Barbara Brodsky continues introducing her new book ‘Out of the Shadows, The Path of Clear Light’. This is Part 2 of 2, she will continue sharing the teachings in this book in the near future. Aaron dictated this to Barbara over the summer at her cabin. Sept. and Oct. videos were recorded at her cabin in August.
Video and transcript, the video is also closed captioned.
Transcript, there are a few edits in the transcript that are not on the video.
October 2017 – Dharma Journal
Out of the Shadows – The Path of Clear Light
My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. We’re still here at the cabin, with the lake in the background, and the woods. I hope you’re enjoying the energy here. I’m going to pick up on the book now, from where I left off, not in its entirety but excerpting This is what I would consider section 2 of the book.
“Now let us consider the human experience. The human knows pain in the body, and in the mind. This pain is a reality, but not an ultimate reality. However, to declare it somewhat less real can be cruel. The human experiencing such pain knows the reality of it. For that human, in that moment, it exists. Compassion, which enters into the suffering of another, also know the reality of it.”
“How do we respond to these human challenges with wisdom and compassion, without taking pain, fear and contraction as permanent, and as owned by the self. What is this self who is experiencing, we first might ask. In Dhamma discussions, we sometimes speak of no self. No self does not mean you don’t exist. It simply means that what you are is the expression of many conditions, all coming forth in this moment. None of these expressions can be called self, nor can their totality. Nevertheless, something does exist.”
“We do not say, this set of conditions would appreciate a certain set of conditions on that set of conditions. We use the shorthand, ‘I would like some salt on my soup’. ‘I’ is a concept, summarizing a set of conditions. ‘Salt’ is a concept, summarizing a set of conditions. ‘My’ is a concept, summarizing a set of conditions. ‘Soup’ is a concept, summarizing a set of conditions. But we all understand what is meant by the phrase. In the same way, when we think, ‘I would like this discomfort to go away’, ‘I is a concept. ‘Discomfort’ is a concept. When we personalize such concepts, and make them into a self-identity, we suffer. I am not the discomfort, but it has arisen from conditions, and it must be attended to.”
“The one experiencing these concepts is the mundane realm experiencer. The conscious mind, sometimes called the small self. There is also the level of awareness, the one who witnesses the mundane consciousness, the higher self. For the human trained in mindfulness, the small self, or mundane consciousness, is the aspect of mind that relates to whatever arises, that attempts to fix or control that arisen object in order to somehow become comfortable again. When a challenge arises in the mind or body, and the human attempts to deny it, that denial takes energy. If the human attempts to fix it, that attempt takes energy. The contraction of denial, or fix, gives energy to the object that has arisen, ironically, holding it more firmly in place. How ironic that denying our troubles is like trying to outrun our shadow on a sunny day!”
“If a strong wind blows, the tree that bends and sways, dances with the wind, will survive. The tree that is rigid, will snap and break. The question is not whether things will push at you, but how you relate to that push.”
As an aside, many of you who have worked with me for years know that this has been a heart of my teaching. How to dance with the push. Continuing.
“Imagine a sudden, heavy downpour that wets and chills you. Will you stand outside, ranting in anger at the weather, or will you seek shelter? You could scream to exhaustion at the cold and rain, thusly depriving yourself of the energy to find a place that is warm and dry. Until you lie soaked and shivering on the Earth. What benefit derives from such fear-based reaction to what we experience? The habitual reaction to a push is one of the mammal: fight, flight or freeze. But, you came into the incarnation to transcend such ancient patterns, and demonstrate the ability to live from the heart.”
“Fight, freeze and flight impulses involve contraction. This contracted state arises out of conditions. It is impermanent. It is not self. By that I mean, contraction is not the Unconditioned essence, but is merely arisen from conditions, with no ultimate reality. The fact of contraction is not a problem, but a teacher. A vital practice when mindful of contraction is to ask, ‘right here with contraction, where is spaciousness? Right here with darkness, where is light?’”
“Yes, I am equating spaciousness unto light. When you harden yourselves with contraction of body and mind, how can the radiance of the Unconditioned shine in? How can your inner radiance shine out? Here is an essential starting point. While light and spaciousness are direct expressions of the Unconditioned and can never be lost in the ultimate sense, still you must retain a connection, and not turn your back to the sun.”
As an aside here, this takes us to the heart of our human experience, our habitual reactivity to the push. Hardening, closing out the light that would shine in, and closing out your inner light. It is essential to begin to recognize the parallels of light and spaciousness. It’s the next step.
Returning to the reading.
“In the empowering words of the Buddha, ‘If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it’. You have free will to choose, spaciousness or contraction. Darkness or light. You came into the incarnation to know your divinity, and remember the ability to live from your light. The purity of the human heart sees the impulses that drag you down, and knows them for what they are. An impulse arises from conditions, and has no ultimate reality. There is no need to be enslaved by it. But what if you reacted from unconscious habit to the storms of life, to the rain and winds? There you lie in the mud soaked, and shivering. What next? Awareness notes, wet, cold, disappointed, angry, afraid. Whatever is predominant. One greets these unpleasant mind and body states with compassion.”
Again, an aside: this is the heart of it. There is so much habitual reaction, when disappointment, fear, anger, pain arise, to contract and push them away. And contact with your innate compassion is lost. The essential practice is to learn to relate with what arises, from the heart, with compassion, even while there is fear and anger. Not denial of the fear, anger or negativity, not denial of the pain, but right there with the true aversion to what has arisen, compassion for the human.
I continue to read.
“This expression of free will to choose what is wise, and compassionate, is the heart of human learning. It means you have the ability to say no to eons of old, habitual patterns that have pulled you down into the muck. I repeat again, please listen closely, you have the ability to choose to live in the light.”
“I understand that at first, to choose thusly can be terrifying. As long as you merely react and continue to believe you have no choice, you hide in the belief of powerlessness. What if you truly are powerful beyond measure? You say you desire power, but you also desire to be loving, so power often frightens you, because the most intense emotions are not yet purified. There is fear you may backslide and enact those emotions. You then perpetuate the perceptions that seem to prove you are powerless.”
“The first step then is to know that you have free will. You always have choice. That choice is often between listening to the many voices of fear, or to the voice of love. You must learn to listen carefully. Fear often seems to scream loudly. Love comes as a whisper. Only the heart’s awareness can hear that whisper, but it is always there, if you will learn to listen.”
“So you move through your human life, asking how to discern this whisper through all the loud voices that seem perpetually to echo in your head.”
“If you move to the exit of a dark cave, have you any difficulty discerning where there is light, and where there is darkness? You know the direct experience of light. With the cave and bright sunlight, the distinction is clear. But sometimes there may be confusion, within the shadows, for the eyes that mingle light and darkness.”
“How do we know the light within the fields of darkness. I am going to repeat that. How do we come to know the light within the fields of darkness? It is not so difficult.”
End of reading for today.
The next section of the book will begin to go into specific practices, to center yourself in light, even when you are experiencing darkness, pain, fear, anger and other negative experience. How to ground yourself in that light without denial of the negativity. The book moves more directly into what I call the practice of Clear Light after these preliminary practices as part 3, and part 4, moving into the practice of Clear Light.
I hope by this time that you are seeing this, October I presume, the book itself may be available. So some of you may enjoy reading the book even as you watch these Dhamma dialogues and hear some of my thought about them. Once we have the book available, I will read a bit more quickly and spend more time talking to you about the practices, which will be important as we move more directly into the clear light practice. I will also be asking you to practice what I’m suggesting, not just listen, so it becomes a firm ground for you, and you can access it.
My blessings and love to you. Thank you for being with me today.
Added in mid-October. Editing and production are taking longer than we expected. Aaron will not read more from the book, but offer a different topic in November and December. The book should (hopefully) be available by early December.