“… we are not a discrete unit of consciousness encapsulated inside a body, but that the body, the mind, and this whole universe is in this aware space that is what “I” truly am … Awareness is boundless. It has no location, no owner … all experiences appear within it. Awareness beholds it all … is not separate from what appears within it … is the very substance or nature of what appears …”

awareness beholds all

In this Part 2 of the 3-part series, Joan Tollifson continues her exploration of the “many roads to Here / Now” … and shares some more “roads” … enjoy! … here’s Part 1.

Another common road to awakening is to give attention to the space of Here / Now, the context within which everything is occurring. We discover that we are not a discrete unit of consciousness encapsulated inside a body, but that the body, the mind, and this whole universe is in this aware space that is what “I” truly am.

Awareness is boundless. It has no location, no owner. All locations, all characters, all events, all experiences appear within it. Awareness beholds it all. And awareness is not separate from what appears within it; awareness is the very substance or nature of what appears. Awareness is like the mirror that is present as every reflection, or the screen that is equally visible (or invisible) as every different scene in the movie, or the ocean that is the water in every different wave. Awareness is the boundlessness, the seamlessness, the wholeness, the emptiness of everything. If you try to grasp awareness, if you look backwards to see what is aware of being aware, you find nothing that can be grasped, and you find everything. You cannot deny being present and aware. It is obvious and unavoidable. Here / Now is the groundless ground, our True Nature.

Here / Now, groundless ground, True Nature.

Another approach to waking up is to consider that everything (awareness, sensations, thoughts, stories, neurosis, suffering, enlightenment – the whole show) is an undivided event that is nothing but continuous change. This seamless and boundless happening is the One Reality (God, Brahman, the Self, Unicity, Consciousness) showing up in endless variations or disguises. There is nothing outside or other than this One-without-a-second. Every thought, every urge, every desire, every intention, every action that happens is the activity of this One Reality. Nothing is not this. Any sense of being a separate, independent entity in control of its own thoughts and actions is an illusion, and what we consider mistakes or distractions are none other than this One Reality. There is only this.

seamless oneness

By observing carefully, we can see directly that everything is happening by itself, effortlessly, as one seamless movement, and we can see that all of waking life is a kind of dream-like appearance that vanishes moment-to-moment into thin air. Nothing stays the same. Even things that look solid and persisting such as mountains or skyscrapers are actually disintegrating and moving. No form has any discrete, persisting, independent, objective existence. Nothing exists without everything it apparently is not, for like a hologram or the jewels in Indra’s Net, everything is made up of everything else, and every part contains the whole. Unicity is all there is.

unicity is all

Another common pointer is to notice that every night in deep sleep, the whole movie of waking life disappears. All our problems disappear. The one who has the problems disappears. The one who cares about waking up disappears. All experiences disappear. Even the first, barest sense of impersonal presence or awareness as anything perceivable or conceivable disappears. If we say that nothing remains, this nothing is much too much. Deep sleep is the absence of presence and the absence of absence. It is the absence of concern. What remains is nothing perceivable or conceivable.

deep sleep all disappears

Many names have been given to what remains, but none of these names remain in deep sleep. This absolute emptiness is a pointer to the fact that the entire movie of waking life, all of consciousness, everything perceivable or conceivable, comes and goes. Our biggest mistakes, our greatest enlightenment experience, the whole world drama, all of history, it is all a passing show that appears and disappears very much like a dream.

passing show of all that comes & goes

This might initially sound like cause for despair, but any despair is in the movie and pertains to the imaginary character. What we truly are is the absolute emptiness that is consciousness, that is awareness, that is the movie of waking life, that is deep sleep, and that is what remains when all of this is no more.

absolute emptiness consciousness

Joan concludes her exploration into the many approaches/roads to awakening in Part 3 of this series … so stay tuned …

Here’s Part 1

We are honored to publish this guest post series authored by (& copyright of) Joan Tollifson with her permission. The text content of this series (without all the images here) was previously published (as a single post) on Joan’s website, titled: Many Roads to Here / Now.

See Part 1 for Joan’s brief BIO, that is in lieu of her teacher page on Stillness Speaks, which will be added shortly … and as is typical of our teacher pages, it will provide a comprehensive view about Joan’s background, and work. She is the author of four books with a fifth one in the works.

Images: (all edited and logo added) 1) Ocean Sunrise by chrisoconnell55CCO Public Domain, 2) Winter Impressions by hansbennCCO Public Domain, 3) Partial view of the Mandelbrot setCC BY-SA 2.0, 4) Fractal Infinite by geraltCCO Public Domain, 5) Late Stage by 52HertzCCO Public Domain, 6) Awakening by AbelEscobar, CCO Public Domain, 7) Alpine Mountains by spinheike, CCO Public Domain.




We also want to send our latest articles, videos, and podcasts via email once per week. As a thank you for signing up, you'll receive a video we produced that is unavailable anywhere else on the Internet.

Thank you! Please check your email for a welcome message and a link to the video.