Question: Hi, Rodney. My marvelous husband is out of town, and I'm enjoying some quiet moments alone, as well as reading some of my favorite nonduality books. The tree branches are moving slowly in the warm breezes outside. Their unhurriedness and the books (Robert Adams' Silence of the Heart, etc) all seem to slow my mental chattering a bit.
Rodney: I'm delighted that you're having some time alone. A lot of us need that, including myself!
Q: I know that Nisargadatta, Sailor Bob, and all the nonduality sages say that we are not the body or the mind, but the ineffable awareness that knows the body and the mind. And there are rare moments when this is a reality for me, and not just an idea or a belief or a theory. One sentence from a recent email of yours keeps coming back to me: "Because presence isn't clear to you, you readily identify with what is clear--thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc."
Rodney: Right, and that really goes to the heart of the matter, pointing out, as it does, an unexamined process that is causing you to assume that either this presence of awareness isn't really there or that this nondual understanding is difficult to "achieve." But the simple fact of the matter is that there is no difficulty or achievement whatsoever--only a simple seeing or apprehension.
Q: Over the years I have gradually put on a pound or two every year, so that now at age 53, my weight has climbed to 220 pounds. I feel very self-conscious, embarrassed, and ashamed of my appearance as someone who is obese. I also have a big aversion to exercise and dieting. So there is this sense of being between a rock and a hard place. I don't like being fat, and I don't like doing what is needed to lose weight. If I am not my body, does it mean it doesn't matter how much I weigh or whether I am heavy or thin?
Rodney: I'm sure you already know the answer to this.
Q: Oh, I do. The advaita teaching that "I am not my body" can indeed be used as an excuse for ignoring any concerns, especially those relating weight. Perhaps I just wanted to get your take on it, or rant about it for while to someone who has become a friend.
Rodney: Your body is an appearance. And by appearance, I mean that it is something that constantly changes. It is most certainly there, but it is not what you are. You are the cognitizing spaciousness that knows that your body is present. Still, it is only natural (even instinctive) to want to feel as physically comfortable as possible.
Q: And I do. But I also can't abide dieting or exercise. It's terrible, I know, but that's the case.
Rodney: Don't unnecessarily label or categorize the issue. That will only make the matter more off-putting. After speaking with your health provider about this (to insure that there is nothing medically causing your heaviness), you can look into ways to lose the weight that are more in synch with your particularly personality. If, for instance, you love watching certain TV programs--
Q: That would be medical dramas.
Rodney: Great. You could try watching them while walking slowly (at first) on a treadmill. Also, I have found--with numerous acquaintances who happened to be heavy--that when they lose a little weight, the chances are good that they will go on to lose a lot. Dieting, for its own sake, tends not to work because, quite frankly, your heart isn't in it. But after losing a few initial pounds, you are apt to feel lighter, healthier, and more attractive. Then, you will have a natural incentive to lose more weight. You will already be feeling better and more energetic, and you will want to continue to feel better and more energetic.
Q: Hmm, interesting.
Rodney: And this could easily lead to your doing a bit of exercising, to build bones and muscles. You could also try eating less meat, which may reduce your weight a bit more, as well as make you feel less toxic and more vital. (Be sure to take a multi-vitamin/mineral tablet, though, so you'll be sure to get your needed nutrients). And again, be sure to do all of this in consultation with your primary physician or health provider--which I am neither. I'm just repeating--albeit compassionately-- what is coming up here. Perhaps some (or none) of it will be of help to you.
Q: Well, that actually all sounds good. I'm going to give it some serious thought--or non-thought!
Rodney: Excellent. Let me know how it goes.
Q: I keep telling myself I am not my body, but I don't truly believe this most of the time.
Rodney: Beliefs, one way or another, aren't going to help you. They are just varying thoughts coming up. And all of your attention is going to the preponderance of those thoughts, as well as to the discord (mentally and physically) that they are causing. Once you grasp the mechanics all of this (i.e., see how and why this mental chattering is happening), there is a quick and natural relaxing of everything. Suddenly, there is a calmness within you to which you can bring your attention. And that calmness could well turn into a pause, through which you can recognize your pristine and ever-present nature.
Q: And I'll bet losing this weight will be a lot easier then! (Laughing)
Rodney: Well, it may and it may not. All that can said is that your actions will be from the fullness of your being. When options present themselves, you will act without hesitation. And even when you find yourself having to deliberate over something, that deliberation will happen smoothly and on its own accord. The body will become less of an issue because you will finally see and understand that you can't possibly be your body. Your knowledge isn't theoretical then. You aren't "telling" yourself anything. You are simply living the truth. And then, of course, your Beauty will be both innate and extrinsic. Eternal even.
The interview that I recently did for the new online publication, Nonduality Magazine, can be found at the following link: http://www.nondualitymagazine.org/nonduality_magazine_volume_1.contents.htm
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