Question: Hi Rodney, I'm a longtime seeker who has come across your pointings and somehow believe that what you are saying is the bare and utter truth.
Rodney: Well, that's a good start, if I may say so! Faith and intuition certainly have their place in nonduality and advaita. But don't take my or anyone's word about anything related to self-knowing. For it's all about seeing this (your fundamental nature) for yourself.
Q: Yes, but there are still several hurdles which I still can't seem to get over. Firstly, the sense of the false me. How can I possibly separate what I believe myself to be, from the reality of me? How can the false me see that there is no me?
Rodney: The "hurdles" you speak about are only apparent. There is absolutely nothing separating you from awareness--except, perhaps, a misunderstanding. So right from the start, don't give any emphasis to what seem to be impediments. For they aren't effectively there.
Q: Okay, I think I see what you mean. I'll be more careful about that in future.
Rodney: Well, don't be overly concerned about it. Just see or intuit the simple truth of that particular issue, i.e., giving credence to blocks that aren't actually there hinders you from seeing what is most definitely present. That's all that needs to be done on that particular matter.
Q: Got ya.
Rodney: As for separating out the "false me" and Reality, that is merely a mental and conceptual-shifting of things which gets you nowhere and is oh-so-tiring. The "false me" (which is merely a thought or idea about yourself) can't know a thing. Only awareness registers the aforementioned; it isn't the other way around.
Q: So it comes from the direction of awareness.
Rodney: Always from the direction of awareness...And as for this understanding itself, you come to it--generally--by either seeing/feeling this presence of awareness within you and before you, or by apperceiving that thoughts, feelings, and the sense of a separate "me" actually appear and disappear into a bare and pristine limitlessness, which is what you truly are. And with this understanding comes a felt-sense of knowing and spaciousness. Awareness is suddenly alive and vibrant. You can almost taste it! It was always there, of course; but you simply hadn't brought your attention to its immediacy and sumptuousness. And by the way, it is your attention that your bring to presence, not some distinct, individual person who is somehow separated from the world and presence.
Q: True understanding sounds really great!
Rodney: It is. But it is also quite ordinary. At bottom, it is a knowing sheerness that is you precisely. But when you think that there is this detached "you" and the world, the world will indeed appear to be separate from you. This is where that ancient tale about the snake and rope is particularly apt. You see what appears to be a snake, so you immediately go into a kind of survival mode. Indeed, you live your entire life this way, as if a snake is the room.
Q: Right, and then life becomes filled with all these fears and tensions.
Rodney: Exactly. But there is no snake, e.g., solidified ego, individual person, or separate world. These are only manifestations in presence. It's part of your functioning as a lived body/mind entity. So when you see the rope as it is, there is no problem. The same goes if you momentarily take the rope for a snake. You simply smile, laugh, and address the matter at hand. It's no big deal.
Q: And I guess that speaks to what was going to be my next question. If awareness is everywhere and everything, why do I still feel like a limited entity?
Rodney: Awareness has unlimited aspects. They include thoughts, feelings, consciousness, your physical body, my physical body, the keyboard on which I am typing these words, etc. But a wave is always water. We are always awareness. When a belief of separation is focused upon, it tends to be strengthened. And that's certainly true when it comes the assumption that, among other things, Reality is something that has to garnered or attained. False teachers (and they are profuse) ply their piffle to disparate and non-discerning seekers who are filled with all of these romantic and stereotypic notions of what this understanding truly is. The teachers will tell you, in spectacular terms, that "Enlightenment" (their word, not mine) can be attained--through time even!--by meditation, sitting, silence, mindfulness, yoga, mantras, and/or servitude to them. You may even have some short-term bliss. But that will only be an experience. It won't be your natural state.
Q: I have finally seen through those kinds of teachers! That's why I'm so fully tuned into nonduality.
Q: So where do I go from here?
Rodney: The short answer is nowhere. "Here" is where and what you fully are! With that said, just continue to do what you are doing: Reading and listening to the words of credible nondual sages and teachers. And don't just read and listen for information. Allow yourself to be fully "stopped" or paused by what the teacher is pointing to, which--of course--is your true and ever-present state.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to reply, Rodney. I enjoy your writing very much.
R: You're most welcome. Stay in touch, if you are moved to do so.