Sunday, November 15, 2009

Q&A: Amazing Grace

Question: Good afternoon, Rodney. I have just listened to and really enjoyed your interview on Urban Guru Cafe.

Rodney: Thanks for writing, and I'm glad you liked the interview. Areti Alexova and Gilbert Schultz did a fantastic job, which is saying lot, given that I don't have Skype, my phone is cheap, and I was often holding the mouth-piece too close to my mouth. But the sound-editing was marvelously tight (as it would be, given that Gilbert is an ace audio engineer), and it was a total pleasure talking with Areti.

Q: And I love the music selections, along with hearing your voice.

Rodney: Kudos to Gilbert and Areti for the music also. I, myself, was particularly moved by the Sting selection and those elegant strands of Amazing Grace. Speaking of which, one could well say that about one's natural state--that it, itself, is a kind of Amazing Grace.

Q: After listening to your interview, I went on to enjoy reading your blog, with its clear-writing and pointers.

Rodney: Clarity is a vital issue for me. Whether I'm writing succinctly or at length on any point, being clear is foremost in my mind. Because the clearer I am, the more accurately I am pointing. Our minds want to make nonduality appear complicated, "far off," and something that must be "mastered" or achieved. That's the only way that our thinking selves can make any sense of it. But by following those notions, we go straight passed what is immediate and ever-present, which is presence itself. Concepts, of course, have their place. We couldn't communicate and function socially without them. But because our focus here is on this nondual, living Reality, we have to come to see--for ourselves--how, when conceptual thinking is naturally halted, that what remains is what we always have been.

Q: I've been eagerly learning/studying for the past several years and have recently focused on Advaita and found John Wheeler's book [Awakening to the Natural State] to be a huge help. You and he say that there is no process involved in awakening. Would you not call the 19 or so times you read John Wheeler's book as a process of sorts?!

Rodney: Oh, not an all!

Q: Oh, okay. [Laughter].

Rodney: I read John's book over a dozen times before my understanding occurred. But that wasn't a process; it was simply how things happened. There was no structure to it all, and structure is one of the components that is implicit in a process. I simply stretched out on my old green sofa each afternoon and delved into the richness of the book. The reclining, the sofa, and even the color of the sofa were neither here nor there. More important was the fact that there was no effort involved in my reading. For I was completely captivated by John's prose, pointing, and details. There was just this deep or intuitive knowing, on my part, that what he was saying was the absolute truth.

Q: Yes, it's the exact same with me!

Rodney: Also, I happened to have been the classic "earnest" seeker, i.e., nothing interested me more than getting to the bottom of who and what I truly was. And I wasn't going to allow anything or anyone get in the way of that. (Alas, some my old girlfriends will attest to that!) An "earnest seeker," as Nisargadatta and sages noted, is never rude or harsh, just determined. Even "determined" probably isn't quite right. "Undeterred" is more on-point. And when you find a teacher with whom you resonate, then you follow his words, talks, advice, and writing with great ease and an abiding faith. Finally, you come to the point where you leave even the teacher's words behind! This occurs when you see that you, literally, are the answer; that--for however long a time--you have been looking beyond yourself at varying thoughts, concepts, emotions, and what-have-you. But awareness has always been there, resplendent and in plain view.

Q: Yes, the teacher doesn't give you anything. She just shows you, as you said, that you are the answer that you are seeking!

Rodney: Precisely. And that was what John Wheeler pointed out for me to see. So continue with your reading and reflections. And be especially attune to any pauses that naturally occur during those times. For the pauses are awareness proper. They are THAT. They only appear nondescript because you have not properly brought your attention to them. And during any reflective moment or pause, allow the following question to be gently present: "What am I looking at, but apparently not seeing?"

Q: Got it! And will do. One of the difficulties that I've come to see with nonduality is in understanding way we each define words, such as "process" and "awareness." So thanks for the great explanations, and please keep writing. I love your blog!

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