January 24, 2017 Tuesday Evening Class
Vipassana; intention; dependent origination; simultaneity or relative and ultimate; and waterfall meditation
Barbara: (apologizing that the tape was not started at the beginning) We’ve been talking about the cycle of dependent origination, which with you’re familiar, and the active moment. I began to tell a story of meditating some time in the past week, feeling some pain where my incision was, and moving into fear and feeling strong negativity. This seemed to me to be an external entity. But what difference does it make? It’s simply negativity, fear. How we relate to it is the same; we say no. What gives us the power to say no is— we go full circle— intention. What is our highest intention here? Is it to keep ourselves safe by armoring the self? Is it to strike out and feel powerful, as another way of feeling safe? Is it truly to rest in this heart of love? No matter what comes to me, to rest in this heart of love.
We develop the habitual pattern to respond to these pushes (demonstrates; someone pushes her) by not pushing back and not falling over, but absorbing the energy and sending it back. We can do it a hundred times a day, a thousand times a day. This is the power of vipassana for me, because after years, eventually, if I’m meditating and there’s a strong sense of something negative, or if I’m outside and something very negative happens, it’s not a thought, “What shall I do now?” We know what to do. And all of you have the experience; you really do know what to do.
What does it mean to respond with love? This is it. Start your sitting with, “What is my highest intention?” Rest yourself in that intention. Some people start with chanting or taking the precepts, or just offering love, grounding yourself in the light that you are. And then as challenging experiences come during the sitting, can we greet them with kindness and let go of any fear and anger? But if the fear and anger persist, can we just be with it? Whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease. It will go. How long can it last? Hours, you tell me. Well, maybe. Eventually it will go. Ahhh… So our choice is to go toward freedom, not toward rebirth of reaction with that same object.
Let’s sit now for 20 minutes.
So an illustration: You’re swimming on a beautiful day. You’re a strong swimmer, you don’t tire easily. But there are little sea creatures, snails and turtles climbing on you, and an octopus that is looping a tentacle around your neck or your leg, all slowly pulling you down. You’re swimming backstroke and a turtle climbs up and sits on your belly. He’s just sitting there, a big turtle. It happens so gradually that you don’t notice that you’re being weighed down. But at whatever point you catch it— “Oh! I am being ensnared by the turtles of old mind thinking, the octopi of old fear, of old habit. Oh! No.” Say no, Just let them go.
You start to swim again and you feel 50 lbs. lighter. It’s easy to swim again. But then 5 minutes later a few of them have climbed up on you again. They’re weighing you down. You may have to keep releasing them over and over until you’ve sent a clear message, “No, I am not going to become a carrier for old, heavy sea life. You swim on your own. I’m not your vehicle.” Let them go. Eventually they realize that you mean it and they’ll go away. I don’t promise they’ll never come back, but you’ll be much more aware that they have come back, and you’ll catch them sooner. You’ll see it swimming toward you and know he’s about to climb up. “No, you may/ not latch on.” There’s increasing freedom.
Part of the work here is remembering you are not the swimmer burdened down with 100 lbs. of deadweight. That’s an old illusion, an old story. You are free, you are radiant, you are awake already. So you start to catch these little ensnarements faster, not with fear but with the deep loving intention, “No, I choose to be awake. For my own good and the highest good of all beings, I choose not to get trapped by this ensnarement again and again and again.” That’s really all it takes. Once you begin to remember that you are a radiant soul, that you are awake, you don’t fall into those same traps as formerly. Again, I’m not saying that nothing will ever trap you, but it has to work harder to trap you. And you are already out of it before you’re really grabbed by it.
(Someone holds onto to Barbara) Okay, so she’ll hold on. I’ll keep talking. How long will she hold on? I don’t know. I’m not really concerned. We let it go. It goes. It can’t hold on if your heart is open and bright. If you trust your radiance and the power of love within you, then this negativity cannot hold on. And I’m speaking here both about external negativity and your own habitual negative patterns. (Barbara suddenly snaps her arm free; just lifting it away) That’s all, thank you.
Aaron: Once again, my blessings and love to you all. I want to tie a few loose ends together because as Dan said, we will not be here for the February classes.
There are a number of parts with which we are working. One is what I would call the mundane practice: being present in this moment, aware of what is arising, and how it passes away. What arises may be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, as relates to this whole chart. Dependent origination is real. Have any of you read my book No Chain At All? This is available on the Deep Spring website, as a free download. It was one of those spiral bound books, and I don’t think we print it anymore but it’s available for reading. These talks were given back in the 1990’s, a year series of classes, which reminded us that there is indeed a chain of dependent arising, and also there is no chain. The whole chain is an illusion. You’re either going around the wholesome or around the unwholesome circle. You believe you’re caught on this treadmill (referring to the “Life’s little Treadmill” chart). Step off from it! Are you ready to step off?
You cannot step off to avoid the unpleasantness of mundane experience, but you need to remember the simultaneity. The whole mundane realm of experience is arising on the mundane level, and yet, in this moment, you are free of it. Simultaneity: the horizontal, the long line of mundane experience rolling on, and right here, this present moment in which there is no karma, no chain, there is just freedom.
We’re working with several parts in this class. One is the power of intention. Another is my art suggestion; Dorothy Ann is working with that to help you figure out how to do it. But when it’s done well, with a thick layer of crayon,then the India ink dried, and then you scratch it off, there’s a black surface and a light shines through. I find it a very beautiful metaphor. So perhaps in the coming month you will try it. And we are reading the books Human, Flight of the Garuda, and The Defilements.
This is from Flight of the Garuda. Dorothy Ann chose this and she will email it to you, from Song 21.
Free from all reference points
Spontaneous as a madman
Without the duality of self and other
You are like a noble being
Like an echo sounding.
Whatever you say is free of fixation
Not attached to anything.
You are like a Garuda soaring in the sky
Free from fear and anxiety.
You are like a lion,
Like the sky cleared of clouds.
Everything is primordially free.
Reflect some this coming month on that stanza. What does it mean, “Everything is primordially free.”? It’s not your mundane experience in each moment, but it is the deeper reality.
And in Human:
When you acknowledge the presence of fear and its siblings and allow them much space
Then the loving heart can reassert its authority.
The love-based motivation is always present, although sometimes hidden.
To allow the light of loving kindness to shine
You must investigate the nature of the shadow.
I’m going to read that again.
To allow the light of loving kindness to shine
You must investigate the nature of the shadow.
With understanding, shadow ceases to carry authority.
The clouds thin to a mist that disappears.
So please practice with these things, tying it all together, the mundane experience and the supramundane.
Also, as part of this class, inviting your spirit guidance to support you, to work with you. You are not alone. You have all the help that you need. We’ll work more with that further on in the semester. Just remember it.
Now, briefly, a guided meditation that I have led numerous times. I’m going to shorten it here. Close your eyes and come with me.
You are floating down a river on an inner tube. You have in your hand a small paddle so you can steer a bit, but mostly you’re gliding with the current. Before you set out you were told the current will carry you safely, but about 2/3 of the way down there is a fork. You must go right, and then the current will carry you smoothly a long distance out and around and back to the pool below, with no serious rapids. But if you miss that turn, it will pull you left and over some steep waterfalls, bashing over rocks into the pool below. So pay attention. It will be very clear where the fork is.
You drift and paddle. You’re watchful for the fork. You know you’ve come about 2/3 of the way down. Where is it? Where is it? Then you see how the river branches. This is it! I’ll paddle to the right, no problem! And suddenly a big fish jumps up, startles you. “Ooh, what was that?” And suddenly it’s too late, you’re being pulled by the current to the left-hand fork, over the rapids. Bang! Crash! Ouch!
Back onto a truck that carries you up the mountain. Put your raft back down in the river. “This time I know where it is and I won’t be fooled.” Down you float. It’s beautiful. There are butterflies. There’s a beautiful mist in places where little side waterfalls drop into the river; so beautiful. And then you’re approaching that fork. Watchful, watchful. A big fly lands on your face, biting you! Slap! Ouch! Back over the left-hand fork, down the falls. Does it sound familiar?
Third time. Something else captures your attention. You know what you need to do to go the smooth route, but there’s so much old habit energy that keeps pulling you over the waterfall, bashing you into the rocks.
This next time down there is a strong intention to stay present, to pay attention. Not fear, but love. “For the highest good of myself and all beings, no matter what distraction arises, I will stay present.” And you’re able to do so. You start to paddle in time, and you go smoothly around this right-hand fork and down a lovely stretch of river that takes you gently down to the pool below.
Back up to the top of the mountain. This time you have more confidence. “I can do it. I don’t have to become ensnared in the objects that pull me off into the painful stretch of river.” You do it again and again, and each time it becomes easier, until finally you begin to wonder, “How did I ever get pulled over that waterfall in the first place?” But it takes courage and practice. That, my dear ones, is what you are doing: remembering the beauty of the wholesome stretch of river. And that you don’t have to go over the waterfalls and find yourself bashed and bleeding. Isn’t it time to make that choice? You can do it. Remember I am with you, and if you find yourself swirling around in your little craft, feeling yourself being pulled toward the strong current of the rocks and waterfalls, say, “Aaron, help me.” I’ll be there. I’ll help you. You are not alone.
I love you very much and I very much appreciate the hard work you are doing to live more fully from the light that you are. Remember that you are light; you are love. And quoting the Buddha, if it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it. If it were not possible, you would not have joined this class. If it were not possible for each of you, you would not have joined this class. At some level, you know you are ready not to go over waterfalls anymore, to bash into the rocks and bleed. As each of you is able to do that, it inspires others. It’s time you see the craft pulling off to the right and down that beautiful stretch of river ahead of you. You remember, “Ah, I can do that too. I don’t have to bash my head on the rocks.” It is time. Do it.
My blessings and love to you all.