Recorded in Barbara Brodsky’s backyard in June 2018.
Video and Transcript, the video is also closed captioned.
Aaron: My blessings and love to you. I am Aaron. Welcome to our summer garden, where Barbara has enjoyed some hours meditating, reading, and relaxing this summer, and contemplating dharma truths such as impermanence.
My topic today is the path of the dharma, dharma path, which is the title of the new two-year class that we will begin in the fall. Many of watching this are already registered. Registration is full. There is a waitlist. We’re trying to understand how we can bring everyone in who wishes to participate, so if interested, please simply sign on to the waitlist. Then hold your heart open with the possibility.
What is this “dharma path”? I want to begin by reading you one verse from the Dhammapada, a beautiful Buddhist scripture, Dhammapada— dharma and dhamma being equal terms in two different languages.
Dhammapada, verse 178:
Better than ruling the whole world, better than going to heaven, better than lordship over the universe, is an irreversible commitment to the Way.
The way of what? To what are you committing? You are committing to know who you are beyond this human body and the small ego. To know the deepest truth of yourself and hold your heart open to that truth. To live that truth, not just think about it.
Twenty-five hundred years ago the Buddha suggested the idea of three segments to practice: sila (moral awareness), pañña (wisdom or more accurately, insight), samadhi (mindfulness, presence, concentration). I cannot improve on that. But I can bring it into this century. What do these teachings mean today, and how can we find true liberation through these teachings?
What I teach, and what I will be teaching in this class, is grounded in Buddhism but I am not teaching it as Buddhism. No ‘isms’ here; just bringing the deepest aspect of yourself into practice and into your pure being.
Let’s unfold this sila/ pañña /samadhi, starting with sila, moral awareness. On a relative level this means to honor the commitment to do no harm to others or to yourself. Notice there is still the word “other”. There is still a thinking from the relative plane of self and other, of doing no harm. Once we are well-grounded in sila, and most of you watching this already are, we move out of the relative and onto the ultimate. But you cannot reach the ultimate level of understanding without the wisdom and presence parts of this tripod.
When we come to a place of knowing that everything is part of the self, there is no longer a self or other. No one to do harm, no one to be harmed. And yet, we must understand that harm still does happen, because you are not completely free, because most of you, at least, still move into the ego self at times and oppose it to the will of others rather than resting in compassion and saying no from that compassionate heart. As long as there’s an ego there, there’s going to be harm.
To find the egoless place you must meditate, which is still a relative practice, a doing, until you come to the place of resting in pure presence, resting in spaciousness, resting in love. Resting in that pure presence, you directly experience that no-self, no-other, and then move out of the karmic field in which harming can happen. But of course, being humans, you slip back into it again.
Then we work with the wisdom practices. At first these are the early teachings. Every conditioned thing is impermanent. Whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease and is not me or mine. You begin to see how objects arise out of conditions and pass away; how the impulse to harm something arises out of conditions and passes away. With a strong commitment to do no harm— I’m smiling at the butterflies clustered over the lavender!— with a strong commitment to do no harm, as presence, mindfulness meditation, concentration, as these deepen, you begin to find that which is empty of a self, right there with the ego itself, and to begin to act more from that place; to speak, to think more from that egoless core of being. You begin to know this is who you are.
Then sila deepens. We enter the shift of moving from the relative, heavy vibration human into the true high vibrational spirit cloaked in flesh. That is what you truly are. The identification shifts.
Last week Barbara had a beautiful meditation, and she has given me permission to share it with you. She had an appointment with a well-trusted acupuncturist and was lying on his table, with needles at the various points on her body, knowing she had perhaps an hour just to be there, present, and to meditate. She had been feeling quite overwhelmed with many things in her life. Of course, with Hal, whose condition, a stroke— leads to the need to help him have the proper care; to organize the proper care. Then there is her own time spent with him. She is very busy with the remodeling she is just beginning in the house; the previous weeks, spending many hours a day, with some support, clearing out endless boxes of old books, old things, finding homes for that which needed homes. Recycling the rest. Fifty years of accumulation; a huge task. Hours are spent with trying to understand the home finances and paying Hal’s now $12,000 a month nursing home bill. Worrying, where the money will come from, month after month? She seeks to support her own health, trying to get the proper exercise, to eat properly; failing a good part of the time but not condemning herself, just persisting.
So she was feeling overwhelmed. As she lay on the table, she could feel the places where the body was holding all of this sense of being overwhelmed, all of the contraction. She asked for help. At least she’s getting that much of it; she remembers that she can ask for help! Jeshua came in very quickly. He invited her, “You are still here in the human body, and at the end of this session you will return to the human body. But for now, come with me. Come through this transition portal.”
He took her hand—energetically, I should say— and literally led her— not pulled her but invited her through what would be the transition experience, a simple transition experience. Moving from the heavy density plane into a plane of light. There was briefly a period of fear and of darkness, for Barbara. Then, sensing Jeshua’s touch and presence, and mine also, holding the commitment to move beyond the edges of that darkness and into the place where light and darkness become one, – not separate, no duality – moving into the light. Her energy field expanded, opened; joy arose. Where she rested was so flooded with light, with happiness.
After a few minutes resting there, Jeshua invited her to turn around, literally, and look back at the Barbara lying on the table, filled with feelings of being overwhelmed, with contraction, with fear, with worry, with doubt. As she looked at that Barbara, she saw that all of these myriad contractions, all of these thoughts, that these were all simply conditioned objects, arisen from conditions, impermanent, not of the nature of a self, and that she did not need to identify with them. But she knew that she would need to return to the body and take care of these fear-based contractions held in that body.
She rested there in the spaciousness for about 10 or 15 minutes. And then Jeshua invited her, “Now it is time to return to the body. Look at each piece of contraction literally as a conditioned object, and know it to be impermanent. Right there with that particular contraction, where is spaciousness? Right there with grief, where is love? Right there with fear, where is the one who knows the deep inner clarity and love?
So, she spent the rest of the hour lying on the table, back in the body, looking at each place where the body had contracted with this or that catalyst, and holding the intention, I should not say to release it, that’s too much a doing, but to move into the place where contraction was not. To move into the innate spaciousness of being.
By the end of the hour she had let go of all — let phrase that differently; that’s also too much of a doing— the identification had shifted itself to the spacious awakened spirit that she is, able to approach with compassion the human that she also is right now, and to touch the places of fear with loving compassion, with patience.
Lying there, she recited to herself again St. Theresa’s prayer, that I’ve shared with you before.
Be not perplexed.
Be not afraid.
God does not change.
Patience wins all things.
She who has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
Each of you, as for Barbara, must explore what God means in this context. For Barbara, God is Love. It’s as simple as that. Love wins all things. Love alone suffices. The power of love suffices.
She emerged from that room feeling infinitely lighter and more at ease, with readiness to return to the work of her current life; not viewing it as burden but as teacher. How do I bring love more to this, and to that, and to that? Where is the love that is already there? How do I bring the already awake self to this challenge that life presents me now? This, my dear ones, is the dharma path.
For those who are not in the class, and as I said, registration is quite limited, my talks every other week will be available in some way. Not yet understood how, but they will become available. I hope that many of you will choose to follow these talks and join us on this two year journey.
My blessings and love to you. Thank you for being with me today.