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The following are the most recent selected posts from my Facebook author page:

The posts are arranged chronologically with the most recent on the bottom:

January 6, 2020

Retreat Reflections

I’m back from my solitary New Year's retreat and it was wonderful and rejuvenating, blessed by the sounds of rain. At times, freezing fog would erase the mountains and the neighborhood, leaving only a white empty page, and then gradually the fog would lift and the world of colors and shapes would be painted anew on the empty page. After a night of rain, a gorgeous morning of brilliant sunshine appeared, wet pavement glistening with light, huge clean white clouds adrift in the blue sky, snow gleaming on the sides of the mountains, the air bracingly fresh, deer sleeping in the wet grasses at the park where I walked every day.

Everything is singing its own perfect and unique song, all of it in perfect harmony, even the parts that seem dissonant and unresolved. Everything is grace; God is all there is.

There are ever-changing experiences, ever-changing weather—inner and outer—the infinite faces of God, from the horrific to the sublime, all of it (and perhaps especially the horrific and the broken) here to be embraced and met in the Heart, in this alchemical fire of aware presence or unconditional love, in which a kind of miraculous transformation occurs that is not the doing of thought or human will. It is a movement of the Heart, a shift from the sense of separation and encapsulation to the realization of boundlessness, from resistance to devotion, from the crucifixion to the resurrection.

We create the horrors in the world through inadvertence, through delusion, or, in Christian language, through sin, which simply means missing the mark, turning away from God or Wholeness, getting lost in the map-world of dualistic thought and limited identity. Hypnotized by habit and conditioning and by the powerful tides of emotion-thought, we feel separate, alienated, alternately caught up in either arrogance or stories of deficiency. We miss the mark. We do hurtful, sometimes cruel, sometimes enormously destructive, things. And perhaps it is our human task—Consciousness embodied in form, the Ocean moving as wave—to recognize and heal these delusions by coming Home (again and again, Now) to what is “most intimate,” as they say in Zen.

And what is that? As Ramana Maharshi put it:  “Call it by any name, God, Self, the Heart, the Seat of Consciousness, it is all the same. The point to be grasped is this, that Heart means the very core of one’s being, the Center, without which there is nothing whatever.” The words can only point. What they point to is not an idea, a concept, or a belief, but a palpable reality that can be discovered and known directly by being still, and perhaps by inquiring (not with thought, but with open attention) into that proverbial question, “What am I?”

When we look back to the source of the looking, when we feel into what is most deeply meant by the word “I,” deeper than name and form, prior to everything that has been learned, before all ideas, before thought, before individuality, what is found?

In a way, nothing is found! A great emptiness. And at the same time, everything! The One Self to which we all refer. The cheeping of a bird, the sleeping deer, the sounds of traffic, the train whistle, the passing thoughts, the listening presence beholding it all—and at the very core, subtler than anything perceivable or conceivable, the radiant darkness, the infinite potential, the unfathomable intelligence-energy, the primordial awareness that remains even in deep sleep—the deathless unborn.

The weather of experiencing is ever-changing, while Here-Now (this still-point of timeless immediacy) is ever-present, without beginning or end—limitless, without borders, utterly still and silent—not unlike the fog, erasing and revealing everything. Such an amazing and beautiful mystery.

January 15, 2020

What is it?

This is a wonderful question to live with, asking it of anything and everything—and not settling for, or landing on, any answer that comes up (e.g., chair, truck, dog, my neighbor, mind, anger, sensation, experience, consciousness, emotion, God, presence, awareness, pain, arthritis, hand, foot, anxiety, coffee, my wife, etc.).

Let go of all those word-labels. Let go of the answers, the concepts, everything you think you know. Instead, simply open deeply to the bare actuality of whatever is presenting itself. Fall into the wonder of truly not knowing. Try it and see what reveals itself.

And if, after reading that last sentence, you find yourself expecting some Big Revelation, let that expectation go and simply be open to the bare actuality of what is, not knowing what it is, but knowing it directly, wordlessly. Allow yourself to bathe in the ever-changing, ever-unfolding, radiance and wonder of non-conceptual, unformulated, unlabeled, ungraspable being. There is no end to what is revealed.

-- copyright Joan Tollifson 2020--

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