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Turn the question of free will into this inquiry: Is there a choice right now?

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Jon is such a teacher, and in The Unbelievable Happiness of What Is , the flavor of his work comes through crystal clear. A must read for those on the spiritual path! I highly recommend this book it to others. It is a stimulating read that simplifies the life process. And in order for them to work they must be understandable. Jon has the gift, as teacher and as writer, of getting to the root of things in a lucid, direct way. Yet he is also able to discuss the fluid trickery of monkey-mind in such a way that the monkey becomes lovable, and understandable. And when we thoroughly understand something, fear and inner conflict leave, and the deeper spiritual journey can begin.

In our culture that teaches us to look outside of ourselves to consumption and materialism, in the form of buying, eating and drugging, Jon provides us with practical guidance on ways of looking inside for the real answers that reside within us all. In our culture inundated with interruptions, Jon teaches us how to listen. In our culture that teaches us to follow others, Jon teaches us how to lead ourselves. Read it and transform your life. When we arrive in this moment and awaken to the truth of our existence, we discover that Freedom is completely ordinary—ordinary, yet awesome.


The recognition and realization of our essential nature is for many a gradual transition. The challenge of our generation is to find out how to support this transformation in the midst of our everyday lives. Reading Ordinary Freedom is like having a wise and loving but uncompromising friend on the path to discovering our true nature. If you shop on Amazon, you can choose to have a small percentage of your payment automatically donated to Clear Water Sangha.

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Order Your Copy Now. There is no flowery spiritual lingo here, just straightforward, wise, and loving guidance for those who want to wake up from the confines of confusion and fear to who and what they really are. D , Caretaker, Wilbur Hot Springs — present. Ordinary Freedom This book is about Freedom.

No clarity. I feel the urge to bite my fingers. Sitting on my cushion, I visualize a huge hot-fudge sundae. I grow exhausted. Exhausted beyond exhaustion. Finally, I go through an hourlong struggle with myself about whether or not to leave the sitting room at the next break and take a nap—forbidden and wimpy behavior in the Zen tradition from which I come, but perfectly acceptable here. I finally conclude that my sole motivation for continuing to sit is to bolster my self-image and impress Toni if she happens to come in, not that I think Toni herself would actually be impressed by this—it is my projection of her that would be impressed.

I leave and go take a nap. This is a huge breakthrough for me, as if some reservoir of energy had been freed up. That night I find myself sitting after the last sitting, something I have never done before, and have always found unimaginable. After the retreat, I am having dinner with Toni and her husband Kyle, several of the people on staff, and a bunch of people from the retreat. I am telling the story of my life, and hearing myself doing it, noticing the pride I take in it, the way I shape and embellish it, and suddenly I feel a little sickened by it.

Something rings false. A group of us watch videos of Krishnamurti in the evening, made at the very end of his life.

I have never heard him before. To pursue nonviolence is a form of violence, he says, because when we pursue nonviolence it means that we are no longer attentive to what actually is, but are instead chasing after an idea. Attentive listening to what is has tremendous healing power. I attend a staff meeting, with every intention of just listening and observing. But I become so ridiculously opinionated that I cannot stop myself from speaking up. I watch how attached I am to my opinions and their importance, how irritated and threatened I feel by those whose views are different.

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I feel separate from these people. They all have two hands; I have one. What is this attachment to my separateness? This feeling of being different, for whatever reason. Are any of these people here really so different from me? Do they feel any less separate? Why do I cling to various identities? Why do I feel as though no one really knows me until they know my life story? Tremendous fear arises at the thought of losing my labels, and at the same time there is immense peace in living without them, which is part of what happens on a silent retreat.

There is so much pressure to keep each of my identities, each of my labels intact. Toni, on the other hand, questions all labels and images of who we are. She points to something beyond merely replacing negative images with positive ones.


Flattery is as destructive as deprecation, she says. They go together like the two sides of a coin. I nodded. Her eyes lit up and she laughed her wonderful, warm laugh. A year went by. I obsessed about moving to Springwater. And finally I packed up my things, and, in the summer of , off I went. I was going to Springwater for six months as a volunteer.

Bare-Bones Meditation: Waking Up from the Story of My Life

I moved to the middle of nowhere, a place tourists would avoid at all costs—northwestern New York, the foothills of the midwest. And now here I am in a place with ice storms and deerflies and mosquitoes, living with a bunch of heterosexual men. On the third night of retreat I meet with Toni. Suddenly thought turns her into the authority figure, the teacher, and I begin talking about me and what I should do with my life, wanting Toni to provide the answers.

I feel the aliveness of our connection die. I toss and turn with nightmares. Someone in the next room wakes up screaming. I hear her roommate comforting her. The hours tick by. I lie awake biting my fingers in the darkness, unable to stop. The next morning when I meet with Toni I speak to her about this horrible addiction. It may sound trivial, but I bite the flesh, not the nails, often drawing blood, and I can get so mesmerized by it that I cannot bring myself to stop, unable to do anything else, my entire body in a spasm of tension.

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  8. The whole experience feels both numbing and torturous, and inevitably fills me with self-hatred and shame. Toni listens, and suggests not trying to get rid of it! Simply to be with it, she suggests. What is it?

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    How does it feel? Experience the sensations in my jaw, my fingers, my shoulder, my stomach, hear the sounds in the room.