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#4002 - Friday, September 3, 2010 - Editor: Jerry Katz  

The Nonduality Highlights -    


It's Hopeless: Talk and Dialog

Selection from Painting the Sidewalk with Water, a forthcoming book

by Joan Tollifson

You are already awake. And by you I don't mean the imaginary separate individual. I mean this awake being that's here right now – the boundless unicity that includes everything, everything ! The sunlight, the birds, the leaves, the traffic, the thoughts, the acid indigestion. Everything is the Holy Reality. There's no possibility of being separate from this boundless unicity or losing it or not having it yet, because there's no one apart from it to get it or lose it or find it or have it. The thought, “I'm not quite there yet,” is only a thought. And that thought and the melodrama it creates are themselves nothing but unicity.

We only have to turn on the television to discover that consciousness loves playing. It enjoys melodramas, horror shows, crime dramas, happy love stories, tragic love stories, comedies, adventure stories, car chases, wars – and it also enjoys turning off the television. It enjoys silence. It enjoys waking up from stories. It enjoys playing hide and seek. It enjoys finding and being found, and then hiding again, and again being found. It enjoys going to sleep; it enjoys waking up. It enjoys the play of birth and death, creation and destruction, appearing and disappearing, expanding and contracting.

Sometimes there's clear, sunny weather – the wonderful feeling of joy and aliveness where everything is glowing and sparkling and bright and beautiful – and then other times the experience is one of flatness, agitation or upset – cloudy, stormy, overcast weather. And each of these sensations, thoughts and experiences is nothing but unicity.   Even the thought, “This can't be it,” is it.  

There's nothing to find. There's only this [Joan gestures to indicate everything].

There's no you that has to fall away or be dissolved. There are different patterns of energy that we call Joan or Ted or chair or rug or tree. But there's no solid thing there, there's no solid self inside these ever-changing patterns, there's no separate, persisting object anywhere. It's all one energy, one seamless flux.

There are preferences – we'd rather eat ice cream than cockroaches, we'd rather see peace on earth than the holocaust (or so we like to believe). Those preferences are also this same seamless flux appearing as cockroaches, as ice cream, as the holocaust, as preferences. If the mind is busy saying, “Yes, but… What if? Yes, but wait…What about…?” – that, too, is the same energy, questioning itself, exploring itself, discovering itself, unfolding and enfolding itself, forming and informing itself, tricking itself, enjoying itself. This entire appearance that we call “the world” or “the universe” has no substance. Try to find the thought that you had five seconds ago – it's completely gone. Vanished. Earlier this morning is completely gone. Everything about it is gone. You might think that the kitchen table where you had your morning coffee is still there, but it is not the same table or the same kitchen or the same you from one instant to the next. It's all a disappearing subatomic dance, a display in consciousness. Does “your kitchen” even exist when no one is conscious of it? Your whole life up until this second [Joan snaps her fingers repeatedly] is completely gone! Vanished. How real was it?

What is real Here / Now? This is a wonderful inquiry.

Everything is happening effortlessly on its own. The sunlight is happening, the seeing is happening, the hearing is happening, breathing is happening, movements of the hands are happening, these words are happening. And all of it is nothing at all. Every night in deep sleep, and actually, second by second, it all vanishes completely into thin air.

Participant:  I find a restlessness with no particular content – it doesn't want anything, but there is a restlessness that doesn't want to stay there.

Joan: Stay where?

P: Here. With what is.

J: But there's no way to leave here. What you're calling “restlessness” is actually some mix of ever-changing neurochemistry, thoughts and sensations that gets labeled “restlessness,” and the label already has a judgmental, pejorative feel to it. And then a thought (posing as “me”) pops up and takes ownership of the restlessness (“This is my restlessness, my problem.”). That thought “takes delivery” as Nisargadatta used to say, it takes this “restlessness” personally. And that labeling and taking delivery and taking-it-personally also happens by itself, impersonally! And then there's more thinking – comparing, contrasting, judging, strategizing: “This restlessness is not enlightened behavior…it feels terrible…I want that other experience I was having before, that blissful feeling of empty space – that was spiritual. I have to get rid of this restlessness because it's taking me away from ‘here,' where I'm supposed to be.” It's all thinking, which comes out of infinite causes and conditions, and the whole picture it paints is completely insubstantial. There's no “you” to do anything about any of this. It's truly hopeless, which is bad news only to the mind that wants to do something about it. The problem is completely imaginary.

P: When restlessness arises, would you say to address it by just letting it –

J: Just see that right now the mind is looking for a strategy. There's the assumption that this restlessness is a problem and we have to find a way to deal with it.

P: It's hopeless! I am going to write that on the wall in big letters. It's hopeless. That's everything! If I would just stay with that.

J: But see, there it is again – the thought, “If I would just stay with that I'd be okay. I'm going to write it on the wall in big letters so then maybe I'll remember that.” And even this strategizing is it, there is no escape from unicity.

Another P: What does it mean, “It's hopeless?”

J:  I mean that there's no one who can do anything about this waking dream. There's the thought that I want to get to someplace that I've heard about, imagined, or been to before, and there's a strategy for how to get there. There's a thought that, “If I just try hard enough, I can do it.” That's hope. But the one who wants to do that is a mirage and the destination is imaginary. Hopelessness is only bad news if you imagine that something is missing or that something needs to be eliminated. Hope is all about wanting something other than what is. Hope is rooted in the notion that some things are “it” and some things are “not it.” Hope is a mirage chasing a mirage. Don't take my word for it, but look and see.  

----copyright 2009 Joan Tollifson---

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