JOAN TOLLIFSON: on how her teacher Toni Packer taught via questionings

With typically inspiring frankness Joan Tollifson has an article on how her teacher questioned her as part of her teaching of Joan;

Examples are;

“Habit has two parts, Toni says. There is the habit itself (finger biting, smoking, drinking, whatever), and there is the observer who wants to stop, who is also a habit. And there is the conflict, the battle between the desire to indulge, which is an escape from what is, and the desire to stop, which is also a movement away from what is.

Toni suggests that the only real solution lies in complete awareness. In such awareness there is…no intention, no judgment, no conflict, no separation from the problem, no self to be improved or fixed, no direction. It is open, relaxed seeing.

“Can we look carefully at this ‘me’ that seems to be the power behind making decisions, really go into it, trace this chooser, this doer, all the way to the root?” Toni asks me.

When we do that together, all we find is thoughts. Conflicting thoughts: “I want to bite,” “I want to stop.” It feels like a battle between “me-the observer” and “me-the addict.” But both of these “me’s” are images constructed by thought and imagination. What’s actually going on is just an alternating, conflicting series of thoughts. No one is “doing” them; they’re happening.

“I have to bite,” “I can’t stop,” “I should stop,” “I’m addicted,” “I’m an addict,” “I’m a terrible person,” “How can I stop?” “If I just get this one loose end, then I’ll be satiated,” “It would be unbearable to feel what I would feel if I stopped,” “I’m stuck, this is hopeless,” “It’s been going on for a long time,” “It’s out of control,” “I’ll never get free,” “I should be able to control myself,” “This is sick,” “I want to be healthy.”

“These are all thoughts,” Toni says. “Do you see that?”

“But some of them are true,” I reply.

“Are they?” she asks with electric intensity, her eyes closed, her hands suspended in midair, listening.

“Well, I am addicted. It is out of control,” I insist.

“Thought seems to be just reporting the facts, objectively: ‘I’m addicted, this is out of control.’ But are these really facts? Or are they ideas? These are very powerful thoughts, and every thought produces neurochemical reactions in the body.”

Whichever position has more energy in that moment wins out, Toni suggests, and then there is either the thought, “I’m good because I had the will power to stop,” or “I’m a failure because I didn’t have enough will power to stop.” Thought creates “me” who has “done” one thing or the other, and is “successful” or “unsuccessful” as a result. And then more thoughts about me quickly follow: “I’m on my way to enlightenment” or “I’m a hopeless case on my way to total doom.” Either of these thought-trains will generate a tremendous response in the body, either good feelings or terrible feelings, elation or depression.

“Do you see how all these powerful thoughts and the feelings they produce in the body all revolve around the idea and image of ‘me’?” Toni asks. “Do you see how it’s all thinking?”

There is rain falling outside the meeting room, trickling down the window.”

Go here to read this wonderful article – http://www.joantollifson.com/writing19.html

Advertisements