Toni Packer began studying Zen in 1967 under Roshi Philip Kapleau at the Rochester Zen Center and was slated to become his dharma heir. Drawn to the work and philosophy of Krishnamurti, who delineated some of the dire effects of reliance upon a religious tradition, she left behind the forms and institutions of traditional Buddhism to set up the Springwater Center in New York where she leads retreats. This user-friendly paperback has been assembled from her talks there. It is divided into four sections: What is Meditative Inquiry?, Me and You and the World, Relationship, and Conditioning and Wholeness.
Packer loves silent retreats which she believes are best suited "to facilitate the emergence of openness, presence, and a simplicity of being." This setting is perfect for the blooming of a wondering awareness that does not know. Packer delights in being present to what is unfolding without judgment, analysis, or assessment.
At the heart of this spiritual teacher's work is the practice of listening. Packer writes about it in this way: "The space of listening without knowing is open, unoccupied, undivided by thought. There are birds twittering, a fan is humming, people are breathing, coughing a palpitating energy not confined within the skin. No one is separate from all this, nothing needs to be shut out or shut in. No inside and no outside here! One vibrant aliveness without boundaries, an embrace of love." What a marvelous description of the spaciousness experienced when we are really listening! This is the kind of real presence which can pave the way for unity in the world.