“[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, September 7, 2013
Q&A: Experiences of Clarity
Question: Rodney, you've been on my mind recently, especially since I've been enjoying your new book—for the fifth or sixth time!
Rodney: The book is pointing to what you are, right now. So keep that in the back of your mind on any re-reading. But thank you!
Q: The only way to characterize this decade-long search is to point to its hilarity. For the past few years, it has been the same story: Approximately two weeks of ordinary living, punctuated by a few hours-to-a week of intense clarity. For a long time, this up and down ride was very depressing, mainly because of the absolute certainty that the search was over. Rodney: I see. Q: Over the last year or so, things have evened out a bit. I no longer have the certainty when the clarity arrives, having learned to enjoy the ride and not pay so much attention to whether or not "this is it." Still, it's always puzzling and sad when the clarity is not the natural state that you are pointing to.
Rodney: Could you describe this "clarity" to me?
Q: Well, this will not be easy.I've experienced this perhaps 75 to 100 times over the years. It used to last just a few hours. Nowadays, it continues for two- to four days. The really interesting thing about it is that each one is not only subtly different from the others, but also more convincingly real. By that, I mean the experience itself seems to be my true nature.
Rodney: But it isn't, of course. And each time, you realize that.
Q: I know, I know. But each experience appears deeper and more real. It's as though I'm slowly being allowed into my real Self, step by step. Thoughts fall away. There is peace, an inner joy that seems to come from absolute freedom, the freedom of no longer identifying with the body/mind—just the pure knowing of Self.
Rodney: "The pure knowing of Self" involves neither steps nor any allowance on your part. Peace and freedom are most certainly there. But thoughts continue; further, there is the clear realization that any temporary identification with your thoughts and body is no big deal. Indeed, that fleeting association allows you to function in society! As for inner joy? I suppose; but even that is a stretch. For there is really no emotional component to this understanding at all.
Q: It's just difficult to see how these experiences are not reality itself,except that I can compare them and see that each is slightly different. For that reason alone, I'm highly suspicious.
Rodney: Good man! Anything that changes, arrives, or departs is neither you nor your actual identity. Just know that that is a given.
Q: So when a new experience of clarity appears, what do I do—enjoy the ride? I can't be skeptical while the experience is there. For there is nothing to be skeptical about it.
Rodney: Oh, but there is much to be skeptical about! And we have gone over those things already. But yes, simply relish the ride while the experience is there, if you are inclined to do so. Eventually, of course, you will want to take a closer look at who and what is fundamentally present. Awareness never appears and departs; indeed, it never alters in the least! Its main attributes (when it manifests through the body and consciousness) are utter peace and spaciousness. There is clarity too, of course. But it is more of an understanding that you are this serenity and infinitude. At that point, there is nothing to parse, figure out, or equivocate over. You are presence itself. And the clarity of that fact is radiant and unfaltering. So as enjoyable as these episodes of clarity may be, they pale in comparison to clarity itself. For it has a presence and pristineness that is completely devoid of movement and intensification. It is your own natural state. Yet, it is forever new and unreservedly without end. Simply see what is already there. That's the beauty of this teaching—it is pointing to something from which you absolutely never depart.
Q: That's so beautiful, Rodney. I am really paused here...I would like to drive down to Columbia to talk with you about this. Do you think we could arrange a time for a meeting?
Rodney: Sure. No problem. It's easier for some people to come to this understanding with direct, face-to-face discussions, rather than through reading and Skype conversations. Everyone is different. But such a meeting is no guarantee that the recognition of your natural state will occur. I do believe, however, that such occasions can produce spontaneous insights, as well as seed-pointers for later blossoming. Q: I'm looking forward to it already! Thank you so much.
To buy the book directly from the publisher, go to Lulu Press
"Rodney Stevens' latest book is a valuable addition to the growing genre of nonduality dialogues and pointers coming out in the West. Rodney has a clear and distinctive voice that should resonate with many. I was particularly taken by the beauty of the prose sections. He writes poetically and evocatively." —Kriben Pillay, Ph.D., College Dean of Teaching and Learning, College of Law and Management Studies, University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal. South Africa
Feel free to check out Jimmy Dabrowski's beautiful and downloadable MixTape. Jimmy's a great guy, and I am honored to be one of the nondual authors in his collection.
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 of the best-selling America Veda: From Emersonand 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.
This blog is generally updated every other Sunday afternoon, Eastern time.