“[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
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Q&A: It Is All One Vastness
Q: We're so used to this thing called the mind that most of the time we don't even realize it's chattering away at us. When we do notice, it is usually when it gets so busy in there, so loud and bothersome, that we just wish it would shut up with its judging, comparing, calculating, and strategizing. Rodney: The mind is quiet more often than we realize. And if you were to simply notice when those actions appear and see them for what they are, the mind isn't a problem. You see, a thought—by its very nature—is dualistic. It is saying that there is someone who is judging or calculating. But in actuality, there is only that particularly thought or action arising in that particular brain and body. You, fundamentally, are not the thought, action, body, brain, or consciousness (which is your changing alertness, e.g., awake, sleep, drowsy, deep sleep, etc). You are that which knows that they are appearing.
Q: Yes, I suppose the mind stops more often than we notice. But we are so used to it being around, so used to its endless commentary and its enormous facility with analyzing and announcing the news that we fail to observe the quiet. In fact, if we do notice it at all, we are bothered by it. We actually want the commentary to continue. It's a little like being around someone very annoying for a long time. We wish they'd go away, but then when they do, we realize how much we miss them. Rodney: As long as you are alive and healthy, you are going to have thoughts. And I'm confident that you would rather have them than not! And who wants to be around annoying people!? But the bottom line here is that there is no simply no mind. The mind is a concept, an idea. There are only thoughts, which—when they appear—we label as the mind. And thoughts are basically four things: Memory, imagination, reasoning (that occurs via the brain), and neurological responses to your surroundings. Q: And the search for enlightenment can easily be understood to be deeply involved in this so-called mind issue. Rodney: Right, because run-of-the-mill seekers assume that there is a division between them and the thing that they are seeking, and want to make strides "towards" self-realization. And then there are those hardcore spiritual foragers who either want to eradicate the ego or to still the mind completely. And neither is going to happen. Forget it! That is just yogic and metaphysical lore. Still, people are going on expensive, faraway retreats and "satsangs" to do all of the above. When I meet or talk with these people, I tend to get this sudden "flash" of the rest of their lives. Twenty years from now, say, they will either have ceased all meditating out of blighted frustration or they will be soldiering on, with some sort of nonsensical "happy" face. And that is place where 99% of the spiritual seekers are. And that is a conservative estimate, by the way! Q: Thank goodness there are a few credible teachers like yourself and [names several other teachers] who are saying that there really is no enlightenment—that, if anything, we are already enlightened! There is nothing to do, nowhere to go, and nothing to accomplish. Rodney: Well, one could argue that thereis something to be done. But it is merely a recognition that what you are searching for is already present—fully present, in fact. And that you are It. And this understanding occurs on its own, with a bit of attentive self-inquiry or perceptiveness. There is no concrete "you" to do anything all. Further, that recognition is neither progressive nor time-dependent. It is a relaxed seeing that you are awareness itself. You always were, and you always will be. It is almost comical when you see the true simplicity of all of this. Q: And once this is recognized, you will find that there this subtle feeling of spaciousness there, perhaps even a bit of serenity too, correct? Rodney: A serene spaciousness is certainly an apt description of it. Q: And the longer you spend there, the more you'll begin to see that it's more than just quietness. It's downright silent. And if you remain even longer, you may begin to see that here there is actually no subject. No object. The field and the trees are still there, and you are clearly here in the chair looking out, but—try as you may—you will soon see that there is really no one here. Literally no one. Then you realize that this is really more peaceful than you thought at first. It is actually quite wonderful, but in a very quiet way. Rodney: Right, there is a definite tranquility to the immeasurableness. But awareness isn't directional—you are not seeing the fields and trees in a specific manner. They are merely appearances in this unvarying space of peace and boundlessness. Also, once presence of it is seen and understood, that is it. You cannot directly explore it because there is no one to do so! And there are no deeper or "more peaceful" areas in it. Rather, it is all one vastness. Q: Well, how about this: It's the kind of silence that really rich people pay a lot for when they buy a week in Bermuda. Except here, by gosh, you didn't even have to drive to the airport!
Rodney: Sorry, even Bermuda pales in comparison to this richness and quietude! Q: Given that, this is surely the "enlightenment" that everyone is looking for, the one that is here all along. It is the space in which the noisome mind appears. It is the Thing/Non-thing that the teachers have been talking about. And it's not only completely and totally yours, but it is you.
Rodney: Exactly. It is not yours—it is you! There is no individual to own or obtain it. All there is is a sense of frequent and fleeting individuality. Your natural state is that in which nothing changes in the least. And you can discern that truth and reality right now, if you were to take a close and careful look at what is being said here. But don't remain with the words. See what it is, within you, that the words are pointing to. At this very moment, you are your very own treasure-trove, and it is all there for the having.
Click HERE to buy Rodney's Fully Present: Daily Reflections on Nonduality from Amazon.
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."
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
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