Breakfast on the long, sectional table from Ikea: Cinnamon muffins (from Zagara's Marketplace), organic blueberries, double-pulp orange juice, Three Beans coffee for me, and piping black tea for her (the pot neatly in its cozy).
We periodically stare out at delicate flurries of snow through the nine, multi-pane windows of her dining room. She lives here now, in this dark brick, two-story 1916 Colonial Revival house. A trio of kitties that remembered me within 10 seconds (after having not seen me for over a year) brush gracefully against my legs, marking me again and again. I reach down stroking them as they do.
"So what is it that you feel?" she asked. This is the first direct question that she has ever asked me about this understanding since my coming to it in the spring of 2007. "Is it like contentment?"
"No. Contentment is a feeling that is easily altered. What is felt here is a deep presence of peace and spaciousness that never changes, even with the arising of strong emotions. It is always the same because it is my natural state. It's yours, as well. And that's all that nonduality is teaching or pointing to.
She sips her tea and gazes out the window. "I should have asked you that a long time ago," she finally says.
"Thanks, but no 'shoulds' are needed. Your curiosity is simply at the level that it is. It may deepen, and it may not. You can't push someone to have an interest in self-knowledge. Nor should you." Benign silence.
We bundle up and get into the car for sight-seeing. We drive through some of the most beautiful enclaves of Cleveland--Shaker Heights, University Circle, Little Italy, and her own Cleveland Heights. The houses are mammoth, ranging in styles from Federal and Tudor to Georgian and elaborate Queen Anne. They were mostly built in the early 20th-century, when the rich made their living spaces large.
We then make delicious forays to Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Heinen's, and On the Rise Artisan Breads, where we get a loaf of oven-fresh Country Sourdough for "Cousin Amy," where we are going for dinner that afternoon.
Amy and her family of doctors: Her husband is a psychiatrist, and their two sons are, respectively, an internist and an orthopedic surgeon. And each has children who love to descend upon this rambling, two-story lake house. A freezing drizzle quickens as we pull into the drive. The amber-lit windows are adorned with warmth, movement, and people wanting to meet me.
But as I get out the car, I am thoroughly paused by the stormy and seemingly endless expanse of Lake Erie. "Make my apologies," I say and run to the long, deeply angled steps leading down to the beach. "Rodney!" she yells. But I'm gone, holding tightly on to the wooded railings. Still, I slip three times on the icy steps, but manage to right myself during the slow, perilous descent.
The beach is tiny and cluttered. Wave-flattened stones, tree limbs, boat garbage, and coyote tracks predominate. Four black, partially-submerged, metal groins stave off the house's eventual tumble into the bone-chilling waters. The air reeks of oil, rot, and fish. And far out, the grey, gelid churning of the lake melds with a turbulent sky. I turn and gaze upward to the house. And there they are--women at the window, staring down, protectively.
"So what is it that you feel?" she asked. Utter vastness and gratitude.
For Tami Brady's review of Fully Present in TCM Reviews, go HERE.
News & Info
Rodney's new book, Fully Present: Daily Reflections on Nonduality, is now out. It is $18.95 for the paperback (excluding postage). You can order it directly from the publisher right HERE.
The paperback version of Fully Present is now on AMAZON! It can also be purchased at Barnes & Noble, and is available through bookstores nationwide.
For the Kindle edition of Fully Present, go here: AMAZON.
And go HERE for the press release for Fully Present.
"Fully Present is an elegant addition to the growing literature on nonduality as it is being uncovered, lived and understood in the modern West."
--Philip Goldberg, author of the best-selling American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation--How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. Philip's Web site can be found at www.philipgoldberg.com.
"Rodney Stevens opens his daily life and thoughts to us in these immensely natural and pleasant ramblings of one who is fully engaged in life, love, nonduality, and cinnamon muffins."
EVENTS: I will be giving a weekend talk on nonduality at OneCircle in Silver Spring, Maryland on February 10-12, 2012. For the flyer, go HERE. I will also be signing books, as well as answering questions. Feel free to contact OneCircle for more information.
Rodney is also the author of A Vastness All Around: Awakening to Your Natural State, a powerful and elegant collection of essays, discussions, interviews, and powerful pointers. It can be ordered directly from the publisher at Lulu Press.
For the book's Press Release, click Here.
Check out Rodney on YouTube talking about "The Fundamental Thing."
"I like your approach in A Vastness All Around. The stories, thoughts and vignettes of your life seem wonderful ways to make people stop and pay attention to where they actually are right now, rather than in some imagined past or future. They show that you don't have to be some specially qualified person, preferably with a title and a name in Sanskrit, to pursue the spiritual quest. Your message comes across particularly well in such pieces as 'Sheerness of Being.'"
--Valerie J. Roebuck, Ph.D., Honorary Research Fellow, University of Manchester (England)
I am now doing phone consultations via Skype! Each conversation will take about an hour, and a $25 donation will be greatly appreciated.
I am also scheduling teaching events at this time. If you would like to arrange something in your area, you may email me at: writerguy (at) fastmail (dot) fm
This blog is generally updated every Sunday afternoon, Eastern Standard Time.