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

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JOAN TOLLIFSON: on ‘radical simplicity’ – religion as simple attention, awareness, healing and presence

Joan Tollifson Simplicity of what is

In the three quotations below we have a view of religion, or at least of its essential spirituality, that is radically simple. It seems to me that together they express the healing heart of the universally mystical that is essential to our discovery of our true Self via healing at-one-ment.

They also constitute pointers to the essential mystical core of all of the great Traditions, now so often buried or banished beneath Churchianity. (Make up your own term for each of the other great Traditions. ‘Churchianity’ refers to the usurpation of the essential Christ story and teachings in which like the mystics we are asked to Awaken more, Detach from egotistic self more and Serve others better. Just that.)

For Joan, and others, meditation, brilliantly, is; “moment-to-moment presence that excludes nothing and sticks to nothing”. ‘Bare-Bones Meditation: Waking up from the Story of My Life’.

“Maybe that is the purest and most radical kind of religion – simple attention. Present-moment awareness. Instead of a belief system, awareness sees through all beliefs.”
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“….we maintain awareness, whether we know it or not, healing is taking place… a door that has been shut begins to open…. As the door opens, we see that the present is absolute and that, in a sense, the whole universe begins right now, in each second. And the healing of life is in that second of simple awareness…. Healing is always just being here, with a simple mind. ‌—‌Charlotte Joko Beck” ― Joan Tollifson, Nothing to Grasp
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“In simple presence with what is right here now, be it joyful or painful, an amazing freedom reveals itself. It cannot be described or explained in words. It is the freedom to be totally, effortlessly the way things are at this moment. ‌—‌Toni Packer” ― Joan Tollifson, Nothing to Grasp

BUT 24/7 NONDUAL EXPERIENCE IS NOT THE (ONLY?) GOAL IN THIS WORLD – BELIEFS and THE DUAL ARE ALSO VITAL
We are citizens of two realms as taught us by Rebbe Abraham Heschel.

This is by design not by mistake. It wasn’t God having an ‘off-day’! In these teachings we ordinary mortals share the life of the mystic.

SEE: http://www.satyana.org/pdf/SongoftheEartheBook.pdf 1

JOAN TOLLIFSON, religion, simple attention, awareness, nonduality, consciousness, advaita, healing, presence, attention, Charlotte Joko Beck, Toni Packer,

TONI PACKER: articles and quotes by Toni (Joan Tollifson’s teacher)

ARTICLES are HERE – http://www.springwatercenter.org/toni-packer/articles/

Awareness

Striving

A Quiet Space

On September 11, 2001

Anger

What is my Innermost Core?

What is the “Me”?

Can Meditative Inquiry Be Carried On?

Openness

NB see also http://www.springwatercenter.org/toni-packer/dialogue/
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QUOTATIONS: (there may be a few repititions)

“In the expectation of wonderful things to happen in the future, one doesn’t hear the sound of the wind and rain, the breath and heartbeat this instant.” ~ Toni Packer

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Awareness cannot be taught. Awareness simply throws light on what is, without any separation whatsoever. Activity does not destroy it and sitting does not create it.

It is there, uncreated, freely functioning in wisdom and love, when self-centered conditioning is clearly revealed, in the light of understanding.

When the changing states of body-mind are simply left to themselves without any choice or judgment, a new quietness emerges by itself.

This new mind that is no-mind is free of duality—there is no doer in it and nothing to be done.

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Life is a vast, unknowable movement of wholeness with no one separate from it and nothing outside of it.

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Sitting quietly, doing nothing, not knowing what is next and not concerned with what was or what may be next, a new mind is operating that is not connected with the conditioned past and yet perceives and understands the whole mechanism of conditioning. It is the unmasking of the self that is nothing but masks – images, memories of past experiences, fears, hopes, and the ceaseless demand to be something or become somebody.

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The emergence and blossoming of understanding, love, and intelligence has nothing to do with any tradition, no matter how ancient or impressive-it has nothing to do with time. It happens on its own when a human being questions, wonders, inquires, listens, and looks without getting stuck in fear, pleasure, and pain. When self-concern is quiet, in abeyance, heaven and earth are open.

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What are we when there is no one doing anything, no one attaining anything, no place to go? There is no place to go. The whole foundation is already here in each one of us. It is the same in all of us. There is only one foundation, which is presence, wholeness, boundless love.

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In truth we are not separate from each other or from the world, from the whole earth, the sun or moon or billions of stars, not separate from the entire universe. Listening silently in quiet wonderment, without knowing anything, there is just one mysteriously palpitating aliveness.

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We are human beings, not ‘students’ and ‘teacher,’ coming together and questioning, looking together, not having made up our minds about what we’re looking at, but starting afresh.

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The solution of the problem lies in seeing it—in the seeing, without wanting a solution, or dissolution—just seeing what’s there. . . .

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Awareness cannot be taught, and when it is present it has no context. All contexts are created by thought and are therefore corruptible by thought. Awareness simply throws light on what is, without any separation whatsoever.

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“What is personal death?

Asking this question and pausing to look inward – isn’t personal death a concept? Isn’t there a thought-and-picture series going on in the brain? These scenes of personal ending take place solely in the imagination, and yet they trigger great mental ad physical distress – thinking of one’s cherished attachments an their sudden, irreversible termination.

Similarly, if there is ‘pain when I let some of the beauty of life in’ – isn’t this pain the result of thinking, ‘I won’t be here any longer to enjoy this beauty?’ Or, ‘No one will be around and no beauty left to be enjoyed if there is total nuclear devastation.’

Apart from the horrendous tragedy of human warfare – why is there this fear of ‘me’ not continuing? Is it because I don’t realize that all my fear and trembling is for an image? Because I really believe that this image is myself?

In the midst of this vast, unfathomable, ever-changing, dying, and renewing flow of life, the human brain is ceaselessly engaged in trying to fix for itself a state of permanency and certainty. Having the capacity to think and form pictures of ourselves, to remember them and become deeply attached to them, we take this world of pictures and ideas for real. We thoroughly believe in the reality of the picture story of our personal life. We are totally identified with it and want it to go on forever. The idea of “forever” is itself an invention of the human brain. Forever is a dream.

Questioning beyond all thoughts, images, memories, and beliefs, questioning profoundly into the utter darkness of not-knowing, the realization may suddenly dawn that one is nothing at all – nothing – that all one has been holding on to are pictures and dreams. Being nothing is being everything. It is wholeness. Compassion. It is the ending of separation, fear, and sorrow.

Is there pain when no one is there to hold on?

There is beauty where there is no “me”.”
― Toni Packer, The Work of This Moment

“The solution of the problem lies in seeing it—in the seeing, without wanting a solution, or dissolution—just seeing what’s there. . . .”
― Toni Packer, The Light of Discovery

“In the expectation of wonderful things to happen in the future, one doesn’t hear the sound of the wind and rain, the breath and heartbeat this instant.”
― Toni Packer, The Light of Discovery

SHADOW as judge – Toni Packer

The Wonder of Presence and the Way of Meditative Inquiry – By Toni Packer

Toni Packer on the shadow part of us that misses the magic of the present moment by judging.

“We are habitually absorbed in our ideas and judgments about each other and are little aware of the actual moment-to-moment happenings between us. It feels so true that your are what I know you to be, and that I am what I know about myself. We don’t realize easily that what I think I am is to a large extent the picture-story about myself. I can think endlessly about the characteristics of my body, its looks and its needs, my name, my age, my inherited qualities, my parents, my history, my experiences, my artistic, mathematical, or athletic talents and potential I think I have. And there is a reaction to everything I think about myself — I like it or I don’t, I want to get rid of it or keep it forever.

“So we become identified with our characteristics and abilities and identify others by theirs. There is a feeling of ownership here: We think we are the owners of our traits, our personalities, our bodies, our knowledge, and our opinions. And we feel that we deserve to be what we are as though we ourselves had brought it about. ‘I have worked hard on myself,’ we like to say. The working hard on oneself is also part of our personality. When we feel that we haven’t accomplished anything worthwhile in our life, we feel responsible for the failure — it’s our own fault that we don’t amount to anything. Can we look at all this and question it thoroughly?

“In my delusion I feel that somehow I have brought myself about the way I am, that I own what I have become, and that I can get better if I put my mind to it and work on myself with determination and willpower. I also believe that other people should do the same thing. We somehow feel it’s their fault that they are the way they are. Finding fault is part of our relationship with each other — blaming each other openly or tacitly for what we are, what we have done or what we don’t do.”

Go HERE for full article – http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/book-reviews/excerpts/view/13776

Toni Packer, Joan Tollifson’s teacher – some short extracts, reviews and quotes

See HERE for excerpts & reviews re Toni Packer, Joan Tollifson’s teacher –

http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/search/?q=toni+packer

Awareness cannot be taught, and when it is present it has no context. All contexts are created by thought and are therefore corruptible by thought. Awareness simply throws light on what is, without any separation whatsoever.

-0-

Life is a vast, unknowable movement of wholeness with no one separate from it and nothing outside of it.

-0-

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, not knowing what is next and not concerned with what was or what may be next, a new mind is operating that is not connected with the conditioned past and yet perceives and understands the whole mechanism of conditioning. It is the unmasking of the self that is nothing but masks – images, memories of past experiences, fears, hopes, and the ceaseless demand to be something or become somebody.

-0-

The emergence and blossoming of understanding, love, and intelligence has nothing to do with any tradition, no matter how ancient or impressive-it has nothing to do with time. It happens on its own when a human being questions, wonders, inquires, listens, and looks without getting stuck in fear, pleasure, and pain. When self-concern is quiet, in abeyance, heaven and earth are open.

-0-

What are we when there is no one doing anything, no one attaining anything, no place to go? There is no place to go. The whole foundation is already here in each one of us. It is the same in all of us. There is only one foundation, which is presence, wholeness, boundless love.

-0-

We are human beings, not ‘students’ and ‘teacher,’ coming together and questioning, looking together, not having made up our minds about what we’re looking at, but starting afresh.

-0-

In truth we are not separate from each other or from the world, from the whole earth, the sun or moon or billions of stars, not separate from the entire universe. Listening silently in quiet wonderment, without knowing anything, there is just one mysteriously palpitating aliveness.

-0-

The solution of the problem lies in seeing it—in the seeing, without wanting a solution, or dissolution—just seeing what’s there. . . .

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‘The Light of Discovery’ – Essays and articles that affirm the power of being present now – By Toni Packer

‘The Light of Discovery’ – Essays and articles that affirm the power of being present now – By Toni Packer

“To really be with the raw stuff of this moment doesn’t need identification or labeling. We don’t need to know it. Just being has nothing to do with expectation. It has nothing to do with a goal. Having a goal is already moving away. From what? What are we moving away from? We think we can’t bear it — the boredom, the depression, the pain. We feel it’s too awful, too difficult. It’s not the ‘spiritual work’ we imagine. But these are all thoughts, feelings, labels. What is the real thing — this instant of not expecting anything!”

So writes Toni Packer, a former Zen teacher who now teaches and runs retreats at Springwater Center in Springwater, New York. She is the author of ‘The Work of This Moment’ and ‘The Wonder of Presence’ and ‘the Way of Meditative Inquiry’……..

It takes practice to listen and look carefully at what is going on in and around us. The brain is constantly active creating associations, feelings, reactions, judgments, and impulses. Packer shows the many ways we try to escape from the present moment through goals, expectations, competition, effort, old tapes, the stories we tell, comparisons, and remedies for improvement.

In an essay titled “The Quest for Enlightenment,” Packer reveals how even a good thing can be covered over with the ego, labeling, and craving an experience.

She ends with the admission:

“It’s such a relief to realize that we don’t have to be anything.”

In “Helping Others,” the author affirms the power of truly being present with other human beings in tough times without an agenda or wanting or resisting anything.

Source of full review – http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/book-reviews/view/16690/the-light-of-discovery

PRESENCE – from the ‘The Light of Discovery’ – By Toni Packer

Toni Packard on being present even if it’s unremarkable.

Nothing Spectacular

“There is the wind, the sound of rustling leaves, the brightness of the room, the breathing, the color of the wooden floor, the hands resting, the heart beating. There is saliva gathering in the mouth, and the swallowing of it. What’s so hard about being in touch with what is real, with what is actually here this moment, unspectacular though it may be?

“Is this one of our problems? That to be in touch with reality we expect something spectacular, something out of the ordinary? So we fail to be with our feet on the most ordinary of grounds, a soggy path or a wooden floor, a rug.

“Last night in the meeting room there was a lamp on the table, and just beneath it a small plant with the greenest of leaves, like tongues unfolding out of the little pot, and a few red flowers, as red as red can be, with yellow dots inside. That simple. Can we see it and not expect this to do something for us? Can we just see it, hear it, feel it completely?

“At the same time there is the breathing, the sound of the wind, the ticking of a clock, and the beating of the heart. A feeling of uncertainty or calm may also be there. The entire universe is there — the wonder of it, not the concept. Just the air, the ground, the sky, the night, the stars, and the lights of Springwater.” -0-

from the ‘The Light of Discovery’ – By Toni Packer