Question: I would first like to say that I enjoy reading your blog and deeply appreciate your style of communication. There is a "sweetness" to your expression that I find disarming and am moved by very much.
Rodney: Happy to hear it. And thank you!
Q: I hope you will indulge my propensity to just communicate in the way most of us are used to doing. I find bringing in the advaita police to put a check on every little thing to be cumbersome and tiring.
Rodney: As do I. So we're in full agreement there. The only "checking" that will come from me is to correct or clarify any points after you have asked your question.
Q: Sounds good...It seems to me that the bottom line you and other respected teachers are pointing out is that the supposed separate "me" that I have long taken to be fact is, in fact, a fairy tale. I am not that supposed individual, but awareness itself. And if this truth is clearly seen, it is like removing the king-pin from a big-rig and the trailer of suffering are left behind forever.
Rodney: That is nicely-phrased and--for the most part--accurate. It's all about seeing who and what you actually are. And ultimately, there is not even a who, only the what. As to suffering, self-knowledge brings a definite diminishment of psychological suffering, but not necessarily physical suffering. Nisargadatta was clearly in a great deal pain and discomfort from cancer in his final days; yet, there was no sufferer, and he continued to say as much in his final discourses.
Q: I see. You're saying that the view that this understanding will bring about a complete end to suffering is--
Rodney: --is false and idyllic, however beautiful "the end of suffering" may sound. In life, situations and problems will certainly arise. But when your understanding is clear, those situations are met with the fullness of your Being, causing any malaise or adversity to appear nominal, inconsequential, and/or short-lived. In a word, very little overwhelms you.
Q: I have made an honest attempt to see if this separate individual is indeed a mere fairy tale. The weird thing is, it would seem to be the easiest thing in the world to see. The same applies to your pointers about awareness always being the same, always being present, even though its contents (experiences, etc) are always changing. But--
Rodney: Stay with that notion that this understanding is "the easiest thing in the world to see," because, quite simply, it is. Even intuitively knowing this takes the bluster and seeming solidity out of any idea, concept, or conditioning that there is a defined, individual "you" there. Yes, your body, personality, and physiology are quite singular. But fundamentally, you are awareness itself. And the universe and every single entity and occurrence in it arises from this Essence, this substratum of existence.
Q: Yes, but there's the rub. Even though this seems easy enough to verify, I still feel as though this awareness and this personal "me" are one and the same.
Rodney: Take note of what is happening: The "me"--in the the form of I and mine-type thoughts/ emotions--arise in awareness. That sense of "me-ness" is not always present, is it? They arise in what you already are. Presence is simply being overlooked because you are in the habit of focusing on thoughts, sensations, feelings, and your body. All those things are certainly there, but they are perceptions. They aren't you. You are what is aware of them, what knows that they are present.
Q: While "I" get this, it doesn't really clear anything up. I'm still the same stress case worrying about providing for my children, where the next check will come from, etc. In other words, I'm still feel a stake in the ever shifting world of experience.
Rodney: The "I" can't get this. Your natural state is only recognized or understood in the absence of any imagined "I" or "me". And that, by the way, is just one of the reasons why this recognition is so simple and unalloyed. Your feeling of having "a stake in the shifting world of experience" is simply an arising thought or sentiment that is not necessarily true. You certainly want to care and provide for your family. But continue to look closely into the issue of an individual you and whether awareness can, in any way, be bounded. How can that immeasurable spaciousness--directly before you and within you--be, in any way, limited?
Q: It cannot.
R: And nor can you. For you are that cognitizing sheerness. Again, stay mindful of the fact that this understanding is one of the easiest things to come by, that it only appears elusive because, among other things, it is the most obvious thing before you. Also, if necessary, take naturally occurring breaks from nonduality, so that you can come back to it freshly. For a clear-seeing of this is all that is really needed.
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, Rodney. I find your words and the words of a few others to be very helpful and encouraging.
Rodney: You're most welcome.
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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