Rodney: What is it like to know Self? Words or expressions are not the first things that come to you when self-knowledge is a reality. There is simply this very real presence of peace and spaciousness within you. The urge or notion to describe it comes later, out of some necessity or conversation. Also, none of things you listed (from bliss to personality change) actually happen. Yes, stereotypically they are said to take place, but they don’t—at least not when your recognition is true and solid.
Q: I can see now how none of these descriptions could possibly be true, nor are they even decent metaphors. It’s just a clear seeing after your response! But today, I have another one way to describe it, at least partially: “The sun is always at your back.”
Rodney: I’d say no to that either. But go ahead.
Q: Imagine a world where this is true. No matter which direction you turn, the sun is always shining from behind you, illuminating the world. And because it also illuminates what you think of as yourself, i.e., your body/mind, you gradually come to suspect that maybe the real you is the sun and not the body/mind. You begin to relax and enjoy this notion. And the more you enjoy it, the more intense it becomes. Soon, it becomes everything to you. It’s beautiful, fun, and funny.
Rodney: But all of those things are changeable arisings. Why give them any undue weight?
Q: But it doesn’t stop there. You can’t ever see the sun, of course, because it’s behind you. It remains that way all the time. Eventually, you realize that it shines on everything, makes everything visible. And from there, you ultimately come to understand that the objects reflected by the sun are one and the same with the sun.
Rodney: That’s more to the point—though it’s an unwieldy way of getting there. I’m not speaking of your prose, only your pointing!
Q: The objects cannot exist without the sun. Nor can this body/mind which you previously thought of as yourself. Why? Because everything, even including thoughts and feelings, appear in the light of the sun. Shadows, too, appear in this light. They appear and pass on, perhaps disappearing forever, or perhaps popping into view again. Then you begin to see that the so-called objects have no real and independent existence apart from the sun, for they are indeed one with it. Likewise, the body/mind which you previously thought of as yourself, is one with the sun. But you are neither the body/mind nor the objects considered independently from the sun.
Rodney: Right, there is no actual and separate existence from the sun.
Q: You finally reach the hilarious part of all this when you can’t actually say that you understand it, certainly not in a merely intellectual sense. So you realize that you are stuck: you can’t see the sun; you can’t fully understand it (although sometimes you think you do) and worst of all, there really is no you here because the only you is back there, unseen, shining everything into existence.
Rodney: Why “worst of all, there really is no you”? That shouldn’t make you feel despondent. For you are something immensely greater.
Q: That’s what I’m saying. What you are left with, then, is a quite simple realization: you are the sun. You can’t see it. You can’t truly understand it. You can’t even feel it because what you think of as your feeling of it is really seen as an object which is itself illuminated by your true self. You are not here to see, feel, or know something. You’re back there. And at the same time, there is nothing that is not one and the same as the sun. Not one with the sun. (That would imply there is more than one thing and all these things are somehow joined up with the sun.) Just one. In other words, not two.
Rodney: And it’s not even the “one” really—just a oneness or a this-ness. Parsing this all out is completely okay, but one doesn’t usually arrive at awareness that way. It’s a little too much in-the-head. This ultimate understanding, for the lack of a better expression, is recognized quickly and timelessly. There is nothing to work toward, because you are present already! See the actuality of this. Again, you are present already. So who, precisely, would be working toward what? Can this perceived you (a thought or idea) ever become “one with” awareness? No. The recognition happens when you are naturally paused, and you see—during that pause—that awareness is directly present within and before you. Again, all of what you say is beautifully put. And you're quite right: When you get down to the nitty gritty of searching, existence, questions, and body/mind conjectures, all you are left with is Self itself. We never move from that, however much we may bring our attention to other things—and that really should be stated as "however much our attention is brought to other things." For these actions are simply happening; there is no defined person there—just the arisings of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and states of consciousness in an unchanging presence of pristine awareness.
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