Q: Yesterday, I tried to articulate, in writing, what the terms nonduality or oneness were pointing to for me. As the understanding is not yet complete for me, but it is for you, I was wondering if you would mind commenting on the accuracy of what is currently being understood by me? I use the word "Source" as a synonym for Awareness, Presence, Existence.
Rodney: Sure, have a go at it. The words are not the thing, of course. So such endeavors are, by their very nature, fraught with notions and abstractions. But if it will help you to frame your questions or to better understand my responses, articulate away!
Q: Great. What does nonduality/oneness really mean? To the mind, nonduality/oneness is interpreted to mean that "I" (identified as the body/mind/personality) am not separate from (or am one with) everything. Naturally, the mind would "think" that it is utterly preposterous to assert that this body/mind/personality is one with (or not separate from) the homeless person seen on the street, or is one with the sound of a bird's song, or is one with the aroma of a rose's perfume. When viewed from this perspective, the mind would clearly have a point. However, what if this "I" was intuitively known to BE the one and only Source of all present experiencing? What if this Source was THAT which was manifesting/appearing/expressing AS the sight of a homeless person on the street, or AS the sound of a bird's song, or AS the aroma of a rose's perfume? Then the assertion that "That which I actually am is ONE with all that is presently being experienced", would certainly be true. A shift in perspective is all that would be necessary to understand what is actually being pointed to by the term nonduality or oneness.
Rodney: All of that is largely true. It's tricky, however, to look for presence in "relationship" to conceptual I's, personalities, bodies/minds, and even in beguiling bird songs. Why? Because the mind is nothing but a thought—a memory or an idea. If none of those things are there, the mind isn't either. So when you are exploring the above relationships, the energy and direction are driven solely by your mental self. And all of that can end up being for naught because, at bottom, there is no relationship between awareness and these arisings. None whatsoever! They are appearances in presence—that's all! Is there a relationship between you and a dream or between you and a mirage? Again, none whatsoever.
Q: Yes, everything that is experienced is nothing more than an appearance of the one and only Source in the form of sensations (sight, sound, smell, tastes, physical bodily sensations) and/or cognitions. For example, the experience of a rose bush swaying in the breeze can only be experienced as an appearance in the form of an image of a rose bush swaying in the breeze, or in the form of the sound of its leaves rustling in the wind, or in the form of the smell of a rose's perfume, or in the form of the feel of a velvety rose petal or in the form of the sweet taste of a rose petal or in the form of the thought "what a beautiful sight!". All of these experiences are merely appearances or expressions of this Source that I am.
Rodney: Adult humans can distinguish up to 10,000 odors; yet we are limited in what we can smell. Cats have greater peripheral vision than we do and are able to see better at night; yet they are limited in what they can see. We can perceive more colors than cats; yet, there must be a multitude of hues that we aren't capable of picking up. Making love to someone can be an immensely pleasurable and intimate experience; yet sometimes, words and gazes can communicate a whole lot more. Experiences, by their nature, are limiting. It's neither good nor bad. It's simply the nature of things in our day-to-day lives.
Q: I understand. But allow me to take this a step further. The body/mind/personality itself can only be experienced as an appearance of the Source.
Rodney: That needs to be addressed—
Q: Wait, let me finish; otherwise, I won't get the details right.
Rodney: Go ahead.
Q: The body/mind/temperament can only be experienced as an appearance of the Source. For example, the body can be experienced as the appearance of a visual image in the form of a reflection, a photograph, or the sight of those body parts that are readily visible to the eye. The body can also be experienced as the appearance of raw physical sensations (such as pressure, throbbing, itching) or as the appearance of sounds (such as breathing, coughing, speaking). For many, the trickiest appearance of the Source is the sense of a separate self which is itself just an appearance in the form of thought.
Rodney: It is the trickiest. No qualifications there.
Q: Not knowing that the body/mind is merely an appearance or expression of the Source, the body/mind is easily "thought" to be one's real identity or true nature. This often leads to feelings of separation, which in turn produces personal suffering in the form of longing for something that is "thought" to be missing. The key to ending this suffering is to know beyond a shadow of a doubt WHAT I actually am. When it is truly known that That which I am is the one and only Source expressing/appearing/manifesting as all-present experiencing, then all that can possibly be known to remain is Oneness.
Rodney: Thinking that the body/mind is our true identity and not knowing that it too is an appearance are indeed causes of suffering. Why? In addition to those feelings of separation, we give stability to things that, by their very nature, aren't stable. This includes everything from thoughts and bodies to spiritual convictions and some great, new love. All of those things are forever changing, even when they may appear to be firm and unalterable. That's why I take issue with such statements as, "All of these experiences are merely appearances or expressions of this Source that I am" and "The one and only Source is expressing/appearing/manifesting as all-present experiencing..." Your preposition "of" and your adverb "as" are the two offending words. Why? Because awareness can never be a part of the occurrence. It neither manifests or actively expresses it. It simply is what it is. It never moves from being precisely what it is. And if it never moves, that means that it has already "appeared," that it is timelessly present. In a word, eternal.
Q: Ah, yes. I see what you're saying. That particular point is just suddenly clear. I love it when that happens!
Rodney: Here's another thing you might want to keep in mind: You are never going to get the whole of something through an experience. Yes, you are saying that in your well-intentioned thoughts; but you have to be careful not to allow presence to become an active and enterprising factor in our lives. It is already what we are, and it never wavers from being precisely that. Anything that wavers, materializes, diminishes, expands, etc., is an appearance in awareness. But the appearances can't logically have any relationship to presence, which, by its very nature, never alters in the least. So anything that can be seen, heard, felt, or smelled can't possibly be what you ultimately are. For those are things that can be observed. Awareness, on the other hand, cannot be observed, because you are the thing itself. All you can know is that you are That, and that it manifests itself through these body/mind appearances as unbridled peace and spaciousness.
Q: Excellent point. Maybe we can chat about this next Tuesday, when we talk at noon, your time. I am truly blessed to have someone like you to share my ever expanding insights about the truth of what I am. Thank you!
Rodney: I enjoy our conversations. So thank you!
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