Saturday, March 3, 2018

Joan Tollifson - The Freedom and Aliveness of Groundlessness

What do I know for sure, without doubt? Being here now as this awaring presence and this present experiencing – the bare actuality of this happening, prior to those labels or any conceptual interpretations or formulations of it – this is undeniable.

Everything that is appearing is changing, and yet, it is always happening here-now in this timeless, unlocatable present-ness. And although there is diversity in what appears, it always shows up as a unified whole picture.

All of that is what I know for sure, without a doubt. Of course, the words I am using to point to this are not the bare actuality itself, although words are undeniably part of this present happening. Whatever this is, it includes thinking, conceptualizing, formulating, abstracting, labelling, and so on—and yet the concepts and formulations are never the thing that they are describing or pointing out.

It seems that I am a separate subject, observing an outside world into which I was born. But when I look for this “me” who is supposedly the experiencer, the observer, the thinker or author of my thoughts, the maker of my choices, the doer of my actions—I find nothing solid or substantial. The “self” who is supposedly at the controls turns out to be nothing but ever-changing thoughts, mental images, sensations, memories, stories—and beholding it all is this undeniable awaring presence that has no form, no boundaries, no limits, no place where it is not. It seems that in reality, I am at once no-thing and everything!

When I observe closely the making of a decision or a choice, I cannot get hold of precisely how it happens, nor can I find anyone actually in control of the decisive moment. There is a neurological sensation and an idea that, “I am making a choice to go left and not right at this intersection,” but the more closely this choice and the one apparently making it are observed, the more clearly this “choice” is seen to be the movement of something much larger, something that is ungraspable and unlocatable.

And the more closely I examine the so-called “outside world,” the more I find that it only exists as present-moment experiencing, inseparable from the awaring presence beholding it. It also becomes increasingly obvious that the world I see is never precisely the same world that others see. There is some common ground—most everyone sees someone we call “Donald Trump” in the White House—but how we see this person differs widely. Although the labels make it seem otherwise; in fact, there is no one, solid, substantial, observer-independent “thing” called Donald Trump (or Joan Tollifson, or the city of Chicago, or the USA, or France, or the war in Syria, or nonduality, or the alps, or the SAND Conference, or anything else we can name).

And when I look for an actual boundary where “inside of me” turns into “outside of me,” I cannot find any actual dividing line. I can picture or think of one, such as “the skin,” but when I look closely at the skin—either with science or by sensing it in meditation, it turns out to be porous and changing and not very solid at all. And curiously, the skin (like my entire body) appears inside (not outside) this awaring presence, this boundless here-now that I know I am beyond all doubt.

When I remain with the simplicity of what is—the sounds of traffic, the snow falling, the morning light, the breathing, the body moving about, doing what it does—there is no problem to solve, no mystery to unravel. There is simply this present happening, just as it is.

Experience is always changing. One moment there is the experience of vast spaciousness and openness, another moment there is the experience of tightness and contraction…one moment there is joy, another moment sadness, another moment nothing special. Sometimes experience seems exquisitely subtle and formless, at other times it seems solid and mundane. Sometimes there is sitting quietly in meditation, sometimes there is doing my taxes, sometimes there is watching a movie, sometimes there is cooking dinner, sometimes there is writing a Facebook post.

Who or what is writing these words? Where are they coming from? If I turn my attention around to find the source, I find nothing graspable. These words are simply pouring out. The typing finger is darting rapidly about the keyboard, the words are appearing on the screen—all of it a happening of life itself. Thought can come in afterwards and say, “I wrote that.” And maybe, if someone else reads it and says, “That bit Joan wrote on Facebook was a pile of crap,” maybe there will be a reaction of some kind in the bodymind—perhaps defensiveness, perhaps deflation or hurt, perhaps an urge to argue or to explain what was possibly misunderstood—or perhaps there will be no reaction at all. If someone else “loves” what was written, maybe there will be a rush of happiness or an inner smile, or again, maybe no reaction at all. Perhaps each of these readers—the one who loves it and the one who doesn’t—will have each read an entirely different post, filtered through their unique conditioning. Because, as with Donald Trump, there is no solid “thing” that this piece of writing actually is. It only exists in a relationship with the reader, and that relationship is very fluid.

We are deeply conditioned to want to get a grip, to want control and security. This serves us well in many practical matters. But when it comes to understanding how the universe works or the nature of reality, it doesn’t really work. Ultimately, we don’t know what this is—this present happening—and we don’t need to know. We don’t need to know if anything exists outside of consciousness, or whether consciousness antedates the brain or is an epiphenomenon of the brain. We don’t need metaphysical certainty. If we relax into the groundlessness of not knowing, we may find, to our surprise, that groundlessness is remarkably freeing and alive.

There is no ultimate security for the body or the mind. There is relative security, but in any moment, that can be dashed by a financial meltdown, an extreme weather event, a traffic accident, or a sudden illness. Everything can change dramatically in an instant. But whatever happens to the bodymind, this flow of experiencing—this here-now presence—continues to show up in both dreaming and waking life. But every night, it vanishes completely in deep sleep. This flow of experiencing comes and goes as we move from deep sleep to dreaming and waking—and every night, when the knowingness of being here now and this present experiencing disappears completely in deep sleep, that’s not frightening at all—it’s relaxing and rejuvenating.

We scare ourselves with ideas about “nothing.” What if there is nothing after death, we worry. To the mind intent on surviving as “me” and “my story,” that sounds dreadful. But the nothingness we dissolve into every night is deeply enjoyable. And no one is leftover in deep sleep to worry about not waking up again. No one is there missing “my story” or calling deep sleep “nothing” and feeling fearful. The self and all of its problems are totally absent.

The more closely we look at anything—a thought, an emotion, a chair, a person, a mountain—the more clearly we can see that everything is actually an ever-changing no-thing-ness in which nothing ever really forms as a solid, continuous, persisting “thing” in the way that it appears to when we don’t look too closely, or when we are bamboozled by the words and labels that make everything seem separate and solid.

This no-thing-ness or groundlessness is our true freedom, our only true (absolute) security. But it is the security that depends on nothing—the security that is at peace with the bodymind disintegrating. In groundlessness, there is no one separate from this present happening who does or doesn’t have free will, who is or isn’t enlightened, who should or shouldn’t be doing this or that, who will or won’t survive death—all such conundrums dissolve completely. There is simply what is, including all of the actions and reactions that arise in this ever-changing bodymind, this bodymind that, like a wave on the ocean, is inseparable from everything that is supposedly not this bodymind. It is all one flowing wholeness, one undivided unicity—showing up as apparent multiplicity, as amazing diversity, and as the intermittent neurological sensation of being a separate person with a choice to make. It all happens by itself, effortlessly, even the apparent efforting and choosing. We don’t need to figure it all out and get a grip, and in fact, any grip we seem to get on no-thing-ness turns out to be very slippery and doubtful. And that’s not bad news. That’s the invitation to let go and relax into being groundless


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Meister Eckhart - In lonely silence

 "But the perfect reflection of the One is shining by itself in lonely silence, there safely pent as one and indivisible.
The unity (of God) is un-necessitous, it has no need of speech, but subsists alone in unbroken silence.
The mind is rid of light when it is rid of mode; and it is rid of darkness when letting go of all natural things, it sinks in nameless actuality.
Then it loses both light and darkness in the abyss that a creature in its own right never plumbs. Such is the estrangement in one as foreshadowed in the ordinary mind, but the realization of unity which the blessed have lies in the exquisite consciousness of another than themselves.
O unfathomable void, bottomless to creatures and to thine own self, in thy depth art thou exalted in thy impartible, imperishable actuality;
in the height of thy essential power thou art so deep thou dost engulf thy simple ground which is there concealed from all that thou are not;
yet those whom thou wouldest commune with shall know thee with thyself."


Dada Gavand - Silence within is the highest form of prayer

So we have to work with ourselves and go directly to that core, to that center, to that root wherein lies the whole secret and mystery of life. You need not depend upon anyone, or on any book, in fact not on anything that is outside. Just be quiet into yourself. There will not be any thought to imagine or demand a thing. Simply be quiet with the total fund of energy within, and in such quietude you are going to discover something new. You will then experience what humility is, and what innocence is. The mind which is quiet into itself is innocent, humble, transparent and open to discover that which is the real.

Then you will know what meditation is. Meditation is not the chanting or singing of devotional songs, nor the repetition of any word or phrase. You will then be in a state of total surrender, alone within yourself.

You have to be really alone and anonymous to be with the inner spirit. When you are somebody, you are related to the world, you belong to the world. And as long as you are of the world, you cannot move toward the inner spirit; you will have no relationship with it. So to have a contact with the spirit, you will have to be alone, on your own. Then you will get a helping hand from within. The whole secret is to come back into yourself by gathering all your energy, and to be there in quietude and silence. To be in silence is to be near one’s own inner spirit.

To be in such silence within is the highest form of prayer. Prayer is not chanting or singing praises to someone, nor asking and begging for rewards of theother world. Desires and supplication of thought on any level are not prayers. The silence of one's own total energy in the inner domain is the true state of prayer. Such prayer finds its own reward in a very mysterious way. The innate energy, when it regains its balance and stillness, finds its own fulfillment.

Beyond the Mind, pp. 15–16



Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Susan Kahn - Emptiness Cafe

Life moves
Like shadow and light,
Instantaneously appearing,
Though I cannot find time itself.

Cities mirrored in thought,
Nothing standing alone.
There is no seer without the seen,
No thought without thing.

Subject and object inter-rise.
Feelings, perceptions, none self-made.
Not even the heart
Lights its own flame.

The separate self departs.
There are sensations, conversations,
Aromatic contemplations,
But no I to claim
This emptiness cafe.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Monday, February 26, 2018

Jiddu Krishnamurti - Love

The man who desires to fuse with something greater,
    to unite himself with another,
    is avoiding misery, confusion;
    but the mind is still in separation,
    which is disintegration.

    Love knows neither fusion nor diffusion;
    it is neither personal nor impersonal;
    it is a state of being which the mind cannot find –
    it can describe it,
    give it a term, a name,
    but the word, the description,
    is not love.

    It is only when the mind is quiet
    that it shall know love,
    and that state of quietness
    is not a thing to be cultivated.
    Cultivation is still the action of the mind;
    discipline is still a product of the mind,
    and a mind that is disciplined, controlled, subjugated,
    a mind that is resisting, explaining,
    cannot know love.

    You may read,
    you may listen to what is being said about love,
    but that is not love.

    Only when you put away the things of the mind,
    only when your hearts are empty of the things of the mind,
    is there love.

    Then you will know what it is to love without separation,
    without distance,
    without time,
    without fear –
    and that is not reserved to the few.

    Love knows no hierarchy;
    there is only love.

    There are the many and the one,
    an exclusiveness,
    only when you do not love.

    When you love,
    there is neither the ‘you’ nor the ‘me’;
    in that state there is only
    a flame without smoke.

— Jiddu Krishnamurti – The Mirror of Relationship: Love, Sex and Chastity (Bombay 1950)

Khalil Gibran – Out of my deeper Heart

Out of my deeper heart a bird rose and flew skywards.

Higher and higher did it rise, yet larger and larger did it grow.

At first it was but like a swallow, then a lark, then an eagle, then as a vast spring cloud, and then it filled the starry heavens.

Out of my heart a bird flew skywards. And it waxed larger as it grew. Yet it left not my heart.

O my faith, my untamed knowledge, how shall I fly to your height and see with you man’s larger self pencilled upon the sky?

How shall I turn this sea within me into mist, and move with you in space immeasurable?

How can a prisoner within the temple behold its golden domes?

How shall the heart of a fruit be stretched to envelop the fruit also?

O my faith, I am in chains behind these bars of silver and ebony, and I cannot fly with you.

Yet out of my heart you rise skyward, and it is my heart that holds you, and I shall be content.

— Khalil Gibran – Out of my deeper Heart – The Forerunner