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The Only Way Out is Through

Excerpted from Awakened Heart, March 18, 2020 (not yet published).

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Aaron: Imagine yourselves new at high diving. You’ve climbed up on the diving board. You walk to the end of the board and look down into the pool. You’ve done it a few times so you know, “I can do this.” Deep breath; you feel prepared. You walk back from the end of the board, turn around at the inward end, take another deep breath, and then one step, two steps, three steps, and you spring onto that end of the board. And just then, looking down, you see a cluster of people, right there below you. 

You’re shaking, wobbling on the end of the board. There’s no stopping it. Can you feel that sense of no control? Can you feel it?

What happens for you? All the thoughts racing through your mind. “I’ll land on them. I could kill them. I could get killed. They’re in my way. They weren’t there 20 seconds ago. What will I do?!” 

Well, you’ve already sprung; your feet have left the end of the board. You’re in the air; what can you do? You’re launched.

When you took birth, you launched!

You sprung off the end of the diving board. You’re in the air, not knowing where you would land, only knowing that you were committed. It could be very safe, or it could be hazardous; probably some of each.

From the perspective of that awareness, making the commitment to take birthgoing with its own karma and its intentions to be of service, its intentions to learn, allowing itself to move into a new body—from there it looked clear: there will be challenges and there will be wonderful things. I don’t know exactly what I will need, but I’m ready to dive. And then you woke up in a body and said, “How did I get here? Now wait a minute—can I go back?” And of course, you can’t go back. The only way out is through, as they say. 

You came here with a purpose, with intentions. You came here not because it was going to be safe but because it was vital for yourself and all other beings. And in that moment of launching yourself into a new body you gave up control in a very serious way. No longer knowing the future, what obstacles or challenges you might meet. But you felt assured by your guidance and by the voice of your own deepest truth: I choose this. 

Dear ones, you have chosen this.

Someone said last night, for years they have been practicing—practicing meditation, doing dharma practice—and kept wondering, practicing for what? Then there would be something a little challenging in their life and they’d think, “Ah, maybe it was this.” And after it was past, thinking, “Maybe it wasn’t this—I got through this okay.” 

Well, here you are. 

Somebody said last night, “It’s showtime.” The performance has begun. How can you do this dance—this opera; whatever it may be—with love? And yet, you are given so many gifts, going forward, not the least of which is this social isolation. All of you, being meditation practitioners, have thought from time to time, “I wish my life was not so busy. I wish I could just stay home and have more time to practice.” 

Now, I recognize some of you may be parents of young children. Some of you may not have the opportunity to stay home. You may have work that calls you out, about which you have no choice. But for many of you, you are simply home. People are saying to me, “Aaron, I’m so lonely here. I feel so trapped!” 

Here is your retreat! Here is your opportunity to practice! 

But to practice in a new way—not gritting your teeth to get through it but coming into this phase of life with love, with so much love. Inviting loving wishes for yourselves and all beings, because this situation puts you in a unique place whereby you are not simply—what is the phrase they used—“staying in place” is not the correct word— you are not staying in place for yourselves, for your own health, but each of you that takes care of yourselves is not spreading the virus to others. 

You can only do this if you truly hold self and other as one. Taking care of yourself, taking care of others by taking care of yourself. Taking care of your children, of your parents, of your friends, but not by going to visit them. How do we do this? Social isolation. I think the term “isolation” is hard for some of you. It might be better to say “self-retreat”. But you don’t have to do it in silence; you can talk to each other.

What scares you about isolation, I think, is that through connection with others you begin to see the divine in others and feel the connection to the Divine. But many of you do not yet see the divine in the same way in yourselves. 

When you look to others for that view of the divine, well, that’s fine. That’s fine to do that. But you have to be aware that the divine is also within. I see this as a priceless opportunity to find that divinity within, to bring it into deeper awareness. Because who could feel alone when you know literally you are love, you are divine? You are the awakened consciousness, the Buddha, the Christ. 

The other part of this fear beyond feeling separate from the divine—abandoned, let us say, is the feeling of helplessness, that so many of you are experiencing. You are so wired to want to identify problems and fix those problems. But now you may look at situations that need your loving attention but we can’t call them problems and there is nothing there to fix. When you give your fullest loving attention, there will be a sense of peace, perhaps. Deep awareness how everything in the conditioned realm truly is arising out of conditions and passing away. 

You are helpless—you have always been helpless in terms of being an ego self. And yet the part of you that is completely connected to the Divine has never been helpless. 

So this is the place where you can begin to transcend those feelings of personal helplessness and move into that innate connection with God, Goddess, Divinity, with all things, and truly know I am That. I am that love. And that love is never helpless. That love is so deeply connected to everything.