Question: Hi, Rodney. A friend recommended your blog, and I happily checked it out last night. I immediately resonated with your lovely words and clear pointers.
Rodney: Thank you. The writing comes naturally and quickly, though never without revision!
Question: One of the things I like about your message (though that probably is not the correct word) is that you don't say that it is all just a dream.
Rodney: Yes, I have problems with the dream analogy--though this classic, Advaitic angle is not without merit. It's just that it tends to confuse sincere seekers when the "it's all a dream" speech is tossed about so casually by meditators and teachers who have no inkling about what they are saying. As I type these words, the traffic-sounds are certainly there, and the dark, morning rain is beautifully falling. But they are all appearances in awareness, in what you are. Events, people, and occurrences (whether they are labeled tender, noisy, passionate, annoying, loving, terrible, astonishing, etc.) are dreams in the sense that they only appear to be wholly separate things and activities. In truth, all is awareness. There is no separation anywhere. When water--for whatever reason--becomes a wave, it is still water. That simple little fact pretty much says it all. An added point: Some people try to skirt a society's laws and customs by saying "it's all an illusion--do want you want to do." My take is: Responsibly address all concerns, and see that your body/mind is being lived, that there is no individual person there. In this way, your life will automatically be filled with compassion and understanding.
Question: Thank you for clearing that up!...I've desperately been trying to gear my life towards seeing who and what I am. I am currently doing the practice of "resting as awareness" with [the name of the organization].
Rodney: How is that going?
Question: Well, I have been practicing this for over a year, and more and more there is pervading sense of immense peace. However, suffering still does come up for me. From your and John Wheeler's sites (and even others that I recently perused), it seems to be what you are saying is that this self-realization can happen pretty quick and there are no real practices needed. If this is so, I would like some help with this.
Rodney: Quickly is only the way that it can happen. There is nothing to work towards or gradually develop at all. It is sudden seeing or understanding that not only is awareness fully present, but that you are It. You are that awareness. As I have often said, your natural state is simply being overlooked. Indeed, its immediacy cannot be overstated. It is closer to you than your thoughts, body, breathing, and consciousness. Though you may have periods of calm and apparent peace, those periods, by your own admission, are quite temporary. Ironically, it is your practice that is keeping you from seeing what is already vividly present. Spiritual methods--however elegant, powerful, and well-intentioned--bring with them a clear host of problems. The central one, of course, is who exactly is attempting to practice? Can a thought, belief, conviction, personality, or body/mind rest as awareness? No, none of them can rest as anything! They are inert, temporary appearances in presence, in what you already are.
Question: Okay, I understand that much better now. No "I" or ego can rest as awareness. But where do I go from there?
Rodney: Where does who go from there? Permit yourself to be truly paused by that question. It is not at all a rhetorical one. It is clear and accurate pointer to your natural and every-present state. Further, the next time you find yourself paused by anything (whether it be a sentence, a work of art, a piece of music, or some gorgeous natural setting), allow that pause to go deeper--or rather, see that it actually (and timelessly) deepens itself into felt-awareness without end.
Question: And it is then when suffering stops?
Rodney: How could it not? You have discovered that you are Existence itself, rather than a mere body and mind. Suffering occurs when you have a certain image about yourself, which includes the "I am now enlightened" self-image! One additional point: Even when one's understanding is radiant and unwavering, events and issues (including physical pain and discomfort) still come up. But they are dealt with far more effectively: Responses tend to be swift, full, and accurate because there is no "one" doing them. Emotions are still there, but they are no longer a weight or a problem. For now you see, as Buddha so beautifully stated, that "it is our very search for perfection outside ourselves that causes our suffering."
Question: Thank you, Rodney. I'm deeply grateful! I am sure that I will be writing you again soon. I hope that's okay. I would so love to meet you for coffee, but I live in Toronto!
Rodney: Feel free to write anytime. And I love Canada. So I'll definitely take a rain-check on the coffee!