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Joan’s writing is deeply inspiring for many of us – she is one of our contemporary’s worlds best nonduality teachers.
I wonder about her focal point of ‘The Simplicity of What Is’. Not because I feel any challenge to the beauty and truth of The Simplicity of What Is but because the greater the simplicity the greater the demands that are placed on the the reader or listener. If we are wholly caught up in the agitation of a dual world and a false self image we need a bridge or life-line to experience the breakthrough of realization.
Having said that the bridges or life-lines that are necessary for all seekers exist in plenty in her books and in her Outpourings
Here is how Joan begins her piece on The Simplicity of What Is – read deeply her work here – http://www.joantollifson.com/writing1.html
The Simplicity of What Is – by Joan Tollifson
What is life all about? Does it mean anything? Where are we looking for happiness or liberation? Do we have free will? What is enlightenment and how can I get it? Can anything be done to free ourselves from depression, anxiety, compulsive behavior, wars, holocausts, prejudices? What is spiritual (and what isn’t)? What happens when we die?
The thinking mind wants to find answers to questions. When you’re trying to find out which bus to take or how to build a house, this ability to find answers is a useful function. But the thinking mind doesn’t know when to stop thinking or when thinking is useful and when it isn’t. And so, as we grow up, we live more and more in a conceptual world trying to think our way to happiness. We lose touch with the immediacy and wonder we had as children.
When I was a little girl, my mother used to give me a pail of water and a paintbrush so that I could paint on the sidewalk. I’d paint these paintings on the sidewalk with water, and they would disappear in a matter of minutes, but that didn’t matter because what I was enjoying was the sheer joy of doing it. It needed no reward, no praise, no permanence. It was complete in itself.
And then at another point in my life, I was an art student, and I can remember seriously questioning whether it was worth painting at all if I weren’t Leonardo or Picasso, if I were less than perfect. That sense of playfulness and curiosity that children have so naturally, enjoying the simplicity of being, gets overshadowed by this attempt to make something out of me, to make “me” into a successful me.
Very often when we come to spirituality, even when it’s supposedly all about waking up from this story of me, it morphs into it’s own new version of this same story, focused now on how successfully I’m waking up, how well I’m meditating, whether I’m enlightened or not. Oddly enough, this me that we’re so concerned about may be nothing more than a kind of mirage or mental image, the central character in a movie story generated by thought and imagination, nothing real at all.
How can we find out? Is it possible to wake up from this mental mirage, this entrancement in thought? What is it that would wake up? Is it “me”? Or is it something else?
Again, the thinking mind looks immediately for answers. We seek out authorities and adopt their views. We cling to ideas and explanations, and seek bigger and better experiences.
Liberation is not about having the answers or having an experience. It has nothing to do with belief, but is rather the absence (or transparency, or seeing through) of belief. Waking up does not happen in the past or the future, only Now. Liberation or enlightenment is not something you find or acquire like a new car. It is not some dazzling or exotic experience like being permanently high on ecstasy or LSD. Liberation is seeing through or waking up from entrancement in the ubiquitous fabrications and mirages of conceptual thought, including the whole idea of being a separate someone who supposedly needs to be liberated. Liberation is being just this moment, recognizing the simplicity of what is and being awake to the undivided unicity that is ever-present and ever-changing. It is the absence of the belief that “this isn’t it,” and the falling away of the search for enlightenment “out there” somewhere in the future. Liberation is realizing the emptiness of every apparent form and the unbound openness that is always Here / Now even in the midst of apparent contraction or resistance.
Ultimate Reality is hidden right in front of our eyes in plain view. It is showing up as breakfast dishes, laundry, sunlight on leaves, the barking of a dog, sound of traffic or rain, the humming of the computer, the taste of tea, the shapes of these words, and the awareness being and beholding it all. And only when we describe all of this in words does it seem as if “awareness” is one thing and “the taste of tea” is something else. The non-conceptual actuality of this breathing-hearing-seeing-awaring-being is undivided, without center or periphery. No inside, no outside. No subject, no object. Simply this, just as it is.
Go to Joan’s Outpourings here – http://www.joantollifson.com/writing1.html