Painting the Sidewalk with Water: Talks and Dialogs About Nonduality by Joan Tollifson (Author)

These lively talks and dialogs are about seeing through the illusion of separation and waking up to the boundless wholeness that is all there is. Joan’s approach is open and explorative, questioning all attempts to conceptually grasp and frame the movement of life. She talks about seeing through the stories and beliefs that create our human suffering and waking up to the simplicity of what is. This book beautifully dissolves the apparent dichotomy between the uncompromising “this is it, just as it is” message of radical nonduality and the emphasis on “being here now” that is found in many meditation teachings. Joan has an affinity with Buddhism, Advaita and radical nonduality, but she belongs to no tradition. In these talks and dialogs, she takes on such perennial questions as, Is there a way out of personal and global suffering? Can we choose to stop addictive and destructive patterns? Does being awake take effort, vigilance and practice, or is it effortlessly and unavoidably always already the case? What happens when we die?

Joan Tollifson writes books about nonduality and awareness that often include personal narrative about her own life. She was born in Chicago in 1948, graduated from Bard College in 1970 and later earned a graduate degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She has received several writing grants, including one from the National Endowment for the Arts. Joan practiced Zen in California with several teachers, was on staff at Springwater Center, a nontraditional retreat center in northwestern New York, and spent time with several Advaita and nondual teachers. While she has an affinity with Zen and Advaita, Joan belongs to no tradition or lineage. Her writing points to seeing through stories and beliefs and waking up to the simplicity of what is. Joan currently resides in southern Oregon. You can learn more at her website: (Author photos were taken by David Lorenz Winston).


Published on Apr 4, 2016

Being Just This Moment, Joan Tollifson

Everything is dissolving instant by instant like snowflakes in a fire. And every night in deep sleep, the whole show vanishes completely along with the phantom observer. What remains? Any answer (anything perceivable or conceivable) is absent in deep sleep. And yet, what remains in deep sleep is Here / Now, showing up as dogs and cats, beaver dams and skyscrapers, hurricanes and torrid love affairs, thoughts and sensations. Are we separate from this ever-present, ever-changing happening? Are we in control of it? Is anything that shows up actually a distraction or a mistake? Is anything lacking or in excess? Do we really know what anything is? Is this event we call the universe made of atoms and molecules or is it pure consciousness? Is it physical matter or a dream without substance? Is consciousness an experience of the brain, or is the brain an appearance in consciousness? Perhaps our debates about
which comes first‚the chicken or the egg, mind or matter‚ assume divisions and entities that don‚ actually exist in the ways we think they do. The bare actuality of present experiencing is immediate and impossible to doubt. What we can doubt and argue about are all the ideas, interpretations and explanations of this living reality‚the maps and models drawn by conceptual thought. In the openness and simplicity of being just this moment, we may discover that nothing is missing, that we are free to be just as we are, and that we are always already home.

Joan Tollifson invites us to wake up to the aliveness and freedom of open, aware presence, and to discover the simplicity of being this moment, just as it is. Joan has an affinity with Buddhism and Advaita but belongs to no particular tradition. She holds meetings on nonduality and living in presence and is the author of Bare-Bones Meditation: Waking Up from the Story of My Life, Awake in the Heartland, Painting the Sidewalk with Water: Talks and Dialogs about Nonduality, Nothing to Grasp, and a forthcoming book about aging and death. Joan lives in southern Oregon.

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