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Dharma Journal | November 2017 | The Deeper Gift of Vipassana is Freedom

Vipassana meditation leads to a deeper, clearer seeing. Aaron discusses how Vipassana meditation moves you into responding from your heart.

Video and transcript, the video is also closed captioned.

 

Transcript, there are a few edits in the transcript that are not on the video.

November 2017 – Dharma Journal
The Deeper Gift of Vipassana is Freedom

My blessings and love to you. I am Aaron. It is a privilege to be with you in this way. You know that these are not recorded the month that you see them but pre-recorded. Right now it’s a beautiful October afternoon. You will be hearing this in November. In between, we are headed to Oakwood Retreat Center in Indiana for a week of Vipassana meditation.

People often ask Barbara and me, “Why do we practice? What is Vipassana meditation? What are we trying to gain from meditation?” Such questions! Let’s start at the beginning. You are a beautiful and radiant spirit here in this incarnation to learn to respond with loving kindness to the earth plane catalysts that come your way. Sometimes it’s easy. People are loving you, praising you. Your body feels strong and healthy. The sun is shining! But if that’s the total of your experience on this earth plane, how would you learn to deepen in a loving, spacious response, when something is painful?

The past months I’ve read some to you from my new book. We hope that book will be published and available to you by early December. I made the decision not to share more directly from the book now but rather to go into something that is the ground for the book and without which you could not do the practices in the book.

First, what is meditation? You are meditation. It is your natural state – stillness, spaciousness. The sky’s natural state is spaciousness, but when certain conditions are present it fills with clouds and looks very busy. Water has fluidity, so it can move. But when no conditions are pushing it into movement it is still.

Your natural state is spaciousness and stillness when no conditions are pushing you into agitation. Without the conditions, however, you could not learn. So, there will always be that which pushes at you on the earth plane, giving you the opportunity to respond to that push – either with anger, with contraction, with agitation, or with spaciousness, letting your own unique light shine forth.

I said there are certain things that will help you to do the practices in the book, and one is to be able to discern the places where you’re contracted or agitated, where you are pulling window shades down over your light. And to discern the places where you are open – heart open, light pouring out. Vipassana meditation … this is not the only use of Vipassana, but it is an excellent practice for doing this work with such quality.

Present with breathing … the first two or three breaths may be very easy. Then there’s an itch. Attention is no longer with the breath. Itching … Which is predominant, the sensation of the itch or wanting to scratch the itch? You don’t have to figure out which is predominant. Your attention is immediately pulled to whatever is predominant. So first the itching sensation, and then wanting to scratch. It’s not the itch itself that is predominant. It’s tension. It doesn’t matter what’s holding your attention – the itching sensation or the tension. The focus is simply, “This has arisen into my experience. It is unpleasant. How will I relate to it? I can relate with kindness or with anger and tension. If I relate with anger and hostility, I create more separation from the experience and from myself, from my heart.”  This is vipassana!

When I note the intention to want to push it away, and instead of blaming myself for that intention, I breathe with kindness for myself – breathing in I am aware of the tension. Breathing out I hold space for the tension. I smile into the tension.  – then, and this is what I highlight in the book – then I begin to find the simultaneity of the tension, hostility, fear, discomfort, and aversion and the spaciousness.

You are all so deeply conditioned. When something pushes a button, you react. That’s how the human mind works. You’re a mammal. This is how the mammal is wired. But you are not an alligator, a wolf or a bird of prey. You are human. You may have been all of those in the past. Now in this precious lifetime you are human, and you have the opportunity not to be reactive. but to move into experiences and respond from your heart.

Vipassana – the word in Pali, passana, means to see. Vipassana means a deeper, clearer seeing. It gives you the opportunity to observe the habitual responses – the mosquito tickling the arm.  Impulse to slap. If I slap the mosquito and kill it, and then my neighbor’s dog comes into my yard and damages plants in my garden, am I going to poison him? When my neighbor’s child comes into my yard with his friends, making a lot of noise, am I going to shoot them? Habit depends upon habit.

When we watch the small habit to slap at the mosquito, we can note “intention to slap, aversion to the mosquito,” and then gently brush it away. We don’t have to kill it. This heightens the habitual tendency. We also don’t have to permit it to bite. When the dog is in the yard, go outside and say, “Go. That’s my garden.” You can even yell at him to make him run away – not harming him but making it clear. “No, you may not dig in my garden. No, you may not suck on my blood.” In this way, we can learn to respond compassionately and wisely to the physical, mental and emotional catalysts of everyday life.

But everyday life is busy. It’s hard to pay attention to everything. When you’re sitting in meditation there’s nothing you have to attend to, except what is arising in this moment, in this mind and body. We start with the intention to respond with love, with kindness and with harm to none but also with a compassionate “no” when appropriate.

If you’re sitting on the cushion in your living room or at the retreat in the meditation hall, and suddenly a flock of chickens runs through, you don’t have to grit your teeth and say, “I shouldn’t mind this.” (Inaudible) The chickens are in the house. Their droppings will be all over your carpet. Get up and escort them out and close the door. Kindness does this. Stillness does this. Not, “Get out of here chickens,” said with frantic screaming; just “Chickens, out you go.” Pick this one up and put it out. Pick that one up and put it out. Close the door.

You have many flocks of chickens running through your house every day, running through your human mind-house. How are you going to attend to them? With Vipassana we’re sitting still, and we see the thought come and then the intention to enact the thought, or to stop the thought. We may say, “No, no thinking.” But the conditions were present, and the thought arose. As soon as I noticed it, the thought has stopped. I just come back to my breath. The body is a different set of chickens:  neck pain, wanting to move the neck, pain, pain, unpleasant, tension. We feel the body closing up and creating more pain in the neck. Ahh compassion for this human. “Breathing in I am aware of the tension, aware of the pain. Breathing out I hold space for the pain.” Give it a minute or two to resolve a bit. If it’s still there, and it feels important to do so, gently turn the head a bit to release the tension. And then, as you close your eyes and come back to your breath, also become aware of tension that you habitually hold in the shoulders and the neck.

Thus, we return to the innate tension-free state of being, the place of spaciousness, of light, of awakeness, right there with the tension. The more you try to get rid of the tension, the more you may contract around the tension and create more tension. Vipassana practice leads us to freedom, first with these mundane reactions we have established for one or many lifetimes, such as an habitual way you hold the body. If there’s tension do you hunch your shoulders and clench? I doubt if you relax unless you have done a lot of practice. But right there with the tension is spaciousness. Where is it? Can you feel it?

The deeper gift of Vipassana, beyond responding increasingly kindly and wisely to catalysts in this way is what I would literally call freedom. We no longer find ourselves so deeply triggered by the annoying or painful circumstances of everyday life. We begin to know who we are, beyond those habitual energies, and to trust the world, to trust that you are already an awakened being, to trust that alive, radiant, awakeness of yourself and of everyone. You begin to speak to others – speaking more to that awakeness in the others – not to the personality so much as the spirit. You, yourself, begin to speak from this place of spaciousness. You begin to wake up, to know the truth of who you are. You are Buddhas. You are the Christ. You are the awakened one. You. And now with your Vipassana practice you have the opportunity to practice as is needed, in order to move into that awakeness and know it for certain. It is a beautiful practice.

I hope you will look at my instructions on the website, that you will try to attend Vipassana classes and retreats and practice, practice, practice, practice, because it’s the only way you’ll learn – with daily practice.

Thank you for this opportunity to talk to you. My blessings and love.

Evenings with Aaron and Jeshua – April 12, 2017

Living with Love in a World Filled with Fear and Anger

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. (pausing to read the online names)

I do love this technology that lets us gather together, so many of you friends from all over, and sit and talk together. It takes me back almost 30 years to Barbara and Hal’s living room and people gathering there. We need a little fireplace here.

Our topic tonight is, living with love in a world filled with fear and anger. We begin with the small world of the self, living with love in a self that is filled with fear and anger, and then maybe in a home filled with fear and anger, and then a village, and then a city, and then a country, and then a world.

How do you live with love in a self that is filled with fear and anger? Do you scold yourself? Do you say, “No anger permitted here.”, which is just more anger? Do you act out the anger? It doesn’t do, of course, to try to stifle it or to act it out.

I want to share with you a few lines from the Buddhist scripture, Dhammapada, Verse 222.

“I see that those who contain anger, as a charioteer controls a speeding chariot, are fully in charge of their lives. Others are merely keeping their hands on the reins.”

You can envision the charioteers, a whole line of them, racing around the arena. The horses are filled with energy, charging ahead. The charioteers are all holding the reins. With some, there’s fear and uncertainty communicated through the reins. They’re not really in control of the chariot. Either the horses are leading the way, or the charioteer is pulling back so hard that the horses cannot move freely.

(pause for technical difficulties, remote connectors can hear but cannot see Aaron) I’d rather just sit for 2 or 3 minutes until we can see each other. So I’d invite you now just to meditate. (pause) Breathing in and aware of impatience, if it has arisen. “This isn’t what I signed up for. I was supposed to be able to see Aaron.” Well, isn’t it a miracle that you can hear me? But still, impatience arises. The important point is that the impatience is not bad, it simply arose from conditions. If certain conditions are present, things will arise. When the conditions pass, they will pass.

The question is not what arises; you are simply deepening in the certainty that the objects will arise if the conditions are not yet purified. The question is, how do we relate to what arises. If you stub your toe, there will be pain. Do you then kick harder at the rock, with anger at the rock? Do you walk around gritting your teeth and pretending you didn’t stub your toe? Or do you sit and gently, lovingly hold the foot and give the pain time to resolve?

It’s the same with anger as with a physical sensation, and impatience is a form of anger. So if any of you in the room here or on the Zoom session are feeling impatience, let us hold that impatience with kindness in ourselves. Breathing in, I am aware of impatience. — I see a blue light! (meaning the camera is now working) I am aware of impatience or irritation, grasping, whatever it may be. Just opening your heart to yourself. Let’s just sit for a minute, holding space.

(sitting)

(further technical difficulties for several minutes)

Just breathing in and out and hold space for any emotion. This is really the heart of my talk anyhow, so it’s a perfect opportunity to practice.

(pause)

So, anger will arise, and you note that the Buddha did not say, no anger but… let me read it again: “I see that those who contain anger are fully in charge of their lives.” He did not say those who have no anger, only, those who contain anger.

What does it mean to contain anger? It means to be present with it and understand that the conditions for its arising have not yet been purified; that when we take care of our anger it doesn’t control us. When we take care of the horses’ energy through the reins, they can’t run away, and they won’t pull the shoulders out of their sockets, through fighting with them. Just communicating is the answer: slow down, slow down. (raising his arms) Pulling back on the reins and communicating: slow down. To ourselves— here’s the bit in my mouth— slow down, slow down.

When we practice in that way we begin to form a different relationship with anger. Simply knowing it as having arisen, as impermanent, and that we don’t have to do anything but take care of it, is the practice. It will go. Until we have the capacity to do that within ourselves we cannot do it for our families, our community, our world. People get so riled up, and then they want to fight back. People have forgotten how to listen to themselves and to each other. This capacity to listen is my first point in healing anger.

I was passed an interesting story today, about a man on a TED talk show. He was talking about how we respond to others, taking part in the world but not from a place of fear. Part of his story was about someone who burst into a bank and said, “Give me $2,000. I have a bomb, and if you don’t give me $2,000 I’m going to blow up the bank.” The bank manager looked at him carefully. She didn’t scream. She didn’t rush to grab $2,000. She said, “I’m curious. You say you want $2,000. Why do you want $2,000?” The man said, “My dear friend is going to be evicted unless he has $2,000 by tomorrow, so I need $2,000.” She smiled and said to him, “Then you don’t want to rob a bank, you just need a loan. Come with me to my office. We’ll fill out the forms.” I can’t vouch for the truth of this, but it comes through a reliable source. Whether it happened or not, the real question is, in that situation would you have listened that carefully, or would your fear have taken over? Stories— how do I fix this? Anger, lack of control. Are you listening? Why does he need $2,000?

There was recently a physician who was pulled of a United Airlines flight. Some of you may have seen the film of it on the news. They asked him to leave the flight. They had overbooked it, but apparently, they had overbooked it because there were four United staff people who wanted seats. That raises a bit of concern, why they get priority. He said, “I am not getting off. I’m a doctor and I have to be back at the hospital tomorrow morning.” They literally dragged him off the flight; there’s a picture of him being dragged down the aisle. Blood is coming from his nose and mouth. They pulled him off the flight, and then he ran back on, saying, “I must be on the flight. I have to make the flight.” But nobody asked him, “Why do you have to make the flight?” This seems like the core question that would be asked before the was asked to disembark. So much less anger that way!

 When we listen to ourselves and to each other, this is one of the strongest diffusers of anger and fear, because people who hear each other are connected heart to heart. You may not agree with each other but at least you’re listening to each other.

First we need to start listening to ourselves. What fear, what impatience, anxiety, irritation, has arisen in me just now, and how am I relating to it? Am I listening to myself? A fear, this won’t work out, that won’t work out? A fear, my needs won’t be met?

My second point: at the beginning there needs to be a clear sense of intention. You must know where you’re going if you want to get there. If you’re driving with friends down a road and you come to a big sign with two arrows that say, “To the Beach. To the Mountain.”, do you stop the car and have an hour-long discussion of where you’re going? Hopefully before you got in the car you decided, “I’m going to the beach,” or to the mountain. Then you come to the road sign and you know which way to turn.

If, similarly, your intention is to get rid of anything that is uncomfortable for you, to always feel in control, when something happens, like a man running into the building saying, “I want $2,000 or I’ll bomb the place,” can you hear him? If your spouse, parent, or child says, “I’m really angry about this,” can you pause and hear what’s really happening with that person? Or are you too busy trying to do damage control by getting them quiet? What’s making this person angry? What’s happening? What triggered this particular outburst of anger?

You can do it with yourself. When anger comes up, what triggered it? What’s happening? You do it with others. When enough of you develop the capacity to do this, you will begin to model a different relationship with heavy emotion. Gradually that model will spread.

So now I want to pass this to Jeshua, give him a chance to give his 20-minute opening talk, and then we will open the floor to your questions. Certainly I have not nearly even scratched the surface of the topic. But let’s invite Jeshua in.

(Aaron trying to start a new file for Jeshua) The iPad downloaded a new operating system last night while she slept, and Barbara spent several hours today trying to figure out how it works. She went to sleep with it working fine; she woke up with it saying you now have OS-something— Panther, Tiger, Werewolf, whatever. It is recording. Jeshua will come in.

Jeshua: What a lovely situation, and how good to see all your faces and feel your energy. Thank you for being here with me. I am Jeshua, and I love you all. Thank you, Aaron. It feels a bit strange to call this friend Aaron, since in our last lifetime together he was Nathaniel. But I will call him Aaron because that’s how you know him. And the names don’t matter anyhow. We are just energy, just light. The personality and name is only the clothing on the surface, nothing of ultimate importance.

(pausing to check the microphone system and adjust seating, moving to a stoolI’m much more comfortable upright. I’m used to standing when I speak. This is better. Not quite standing, but adequate.

You are not the clothing that you wear. You are not your names. You are not the anger that may arise in you at times. You are not the fear that may arise. You are not even the joy or patience that may arise, although these are expressions of your ultimate truth, and yes, the anger is also an expression. It is a contracted expression. The joy is a spacious expression. You are love and light. You are the energy of our Father/Mother/Creator bursting forth with that beautiful energy here on this heavy density earth plane.

The question for me, then, is not so much how do we handle the anger and negativity in the world, but how do we remember the radiance? Because when you fully remember that radiance, you cannot lose it. This is what I came to teach 2,000 years ago, that you are all expressions of this divinity, and the Light you are cannot die. The essence and love that you are cannot die. It can be hidden. It can diminish. If you take it into a dark closet it will lose a lot of its power temporarily, but it cannot die.

So when I hear the question of how to live in a world filled with fear and anger, how to live with love, for me that first point, the central point, is to remember what you are. But you forget so easily. Why do you forget? Is it that hard to remember?

I think, and Aaron has said this to you before, I think you are afraid of the power that you feel when you remember what you are. And so, you diminish your power by forgetting. You close yourself off into this much smaller self. You are love. You are enormous power, radiance, love and light. You are no different than me. You keep putting me on a pedestal. Don’t put me on a pedestal. Let me say it differently. Don’t put me alone on a pedestal; bring yourself up there with me. It’s lonely up here; share the pedestal with me. Share the mountaintop. You are love. You are light.

When I came into that incarnation as Jeshua, 2,000 years ago, I did not go through as deep a forgetting process as most of you do because I was more awake at birth. Yet at times I did forget who I was and why I had come.

As Aaron just reminded you, you need to know your intention to live with love toward the self and all beings, to do no harm. To touch the essence of yourself, the divine essence; draw it in and bring it out into the world. Let all beings feel, really experience that essence through you.

That human that I was, he could not always do it successfully because on this heavy density Earth, it’s like you are walking through heavy fog. It’s very hard to remember where you’re going. Back into Aaron’s talk, with the heavy cloud, you miss the sign that says, “Ocean. Mountains.” You just keep driving straight ahead, and then you wonder, when will we get there? Were you going somewhere?

You’re remembering the intention steers you to it. Again, I believe, Aaron, is this from Dhammapada, the bee metaphor? He says, yes. A bee heads to the nectar to make honey. He’s drawn to the pollen by the sweet scent of the flowers. In this way, be drawn toward the innate goodness in yourselves. Begin to trust this radiance in yourself. It isn’t hard. Nobody is going to slap you or put you down if you are not 100% successful. But when you hold the intention to live your radiance, you can do it. And if you don’t hold the intention, then you fall into anger and darkness.

Was I ever angry as Jeshua? Of course. People sometimes ask me, what did I do about my anger? I think the practice that worked best for me, and this was what my beloved mother taught me when I was a very young child. She would have me sit down on her lap and hold me in her arms, and I would be furious. She would ask me to think of something that I loved, of something beautiful that had happened that day, of a flower that we had just seen together, of something joyful, and simply to say, thank you. My mother was the expert on “thank you”. This was the biggest thing she taught me. Thank you. And then when there was a catalyst for anger, and it tore me apart a bit, I would remember to say thank you not only to what was beautiful in my life, but thank you for this anger, because anger is energy and power. Without anger you cut yourself in half as a human. You diminish your capacity to love if you cannot allow yourself to feel your capacity for that which feels uncomfortable or negative to you. The question is not about feeling the anger but what you do with anger.

So now you are hearing the same thing from me and from Aaron: what are you going to do with your anger?

Many of you are quite upset with the current state of the world, so many things which are arousing anger. Twitters from your president, is that how it’s phrased? Tweets, from your president. So your president tweets and then all the birds twitter? Is that how it works? I mean no disrespect. At any rate, tweets from your president. Children gassed in Syria. People then bombed in Syria. People who want to leave Syria to go to a place that is safe, to raise their children in safety, and they’re not permitted. The countries they would go to won’t let them in. There is a lot to bring up anger and feelings of injustice and powerlessness in your world.

What do we do with those feelings of injustice? What do we do with those acts of injustice? We want to change the acts of injustice. But we cannot change the acts of injustice until we open our hearts, until each of you is able to know how injustice feels in you, the coiling of energy, contraction, anger. And then my mother’s Thank you. Thank you for feelings of anger. Thank you for feelings of powerlessness. Yes. Thank you for this precious human life. Thank you for the feelings, the emotions that come with being human.

We on the higher plane cannot change this Earth; we can only talk to you and guide you. It’s up to you, through the changes you make in yourselves, to change the world.

Now we come to the second part of my talk, and many of you have heard this from me before. Aaron said it very clearly a week or two ago: you are all volunteers. Why did you come? Did you expect this was going to be some kind of completely pain-free playground and resort? That there was never going to be any discomfort? You knew better than that. You volunteered because there was a deep intention to help bring this Earth up to the high vibration that it can be. This is not just for the Earth and the humans and other sentient beings on the Earth, but quite literally as a power that can shift the whole universe.

I can remember, long ago, I loved to sing as Jeshua. As a boy I had a very clear, high voice, and I loved to sing. Others around me, some of them could carry a tune very well, and others could not quite carry a tune. I noticed that as a singer I had a choice. I could be pulled off-tune by the others, or I could stay true to my own notes, to my own tune and sense of harmony, and just hold the space for others to join in. I played with that often, as a young child, because as a 3, 4, 5 year old I didn’t always have the confidence to be the one singing loud, the confidence in my voice. But gradually I developed more confidence to simply stick to my own true tone; to hear myself know and know if I went off-tune. If I did, to become quiet and listen. But if I felt clear, that I was on tune, to sing loud and invite others to join me in holding those clear notes. I found that the more I did that, the more the whole group sang in tune.

This is no different, of course, then holding a space of love in a world that’s chaotic, frightened, and angry. You don’t have to hear it. It’s an energy, and it’s the energy for which you came into being, the high energy of love.

 I will pause. It seems we are having some technical problems…

As Aaron mentioned at the beginning, we have some new equipment, and each piece of new equipment requires a learning curve. My deepest thanks, along with Aaron’s, to B and T for the effort you’re putting forth to make this work right…

You are light. Stand up, wherever you are. Stand up… Be the light that you are. Feel the loving energy pouring through you and send it out. Don’t diminish yourself. Feel the power that you are, and don’t be afraid of it. But if there’s some fear, just say thank you. We are love. We are light. You are the light of the world, you. You are all the light of the world. Don’t hide it. Don’t diminish it. Trust that the ability to be that light would not have been given to you if you were not ready to carry it.

Thank you. You may all sit. We are going to open the floor to questions now. I would prefer at first that the questions relate to what we’re discussing here tonight. Of course, any reasonable question… Aaron says, don’t categorize it as reasonable; any reasonable or unreasonable question is welcome. But we’d prefer at first questions that relate to our talk. (Somebody is going to start a new recording. It will not be me (and then Aaron coaches him through it; very sweet!)

April 12, 2017 Wednesday Evening with Aaron and Jeshua Q & A

Jeshua: My technology is remembered from 2,000 years ago. We had some very advanced technology then that did not need machines and equipment. I hope all of you will advance into that level of technology that also does not need this kind of equipment. You are on the way to becoming telepathic and clairaudient but you haven’t gotten there yet, perhaps because you’re so reliant on these machines. You think you need something to do it for you.

Questions. You may designate to me or to Aaron the specific question, or to either of us, and whichever feels inclined to answer will respond.

Q: I’d like to request healing from Jeshua.

Jeshua: Q, you know I can be in many places at once, so let me work with that with you now while I or Aaron are also talking to the group. I am with you. My love is with you, and I will help you as much as I am able.

Q: The story about the manager at the bank, that seems to be what Aaron has been trying to teach us all along. Is there anything now that is the best practice for us? I feel very close to being able to live that.

Aaron: I am Aaron. The story about the bank. Yes, it’s what I’ve been trying to teach you for decades. Being human, you mostly stumble through it rather than walking clearly, so let’s ask, what helps?

From my perspective, watching contraction. The body contracts when it’s pushed; when there’s a loud noise and something startles you; when you see something that’s unpleasant or hear something that’s unpleasant. The very simplest practice is just to note contraction. That which is aware of contraction is not contracted. When you become aware of contraction, then you can ask yourself, in what ways am I reinforcing this contraction rather than noting it, opening my heart to it, and not becoming self-identified with it?

As soon as you become self-identified with it, create stories around it, try to fix it, even try to be openhearted with it, then it becomes a major force. Right there in that moment, where is that which is uncontracted?

So many of you have done this with me before, and yet I have found it’s always a useful exercise for people, because people tell me they keep learning no matter how many times I do this, so we’ll try (SHOUT!)… Did you contract? Where is the contraction now? Breathing in, I am aware of the contraction. Breathing out, I hold space for the contraction. Right here (pointing to the body). This is Level II of this practice, not just awareness of contraction, but right here with the body that is still reverberating a bit from that loud, startling yell, can I feel spaciousness? I’m requesting you to try to experience both at the same time, the body still trembling a bit and the spaciousness. Can you see how the trembling is an overlay over the spaciousness, and if you go under that overlay, the spaciousness is still there? Because the spaciousness connects to the essence of your being and you cannot lose it. The contraction is just the clothing on the top.

Can you feel the spaciousness that’s there, even if the body is still trembling from contraction? Then the next step: if mind keeps going back to the contraction with a subtle intention to fix it or get rid of it, let it be. It will never go away if you keep pushing it. Let the contraction be; let the mind with its preferences be and don’t get caught in believing the thoughts. Let it be.

Imagine the crying baby. It wakes up. It was startled— thunder, maybe, a loud sound. You pick it up from its crib. Are you going to shake it and say, “Stop crying! Stop crying!” Of course, that doesn’t help. So, you try to walk with the baby and say, “Shhh…shhh… shhh…”, patting it on the back, but inside there’s this little voice saying, “Why won’t it stop crying?” And you’re communicating that to the baby. The one who speaks to the baby cannot be there saying, “Why won’t you stop crying?”, but, “Oh, you were startled. Oh, crying is a natural reaction to be startled and afraid. It’s okay, and you can cry for as long as you need to cry. When that startle and fear resolve, the crying will stop. And for now, you are safe and you are loved.” Can you feel the difference?

So this is what you keep doing to yourself. The reaction comes up. You see right there with the reaction that which is still, but you’re still pushing aside the reaction instead of just opening your heart and knowing, “Yes, there was reaction. I open my heart to it. I give it time and space to resolve.” Gradually you get better at this.

We were with a friend this weekend who, upon hearing that something in the schedule was not going to his liking, was a bit afraid he would be late for something. Fear came up, anger came up, and then he turned to the person next to him and lashed out at something that that person had said. While what the person had said was not entirely skillful, it wasn’t so terrible. But he lashed out in a very strong way to his friend. Recognizing the contractions, he had the strong inner wisdom to pick himself up and walk out of the room, go to another place for a bit, and give himself time to be with the fear, “What if it doesn’t work?! What if it doesn’t happen the way it has to happen?!” Finally he came back, and his whole energy field, instead of looking like fireworks now just looked like gentle waves on the ocean. It was a remarkable change, because he caught his reactivity and could take himself out of the room.

Sometimes you can take yourself out of the room; sometimes you can’t. If you can’t take yourself out of the room, can you at least be quiet?

Let’s go on to another question. I was going to offer Jeshua the microphone, but he says let us go on, nothing to add.

Q: Many people are really angry and outraged (inaudible) sort of constantly. I am not feeling that way most of the time. It seems to me difficult to talk to people when they’re so angry and upset. It’s like you’re stupid or don’t care, if you’re not. I know it’s not my job to convince them, but I guess I want to be helpful.

Aaron: I’m going to speak to this briefly and then give it to Jeshua. You are a very long-term practitioner of the dharma, and through these practices you’ve developed both calmness and wisdom. You understand the deep truth, that everything that arises is impermanent, and that running around hysterical about it does not help. You understand that it’s impermanent.

Looking deeply at you, not just tonight with your question but in the many times we’ve spoken together, I do not see any dissociation with what’s happening in the world. But rather, ability to step back into the long-term picture, and to realize that agitation just adds to the agitation.

I think the big step for you, now, is the deepening of compassion that recognizes that these people of whom you speak are deeply caught up in the stories. It may be possible to point out to them, “Yes, there is a lot going on in the world that is tragic, that is painful, that is of concern, but giving it more fear and angry energy only adds fear. Do you understand what I mean?” I’m not asking you; I know you understand, but to ask them, “Do you understand what I mean?” And they say, “No, that sounds weird.” Then you can say, “Would you like me to talk more about it? It’s okay if you’re feeling frightened and upset and agitated and I’m not. Can we just agree that both are okay?”

Those who are ready to hear more will ask for more. Those who are not ready will say, “No, I don’t want to hear more. You’re crazy because you’re not upset.” Okay. If they want to think you’re crazy, let them think you’re crazy. Don’t take it personally. It’s where they are now.

At this point, let me pass this on to Jeshua.

Jeshua: I am Jeshua. Your world has come a long way in 2,000 years. The atrocities which alarm you in the world today alarm you because they are not the commonplace, because most people in the world are trying to live with more gentleness and respect for each other. Two thousand years ago there was so strongly a “Me for me; an eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth” mentality. The “Me for me” might extend to your family, or even your community, but there was always a distinct “other”, someone toward whom aggression was poured. This was the norm.

Humans have worked hard for 2,000 years to move past that belief in separation. I agree with everything Aaron has said. I would add something to it. For you who raised the question, for yourself and for the person who is upset and angry, and is asking you, “Why aren’t you upset?”, what is the most heart-centered response to take you past separation and into connection? Maybe you must just listen to that person for an hour, or 5 or 6 hours. Listen to them until they wind down; listen to all the fear and anger pouring out. And then, gently point out to them, “Everybody in this world wants happiness and peace. We cannot find happiness and peace at the cost of another’s lack of happiness and peace. I find for myself” — I’m suggesting what you can say, adding to Aaron’s suggestions— “I find for myself that even if I feel angry, when I rant at others it doesn’t help create the happiness and peace I am seeking. But if I can keep my heart open to the needs of others, to their fears, then I can help them bridge this self/other gap and we come together, to really hear each other.”

For me the question is, what most promotes hearing? In those days when I walked the earth as Jeshua, there were so many people who applauded my coming, my presence, but they wanted to create an “other” around me, to make me something special or different, rather than including themselves in that circle of enlightened being, of awakened presence. There was far more in those days to fear and to be dismayed about than there is today. There was enormous cruelty everywhere. So often I witnessed people who were experiencing that cruelty, wanting to fight back without understanding what “fight back” could mean. How do we fight back? How do we say no to abuse in the world? You touch in to the awakened heart of your being and speak and act from that heart, and not from the ego self.

I am laughing. I think Aaron and I are becoming interchangeable parts here! I’m not sure we’re any longer speaking with two distinct voices. But I am Jeshua and he is Aaron. We’re both speaking to you from the grace of enlightened awareness, and inviting you to step into that space with us, to see that it is possible, even while you are still human, to live and respond from that place of enlightened awareness; to remember the high vibrational beings that you are and live from that high vibration, because this is what you came into the incarnation for.

Coming back to your question, Q, when there are enough of you able to hold loving space for those who are angry, frightened, confused, stomping their feet and screaming for change without any insight into how to affect that change, when there are enough of you able to listen and not react, but respond by holding space, holding energy, change will occur. Can you feel my energy here? (pause; Jeshua stands up) Can you feel my energy? I’m simply raising my energy, an energy of love. When people are screaming, “Fix this! Do that!” and you breathe deeply and hold space for their fear, it helps the fear to dissolve.

 If you get caught up in their fear, it doesn’t help. You came to help, so many of you who are truly higher density beings moving past 3rd density, grounding so deeply in love, and came with a commitment for love. And as you learn how to do that, you learn how to respond in a loving way.

Ahimsa. Aaron is reminding me of the word ahimsa, dynamic compassion. It is not a compassion that just says, “Oh, everything is sweet and lovely.” It knows when something is dangerous and harmful. It doesn’t strike out at it with hatred or anger but understands that the fear arose out of conditions and holds that loving energy around fear and its voices until the volatile energy begins to dissolve. It trusts itself to have the capacity to absorb and release that volatile energy. This is the edge of what so many of you are learning by being here on the earth plane in a situation where there are such heavy emotions. That the power of compassion, the acknowledgement of your awakeness and high energy and love, of your essence, can literally transmute the volatile energy into a whole different force, into love.

But it takes enormous courage, so for many of you it’s easier just to say, “Ah, I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to do!” You do know what to do. You do know what to do, all of you. You do know what to do.

Let us move on to another question.

Q: My question relates to the other end, so to speak, of what you’ve been talking about, volatility and anger. I’m asking about the idea of complacency. A teacher has said that complacency is the greatest evil.

Jeshua: Do you understand what Aaron and I have been saying as advocating complacency? Because that is not what either of us intended.

Q: No. I did not.

Jeshua: Complacency. If you see somebody with a gun about to shoot other people, and you act to shoot them before they can shoot the other people, you are responsible for killing that person. If you do not act but simply walk away and let them shoot, you are responsible. You are responsible for all their deaths. You must always be responsible.

You must understand how karma works for this, and I’m not going to spend our remaining half hour on a lesson in karma. But every action is part of karma. So is every lack of action. Complacency is what allowed Hitler to kill so many millions of people.

I’ve been watching your Earth recently with interest because there are so many volatile forces. I see the people that get caught up in anger to fight against the volatile forces, but it’s anger, and almost hatred, that wants to fight. And in answer to (previous Q), I see those who want to just look away. But that, daughter, is not what you are doing. The question is, how do we act with dynamic compassion from a deeply loving heart and discover the ways to say no?

That bank manager, she was not complacent, she was active. She participated, but she listened. Those who are most afraid are those who cannot listen, because they are so busy defending their own viewpoint. You can’t hear another when you’re talking.

(Aaron does not wish to add to this.) Is that sufficient answer to your question? (Yes.)

Q: You were saying that we know what we need to do. And I can relate to that. I think many people in the room can relate to that. But subtle energy is becoming more frequent, and it’s becoming stronger. How to deal with subtle energy, because it’s insidious.

 Q: What do you mean by subtle energy?

Jeshua: I’m going to give you Aaron for this one.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I’m curious; can you feel the difference in speech and energy between me and Jeshua, as we come back and forth? It’s very interesting working side by side like this through the same body. Jeshua and I have led numerous workshops together, with Jeshua channeled through our friend Judy Coates; then there are two bodies, and we can talk back and forth. This is a little different. But it feels to me we’re learning out to come in and out of the body more smoothly. What you may be experiencing is the differences in our subtle energy fields.

 You’ve taken your 6-month-old baby to the lake on a warm summer day, and you have a nice little inflatable boat, almost like a cradle, to lay the baby in. You plan to put a little bit of water in it and let it float. Just as you get to the lake, the wind blows up and storm clouds come in. Suddenly there are whitecaps on the lake. Wind is blowing, rain is pelleting down. You’re going to bring the baby inside, aren’t you? Then the storm passes. You come back outside. But the wind is still blowing. You start to put the baby down, but the waves are coming in. Are you going to put the baby down? No.

Gradually the waves die away. The afternoon passes and it gets quiet, and then there are just little waves. At what point do you put the baby in its boat down in the water? When it’s safe. When it feels like the storm has passed enough that it won’t be turned over, and that baby will be comfortable. But do you wait until the lake is like a mirror? You don’t have to, do you? Fear might say, “Oh yes, it must be absolutely still. He could tip.” That’s fear. The baby will probably enjoy the little ripples. Let it go.

On this human plane, there are always going to be ripples. The emotional body, the physical body, the mental body; there are ripples all over. You learn to trust your intuition as to when it’s calm enough to venture out, to place the baby on the water. But if you try to stop the ripples, you can’t stop them. You say, “It has to be perfectly smooth.” It’s perfectly smooth, and you carry the baby and the boat out into the water. And suddenly, by the force of your walking out there, there are ripples. Are you going to go back to shore? You hold the balance of stillness and motion, of energy and absence of energy. Love holds the balance.

Your life is a matter of learning how to relate to the subtle energies of the earth plane and eventually how to co-create with those subtle energies. Subtle energy is subtle energy. Your fear is a form of subtle energy. When you respond to the subtle energies that you see as “out there” with fear, it creates more disturbance. When you hold space, it helps to calm the subtle energies.

You just experienced this with Jeshua, with his energy. You could feel both the power and the stillness. Something on which I have been working with Barbara, before and during her time in Brazil and the month since, relates to all of this. When she feels pain in the body, contraction, from anywhere or any cause, the body’s usual response to such subtle discomfort is to contract, which worsens the pain, which heightens the contraction. She’s been working with a lot of mindfulness, to note whichever comes first, whichever she notes first: the sensation, which is a little uncomfortable, or the contraction around the sensation. And immediately, we’re coming back to Jeshua’s “Thank you”, immediately to say thank you. Thank you for the reminder to come back into my heart. And she breathes deeply, especially into whatever part of the body is feeling that contraction and discomfort. Feeling the pelvis and lower back open. Feeling the shoulders and neck open. Feeling the chest open. Feeling the face open. Not forcing it, just inviting deep breathing and space. Predominantly space. The breathing reminds her to observe the space that is already there. Not to create space but observe the space that’s already there.

Right there with contraction is spaciousness. And as soon as she observes the spaciousness that’s already there, the contraction loses its grip on her. She opens more into the spaciousness. She begins to know: I am spaciousness, I am that. What Jeshua was talking about earlier, knowing the infinite radiance, purity, beauty, wholeness of the self. I am that. And yes, there may also be a twinge somewhere. So we take care of it. We put ice on it; we do whatever is appropriate for it to help it heal. If it’s an emotional twinge, we hold space for it in the heart. It will go.

The subtle, or not so subtle energies of fear, anger, separation, contraction, may seem to dissolve or may stay. What lies beneath that layer of contraction? If you wait for absolute stillness, it will never come; then you may slide into complacency grounded in separation.

 Does that sufficiently answer your question? If not, please speak further to it.

Q: It answers the question, but the practice is so difficult. You want to put the baby down, but the ripples that you make bring up fear.

Aaron: (smiling) Did you expect it was going to be easy? Find compassion for the human that you are. You are volunteers, and you came in with your eyes open, knowing what you were getting into, even though you may tell me otherwise. You knew it was going to be hard.

Give yourself some R&R sometimes. Get away from the news. Get away from the family or work or whatever else pushes at you. Just go and lounge on the beach, or paddle a kayak around the lake, or take a walk in the woods. Lie down under a tree. Give yourself some space and ease. Meditate.

One of the greatest blessings of meditation is that eventually you do come into a place of high energy and stillness, where the chakras are open, and the mind is not constantly busy. If thoughts come, they just come and go; sensations come and go. There’s not a lot of chasing around about anything, there’s just ahhh…. Then you start to remember who you were before you became this human trying to juggle too many balls. Meditate.

Next question…

Q: What are the skillful ways to work with psychedelics? How can they help us live a joyful, loving, peaceful life?

Aaron: I’m going to give you to Jeshua for this one.

Jeshua: I am Jeshua. In all my many lifetimes, and trying many different kinds of substances to see what different kinds of experience they would lead me to, trying non-substances such as fasting or whatever, trying prolonged periods of meditation, I have found that the most powerful force for awakening is simply presence.

Why would you need psychedelics when you can watch a flower open? Literally hold it in front of you and watch it open? There is nothing so beautiful as that. It’s the whole cycle of earth experience in one small blossom.

When you think you are missing something, and that there’s something else that you need, some of you then may turn to psychedelics. Certainly they’ll give you some kind of unique experience. But from my perspective, it is not a necessary or even a useful experience. I’m not saying it’s bad; it’s fine to try it, if you want to, until you finally learn that’s not where the answer is.

For me, a danger of some kinds of drugs is that they do lead you into a loving, openhearted experience, but the human coming out of that drugged state then becomes agitated because it cannot hold onto the experience. But if you will let yourself rest in your natural state of loving presence, of the awakened heart, that’s all you need. I’m sorry if this is not the answer you were hoping for, but this is what I would speak from the heart.

Babara, while reviewing the transcript. There was a question that came in when Jeshua spoke and was written down but not spoken in to the room. This was the thought that negative energy may have easier access when using drugs. Aaron agrees that this is so; thus there is some real risk with the drugs.

Other questions? And when I answer or Aaron answers a question, please feel free to ask a further question based on that, too. I would rather invite us more into a dialogue than just Aaron and I answering questions.

Q: Going back to what was spoken about earlier, you said everyone wants peace and happiness. I seem to perceive that there are people who do not want peace and happiness. They want power and control, and they are greedy. They have no use for peace or happiness.

Jeshua: There is the hitch, Q, because for them their peace and happiness comes from their feeling in control and having power. They have not yet learned that everybody wants peace and happiness, so it’s very one-sided. What I want; I want it the way I want it.

I once knew a man who had several slaves. If they did not do exactly what he wanted and the way he wanted it done, he would beat them. He gave them enough food to survive, but no more than that. And a blanket that they would not freeze to death, but no more than that. Wherever this man went he tried to command people, to make himself look big so people would be afraid of him.

This man, I had heard tell of him but did not know him. But then I had the opportunity to meet him. I met him at an opportune time. He had fallen off a, I would not call it a cliff, but high enough up that he had broken his leg. He was in pain. As I said I had heard rumors about him. When I came upon him, he had both his— I call them slaves, not truly slaves but they had no freedom of their own. They were servants, but there was no place they could go; they could not escape him. They were fanning him with big leaves, and he was crying out in pain and rage, “Make the pain go away!”

Somebody brought me to him. Actually, he ordered me to come to him, but I did not come because he ordered me. I came because I saw a teaching moment for this man. So, I just came and sat beside him. He said he was told I could do some miracles. Fix his leg! I looked at him and acknowledged how serious his pain was. He said, “Yes; make it go away?” I said, “You really want to be free of pain, don’t you? I understand that.” I brought one of his slaves up. The man was exhausted; he had been fanning this broken-legged man all day in the hot sun. I said, “Do you think this man is feeling pain?” “No.” I said, “Well, it’s very hot, and he’s been fanning you all day. Do you think his arms and back may be feeling pain?”

Suddenly you could see the insight dawning. I didn’t hammer it at him; I just talked to him. At first, he was reluctant to acknowledge that this was possible. I showed him a burro that he used as a beast of burden that had bleeding sores on its back because he overloaded it. He wanted to get everything he could out of this beast. And its ribs were showing. “Do you think this burro is feeling pain?” “No…. maybe.”

We talked for over an hour, and he began to see that everyone experienced pain and everybody wanted freedom from pain. Then I said, “If your leg heals”— I did not say, “If I heal your leg”; I said, “If your leg heals, what will you do?” He said, “Go on living my life.” I said, “In the same way?” It was hard for him, but gradually he began to acknowledge, “Maybe I’d have to make some changes.” And he kept saying to me, “Now will you heal my leg? Now will you heal my leg?” I said, “I cannot heal your leg, because you are holding the break in your leg. But I will sit here with you and talk to you, visit with you. Help give you food. Just be present with you until the leg heals.”

 It should have healed in 6 weeks or so, normal time for a leg to heal. It took him 3 months; he was so filled with anger and agitation! But the three months gave him time. I wasn’t with him all day; sometimes I would be gone for a week and come back. But I saw the subtle changes in the way he treated these two slaves, who were becoming servants. First he would eat, then he would offer them some of his leftovers. Then, two weeks later he would start to eat, and look at them, and say, “Here, you take some.” Angry, but, “You take some.” And then, a month later, “Come, let us eat together.” So slowly his heart healed as his leg healed. Now I’m not saying I influenced the leg to heal slowly; I wouldn’t do that! But the timing was perfect, because by the time the leg was healed, the heart was healed. He began to recognize: everyone wants peace. Everyone wants to be happy.

How do we bring this lesson to those in the world who are so filled with anger and fear, and so grasping at power and control? We’re back to the beginning of our talk tonight. When you learn to quiet the fear, anger, even rage and hatred and bigotry in yourself, to hold space for yourself and truly feel compassion for the places of pain in yourself, then you will know what to do, and how to speak to others. This is not complacency; what comes next will be dynamic, active. You may feel yourself moved to organize in some way. There is a beautiful old book that was printed by the American Friends Service Committee that Aaron is reminding me of, that is called Speak Truth to Power. I believe you can find and download it online, and you might find it an interesting read. https://www.afsc.org/sites/afsc.civicactions.net/files/documents/Speak_Truth_to_Power.pdf How do we speak truth to power from a loving heart?

I see it’s 9 o’clock, so we will end here.

My deepest love to all of you. May you all be filled with joy and peace. May you find the love that is within your hearts, and your power to communicate that love to all beings everywhere. And in this way, the world truly will be free of suffering and become the higher vibrational planet that it is meant to be. You can do it. It is why you came.

I’ll give you Aaron. My love, and thank you for being with me tonight.

Aaron: Thank you, Jeshua, and I am Aaron. Thank you all for being with us tonight. I love you all. Take these teachings into your heart. Make them alive in you. As Jeshua just said, this is what you came for. Thank you all. I will release the body to Barbara.

(session ends)

Daily Aaron Quote – Oct. 27, 2017

Life is inconvenient! Not finding liberation is going to be inconvenient. It’s okay, you’ll have another chance, no big deal. But here you are, why waste the opportunity? It’s important that there not be an ‘I should,’ or any kind of guilt approach here; just, here is a good opportunity. You can use it if you wish.

To receive daily Aaron Quotes: http://archives.deepspring.org/dailyquote/

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October 23, 2017 Monday, Oakwood Retreat, Aaron’s Intro

October 23, 2017 Monday, Oakwood Retreat, Aaron’s Intro

Aaron: Vipassana is a beautiful practice. It’s a way of coming home, and finding out who you are beyond the mundane bodies –  the physical, the emotional and mental bodies. Your thoughts change from day to day, from moment to moment. Your body changes. Your emotions change. Your energy changes. You cannot pin an identity on any of these aggregates. Who are you when you’re not self-identified as the body, the mind, the emotions, feelings of being good or not good, and so forth, who are you? When all of these things pass away, what remains?

The word passana in Pali language means seeing, to see. Vipassana means a deeper, clearer seeing. It takes us past the surface, to really see things as they are. Because you are, all of you, radiant, beautiful beings, I hope it will help you to see yourselves as I see you, with that love and radiance. To know the deeper truth of yourself beyond the unworthy one, the bumbling one, the one who has to get everything right, the weak one, strong one. Who are you?

Vipassana is a path to freedom. I know that from my own experience and my own liberation through this practice. But we do not teach only the traditional vipassana practice. We mix it with what might be called pure awareness practice. With vipassana, we watch objects arise and pass away, arise and pass away. The thoughts, the itch, all the different objects that come. We watch with spaciousness and kindness. We are watching arising and passing away with mundane consciousness. When consciousness is gone, is everything gone? What remains? Let us call it awareness, openhearted presence. So we practice the linear practice of vipassana, and we also practice the immediate now of presence. At the retreat, we mingle the two.

Your path to freedom is a very precious thing for yourselves and for all beings. Your Earth right now is in a tumultuous time: a lot of pain, a lot of friction, fear, confusion. The only thing that will carry you through it is love. Put in the Buddha’s beautiful words, “Hatred never resolved hatred. Only love resolves hatred.” But we can’t say, “Okay, I’m going to love. No hatred here! No anger!” Ah! How do we love when your house has been washed away by a hurricane or burned down by wildfire? When dear friends have been shot by a sniper? When politicians are threatening nuclear war? How do we love? If you did not have the capacity, the innate capacity for this kind of love, I would not invite you to be here for a retreat. But I know— I don’t believe; I know you have this capacity. And because you are here, you have the intention to develop this capacity, to return love where there is fear and hatred. To return calm, centered, clear mind to the places of agitation and confusion. But be careful here: this is not a doing, this is just returning to pure being.

This is the heart of what we will do this week. I look forward to our time together. I love you all very much, and I am very grateful to you for being here. I could talk for 2 more hours or end here, so I will end here, because I want to hear from you at this point. My blessings and love.

October 23, 2017 Monday, Oakwood Retreat, Barbara’s Intro

October 23, 2017 Monday, Oakwood Retreat, Barbara’s Intro

Barbara: I offered a very short few lines of introduction at the start of our go-around. We finished in time, so there are a few things I’d like to share. I grew up in the 1940s, and talk of the Holocaust was dinner table conversation; about extended family who were caught there and nobody knew what had happened to them, about people known and unknown. I really didn’t understand what they were saying, just, that people were being killed. I asked, how can people kill each other like that? How can people be so cruel to each other? I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. I really didn’t want to live in a world where people would be that cruel to each other.

I was a reasonably happy little girl. I went to school, played with friends. But I spent a lot of time crossing the road to the woods and pond that were a short walk away. In those days, 6 year old girls were free to walk into the woods and nobody said, “Oh, you’ll be in danger.” I had to take my big collie with me. Other than that, I was free to go where I wanted, as long as I told people where I was going and when I’d be back.

It was a small pond across the road, maybe 2 or 3 acres in size; it had an island in the middle. I could swim; I was not forbidden to go near the pond. I built myself a little raft; I found pieces of wood and tied them together with cords. The water was only hip deep near shore. I had a stick and I polled my way to the island, maybe 20 feet from shore. I would go to the island, and, I didn’t call it meditation but I would just sit and be quiet. The being I called “the man in the clouds” would come and talk to me. It was Neem Karoli Baba, who has been my guru all my life; his picture is on the altar.

He taught me jhana. He didn’t give it a label. He didn’t call it meditation. He just taught me step by step to move through the jhanas. Remember, I was probably 6, 7, 8 years old. I moved through these very blissful jhana states, and then would go home and look at a world where people were killing each other. I thought, I can’t do this. More and more, all through elementary school, I would spend my afternoons drifting around in the jhanas, blissing out in the jhanas. It was a great escape.

Finally when I was about 11 and going into junior high, Baba said to me, “I’m not going to be readily available to you anymore. You need to get back to the human world. You need to connect as a human.” “Don’t go away!” But I had no say in it. Obviously if he was not going to be available, he was not going to be available.

He gave me that year, and I have this written in a childhood diary, my spiritual name, Shanti Das, Servant of Peace. I asked him; I had no idea what the words Shanti Das meant. He said, “Your first work is to understand your name, the translation of it, what it means, and then how to do it.”

I spent a lot of years trying to figure it out. Finally I found out it meant Servant of Peace, and I said, “Oh, well, I’m a pacifist!” I was a Quaker. I was a very militant Quaker! I have a photograph somewhere in my attic of myself picketing in a canoe on the Thames River in New London, CT outside the Electric Boat Company where they built nuclear submarines. They would send PT boats after us. You can maneuver a canoe much faster than you can maneuver a PT boat! We would play cat and mouse for a long time. They were not going to make a martyr of me and launch the submarine on top of us. They had to delay the launching of the submarine until they caught us. I was thrown in jail a few times. The dean of my school, Connecticut College in New London, where this was happening, was also a Quaker, and she would come and bail me out. Finally, she said to me, “Is this okay with your parents?” I said no, and she said, “Well, considering they’re paying your tuition, maybe you need to stop doing civil disobedience until they’re no longer supporting you.” And that made sense to me. So, I sort of stopped. But I was still a militant pacifist.

Fast forward. What does Servant of Peace mean? This has really been a lifelong question for me. What does it mean to be a servant of peace? What is peace? For many years I asked the question. Then I married Hal, we had children, I lost my hearing, all in fast succession. I really wasn’t spending much time trying to figure out what was a servant of peace. I was trying to figure out, how do I live this life with the enormity of suffering of losing my hearing? There was a lot of anger, a lot of fear.

I prayed for help. I was feeling very stuck, because— my life was good. I have a loving husband. Our 50th anniversary is next May. I have 3 wonderful sons, beautiful daughters-in-law, grandchildren, work that I love. But back then I was so angry. Why did this happen to me? Am I being punished? What is this life about? The questions you’ve been asking. Who am I? Why am I here? Why did this hurtful thing happen to me? I prayed for help.

I’m capsulizing this, but almost immediately after that prayer I came into my living room to meditate and there was a spirit there. That is the only way I can phrase it. There was this powerful energy. I could see him, feel his presence. I said, “Who are you? Why are you here?” He said, “You’re suffering. Let’s look at the causes of the suffering.”

I had been meditating all my life, and doing a practice very similar to vipassana, self-taught. I knew nothing about Buddhism. I knew nothing about vipassana specifically as a form of meditation. But I had moved from jhana practice to what looks like vipassana, just present in the moment, watching what arises, holding it with presence. But I had a subtle tilt to my practice, where when something unpleasant arose when I was sitting, some body pain or emotional pain, I would pull my attention back, move away from what was unpleasant, to my breath or the luminosity  that I often used as a primary object. Because of the jhana practice I knew how to shift myself into a very peaceful place. So I was using it as a way to escape the discomfort, unwilling to go into the discomfort.

Aaron began to teach me so lovingly. Basically, his first teaching to me was the Four Noble Truths. You’re suffering. The suffering exists, it’s real. Let’s look at the causes of the suffering. And the suffering is not from being deaf; the suffering is from the grasping at not being deaf, the hatred of the deafness. I said, well am I stuck here forever? No, freedom exists. I didn’t know this was the Four Noble Truths. Just, you’re suffering, yes. The cause of the suffering is the grasping, the fear. Freedom does exist. And then the beautiful Eightfold Path.

The Eightfold Path has three parts. Sila, moral awareness. Well, I really had that established through the earlier part of my life. Samadhi; I had that established. Wisdom, not much, not much at that point. So, the deepening of wisdom is what was needed.

His early teaching to me, whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease, and does not belong to you. It has arisen out of conditions. He helped me to understand how to be present with what arose with an open heart. It is unpleasant or pleasant. If it’s unpleasant and aversion arises, be present with the aversion. If it’s pleasant and grasping arises, be present with the grasping. What is grasping? What is aversion? I began to develop the wisdom to see that it simply is arisen out of conditions, and as long as those conditions have not been purified it will continue to arise; and that the only way to purify those conditions is with love.

At this point I still was not looking at the “what does it mean to be a servant of peace?” Just, how do I get out of the suffering trap? But gradually his teaching really took root.  I started to understand that the peace that I was seeking for myself had always been there, and that I couldn’t really lose it. But I had gotten it so covered up, just mucking around in all these theories: if I do this, if I do that, how do I fix it. I had to just let it all go; to really open my heart and just be here with this beautiful Earth, beautiful friendships, beautiful dharma, and with the enormity of pain of sentient beings; just opening the heart.

The jhana practice had taken me, many decades earlier, to a blissful place where I avoided mundane consciousness. But now I was able to move into the deeper vipassana practices, where the mind and body dissolved; body and ego dissolution. Aaron was teaching me more and more about what he calls awareness, as differentiated from mundane consciousness. Eye touches an object: seeing consciousness. Ear touches an object: hearing consciousness. Body touches a surface: touching consciousness. Thinking consciousness, when the mind touches a thought.All of these are based in the mundane realm

There’s a part of practice with which some of you are familiar with that’s called access concentration. It’s a place where the practice is developed to the point that awareness watches objects arise and dissolve without getting caught up in stories about them. There’s no self in it, just, the sky is blue then a cloud blows across, and then the cloud blows away. Not, why is that cloud hanging over me? No stories, just here it is and there it goes. So eye consciousness sees the cloud come and sees it go. Awareness rests in the spaciousness, seeing the cloud and the absence of cloud, the whole picture.

Gradually I started to find what true peace is, what true joy is. I am so grateful for my life. I am so grateful for Aaron and all the teachers that have supported my path. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to really be a servant of peace by bringing these teachings to people like yourselves, and helping you to realize it for yourself. I can’t give it to you; I can only be like that finger pointing to the moon. Where is the moon? Up there, but I can’t transport you to the moon; your practice transports you. I can’t transport you to liberation, or peace, or joy, but your practice does. It’s a practice of so much love and so much joy and gratitude and freedom, of peace. But it asks of us a willingness to be touched by suffering until it goes through us, without resistance, and the heart opens to hold it all.

I’m very glad to be with you here this week. We have 6 days, which is in some ways a very short time and in some ways a very long time. A lot can happen in 6 days. It’s intense because you’re in silence, and the silence is so beautiful. Please honor the silence, for yourselves and for others. This means more than not talking but finding the inner silence, right there with noise and agitaton, with contraction and pain.

Watch the impulses, all the impulses, not just the impulse to talk or whatever, but all the impulses. Watch the feelings. Watch the body sensations. Watch the emotions, and develop for yourself the wisdom: it’s all arising because the conditions are present for it to arise, and when the conditions cease, it will cease. It is not me or mine. This is wisdom. It’s a beautiful dharma.

So this has been a bit of my story, my spiritual path. One more thought; most of you know I was a sculptor for much of my life and taught sculpture at the University of Michigan. I was making 8, 10, 12 foot bronze sculptures that spiraled around and moved. I would go into my studio and sketch these, and build them out of copper tubing and then build them together. When I finished them, a name came to me: Lael, Ariel. Who’s Lael? Who’s Ariel? But then, after I met Aaron, these beautiful entities came and introduced themselves. “Thank you for doing my portrait— I’m Lael!” “I’m Ariel!” It feels like my life has come together in a perfect way. Now I can channel some of these entities whose bronze portraits I did, and allow them to speak for themselves and share their wisdom.

That’s all. My love.