Question: Hi Rodney, I found your site through Randall Friend's blog. You both offer wonderful pointers and clear instructions. Thank you!
Rodney: Thanks for your kind words and for taking the time to write. The pointers nearly write themselves, which is one of the reasons I carry a half-dozen pens and a digital recorder in my knapsack. Yet, I still forget to record or jot down a fourth of the pointers that come to me. By the way, the best ones are those that are accessible and that give an immediate pause.
Question: I'm writing with some confusion about how "reality" appears to the "me," and how it will appear when I unwaveringly know what I am?
Rodney: The "me" is nothing more than your thoughts, personality, habits, and consciousness. All these are things come and go. So there is no way that they can recognize that which is always present, i.e., nonconceptual reality. This "me" is also the mind, which is only the appearance of thoughts and concepts. The mind is not capable of knowing your natural state. It is awareness that knows consciousness and ideas, and not the other way around. But your phrase, "when I unwaveringly know what I am" harbors some truth. For with self-knowing, you do unwaveringly know what you are. Just don't give the "when" any credence. For you are already awareness itself.
Question: Doesn it mean I shouldn't be concerned about the global economic meltdown or the environmental crisis? What is really happening anyway? When questioners asked Nisargadatta about the world situation, he would ask "what world"? Is reality only what we are aware of in the present moment? Is mental involvement with external issues just more ego games? These questions really perplex me.
Rodney: Notice that you asking about what you should and shouldn't do. Such questions only distract from what is clearly before you, right here and now. And what is present is your own peace and limitlessness. You are overlooking it by dwelling in conceptuality, however important the above issues may be. But since your ultimate concern is with knowing who and what you are, why not center on that ever-present clarity to which all the genuine teachers and sages are pointing? Upon seeing that, your other questions will either be thoroughly answered or will no longer have any primary importance. As for the world, Nisargadatta was pointing to the fact that everything is awareness, including this planet. The earth is not an entity unto itself. And neither are you or I. As Buddha said, "the deed there is, but no doer thereof."
Question: And speaking of the Buddhists, they teach the importance of "right livelihood." Is that relevant in an nondual context? Many advaita or neo-advaita teachers tend to quit their day jobs and become satsang teachers, although there are some exceptions, such as John Wheeler and you.
Rodney: "Right livelihood" isn't relevant in a nondual context. Some people, upon understanding who and what they are, quit their jobs and teach. There are some who can't afford to do so. And there are still others who continue at their same jobs because they enjoy their occupations. All this depends upon the person's personality, which tends not to change after self-realization.
Question: How does the world appear to one who is awakened?
Rodney: At a slight remove.
Question: When I pay attention, I clearly see that I am that empty awareness in which everything arises, but that doesn't seem to be very transformative.
Rodney: If awareness is clearly recognized, trust me, it is indeed transformative--though I hesitate to use that word, given that you are seeing something that you already are. There is no entity to be transformed. Just keep coming back to the pointers (either here or elsewhere) until your ever-present radiance is incontestible.