Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

A Vastness All Around
Rodney Stevens

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Rodney Stevens

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The following is a review of the book 'Awakening to the Natural State' by John Wheeler.

Visit Rodney's Blog - Radiance of Being.

Buy John's book from Amazon US or UK.

I forget, exactly, how I came across John Wheeler's 2004 nondual classic, Awakening to the Natural State (Non-Duality Press). I had been a frustrated spiritual seeker for over 20-years and had tried everything from Catholicism and self-help books to lucid dreaming and TM. There were many, many experiences (some quite amazing, actually), but none of them led to self-realization, which was my paramount concern.

I do remember starting to read U. G. Krishnamurti's The Mystique of Enlightenment and Robert Adams' Silence of the Heart three or four years ago. I might have even ordered them from Amazon at the same time! I was enthralled by U.G's book. I didn't exactly know why at the time; for I couldn't make head-or-tails of what he was saying. Also, he often seemed fatalistic, telling questioners that there is absolutely "no hope for you!" (Now, of course, I know perfectly what he meant--that there is no hope for this apparent person or ego that you take yourself to be, that it is a fiction, and thus cannot lead you to any deep or enduring peace.)

As for Adams, I was moved by the simplicity of his advaitic-like dialogues. But I was perplexed by his saying that you were already truth itself, and then giving you practices or exercises to "open" you to that truth. His book is a fine one, and it has many clear pointers. But I felt that if Supreme Reality could be talked about this clearly, perhaps it could be pointed to even more directly, with no practices whatsoever.

So I earnestly began investigating nonduality on the Web and came across John's praiseworthy site. Impressed by the clearness and immediacy of his writing, I purchased a copy of Awakening to the Natural State, which was his first book. I didn't come to any sudden understanding. But I did feel an usually strong resonance with John and his prose. There was even that hushed hint of a click you have when someone reverberates with your being.

I read the book well-over a dozen times, and each time, oddly enough, was completely okay. There was no frustration or anxiousness. Indeed, every re-reading of John's essays, pointers, and dialogues was just as captivating as the previous one. I emailed him several times concerning some questions I had, and much to my delight, John promptly responded. And each reply was clear, detailed, and with absolutely no hint of impatience or weariness. The weeks went by, but I still didn't find the answer.

Then, one spring evening in 2007, with John's battered book in hand, I came across the following sentence for about the fifteenth-time: 'It's all about seeing what is fully present right now.' Suddenly, I perceived that nonconceptual, presence of awareness, i.e., my natural state. There it was, in all of its peace and simplicity. Descriptions are tricky. But if pressed, I would have to utter: There was a vastness all around. For decades, I had missed it by a hair's breadth -- but not because it wasn't there; rather, because of misplaced attention and antiquated concepts. For our ordinary, everyday awareness is the Buddha-field, the Great Unborn that is without beginning or end.   

I waited nearly a week before emailing John. I wanted to be sure about this--though I knew, by then, that this was the real deal. And John confirmed it.

I was once asked in my blog "What does one look for in a teacher?" Besides the obvious (that he or she be self-realized), the teacher's words should give you pause. In his or her presence, things tend to settle. You may not, then and there, come to an understanding of who and what you are. But there will certainly be less mental agitation. It all comes back to that much-used expression in nonduality circles: You resonate with the teacher and his writings. And who knows, he or she may be instrumental in helping you to discover your own radiant and ever-present nature. That is what John Wheeler did for me.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012