The Light of Discovery

Pat Enkyo O’Hara

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Toni Packer

Tuttle: Rutland, Vermont, 1995.

160 pp., $17.95 (cloth).


There is a Zen story about Zen master Ryuge, who, when asked about the state of emptiness, compared it to a thief sneaking into an empty room. A bare room, no furniture, no color, no smell or taste. Plain as a Shaker chair.

Toni Packer’s new book, The Light of Discovery, evokes a similar feeling: dry, bare, devoid of any shadow or liminality. What we have instead is a clear, precise, minutely detailed exposition of the qualities of direct moment-by-moment experience. The landscape of the mind is explored with painstaking detail, flushing out our “constructs,” the “habits” and “filters” that prevent us from the direct experience of each moment:

Pure awareness is the essence of what we truly are. We are not the different states and feelings, moods and tempers succeeding one another. All of it comes and goes lightly, cloudlike, without leaving a trace, when thought doesn’t identify with any of it.

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