“[Awaking to awareness] gives you everything that is beautiful, everything that is fragrant. Your existence is all-pervading. All the four Vedas do not know how to praise you.” ~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Question: Hey Rodney! How are you? Sorry I haven't written for a while. I've been very busy with teaching.
Rodney: Great to hear from you. And those students are very lucky to have you as an English teacher!
Q: Well, thanks--though I'm feeling rather exhausted at the moment. But I have been delighting in your new pointers and also in the dialogue you posted a couple of weeks ago. As ever, my response to your writing is that it is totally and unimaginably fresh; and yet, there is always something deeply known and completely familiar.
Rodney: I couldn't be happier.
Q: This particularly pointer paused me this morning:
"The 'I' is an idea and convenience. It allows us to communicate with one another and to function in society. But this 'I' is not your true identity. You are the serene and unchanging spaciousness behind the 'I.' See for yourself that there is indeed something behind and around that notion of a concrete "me." It may appear intangible and ambiguous. But that 'something' is present nonetheless."
Rodney: Ah, yes.
Q: That "serene...spaciousness" is so palpable here in the pause of my thoughts...and equally, of course, when a thought is present. It just takes a moment of clear looking. Recently, what has been hitting home is the sense of the "solidity" of presence, rather than it being something that the mind clings on to or goes out looking for or frets over...It has struck me how it really cannot be made to go away. It really, really is not the fragile and elusive wisp that our minds would have us to believe!
Rodney: Not at all! And further, this "I" isn't trying to be sneaky or anything. It is conditioning that simply comes up or appears during normal conversation or writing. "I' is a personal pronoun that we use when we refer to ourselves. Because we have been taught (in biology, psychology, or even philosophy classes) that we are our bodies or minds, we automatically use the "I" in this way. We take it as a given that we are our physicality or consciousness.
Q: Or if you're religious--
Rodney: --that we are our Souls, which is an ambiguous term, to say the least. But when you look really carefully at this and discern that there is indeed a sheer and yet palpable presence of awareness throughout and before every thought or emotion, and that this is precisely what you are, something wonderful happens. The use of the "I" continues, but it is easily seen through. Its appearance is taken with a grain of salt, to use a rather convenient American expression. You now know that this "I" is merely appearance in awareness, and that it is no more who you are than your tea or coffee cup. And even if you sense presence for just a little while, that's okay. The trick, so to speak, is not to go after and try to acquire it again; for there was no acquiring in the first place! But rather, see or recognize that awareness is never not absent. It is absolutely always there for the seeing and understanding.
Q: Which always brings me around to that beautiful pointer of yours, "Now, what is it that you are not seeing?"
Rodney: Exactly. Simply see what it is that you are not seeing. Then self-knowing becomes interesting and vital, rather than distant and frustrating. And the answer, I promise you, could not be easier.
Q: Thanks, Rodney. As always, lots of terrific stuff there...It has been cold and crisp of late, although no snow for a week. But tomorrow is supposed to bring a fresh deluge. Hurray! And I've just remembered Hardy's "Snow in the Suburbs," too, with its gorgeously top-heavy rhythm (you can almost feel the branches!). Enjoy!:
Every branch big with it, Bent every twig with it; Every fork like a white web-foot; Every street and pavement mute: Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward when Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again. The palings are glued together like a wall, And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall. A sparrow enters the tree, Whereon immediately A snow-lump thrice his own slight size Descends on him and showers his head and eye And overturns him, And near injures him, And lights on a nether twig, when its brush Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush. The steps are a blanched slope, Up which, with feeble hope, A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin; And we take him in.
Click HERE to buy Rodney's Fully Present: Daily Reflections on Nonduality from Amazon.
And click HEREto purchase Fully Presentat Barnes & Noble.
And go HERE for the press release for Fully Present.
For Tami Brady's review of Fully Present in TCM Reviews, go HERE.
"Fully Presentis an elegant addition to the growing literature on nonduality as it is being uncovered, lived and understood in the modern West."
--Philip Goldberg, author ofthe best-sellingAmerican 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."
--Catherine Ann Jones, award-winning screenwriter, spiritual workshop leader, and author of The Way of the Story: The Craft and Soul of Writing. Her Web site is www.wayofstory.com
Rodney is also the author ofA 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.
Check out Rodney on YouTubetalking about "The Fundamental Thing."
Feel free to read a review of the Kindle Edition of Vastness on Amazon.
Nonduality Magazine has published a discussion with Rodney about his work and book. The extensive and wide-ranging interview was done by John LeKay, the magazine's editor.
"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)
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This blog is generally updated every other Sunday afternoon, Eastern Standard Time.