March 24, 2020 Tuesday Evening, Dharma Path Class
The World is Too Much With Us: What Helps Us to Keep a High Vibration?; Speaking to the Virus
Year 2; Session 2; Class 6
Barbara: Welcome to Dharma Path class! Most of you that I see are in the class. We have a few guests; welcome to you, glad to have you.
I’m sorry for the delay in getting you the last transcript; it’s been a busy two weeks. My own personal news is that Hal is now home, for one week so far. It’s wonderful and also challenging. Lots to do to take care of this man who is pretty helpless. But, it’s so good to have him home, and he is so happy to be home. I’m very relieved that he’s safely at home and not in a nursing home, where he would be much more vulnerable.
Last class, Aaron challenged us to practice walking meditation walking backwards. Did anyone try that? A few people. I only see half the screen at once—who on this screen? Anybody try it? No, very few. Okay, so the challenge goes back to you, assuming you have some place to walk: please try walking meditation walking backwards and watch the feelings of not being in control. How do we work with those?
What I’d like to do is let Aaron talk, give his talk for the night, and then open the floor for people to share what’s happening for you. The reason I invited people beyond Dharma Path to hear Aaron’s talk is, it feels to me in talking to many of you, that connecting to each other and hearing from Aaron seems very helpful to people. We’d like to make this available as widely as possible.
Tomorrow night is the monthly Open Aaron talk. Aaron will give a less specific practice-related talk tomorrow night, and a more broad—I don’t want to say philosophical as much as, well—philosophical! I can’t think of a better word. We also have the “Seattle” retreat this weekend, which of course is taking place in everybody’s own homes. You’ve been sent the link for that. It’s freely offered. I hope anybody that would like to join will join. Because there are a few beginners, we’ll also add an hour when others are meditating with beginner instruction. So it’s suitable for everyone.
Aaron will come in and talk…
Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. I hope you are all doing well. Probably a very different situation than you have ever found yourselves in, this social isolation. The fears of becoming ill, of others becoming ill. Many of you with financial worries. Everything is changing like that (snaps fingers). And yet, it’s always changing, it just usually doesn’t seem as dramatic as this.
I’m looking at the screen, here. I find great joy as N joins us, looking through the hatch of her boat! Sailing, sailing! The view is beautiful, N.
So many people emailing, sharing feelings of fear, of isolation, of vulnerability. This situation truly has become your dark cave. We’ve been talking for several months about entering into the dark cave, and we’ve done guided meditations where we held hands and came into the cave together. Now you’re asked to come into this dark cave from this perspective of social isolation. But there is never truly isolation, of course; you are always connected.
If everybody will unmute, we’re going to chant, “All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you…” And then in Arabic… For those new to the chant, the Arabic words mean “God is lover and beloved.” (Asks John Orr to lead the group; he retrieves his harmonium) I have no idea how this will turn out because I have no idea if your voices will all come out together or staggered! Enjoy! No perfectionism. I’m going to release the body to Barbara so she can enjoy this, then I’ll return…
Barbara: Thank you, Aaron…
(group chanting over Zoom; they cancel each other out so only one Zoom voice is heard at a time)
John: How about if we chant, “Love is the law…”? (John recites lyrics to each verse)
Barbara: Aaron will come in. Thank you, John…
Aaron: Again, my blessings and love to you. I am Aaron. Thank you for that, John. This is a very different picture from that of 20 minutes ago. You are all radiating light, so much more open, hearts open.
So, here you have been, sitting all week in your own self-isolated dark caves. Minds run with worry about health, about finances, about the welfare of people in difficult situations in the world. A lot of the fear not for yourselves but for people who are very much endangered by what’s happening. People in migrant camps, for example. People in prisons. People who are old and sick and homeless.
There is something that you can do on your own at home. That is, to sing. To open your heart and allow this high energy to rise up in you. Your energy truly can change everything. Love is indeed the law.
I’ve been talking about different aspects of this virus. It is in its own way a sentient being. Not sentient as you know sentience; it doesn’t plan, it doesn’t have a mind that holds intentionality. But it can experience energy directed at it, as loving energy or as hateful or angry energy. When it feels itself attacked, like anything else it armors itself and punches back. It makes it more determined, in a sense.
The virus has a different kind of sentience in that each of you have your own mind and intentionality; the virus is more universal. It’s not broken into this piece of the virus, and that piece, and that piece, into billions of parts. Rather, it almost responds in some ways like one organism. That means that what affects one small part of the virus can affect everything within the virus.
You have a powerful tool at your disposal, and that is love. Love is not weak. Love does not say, “Come on in and wipe us out.” Love knows how to say no, but is able to say no from a place of clarity, of compassion. “No, you may not destroy.”
The virus can be educated. That means, as you talk to it and help it to know—the virus is a parasite, really. If it destroys its host, it has nothing left to live on. So it is not beneficial to the virus to destroy its host, only to be strong enough to survive, not so strong that it destroys that which it feeds upon. Inform it, “Draw back. You may not destroy.”
Taking it the next step and asking it to leave, that will come in time. But for now, simply communicate to it, “If you destroy your host, you will have nothing left to survive. Draw back.”
It can learn. It doesn’t learn through words, of course; it doesn’t speak English. But when you express what is in your heart, at some level it comprehends.
Thus, it’s important not to say, “I hate you! Get out of here!”, but, “We honor and respect you as a sentient form of life. But no, you may not destroy your hosts. Draw back, and we’ll work out whatever kind of balance is appropriate. Draw back.”
As far as my fellow Brothers and Sisters of Light and I can determine, this virus has come long ago into the earth plane from other planes of being. It has lived here in a dormant state, or semi-dormant, for a long time. It is one of many related kinds of virus, such as the cold virus. Such a virus will take advantage wherever it can. When you close up in fear, so no energy is moving through you, that becomes a situation where the virus has something to grab hold of. When you are more openhearted, drawing energy in through the crown, through the base chakras, opening the chakras singing—it’s my old Teflon versus Velcro. Your openness creates Teflon so the virus has nothing to grab hold of. The virus needs something to grasp.
So, there is a lot the individual can do to release the virus from the whole Earth, and to block the virus from taking hold in oneself. You are not helpless.
Let’s move to what helps. What helps you to keep a high vibration? Joy. Gratitude. And of course, the basics of eating wisely, drinking enough—and by that I don’t mean the booze, I mean the water, the tea, the chocolate milk; whatever suits you. A glass of wine, if it helps—that’s fine. Eating well, sleeping well. And sharing togetherness like this, even in your social isolation. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn that you can be physically alone and stay connected.
Let me make something clear. The virus did not come with an intention, “Oh, I’ve come to Earth and I’m going to teach people.” The virus simply is a very low—what is the best word—it has limited consciousness and intentionality. It cannot make a plan with conscious intention. But the virus is arisen from conditions, and it offers you the opportunity to learn something important.
Therefore, hard though it may be, you may be able to say, “Thank you for this learning opportunity.” Not, “What did you come to teach me?”—that is a little off. “What am I offered the opportunity to learn?” Can you feel the difference? “What am I offered the opportunity to learn?” To learn your interconnection. To learn how powerful you are. To remember joy and gratitude, even in difficult situations.
People who have been in terrible situations like concentration camps have shared that one of the things that kept them alive was comradeship, and especially, music. Sing. I didn’t get to read the whole email, but somebody posted a list of different chanting that you can do at home. Even better, call up a few friends on Skype or whatever format and sing together. Two or three of you just sing together. Go out in your yard and sing to the trees and the birds.
You might begin to ask yourself, in this moment, what am I grateful for? Gratitude is a wonderful tool for opening the energy, for reconnecting you with love and joy. What are you grateful for?
Judging by all of you on the screen, I would guess that none of you are sick. We are grateful for that.
Is there anybody here who is sick, I mean with the virus? Anybody sick? Okay, wonderful. Here we have a group of almost 40 people, and no one has contracted this virus. You’re healthy. “Thank you for my good health.”
Is there anybody here who does not have food in their house for tomorrow? Anybody? “Thank you for the abundance that I have.”
Is there anybody here who does not have heat in their home, or for those in the south, cooling? “Thank you for a comfortable living condition.”
Anybody who has any truly vital unmet need? And I’m asking this in part, because if this is so, we’d like to know about it and see how we can help. Anybody with a vital unmet need? “Thank you. Thank you for taking care of me and all of my loving sangha. Thank you.”
Can you feel that? Put your hands together. Feel the energy in your hands together. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” Can you feel how that opens your energy field? “Thank you.”
The experience of joy. What do I have to be thankful for, grateful for, today? And what brings me joy? It could be as simple as you have a glass of your favorite cognac to sip later, or a bar of chocolate. Your cat to climb up on your lap, or your dog to snuggle with. A bird to sit on your shoulder and whistle. Joy! Truly, life is good.
You have more to be thankful for, because you are all awake enough to truly connect with what you can learn from life with this virus. To truly realize the potential learning; to use this situation to awaken.
Take some time to review your life in the weeks prior to the virus. I’m going to quote a Wordsworth poem. I believe. (Actually from “The World is Too Much With Us”.) It’s a favorite of Barbara’s. Just a few lines…
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours…
Think about that. “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers”. I believe I am talking to a group that does not rush off to the mall 5 times a week. Some of you may even truly dislike shopping. But that getting and spending can be transferred to getting videos on Netflix; getting a phone call to and from a friend; grasping at something to fill a gap in the self. Now you are given a wonderful opportunity to find there is no gap; there never has been. You all have this very precious meditation practice to help you see deeper. What is the experience of grasping? What is the experience of wanting to avoid emotions of fear, scarcity, or pain? Who wants to avoid these? Can you find any separate self in there? It’s all arising from conditions and passing away.
That which is aware of wanting to avoid pain has no need to avoid pain. It simply watches the human needing to do that. Come back and rest in awareness. Rest in this openhearted and loving awareness that can watch the various emotions of fear, of sadness, of desperation arise and just say, “Ah, now this, and now that.”
This does not mean to dissociate from what has arisen. Treat it with respect as something that has arisen in the human because the conditions are present for it to arise. But don’t give it the solidity of thinking you have to fix it. Just, “Sit by my fire. Have tea.” It arose from conditions. And as you open to a deeper condition of loving kindness, of generosity, of joy, it will dissolve. Begin to investigate what holds fear in place.
We’ve talked a bit then about mindfulness, about gratitude. Generosity is another help. I suggest that each of you contact one or two neighbors and ask, “How are you? Do you need anything?” Especially those of you who are still able actively to go out and pick up the food, if needed. Those of you who have perhaps overstocked can offer something to a neighbor. Even just an ear to listen to somebody else’s fear and pain. When you can hold space for somebody else’s fear, pain, and confusion, without getting caught up in it yourself, this is a wonderful gift. It reminds you of who you truly are.
And that’s what this practice is about—using joy, gratitude, generosity, awareness, to come back to who you truly are, so that you’re not so likely to get caught up in who your everyday mind is busy being, lost off in the nirmanakaya. You don’t want to race back and forth, “Nirmanakaya—oh, no! I must come back to the Dharmakaya—ahhh!”; you want to stay in the middle of the bridge. You can do this—finding this spaciousness that truly allows you to rest, right there on the bridge, always deeply connected to love. Knowing love is indeed the law. And respectful when fear and other emotions arise in the self. “Oh, this has arisen, and I will take care of it.”
We come back to a very basic dharma teaching from the sutras. “Abandon the unwholesome. One can abandon the unwholesome. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.” And a bit more elaboration on that. “Cultivate the wholesome. One can cultivate the wholesome. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.”
We do not abandon the unwholesome by turning our backs and refusing awareness of fear, of pain, of sorrow, of suffering. We abandon the unwholesome by sitting right in front of it and saying, “I know you. You have arisen from conditions. You’re impermanent and not self. You are simply that which clothes my experience at the moment, but not who I am. I abandon the unwholesome by saying no, I will not get locked into the repetitive stories, ‘What if this? What if that?” I will come back to knowing my loving heart, the heart of gratitude, of joy, of forgiveness, of generosity, of peacefulness.” You are that, so be that. You can be that. Together, we are that. “Cultivate the wholesome.”
May I ask how many of you are not just working an hour or two, but working long hours from home, or taking care of children long hours at home? Show me by show of hands how many… About a third of you. And those who are working long hours at home, are you working more than your normal 8-hour day? Anybody working more than that? A few of you. And you don’t have to commute, most of you; a few of you may have to commute. I know E of course is a doctor and has to work taking care of people. Are there any others in professions where you have to go in in a medical situation, for example, to take care of people? Is there anyone else? A few.
E, our deepest love and respect to you. We hold you in the light, and we thank you for what you are doing. We wish you blessings, protection, and safety.
For the rest of you, you may be working at home. You may have children who are driving you crazy because they can’t get out to play. I understand that. But I think all of you can make time to meditate. If you’re ever going to do it, now is the time. So, let’s have a show of hands this way, a pledge: “I pledge to meditate daily.” If you can’t do it, no shame, here. I understand that some of you may not be able to. I’ve talked to people who have several young children and are exhausted from it. I understand that. But we’re asking for a commitment, because it may be easier for you to remember to do it if you’ve made that commitment.
Barbara made a commitment to Hal last week, when he came home. She’s been finding it very hard to make time to exercise. His first day home, he didn’t want to exercise, and she said, “You have to exercise, otherwise you will not remain strong enough for us to help you stand up and transfer and do what’s needed for your care.” She said, “I promise to exercise daily for me and for you. Will you promise to exercise daily for yourself and for me?” And he gave a little sheepish smile and said yes.
He’s been honoring that, and she’s been honoring it. I’m happy to say that, using her walking sticks now for 3 or 4 days, she has walked for perhaps 15, 20 minutes around her backyard. She’s had to sit down after 5 minutes, rest, then get up and walk again. But each day she can walk a bit further. This is after 6 months of physical therapy; the torn hip tendon is healed. Now she’s using her legs, walking.
The meditation I am asking of you is for yourself and everyone. It is your personal answer to the virus. “I am going to stay healthy.” If you have even the smallest backyard or balcony, “I am going to sit outside for some period of time and just watch the changing of the clouds and the sky, and the trees blowing in the breeze. I am going to find the joy at being alive and offer this joy as a gift to all beings, to those who are literally in dark caves in prisons or dungeons, in places where they cannot see the sky and the flowers blooming.” Do it for the world.
This brings me to the next part of this. Whatever you do is not just for yourself but literally for all sentient beings. This is your commitment as a bodhisattva. Or if you don’t consider yourself a bodhisattva, at least as a human who wishes to alleviate suffering in the world. “What I do for myself, I offer freely to all living beings. I offer the sunrise to all living beings. I offer this tiny purple crocus to all living beings. I offer the star breaking through the clouds to all living beings. This breeze, these raindrops. With what I experience here, may all beings benefit.”
This truly is the spirit of generosity and loving. Through this you start to know that you are not isolated, and that helps you. Let me ask another question, here. How many of you out there are literally alone in your homes, and so have no opportunity to hug anybody or talk to anybody in your home? Hold up your hands so we can see you… All right, I see a half dozen of you or more like that. You are not alone. We embrace you. We are with you. How could you be alone when you have your sangha’s love wrapped around you? You are not alone.
Whether you live alone or not, think of the people in the world who truly are alone and reach out your heart to them. Embrace them. Let them know how dearly you cherish them, and how you pray for their well-being. Prayer does have energy. The resulting light that comes out with your prayer—when we talk about holding somebody in the light, it doesn’t mean that you’re pulling down a light from heaven to shine upon them, it means your own heart light wrapping that around them. All of this is in your power.
“Cultivate the wholesome. You can cultivate the wholesome. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.”
Most of you in Dharma Path have dharma buddies. There are few here tonight that are not in Dharma Path. Anybody without a dharma buddy? May we see your hands?… I’m going to ask those of you in Dharma Path to reach out to (listing the ones with no dharma buddy), reach out to them so each of them has at least one dharma buddy. I am asking you to check in daily—not just once a week, as you’ve been doing, but daily, with your dharma buddies. It can just be 5 minutes, if that’s all the time you have. But call or text, “How are you doing today?”
Be honest with each other. If you’re feeling miserable, let your dharma buddy know that. If you’re feeling a lot of fear or pain, send an email out to the whole Dharma Path saying, “Please hold me in the light. Please hold me in your prayers. I am feeling afraid,” sick, whatever you are feeling, so that the circle of energy can flow around all of you. In this way you will start to truly remember the power that you have, the power of the self as part of the Divine.; the self as that which is awake and knows how to say no to a virus.
My last thought, here. We’ve talked some in the class of connecting to your personal guides. Each of you has guidance, loving entities that love you so much and will help you. But you have to ask; they won’t come and knock on your door and say, “You’re suffering—will you let us in?” They’ll just wait and say, “Here I am.” It’s up to you to say, “Yes, I need help.” It can be as simple as that—just the statement, “I’m scared; I need help.” “I’m sad; I need help.” “I feel sick; I need help.” And then open your hands and say, “Yes, I welcome you. Come in. Please help me in whatever ways you can.” See what comes. Maybe it will come in a dream, or in meditation, or as a butterfly or a beautiful bird flying by your window. Love comes in many forms. You have to be ready to pay attention and be open to it.
The attitude, “They won’t pay attention to me. Nobody would care about me.”— I know some of you believe that. Stop! Wake up! You are not unworthy. You have never been unworthy. Nobody is unworthy. You are not unworthy— you, you, you, you, you! You are not unworthy. Ask for the help you need and expect that it will come.
I love you all very much. I am here with you, cherishing you and helping you. You can always say, “Hey, Aaron, I’m confused, here. Come talk to me.”, and I’ll come.
Tomorrow night it’s likely that Love will incorporate. I will talk some and Love will talk some. Tonight, what I’d like with the hour we have left, at least for now what I’d like to do, is to go around and hear from as many of you as would like to share. What is happening with you? Do you need help in some way? Do you have questions? Or just, what has your experience been this week? What do you wish to share? I’m sure there will be both joys and sorrows. Share them both.
Remember as you hear each other, your effort is not to fix anybody, simply to listen. To allow what they say to come into your heart without needing to armor your heart against their fear or pain. Just allowing it into your heart can truly be of service to others.
In this way, you wake up. This truly is the dharma path. And for those in the Awakened Heart class, this is truly the awakened heart, too.
My blessings and love to you. I love you very much. I’ll give the body back to Barbara…