All we ever have is present experiencing, the immediacy of Here-Now, this aliveness that includes everything but is no-thing in particular. Mapping (labelling, categorizing, conceptualizing, formulating, interpreting, theorizing) is an activity of this aliveness, but the maps are never the actuality they claim to represent. Memories are a present happening, not the event they claim to remember. Maps, memory and imagination are vital to human functioning in everyday life, but we suffer when we mistake the map for the territory and believe that solid, substantial, discrete, independent “things” (including “you” and “me” and “the world”) actually exist in the way we think they do. We can’t ignore or deny everyday reality, but it’s liberating to realize that the separations and divisions are purely notional. No “thing” can ever actually be pinned down or separated out from everything it apparently is not. There is no independent “self” to have (or not have) free will. No wave can ever move independently of the whole ocean. This living actuality cannot be grasped conceptually in any way whatsoever, and yet, here it is—obvious and unavoidable. And it includes everything, even apparent divisions, compulsive thinking, human neurosis, so-called evil, everything imaginable and conceivable—all one seamless, boundless, groundless whole.
Joan Tollifson is a life-long explorer of the ever-changing, ever-present living reality Here-Now. Her bare-bones approach is open, direct, immediate, down-to-earth and rooted in the ever-fresh aliveness of present experiencing and aware presence. Joan’s main teacher was Toni Packer, a former Zen teacher who left that tradition behind to work in a simpler and more open way. Joan spent time with many other teachers as well, exploring Buddhism, Advaita and radical nonduality, but she does not identify with or represent any particular tradition. Joan holds meetings and is the author of five books: Death: The End of Self-Improvement; Nothing to Grasp; Painting the Sidewalk with Water: Talks and Dialogs about Nonduality; Awake in the Heartland: The Ecstasy of What Is; and Bare-Bones Meditation: Waking Up from the Story of My Life.