Category: Aaron

Evenings with Aaron – March 15, 2017

An open session with Aaron channeled by Barbara Brodsky

For the complete archives go to archives.deepspring.org

Transcript:

(Barbara begins by reading the following text, which was dictated to her by Aaron earlier. The recording began after several paragraphs.)

Aaron:  All aware of what we call physical and emotional distortions. We try to “fix” them.

Let’s begin with, “What is a distortion?” To know “distortion”, we must ask, distorted from what?

It’s hard for most humans to visualize the “ever-perfect”. What is perfect weather for you? Warm sun, fresh snow, breeze for your sailboat, stillness. Perhaps the ever-perfect in terms of weather is the infinite possibility. What is the perfect place for you? Seashore, garden, mountains, river, desert, rainforest. Would you want any one place forever with no change? Again, perhaps the ever-perfect expresses in infinite possibilities.

There is Ground of Being, Source, Divine, God, Goddess, Unconditioned. In Buddhism, we have the term Dharmakaya, with “kaya” meaning “body.” Dharma is that which is, so we have the expression of that which is, Divine Body.

This Divine Body expresses in myriad ways. Think of the fresh, underground spring. It is pure from deep in the earth. There is no outer soil in it, no pollution of it. The moment it expresses out of the underground source, it is touched by a thousand things: air, soil, life forms of all sizes brought directly or by the breeze, and more. That ever-perfect pure spring is now changed. Does the sun upon it distort it? If we consider change as distortion, then yes, the sun distorts it., The freezing temperature that creates ice distorts it. The soil of the earth 10 feet from the entrance changes it. The child’s hand reaching in to scoop a drink changes it.

Is the pure water still there? Of course, and also something has been added or changed.

Let us call that change a distortion. It is not good or bad; it simply is changed in some surface ways, while still retaining its innate perfection. That innate perfection cannot be lost.

But 100 yards downstream, where cattle wade into the stream to drink, there are impurities mixed with the water from the spring, so you would not choose to drink there without first filtering the water, to return to the pure spring water. We would say that water is distorted, while remembering that the pure spring water is still there. You do not run around in a frenzy screaming at the cattle. You simply reach for your water filter.

Let us return to the Dharmakaya, as there are two other terms here that will aid your understanding.

Nirmanakaya means form body. It can be considered as the outer expressions of Dharmakaya. This Divine essence is constantly expressing in infinite ways.

“Let there be Light.”

“Let there be water.”

“Let there be earth.”

“Let there be man…”

Light, water, earth, human are all nirmanakaya expressions of the Divine. The rainbow as distortion of light; the wave growing out of the sea as distortion of water; the plant growing from the earth as expression of, or distortion of earth, sun and water; the thought expressing from the human; all are nirmanakaya expressions of the Divine.

Everything is expression of the One; everything.

Your Bible offers the idea that first came “the Word”.

In the beginning was the Word, and the

Word was with God, and the Word was God.

What is this Word? What is the first breath, the first expression of the Divine?

Buddhism offers us the term Sambhogakaya or “wealth body”. Everything expressing from The One is wealth, is riches beyond belief.

What about deadly tornadoes? What about cancer? What about the viper and other poisonous life forms? What about toxic hatred and prejudice?

Everything arises from conditions and passes away when the conditions cease. If these objects have arisen, it is because the conditions exist for them. When the conditions are purified, they will cease to arise.

Right now you think of these not only as distortions but as negative distortions, to be gotten rid of or fixed.

Watch a toddler attempt to build a tower of blocks. It is unbalanced and quickly topples. She tries again, and again. By trial and error, she learns what allows her to build higher, how to center the blocks. But if she has a tantrum and throws the blocks, weeps herself into exhaustion believing she is deficient in some way and cannot do it, then she cannot do it.

Watch the ballerina attempt a difficult move and stumble. She perseveres and learns what balance allows her to gracefully complete the movement. If she becomes angry, says “What’s wrong with me?” or “I must do this.”, tenses the body and exhausts herself, she cannot master the move.

Are these distortions – the toppling blocks, the temporary imbalance – negative, or are they teachers?  The blocks and ballerina fall because of conditions. When the conditions change, the falling ceases. If it were not so, no learning would be possible.

So we return to the question, what is a distortion? Yes, sometimes it leads to real discomfort, but can we relate to it as an expression of conditions of which we are a part, and aim our efforts to understand, balance, and release the conditions while giving thanks for the learning, rather than as something imposed from without that is terrible and must be fixed.

I promised a talk tonight on healing. All that I have said is background.

(end of reading)

Barbara: Thank you for your patience. And with that I’m going to give you Aaron directly. What was remarkable about what I read was that he said, “Please simply sit at your computer and type.” There was absolutely no editing in that. He just said it and I typed it. I corrected typos, but that’s it. Thank you, Aaron. I will be glad to email that bit out to everybody who’s listening tonight.

Aaron will incorporate.

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. Thank you for your patience, as Barbara read those introductory words. I simply wanted to be in her body a shorter amount of time, to spare her body from too much high energy in it. And all of you out there, there’s nobody out there listening who is less than 8 days from their latest surgery (referring to surgery at the Casa in Brazil), am I correct? All right. So my energy is safe to let out yet I would still quiet my energy.

It’s a joy to be with you, and after a month of being muzzled at the Casa, so to speak— it’s not that they disrespect me or my energy or my thoughts, it’s simply that my energy can interfere with the energy of the Casa entities. The healing that you are doing down there is profound, and it is important for me not to interfere with that energy, for any of you, and also for Barbara.

In our group together we spent a lot of time with Barbara, not with me, talking about “what is healing?” What heals? Who heals? Emotional and physical distortions do arise. These have a relative reality, and yet we also recognize the ever-perfect.

We come back to that clear spring. The pure water is there, and the distortions are there. We don’t throw out the water; we filter it. When emotional and physical distortions arise in the human or on the earth, in terms of the environment, for example, we need to take care of the distortions. But so often the response to distortion is a held contraction.

Let me explain what I mean by “held contraction”. When I open the hand in response to something offered, the hand closes around it and brings it in; it has to contract to do this. But it doesn’t squeeze and tense up. It simply brings it in. It lays it back down. The hand opens again. When you breathe, the lungs contract and expand, contract and expand. This balanced contraction is part of living. Even your earth contracts and expands, contracts and expands.

But if you contract and then hold a contraction around that contraction, what happens? (Demonstrating, throwing balls of socks) Q, tell me what happens for you. (inaudible) And where is the contraction now? Is it still in your body or is it released? (inaudible) Wonderful. Is it still there or is it released? Released. Can you feel, both of you, the slight reverberations of it even though it’s mostly released? Q is saying she feels it even though she’s not had a ball of socks thrown at her. Released… reverberating.

My original intention was to throw it at the camera so pour internet friends could have the same experience, but I’m told it would damage the camera, so I’m going to ask you to run at the camera with this. Just run at the camera with it… (she does so). Again.  I don’t think they can see you running so much as… come right up at the camera. You don’t have to come with a ball of socks. But run right up so you’re filling the camera… Friends on the internet, can you feel that?

I remember some years ago at Deep Spring when we had a glass window going directly to the outside. We had some people go outside and throw snowballs at the window while others stood right inside with their faces against the glass. What happens when somebody throws a snowball and your face is right here? You know it’s not going to hit you. We’re not talking about ice balls. The snow is soft. It hits the glass and it dissolves. But you startle. You contract. Does it release?

Contraction is a normal human experience. When we hold a contraction around the contraction, building stories, “What if it was something solid? What if it hit me? What if it damaged me?”, then we create stories and contraction around the contraction. (demonstration with socks)

Can you feel that? Now hold the intention for spaciousness. These contractions are part of the human experience. There are constantly things coming into your energy field. Physical objects, energy objects, emotional objects, they’re constantly coming and going. What are the stories that you hold about these?

I’d like you to try something, here. Throw some socks at me… Do you see any contraction in me at all? No. Throw some hard at me… There’s no contraction because there’s no self. There are no stories. The socks and I are one, I could put it that way. Nothing external to me is hitting me, so I don’t have to create any history or stories. These are just socks, or they’re just bacteria, or they’re just angry words, or whatever it may be that’s striking me. On the one level I am a separate, unique entity, and on another level, nothing is ever separate. How could anything be separate? So how could there be anything outside of me that would hurt me? If I believe there is something that can damage me, then I’m going to react and try to push it away, fix it, change it.

I do need to attend to it. If instead of socks there was rain dripping on my head, I would put up an umbrella. This is kindness to myself. I am not armoring myself with the umbrella, I am shielding myself temporarily. There are no fear-based stories. I am taking care of myself. But there’s no contraction to it, I simply put up the umbrella. No harm in the rain.

Can you feel the difference between armoring and shielding? Armoring carries multiple layers of contraction, and because it carries contraction and repetitive contraction, it becomes a karmic movement that literally embeds itself in the cells of the physical, emotional and energetic bodies.

When there is this kind of repetitive reaction to contraction held in the body, the body forms what we call dis-ease, that is, a lack of ease with the experience. When there is such lack of ease and it’s repeated over and over, well, what happens if I were to do this (squeezing  the hand)? Eventually I’d injure the fingers, yes? Could I do that for hours without creating bruising? Would there be changes in the cellular tissue? Of course.

If I recognize that this is happening and say, “Ah, I do not intend to cause damage. I release it.”… (demonstrating)  So the socks come. They hit me on the forehead. “Oh, socks!” Maybe it’s rocks instead of socks. Then I will want to shield. But there are no stories.

I want to be careful, here. You do not create disease in yourself, so don’t get caught up in a story, “Oh, look what I’ve done. I’ve created cancer,” or depression or whatever else. Any physical, emotional, or other ailment has a multitude of causes— genetic, biological, environmental. You did not create that ailment. However, whatever you are given, you respond to it in certain ways that either compound it or invite it to not stick.

If I covered myself in Velcro and you threw these socks at me, I’d be covered with socks. When you are Teflon, it all falls off. So how do we become Teflon? By mindfulness of the accumulation of stories. A familiar one: I’m unworthy, or I should be more loving, or I should be more capable. Another kind of familiar story: My immune system is weak, I am prone to sickness. These are stories. They can become self-fulfilling prophecy.

Why would you want to that to happen? So much of this is simply karma. You’ve built up these stories repeatedly through eons, and built up a self-identity with them. Who are you without them? Who is Barbara without her deafness? Well, she’s worked for years with this question and has completely released the stories, but it was not easy. Who are you without your feelings of unworthiness? If you were truly not unworthy, what might be asked of you? If you were truly strong and vibrant, what might be asked of you? If you were whole, what might be asked of you? What might you ask of yourself? What impossible things beyond what a human can do? To be perfect. You are perfect. And yet in the human form you can never be completely perfect, except that the imperfection is perfect. You don’t realize that. You are beautiful just as you are. So many of you move into stories of unworthiness because you see yourselves as imperfect!

We look at the seeming distortions, the physical, the emotional, and we either contract around them, creating ripples and more ripples and still more ripples, or we notice the ripples and let them go. A favorite image of mine is this. If I had a big bowl of water sitting on the table, filled to the top; if I shake the table a bit, the water will slosh over the side. “Oh, it’s spilling! Stop it!” And I put my hand down on the top to try to still the water. Can I still the water in that way? Of course not. Let it be and it will become still, because stillness and movement are the nature of everything. Everything has the nature of fluidity and movement, even a rock, and everything has the possibility of stillness.

When anger arises in you and you say, “No, I won’t be angry,” can you feel how those ripples create more anger? “Ah, anger has arisen in this mind and body. Try this: Breathing in, I am aware of the anger. Breathing out, I hold space for the anger.” It grew out of conditions, and it will pass. I don’t have to be afraid of it, and I don’t have to enact it. It’s just energy. An itch has arisen. “What bit me? What am I going to do about it?” I can scratch it until I bleed. Or I can just note, “Here is an itching sensation. Ahh, this is part of the human experience, that there may be some kind of itching. This is how the skin is. If necessary I’ll wash it off with something appropriate.” Or simply remember the perfect skin that is free of itching right there with the itching. There’s nothing to fix. When I release the idea that I must fix something because something is wrong, distorted, or bad, I can come back to the ever-perfect. It still may feel better with some treatment though, and that is fine; the relative experience right there with the ultimate.

Barbara has been working a lot the past 6 months, with skin cancer in the face. There were 2 surgeries here in the United States, both fairly extensive, maybe 40 stitches with each surgery, pulling the face back together, and after each one they felt all the cancer was removed. She went down to the Casa asking, what is the nature of the ever-perfect skin and what is this distortion we call cancer?

The distortion arose because of endless hours  through decades, sitting on her sailboat in the sun with no skin protection. This is how the skin is. It will react. Human skin is like that. She did nothing bad; simply, this is how the skin is. But as long as she was tensing around it, she was blocking the possibility of the skin’s completely releasing all the cancer tissue.

At the Casa they did two fairly extensive invisible surgeries on her face. Lying in bed after the first surgery, Barbara asked me, “What do I do?” And I said, why do you feel you must do anything? Trust it is gone. But there was more than one surgery. With the second surgery, she said, “if it was gone, what brought it back?” I said, there was more they were not able to get out the first time. Trust it is gone. There is nothing you need to do to fix it. Trust the ever-perfect nature of the cells here. Her primary work with the skin cancer now was to simply relax and know the ever-perfect skin; to see the perfect skin, free of any malignant tissue in it. I asked her to invite the body to release anything that was not needed, and to know it was already so. Also to thank the Casa entities for the surgeries they did to remove any remaining malignancies.

As soon as you believe, “I’m doing something wrong. I need to fix this.”, you’re returning energy to the “distortion”. If you say, oh, there’s no distortion, there’s no cancer, there’s no sadness or grief or fear, likewise you’re giving energy to it because you are denying it, and that denial is a form of giving energy. But when you can recognize this distortion has arisen out of conditions, it’s impermanent, it’s not of the nature of a separate self (that means it’s not me, it’s simply something that has touched me temporarily and I release it). I will not even think about it again, I release it. But if it’s necessary to take care of it, I’ll take care of it, which is putting up the umbrella to shield from the rain. I release it. Can you feel how there’s no energy contraction in that? There’s no fear in that. There are no stories, “What if it doesn’t get better? How do I fix it?” There is just, “Ahhh, I release.”

In some ways it’s easier to see this with emotions. I’d like you all to think of something that has happened to you in the past week and out of which anger has arisen. Think of the incident and how it felt. Perhaps you were afraid or sad or felt vulnerable or hopeless. How did the anger feel? Can you feel the tension of it in the body?

Now think the compounding thought, “I shouldn’t be angry.” Can you feel how that escalates the anger? “I won’t be angry.” Can you feel the continuation of the tension? Or let’s try denial. “No, I am not angry. I am assuredly not angry.” Can you feel the tension in that? It’s like a thousand little bits of energy bouncing around inside of you. Let us call this experience of anger a “distortion”.

That which is aware of anger is not angry. What is this awareness? Right there with that denial of the anger, can you re-open to that which is not angry? Think of the situation in which anger arose, perhaps an encounter with another person. Think of the person around whom that anger arose, and what you love about that person. Say, “Thank you,” to the other person. “Thank you even for being in my face and awakening the feeling of anger in me. Thank you for reminding me of what an open heart I have, the possibility of joy and forgiveness. Thank you for being you, who sometimes shakes me to anger.”

When you offer real gratitude— bring your hands together this way— can you maintain the anger when the hands are together? Say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Can you feel yourself coming back to the true self, back to love? For love is the true self. Feel yourself returning to that truth. Thank you, thank you. Where is the anger now? Where did it go? There may still be reverberations of it, but it’s not sticky anymore. You’ve made yourself Teflon. The anger is pouring off.

Because the emotional body is a bit more fluid than the physical body, it’s easier to see it and do it with emotions. But the same principle applies with the physical body. Certain things seem to attack the physical body, and we see it as a solid distortion and take it into ourselves with the idea, “I must fix this. I must change this. This is bad.” Rather than, “Oh, thank you. Here is a teacher.”

We don’t want the broken bone, the cancer, the deafness. We don’t want these things; of course not. And I’m not saying that you have created or are holding onto them. But what happens when you relax and begin to go to the place where the cancer is not? Where the broken bone is not?

T had an experience at the Casa that some of you heard directly from her. She had arrived at the Casa with a broken toe, and it seems that it healed within a week, not the 6 weeks that were determined it would need to heal. How does this happen? There were no stories about it. There was nothing to perpetuate it.

Picture the cells, the ends of the broken bone. They want to merge back together. But your doubt, your fear, keep them shaking. They can’t really meet each other. They can’t really merge because they’re bouncing around. But when you say, “Thank you. I feel the wholeness.” and allow them, then they will heal. When Barbara relaxed and said, “This release of cancer cells is complete; the skin is whole.”, then it can heal. Nobody can heal you without your permission. Actually nobody can heal you, you heal yourself. But nobody can support that healing for you without your permission. And if there is somebody inside trying to fix, you’re giving energy to the distortion rather than knowing the perfection.

There is so much more to this. It relates both to the emotional, mental, and also the physical “distortions”. There is no such thing as a distortion. Let me rephrase that. There is no such thing as a bad distortion. Yes, there are distortions. But what is a distortion? If I am walking and I want to go from A to B, a distance of a few miles, and there’s a trail that goes straight; a boring road, just through grasslands, straight from Point A to Point B. Somebody says to me, “Do you know there’s a high peak over here. We can climb this mountain, have a beautiful view, and then come back to Point B. And there’s a river over here that’s beautiful. We can go down by the river.” You might say, “Oh, but that’s a distortion of the path.” Well, what is a distortion? If I choose to climb the hill, if I choose to see and wade in the river, is that a distortion? I am simply following a different path.

The body moves into what we think of as physical distortions because at some level you’ve chosen to climb the mountain or to wade in the river, to have the experience of that. Once you have the experience of it, you can come back to the original path. Are you going to stay on that high hill or with your feet in the river forever? Let it go. You still want to get to Point B. And what is Point B? Point B is the knowing of your wholeness, fullest expression of that wholeness, the knowing of you power, of your radiance, of your beauty. It is the knowing of your truth, that you are divine and have never been apart from that divine for even a moment. The illusion that you were separate from it is simply illusion held in the mind and has no ultimate reality. Awakening to this truth of your being is the fullest healing, to awaken to knowing who and what you are. To awaken to your innate perfection. Simply to awaken.

A favorite sutra of mine: the Buddha is addressing a group of monks. He says, “Abandon the unwholesome. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it. If such abandoning led to pain, to suffering, I would not ask you to abandon the unwholesome. But it leads to goodness, to joy. Abandon the unwholesome. Cultivate the wholesome. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it. If such cultivation led to suffering, I would not ask you to cultivate the wholesome. But it leads to joy, to peace. Cultivate the wholesome.”

Why would you do anything but that? To cultivate the wholesome is not to contract. Such cultivation comes from the place in the heart that aspires to. “I choose.” You as humans have been given free will. “I choose.” I choose love, or I choose fear. Which one will you choose? Will you continue to immerse yourself repeatedly in the stories of fear, or are you ready to choose love?

Barbara read from my notes at the beginning. I spoke of the child building with blocks. What if there was a parent sitting next to the child and each time the child put a block on a bit out of center, the parent quickly adjusted it? The child would never experience the frustration of the blocks toppling. The child would never have the opportunity to learn how to balance things. How about the dancer? If somehow she was on puppet strings and a master hand was adjusting her every move so she did a perfect pirouette and perfect balance, she would never learn how to adjust to imbalance.

This takes the whole picture one step bigger. Why are you here in incarnation? I tell you, you are perfect, you are already perfect. Are you here simply to enact that perfection and never make a slip? You might say, “Oh yes, I’d like to do that.” Are you here to learn compassion? When challenging mind and body states arise, they can help you to learn compassion, compassion for the human in whom these have arisen. That does not mean we want to perpetuate the challenging mind and body states. Rather, we want to learn the compassion so that the challenging mind and body states become unnecessary because the innate compassion is shining through.

You are compassion. You are love. You are light. You are beauty. You are perfection. You continue to doubt it, and you keep the cycle going. Doubt, fear, anger, all creating  more and more challenges, like the child building with the blocks who finally slaps the whole thing across the room. But the child has courage. After a while she goes and picks up the blocks and she starts to build again.

Most of you do that. If the child believed, “I can never build a pile of blocks,” would she try to build again? And yet some of you believe, “I will never learn to love. I will never truly shine out my radiance. I can’t do it.” If you believe you can’t do it, you can’t do it. Are you ready, I will not say to believe, but to know otherwise? To know if it were not possible you would not be invited to do it? If you were not already love, you would not be asked to be love. It would be impossible. But you are already love. You are simply letting it come forth. You plant the little seeds for flowers in your garden in the spring. Do you say it’s impossible that a rose or a zinnia will grow out of the seed? It’s just a tiny little seed— how could a flower grow out of it? You trust, “Inherent in this little seed is that radiant beauty, and if I water it, give it sunshine and fertile soil, it will grow.” Why do you think less of yourselves? Your innate perfection is already there.

So what, then, is healing? I’m not sure I can answer that for you. As soon as we talk about healing we are caught in the distortion rather than the innate perfection. So maybe we need to change the terminology. How about if instead of saying, “I choose to heal”, we say, “I choose to open to the ever-healed. I trust the ever-healed. This is my free will choice. I choose to express my innate perfection because this is the gift that has been given me. And as I express that perfection and model it in the world, I make the possibility of such expression possible for others. I pass on the gift. To know that within me which is love, even when anger or fear arise. To know that which is strong and healthy, even when the body seems broken or damaged.

I choose to express the ever-healed. I choose to know that that seed is what I am.” You’re not surprised when you plant the rose seed and it grows into a rose. Why should you be surprised when you water this radiance that you are and self expresses as a radiant and beautiful being? You are whole.

I want to leave us plenty of time for questions. There is so much more I could talk about here, perhaps to be saved for another time. Let me add one thought here. We talked about the three kayas, and the sambhogakaya which emerges from the Dharmakaya. That very first expression, the Word, could be known as the first expression of the Dharmakaya. Sometimes when you’re caught way out in left field, as it were, spinning in circles around the seeming distortions, the first step is to come back to the ever-perfect. To know that which is not distorted in the self right there with the seeming distortions. It may be hard to find that ever-perfect within the Ever-Perfect, within the Unconditioned, within God, because you feel you cannot get there. But can you see yourself shining out from this ever-perfect? Here is a poem that Barbara shared in class 10 days ago:

I am the place where God shines through

For God and I are one, not two.

I need not fret nor will nor plan,

God wants me where and as I am.

If I’ll just be relaxed and free,

She’ll carry out her plan through me.

You are the place where God shines through. Trust that so that you don’t become so lost in the idea of brokenness.

So what do we need to do now to allow people to ask questions?

the Q & A section is only very lightly reviewed.

(question not taped)

So the question, if I am understanding it correctly: an illness will be in part karmic, environment, physical, mental, emotional. How do we know what part it is, what it is?

Why do you need to know?

Q: I think some of it is maybe to release the guilt that we feel, that maybe we caused it. So that when we’re healing, it may be when releasing the karma— this is a difficult question. I hope that Aaron can sort through this.

Aaron: Let me use an illustration here. We have a very pure stream, water pouring out from an underground spring, and from various mountain streams pouring into a wider stream. The water still is clear and pure. As it moves downstream, it goes through a city in which there are sewers dropping cleansed but still distorted water into the river. There are factories putting water into the river. The end result is that 20 miles beyond the city the water is quite toxic.

We want pure water. Several things are necessary. To identify the sources of the toxin, and here, using Barbara,  we need to know there were certain causes that resulted in skin cancer. There was certain karma that resulted in certain changes. There were certain beliefs. It’s helpful to understand the various things that have a part of the distortion. And yet, if we approach it with, “I’ll fix this one, and I’ll fix that one, and I’ll fix that one,” can you feel the contraction, the tension?

What if we start with knowing the ever-perfect water, or the ever-perfect healthy body, is here? I choose to know and magnify this ever-perfect body, to appreciate it. If you picture a dark stream with much pollution coming into it, water darkened; how can you know what comes from where? Look instead at the innate radiance of the water; then you see a little bit of darkness coming in. Against the radiance you can see the darkness and you can attend to it. Oh, here is a place where this factory is sending pollution into the river. We’ll attend to that. We’ll have the factory clean up what it sends into the river. It cannot send pollution in. Here is a place where farmers are treating the soil with various chemicals and it’s running off the banks and into the river. We need to attend to that. Can you feel the difference between knowing the perfect river and then attending to the sources of distortion, vs. thinking of the whole river as damaged, and that only if we repair all the damage can we get the river back in good form again? There’s more tension in that mode. You’re starting with the darkness rather than the light.

When you know the body as perfect then you begin to experience the causes of the distortion. I want to use Barbara’s back as an example. I think a personal example is helpful, and I don’t want to use anybody else here as example. Barbara was in a severe accident 13 years ago and there was bad damage to the spine. Whatever karma, it helped create that accident, but we don’t have to address that right away. Where is the perfect spine?

If we think of the various physical or emotional distortions as a problem, become immersed in them and start to think about what’s causing the damage, and how do I fix it, we become more and more contracted into it, giving actually negative energy into it. Using Barbara’s back as example, there’s no denying that there were severe spinal problems. They were causing a lot of pain. It was increasingly hard, almost impossible, for her to walk. The doctors at the university wanted to do some very serious surgery, which might or might not cure the problem.

I asked Barbara to start with knowing the ever-perfect spine. The spine had been perfect before the accident. For a period of 10 years it kept getting worse and worse after the accident. But if the spine was perfect 15 years ago, it was still perfect at one level. I asked her to imagine walking, climbing mountains. I asked her to watch the places where fear contracted in her spine, the places where when there was contraction, the lower spine closed in, pressing more on the nerves. I asked her, every time she felt that, to expand with mind and breath.

At the same time, in meditation she reflected on karma, different kinds of karma. Ancient karma in which there were injuries to the spine, and the anger she held. Just offering forgiveness. Knowing that she also had injured others, and asking forgiveness. Doing the things that help release the karma. So, addressing it on that level not as a fix-it but openheartedly. To attend to the karma. To attend to the physical causes. And third, simply to know this back is perfect. To know, really know and feel the place that’s free of distortion in the back, where she can dance, where she can move freely, where there’s no pain. Not to stand up and say, “What if it hurts?”, but, “Of course the spine is perfect.” To say it even if there was pain.,

She had to take these pieces together, to attend to the karma and to be willing to look. She didn’t see all the specific areas of karma, but each of you has injured others and been injured. Forgiveness heals karma. “Whoever has harmed me in these ways, I offer forgiveness. Whoever I have harmed, I ask forgiveness.” Really feeling that forgiveness coming to you is powerful. Also, watching the subtle karmic tendencies with imbalance. For Barbara, when the body felt imbalanced, she would close in like that and then hold tension in that part of the spine. So she spent 2 years learning how, when she felt imbalanced, to breathe and open the back. And again, when she walked and there was imbalance, feeling the body close in, do it again. Mindfulness. Opening the back.

Because of her deafness she has no inner ear balance, so she walks without balance. For 45 years she has had no inner ear balance. When you don’t have balance, you tense up. The body doesn’t trust itself. Part of the karma for her was needing to learn, “I am balanced. I am perfectly balanced. Right here with the imbalance is perfect balance, and thus I don’t have to hunch the body over, bringing pressure in the places in the spine that are damaged.” And certainly those 50 years of hunching also added to the spinal problems.

She needed to release those distortions, attending to the karma, knowing the ever-perfect back. Then at the Casa they were able to literally repair the places where the spine was closing in and pinching the nerves. But they could not do that, let’s say they could not expect to hold it in place, until she did her own work. At the Casa they say, “We’ll do 50%; you do 50%.” Her 50% was to recognize the karma, although in this case not specifically in detail, and to recognize the habitual tendency.

For Barbara, this work involved coming back to imbalance. Standing erect, trusting the body. In her book Cosmic Healing, she speaks about a part of this exploration with me during a retreat 20 years ago. I sent her out into a snowstorm. I asked her to close her eyes. She said, “I’ll fall.” I said, “That’s fine, fall. The snow is 2 feet deep.” It was midnight. She went out in the snow. She fell. She got up, closed her eyes, and fell again. Falling, landing, was not hard; the snow was soft. Letting herself fall. What does it mean to be the one who must be upright?

So the karma, being upright, the lifelong habit of being the one who is upright. Can you feel the tension, “I must be upright.”, both in the physical meaning of that and the broader meaning? The one who takes care of others, the one who must stand tall. The one who takes care of everything. Upright. What does it mean to let yourself fall?

This was a beginning of the healing. Each step of the healing was necessary to the further steps. The important thing was to hold the intention, “I come to know myself, the wholeness of myself, and to express this wholeness in the broadest sense I can. I choose to express the wholeness of myself. I choose to release whatever negates that knowing of wholeness.” If you work with it in this way, knowing of the karma will come genuinely, a little at a time, as is necessary and useful to see it. Not, “I need to fix it,” but insight, and then a new insight, and a new insight. And trusting the insights. Knowing the wholeness of the body and trusting the wholeness of the body so that the body can walk, can dance, can do whatever you wish it to do.

I’m not sure if that answers your question.

Q: It helps a lot.

Aaron: Let us go on, then, and hear other questions.

(They pause for technical issues.)

Aaron: The wonder for me is most of the time it works. So we can be patient. Do we have another question?

Q: I’d like to know how to protect one’s body from EMF (electromagnetic frequency) radiation.

Aaron: I would suggest, I cannot say you can absolutely protect, but envision a shield— not an armor. Armor will not allow loving energy in. Armor blocks everything. Envision that which you do not want to penetrate the body, whether it’s electromagnetic radiation or somebody’s anger or anything, just imagine a gentle shield saying, “No, not that. Not that.” It’s pouring rain; put up the umbrella. Do it with love, with spaciousness. Hold the intention, “I bring into this body all that is wholesome, and I say no to that which is not wholesome,” whether it is electromagnetic radiation or anything else. Simply that.

If you hold this intention, you’ll find ways that you can do this. You know how to do it, many of you, when there’s angry energy around you. It’s the same thing. Thank you. Other questions?

Q: What is our role for or with others? Does seeing the ever-perfect in another help this?

Aaron: Absolutely. And if you see only evil in another, that is a way of harming another. When you recognize the ever-perfect in the other, it’s very supportive. Many of you have had darshan with the Mother. You know how the experience of her unconditional opens your heart and changes you and allows you to be what she sees in you. But if somebody looks at you with hatred, despises you, it closes you in and you cannot trust that you are radiant and beautiful. When you see the beauty in others, it helps them.

Part of your work is to understand what blocks you from seeing that innate perfection in others. Perhaps it is partially because you are afraid to see it in yourselves? And this doesn’t mean everything the other does is wholesome. Sometimes another may attack you, throw anger at you, throw socks at you. You learn how to say no with compassion and still find that which is beautiful in others.

This to me is perhaps the most important thing that I learned from Jeshua, and it’s a whole different talk. But for Jeshua, what was so inspiring was that no matter how negatively a person acted, he knew how to get past the negativity and open into that which is beautiful. Because he saw that which was beautiful in the other, the other would often bring forth that which was beautiful, dropping away the negativity. Whereas if he had attacked that person, they would have brought up more negativity as defense.

Other questions?

Q: When I feel light and love pouring through me, it is much easier to relate with catalyst. I’m paying attention to certain kinds of fear that arise and I shut down. The perspective shifts into a more contracted state. I reflect on my intention and feel the heaviness, and it’s hard to know the ever-perfect. What is resting in the ever-perfect? Do you experience the energy in the body? Because in that moment my predominant experience….

Aaron: …I am trying to understand your meaning:  “It’s hard to rest in that ever-perfect.”

Q: Or Barbara. When you say, “rest in the ever-perfect or know it”, what is the experience of knowing, when I am so strongly feeling fear?

Aaron: This is the fruit of meditation. You do practice, all of you do, but with repeated practice, it’s like, I spoke of Barbara’s balance. With repeated practice you become more balanced. One doesn’t climb up on a tightrope and immediately walk across. One must practice.

In meditation one finds oneself at times in a spaciousness, a light openness, uncontracted. The Casa is especially helpful because the energy is so high, and you’ve all experienced the transformation of that high energy. You really feel the ever-perfect when you’re there. But you don’t have to be there to feel it.

In meditation, objects arise and pass away. What remains? We keep coming back to, what remains? What is the center from which objects arise and into which they pass away? What remains?

It’s experienced as sound, as light, as energy, as joy. For each of you there may be a different predominant piece of it, but each of you will find something into which you can tune to remember, “This is it. I come home. I come home.” Chanting, OM…. Bringing the hands together and helping to bring up that energy. Feel yourself in a cylinder of light. Simply hold something that’s deeply loved in the heart. These are all ways of bringing yourself home. Whenever you’re pulled out of that space by anger, by fear, when there is mindfulness that says, “I choose to come home.”— not “I must come home,” but “I choose, I invite,”— reach out your hands and find the guides who will support you, whatever speaks to you of love. Hold a lovely crystal. Look at a beautiful picture. Look at a picture of a great Master; look in those eyes. Whatever will help to lead you home. Begin to find the devices that do help to bring you home. And it will differ for each of you.

Remember it is possible to come home. Not being home is a matter of habit. Like Barbara’s contracting her spine, it’s a place where you go because it’s habit. “I choose to come back, again and again, until it becomes stable.” If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.

Q: With the vipassana practice, when I am feeling fear, and I feel some right now, and I want to run away from it, in that moment, do I come home or sit with that experience of contraction?

Aaron: That which is aware of fear is not afraid. You rest in the simultaneity, knowing, and with compassion and so much tenderness for this human that is afraid. No trying to get rid of the fear, no denial of the fear. “Breathing in, I am aware of the fear. Breathing out, I hold space for the fear.” Right there with fear, where is love? In this moment, where is love? Invite yourself into something that speaks of the heart of love. The mother’s embrace, the Mother or your human mother. The love of a friend. Some generous thought or act. Something that opens the heart. Right there with fear, so that without trying to get rid of the fear you say, “I choose not to be focused into fear; not to give so much energy to the fear, not even by trying to get rid of the fear, which is another way of giving energy to it. I choose to rest more in that spaciousness and light.”

And this is really the heart of my talk tonight: resting in that ever-perfect which is accessible to all of you. Each of you knows how to find that space. If you are not there, simply be mindful: I am not there. I feel locked out of it. I choose not to feel locked out of it. Help me. OM…. What do I love? Look at a flower. Look at a picture of a beloved face. What do I love? What in this moment will bring me home? Practice the Tonglen or Metta with the self to gently draw yourself back.

Know that you have a choice. Don’t force it. In other words, don’t try to force away the fear, the negativity, the contraction, but right there with contraction, where is spaciousness? Breathe, right now… Feel the spaciousness. Can you feel the potential for spaciousness?

Q: Yes. My habit is to breathe in fear!

Aaron: Look in my eyes. Right here, looking in each other’s eyes… I am fully accepting of your fear. I am not afraid of your fear. I have space for your fear. Join me in that space…

We are not getting rid of the fear. We are breaking through the fear to the space beyond. The fear is just fear…

Can you feel that? Can you feel that? Look into my eyes. Feel my love. We could try to bring me up closer so you can look into my eyes…

Can you feel how much I love you? (yes) Even if there is fear, even if there is contraction, allow yourself to feel how much I love you. And let that love become a resting space wherein all healing can happen…

You are so beautiful, and I love you…

Let that be the greater reality without trying to fix or get rid of anything. You are love. That’s all you need to know. You are love.

This is the only reality; all the rest is illusion. You are love. But the illusion comes as a teacher. We’re not trying to destroy the illusion, only not to be so caught up in it. To trust the greater reality. You are love…

Thank you all for your presence tonight.

Q, I see you are limping. You were limping a bit when you walked in.

Q: If you say so. I don’t feel like I am limping.

Aaron: May Father John look at you a moment? Will you like to come up? We can continue this and others can watch or not. Father John is going to incorporate.

You are welcome to stay online and watch. Father John is going to incorporate and look at something that he sees askew with Q. I believe a month or two ago there was some pain and he attended to it, am I correct?

Q: Yes.

Father John: Blessings to you, son. Come, please stand up, let me see. Turn around, turn sideways a bit, turn this way, come this way to the side please. Just letting the curious out there see what I’m doing.

Son, I want you to bend the body, keep the back straight and simply shift the body that way, now the other way. Can you feel the tension in here, as you shift? Do you feel that? Do it again, please. This side of the body is longer than this side. The hip is tightening up on this side.

Q: There is an artificial hip.

Father John: On that side. Your body is reacting to the artificial hip, I think favoring it, afraid of trusting it.

Q: I dislocated it right after the surgery.

Father John: I am taking care of you, but what I want you to do is this. Stand on this leg, lift the other leg. Now put your foot down again. Now the other way. Can you feel how much surer you feel? (yes) So I want you to practice at home holding on to something, a counter or whatever. Simply putting weight on the leg that feels stronger, then shifting to the other leg. And remembering that this hip is strong. Don’t try to bend your leg or push in any way, just let it bear your weight. And watch the trusting or not trusting of it. And then let me take care of it physically.

Anyone else who needs some help here before I leave the body? Please come.

Several more people come up to Father John. Then Aaron returns to the body, says good night, and the session ends.

(recording ends)

The Non-Duality of Coming to Know the Light Within the Darkness; Age of Kali

Visit the Archives for hundreds of offerings from Aaron: archives.deepspring.org
Aaron is channeled by Barbara Brodsky.

December 3, 2016 Saturday Morning, Seattle Retreat;

Combined retreat opening talk and morning instruction with Aaron

The Non-Duality of Coming to Know the Light Within the Darkness; Age of Kali

 

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. We’re here to meditate, not to become vipassana practitioners but to deepen your spiritual practice, whatever form that deepening takes. We begin with refuges and precepts. Please join with me if you will: (stating, then repeating with the group)

I take refuge in the awakened Buddha that is deep within my own and every being’s heart; to remember that heart of awakening and carry it with me.

I take refuge in the dhamma, in the beautiful expression of the deepest truth of how things are, of the causes of suffering, and freedom from suffering.

I take refuge in the sangha, the beloved community of all of those who are working on this earth to bring forth the light and break through the darkness.

I offer the intention to do no harm to any sentient being, through my actions, through my speech, through my livelihood.

I offer the intention to bring into the light that which is still negative within me.

Throughout the retreat I offer the intention to watch the various voices, not only maintaining noble silence but also watching any expressions of negativity that burst forth from me, without shame that they have arisen, but with a strong intention immediately to be mindful and take care that they may not do harm.

Thank you. We are now in silence.

Three weeks ago, we led a retreat in North Carolina the weekend immediately following your presidential election. Many people there were, I can only use the word shell-shocked; frightened, upset, angry, confused. We spent a lot of time during the retreat talking about how this new president and all that he carries with him can be a powerful catalyst and teacher of transformation for those of you who are committed to loving kindness. I’m going to speak a bit further about that, with the focus of how you can bring this into your meditation practice this weekend.

Are you familiar with the Hindu goddess Kali?[1] Kali is the goddess of destruction and renewal. For there to be renewal, first there must be destruction. It seems to me you are entering the age of Kali. That doesn’t mean the world is going to be destroyed, I’m not suggesting that at all. Did any of you see a photograph posted in the past weeks on the internet, I’m not sure where it was posted, of an image of Kali on a large building in central New York City [Empire State Building]? Have any of you seen that? Very powerful.

What do I mean by “Age of Kali”? You as a nation and you as individuals, especially those of you with a deep commitment to the light, to service, to love, you have worked hard to push away that which is negative in you. You have looked at the arising of negative thought and in a loving way have said, “No, I won’t enact this;” I honor that. But there may tend to be a denial of the negative, a suppression of the negative. We do not end the negative through suppression, which is a contraction, but only through bringing it into the light. For anything to take birth, it must enter darkness before it emerges into the light. We cannot avoid the darkness.  Think of the small seed. You hold it up, you look at it. And then if you want it to grow, you press it down into the darkness, into the soil, where eventually it opens and shoots itself up into the light. But the seed cannot be afraid of entering the soil and the darkness. The seed knows that this is where it can take birth.

So many of you have come to me asking, “Aaron, what do I do about my negative thoughts, my fear, my anger?” We’ve offered the practice of noting simultaneity; right there with anger is love. That which is aware of anger is not angry. That which is aware of fear is not afraid. And this good, this is helpful. We see the simultaneity of the negative and that which is bright and beautiful.

At a certain point, you’re ready for the next step, and I’m going to assume that all of you here are thusly ready, even if you’re new to practicing with me, because if you were not ready you wouldn’t be here. As we get to a point where we can strongly connect with the light within us, and trust and ground in that light, then instead of saying, “Now I will grow the light and turn my back on the darkness,” we say, “Now with this grounding in light, this trust in light, I am ready to re-enter the darkness; to begin to truly know the darkness as non-dual with light; to break through into the negative, the places where I experience anger, greed, impatience or jealousy. I am ready to go into this.”

Those who have supported your president-elect, and this man himself, they bring forth to you all the homophobia, the anti-this and that, the hatred, the depth of negativity grounded in fear, and hold it up as a mirror for you, not so that you can smash the mirror but so that you can look in to the mirror. We do not smash the mirror, we look deep in the mirror, and find the place grounded in the light, grounded in your beautiful hearts, where you are able to look at those seeds of darkness, each in yourself, without fear. The places from which you have always run.

Some years ago, I offered the group at this retreat the second Milarepa practice. Not the serving tea practice, that’s Part 1. First we serve him tea. We get used to the demon. We stop running from or denying the demon. We open our hearts to ourselves and the demon. We serve him tea and say, “Shh, no dialogue. We’re not going to talk, but you may be here. I’ll let you be present.” To let him be present there must be a deep sense of, not your power, the power, when you rest in connection with the light. It is that connection that allows you to permit the demon to sit before you. But there’s still separation: me here, the demon there.

The second Milarepa practice. He comes back to the area of his cave carrying firewood on his back. As he approaches his home he finds it’s overrun by demons. His first impulse is to grab a stick of firewood. He starts chasing them with one big club. Of course, they’re delighted; they laugh. They were really getting to him! “Look how much anger! Ooo! More! More!” So the more he chases them, the more they take delight in his fear and anger.

Finally he realizes this isn’t working. He sits, he meditates, he thinks, “What can I do? I’ll send loving wishes to them.” They laugh. They don’t care about his loving wishes. They’re busy destroying his home. “What else can we do? How can we get him more riled up?” and proceed with their  destruction. Finally he looks around. He thinks, “maybe they’ve always been here and I just never noticed them before. I’ll just be here and present with them”. Most of them get bored when he’s no longer agitated, and they leave. But there’s one fierce demon with bulging eyes, big teeth, a huge, gaping mouth, and he follows Milarepa everywhere, 6 inches behind him, always right there, sometimes coming around face to face.

The days pass, the weeks pass. Finally, Milarepa understands there’s only one choice here. He approaches the demon, looks him in the eyes, says, “Eat me,” and puts his head in the demon’s mouth. What happens then? The demon disappears. Why?

 

Q: The demon has no power over Milarepa.

Aaron: Even more than that. Thank you, but one more step.

 

Q: Non-duality.

Aaron: He ends the duality. This is what we’re doing here, not just at the retreat, but this is what your world has invited you to. This is the whole image of Kali, the destroyer, destroying the duality. Fully embracing not only the light, but the darkness. Instead of clinging to the light and in any way trying to push the negative away, as we embrace the darkness and merge the light with the darkness, they dissolve into one. I use the image here of a huge dark cave; if you light one match the whole cave is lit even if dimly. You can’t see into the darkest corners, no. But as soon as there’s light, there’s light. It’s no longer dark.

Barbara and Hal once went on a tour of a large cave in Mexico. There were walkways. There were electric lights in different places along the cave walkways, not brilliant but adequate, and searchlights shining on special features of the cave. They were deep within the cave, a group of 30 or 40 people, when the power went out. The guides must have said, “Just sit down, we’ll get the power going.” But Barbara wasn’t holding Hal’s hand, she was perhaps 15 feet from him. She didn’t know who was near her. She sat down. I’m sure they were talking about what to do, and it will be fine, and no problem. I would say it was 4 or 5 minutes, probably time for the guide to go back and get a torch. And then in the distance she saw the light coming toward them. It was a vast cavern, and one little torch; the flicker of it could be seen from a great distance. As soon as you have that small torch, you’re no longer completely in the darkness.

 Where is that torch? Remember the torch of the loving heart. The torch remains burning even when not fully visible. You don’t need to see the light to know that it’s there. When you dim the torch by not holding to the torch with fear, simply trusting, “I know it’s here; I know love is here, and Light. Thus, I can walk into the darkness,” this empowers you to go into the darkness and truly learn what that darkness is. You begin to know that that torch, that light, is always there within the darkness and cannot be lost. This is the only way that light can eventually— all these words are dualistic words, “overcome” is dualistic— can eventually show itself to be the stronger expression than darkness. Light and darkness as non-dual, but light is the stronger component. But if you keep the bright lights burning to keep the darkness at bay, you can’t get to know the darkness and understand the power of light that is right there in the darkness.

Some of you are giving me skeptical looks. “Who, me? You want me to go into the darkness?” Yes, because you are ready. Your whole country is ready. Your world is ready. Your rainforests are dying, your seas are dying. Barbara read that every week there is the extinction of an unbelievably high number of species— every week, not just one every year but several a week.[2] I don’t know the exact numbers, but it’s alarming. The powers of fear and hatred and negativity will take root and grow as long as you create duality with them. And they will take power and grow if you do not come into them fully aware of the power of light, the seed that knows its ability, there in the dark, to feel the warming soil and the moisture around it, and break open and sprout.

These are the ways that we— again I’m struggling with the right word here, “use” is not the best word here— that we co-create with the darkness. We do not fear the darkness, not surrender to it, but literally co-create with it until light and darkness merge. And as with the torch in the cave, as soon as the light appears, the darkness is gone. It lingers in the deepest corners. You carry the torch around; it becomes brighter. Eventually light is the only thing that remains.

So, we go into our meditation practice not to become blissful, not to attain blissful states and open to some deeply loving attitude— this too, but we also move into our meditation practice asking, what needs to be seen here that I have been reluctant to approach? Where is the homophobia in me? Where is the greed in me? Where is the hatred in me? Unless you stop denying that but let it surface and see it for what it is, some of it simply mammalian reflex, until you see it for what it is, it cannot heal.

Many people have said to me in the North Carolina retreat, and actually the retreat before that also, “My intention is to strengthen the light within me, to be a torch in the world.” Well yes, that’s commendable, that’s beautiful. But you cannot do that by denial of anything. It takes enormous courage. I am not asking you to go beyond what is possible for you but to approach that edge where you think, “I can’t go another step.” Think of yourself in that dark cave and the guide has one torch lit. The cave is hundreds of yards across. You begin to walk away from the guide with the torch into the shadows, and deeper into the shadows. You knew there were bats, snakes, other creatures there. How far are you able to go? And then just sit and be present with fear, be present with uncertainty. Feel the possibility to take one more step into the places of immense grief, sadness, fear, or confusion, in yourself. Just one more step. And to know it as non-dual with light.

In our practice, and I know some of you have different practices, and I’m not going to force anything on you, and yet we are here this weekend also to practice vipassana together, because I know this is a practice which can bring true awakening. I hope you practice it this weekend along with your other practices.

We sit. Breathing in and breathing out. Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breath. Breathing out a long breath, I know I am breathing out a long breath. Breathing in a short breath, I know I am breathing in a short breath. Breathing out a short breath, I know I am breathing out a short breath. Just there with the body, the breath. Using the breath in this way as the primary object.

I know many of you use nada, luminosity, energy, and other objects as primary, and that’s fine. I’m using the breath here as an example. Whatever you use as a primary object, feel free to use it. If you are very focused, you may sit for a few minutes, just there with your primary object. But if the mind and body were agitated as you sat, very quickly you may notice restless energy in the body; agitation, the body contracting. It becomes predominant, so you move attention to it. Or you may notice the restless mind, that the mind stays present with a primary object for 5 or 10 seconds and then jumps off to planning thoughts, worrying thoughts, angry thoughts.

Whatever it is in the mind or the body that pulls your attention from the primary object, you are not trying to keep attention forced on the primary object but to stay present with what is predominant. It’s as simple as that. Not easy, but simple.

What is the experience of agitation in the mind, in the body? Which is predominant, the mind experience or the body experience? Bring attention to it. Contraction in the belly, perhaps, or a feeling of contraction through the whole body. The heart beating faster. Bring attention to one predominant expression and watch it.

Whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease. It will change. It will dissolve. As this predominant object changes— it doesn’t have to dissolve completely— as it’s no longer holding your attention, come back to your primary object. You may be with that primary object for five seconds or five minutes. When something pulls your attention away again, a new predominant object, maybe itching or a tingling sensation, bring attention to it. Note it. As it changes or dissolves, come back to the primary object.

The physical objects, just because you note them, do not go. The itch or the aching in the back, it may stay there, and feel strong. When it’s a mental object like planning and you note planning or worrying or fantasizing, as soon as you note it, mind is no longer doing it. Come right back to the primary object.

If the same fantasy, worry, planning arises again, note it again. If it keeps arising repeatedly, hold your hands out, willing to hold this object. What is it? Maybe it’s a repetition of planning, and you begin to ask, “what is it?” You may see what’s in there is fear, the tentative planning based on fear and wanting to control. And then the reality, I feel out of control. I feel helpless. Hold your hands out and bring that right into your heart. Allow yourself to deeply experience the sadness, fear, or whatever may be there with “helpless”. Is there rage in helpless? Or is there perhaps a sense of wanting to flee? Or of disaster. What comes with helpless? So many in this country are feeling helpless right now; the election has brought out the deep personal feelings of helplessness and feeling out of control.

Use your practice as a way of being as present as you can with whatever has arisen, but gently and with compassion for yourself. But don’t be afraid of the darkness. Rather, deeply enter the darkness, but without force. Use this image. The guide 50 yards back with one torch. You perhaps had wandered quite away from the group so you’re 100 yards back in a vast dark area of the cave. You can see the glimmer of the guide’s torch in the distance. But if you’re going to get to the light, you’re going to have to walk. Feel yourself there in the darkness seeing that small light in the distance, and what allows you to step out?

Here we come to one more piece of the practice, and I want to try to hold all of this together. The power of intention. For me what would allow me to step out in that moment is holding the intention, “I hold the intention to move toward the light. And in this moment, moving toward the light means moving into deeper darkness before I can fully engage with the light.” It takes enormous courage. Never with force. Holding with the same metaphor, it’s okay to just sit there on the floor of the cave and say, “I’m too afraid. I can’t walk any further into the darkness.” Take as long as is needed.

Picture, the image I’m using here is the guide holding the torch. The cave floor is not completely flat. You’re on a raised area, but to get back to the guide you must dip down. There’s a valley there in the cave. As you step down into that valley, you lose sight of the torch. You might see a little bit of it reflecting on the ceiling, so you have a sense of direction, but that’s all. You must enter the darkness to get back to the light.

This is a hard practice. It is a practice of awakening, because only by fully entering the darkness do you end the duality. But gently, always gently. There is no shame to pausing and saying, “That’s as far as I can go right now. The darkness has terrified me. I need to stop.” And then just stop and do some metta or karuna meditation, (loving kindness or compassion meditation). Wait until the heart feels a little more spaciousness and ease. And then in the next sitting, invite yourself: can I go back to it again?

Some of you may have read something Barbara wrote for an anthology, Being Bodies: Buddhist Women on the Dilemma of Embodiment. Her chapter was called, “No Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue, Body, Mind.” Part of the Heart Sutra. No ear, no realm of hearing.[3] Barbara spent several years opening her heart to the experience of deafness. She became, I would not say comfortable with deafness but able to live with it so long as she diverted herself from the pain of it by remembering all the things she still could do. So, she said, and it was true, “I am not deaf. Simply, right now in this body I cannot hear. But I can see, and my heart is open.” And all of this was beautiful. And I honor her; it allowed her to go forth in her life and her work.

But finally, she knew she had to enter the darkness of her deafness. She talks in that chapter about sitting in meditation day after day, breaking into a sweat, shivering, shaking, crying. There were some places she needed to touch and it terrified her. The image that came to her, and that she uses in that chapter, was coming to the sea. Every morning she would come and sit on a beach where there was a sea with huge waves, and knowing she had to dive into the waves to break through to the other side. But it terrified her. So in her meditation, she would enter the water and come back, and then she would sit, keeping duality, separation, self and the waves.

Finally, one day she allowed herself to go in, to fully submerge herself, seeing a towering wave, to dive under it and come up in the still water beyond it. And then back to shore, and do it again and again.

I like this image because you don’t just do it once. You must keep reentering that surf, that fire, whatever it may be for you, and come up in the still water beyond, to find the place where you are always safe. Then the terror, of whatever it is, the terror of your own helplessness, of your own anger, fear, greed, whatever it may be, so that you can fully embrace this as a part of the human experience and know, “I do not have to enact this in the world, and I do not have to hate this. But instead I can be present with it, bear witness to it with love.” And this is the practice, to bear witness to it with love.

Many of you have read my book Human; this year in Ann Arbor we’re doing a whole year course based on the book. It’s a book of non-duality. Very simple text. How to be present in this moment with love, whatever is arising, and deeply look in its face. That image of Kali: how many people do you think are able to look at that image rather than to run away? Can you look Kali in the eyes and know that Kali is you? And Kali is both the destroyer and the creator. The creator is you, creating from the heart of love. But I beseech you, do this practice with gentleness and kindness. Don’t go in there with an axe. Enter gently to explore. Know that loving guidance and loving sangha and teachers are with you. We will support you in every way. But don’t be afraid to go into the dark places, because they are the path to the light.

(recording ends)

[1] From Wikipedia:

Kālī is the feminine form of kālam (“black, dark coloured”).[8] Kālī also shares the meaning of “time” or “the fullness of time” with the masculine noun “kāla”—and by extension, time as “changing aspect of nature that bring things to life or death. Other names include Kālarātri (“the black night”), and Kālikā (“the black one”)

[2] .http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/

Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day.

 

[3] Excerpt from the anthology, Being Bodies: Buddhist Women on the Paradox of Embodiment

– Shambala, October 28, 1997 by Lenore Friedman (Editor), Susan Moon  (Editor)

chapter by Barbara Brodsky.  In those years, my meditation practice changed and deepened.  My suffering was less intense but still present and increasingly, practice led me to investigate the nature of that suffering and to understand how it grew out of a sense of separation, an agony of aloneness. What was separate? How had I become ensnared in what my deepest meditations taught me was illusion?

At one point, I began to have nighttime dreams of a giant surf, of wanting to swim but finding the waves huge and forbidding. Every morning when I sat to meditate, the question would arise of whether I wanted to go down to the beach in my meditation, to a non-physical but still wild sea.  My answer was always “no.” It became harder and harder to meditate. My back began to ache, first just while I was sitting, then in anticipation of it. I knew I was running from something, but I still wasn’t clear what it was.

Finally, one morning during meditation I said “yes.” and went to the beach, opening to the experience of the waves while I sat. What follows comes from my journals,

Feb. 19: The surf is huge, the waves dark. I understand that I must submerge myself. I must take a single step into the unknown. A wave crashes down. I step into its ebb and see the next wave tower above me, black belly, white foam, feel it slap me under, roll me in its power. I am drowning. I can’t breathe. Desperately I force my eyes open. I breathe deeply, gasping breaths of cool air in the safety of my room. I stop trembling. I close my eyes. I am back on the same beach. I do the whole thing again. Over and over and over. How much time goes by? My watch tells me later that it really was hours.

I beg for help. No! Assurance that I can do it. Suddenly, in the midst of a terrible wave, Barbara, the strong swimmer, takes over. “Don’t fight it,” I hear my voice saying.  “Be one with it.” I start to swim with the wave. I gather momentum, I dive down and come up in the calmer swells beyond. I return to shore and do it again, and again, until I can enter the water, not without fear, but knowing how to harmonize with this previously overwhelming force. I am complete. All that I need to bring to this wave is within me.

Coming out of the sitting, I began to reflect: death is not an end but just another step. It is the step before birth. I need fear neither. It is all part of the process.

                                I began to do metta meditation. “May I be healed; may I find peace; may all beings be healed and find peace….”

                 So I had accepted my deafness as a death, and I had learned that I could survive that one step into the unknown, could allow myself to be overwhelmed, but I still didn’t know where this was going.

Feb. 20: This morning I felt like I’d never meditated before. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t quiet my mind from its turmoil. My back, which has continued to hurt through these weeks, ached horribly. My legs were cramped; my forehead itched; I was alternately freezing and sweating. Most of all I felt so totally alone.  “Sit with it,” I told myself. “Just watch it. Watch all the pain and anxiety and see where it’s going. Watch yourself wanting so desperately for things to be different.” After well over an hour I got up. I walked around for a few minutes. The aloneness, the agitation came with me. I sat again.

The isolation became overwhelming. Searching for something that might help, I reached for the lines of the 23rd psalm “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil…” Into the space I had opened through this small kindness to myself came the understanding:  “You are never alone, but this is the isolation into which you’ve bound yourself. When do you remember feeling like this before? When do you last remember really needing that psalm

And with a rush all the memories came back. I saw those first weeks of my illness. All sound was gone. I couldn’t focus my eyes. To turn my head even a bit brought waves of dizziness. I felt helpless and alone.  I realized, in this morning’s instant of remembered pain, that in 16 years I have never cried for my pain.

When I understood how I’d buried this pain, I just sat there on the floor and cried, and cried. The remembering hurt, but not nearly as badly as burying it had hurt. I wept for the loss of my hearing, I wept for the aloneness, I wept for the fear, I wept for the one in a glass prison, seeing, but totally cut off from the world. All that week I remembered and cried.

I had raged at my deafness but never allowed the pain into my heart. I simply buried it, and met any feelings of self-pity with contempt. I see that my deepest separation was from myself….

 

 

 

On the Presidential Election; Gratitude; Bobbleheads and Sharing Space in the Home

November 9, 2016 Wednesday Evening

On the Presidential Election; Gratitude; Bobbleheads and Sharing Space in the Home

 

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. Barbara has asked me several times during the day how best to understand this election. How did we have the results we have for this election, and why? What are we to do with it?

Let us begin with a prayer. Each day we consecrate ourselves to the light, and to service to the highest good of all beings. But we acknowledge we are blind, and we don’t always know what the highest good is; therefore all we can do is work from our hearts, aspiring to the highest good with trust that if we hold this intention we will be led on a clear path. Through our gathering here, I suppose about 18 of you gathered here in this circle tonight, we all consecrate our hearts, our bodies, our minds, our energy to the highest good of all beings. And we acknowledge that we walk blindly. We pray for loving guidance in whatever form it comes. We pray for the equanimity and faith to understand eventually we will see the way clearly. Eventually we will come out to where we intended.

There’s a quotation from Gandhi that I asked Barbara to download this morning so I could read it to you.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it, always.”

This is not to call anybody a tyrant or murderer. This is only to remind you that what you see as positive is just one side, one view. A core of our dharma teaching is not to be attached to views. We think we know the way, but sometimes we don’t know the way. Consider the first three of the Tiep Hien precepts from Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Order of Interbeing.”

  1. Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory or ideology. All systems of thought are guiding means, not absolute truth.
  1. Know that the knowledge you presently possess will change and is not changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn to practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not only in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
  1. Do not force others, including children, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness

Imagine this situation. I’ve come with several carloads of you to a vast woods, on the far side of which is an ocean shore. We have been told that a large boatload of refugees is coming in a ship and will be dropped of somewhere just offshore. If they are to survive they need our help, so we must get to the shore. But there’s no clearly marked trail, and none of you have ever been here before. To make it more challenging, there is also, at another parking area, several carloads of people who are determined not to let these refugees land. They will not shoot, they will not kill you, they will just do everything that they can to block your access.

So we start out together walking through the woods. In the beginning there’s one clear trail. But soon there’s a fork. Right, left, which way shall we go? Which way, right or left? (Group: Right! Left! Right!) Right! Left! Here’s a tiny deer trail that goes straight ahead, maybe it’s that one. Some people say, “This right-hand trail looks much better used. This must be the correct way.” Who knows if it’s going to the shore? It’s better used, but where is it going? “This is the way.” Everyone in this group wants to get to the shore to help the refugees, but some people say we go right, some people say we go left, and one or two even say the tiny deer trail. The group decides it will stay together, for now, so we go right.

It’s going to be a 4 or 5 hour walk to the coast. For a while it seems to be going in the right direction, and then it swerves around. Some people say, “Let’s go back to start,” others say, “Let’s cut through the woods. I can see which direction we should go.” Many opinions here. No one is right. Nobody has ever been here before. No one knows the correct way. Some people become angry. “You’re getting us lost! You should have gone left from the start!” “How do you know? You’ve never been here before.” “Well this way isn’t correct, so that way must be.” Opinions, beliefs.

 

It’s important to keep in mind that everyone wants to reach the coast and help the refugees, and to get there ahead of the other group that wishes to block the refugees. As soon as you have two people you’re going to have different opinions. Some seem more wholesome than others: “Follow a clear trail so we don’t get scratched, so we don’t fall.” Others may seem more dramatic: “Forge through the woods!” There’s not a clear path to the goal. The ones who want to forge through the woods, they may even become very angry and start screaming at the ones who went right, telling them how bad they are, what idiots they are. And the ones that went right, they’re saying, “Keep the faith. Yes, I know it’s turning away, but I bet it will swing back.” And to the other forge-through-the-woods group, “You’re the idiots.” Anger.

My dear ones, you came into the incarnation knowing it was going to be so. If you had wanted it to be simple and clear-cut, you would have not come into this heavy density earth plane. If you did not want opposition, you would have stayed in a heavenly realm with clear connection to your guides, with heavenly beings around you, with so much love. With a deep sense of what you could trust, that it’s right there, present with you.

Think of a little child. Now the two-year-old, when you say, “This,” they’ll say, “That.” But basically in a dangerous situation the two year olds trust the mother or father. If you’re walking in the woods with a two-year-old, the child’s not going to say, “We should go this way.”— “Mommy, which way? Daddy, which way?” They trust. But you are not two year olds, and you came into the incarnation to develop your own free will choice, which can seem like a great gift or a heavy burden. That free will choice, “I choose,” who is this I? Who chooses? The small self, the ego, fear? Or is it wisdom, love, clarity? Who chooses? So in the context of the earth incarnation you have the opportunity to practice watching contraction and fear without acting it out in your daily life.

You have just had a very huge presidential election, the country seeming more divided than it has ever been before. Some of you simply cannot understand: how can there be so many people who supported this other candidate? And actually, I think for all of you gathered here, the candidate of your preference won the popular vote. How can this other candidate be elected?

The thing is, this candidate was elected, and the fact that there were almost 50% of the voters supporting this candidate should say to you there’s something to which you have not been paying attention. There’s something vital to be learned here.

So let’s take us back. We really want to get to those refugees. The path has wound around for an hour, and we seem to be going further and further from our destination. Some people become angry and say, “No, we’re going this way!” You say, “Well I want to keep going this way.” “No, we’re sticking together. You’ve got to follow me.” Here we are, one nation, indivisible. We stick together. We have one president.

If you follow, gritting your teeth and filled with resentment, you really can’t learn anything, can you? But when you follow willing to engage in dialogue with those walking along with you, asking, “Where do you think this will take us?”, really open to the possibility that something new might happen, willing to say no when this new path takes you up to a steep cliff and they say, “Well let’s just climb down,” — “No, I won’t do that. We could get killed. No.” But insofar as the path seems reasonable and with harm to none, instead of saying, “This guy is crazy,” can you say, “Let’s see what’s happening here? Why did all these 49% of the voters support the other candidate? What are they experiencing that I don’t understand? What pain, what fear, what lack?”

Sometimes you have to go a little bit this way and then a little bit that way and then back this way and then back that way in order to find your way. If you move back and forth in that way smoothly and openheartedly, eyes open, ready to say no with love when that’s appropriate, you can learn, and you can engage in dialogue. But when you must be hauled along, angry, refusing to engage in any dialogue, refusing to listen, how can you learn?

I would say every person in this country wants something specific, which is personal peace and happiness, their own well-being. For most people, they’ll extend that out to their family and their friends. Some people will extend that even to a wider audience: their communities, the people like them, of their race, their religion, their culture. And a few will expand it out to all beings. But when people believe, “My needs won’t be met unless we do this,” they’re coming from a place of so much fear. And unless you can hear their fear, you cannot attend to their fear and help to find solutions that work for everyone. Then it just becomes a pushing match.

When there is clarity, we all want to be happy, we all are suffering, we are all confused, we are all in pain, and we begin to open our hearts to each other, then there can be healing. If the candidate that I assume most of you supported had won, the, what I sometimes call the loyal opposition, the most angry of those who supported the president-elect, who seem to you to be much more immersed in anger and service to self, some of them would have lacked the ability to open doors. There might have been violence. At best they would have sulked, complained, refused to participate, judged, and there could not have been healing. You, my dear ones, came into the earth awake, knowing that it was going to be hard work. I’m not saying that none of this loyal opposition did, but some of them came in with a much lower consciousness and really don’t remember who they are or why they’re here. You who understand that, you are not only light but lighthouses, beacons shining, holding that beacon of light open to others. You understand that you do have the option literally to hear others and to help all the angry people of this country, the hurting people of this country, to feel heard. You don’t have to agree with them, you have to hear them, because as soon as they start to feel heard, so much of their negative stance, grounded in fear,  will fall away.

There’s the beautiful line from the Dhammapada, from the Buddha: “You are what you think. With your thoughts you make the world.” What are these thoughts? Think a pure thought and love and light will follow you. Think an impure thought and suffering and pain will follow you.

You all have a wonderful opportunity here truly to change your country and your world by opening your hearts to the present situation and asking not, “How will my needs be met?”, but, “What can I do to serve?” How can I best literally serve others and attend to, take care of the suffering in this country and in the world? No, it’s not going to be easy, and I think this is one of the challenges. Many of you are feeling exhausted, and you’d like it to be easy. “If only the election went the way I wished it would go, then I could lie back and rest, continue to ignore all those disenfranchised people, to pretend they don’t exist. I could follow the wonderful, or at least the adequate, leader that I wished for. I wouldn’t have to struggle. I could close my eyes, blinders. Unless there was violence I could somewhat ignore the degree of pain.” But these people coming to rallies and shouting hate-filled epithets, bullying others, filled with prejudice, this response doesn’t come to you unless you are suffering. It’s a cry for help. And you have the opportunity not to be some kind of a savior on a mountaintop but simply a human being with an open and loving heart, literally able to hear, to attend to suffering, to help.

I said I felt many of you wanted it to be easy, and part of your suffering right now is, “Oh, what are we going to do? And Aaron is telling me I’m going to have to work hard to hear others that I don’t want to hear.” So it seems like a huge chore, a burden to you. “I don’t want this. I’m exhausted. I just want it all to go away.” Well yes, I know that. But you did volunteer for the incarnation. Nobody forced you here. At some level you knew you were going to have to work hard.

Picture yourself in the situations of people throughout history who have had dictators, bullies, really negative people governing them, even commanding them to do things that were not acceptable to them, under threat of death. You live in an amazing country. No matter what you think of the president-elect, there is a Senate, there is a Congress. He cannot bully his way through. He may make it hard. He may set up a lot of obstacles. He may destroy programs or things that you hoped for, that you’re going to have to wait for and campaign for again. But you also need to trust the system and your ability peacefully to make yourself heard. And you need to trust your capacity to say no with compassion if somebody sends you out to do something that is totally unacceptable to you. Nobody can make you hate others or bully others. Nobody can make you think less of people of a different religion, race, sexual orientation or nationality. That’s what’s in your heart. If it comes up, it’s because it’s already there, at least the seed of it.

So here we come to a third part of this. For many of you, when you look at the president-elect and some of his followers, you see the shadow side of the world, people filled with hate and prejudice, people filled with fear and willing to bully others, to mock others, to intimidate others. A very central spiritual lesson that I know we’ve talked about many times is that when somebody really bothers you, it’s because there’s something in that person that you’re afraid could be in yourself. I’m not saying it is manifesting in yourselves. But when a person of political power or any sort of power expresses prejudice to others, is there anybody in this room who cannot say that at some time or another you have felt prejudiced against another person, opinionated against another person? I’m not talking just of racial or sexual prejudice or whatever, but any sort of prejudice. This person who comes in with a teased bouffant hair style, and you look at them and say, “That’s weird!” That’s a kind of prejudice, a kind of judgment. You’re not going to push that person away, but if there’s a luncheon and people sitting 3 and 4 to a table, you may very seriously try to find a different table. This person is sitting alone, other tables are filling up. She’s loud, you don’t like her hairdo, her clothes clash. It seems like she’s been drinking a bit, a lot of little things that offend you. Are you going to sit at her table? Who’s going to sit at her table?

Consider this president-elect and his supporters, why do they offend you? Yes, you disagree with some of his polices, but there is more. They mirror what you see as the shadow in yourself, and the potential for that to manifest. They are your teachers. On the one hand, you say no to them. If somebody tries to pass a law that is harmful to people, a clear no is needed, and you work with your Congress and representatives and whoever is appropriate to make sure this kind of law is not passed. Can you do it with love and not with fear? But we must also acknowledge the inner shadow.

There’s a teaching I’ve given here a number of times, one of the two stories of Milarepa. In the first story we simply serve our demons tea, and most of you have heard that story. The demons come in. They’re hideous, and Milarepa says, “Sit by my fire, have tea.” That’s a start. At that point we are still seeing a duality, me and the demon. “The demon is out there and I am here, and I’m going to invite him for tea; aren’t I nice?” But we start to realize as we mature that the demon is not only out there.

In the second Milarepa story, he comes back to his fire carrying this big load of wood on his back, and the demons have taken over his campsite. He’s appalled when he sees how many there are. They are making a big mess of everything, throwing food and clothing and utensils all over, making a terrible mess. So his first impulse is to grab one of his sticks of firewood and go after them, chase them away. He begins to do that and they laugh. He realizes this won’t work. “I’m just feeding them energy.” They love negative energy, they love fear and anger. So he sits down by his fire. He reflects after a while,  maybe they’ve always been here and I’ve just never noticed them. I’ll just sit here a while and see what happens.

They become bored and most of them go, but there’s one big demon who remains. This fellow has huge, bulging eyes, fangs, an enormous  mouth, a foul stench, and he follows Milarepa everywhere. This is a very hard practice. Milarepa walks up to him, looks in his eyes, puts his head in the demon’s mouth and says, “Eat me.” Do you understand that? “Eat me.” Dissolve the duality. If I see you as a demon, it’s the demon in myself that I’m seeing. And when I look at you and right there with the demon I see something beautiful, it’s the beauty in myself that I’m seeing. And we are one. “Eat me.” End the separation.

You are called upon at this time to find those with whom you disagree and say, “Eat me.” Really to dissolve the separation. This doesn’t mean that you must relinquish the wisdom and love of your heart. It means that you must recognize that right there with your own wisdom and love there is some negativity. And you cannot expect this other one to express his or her beauty, radiance, and love and relinquish their negativity unless you are willing to look deeply at your own negativity, the shadow side within you. This world of yours needs to heal together, knowing that all beings everywhere are suffering, all beings feel fear and pain. And also recognizing that some beings are, let us say of a much less mature consciousness, and those of you who are a bit more evolved in consciousness need to take care of the others the way a mother takes care of a two-year-old having a tantrum. The parent doesn’t smack the two-year-old or tell him how terrible he is. At some level the parent is able to take loving care of the two-year-old by holding him and saying, “No, shhh.” Because he recognizes how close he is to losing it, stomping his feet and yelling, right there with the two-year-old! But he’s determined not to do it.

If this whole world is to move deeper into this raising of consciousness, it needs to come from each of you. Each of you must honor that commitment that you made when you came into the incarnation to live with as much love as you are able, even when there is fear, anger, confusion, disappointment.

One of you asked me in an email this morning, “What if the president-elect engages in growing brutality, negativity, violence, retribution? How do we act?” The same way you act if he doesn’t. Say no with as much love as you can to anything that is negative. Listen deeply and try to understand where anything negative is coming from, even while you say no to it. Do the deep work in yourself to see where that negativity is reflected in you and release it within you so you’re not adding that energy to the world.

How do we say no with love? I read you a quote from Gandhi, a few minutes ago. Gandhi did an amazing job of saying no with love, and literally changed the world. Again, quoting the Buddha: “Hatred is never ceased by hatred. Only love ceases hatred.” How do you learn to love, no matter how negative the catalyst and how much it frightens you? How do you most fully express that love? Like the sun hidden behind clouds, how do you let that sun of Love emerge? How do you release the clouds and let the sun burn through them so that the true radiance that you are can emerge?

Many years ago Barbara and Hal, their children and her brother and his children were visiting her parents at their condo community in Florida. They were cooking at  a group of grills around picnic tables available to the large condo community. The children had been playing in the pool and had come over to sit by the picnic table. The brother was cooking the meat. Another man used the next grill. Barbara was helping to get things ready when a man who was clearly drunk rode up on his bicycle, put his bicycle against the next table, blocking the way of the man cooking there. He also had children nearby. The man just put the bike in the way so the man turned to him and said, “Please move your bike. I can’t get to my food.” The man said, “I can put my bike wherever I want.” The man said, “No, I was here first, and this is my table and my grill,” and he went to pick up the bike and move it. The man with the bike picked up a big carving knife and said, “Put my bike down, now!” All the children watching were scared. What’s going to happen? They weren’t babies at this point but pre-teen and teen. So the man was menacing. One man with a knife, one man with a bike, holding it up, getting ready to throw the bike. What does one do?

Barbara’s brother simply walked up behind the man holding the knife, and grabbed his arm, immobilizing it. Now, he was 6’ 6”. It’s easy not to argue with a man who’s 6’ 6”. But he grabbed his arm firmly but not roughly and he said in the calmest voice, “You don’t want to do that.” With his other hand he reached around and said, “Give me the knife.” “You don’t want to do that. Give me the knife.” He was holding his arm tight, but he wasn’t menacing the man but talking to him in a very clear way, “No, you don’t want to do that. Give me the knife.” The man gave him the knife. The brother let go of the arm and said, “Come sit down at my table. I’ll move your bike for you.” He took the bike from the other man, put it down in a safe place. He had just finished cooking a hamburger. “Would you like a hamburger?” The man said no, but he sat there for a few minutes. Then he got on his bike and rode away.

Barbara asked her brother afterward, “Were you afraid?”  And Bud said, “Yes, of course I was afraid. But I also knew that I could not give our children an example of violence being met with violence. That I needed to be very clear and say no, that I couldn’t walk away, and I couldn’t attack.” It was so clear that kindness said no. I use this as an example because Bud was afraid, yes. He was a man with a big knife. He could easily have tried to turn it on Bud, or used it, thrown it at somebody. You must say no to negativity. But if fear says no, you are simply bringing more fear into the world.

This is where I speak of the shadow in each of you, and your free will choice to enact that shadow, or not to enact that shadow. You came into the incarnation to practice free will choice of loving kindness, to do no harm, to support the evolution of consciousness on this earth. Are you going to do it or not? And here you have the, may I say it this way, gift of a very uncomfortable situation as teacher. Here’s the man with the knife, figuratively speaking. Are you going to scream and run the other way? How many are moving to Canada? Are you going to pick up your own knife and throw it at him? What are you going to do?

Let’s multiply this. Suppose it wasn’t just one man with a knife but he had three or four people with him, and they were all angry and they all picked up knives. What are you going to do? This is really a good metaphor for where your country is right now, maybe without knives, just fists, but anger and oppositionality. Where is healing to be found? It does start within yourself, by finding the shadow in yourself, the places where you’re deeply attached to your views to the point that you cannot hear another, and yet you expect another to hear your views and not to be attached to their own.

I’m not talking here about right view or wrong view, only oppositional views. Everybody is trying to get through that woods and attend the refugees. But people have different ideas of how that should happen and what should happen, and some of them with a much more self-centered idea of what should happen. You must absolutely say no to bullying, to hatred, to prejudice, to that which would do harm. Absolutely. The question is, what says no? Can you find the way to say no with loving kindness? When you do that, you’ve enormously escalated the raising of consciousness of this earth. You’ve opened enormous doors.

My talk tonight, two weeks before Thanksgiving, was to be on gratitude. After all the emails I received today, it was clear I needed to talk about the election. But let’s take it on to gratitude.

Imagine yourself in a situation where you’re feeling angry and impatient, and somebody in a very unskillful way walks up to you, looks at you, “Why are you being so angry? What a bully you are! You’re an idiot!” Can you feel yourself contracting with that? But when you pause and take a deep breath, you say, “Yes, I’ve been so caught in fear that I really have been bullying others, really have been caught up in my own views and not hearing others.” This person’s approach may not be skillful, but in that moment could I say, “Thank you, you’re right. I have gotten caught up in negativity. Thank you.”? I don’t have to explain myself or defend myself to this person. If I say, “Thank you, you’re right,” and he says, “Well I’m glad you see how awful you are. You’re such a stupid”— whatever—you can just reply,  “I see that I’ve been unskillful. Thank you.” Eventually he’ll go away, and you can sit and reflect on the places where you were so caught up in your view that you were shoving others, unable to hear.

This loyal opposition comes as a teacher. And I can’t begin to tell you all the lessons that you may be offered. But learning the lessons begins with that simple, “Thank you.” Hard as it may be. “This is not what I wanted. It’s not what I thought was coming. Fix it! Change it!” — “Thank you.”

Bring your hands together, see how it feels. Big breath. Thank you. In this moment I will trust my life, and that the catalysts offered to me can lead me in a direction of growth, can lead all of us in a direction of growth and of love. Thank you.

Can you feel how that opens up some of the energy? I’m not saying there’s no more outrage and fear, just a little more space.

Now I want to do an exercise with you.(asks for 2 volunteers) I want you to imagine that I have a very fragile piece of crystal in here (Aaron holds a ball of  thick socks)  Take it carefully, but it’s well-padded— relax. Comfortable with it? It’s not that fragile, but if you drop it on a hard floor it will break. But you’re holding it, that’s fine. No problem. Two hands, two balls with crystals. Can you feel the increasing tension? Don’t drop it! (he keeps adding  balls of socks)

Tension. Be careful not to drop it. I forgot to tell you: most of them have crystals in them, but one of them has a little bomb in it. If you drop it, BOOM! Breathing in, I am aware of the tension. Breathing out, I hold space for the tension.

This tension, this is the whole election result, everything involved that you really didn’t want. You wanted it to be easy. You want the next four years— “I can keep looking away. I don’t have to worry about all those people that are angry and disenfranchised. They live somewhere else. I can ignore it. I want to relax…” Can you feel the possibility to make more space? Just relax your arms. Don’t drop them, just hold them gently.

The next four years are going to ask you to hold a lot of balls. They’re going to ask you to work. But you have a choice whether you’re going to work tense or whether you’re going to work with some degree of spaciousness and ease. How am I going to do this? I do have a choice. How am I going to do it?

So now you may drop one or two balls. Not all, a few. Drop until you feel more comfortable with what you’re holding. Does it feel manageable now? All right. Manageable. Each of you will relinquish what feels unbearable to you, unmanageable to you, until you reach a point where you say yes, I can manage this much. And then when you’re carrying that much and I come along and say I’ve got one more and I really need somebody to carry it, you don’t have to volunteer. But if you feel you can do it, you do it. And then, thank you, you can put it back down, you can put them all back down. Thank you.

So part of what many of you are feeling today is a sense of, “Oh no! I can’t carry it all.” Well you don’t have to carry it all. Can you carry that one? Boom! Can you carry that one? How about you? (pause for exercise, handing out more balls?) Some explosions here! (pause) What I want you to do now is to toss them back and forth. Slowly, slow motion. Feel your capacity to take another one and hold your hands up. When you’re holding your hands up, somebody can throw you one. If you feel you can’t hold another one, don’t put your hands up. I want you to take a few minutes to practice with this just to get a sense how it feels. Remember, some have a bomb inside. You need to be careful. Even if it’s a small bomb, a firecracker, it’s still going to have a little boom! So don’t invite it unless you have the capacity to hold it.

(Inaudible sentence) And for those out there, I’m sorry I can’t include you in this— let’s see, give me one ball. You ready?  (exercise; he tosses a sock ball at the camera on the screen)

Know that the coming years, just as the past years, are going to be throwing things at you, sometimes pleasant, sometimes unpleasant. You have the power to say no, I can’t take it right now. But we look around and see others also overwhelmed and you know somebody has to catch it. Okay, I’ll catch it. (exercise) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Now for two or three minutes I just want you to toss these at each other. I’m not going to speak. When somebody puts their hands up, toss it to them, but more than one may come to that person. When you catch it, don’t throw it away right away. Pause and say thank you. Especially if two come to you at once, feel the tension, pause and say thank you. Try to feel the distinction, the move to contraction, “Will too much come to me?” Ahhh…Thank you. I can hold this one. I can take care of this.

I’m enjoying the laughter, but can you also feel the small contraction as it comes to you, and then the openness, the thank you? (exercise)

Let’s move away from explosion. That’s a bit too scary. Let’s imagine each one has a beautiful Casa crystal inside and it could crack if it falls, so you want to take care of it. A little bit of tension. (exercise)

Catch it, pause, and say thank you… (exercise)

Thank you. Two hands— what happens if another one comes? Thank you. You know how in life, often once you’ve got two, the third and fourth come flying. Not, “AHHH!” But, “Thank you. This has been entrusted to me, and I will take care of it until I can pass it on in an appropriate way. (exercise for a while)

So this is what I want you to aspire to develop in yourselves. This ability, when everything starts to feel like it’s pressing you down, to take a deep breath and say thank you. What am I being offered to learn here? What am I being offered to practice? In what way can my opening from this contracted state into the uncontracted, support me and support all beings? Notice how I phrase it: opening from the contracted into the uncontracted. Not getting the uncontracted, it’s already there. Opening into the uncontracted, and remembering:  Contracted. Opening…

I can guarantee that you’re going to feel a lot of catalyst in the coming weeks. People with different views. This president-elect and his team may make statements with which you disagree, even try to dissolve policies and ways of being in this country that have been part of your heart. Each one is just, “Thank you,” but then you put it down. You don’t have to carry it. But you can listen to the one who threw it at you and say, where is this coming from? What is this about? Do not attack the other, but question why the other is sending this message, this policy and so forth. What is it about? In what way is this emerging from this other person or group of people’s fear? From their not having felt heard? What can I do to help create a climate in this country so that others do feel heard, and at the same time, that those who are attacked feel safe? We don’t hate the bully, but we don’t let the bully attack. How do we do that? How do we open our hearts to the bully, not diminishing the bully but also not letting them do damage?

You’re coming into the season where you celebrate Thanksgiving, and it’s very easy for you to reflect on things in your life for which you truly are thankful— your friends, your homes, your families, the dharma. Maybe the fire burning in your fireplace, or the washing machine that works. Whatever it is you’re thankful for. I would ask you to spend equal time reflecting on the things that look like very negative visitors and ask, what is there here which may come as a teacher for me, as a gift for me? In what way can I be thankful for this?

Try writing down a few of them, one a day, maybe. An unwelcome visitor today, something I didn’t want. Maybe something you heard on the news, or a person that confronted you in an angry way. Thank you. Feel how a genuine “thank you” can soften the heart, open your energy field and really change the way you address that situation. It’s contagious. The more you’re able to meet challenging catalyst with spaciousness, the more powerful that spaciousness becomes. The more it spreads out as energy. It’s very hard to stay angry at somebody who won’t stay angry at you. As in the situation I described earlier, Barbara’s brother disarming the man in a clear but compassionate way, and the offering him a hamburger. So he sat down at the table and did not eat the hamburger but felt welcomes and not chased away, and then he got onto his bike and rode off. Give the loyal opposition hamburgers and then send them off on their bikes.

“Hate only engenders hate. Only love dispels hate.” And the immense learning opportunity for all of you is to begin to understand that you do have the capability to return love to hate. Still to say no to negative catalyst and make it very clear that nobody may harm or bully or diminish another. But to say it with love. It is the learning of this that you have the opportunity for in the coming four years. It’s going to deeply support the shift in earth consciousness, for which all of you have incarnated. Just think about it as a tough practice. You’ve got a tough game coming up and the coach sends you out there to practice— bigger and bigger opposition. Practice. Because you are infinite, and your hearts are infinite, and you do have the capacity for infinite love, infinite wisdom. Not only the capacity, but it’s already there in all of you. The question is not where do I find it, but where has it been hiding? What invites it out? What actions, thoughts, and presence of mind invite it out so that others may see it reflected and begin to disarm themselves a bit and come forth with their already present but hidden loving hearts?

This man you have elected for your president, can you picture him as a one-year-old baby waking up from his nap, standing up in his crib and saying, “Mama! Mama!” And the loving mama coming in, picking him up, kissing him? One of you is shaking a head no. One-month old baby? How old a baby? This is your homework! We’re going to get you each a one-year-old Trump doll! You can give him a bottle and burp him.

Picture this person not as a personification of negativity but as someone who does already have an awakened, radiant loving heart, which has been so covered with clouds that it’s not had the opportunity to emerge. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of your love can really transform this man in four years? Some of you are saying, impossible. Why impossible? You’d be surprised what’s possible if you know it’s possible and trust.

Fortunately you’re not going to run into him, you’re going to run into his supporters, so those will be the ones with whom you work. They all were once one-year-old babies too, waking up hungry or wet, crying, “Mama! Mama! Dada! Help me.” Can you love them? Because perhaps some of their negativity comes from the fact that the parent said, “Naw, I’m not coming in there. Take care of yourself, kid.” So they learned to be brusque and armored. How do we open that armor? By hearing, by loving. And also by a clear compassionate no when anyone tries to harm or diminish another in any way.

And how do you say no? You can write letters where it’s appropriate. I noticed on Facebook before the election that all of the supporters from one side were talking to each other and the other side were talking to each other, but there was no dialogue between them. How do you get involved in truly compassionate dialogue? I don’t know where, maybe somewhere in your communities, maybe in your local library. Possibly in your places of worship— I don’t know. Places where people who are willing to get involved in a compassionate dialogue, not trying to bully each other and convince each other that they are right, but where people who are willing to really hear each other can come forth and try to hear. Remember,  oi side is absolutely right or wrong.

This is an unprecedented opportunity for communication, and for healing to take place there must be communication. Look at the side of you that says, “I don’t want to communicate. I don’t like them. I don’t want to communicate.” Go and sit with that loud woman with the bright orange hair, go and sit at her table.” I probably should have said green hair, so as not to draw comparisons. But that woman with the hairdo you don’t like and the perfume that’s odorous, go and sit at her table. Who is she?

Barbara’s grandson recommended to her a book last month called Wonder. Have any of you read Wonder? I deeply recommend this book. It’s perhaps written aimed at— well he is 10, perhaps a little younger than it’s aimed for, but junior high/high school youth. But it’s a book that any adult would love, also, a very beautiful book. A book about fear,  prejudice and breaking through prejudice, holding the heart open. A very beautiful book, and easy to read, though also challenging to read, but easy reading. I recommend it.

So now we have half an hour, I’d like to open the floor to questions.

 

This following section of the transcript has not been reviewed by Aaron or Barbara

Hal (Barbara’s husband): Aaron, you stated and said that we should learn to love. As a background, I am a collector of something called bobbleheads. I have athletes, political people, former presidents. So I have Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump bobbleheads. So my question to Aaron is, Barbara has forbidden me to display the Trump bobblehead on our mantel, which I had there. So the question to Aaron, can Barbara learn to love the bobblehead, first, and the president-elect, second? Or something like that.

Aaron: I think you better ask Barbara about that, But I think part of her refusal to have them on the living room fireplace mantel is simply that she does not want that kind of trivia displayed in the living room. The living room is a place where she has things that are peaceful and lovely to look at, and even the Bernie Sanders bobblehead that you gave her as a gift she would not want on the mantel.

Hal: So the bigger question is, can I put them somewhere in which she might see them sometime?

Aaron: I think this is between you and Barbara, and I cannot answer it. However, forcing an image on somebody is not a way of getting them to open their hearts to that being.

There’s a distinction here. One is who is represented in the image, and one is the whole question of bobbleheads, which is something that Barbara has always really felt negative about. Taking these sports figures, political figures, actors and whatever and making images of them, putting them in places where people will look at them— she just doesn’t want anything to do with that. I think if you took a small photograph each of several different political figures— Trump, Obama, Clinton, Sanders, whoever, Abraham Lincoln, put a few pictures like that together as a little collage, put it in a place where it can be seen, so that you can begin to look at them and not see it as, “this one’s good and this one’s bad”, but how can I open my heart to all of these? This might be a fruitful means of opening your heart. Not creating distinctions of good and bad, like and don’t like. But bringing the bobbleheads into it, for Barbara brings in a completely different issue.

Q: My personal recommendation is to put them in a bobble room.

Aaron: Do you understand my answer?

Hal: I understand but I don’t agree.

Aaron: Can you tell me why you don’t agree?

Hal: You were talking about love, Aaron, and the solution you proposed of photographs to me just evades the whole question. It’s like, here’s what you want to do, but take a different approach. And maybe like you said, it’s more personal with Barbara.

Aaron: The challenge here is that you’re confusing two issues. If you want Barbara to accustom herself to bobbleheads, take that Bernie Sanders bobblehead and put it on the kitchen windowsill, and ask her to watch the negativity that comes up in her, not because it’s Bernie Sanders, whom she highly admires, but because it’s a bobblehead. That’s a whole different issue. But when you force the two issues together it’s much harder to go through the contraction around it. So simplify. What is the real issue here? Trying to open your heart to Trump? Then fine, put a picture of Trump and a picture of somebody you deeply admire, maybe the two presidents, Obama and Trump, side by side. And both you and Barbara, and anyone else who wants to try this, practice looking at the two without comparing, without opinions. Really opening your heart to them both.  But don’t bring in another completely different issue, which is the bobblehead dolls, which some people really dislike because of the culture they represent.

Q: I’m bringing this up regarding the bobbleheads, because this issue is mine, also. My comment is that it’s Hal’s house, or my house, also. And my request to have something is equally important as (his spouse’s) or Barbara’s. I’m just being honest.

Aaron: I think in any home, all the people living in the home need to have a right to say, “This is something that’s really offensive to me, so I don’t want it to be in a public room because I can’t be at ease in that room.” If you wanted to hang a picture of Hitler in that room, or a pornographic photo, it would make some people very uncomfortable to be in that room. If somebody wants a picture or image or any object that’s very offensive to the other person, then it needs to go in a more private space where that person can enjoy it, but not force it on the other person. So no matter how many people are living in the home, the common areas of the home need to be free of anything that is truly offensive to anyone. There will be private areas where people may put up what they want. And it could be, even if there’s a bedroom shared by two people and one person really doesn’t want to see this, but one person wants it on their dresser where they can see it.

Q: So could another approach be, two weeks the bobblehead is there and two weeks it’s gone? I”m being trite, but it’s a real issue. It’s just another possibility.

Aaron: I think that’s one approach, but I can imagine for Barbara the way it would work is if the bobblehead of Trump was on the living room mantel, she would simply not go into the living room for two weeks, because it would be offensive enough to her— it’s not just Trump, it’s the bobblehead. And it’s the fact that the living room is the place where she can open her energy field completely and relax, let down all the armoring and relax. And when there’s something that feels threatening in there, it’s uncomfortable.

Now I’m sure Barbara could learn to live with a bobblehead of Trump in the living room. Another part of it for her, and I don’t really want to speak for her, she should speak for herself, but another part of it for Barbara is that bobbleheads are not really works of art. They’re fads. And she has strived to create an atmosphere in the living room of beauty, not of junk. So it’s not so much that it’s Trump; it’s more that it’s a bobblehead.

Q: My comments aren’t specifically about bobbleheads. It’s about hearing each other and honoring each other’s tastes or preferences in a fair manner. It’s not about bobbleheads.

Hal: You need to clarify that I have a Hillary Clinton one, too.

Aaron: Which I would state pretty certainly Barbara would not want in the living room, and not the Bernie Sanders one, and not the man who won the Heisman trophy, or whatever. So people communicate, “This collection is important to me. I love it.” Okay, let’s find a shelf in a room that you frequent more and that I don’t frequent much where you can put these things. Let’s put in this room the things that we can both say we really love and resonate with. But never forcing it on the other. Really hearing, if the other says, “This really bothers me. I can’t live with this.”, trying to hear that and understand why. But also to say, okay, where can I put it where I’ll be able to enjoy it? If one person loved orange  and hated purple, and the other had the opposite tastes, you woukld want to avoid decorating the living room with those colors, so both could feel at ease.

In Barbara and Hal’s house, Barbara has many spiritual items on the wall in her office that Hal would not really want to live with in the living room. I don’t think he’d find them objectionable, but they would just not be his choice of living room decor. So there’s respect there.

May we hear from others?

Q: I just have this sinking suspicion that (inaudible sentence). I know people have problems with one spouse’s active in a spiritual path and the other one isn’t, and one spouse wants to place an article, perhaps a statue of the Buddha, in the living room. And the other spouse is offended by that and doesn’t want that. And it creates a tension because it’s very important for Spouse #1 to be able to express their spirituality (inaudible) in their own home. That was my intuition as to what Q was really sharing. Maybe I’m wrong.

Q: No, you’re not. Thank you.

Q: So what do you do? Do you hide your spirituality so you don’t offend your spouse? Or how do you come to grips with that?

Aaron: I think the two people involved need to speak very honestly to each other. What does it mean to me to have this statue in there? A statue of the Buddha or a crucifix or any religious symbol of any religion. What does it mean to you? Who are you trying to speak to through this? Is it just an object of beauty for you? How do you feel if it’s not there? Really explaining to each other why it’s uncomfortable for you. For example, if the spouses are of two different religions, the symbol of one religion may create discomfort. But it’s an opportunity for growth for both of them. So maybe each can choose something that expresses their own, not necessarily their spirituality but something deeply meaningful to them. Perhaps there can be a small alcove or place on a shelf in the living room where each can put something that’s very personally meaningful, that they want to have on display, and agree to share those. But with the requisite that the object that one spouse chooses must not be something that’s deeply offensive to the other.

I’m thinking here if one spouse said, “Well, I just am deeply attached to shit, and I want to go out to the back yard and take this pile of dog shit and put it on a plate and put it in the living room.” The other spouse has a right to say, “I really don’t think I can live with that.” There doesn’t have to be a reason. You don’t have to say, “It stinks.” Just, “I really don’t think I can live with that. Is there a different object you could choose that would symbolize the same thing for you (laughter), and which I could possibly be comfortable with?”

Q: Back to the bobblehead of Trump!

Aaron: It’s the learning of respect, the deepening of respect. Deeply cherishing each other so that you don’t want to make the other person so uncomfortable. And yet being willing to challenge them, to ask them, “Why does this make you feel so uncomfortable?”

Barbara grew up in a Jewish home. When she began to work with me and to teach, her parents were a little bit uncomfortable at first. “Buddhism? What are you doing with Buddhism?” But then her mother came forth, and for a holiday gift one year she painted a beautiful picture, that some of you have seen in Barbara’s home, a still life of a Buddha statue and flowers. Barbara’s mother was an artist. The painting is beautiful, but what really touched Barbara was her mother being able to say, “I see how important this has become for you. I really respect this.” Now, her mother didn’t have it hanging in her home, she gave it to Barbara to hang in Barbara and Hal’s home. And fortunately Hal liked it. It is a beautiful painting. But the love and respect— her mother spent weeks painting this. Really looking carefully at the still life scene before her— at the Buddha, at the flowers. You can tell it’s not just a quick drawing, but the Buddha really worked its way into her heart. It’s sensitively and beautifully painted. What does it mean to hear another person to that depth, that you can share with them something that is so meaningful to them?

Let’s hear from others.

Q: Can you speak more about how we can work on raising the consciousness while at the same time working with the difficult emotions of sadness and fear around the election?

Aaron: They are the teachers. Instead of saying, “I can only work on raising consciousness when I’m feeling happy and joyful and lighthearted,” know that the primary way of raising consciousness is to find the love that’s there in your heart right there with sadness, anger, pain and confusion. When you don’t have to get rid of that in order to be loving, but find that right there with anger is love.

Reflect on something for a moment, each of you. Bring into your heart and mind a person who you love. Really think about that person. Your joy in knowing that person. How much you love them. Think of some sweet little personality traits that they have, little ways of expressing kindness, a sense of humor, and so forth. Reflect on this until your heart is really open and connected to that person. Nod if you have somebody in mind and feel the heart open to them.

Now without leaving that person at all, feel how open your heart feels to them. And then remember back sometime in the past day or week or month to a moment in which you felt anger toward this person. Can you feel that moment of anger? Now, holding the anger in one hand and the love in the other hand, try to bring them together, both to your heart. Not abandoning the anger to get back to the love, but right there with the anger, can you feel the love? The rest of you, can you feel that possibility? Right there with the anger is the love.

This is what is asked of you. We do not abandon negativity, push it away or deny it, to get to love. Really we use the energy of it and transmute it. The energy of anger is an energy. Right there within the anger, the love can deepen. But it’s a very hard job because the mind keeps catching itself up in the stories of anger. This is why the vipassana practice is so helpful. We practice simply by sitting, breathing in, and there’s this pesky fly, bzzzzz! “But I’m trying to meditate.” Anger coming up. One minute ago you were so peaceful, truly in a blissful place. And then buzz, buzz, buzz. Anger. “I’m trying to meditate.” Where did the love go? Where did the spaciousness go? But with the vipassana practice we note hearing, hearing. Hearing a fly. What’s it doing? It’s just being a fly. It’s not even landing on you, it’s just going bzzz, bzzz, then flying off and coming back, bzzz, hearing, hearing. Is the fly buzz really unpleasant? Or is it because it brings fly and dirt or whatever into your consciousness? The fly buzz is just a fly buzz.

Let’s not even use a fly. Let’s use your dear cat who has come into the room and is walking across the floor. Tap, tap, tap. You hear its sweet little feet on the floor. “It’s disturbing my meditation!” It’s just being a cat. There’s nothing wrong or bad about the sound. It’s not even unpleasant, but it’s not what you want.

We note the experience first of hearing, then unpleasant because I don’t want it here right now, and the aversion. Breathing in, I am aware of aversion. Breathing out, I hold space for aversion. In this moment can I have compassion for myself that this aversion has arisen? Not condemn myself, not get caught up in the stories of who let the cat in or the fly in, just compassion for this human being who feels like it’s being asked to hold too many balls. I don’t want this. Compassion. And when we practice in that way then the compassionate heart that’s always been there bursts open again. And there’s just the fly buzzing and just the kitten walking across the floor. Just the angry person shouting in the next room or on television. The voice you don’t want to hear, the president addressing you on television. Ahh… Breathing in, I am aware of anger. Breathing out, I hold space for the anger, or fear, or sadness. This practice is so powerful, so healing. This is the path.

Let us end here because we do have a commitment to stop at 9pm.

I invite all of you to go home and work with whatever image most troubles you, here. This human being as president. The policies you are afraid are going to come out. The helplessness you feel. The anger you feel. The sadness. Whatever it is. See what happens as you hold compassionate space for this in your heart.

Then try literally picturing this man and all the new group of people he will draw around him to run the government, all of them, each with some degree of trust: I may not agree with them, but they are trying to do their best. Instead of hating them, I hold a commitment to deeply hear and understand, and at the same time to develop the capacity to say that compassionate no when something emerges which really feels unwholesome to me and needs that no. How do I say it with love?

How do I develop meaningful dialogue so that I can begin to understand others’ fears that have led to policies that I consider to be unwholesome or unskillful? How can I develop deeper hearing that can lead to healing?

You have a challenging four years coming up, but it need not be impossible. And it can be a period of immense growth— personal growth, and national growth, and universal growth— if you will trust your capacity to allow this to happen. To let go of some of the armor, acknowledge the fear, and make the statement, “Just because there is fear doesn’t mean I have to stay armored. As openly as I can, I invite deep communication, sharing of energy, giving of love. And I hold the intention to not allow any other being to harm any other being or diminish any other being. I will hold to my own truth, but with an open heart. I do this in the name of raising consciousness throughout the world, of bringing light throughout the world, of healing. Of helping to support the possibility, the true possibility, of a vast emergence of higher consciousness in these four years.” If those of you who are committed to this handle this challenge skillfully, you can do it. The line from the sutra that I so love: “If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.” You can do it. Remember how much help you have. Invite your guides to help you. Remember, beyond anything else you are love. And you have the capacity to express that love in any situation.

So here we are, wandering on these paths. We’re still trying to get to the beach and save the refugees. He’s saying this way, she’s saying that way. (breathing) Abandoning attachment to views, I simply move forward. I am willing to hear this and that possibility without fear, knowing that we’re all headed in the same direction. Everybody in this country wants happiness. Everybody wants peace. There are simply different ideas of how that is attained. If you’re going to get to the beach and save the refugees, you’re going to have to be willing to meander a little and explore, not to hold onto, “It has to be this way.” Work with each other with love.

Thank you all, and know how much you are loved. I release the body to Barbara.

 

(session ends)

New Year Message – 2016

cloudy-55721299832113GLM2016 New Year Message from Aaron

channeled by Barbara Brodsky

 

 

 

Aaron: Welcome to 2016, the Year of Light!
My blessings and love to you on this New Year, 2016. I am Aaron.

When you read a book, the pages form an unfolding script so there is always an expectation of what the next page will bring. But each page is fresh, and truly, everything is possible, regardless of the previous flow of events. Everything arises from conditions, and conditions are innumerable. Some have been enhanced, made bold, so to speak. Those are the ones that have caught your attention and been the base for new arising. An anger-filled relationship; a body steeped in pain; hurtful experiences that have led to a belief in unworthiness of the self; a world filled with hatred and turmoil: these are some of the contents of the past pages that have so held attention that you have not looked to see what else is written. Thus, some of you stumble in darkness, back turned to the light. You have only seen the conditions within the shadow.

Please make a choice with me as the year turns, to turn also, to the light. This is the light within yourself and throughout the world. Together let us declare this, “The year of Light!” This doesn’t mean we pretend darkness does not exist, but that we cease to fixate on it. Instead, continually ask, “Right here, in this painful moment, where is love? Right here with this anger, can I find the open heart? Right here, with pain, can I find something that is not painful? Right here, trembling with fear, can I find that within that is not afraid?” Where is love in this moment? Where is Light?

It is only in this way that each being can begin to know and strengthen the Love and Light within the self. When you know the truth that you ARE Light, you become a force for Light in the world, and help bring the world out of darkness. You are ready to do this, or you would not be reading these words.

Light and love are everywhere, if you will look deeply. Let us invite them forth and cease the fixation on darkness, which fixation strengthens that low vibration and shadow. Be the Light that you truly are! I walk beside you, always available to help. So please join me to welcome 2016, the year of Light!