Transcription and closed captioning.
The Three Kayas: Part 1
Living from the Heart of Love
My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. It’s become a real joy to be able to talk to you this way each month. I have many topics I would love to share.
Often, in the course of your daily life, your energy becomes dispersed— your attention, your energy, your focus. Your world is so busy, and it’ s easy for your whole focus to end up out there somewhere (gesturing) rather than centered inside.
People go to meditation retreats, where the energy is deep within, very still. From that place, it sometimes becomes difficult to move out and attend to the taking out the garbage or cleaning up the overflowed toilet.
People sometimes ask me, where is the best place for my focus to be? Shall I be within my heart, resting in stillness? Shall I be out there and taking care of the millions of needs in the world? My reply is always: both.
There is a simultaneity of the ultimate realm, in which you rest in the divine heart, and of the relative realm, present with the mundane world. The challenge is to learn balance, how to rest in both places at the same time.
I usually try to avoid technical words, but there are three words in a Buddhist teaching that I find very helpful, and they’re not complex words. First, the root word kaya, which means body. There are many kinds of bodies. Dharmakaya means truth body, the body of the Dharma. You may think of this as the divine essence, the Unconditioned, divine consciousness, Christ consciousness. On the other end of the spectrum is nirmanakaya. Nirmana means form, so nirmanakaya is the form body, the outer body.
Don’t leave me! I can feel that some of you are saying, “Eh, too many technical words, Aaron. Too many formal words.” Bear with me; only one more, sambhogakaya. This is usually translated specifically as wealth body. What does that mean? Think of the Dharmakaya on one side of a ravine and the nirmanakaya on the other. To get from this truth body, from the heart, out into the practical world, you need a bridge. Sambhogakaya is the bridge. But it carries all the riches of the Divine heart out into the world, thus, wealth body.
All right, you have my terminology. Now let’s put that aside and understand what it means, how we use it.
I want to start with what I hope will be a clear example. Imagine you are meditating beside a swiftly flowing river. There have been heavy rains so the water is flowing fast. You’re sitting on the bank beside a big tree that leans out over the river, meditating; in a space of deep peace, watching the water flow by. You hear the sounds of the rippling of the water and the wind blowing in the trees. You have been sitting and walking and sitting again for hours, and you’re very still.
In the distance you suddenly hear screaming. “He’s fallen in! He’s fallen in! Save him!” What are you going to do?
You happen to have a very long rope with you. You don’t know why you brought it, but you brought it. You tie one end of the rope around the tree. You tie the other end of the rope around your waist. Remember, this is a fierce current, flowing fast. If you jump in there and you have 100 yards of rope, it’s going to quickly swing you 100 yards downstream. How will you get back? On the other hand, if you only give yourself 10 feet of rope, how will you reach the person who has fallen in and is going to be floating past, hoping you can save him?
How much is just enough? Perhaps you give yourself 20 or 30 feet of rope, tie it around your waist. And then you see the person coming down the river, bobbing up and down, screaming, “Help me! Help me!” Do you jump in immediately and let yourself swing to the whole end of the 30 feet? Or will you wait until they’re approaching and judge how much rope you really need, only emerging from that tree, that still, strong place, out into the water as far as is needed?
The person sweeps toward you and you jump in, only releasing as much rope as is needed so that you can grab him, a child. You pull him to you. You’re still holding the rope, too, so it doesn’t open further. You hold him until he feels secure. You ask him to hold you tight around the neck, and then you take the rope and pull yourself in. The current is tugging at you, but it’ s only about 15 feet. You’re not too far from that secure, deep place of safety. Pull yourself in. Put the child on the bank, pull yourself up on the bank.
I think you understand my metaphor here. If we leap out from the Dharmakaya from this stillness of our hearts and deepest place within, fully distracted by the, “Help! Help!” of the world, how will we get ourselves back? If we keep ourselves tied to the shore, how can we reach and touch what needs support in the world? There must be a balance.
I find it works best to live as close to the Dharmakaya as is possible, which skill comes from daily meditation, really understanding what that truth body is, that place of love within you, but without fear of jumping into the raging river, when it’s needed. Only, you must maintain a connection to the Dharmakaya or you will drown.
It’s so easy to become dispersed by fear. You jump into the stream, and immediately there seem to be not one but a thousand voices screaming, “Help! Help! Help!” Your world is in such chaos. If you do not maintain daily connection to the divine heart within through meditation practice, through mindfulness, through the practice of loving kindness and more, it’s so easy to lose it.
We begin to look at the ways that fear and reactivity to fear lead us to lose that connection. Is there anyone to whom I am speaking who has not felt dispersed in that way in the world in the past week, with anxiety, with confusion? “How do I fix this? What shall I do?” It happens.
The challenge is not that it happens but how you may bring yourself back. The first step is knowing that this dispersion happens. The second step is knowing the intention not to lose the clear space within. How can you really lose it? It’s there. It’s always been there. It is the essence of your being, and beyond that, the essence of Being. If you think you can lose it, if you are afraid you can lose it, you will lose it. The first step is knowing that you cannot lose it. To know that you cannot lose it, you need to know how it feels to rest there.
People speak sometimes of losing their balance. Could anybody lose their balance who did not understand what balance felt like? A one year old toddling with her first steps, she doesn’t think, “I will lose my balance.” She just walks, and she plops down when she can’t walk any further. But she sees people around her upright and walking so she knows, “I can do that.” She has no fear, “I will lose my balance”, no story about that. She only knows, “I will walk”, and so she does.
We find different practices and supports to bringing us back to this center. One is by reflecting on the places in which you feel most centered, in love, in kindness, in ease in the world. And these are probably the times when you are feeling joy, gratitude, and connection to others, not separation.
What seems to happen for the human, though, is that when separation that comes from anger, or grief, or confusion, when it arises, you pull into a smallness. Basically, you separate from yourself. And as soon as you’re separated from yourself, you’re separated from everything. And then, from that place of separation you’re at the end of the rope, now 100 yards downstream with the current pulling at you. No longer is the child calling, “Help!”; you’re also calling, “Help!” You’re afraid the rope will break and send you over the waterfall.
Instead, you jump in with the short rope, and knowing, “I am safe, and I have the capacity to save this child. If he comes anywhere near me, I will reach out to him.” You can’t swim, the current is too fast. You can’t swim 100 yards across the river. If he’s at the far shore, you can’t reach him. If he comes near you, you can reach him.
We learn to trust. Holding the intention that the current bring the child to me, I will venture far enough out into the river to grab him and bring him back. This is possible. I choose it. And then I do it. Can you see then the energy never becomes contracted with fear? There’s a strong statement: I thusly choose. I know that this is possible and I choose it. I co-create it with the universe. And I have not left that divine heart to move into a place of fear and separation, nor of ego. I choose. I bring it into being. And it comes into being not from me, the personal self, but from the ground of love into which I am connected.
Think of the meaning of these three kayas in your life, and continue to hold the intention to rest deeply in the divine heart of love, even as you step out to be active in the world, to take care of yourself and others, always with love and not fear.
Next month I will speak further on this. Thank you for being with me today.