driving, what you do is you get your hand and you point at something in front of you. So this is I think, Steven, you were going to say at the beginning, it's crazy, you know, well, it's not crazy, it actually is very childlike, you pointed something, and you look at that. And so that's pretty easy to see. You see, you're pointing at a thing, but I mean, you can't see the back of it, you may not be able to see the inside of it, you, you don't know what it looked like, you know, a year ago, perhaps or, you know, there's so much you don't know about it that you don't see about it. So there's a very partial scene and point at one other thing in front of you. And it's the same human see the color and shape and texture, but you probably can't see the inside of it, or the back of it, or you don't know how it was made or all of that. All right. Now turn your finger around and point where others see your face. So you got to do this directly point back at this you're looking at of and you don't see your face here. So I'm going to describe this in positive terms, I see open space here, that is full of my finger. Now there's nothing to get wrong here, you can't have see the space, you can't see the front, not the back, or the left side or you know, it's just indivisibly open. And that space that you're looking out or this fall now of your finger, my voice and everything else going on. And that is it. So very quickly, I need to say that this is not necessarily Oh, wow experience. And we have this idea that waking up to your true nature is going to be a big round, and you'll never have any more problems and you've got it you will never lose it or whatever that means, you know, now everybody will, you know, bow at your feet. Well, you know, the last one I get but the rest No. Joking. But to be serious, this is a neutral experience, which is confusing for people because of this advertisement. It's supposed to be a Wow. But I mean, I look now for my face, I don't see it. Instead, I see the world. And it is a kind of neutral thing. But there are a couple of things to say about it. First of all, it's neutrality. I mean, first of all, is it true? That's the fundamental thing, whether you like it or not, whether it gives you a wow or not, is it true? And the headless ways about testing that, and you might come up with all kinds of objections, well, I can see my nose or I can feel sensations or, well, we test those we go into those. You don't accept any of these. But But you you test it. So the first thing is it true. The second thing is that I say you got it, you can't see your head instead you see the world, but you will react differently from anyone else. And temptation is to look at someone else and they go wow. And you think, Well, I didn't go Wow. So I can't have got it. You know, or they seem to be incredibly calm now. But I'm all agitated. You see. So I kind of got it. No, you got it, but you're just feeling agitated. So we can think about that. But my challenge or my my claim is that this is the simplest thing to get. But it's not a while. But there's one more thing I want to say which is that it is neutral. And yet it is extremely positive, you could say because this space that you're looking out on. First of all, it's aware self evidently, here I am. Secondly, it is full. It's not just empty. It's full of the whole world, and it welcomes the world. And when you're with people it welcomes then. So actually, on the one hand, it's neutral, but on the other it is hugely welcoming, hugely positive. And well, that's there's a Stata, yes.

Stephen Bradford Long 19:36 Would you say that part of the experience is, let me see if I can put this into words. Part of the experience is kind of separating our labels and conceptions of what it means to be a human with a body with a head. You know, it's like we see ourselves in the mirror. We see other people walking around us. And so we have this, this kind of conceptual framework of we have ahead, we our mind is behind it behind our face, and kind of divorcing that that conceptual framework from what we actually experience. Does that make? Does that make any sense? Yeah,

20:25 good way of putting it, Stephen. And I'll fill in on that a bit. But I would say that everyone will describe it a little bit differently. And it, that, I understand that. So the, you know, you'll say it in that way. And I'll say it in my way, but the third person will say it in another way. And they're all valid, right? So what you said there about the difference between what you look like in the mirror to others, and so on Weatherhead. And what you are from your own point of view is headless. And there's the difference between your insight and your outside, what you are at center and what you are from a distance. But briefly, we can fill that out a bit by thinking of personal development, very simply four stages, the baby, the child, the adult, and the seer, the baby's headless, when you were a baby, you were headless, you pre verbal, you just looking at open space, you're at large, there you go. You see, you have no idea of what you look like look in the mirror, that's not you. As you grow up, your parents and others reflect back what you look like to them, which is with a head, and they pointed the mirror and say that head there is on your shoulders, you can't see it. But we can, you need to learn to understand, like you said that you're behind that face that your thoughts are behind that face somewhere in that head, so that you can function so that you can understand who people are talking to. And those what do you see, you can become self conscious. So the second stage of the child is you're coming out of being this, only this open space and becoming self conscious. But you move back and forth, you haven't quite got in the box. When you're four or five years old, you'll see as you continue to grow up and get involved in society, all the feedback is of you as a person, what you look like at six feet, none of it actually is about what you are for yourself. No one is validating your spaciousness, everyone is validating your solidity, which is totally appropriate, you need to take that on board. So in the third stage of the adult, then you are completely identified with what you look like look in the mirror, that's you. If anyone said you were headless, you go, you're mad, cause I've got ahead, I'm a thing. I'm a solid thing separate from everyone else I am what I look like you say. So that's the third stage. And hopefully you don't stop there. And you go on to the fourth stage, which is reawakening to your own first personhood, which is headless and spacious, whilst maintaining awareness of your third personhood, your appearance. So I'm talking to you, Steven, and I'm more aware of my open space in which we're happening and the whole world is happening. But I'm also aware of being Richard and you being Steven. So the difference between the last stage and the first stage is is a baby had an idea of your individuality, you would just spacious but in the fourth stage of this year, you've got both and you don't have to somehow get rid of your sense of individuality that is all part of that stage where

Stephen Bradford Long 23:52 another I'm just trying to think of analogies that might be helpful for this so slight, you know, my one of the experiences that I sometimes have within meditation is kind of the breaking down of arbitrary boundaries. For example, this will probably complicate things for my listeners, but I'll go for it anyway. It's like deep in a mindfulness practice, the boundary we going through life, we tend to have a sense of boundaries between inside the body and outside the body, for example, thoughts and sounds, thoughts and sights, emotions, and thoughts. And it's like deep when we're deep in a meditation practice. The boundaries between all of these kind of partitioned experiences really start to break down and is like the realization that as a matter of pure experience, they're all actually happening in the same sphere, just in the same conscious space, and the boundaries are super imposed. The boundaries are super imposed on to that kind of, you know, sphere of experience. And so the boundaries of inside outside thoughts and feelings, sound and thought, so on and so forth. All of that is super imposed by us. But as a matter of pure experience, if we pay really close attention, then it starts to dissolve. There's a, there's a similar thing that happens with the headless way, I think where it's like, as a matter of pure experience, it's like we know, technically, that we have ahead, physically we know it. But as a matter of experience, if we pay really close attention to just the conscious experience, there is no center. And there's just this open awareness. And it's like, if we pay close enough attention, then these arbitrary in positions that we place on experience, just through living our lives, you know, and looking at ourselves in the mirror and interacting with others, and so on. And it's all very developed, you know, developmentally appropriate, but it's also from a purely experiential level, and illusion. Am I Is that helpful that I might have just wake overly complicated things? But is that a helpful way to articulate that?

26:37 Well, yes, and it's your way of articulating it now. And I would add to that, that the headless way is ongoing meditation, I'm meditating. Now, if you want to give it the August total, I'm saying that I'm spaced for what is happening. And this is natural, I would I would add something or put it slightly differently that it doesn't for me mean that I've got to stop thinking or kind of trying to raise my boundaries, all of that knowledge is happening in the space too. And one realizes, one can keep both things running, really I am space with no boundary, everything is in me. And at the same time, I can see a difference between me and Steven or so on. The other thing that I will throw in here as well is a developmental thing, again, which is called a theory of mind. Now, when you are a baby, by and large, you have no developed awareness that others are conscious. And you're if you have thoughts or feelings, they're just part of the view, like you were saying, you know, the sound is there, and the feeling is there. And the sensation of hungry is there that is not inside a box here. And you look at someone and you look at their face their head, and you have no idea, no developed idea that there are thoughts in that head, a mind over there separate from you. And they do tests to explore whether an infant has worked out yeah, that others have a different experience for them. And do you know that one of the box and the Grands, Stephen, oh, it's fascinating. Well, what you do is you got young infant, and you put a box in front of them, and you open it, and you show that there's colored crayons in the box, and then you close the box. And someone comes in the room and you ask the infant? Does that person know what's in the box? And you say, of course they do. There are grand in the box. I mean, it's just knowledge, right? There's just there are crayons in the box. So it's common knowledge, you ask the same child do the same thing, put different things in the box, I suppose six months later. And the child says of course, they don't know, they didn't see. So now they understand that what you think and feel and see what I think and feel and see is hidden. And that that person over there has a different experience. Now this is called theory of mind. So in other words, you now understand that that person has a mind that you can't see. Right? Which also means that's the theory of mind goes with a theory of head that you have a head you can't see because you've got thoughts, but they can't see them. So they must be in your head. Right? Right. They can't be out there in the world. So

Stephen Bradford Long 29:43 it's almost like a self reflect. So it's like reflecting that reality back on yourself.

29:49 Yes, yeah. Yeah, there you go. You see now. So then that is an important phase of maturity. And that is individuating and you Got to consolidate that. And develop your sense of a boundary and that your thoughts are not out there in the world they're hidden. And when a child can start to keep secrets, or even tell lies, from a certain point of view, this is a very good sign, because they are aware that their inner experience is private. And that they can lie about it, no one will know it. So that is a good sign. Yes. Now, you've got that going as an adult. And now you think that theory of mind and theory of head is the way it is, and you function on that, even though if you're really honest, you don't know that anyone else you're thinking there might be zombies, right? You might be only wise. That's a solipsism. Yes, you see, but you function as if there are others. And as if you're in a box. Now, when you wake up to who you really are, you see, oh, no head, no box, right? And no mind out there. Or you could say, well, I still feel like I'm in a box. And there's someone there. But now I know that when I attend, my voice doesn't come from a mouth that comes out the silence. And my thoughts, you know, think of a number where does that come from just comes out of nowhere, right? Out of no mind. So then I apply the same thing to the other person, I say, Well, I accept your thinking. But now I know, you're like me that your thoughts come out of no mind there. So there's the theory of no mind. So Stephen, you see, I now that I'm aware I am space for the world, I say to you, well, I accept that you're in the same condition. Right. And now we have an incredible thing in common, our identity, and we can talk about it as we are doing now. And I've got my voice, you've got your voice, you've got your view out from the space, I've got my view from the space. But there's nothing in the in the space itself to divide us. Now, that is a game changer.

Stephen Bradford Long 32:07 It is. Yeah. And you know, I frequently so I'm my day job is I manage a grocery store. So I am constantly surrounded by the public my entire life is just people nonstop. And doing this practice of, you know, while I am surrounded by people say I'm at the cash register, and I just look around and I'm like, where's my head? I don't notice I you know, I don't see my head there's, and then I point at my face. And I pointed myself, and I'm like, What am I pointing at? Nothing. There's nothing there. There's nothing. As a matter of pure experience. There's nothing that I'm pointing at. And then I look around and I see all of these people. And all of these people being in this wide open judgment. Lis space. Yeah. And it's a it's a really special experience. It's like this embrace of other just this non judgmental without concepts without judgment This, this. I don't know how to describe it other than just an embrace of well, you've described it very well. Yeah, an embrace of, of whoever is in your sphere of experience, and just this welcome. And it, it is a game changer. And then and then when you realize that other people are all, as you said, are also that same experience, whether they are aware of it or not. Yes, it changes. It transforms the Dole and the quotidian and the mundane and to the sacred.

33:54 Yes. And, yeah, yeah. And

Stephen Bradford Long 33:57 so I like to think of the grocery store where I work as my monastery. And so it's like, every day I go to my monastery, and I and I do these practices. Could you

34:09 just to say that that's inspiring, and that's beautiful. Stephen, and I know exactly what you're talking about. And I, you know, people may not know what you are experiencing, but they'll pick up on something because people are sensitive. And these things are infectious. And, you know, to see when you're in the grocery store that you're not actually in the grocery grocery store. It's in you, right? Yes. It's, you see walls and you don't see the fold as

Stephen Bradford Long 34:42 a matter as a matter of experience. It's like as a matter of experience and so you know, and this is an I think an important confusion that could possibly happen there are there are some people who might hear that and think, oh, they mean literally physically. It is inside of us. It is as A matter of, of conscious experience that the eye end. So you know, I'm, I'm fairly agnostic on the nature of reality, right. But as a matter of experience, when I look around, that is my consciousness, I am seeing my consciousness, and it is all happening in this open space, that is me, as a matter of experience. Yeah, and by the way, for I'm I'm lifting the term as a matter of experience, also from Sam Harris, Mr. Harris from Mr. Harris. Hi, Sam. Hello, Sam, I doubt he doesn't know I exist. So I doubt that He will even listen to this, but I need to give credit where credit is due. And so a lot of the language a lot of the most helpful language that I have found for this kind of stuff comes from Sam Harris. And again, dear internet, that does not mean that I agree with everything, Sam Harris says we can, you know, have a nuanced view of certain public figures and appreciate their teachings in some areas and then disagree with them and others, it is possible,

36:10 who agrees with any one 100%

Stephen Bradford Long 36:12 I disagree with my with my husband, there isn't. There isn't a single human being on this planet who I agree with completely.

36:21 Yes, but our true nature, the space that you're talking about, is the same isn't as old, there's nothing different differentiating us from each other. Now, that is where we won. So we don't have to worry too much when we see things differently. And we understand that the words are going to be different. But you see just as you in the grocery store, our ears and are conscious and are appreciative of what's going on. And that awareness leads to a kind of sensitivity and even kindness. And you know, you were saying you're not bored. It's all rather interesting. I'm never bored. No, yeah, you see. So I think that this is, you've got to live it, you've got to explore it. You've got to play with it. You've got to attend to it, you know, but my God, what, what a endlessly inspiring treasure this is.

Stephen Bradford Long 37:23 And I think that's one of the things that I so appreciate about the headless way, and Douglas Harding and yourself is that there's a playfulness to it that is so often lacking in a lot of contemplative life. Does that? Does that make sense in that, like, there's, there's a lot of it's a very somber, so much of the culture surrounding meditation is just so somber, and I, and I love how playful and light hearted the headless way is, it is a breath of fresh air for me.

38:08 I think that perhaps one aspect of that, is that if you think that you've got to clean up your act, in order to find out who you really are you, I believe you got an impossible job. And it's depressing. And it's hard work. And it's very incremental. And if you're honest with yourself, you keep backsliding, I would say, you know, who doesn't? If that is what it's all about. The road gets longer and longer. And you think, well, in this lifetime, or when, and there's no guarantee. So that you can I would find that depressing. And I'd give up I think, but actually the truth is you can get straight home right now. Look to the look at the pleasure looking out of and then walk your journey at from home really. Now that is light now is playful. I mean, your home, and it's not dependent. You say, Well, Richard, you look depressed. You know, you've told me you were depressed yesterday, you can't be at home, I say, have space for depression. You know, our space for anxiety. I mean, my God, there's a war going on. It's a very understandable feeling, but I am space for it all. And I'm coming from that space, you see, and that is that is serious, but it's not. Solon. As you say it's light. And it's light hearted and it's light weighted, and it's free. And the other thing is, is that you see when I'm talking to you, Steven, I have just wouldn't cross my mind that you're experiencing anything different from me. Right? Yeah. So there isn't a kind of, you know, I think Steven, really, you know, you should sort of clean up your act a bit. I mean, really, you know, you've got a bit of work to do here,

Stephen Bradford Long 40:08 look at my needs to be cleaned. Jordan, I really need to clean my room.

40:13 Even, you know, on the end of that with you, you know, in fact, my purity, you know, I mean, that is, we're two humans and one space, right. And the space is ours. And it means there's no hierarchy, and, you know, no one upmanship and no getting anywhere at the level of our human development, there's an awful lot to do. But at the level of where we're coming from, this is, yes, a joy that has no downside, actually,

Stephen Bradford Long 40:50 what you just said, it gets to a, a, an experience that I had, so I am in the LGBTQ community, I'm gay I am. And so I'm surrounded by a lot of very diverse people, and it's wonderful. And so I'm, I'm surrounded by trans people and gay people and people of color and, and, and people with disabilities. And it's just kind of this wonderful, diverse community and in wild, wild doing my practice, and you really do, it's like coming up, uh, you know, when you press up against the nature of your own consciousness there, I, I had this, this, I had this really profound sense. And it wasn't a big experience, it was just this very quiet experience of realizing, Oh, no matter how different we are on the outside, no matter our skin color, no matter our different disabilities, no matter, our different orientations, sexual orientations, no matter our different genders. The fundamental quality of mind is the exact same, and the way that expands empathy is pretty incredible.

42:20 Yes, yes, helplessness leads to empathy.

Stephen Bradford Long 42:24 It does it Yes. To an expanding circle of ASHRAE.

42:28 Yes, and in the most fundamental way, because I know that you're looking at, you know, you've got a headless body that you're looking at. And that's not a trivial thing that is noticing your body disappears into the source into this mystery. You say you call it space, but the mystery, the source, the origin, and that that is common in all of us. And therefore, in a sense, I'm, by being aware of it where I am, I'm, I'm being aware of it where you are, I'm placing myself in your shoes. This means that i i have deep empathy for you. What are you doing that you've got? I got bit distracted.

Stephen Bradford Long 43:07 I'm so sorry. My cat needed to come into the room. Oh. That's Eli. He is one of suits. I am a I'm a crazy cat lady. And my partner has forbidden me from bringing home any more cats. So I can hear,

43:28 but I'll add one thing, guys, yes, please. Because, because when you say who you are, we call it trading faces, I look at you and I've got your face and you've got mine. We trade faces, you see. And so in that sense, I'm in you, and you're in me. And in other words, when I look at you, I become you. I'm not Richard, I'm Steven. Now, I mean that there's nothing in the way there's no distance, there's no service here keeping you out, or the cat, or the cat. And this is very practical. You know, when you're in your store, and you've got a customer, you are there your space for them. This is attentive, this is sensitive, this is empathic. This is what the world needs. And it's the truth. It's not a technique to make things nicer and deny a conflict not at all. It is realistic, it's tough, in a way. But at the same time, that toughness of that honesty is inclusive, and you become the other. I mean, you I don't think you can ever get used to it. It's such a game changer.

Stephen Bradford Long 44:33 It is kind of startling every time you experience it there it and it's the closest thing to real magic that I've ever experienced.

44:43 Yes, it is magic. It is. I mean, where does it all come from? I mean, you look out of this open space and there's the world and you go, where did that come from? That's a clever magic trick, you know, and it keeps keeps happening. And it's real. You know, and it's, it's, it's coming out of your true nature, you know, this is endlessly inspiring. And that connects with all the myths, you know, the, the Grail or the Oracle or, you know, Aladdin's cave. This is like Aladdin's cave. It's got endless riches coming out, or always we've known about this. You know, since culture began since humans began, we know it's forever, because it's just the truth. But here we are, sharing it today and appreciating it in this particular way. Yeah,

Stephen Bradford Long 45:32 you bring up myth is, I think, really important. So I can hear too, oh, my cat is pushing the mic. I can hear two objections coming from my audience right now. So the first would probably have to do with the fourth Tenet, no, fifth tenet of the Satanic Temple, which is belief should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world, we should take care of never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs. And I think that a lot of people who are listening who might be maybe because of previous experiences, and in religious settings, they might be a bit allergic to a lot of the kind of language that we're using, and might assume that this is contrary to science to to kind of scientific reasoning. And I really want to push back against that idea. I see no contradiction between what we are talking about, and a scientific view of the world. And I see no violation here of the fifth tenet of, you know, not distorting scientific facts to fit our beliefs that as this is a matter of experience. And we can have extraordinarily diverse experiences of consciousness that are profound, that have a meaningful impact on our lives. And that doesn't need to contradict our scientific understanding of the world. There is no contradiction here. And I think the same is true of ritual. So for people who have been listening to my podcast, go listen to my interviews with Shiva, honey, about about the importance of ritual and doing a cult ritual and satanic ritual, and how helpful that is for catharsis and there is no contradiction, necessarily, between the importance of ritual and symbolism, and our scientific understanding of the world. And then I guess the, the other objection that I hear,

47:36 Can I just jump in, just please just briefly, is one of the books in the headless way Barack was hiding, it's called The Science of the first person, the science of the first person. And this is the science of what you are for yourself. And it complements the science of the third person's hands of objects. And when I use phrases, you know, religious or spiritual phrases, or words, you know, I treat them very lightly as vocabulary that you can take or leave. The main thing is your experience. And, as they say, there's two ways of reading the scriptures. One is to read the Scriptures to see if you got it. Right. And the other one is to read the Scriptures to see if they've got it. Right. And I go with the second, right, you are the authority on what it's like to be you and take or leave the language. So that's my response to that first objection.

Stephen Bradford Long 48:38 Absolutely. And, and then the second objection is more specific to TST to the Satanic Temple itself, where I think some people might be hearing this and hear the language of no self or selflessness or open space or you know, just a lot of that language and feel a conflict with Satanism as a religion of the self that that celebrates the unbowed will it celebrates the the unbowed individual who stands up against totalitarian authority. And so, Richard if, and this is so the, the Satan that that we are referring to as a literary Satan kind of more rooted in Milton, and it's symbolic, we're non theistic, we don't believe in a literal God instead, it's a symbolic structure around which we we build our lives. And so Satan in this context is a literary icon that is based on the mill Tony and Satan that stands up against, you know, insurmountable odds against the totalitarian authority of quote unquote God, but in this context, God does not is not like a Paul Tillich. and ground of being or anything like that it is the tyrant it is. It is that that's, that's the inversion of this metaphor, right? So Satanism is a religion that celebrates the individual, how does that mesh with the headless way, which is just openness, open experience, or meditation in general, which can be a sense of the dissolving of the self. I have here, the revolt of the angels, which is one of the primary readings for the Satanic Temple at the end of the revolt of the angels. Satan decides not to invade heaven and everyone who is a TST, Satanists will be very familiar with this passage. But he says, No, let's not invade the heavens, Satan becoming God said God, Satan, God conquered will become Satan, Satan conquering will become God, let us avoid that fate. Instead, it is enough for us to conquer God in our own hearts. And Anatole France isn't referring to God as the Christian God, but God is the tyrant. And so when Satan at the end of revolt of the angel says, Let us conquer God in our own hearts, I interpret that to mean, let us conquer our inner tyrant, let us conquer that that inner tyrant that imposes boundaries that imposes arbitrary boundaries that result in a lack of compassion and empathy. It's the self fullness that results in arrogance, and pride and bullying and all of those things. And so at the end of revolt of the angels, Anatole, France turns the focus from outward revolution, to inward revolution against our own inner tyrant. And, for me, personally, the best way that I have found to explore that process to go on that kind of satanic journey of overcoming our inner Tyrant is meditation and stuff like the headless way it over it quiet, my inner tyrant that is obsessed with boundaries and divisions, and, and obsessed with delegating, who is worthy of compassion and who isn't. And so that is a helpful way for me to incorporate this practice into satanic religious practice.

52:31 Yes, I think I understand you there. And being aware that your space the world is not, as I said, denying your separate individuality, they both go together. But what has happened, as we've grown up is we've allowed others to tell us who we are. And so when you see who you are, you're taking back your authority, you're, you're the authority on you. And in a sense, you're not going to let anyone tell you, who you are, you're going to look for yourself. And I look, and I see you, Richard and Steven on the screen there. But here, I see this open space, and I accept both. So it's very simple, in a way.

Stephen Bradford Long 53:15 Yes, absolutely. Before we wrap up, could you lead us in looking for our heads?

53:22 Yes. Well, I think maybe we're just very briefly close our eyes. And you if you do that, you will become aware of a darkness. And put aside your imagination, I suppose, or whatever and and ask yourself, well, how big is the darkness? Well, there's, there's nothing to compare it with. It's just there it is. And where is it? You see? Now I suppose you've been told it's in your head. But at the moment, I don't find I've got sensations, I don't find my head. They don't misses appearing in consciousness. And then you listen to my voice and other sounds, you see, that's the field of sound. And isn't where's that happening? And I find no container, the sounds are coming out of silence, I'm going back into silence you see. And then I pay attention to my body sensations is cloud of sensation, I suppose. without remembering what I saw in the mirror. And so on, or what I saw when I looked down my body, other sensations contained, see, where are they? How big is the field of sensation? And in other words, how big am I when I have nothing to compare myself with? There's only one consciousness in my own direct experience. And the same with thoughts and feelings. I mean, lots of thoughts and feelings going on. Which I call my mind, I suppose. But how big is my mind? And where is it? Is it well, it's is just happening there, in like the darkness and the sounds and the sensations. And it's happening in this open space, you see, now what the listener is thinking about. And sensing is different from what I am sensing, but the space that it's all happening in, has no one's name on it, or nationality, or age or anything. And I say that's who you really are, including your thoughts and feelings, and memories and sense of who you are as a person. That's all arising in this space. So that is accessible, and not depend on mood. You see an eye you open your eyes again. And basically, nothing's really changed. Now you've got the visual field happening in awareness, and everything else going on. But the pleasure looking out of is this open, undivided space that we all have in common that brings us together, which is so important to be aware of, in today's world with all the conflict, there's a little guided meditation, Steven,

Stephen Bradford Long 56:09 thank you so much. It's been a pleasure. Yeah. So

56:12 now just say that we have zoom meetings, and anyone who's does the experiments and feels drawn to the headless way is welcome to, to drop in. They're free. And there's lots on the website. So you know, lots more experiments and YouTube channel, and even a free equals, so there's lots available. So headless.org is our website. And you feel welcome to get in touch if you're drawn to this way. And thank you, Steven, for inviting me and just a delight to hear your experience in the store. That's really inspiring. And you'll probably get someone walking in and saying, face no face Stephen. Would love it great.

Stephen Bradford Long 56:56 It would be fantastic. Yeah, absolutely.

56:59 I'm saying to you now face no face Stephen and the joy to share it with you and hope to meet you again.

Stephen Bradford Long 57:05 Absolutely. You're welcome back anytime. This has been a pleasure. All right. Well, that is it for this show. The theme song is wild by eleventy seven. You can find it on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to music. The show is written, produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and it is a production of rock candy recordings. As always, Hail Satan, and thanks for listening