Category: Dharma Path

The Dharma Path – Transcript Questions – Sept. 18, 2018 – Part 3

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September 18, 2018 Tuesday Evening, The Dharma Path, Part III
What is the Difference Between Primordial Purity and All Ground? What is the Difference Between Consciousness and Awareness?

(question not entirely taped; paraphrasing)
Q: I’m wondering if Aaron could say a little bit more about the primordial purity and All Ground.

Aaron: She’s having difficulty understanding the difference between primordial purity and All Ground. Perhaps because there is no difference; they’re part of each other. Imagine an underground spring from a deep, clear source, totally untouched by anything above the surface. The water comes to the surface. Right here, below the surface, nothing from the external world has touched it. It’s been in a quartz crystal bed, deep underground. Deep earth waters coming up through the crystal. Feel the primordial purity of that spring water. Then it emerges through that spring opening. In that first moment, as it comes through the opening, it touches the Earth’s atmosphere. It doesn’t stay right there at the mouth of the spring; it pours over, so that one second later it’s touched the stream bed. Is the ever-perfect of the spring water still there? Yes, of course. And, has it picked up distortions? Yes.

Let’s say it tumbles out and into a muddy creek bed. It flows down a hundred yards where cattle are drinking and stirring up sediment from the bottom. Where is the pure spring water? Can you all see that the spring water exists? It cannot be lost. But, you can’t point to the muddy water where the cattle are stomping and drinking and say, “Oh, that’s the clear spring water. I’ll drink it, too.” You need to filter it. This is not about the relationship so much as knowing the interbeing of the primordial purity and the world around it.

Now let’s take the term ‘All Ground’. I don’t really know the geology of it, but I understand that somewhere way under the earth there is this pure water. Some pressure has brought it up to the surface.

The pure water could not exist without the impurities.

Let’s look at this in a different way. That spring flows down the hill, flows into a pond where the cattle are drinking. The sun shines on the pond and evaporates the water. The water rises as water vapor. Moist air gathers into the cloud that rains onto the mountain top. Then it flows down the mountain, and some of it seeps through the ground and mixes with the ground waters. Is the water that’s flowing down the waterfall from the highest glaciers, is that different from the underground spring?

We might say that this whole container is the All Ground. The ever-perfect primordially pure spring is part of the whole container. But can you see that it cannot be separated from anything else?

Q, please let me know, does this clarify it for you, or do you have further question?

Q: That helps me a lot. I think that image of the spring makes it easier for me. Thank you.

Aaron: Thank you, Q, thank you for your question. And for all of you, use whatever real-life images help. The primordial purity of your loving heart, and the anger. Barbara, sitting on the floor, saying metta phrases with Hal. Truly loving him. Expressing gratitude. And also, the rage that was coming up. She had to laugh at herself as she sat there, and the thought coming up, “How dare you have a stroke! That wasn’t in our plans! Why did you have to do that?” Of course, she didn’t express that with him, but she had to be honest with herself; there was anger.

Holding it all together. I think one of the easiest ways to see it is in spaciousness and contraction. When there’s something very beautiful, you can feel the heart opening, the body energy field opening— spaciousness, love. And then something interrupts it. The wasp starts flying around your head. There you are in this heavenly realm of loving kindness, and buzz! Buzz! Buzz! “How dare you fly around my head and disturb my meditation!” You can see the simultaneity. Right there, this human being is capable of immensely loving space, and also of very contracted negative thought. The All Ground and the primordial purity.

But the All Ground is more than just the negative thought. The All Ground is also the radiance and the love. No duality.

Other questions?

Q: How does the clear light practice relate to standing on the sambhogakaya bridge and reaching out to both sides?

Aaron: Thank you, Q. We’re going to come to the clear light practice more in a few weeks, and I would ask you all, not for the next class but the one after the next class, to read it. The practice of clear light is a way of maintaining one’s centeredness on the bridge. It’s another way of coming home. It’s a way of remembering the light and clarity that are your innate nature and being. Right there with distortion, contraction, fear, pain, discomfort. So, it’s tool, in that way, like gratitude is a centering tool.

This is, if I could call it this, a mundane level of clear light practice. We start there. So, for those of you who have read Path of Clear Light, and in the coming four weeks, as you read it and begin to practice with it, support the deepening of a mundane clear light practice, by which I mean remembering the clear light, This is different than knowing yourself as the clear light. Does that make sense to you?

To remember yourself as the clear light is mental. To know yourself as the clear light is the direct experience of being that light. But we have to start somewhere, so we start with remembering the self as the clear light. Developing the habit of looking back at the clear light and remembering. Using that to help re-center you on the bridge. Then, begin to ask, what prevents me from fully resting here in this clear light, even as the world is spinning chaotically around me? What pulls me out? We’ll approach this gradually. And we’re also going to look at the sacred darkness practices, but further on. Let’s take it one step at a time.

For now, the most important thing is deepening in vipassana and mindfulness so that when there is contraction, mind recognizes, “contracting, contracting,” and doesn’t get caught in the stories, but is able to rest openheartedly with contraction without trying to get rid of or fix the contraction. If there’s aversion to the contraction, that’s not a problem. There may be aversion. Just let it be. Here we’re with the human practices; presence with aversion with an open heart. Watching how stories arise, become predominant, and pass away.

Q: So I put this into practice. And then there’s this little voice that says, “Oh, that’s really not that good. Oh, you could have done it better.”

Aaron: Which is a story, yes. Noting mind notes, “Ah, story.” Breathing in, I am aware of the story. Breathing in, I hold space for the story.

Q: But I know it’s true.

Aaron: What is true? That your mind has the capacity to build stories? That you’re not yet a fully enlightened being? Okay, both are true! Can you give yourself the kindness not to try to force yourself to be perfect? For you, Q, I would simply note, “perfectionism”. Here is an old perfectionist story. Ah, I bow to it and say, no thank you.

Is there anybody here or online that has it perfect right now? None of you? I don’t. I am an awakened being and yet I still sometimes make errors of judgment. The best I can do then is to apologize and make sure I don’t do it again. But not to berate myself.

Q: I’m a little confused because you are an awakened being. My assumption, as a human, is that you would not make any errors.

Aaron: If I could remain, Q, on the non-material plane at all times, I could not make errors. But here, with material things happening fast, I can only base my reflections on my experience. To give a very simple example, a few days ago, it was drizzling lightly in the morning, and Barbara thought to herself, shall I take Banner (her service collie) out? She takes him for a walk with her scooter. She said, “Aaron, do you think it’s going to rain harder?” We were outside, and I said, “It feels like it’s going to stop.” But 10 minutes into the walk, there was a downpour! Now, I never said I was perfect at forecasting the weather! It was an error of judgment. Based on my experience, it seemed like it would stop. I could only apologize to her when she came home drenched.

However, there are times when, let’s give a different example. This happened several years ago. Barbara was at her cabin and setting out for town in her car. I said to her, “Drive very slowly. Watch very carefully.” She said, “Why?” I didn’t want to alarm her; I just could feel that there was a tree about to come down. I couldn’t tell exactly when it was going to come down. I said, “Just don’t go more than 3 or 4 miles an hour down this stretch of the cabin road.” She started to drive. It’s a curvy dirt road. As she came around a bend, going just 2mph, a big tree came down on the road in front of her. If she had been going fast, she wouldn’t have been able to stop. I could feel that there was this distortion in the energy field, that something might happen, something would happen, but I could not tell when it would happen because the tree has free will. Only, you do not need to be damaged by it, so drive carefully. Now, an error of judgment then would have been not to speak up, to just let her go down the road. She doesn’t go fast, but 10mph, going down the road.

I am not all-knowing. Just because I’m awake doesn’t mean I can predict when trees are going to fall, or anything else. When the rain will fall. Does that answer it for you? But I have to take responsibility. When she got drenched, she co-decided with me. I did not say, “You go out and walk your dog,” I said, “I think that it’s okay. But, it’s up to you, Barbara.” So, she got wet. But with the tree on the road, it was very important what I shared what I felt might happen, without alarming her by saying, “A tree is about to fall on the cabin road.” I didn’t want to scare her. It could have been a week from then. Just, I could feel that distortion of energy.

Q: You mentioned that you’re an awakened being. Is there any distinction between being awake and enlightened?

Aaron: Synonymous words.

Q: Can you speak a little bit about the distinction between consciousness and awareness? I have trouble separating the two in my mind.

Aaron: Let’s be precise here. Consciousness, the Pali word is citta. The sense organs— eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind. When the sense organ touches and object, consciousness arises. In this case, mundane consciousness, kuttara citta. For kuttara citta to arise, there has to be a sense organ and an object, and contact between the organ and the object. With contact, consciousness arises. If there is no sense, organ consciousness cannot arise. If there is no object, consciousness cannot arise. I use consciousness in a very specific way.

These are the mundane citta—seeing consciousness, hearing consciousness, mental consciousness, etc—and mundane objects. There is also supramundane citta, supramundane consciousness. The Pali word is lokuttara citta. They are not mundane and supramundane, like that (arms stretched apart) , but, as with primordial purity and All Ground, part of each other. As with our canisters, relative and ultimate.

Supramundane consciousness takes a supramundane object. Those of you who, in meditation, use nada or luminosity, these are supramundane objects, which means simply that they do not need any special conditions to exist. This cosmic OM or nada, the luminosity. As long as the Unconditioned exists, the expressions of the Unconditioned exist.

I apologize to those online— I’m looking at Q, who asked the question, and I realize that it’s probably more skillful to look at the camera, and back and forth. That’s an example of, I would not call it an error of judgment to much as a place where I have to learn how to be more skillful. I may be awake, but I still have to learn practical things.

So, we have these expressions of the supramundane, such as luminosity, the cosmic OM/nada, high vibration, joy— many more. You can’t see that luminosity with your eye. You can’t hear nada with the ear organ. There’s no contact, ear touching nada. Something different perceives nada. Let’s call that awareness.

Everybody doesn’t use the terms as I do, but I use these terms in very specific ways. Consciousness as mundane consciousness, and awareness as supramundane awareness.

However, and this is where it gets a bit tricky!— you can be sitting and watching a beautiful sunset, eye organ making contact with the colors of radiance, seeing consciousness, and simultaneously you may be seeing luminosity. Can you imagine how you could see the sunset and experience the awareness of luminosity at the same time? Consciousness perceiving the sunset, awareness present with luminosity. Consciousness hearing a beautiful symphony, and awareness hearing nada at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive. But consciousness cannot experience the luminosity or nada, and awareness cannot experience the concert or sunset without mundane consciousness. Meditate with it.

Do others have questions that are about consciousness and awareness? It may be helpful for you to look back—I think I mentioned this two weeks ago— to look at the transcripts online for the whole year class, Consciousness and Its Objects. These transcripts go into a lot of detail about this topic. I’ll be happy to talk more about it, but I’d prefer you spend some time with these transcripts first, then we can talk more.

John: I have something to ask, relevant to this. Some people ask, what is the difference between mindfulness and awareness? Is it possible to correlate mindfulness with mundane consciousness and awareness with supramundane consciousness? Because people ask the difference between mindfulness and awareness.

Aaron: I would say mindfulness always correlates with mundane consciousness; awareness always correlates with supramundane awareness. I’m not sure what the question is, John.

John: It’s not a question. I was just trying to have clarify between the difference between mundane and supramundane relative to awareness, which is what I think Q was asking. So, that’s how I see the difference between the two. Mindfulness relates to mundane consciousness; awareness relates to supramundane consciousness.

Aaron: Exactly; thank you, John. Mindfulness related to the mundane realm and mundane consciousness. Awareness related to the supramundane realm, to supramundane objects. As a figure of speak, people often say, “I was aware of the rain.” “I was aware of the wind.” “I was aware of somebody speaking.” Probably the more correct phrasing would be, “I was conscious of the rain,” conscious of somebody speaking. Let’s not get caught up in semantics. But when we are being precise— and the Pali language gives us so much better way to be precise than does English— being precise, yes, exactly as John phrased it. But don’t worry if you end up saying, “I was aware of the rain.” “I was conscious of the extraordinary light.” Don’t get caught up in the words. What is the experience of awareness? What is the experience of consciousness?

With awareness, if you are resting in pure awareness, there cannot be attachment or aversion. Something may be pleasant or unpleasant. There can be awareness of an unpleasantness. But there are no stories.

This takes us to access concentration, and I don’t want to bring that in today. Let me ask, for a show of hands— is there anybody here who is not familiar with the term “access concentration”? … A very few. All right, we’ll talk about access concentration in a later class. It’s a useful thing to talk about, but not here and now.

So I see that it’s 10 to 9pm. I think we’ve covered enough. I don’t want to bring in too much broader material and confuse you. Let’s just close with a chant, here. And I’m not sure how we can do this. Maybe if you all un-mute we can all just chant together. Can we try it? A metta chant. The four words: metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha. So let us begin. My voice can’t carry, only my heart can carry.

(chanting metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha)

May the benefits of our practice be for the highest good of all sentient beings.
May we and all sentient beings be free of suffering.
(bell)
May all beings live with love and an open heart.
(bell)
May all beings be happy and find perfect peace.
(bell)

Please remain online for a bit. Barbara has an announcement. Let me release the body to Barbara. My blessings and love to you.

The Dharma Path – Transcript – Sept. 18, 2018 – Part 2

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September 18, 2018 Tuesday Class, the Dharma Path, Part 2
Finding the Balance Between Relative and Ultimate

Aaron: Good evening, and my love to you all. I am Aaron. Hello out there, all of you who dwell within the blue dot! (On Zoom- internet) I love this process, and to look into your faces on the screen behind me. Such a wonder that we can all be together in this way— in this, whatever it’s called, this electronic space.

As Barbara said, in the small groups we spoke a lot about what helps you to stay connected to both Dharmakaya and nirmanakaya, but with a balanced effort, not with a grasping effort. I asked Barbara to speak. It would have been better if she could have spoken about a third of the way through my talk. But once I incorporate in the body it’s challenging for her to come back, gather her thoughts and speak. So, we invite her to speak first.

One of the topics we touched upon in some of the small group meetings, were the terms “primordial purity” and “All Ground” and what they mean. Many of you have talked at length with me about these terms; for others, they’re new. Nobody is ahead of anybody else here— we’re talking about terms, semantics. You all have the experience, all of you, of that primordial purity, and you all have some conceptual understanding of what I mean by All Ground. But you see them as two separate things. How can there be anything separate?

Would you hand me the red canister that’s on the shelf?… This is a favorite teaching tool of mine. (smiling) Some of you are groaning and saying, “Oh no, Aaron, we’ve seen that too much!” Others have no idea of where I’m going.

Let’s call this canister ultimate reality. It has ULTIMATE written on the side. It’s fallen apart a bit. We’ll call this canister (the one inside the other) relative reality. Two realities, ultimate and relative. And yet relative reality has been inside ultimate reality. Where else would it be?

This doesn’t go far enough, and there is no way I could make this happen within your material realm. Relative reality is within ultimate reality, and ultimate reality is also within relative reality. This is the All Ground and primordial purity relationship.

So we have this little fellow (a little bear)… He lives in relative reality. It’s his favorite place. Now, he’s always been like this (inside the relative), but he has no idea he’s in ultimate reality; he only sees himself as being in relative reality. He peers over the side, but he can’t really get a perspective on ultimate reality. He just says, “I’m in relative reality.” Then he begins to meditate and has a profound experience of ultimate reality. There he is, in ultimate reality. After the meditation he comes out, looks around a bit, flops back into relative reality, and says, “Wow! What was THAT?” He’s back in relative reality, forgetting there’s an ultimate reality.

But, gradually, as he hops back and forth, he learns to straddle the two; to rest with one foot on each side; to find a balance in the relative and in the ultimate. So far, so good. But he has another vital lesson— this is where we’re going— to learn the non-duality of the two. He’s not just straddling, which is resting in the middle of the bridge, one foot in the nirmanakaya, one foot in the Dharmakaya. The importance is in knowing their non-duality and that they can never be separated; that any time he’s in relative reality, he’s always in ultimate reality. So, he looks over the side, and says, “Oh, it’s says ULTIMATE. I didn’t know that. I thought I was in relative. Ah, they come together!” Non-dual.

I find that becoming acquainted with the direct experience of the primordial purity— being able to say, “Ah, this is it,” even just for a second— and becoming acquainted with the experience of the All Ground that contains both the primordial purity and the distortions, is the most helpful way to truly release the duality of ultimate and relative, and learn to live both simultaneously.

It’s not going to come like that (snaps fingers) for you. It may take a lot of practice. Step 1 is to find an experience for yourselves that speaks of the ultimate, that speaks of home, Heavenly Abode, Unconditioned, Divine, God. It’s fine to remember the experience. I know you’re not having the experience when you remember it, but the memory is strong, it’s helpful. And if you remember it and then just breathe and allow yourself, you can, to some degree, re-enter the experience. It becomes a stable resting place.

I asked Barbara to show you the picture of the waterfall, because for a number of you who have been to the Casa, standing under that waterfall —cachoeira in Portuguese— standing under the brilliant spring water of  the cachoeira, feeling it running around down your body and through into the crown chakra, opening the crown chakra, it’s very much an experience of that Heavenly Abode. For others, it may simply be the tenderness of a friend’s smile, a morning sunrise, a shooting star, a baby’s laughter. Coming home.

Your memory is an aid to this. Granted, just memory. We talked in one of the groups of, I don’t want to get too complex, here, but of the various types of consciousness that may arise in very profound meditation states, and how at one level there is a consciousness that literally touches the Unconditioned. There’s no mental body at that point. You can’t think, “Oh, I’m experiencing the Unconditioned.” There’s no me to be experiencing it. But later, after the experience, there is what we call “reviewing consciousness,” where there’s the opportunity to look at what came up, and what was experienced. To review it from a place of great clarity and non-contraction. See it with a telescopic lens and really come to know who or what it was that touched what. And know that there was never a separation between the experiencer and the experience. And then you come back to the mundane world again.

So, we find something we can remember that takes us home. That, probably happens in your meditation or at another quiet time. Then, when life gets challenging, when somebody smashes into your car, or you’ve just broken your best crystal vase and cut your foot on the shards of glass, or when you hear that a loved one is sick or is dying — “What am I going to do? What am I going to do?” (Picks up the canisters and the bear.) There you are in relative reality, lid closed, no way to look out— Agh! You’re stuck! —Take the lid off. What takes the lid off? You can’t come out unless you first take the lid off.

There are several tools that help. Mindfulness is primary, and your vipassana practice. As you practice, become increasingly aware of where you are and what you’re experiencing. When I say “you,” even if it goes beyond a self, what is being experienced by this mundane mind/body consciousness, body aggregates? I think you all know the word aggregates. If not, look it up on the Deep Spring site. I’m not going to take our time with it today. We’ve talked about it often.

The eye/ear/nose/tongue/body and mind are the sense organs that touch an object. With that contact, consciousness, citta, arises. Mind consciousness, taste consciousness, hearing consciousness. The sense organs and the mind organ. The consciousnesses arise from contact between those organs and the object that they touch. Here we’re talking about basic dependent origination.

Now, I’m going to turn to your pictures for a moment. For how many of you is this Chain something new? Raise your hand… (only 1 or 2) Okay. We’ll talk about this in groups, but I think all of you, since you’ve been in retreats and classes with me you’re all familiar with contact, the sense organ, touching an object, and consciousness arising. Then perception and/or feeling, one, then the other. Feelings of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. And perception— Oh, this is a rose; this is a skunk. Then, pleasant feelings arise. So, contact, consciousness, perception, feelings of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. And then, when something is pleasant, there may be liking. When something is unpleasant, dislike. Smell! Stinks! Skunk! Unpleasant! Aversion! There’s no way you can touch onto any place of light or spaciousness. Heavenly, beautiful— ahhhh! With that contraction, that slide into strong dislike, you lose the ability of discernment. You become lost in, “Get rid of it,” or  “I want more of it!” The most magnificent sunset or music— “I want more of it!” Grasping.

Everything in the conditioned realm has the nature to arise when the conditions are present and cease when the conditions cease. All of this you already know. When something hard happens, and it pushes you into that relative reality container, and you can’t get out,  your first aid is mindfulness. What’s really happening here in this moment? This has arisen into my experience, and it’s very hard, very unpleasant.

I spoke last class about Barbara’s initial reaction—I don’t know if I spoke to it in the talk, or before the talk to just some of you. When she came into the kitchen and found Hal on the floor, clearly, he wasn’t just lying on the floor doing his morning exercises. She didn’t know— stroke, heart attack— what had happened to him, but he could not speak; he could barely move. Her first reaction was, “AHHHHHHH!” So, she walks into the kitchen; there’s Hal— “AHHHHHH!” But then, because of her training, she needed to come out. Well, first, she said to him, “Shall I call 911?” (laughing) And of course he didn’t answer! She hurried in and called 911. She went back to him. Opened the door, waiting for the ambulance to come. All she could think of to do was to sit there on the floor and recite metta. It’s the only way that she could get herself out of that relative cylinder enough to be of any help to herself and to Hal, to hold the space.

Between the recitations of the metta— and they were not rote recitation, just statement of, “I love you. May you feel my love. May all beings feel love.” Whatever her heart prompted. Speaking to him in that way. She was able to feel gratitude for the 50+ years they had had together. To recognize, “Hal could die in this next hour. I don’t know what will happen.” Not, “Hang on!”, but “Thank you for these wonderful years.” And she took his hand and said, “Whatever happens today, know that I love you. Thank you for our life together. This life has been such a wonderful gift. Thank you. I love you.” Gratitude helped her to stay present, to get out of the little cylinder and at least to straddle the two.

We’re talking here about what helps you when you’re stuck in a hard aspect of relative reality. Mindfulness, vipassana, the deep dharma wisdom: whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease. Knowing that, and, not to take it personally. It’s not me or mine; it arises out of conditions. The ability to recognize objects arising into your experience and passing away, and not to get stuck in any object. To know it’s all passing. And then, to focus on finding the place of light within you. Gratitude is a wonderful tool to help you re-center.

You don’t want to do this (demonstrating— bear in ULTIMATE cylinder only, with lid on). Nor to become lost in the relative.  We’re not looking for a hiding place. We’re looking to stay centered, either balanced between the two, or, in relative reality, fully knowing relative reality and that ultimate reality is right here and relative is right there, and they’re part of each other. Resting in them together.

All of the Brahma Vihara practices are helpful— metta, karuna (compassion), mudita (joy for others). Even in that moment, being able to think not just of yourself and the gratitude that you may have for having shared this life with your beloved, but gratitude—sympathetic joy, let’s call it, for all the others who still have healthy partners, even though in this moment you don’t. Who still have a healthy body themselves, even though perhaps in this moment you don’t. Who still have a safe home, although perhaps in this moment you don’t.

A slight aside, here; talking especially to two of you, who I know were strongly affected by Hurricane Florence (in North Carolina). I pray that you are safe. More than two of you, but some of you a bit further from the center. One sent me a picture of the creek overflowing her driveway and said, well, she can get out, but she’d have to get a kayak and cross the river! One even closer to the eye of the storm. I pray that all are safe. Sympathetic joy for all who are safe.

So metta, karuna, mudita— upekkha, equanimity. These are the four immeasurables of the loving heart. This helps. This helps to ground you. It’s very hard to get caught in the stories of despair and calamity when the heart is thusly open.

We have to look the opposite way, too, that we may turn our back on the harshness of the situation and pretend it doesn’t exist, and that’s just another story. So, there’s a strong need to be present with it as it actually is, unembellished with stories. And mindfulness is what will help you discern the arising of story and the moving into it, whether it’s a nightmare story or a story that denies the challenges. This watching is your work for the next two weeks.

Let’s go back to primordial purity and All Ground, because understanding these is a very, I won’t say vital, but highly useful tool to staying balanced with an open heart, even when you’re totally enraged by what is happening, or in terrible pain or grief.

The All Ground. Can we say which came first? It’s a chicken-and-the-egg question. Did the chicken come first, or the egg? Once, when I asked that question, somebody said, “Aaron, I’ll have an answer for you soon. I’m went on Amazon and ordered a chicken and an egg, and I’ll let you know which comes first!” (laughter)

Putting that aside, we might think that the primordial purity came first, and out of that primordial purity came the various expressions, both contracted and spacious, dark and light, low vibrational and high vibrational, based in fear and based in love. Well, it would not be wrong to assume that. That primordial purity is. It is of the Unconditioned. But it is the nature of the primordial purity that it contains everything. Therefore, if the primordial purity exists, the All Ground exists. The primordial purity cannot exist without the container out of which everything is arising. So, we have the container and the contents of the container.

Here’s one I’m not going to answer: is the primordial purity the container, or the content?

I’ll let you reflect on that. Is this container empty, or does it contain everything? If it contains everything, it must contain the primordial purity. Then how can we say that only this is the primordial purity? The primordial purity is both the container and the content of the container.

Take this into your practice. Especially watch the places where contraction arises, where something challenges you. Unpleasant. Contracted. Confused. Aversion arising. Right there, in that moment, where is love? That’s the simplest way I can phrase it— where is love in that moment? Can you touch it? I’m not asking you to float away in it, just touch. Where is love? Where is the open heart? In that moment of contracting experience, can you find spaciousness that is there simultaneous with the contraction? In that moment of sadness, can you find joy right there with the sadness? With fear, can you find openhearted love and spaciousness? There needs to be no denial of contraction, of pain, of fear, of grief. As long as there’s any denial, there’s contraction and armoring. What we’re speaking of here is letting go of armor.

This is what I asked Barbara to do, there on Dale’s table— to observe the armor that had built up, not just since Hal’s stroke, but really throughout these 14 years. As open and awake as she has become, there still were layers of armoring. And because she was increasingly awake, it was easy to live in that ultimate cylinder and avoid the painful realities. Her life was pleasant: a very loving marriage, wonderful work in the world, a pleasant home, good friends. Occasionally an aching body— of course. But mostly relatively good health. It was easy to rest in that spaciousness and light and not go into the places where there was pain or contraction; increasingly to armor against them.

I want you to understand the difference between shielding and armoring. When it’s raining hard, and you have to walk outdoors, it’s very kind to yourself to put up the umbrella. The umbrella is a shield. When the rain stops, you close the umbrella, shake it out, and put it down. What if you kept that umbrella up? What if you said to yourself, “But it might rain again!” And you spent your whole life living under that umbrella, but instead of a 2-foot umbrella, it was 3-foot, 5-foot, 10-foot? Now you’re carrying around a 20-foot umbrella. It almost comes down to the ground. How can you live your life that way? So, you’ve gone from the umbrella as a skillful and loving shield to the umbrella as armor, separating.

Begin to look at whatever armor you carry. In Barbara’s experience on the table, I asked her to look at that very subtle armor she’s been carrying, not just since Hal’s stroke but for all these 14 years since the wave accident. She said, “I choose to live.”— that was a wholehearted commitment. But there was also a backing away from living fully because it was so overwhelming. If I live fully, I could get caught in another wave, literal or figurative. So maybe I won’t be fully in the body. Maybe I won’t fully breathe into the body. Maybe I won’t fully invite the opening of the chakras. Maybe I’ll be 90% but not 100% present, because it feels too dangerous to be 100% present.

What if you’re 100% present? What can you lose? The illusion that you are in control. None of you have ever been in control. And yet, you are absolutely in control, because you co-create with the universe through your intentions. If you hold the intention for love, for well-being, for wholeness, you co-create that. If you hold the intention, “I’m going to hold onto safety. I’m going to hold onto my home, my partner, my…” whatever it is you value, there’s a feeling that, “I could lose it! I could lose it! I have to hold on tighter!” And then you’re just giving energy to the “I could lose that.” You’re giving energy to scarcity, and to whatever negative may come. When I say negative, whatever distorted and painful thing may come. That’s not your intention, but you are so deeply in that habit. And so, you are literally running from the  nirmanakaya side of the bridge back across to the Dharmakaya side of the bridge— “Ahhh!”— back to the nirmanakaya side of the bridge, and back again. You only think you’re in the middle, but you don’t stay in the middle.

To stay in the middle means to trust that you came into the incarnation to learn and to grow. To learn to love. To learn compassion. To deepen in wisdom. You’re never going to survive this life experience; you’re all going to die, sooner or later. These homes that you live in, they’re going to fall down eventually, whether it’s while you’re still in them or at some later time. Your cars are going to rust away. Your bodies are going to deteriorate. Ahhhhhhhhh……

Say it with me, breathe it, deep in-breath: Ahhhhh…… And again, Ahhhh… Letting go, opening. Opening to things as they are in this moment, and with gratitude for the gifts of this moment even when they are painful.

I do not expect that anyone is going to report back to me next week, “Okay, Aaron, I learned this! I’m perfect at it now.” That’s not the task. The task is simply to inch your way on a little bit. To find a place where you can stay balanced, holding your heart open in an increasingly challenging relative world, connected with home, with your own divinity and the ultimate Divinity, without clinging to it. Just holding it lightly, with love.

Reflect on these terms, primordial purity and All Ground, and look for the place where they come together. Try not to be too mental about it. Let your heart feel that place. See what helps you to touch both nirmanakaya and Dharmakaya. To rest— not racing back and forth on the bridge, but resting there, meditating there in the middle of the bridge, fully touching both sides. Gratitude, loving kindness, joy, equanimity, wisdom. Much more; a mixture of all of these. The formula will be different for each of you. And, when I use the term “formula”, I mean the formula for today. It will change from day to day. Stop racing back and forth between heaven and hell, and rest in spaciousness and love.

If we can do it, I’d like to open this to questions for 15 or 20 minutes…

The Dharma Path – Transcript – Sept. 18, 2018 – Part 1

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September 18, 2018 Tuesday Evening, Dharma Path Class
Coming Back to the Experience of the Dharmakaya

Barbara: Aaron has asked me to talk for a few minutes before he starts. In the groups, we talked a lot— in each group, to different degrees— but about the three kayas, and understanding the experience— not the intellectual part or terminology, but the experience of the sambhogakaya bridge. What helps us to stay on that bridge, to connect both the ultimate and relative reality. Aaron will talk more about this, but he would like me to share something.

Aaron emphasized with me this week the importance of finding some stable experience of Dharmakaya, of a heavenly realm, of light; and finding a way to come back to it without clinging to it. How could I feel the experience of it and increasingly be able stably to rest there, but not grasping at it.

Each of us will have our own different experiences with that kind of radiance and clarity. The experience I’m drawn back to is the near-death experience I had in 2004 in the ocean. My body had been slammed first, head-first into the bottom of the ocean floor, knocking me close to unconscious. A lot of pain— neck pain, back pain. Before that, the surf board had broken into my belly and my ribs, and I had broken ribs, and broken sternum bone. I was almost unconscious because of the way my head had hit, was floating in the water, trying to get to the surface, and then another wave caught me and tossed me, with my tailbone hitting the ocean floor. I immediately experienced what seemed to be a paralysis from the waist down. So, I was unconscious, and I couldn’t move my feet. I was in terrible pain. I inwardly asked for help.

I asked Aaron, I asked the Casa entities, I asked Yeshua: Whoever was listening…“Please help me.” I immediately felt their energy, and my head started to clear a little, but I was still underwater and with no air. My whole body and consciousness went deeper into that tunnel of light.

It was so beautiful, so welcoming. These entities were surrounding me with unconditional love. But the deepest experience was just of the absolute clarity and spaciousness, the very high vibration, the love. I could see this tunnel leading me onward to what had to be a heavenly realm, so beautiful, so enticing. I had become unaware of the pain and the fact that I couldn’t breathe and was drowning— all of this of course only in a few seconds, because literally, I was drowning.

I was told, “You have a choice,” and it would not be wrong to choose to go on. You’ve done hard work in this lifetime and if you need to go, you can go. If you choose to stay, we will help you, but we can’t guarantee what kind of body you’ll return to. You could be a paraplegic or even a quadriplegic, no guarantee. Love said, “I choose to stay.” Now, this is another story. Obviously, I was lifted up to some degree, helped to the surface literally by the entities, got to the surface enough to shout for help, and people towed me into shore, the ambulance came, and so forth.

The part of the story I’m telling here is of that experience of light and love. I’d never had that kind of an experience of— I can’t say it is the Unconditioned but it has all the expressions of the Unconditioned. There was nothing arising or passing away. There was just light and love and spaciousness, high sound and vibration. So much radiance.

So, I find I can touch in on this experience, and it’s very helpful when I’m floundering around in relative reality and I need some ground to stand on, something to anchor me. This experience of light is, it’s not just light, but light, spaciousness, high vibration, and an energy I can only call love. So powerful. It’s easy to cling to that. I have to be careful.

Now, fast forward to last week. You all know I’ve been challenged these past 6 months by Hal’s stroke, coming to terms with it. The loss of my beloved husband, friend, companion of 50 years. Yeah, he’s still here, but it’s not the Hal I’ve lived with for 50 years. Although, increasingly he’s coming out of the aphasia and able to communicate some. There’s still a lot of grief and fear. What will happen to me? How will I take care of us practically, financially? At times I feel overwhelmed by the huge amount of things I have on my plate to handle, to take care of Hal and keep the support for him going, and take care of the self. There’s a lot of tension.

I’ve been working as hard as I can. I’m saying it that way very specifically— working hard. Can you feel the contractions in that? Not a lot of ease. Working hard. I know I’m overall doing a decent job. Hal is recovering well, inch by inch but still making good progress. He has people with him. Like tonight there’s a Hal-Care team person there with him. He has people working with his aphasia apps with him and helping him to exercise and do all the things he needs to do. He has the various therapies. It’s me I haven’t been taking care of! It’s hard to do everything.

Mostly I’ve been so busy that it’s been hard to really be in touch with my grief and my fear. But I also recognize that I’ve stayed busy to avoid being in touch with the grief and fear. As long as I’m very busy and fall asleep at 2 am exhausted, and sleep for 4 or 5 hours, I don’t have to think too much about it. I just get up and get busy again. I know better. It’s very hard to meditate. I do meditate daily, but it’s not the practice I had 6 months ago. Instead, it’s just breathing in and aware of agitation. Breathing out and aware of contraction. Just holding space for these for 20 minutes or so, and then getting up and getting busy again.

So, last week I was in a Feldenkrais session, lying down on Dale’s table. I’ve had a lot of pain in my neck and down my shoulder and arm, probably a pinched nerve. So, he was gently turning my head in different ways, moving my arm. And I was lying there with my usual degree of contraction. Then he just gently put a hand on my ribs. I’m not sure what moved him to do it— I should ask him. But with that touch to my ribs the whole experience of wave accident came back to me, and how because of the broken ribs and sternum, and the strong pain in the ribs, I couldn’t breathe. I realized through this whole 6 months I have not taken a deep breath. It’s like when I first broke my ribs and had back injuries and so forth, and it was so painful to breathe. In 6 months I haven’t breathed any but little, shallow breaths.

Aaron said, “Breathe.” I was very hard to breathe. He asked me to come back to the bridge, to remember the experience in that accident. When it was so painful. I couldn’t breathe, I was drowning. And yet, open in the chest because of all that light and radiance and how that Light brought me back to the bridge, to being able to hold the Dharmakaya and the nirmanakaya together.

I lay there on the table and I just started crying. At first just tears and then big sobs, crying, crying, with compassion for myself. The practice I’ve been doing at 3am when I wake up— with fear and contraction— is usually metta. Thinking of all the people in the world, right there and now, who have lost loved ones, who have been injured or sick, who have lost their homes, who don’t know what tomorrow will bring, who want control. Do we ever have control? Who has control? Metta for myself and others. And I find that helps. So, on Dale’s table I started offering metta. “May I find the healing that I seek. May all beings find the healing that they seek. May I love and be loved. May all beings love and be loved. May I be safe. May all beings be safe.” Not just a rote statement, but really feeling that helplessness, loss and grief, body pain, and so forth, for so many hundreds of thousands of people. Allowing myself to feel it, for them and for me.

Then Aaron reminded me, when they asked me, “Do you choose to live or not to live?” and I said, “I choose to live,” that response wasn’t from fear. It wasn’t, “I don’t want to die; I’ll choose to live,”with grasping, but “I still have work to do for myself and others. I choose to live.” Making that choice, there was a statement of deep intention, “I choose to live.” And then Aaron asked me, very gently, “Have you truly been living these last 6 months, or have you been avoiding being present with your life?” And of course, I had to acknowledge: avoiding. And then I cried some more— all the fear, all the pain.

So, after I cried for a few more minutes, he asked me again, “Are you ready to make the choice to live?” Yes. “Breathe in,” and so I breathed in a deeper breath than I’d breathed in 6 months, but not a big breath. He said, “You can do better than that. Breathe in. Breathe all the way down to the belly. Feel the energy in the belly. Fill the chakras with energy. Feel the energy of the chakras. Open the heart.” His instruction to me was, each time I feel it’s too hard and feel myself closing, come back to that tunnel of light experience, to that radiance, to that high vibration, to that love. Just rest there without thinking. I said, “I can remember it, but I can’t be there.” He said, “Memory is enough.” Aaron is asking me to say to you, each of you has had some kind of experience like that, that’s taken you to a place of really touching on the Divine. Just remembering it and saying, “I choose to live this radiance and love. I AM this radiance and love. Breathe deep.”

(pause to support a participant who has been moved to cry; Banner, Barbara’s support collie, is expressing much concern about her.)

He can be with her if he wants to be. He’s comforting her…
We all cry. Her tears are for us all. We all cry for all of us in the world. Being human is hard.

This practice involves that choice. If we choose to live, we choose to live openheartedly, genuinely, with love, and to let ourselves truly know the love that’s offered. We’re so afraid we’ll lose it that we don’t let ourselves really touch it.

Here’s the importance to acknowledge, I AM that love, I AM that light. I choose to express this as fully as I can, for the highest good of all beings; to allow myself to literally live within that tunnel of light, knowing I will lose it at times. We can’t ever lose it. And this is the wonder of that sambhogakaya bridge: we cannot lose Love.

Everybody take a deep breath… Feel the light coming in from the crown chakra, running through, running through all the chakras, and down to the base… Feel the possibility of really living within that whole activated energy system that we are, from base to crown. Light, love.

There was a lot more to this experience on Dale’s table. I don’t want to take the time to talk more about it, but I’m writing an article about it. I will share that when I’ve gotten it finished and cleaned up.. This is enough for now. I think I’ve said what Aaron wanted me to say. Just find the experience within you that helps you rest within the divine consciousness. To help you rest within the loving heart that brings you home and know that you always ARE home.

(reaching for a photo) I need to ask for permission; (pause) permission granted…

Many of you have been to the Casa with me. This photo was a gift from Dr. Augusto, one of the Casa entities, taken by the woman who did the photography for Heather Cummings book. At a session, she was showing him pictures, and I was in the front of the Current room. Dr. Augusto pointed at this picture and said, “Give it to Barbara.” I am asked not to show it to anybody who has not been to the Casa and is not tuned into that energy. That’s why I keep it out of sight. But regardless of whether you’ve been to the Casa, you’re all tuned into that energy, and Dr. Augusto just said yes, I may share it with you. —Am I too far away for you to see it? It’s the Casa waterfall. So, this is a place where people who have been to the Casa can find the experience of that Light.

Find something that really reminds you, takes you home to that energy, whatever it may be. Aaron is saying that one of the things that does that for him, did it as a human, is the memory of seeing, in various lifetimes, seeing his children born. That moment of birth, whether it was a male or a female. Aware of this child coming through the body, or watching the child coming through the mother’s body. The incredible tenderness of the heart. Coming home. Here is a being coming directly from the Divine right into this heavier density realm. So much love.

So, use whatever memory will help you to find this space. Aaron, am I finished? He says yes.

The Dharma Path – Transcript – Sept. 4, 2018 Part 1

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September 4, 2018 Tuesday Evening, Dharma Path Class; part 1
What is the Dharma Path and Where is it Taking Us?

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. Welcome to you all!

Barbara and I have been planning this program for well over a year, waiting for the technology to be available. It gives me much joy that finally we can do it, and with enormous appreciation for Tana. You (addressing Tana) are really the one who has done this. Me, I just use telepathy! But we’re going to have to work a few more years before you all are ready for that! Meanwhile, this Zoom screen will serve us.

The dharma path— what is a “dharma path”, and where is it taking us? Perhaps it is taking us just full circle to where we have always been. We offer a prayer, “May you be happy. May you have well-being. May you be free.” Everybody wants to be happy. We all want freedom. But what do these words mean? Are you happy if somebody gives you a piece of chocolate candy? But, of course, in a few seconds it’s gone. Are you happy with a loving marriage for 50 years, and then your partner is at least partially lost, seriously disabled? Where is happiness then? How do we maintain happiness? What is the relationship between freedom and happiness?

Twenty-five hundred years ago, Siddhartha Gautama, who became known as the Buddha, led us on a beautiful path to freedom. He described the three parts of that path: sila (moral awareness), panna (wisdom), and samadhi (meditation, concentration, mindfulness, and peacefulness). These parts are like a tripod. One leg cannot be lengthened without knocking the other two legs over. Thus we keep going around, deepening in moral awareness, deepening in meditation, deepening in wisdom. And each lengthening of a leg leads to the insight into the importance to lengthen the other legs.

The Buddha was addressing people 2,500 years ago, including, probably, some of you. You have come a long way in 2,500 years. What is the dharma path for us today? There’s a teaching from the Buddha, from the scriptures, called “A Handful of Leaves”, where someone asks him, “Do you teach us everything you know? Do I need to know this and this and this?” The Buddha holds up a handful of leaves. He says, “These leaves represent what I know, all the wisdom that there is,” with thousands of leaves in his hands, “but this one leaf, this is all you need to know.”

BAs I’ve said, you’ve come a long way in 2,500 years, and there are new things you do need to know. Perhaps “need” is not the best word. You don’t need to know. The Buddha’s original path will take you to liberation. But we can enhance that path for who you are now.

You have come from different backgrounds to this present moment. Some of you evolved fully through a human path on Earth, taking birth as mineral first, then vegetable, animal, and finally human, and as human, perhaps a great many lifetimes. Others of you may have evolved on other planes and come to this Earth later on as human, or even in some other form. But some of you who came in that way, later, after much evolution on other planes of growth, came in not as very early human— early 3rd density human— but as high 3rd density or even 4th or 5th density. If you don’t know what I mean by the word “density”, please take a look online; look in my book, Presence, Kindness, and Freedom. I think you can download that; or you can access the talks in that online, or at least the introduction. (if you go to the DSC archives and type n ‘density’ it will give many talks on this topic.) Somewhere online you can access my basic introduction, talking about density. I’m not going to describe it now; almost all of you understand the term.

You are presently here in what we might consider 3rd, or emergent into 4th, density human form. The whole Earth is emerging from a 3rd density into a 4th density planet. This means you are passing out of, I would not call it kindergarten, but let’s call it grade school years and up into the university. The university of learning how to love fully. How to bring love when it’s difficult to love. How to hold that vibration of love. These are things that classical Buddha dhamma does not speak of. — I just used the word “dhamma”. Dhamma, dharma, same word, different language. Sanskrit vs. Pali. I’m used to “dhamma”, but we call the class “Dharma Path” because some of you don’t know the word “dhamma”. Same word.

We are not gathered together here for these two years to make you into outstanding meditators, although, hopefully your meditation will deepen. We are not gathered together to make anything special happen except one thing: to enhance your capacity for unconditional love; to make that the stable ground on which you live.

As each of you becomes more capable of returning to that ground and living from that ground, you bring the higher vibration that is required in order to live from that ground into the whole Earth plane, into the Earth itself. The Earth is a sentient being. You help raise its vibration. The vibration of the elements is raised.

You are here in service. Look at the banner up there on the wall. For those online, it’s a banner that says “SEVA”, with the two eyes of compassion. “Seva” means “service”. You are dedicating yourself to service, for the highest good of all beings. The more you release the obstructions to such service, find the deepest inner truth within you of unconditional love, and learn to live from that truth, the more you serve this whole world of suffering. Because love is the only thing that shifts hatred, terrorism, fear, and suffering. Only love.

So much of your practice with me— and all of you, all but 2, I think, of you have done a lot of practice with me— so much of that practice has been based in the teachings of my book Human, that I asked you to read before my opening talk. When something is extraordinarily painful and great suffering arises, what is your habitual response? It could be as simple as burning your hand on the hot stove. Pain! Or the death of a loved one. Pain! Or simply something that strikes up anger. A political leader— who will go unnamed— but who certainly strikes a lot of anger in many of your hearts! How do we habitually respond to these painful catalysts?

A big part of your work with me up until now has been learning how to respond by breathing and making space; not getting caught in the stories of negativity and fear but finding the always present open hear; really knowing that open heart; not losing that open heart. That open heart is present, simultaneous with the contraction. So, we talk about contraction and spaciousness, contraction and spaciousness. I talk about this at length in Human, and if you have not read it recently, please do before the next class. It’s a very short book. I also talk about it in the Path of Clear Light— not required yet, but soon I will ask you read that too, later this fall. The most important thing that I discuss in Path of Clear Light is this simultaneity— negativity and fear, shock— ahhh, right here in this moment, where is love?

Barbara described briefly how, on that morning in February she got out of bed and walked into the kitchen, because Hal wasn’t in bed, and found him lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood and vomit. Her first reaction was to ask him, “Hal, are you okay??” Shock! Surprise! But within a few seconds she realized of course he was not okay. He’d had a stroke or heart attack. He was looking at her, he was moving his left hand, which was on the upper side, so he was alive. So, she of course came in and called 911. They would send an ambulance. She went back and sat there on the floor with him.

There was the reaction of, not just fear, but terror, and helplessness and anger. I said to her, “Please just offer gratitude, aloud, to Hal, to you, to the life you have lived together. Share with spirit and with Hal how grateful you are for the 50 years you’ve had together, and your intention to do everything possible to support the continuation of that life together. But also tell Hal, ‘If you need to leave now, it’s okay. I will be okay, and you will be okay. I hope you can stay. I hope we have more time together. But if you need to leave, you have my blessing to do that.’” And then she began to talk to him of very precious memories— the births of their children and other beautiful memories. And although he was lying there for those few minutes before the ambulance came, clearly suffering, he also smiled a few times, as she talked to him. He was able to hear her.

Spaciousness as the offering to contraction. Love as the offering to fear. The capacity to do this is the result of freedom, of liberation. Liberation from being caught in old habitual patterns. Liberation from who you always believed you were, to more fully be who you are in this moment, which is: awake. You are all awake in this moment, all of you. But most of you have not quite caught on to that yet. So this is the work of our two years.

I was looking with Barbara at the poem “The Wasteland” earlier this week. I asked her to find it online and was quoting some of it to her. It starts with— I am not quoting it exactly, perhaps, but close—

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land…

Why is it cruel that the lilacs are blooming? Only because you want them to keep blooming, all through the summer, through the fall and into the winter. When you recognize that everything has a season— when the conditions are present it will arise, and when the conditions are passed, it will pass— then you understand the blooming of the lilacs as based on conditions, and you can feel joy for those lilacs; loving them in this moment, without expecting them to be there tomorrow. Just in this moment. In this moment, Barbara’s love for Hal, and his for her. In this moment, M— may I use you as an example here?— M’s mother died last week and the funeral was this weekend. M, your mother is right here with us. She’s in your heart. And all of you who have lost loved ones, your loved ones are right here with you. Frank, who died a few weeks ago, Frank is here in this room, for Frank, the carpenter, helped the sangha build this room, this beautiful space that you’re in. Frank carved these windowsills and created these beautiful shapes around the windows. Frank is fully alive in this room.

You suffer when— let me phrase this carefully— when you cannot stay fully in this present moment and mind drifts off to, “But I want it to be this way, I want it to be that way.” April is the most beautiful month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land! Exquisite lilacs! Of course, they will pass away. Cherish them in this moment. Cherish each other and yourselves, in this moment.

When you are fully in this moment with an open heart, you are able so deeply to bring joy and happiness, gratitude and wonder, to your lives, while knowing this will pass. That is the nature of the conditioned realm. So, to put it in the simplest way, suffering equates with grasping. Joy and happiness equate with being in this moment, free of grasping, and everything else is the trying to get from Point A to Point B, and is what we will be working with in these 2 years.

I want to read you another quote from The Wasteland…

…What have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment’s surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms

What have we given? We are here together to learn to give the power of the open heart, which is the essence of your true being. To live it, to give it, to know it so it because unshakeable.

I’m going to talk for about 10 more minutes here, then give you a break, and then resume talking for another 35 minutes or so. A lot to cover, this first class.

Several words of which I speak, perhaps not in Human, maybe just in Path of Clear Light: the three kayas. These are important words for you to understand. “Kaya” means “body”. Dharmakaya means “truth body”. Nirmanakaya means “form body”. Almost all of you have learned these words with me before. Dharmakaya, nirmanakaya, form body, and sambhogakaya. Sambhogakaya usually translates as “wealth body”. It is the enormous wealth of presence in this moment, of pure being. The movement from dharmakaya— let’s call it God, the Divine, Unconditioned— to nirmanakaya—let’s call it the relative reality. Ultimate reality, relative reality. TSambhogakaya is the bridge that joins Dharmakaya and nirmanakaya.

If you will, picture the sides of a steep ravine, spanned by a bridge with posts dug deep into the earth. On the one side is nirmanakaya, the form body, the everyday realm, and on the other side is Dharmakaya, the heavenly realms. Our work is to get to know the bridge, and to know the— what is the best word?— to know that the bridge has an ultimate reality because it’s anchored in the Dharmakaya and a relative reality, touching nirmanakaya. Even when you move from the Dharmakaya, out of that heavenly realm into this heavy density earth plane, if you develop the practice to stay on the bridge, or, phrased better, to know yourself as always on the bridge— you can’t really fall off of it, you only have the illusion that you can— you are always in touch with the Dharmakaya. You are always in touch with the Light.

I said in my note to you last week these were going to be basic foundational reminders that we will build upon. So, I don’t expect all of you to as yet be familiar with these terms. Some of you will need to review things you learned with me years ago, decades ago. Dharmakaya, nirmanakaya, and sambhogakaya that links the two. When you step onto the bridge, you are touching both. This is where I hope you will come to live more fully in these two years, fully present with this human experience, including the pain of it, the grief, the sadness, the fear, and also the beauty and the joy. To be present with compassion when there is pain, when there is suffering. And pain and suffering, no, they are not the same. We’ll talk about that another time. To be fully present in this human experience with as much love as possible, requires that you stay connected to the Ultimate, to Love, right there with the pain.

Barbara, on the floor reminding Hal of their love for each other. Any of you who have lost a loved one recently, remembering the pain and the love, and that you cannot lose the love. And also, that the pain is a real experience and you must acknowledge it with compassion. You cannot deny it and push it away, and say, “Oh no, there’s only love.” How do we develop that compassion for the human experience? Mostly by holding the simultaneity of relative and ultimate.

So, coming back to T. S. Eliot:

…What have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment’s surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed…

Are you ready to prove your existence? Are you ready to dare to fully exist? To fully love, without constraints? Which means also to fully lose what you love, to lose it without April becoming the cruelest month, but cherishing the relationships, the friends, the parents, the children, the spouses. Cherishing everything around you, and knowing it is arisen from conditions; it’s impermanent.

In the second half of the class I’ll go into a little more detail on some things. The first half is meant to be more inspirational.

One more quote, from the Buddha. It was on Barbara’s altar but I guess it was put aside. From a sutra, the line I’m looking for is simply, “If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.” The Buddha says, “Abandon the unwholesome. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it…. Cultivate the wholesome. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it….” Well, I’m here, I hope, as living proof that it is possible. — (laughing) Can I say, “living proof”? I suppose not! As I once was living proof; the mind is still alive. I’m here as proof that it is possible to abandon the unwholesome and cultivate the wholesome, and to do this to the degree that you fully awaken, which is the greatest gift you can give to this world that is so deeply suffering. So many of you are coming to me and saying, “Aaron, what can we do?” Learn to love, starting with this politician, who disturbs you so deeply. Learn to love. Learn to love yourselves. Learn to love each other. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.

Let’s take a 10-minute break for all of you to stretch, whatever is needed. We will start promptly in 10 minutes with Part II.