The Openness of Presence
The Simplicity of What Is
Here-Now: Plain and Simple

If we drop all the labels, ideas and beliefs about life and what’s going on here, if we let go of everything that can be doubted, what remains? Joan points to what cannot be doubted—the undeniable actuality of being Here-Now, present and aware, and this ever-changing stream of experiencing, just as it is. Joan invites anyone who is interested to discover the difference between what we know directly and the beliefs and metaphysical ideas that we have adopted second-hand. She points to the possibility of letting such beliefs fall away, seeing through the stories that we have mistaken for truth, and relaxing into the freedom of groundlessness and not knowing, holding on to nothing at all.

When we look closely at our actual experience, we may find that the self and its apparent boundaries cannot actually be found. We may discover that there is nothing apart from us. We may find that every interest, urge, thought, action and apparent choice emerge not from some independent executive self at the helm as we have been taught, but from an unfindable source. We may discover that even what we consider to be terrible mistakes and misfortunes are all part of this seamless happening, that there is space here for everything to be just as it is, and that the deepest grace often arrives at the darkest hour. We may even discover that there is something right here, closer than close, “most intimate” as they say in Zen, something boundless and limitless that is totally trustworthy—some call it unconditioned presence-awareness, some call it the True Self, some call it the Heart, some call it God, some call it the Tao, some call it the light, some call it the dazzling darkness, some call it simply the openness or aliveness that is shining forth everywhere in everything and everyone.

Awakening to this aliveness is not a one-time event or a finish-line we cross. Being awake is moment to moment, here and now. Awakeness is actually the natural state, that which is already fully present—this awaring presence right here, right now, and the undeniable actuality of being just this moment, exactly as it is. Waking up is nothing more or less than seeing through the conceptual overlays that are super-imposed on top of the ever-present simplicity of what is.