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Being Awake Here-Now

Listen to the traffic sounds, the hum of the air-conditioner, the cheeping of a bird, the train whistle, the crickets, the wind in the leaves. Feel the breathing, the sensations throughout the body, the cool breeze on the skin. Smell the coffee, taste it, feel the cup in your hands. Feel the open spacious presence that you are, the openness that is awaring this whole happening, permeating it, allowing it all to be just exactly as it is. Don’t think about all this, but feel it. Sense it. Let the labels and the storylines melt away or be transparent and simply feel this present happening as pure sensation, pure energy, pure being. Enjoy this! Don’t do this as a practice, to get results, but simply to enjoy being here now, being alive, being this moment.

Notice that everything is changing, pulsating, vibrating, tingling, moving. Notice the stillness, the listening silence, the ever-present awareness that beholds this ever-changing movement. Notice that it all happens Here-Now, in the immediacy of this timeless presence. Notice how everything is one whole undivided seamless happening in which there is both diversity and unity at the same moment—like one whole painting or one whole movie with many different shapes, colors and gestures, or one whole symphony with many different sounds, pitches, tones and moods, or one ocean with many inseparable but different waves.

Notice that this simple happening needs no metaphysical explanation or formulation. In simply being here, there is no worry about whether this is primarily mind or matter, or what role the brain plays in consciousness, or whether or not God exists, or what happens after death, or whether we have free will, or what “no-self” means. Notice the relief of dropping that mental hamster-wheel that endlessly chases control through mental understanding, analysis, grasping, formulating, mapping, desperately trying to figure everything out, looking for the security of some final certainty, and always being left in uncertainty and doubt. In practical matters or in science, this mapping function can be useful, but notice that right now, in this moment, it is not needed. It is a form of suffering. See that. Feel that.

When thoughts come, see them and let them go, without getting caught up in the storylines they are spinning out, the headlines they are asserting, the problems they insist demand solutions—simply come back (again and again, now and now) to the non-conceptual, sensory-energetic simplicity of this moment—hearing, seeing, breathing, sensing—just this! Abide in the simplicity of what is.

Of course, in daily life, there are times when thinking is functional, creative and necessary, and there are times when the attention needs to be focused on a task such as adding up numbers, doing various calculations, listening to other people, preparing food, reading or writing emails, designing software, proof-reading a manuscript, following directions, operating equipment, caring for children, performing medical procedures, arguing a case in court, driving a bus, teaching a class, studying for an exam, and so on. None of this needs to be a problem.

But notice when thinking arises that is not functional or creative—judging oneself or others, trying to figure out the nature of reality, going over and over something that happened in the past, fantasizing or worrying about the future, defending and justifying one’s words or actions, and so on. Be aware of how thought triggers emotion and creates moods, how it tells stories and forms beliefs and certainties, how it endlessly manufactures doubt, how it tries to do things it cannot do, how it creates the mirage of the separate self.

Can we see all the ways, gross or subtle, that we are manipulative, craving approval, wanting authority, looking for security, trying to escape discomfort, defending ourselves, putting down or elevating others, feeling entitled and self-righteous, pitying ourselves, and so on? These are not easy things to see, and they fly in the face of how we like to think of ourselves—our self-image that we defend and protect—so it takes honesty and courage to see all this. But all of this is our shared human stuff. So, can we see that these thoughts and behaviors are conditioned, impersonal, habitual movements—that we don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed of them? Simply SEEING them is enough. Awareness is the great solvent, the great transformer, the great healer. Awareness sheds light and dispels darkness. When thought, posing as “me,” tries to fix or purify or improve or eliminate “myself,” it backfires. Instead, have faith in the power of awareness, the openness and freedom of simple presence.

And by faith, I don’t mean belief. I mean a kind of confidence or trust that develops, an undoubtable recognition of what truly matters and what actually dissolves our suffering. This must be discovered by each one of us firsthand. And that discovery doesn’t happen by thinking or trying to figure this out, or trying to grasp it mentally or ideologically. It happens by feeling, sensing, opening to and being this living reality Here-Now, just as it is. It happens by seeing clearly how suffering and confusion are created by unnecessary thinking, and letting go (again and again, now and now) into the simplicity of what is.

-- copyright Joan Tollifson 2018 --

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