Sunday, May 12, 2013

Q&A: A Promptness

Q: Hey there, Rodney. I just started reading State of Wonder: Awakening to Presence, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Rodney: Music to my middle-aged ears.

Q: Every sentence has such astonishing, laser-like exactness. An Emily Dickinson quotation sprung to mind: "If I feel physically as if the top of my head is taken off, I know that is poetry."

Rodney: Right. Everyone reacts differently to precise and poignant writing—some are paused by it (especially when the writing has a spiritual or numinous bent), while others have the kind of physical sensation that Dickinson had. And then there are those who find themselves uttering the proverbial "Oh yes...," while perusing some remarkable piece of prose or poetry. Ironically, I have had all three of those reactions—but not at the same time, of course!

Q: Who are some writers that move you, if I may ask?

Rodney: Derek Walcott, Yannis Ritsos, Philip Larkin, and Elizabeth Bradfield, as far as poets, go. But I really don't read any contemporary nondual books anymore, though I still get a kick of U.G. Krishnamurti. He has a freshness and a directness with which I resonate. I certainly don't agree with everything he says. But so much of it is solid and illuminating. As for nondual poetry, I haven't come across any that has piqued my literary sensibilities. But the fault is largely my own—I haven't had time to explore what poets are out there.  I'm sorry, but Rumi rubs me the wrong way. I find his writing saccharine and bereft of subtlety. It has a spiritual glaringness that strikes me as monotonous, quite frankly. People are quick to quote him because it makes them sound mystical and profound. Anyway, elegant phrasing is not a requirement for nondual writing. If your words clear and point beyond themselves, then they will subsequently be engaging and praise-worthy. But my perusings are not always so erudite. For I read everything from sci-fi and non-fiction to Robert Ludlum and thrillers set in Washington, D.C. and the Virginia, which happen to be two of my favorite areas of the country

Q: Each of your sentences has that "pointing beyond" quality to it. And the way you attend, so gorgeously, to nature brought to mind another line, by the wonderful John Muir: "I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."

Rodney: Well, I am drawn to the details of things, whether they are in nature or in my own little boxy apartment. This morning, I happen to be over at a friend's house, using her seamless wi-fi. She recently purchased a Bonavita digital electric kettle. And I was totally enamored with its brushed stainless steel finish, perfectly angled gooseneck spout, and uncomplicated setting controls. The water boils far faster than on the stove. So there I was, at 4:30 this morning, bent on this beautiful little wonder on the kitchen counter, watching the temperature gauge evenly climb to the appointed 200F for my coffee. And it has tea settings too, which my friend especially fancies.

Q: As do I!...And I love the way you give salience to detail, shape, and texture; the way the changing is seen utterly afresh against the backdrop of the ever-present Immovable. 

Rodney: Yes, that ever-present Immovable. And when you make any attempt to reach or acquire it by, say, slowing the mind or watching your thoughts, you don't get a single step closer to it because the mind, the thoughts, and the determined watcher are not part of presence—of the Immovable. They are just ephemeral clouds within it. In fact, there is no getting one from the other! The real sky is completely beyond anything that arises within it. Further, you are sky already! You are the spaciousness and the freedom. So there is nothing that you can get. There is a spaciousness within you, at this very moment—and you are looking everywhere but there. What and where is that spaciousness? You see, that question directs you to a stillness to which you have given very little attention. And that is all A State of Wonder is: A promptness towards your own Immovability.

Q: And that it is...Take care, my friend! The magnolias are blazing at the moment in our street, and swallows and martins are increasingly looping over the fields. No swifts as yet: apparently they are having difficulties this year traveling between continents. 

Rodney: Pray for the swifts!

Q: And the peregrines!

Rodney: Bless them, one and all.

News & Info

State of Wonder: Awakening to Presence can also be purchased directly from the publisher at Lulu Press.

And for the Amazon Kindle version, just click HERE!


JUST IN ~ Feel free to check out Jimmy Dabrowski's beautiful nondual and downloadable MixTape. Jimmy's a great guy, and I am honored to be one of the authors in the collection.


This blog appears every other Sunday.


Fiona Robertson interviews Rodney on Nic Higham's NONDUALITY NETWORK!


Click HERE to buy Rodney's Fully Present: Daily Reflections on Nonduality from Amazon.


And click HERE to purchase Fully Present at 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 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 WestPhilip's Web site can be found at


"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


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.


Check out Rodney on YouTube talking 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)


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 other Sunday afternoon, Eastern Standard Time.

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