Photo by Corinne Galois – Galerie photographique
Joan Tollifson is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. Joan writes and talks about being awake to the aliveness and inconceivability of Here-Now — being just this moment, exactly as it is. She has explored Buddhism, Advaita and radical nonduality. Joan’s main teacher was Toni Packer, a former Zen teacher who left that tradition behind to work in a simpler and more open way. Joan does not identify with or represent any particular tradition. You will find ample information on her website: Joan Tollifson, the simplicity of what is. She currently resides in southern Oregon.
I like Joan’s down to earth, bare-bones approach to reality, which is refreshing and does not need complex practices. I like too her frank and direct relationship to the ’what is’ of life, including the most human, most confused expressions of ourselves. I have chosen to share here one of her texts called ‘The Inconceivable Actuality Here-Now’. It is an extensive, and rather complete description of the descent into the ‘here and now’ of present experience, beyond all maps and conceptualisations. There is immediate and incredible potency in just being present to what is taking place right now — what is taking its place within the awareness that we are. “The rain pattering on the roof—is it inside me or outside me? Is it separate from me? Is there a boundary between these sounds and the listening presence that is hearing them? What happens when full and open attention is given to something?” Joan keeps inviting you to see and understand for yourself the nature of reality. I hope you enjoy…
“Nature is not imaginary: it is actual;
and what is happening to you now is actual.
From the actual you must begin—
with what is happening now—
and the now is timeless.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
The Inconceivable Actuality Here-Now
I had a high school film teacher back in the 1960s who, in the first class, had us look at our thumbs. After about 10 minutes, he asked how many of us were bored. He told us that if we were really seeing, we wouldn’t get bored. He gave us homework assignments that involved sitting in front of trees and looking at small sections of bark for an hour, or watching grass blow in the wind. One night I was lying on the floor in our dining room in the dark, watching shadows move on the wall. My mother came in, a bit upset, and asked me if I had finished my homework. I told her I was doing it. And I was! What a blessing to have a teacher like this in school.
As I told someone recently in a FB comment, the ‘ordinary’ is actually extraordinary, and what we think is ‘the same old thing’ is never actually the same from one instant to the next. The more closely we attend to anything that shows up (whether it is a visual appearance, a sound, a somatic sensation, a taste, a smell, a tactile sensation), the more it unfolds into ever more subtle dimensions with no end to that unfolding.
By simply looking and listening openly, we can notice and enjoy the fluidity and playful nature of reality — the clouds moving through a puddle of rainwater on the sidewalk, the gorgeous hills and valleys in a crumpled Kleenex, the way light dances on the wall, a tingling in our feet. We can notice it is all one seamless, infinitely varied but undivided happening, and that all our words for it and explanations of it can never capture or nail it down. We also begin to notice the common factor in every different experience: the presence of it, the immediacy of it, how everything is the immovable, infinite and eternal, ever-present Here-Now that never departs from itself. […]