The Simplicity Of What Is

I have never met or studied with Joan Tollifson, but through a round about way I have “discovered” her. I feel a little like I have a crush on her…..shhhhh, don’t tell anyone. I love her thinking, her writing, her vulnerability. I love the way she makes me think. Not think like, “oh what should I have for dinner?”, but THINK. More like, “Why I am I trying to escape from this moment?”, and stuff like that.


(sunrise, by me)

These days, the world is so full of anger, violence, hurt, fear. So many, many things are happening to others all around the world. Things that are  hard to imagine ever happening to us. It is hard to understand….

If you followed my other blog, Potentiality, ( ), you know the journey I have been on the last couple of years and I how I have changed/evolved/whatever it is called.

Recently, I find myself struggling during the day–kind of confused. Unsettled. I am a Montessori Preschool teacher. I spend my day with 21 little people ages 3-6. Life for them is about fun, playing, fairness, learning, exploring, crying, being sad, laughing, singing, missing their mom or dad, frolicking in the mud and rain, feeding the goats and our pig…….I come home covered with dust, grass stains, tears, paint, clorox, snot (sorry, but its true), little bits of juicy lunch items. Some days I come home filled with love, humility, wonder, satisfaction, contentment, joy, sadness, frustration, worry…… Then I come home, to my “adult” world. Bills to pay, sick pets, dishes in the sink, a leaky roof, a flat tire, wandering through grocery stores, laundry piles, dinner to cook, balancing time with taking care of myself and taking care of others.

Then…..I enter the “real” world beyond “my” world. News. Some nights I can’t watch. Some nights I cry. On occasion I laugh, but not often enough. Sometimes I hear about something beautiful, wonderful, compassionate, joyful. Then I have to process it all.

Today the news is about Gaza and Israel, shot down passenger planes, contaminated rivers, drug resistant disease, threats of being killed if you choose not to convert to one religion and give up another, fear of people, fear of disease, fear of fear, fear of drought, flooding, tornadoes, fear of being murdered by those charged with your safe keeping, fear of kidnapping, of mutilation, fear of foreigners, anger, more fear, more anger, more fear, more anger. Fear. Fear. Mostly more fear.

Then I read Joan Tollifson and there is this almost incomprehensible sentence, ” And it’s a wonderful way to live—to come back to the simplicity of what is, not once-and-for-all or forever-after (those are stories), but right now.” And, “… to be curious about what troubles us, to go to heart of our suffering, to take the next breath and to let it go, to dissolve again and again into the utter simplicity of the Heart.”

How are those sentences applicable to the broken hearts burying dead loved ones who were killed because a rocket flattened their house, or a bomb landed on their school,  their plane was shot down, or because they were of the “wrong” religion, or from the “wrong” country, or because they wore, or didn’t wear a burkah, or  because they “looked” like they were dangerous, or because they were mentally ill, or because they said no to a rapist… do they live in the “simplicity of what is right now”? How do they “let go” and “dissolve into the utter simplicity of the Heart”?

I sure don’t know. And this is my struggle. If I am able to be present in this one moment right now….grounded in “my” world, am I somehow disassociating from the “truth” of the present moment of others and does that mean I don’t “care”? “Right now” for me is very different from the parents in Gaza and Israel burying a child. “Right now” for me is very different from families fleeing violence, famine, drought, leaving everything behind and risking their very lives by doing so.

This has been so difficult for me that I wrote to Joan…..and she responded: “meet it with love. Love doesn’t turn away. It doesn’t blame or hate. It is the open heart, willing to be completely broken. And from that place, intelligent action (or non-action) can arise. Love is the real nonduality…love sees that this is how it is right now…bombs are falling, children are hurting, this is what the universe is doing…Love doesn’t try to avoid the pain or explain it away.”

How do we do that? Refuse to blame or hate? How do people open their hearts, knowing they may be broken over and over again…to see what IS, right now?  To take intelligent action?  ( For some, I know, this is not something they have allowed….it is their reality….there is no choice. And that is when I feel my own heart crack….how do they go on? How does their pain, their sorrow ever have a chance to take a breath and watch it all dissolve into the utter simplicity of the heart?  I don’t know….could you take that breath?

To hold all those broken hearts that are half a world away–those who are truly suffering, within my own heart  is what I CAN do….is it enough? To keep my heart open? To repel hate and fear?

It is most certainly a way of making sure compassion, empathy, concern, hope and love stay alive within me. And maybe also for one, or two others who know me, or read this and feel the same way.  I do not want to become indifferent, uncaring, disinterested, apathetic, detached, unsympathetic, isolated.

Love doesn’t turn away. It doesn’t hate.


Guess what today is? National Unity and Reconciliation 



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