Is it possible to simply be awake right now to whatever shows up, just as it is, without needing something different or better, without needing any final answers or any neat-and- tidy conclusions? Organic life is inherently vulnerable and uncertain, fraught with difficulties and dangers. Everything dies – the human race, planet earth, our sun, the entire universe. Impermanence is a fundamental reality. We long for a permanence and security that is untouched by birth and death. Seeking this in all the wrong places, we slide easily into belief systems and ideologies, cynicism or idealism, dogmatism and fundamentalism. We keep trying to get hold of some final answer, some enduring experience, some permanent ground to stand on. And yet, whatever we grasp turns out to be doubtful, uncertain and unsatisfying. What if there is literally nothing to grasp? What happens if we are simply open, awake to what is? Life does not always feel good. But right at the heart of what seems most disturbing and unsettling, in the very place where we would least expect it, we may discover uncaused joy. In the midst of limitation, we may find true freedom. In thorough-going impermanence, we may discover the deathless unborn. And Here/Now, as messy and unresolved and imper- fect as today’s weather may seem, we may discover the Holy Reality and the gateless gate to being liberated on the spot.
Joan Tollifson invites us to wake up to the aliveness and freedom of open, aware presence, and to discover the simplicity of being this moment, just as it is. Joan has an affinity with Buddhism and Advaita but belongs to no particular tradition. She holds meetings on nonduality and living in presence and is the author of Bare-Bones Meditation: Waking Up from the Story of My Life, Awake in the Heartland, Painting the Sidewalk with Water: Talks and Dialogs about Nonduality, Nothing to Grasp, and a forthcoming book about aging and death. Joan lives in southern Oregon. www.joantollifson.com