I am sure you are all familiar with the slump of energy during the day, when nothing seems to make sense, when the whole purpose of meditation and awareness seems utterly pointless.

I am beginning to feel these are very valuable and interesting moments.

I used to meet these times with a greater resolve, a stiffened spine, returning to some old passage or book to find a new inspiration to “move ahead.” But now I realise the rather simple truth: these ebbs and flows of energy are the nature of a rather mechanical thought-emotion-body network. Meeting them with “resolve” is merely another mechanical conditioned response.

Nothing needs to be done about these psychological moments. All we need to do is to remain aware of their transitory nature as a part of the complex webs woven by the mind. Sooner or later, the “high,” that other conditioned mechanical response, will re-emerge and the game will go on.

Alan Watts on the ego

As a young adult, I loved the writing of Alan Watts. I felt he opened up new dimensions in my understanding of myself and my relationship to the universe. Reading him now as an adult simply reinforces the feeling of wonder at his insight and skill with words.

The root of the matter is the way in which we feel and conceive ourselves as human
beings, our sensation of being alive, of individual existence and identity. We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms. Most of us have the sensation that “I myself” is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body—a center which “confronts” an “external” world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange. Everyday figures of speech reflect this illusion. “I came into this world.” “You must face reality.” “The conquest of nature.”

This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole
realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated “egos” inside bags of skin.

Trump in conversation with masters of non-duality

Like the rest of the rational world, I have followed the recent political career of Donald Trump with some bemusement. As I was falling asleep last night, I had a wild idea. What if Donald were in conversation with an imagined, idealised amalgamated version of all the masters of non-duality who I admire so much (Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta, Toni Packer)? What might they tell him?

So here it is. Donald Trump in conversation with the Amalgamated Masters of Non-Duality.

Donald: When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people…

It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably — probably — from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.

Amalgamated Masters: Donald. Do you sense that the threat you feel about Mexicans comes from a deep and subtle feeling of fear? And that the fear itself arises from a feeling of being cut off from the world, of being an isolated, vulnerable ego, desperate to protect itself through lashing out? Can you watch the sense of division from which you are operating and see whether a more open, spacious response to “the other” is at all possible?

Your hostility towards Mexicans (and, it seems, towards virtually the whole Hispanic world and perhaps the rest of human society) stems from the illusion that you are a person, limited in space and time, who has been born and who will die. Can you realise instead that you are pure awareness itself? That you are unlimited peace and love illuminating the cosmos? That the divisiveness you feel is simply a movie playing in your mind, an illusory overlay to the simple truth of Being?

Yet, Donald, you are no different from the rest of human society. You are a symbol of the divisiveness and fear that pervades the human mind. The world is made up of people like you: fearful, hostile, acquisitive. It will require much patient investigation into the inner workings of our minds before we can become truly inwardly free of our limited egos. And so, actually Donald, you are like a beautiful jewel, pointing out to us the nature of our own minds and hearts.

🙂 I could go on and on. But enough, as a fun activity and a pointer!

Joan Tollifson

Joan Tollifson has been associated with Toni Packer for many years (I had, a long while ago, posted some remarkable text by Toni Packer). She has written forewords to some of Toni’s books. She has also compiled an utterly remarkable list  of spiritual and scientific books she finds meaningful, and has presented a brief summary of each author’s work. This is a real labour of love and I was deeply touched by it. The list and summaries runs to almost 50 pages. Do read this immediately! There are so many points on which  I resonated with this document.

A favourite poem

Could Have, by Wyslawa Szymborska

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Nearer. Farther off.
It happened, but not to you.
You were saved because you were the first.
You were saved because you were the last.
Alone. With others.
On the right. The left.
Because it was raining. Because of the shade.
Because the day was sunny.

You were in luck — there was a forest.
You were in luck — there were no trees.
You were in luck — a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake,
A jamb, a turn, a quarter-inch, an instant . . .

So you’re here? Still dizzy from
another dodge, close shave, reprieve?
One hole in the net and you slipped through?
I couldn’t be more shocked or
how your heart pounds inside me.


I suppose I could do a literary analysis of this poem. But I won’t. It is too immediate, too shocking, for elaborate thought. Too loving and hopeful as well.