Question: Rodney, thanks for your writing. I discovered your blog a few weeks ago, and I love reading it. There is a clarity and simplicity to it that I really appreciate, and feel touched by.
Rodney: Thanks for your lovely words. And I'm delighted, of course, that the blog resonates with you.
Q: I live in The Midlands too, but it is in Nottingham, UK, which is currently covered in beautiful snow.
Rodney: Oh, please send some this way! Or at least a few digital pictures. We haven't had snow in the Midlands of South Carolina for what seems like nearly a decade.
Q: Today, as I read your first couple of pointers, tears came at the words, "Nonconceptual Reality is totally beyond the mind (i.e., it can neither be found in the mind nor by the mind"). Thus, no amount of concentrated effort or theorizing can "get" you there." There was an emotional letting go as I realised that I have believed that concentrated effort would, somehow, get me to That, even though I've read so many times that this realisation has nothing to do with the mind.
Rodney: Allow the tears to come. They are, after all, a kind of pause, in themselves. Further, such apperceptions can sometimes trigger an emotional response. Every personality is different. Some people have a rush of feelings upon seeing a baby's innocent, outstretched arms to them; or when peering into an abandoned kitten's fright-ened blue eyes; or upon hearing a particularly strand of music (an angelic concerto by Georg Philipp Telemann is playing on the radio as I type these words); or when standing in front of a stunning work of art. At such moments, fully allow whatever pause is there to deepen (which happens immediately; there is no deepening "process"). See that there is a nonconceptual, space-like awareness just beneath and behind the tears and the joy.
Q: I think I see what you mean--to let the understanding come of itself, and not make it into something on my 'to do' list, along with other staples such as 'improving my relationship' and 'sorting out my health'.
Rodney: Precisely. The seeing is the understand-ing. There is no "you" to see, and neither is there a "you" that understands. There is simply felt-awareness without end. And as the ancients succinctly put it, "You are That." But this is even better framed--though not quite as poetically--in the statement, "That thou art." For this points to the fact that, from the very beginning, there is only Presence. You may label it God, Brahman, awareness, spaciousness, the Absolute, cognitizing emptiness, etc. Use whatever term with which you are comfortable.
Q: I know that there was this profound uprising of compassion that came from reading your pointer. But right now, it feels as if I am in some nether-world. I find it hard to put into words. And yet.... there is still the feeling that I haven't realised it yet, that there is still somewhere to go and something to get.
Rodney: Yes, but of course, there isn't. You are what you are: Awareness itself. Through our body/minds, awareness--in its natural state--feels like eternal sheerness, utter serenity and clarity, or unblemished beingness. Again, take your pick. The description is not the thing anyway--just a pointer to that which you already are. So there is absolutely nothing to attain, nothing to work at, and nothing to journey to. Not for a second do you ever move this treasured peace and benevo-lence. How could you? You are the spaciousness! You are That! Everything that comes after it--e.g., thoughts, feelings, ideas, doubts, sensations, images, etc--are merely appearances in that Boundlessness. Huang Po put it nicely when he said that awareness is "that which you see before you--begin to reason about it and you at once fall into error."
Q: Thanks for the detailed reply. I really appreciate it. Yes, I've had that sense of being "paused" a number of times over the last year or so, and I know that for me that pausing usually comes with either crying, or less frequently, laughter. It's awesome to me how we can read the same words or pointers repeatedly, taking them in intellectually, and then one day read the same thing and suddenly have that wave of recognition or realisation beyond the mind.
Rodney: Absolutely. I couldn't have phrased it better myself.
Q: And I rather like the idea of being paused, as that is just how it feels. And what you've said about always being this, that there is no striving necessary, resonates very strongly within me. In some subtle way, over the last few months, I've noticed that whilst there has still been a sense of suffering, at times, I'm just taking it all a bit less personally, buying into ideas and stories about how and why things are just a little bit less. It reminds me of a residential with Tony Parsons that I went to last year, when it became clear that I was not going to get anything, that there was nothing to do and nowhere to go, no striving necessary, and it felt like the most loving thing ever.
Rodney: You are seeing things very clearly, as well as articulating your insights with considerable grace. Continue to explore the various points above (if you so choose), while allowing your heart--your marvelously intuitive heart--to lead the way.
Q: Right now, my heart is telling me to start with my sense of existence, which you wrote about in one of your early postings. That I know, and it's so clearly always here. So I'll just follow my nose from there and see what happens.
Rodney: That all sounds good.
Q: The snow here is really beautiful, Rodney. I hope, by some miracle, it comes your way. The whole country is covered. I'm told, in fact, that it's the snowiest and coldest weather since 1981. Here, it hasn't been bad enough to cause disruption, although most of the roads and pavements are very icy. I've been at the local park with my dog this afternoon - the snow covered trees and grass, glinting in the low afternoon sunlight, crunching underfoot and people on sledges. It's wonderful!
Rodney: Well, just so you know: In your concluding sentence, you employ my most favorite word in the English language. Thus, you have described it perfectly. So, thank you!