From Joan Tollifson's newsletter:
Hello Friends on the Pathless Path of Exploration and Waking Up to the Wonder of Here and Now...
We humans seem deeply habituated to look for a better experience, a better me, a better partner, a better house, a better teacher, and so on. And sometimes that’s perfectly appropriate, it may even be how we have evolved. But often it’s just an old addictive pattern repeating itself over and over. Life is by nature in some ways unsatisfactory—it includes uncertainty, what we consider mistakes and imperfections, and many other things we don’t like or want.
We seem deeply inclined to believe that “this can’t be it,” and to seek something we imagine would be better, some conclusive resolution or understanding about the nature of reality that will give us the unassailable peace and security for which we long, or some final shift, finish-line enlightenment or awakening experience that we hope will permanently end the sense of vulnerability, uncertainty and dissatisfaction that is a part of embodied human life.
But what if ALL of this, including the dissatisfaction and the seeking and the apparent imperfection, is ALL simply the infinitely varied, ever-changing, evanescent ways in which reality momentarily appears—and what if NONE of it is ever actually personal? What if ALL of it is nothing other than this indivisible luminous awaring presence, this present experiencing?
It's wonderful to read books, watch YouTubes, go to retreats, hear talks and so on, but ultimately it comes down to exploring and experiencing directly for ourselves. No one can do it for us. At times, we may find ourselves reaching for another spiritual book or another video in the same way we might reach for a cigarette, a shot of whiskey, or a bag of potato chips. Instead of actually exploring and simply being the direct, immediate experiencing to which all the best teachings point, we read yet another book describing it instead. It’s like we’re addicted to reading the menu over and over instead of actually eating the meal. Something about the menu feels safer. It’s more pin-down-able. And of course, sometimes the book or the video or the teacher is actually helpful, and the reaching for it is not an addictive move at all. But sometimes it is. And yet, even our addictions and compulsions are also nothing other than this indivisible reality doing what it does. Even to call them addictions is just a label—the actuality itself is inconceivable.
Truly, everything is unfolding in the only way possible. We can’t get it wrong. Nothing can be pulled out of the whole. No wave can decide to go off in a direction other than the one in which the ocean is moving, and no wave is ever separate from, or other than, the ocean moving. The “me” who seemingly might “get it wrong” (or right) is a kind of intermittent mirage-like appearance made up of mental images, thoughts, stories, memories, and somatic sensations. It has no actual substance or persisting form—and no real inside or outside.
The body in which this “me” seems to live is itself an ever-changing process inseparable from everything it supposedly is not (air, sunlight, earth, everyone else, the whole universe, consciousness). Experientially, “the body” is ever-changing sensations (somatic sensations, colors, shapes, sounds, feelings, thoughts). The word “body” suggests a solid, delineated “thing” in a world of other separate “things.” But the actuality of this present experiencing is seamless, boundless and indivisible.
Polarities, contrasts and dualities are an undeniable aspect of this manifestation—but the boundaries between them are porous and ultimately unfindable. Where on the coin does heads become tails? Where in this present experiencing does inside become outside? Where does awareness become appearances? Or night become day? Or deep sleep become waking or dreaming? We can’t deny night and day, or you and me—each vividly and uniquely itself—but we can’t actually find any solid boundary-lines.
We also never find any substantial, persisting, objective “thing” that we can grasp, and we never find the one who is looking or grasping. We simply find so-called looking-grasping-sensing-perceiving-awaring-thinking-feeling-being endlessly morphing into new shapes, infinitely varied but always showing up as one seamless present experiencing.
When the thinking mind tries to figure it all out, confusion appears. But right here, right now is not confusing at all. Sounds of traffic, taste of tea, bird cheeping, sensations of breathing, reading these words, thoughts popping up and dissolving—one whole happening, one bottomless moment. Radiant, alive and unfathomable. Just this, as it is. And EVERYTHING is included.
Love to all of you,
Vikram Zutshi In Conversation With Evan Thompson This article was first published at the Sutra Journal…
When me they fly, I am the wings; I am the doubter and the doubt, I am the hymn the Brahmin sings.
The first episode in our brand new podcast series!
We look back at a selection of talks of Peter's from SAND conferences and host a discussion about his history with science and spirituality
Biographical documentary of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh narrated by Peter Coyote
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