Dharma Path – Transcript – Nov. 13, 2018 #6

November 13, 2018 Tuesday Evening, Dharma Path Class
The Seven Branch Prayer and the Four Empowerments

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. So, the dharma path continues its interweaving. We started out with a metaphor of a braid with different parts, or a rope—when they wind around each other, they become stronger. But a better, clearer image is that of a woven fabric, because we do not just have 3 strands, as a braid, but innu-merable strands, bringing in different pieces of warp and weft, woven together to make a strong beautiful fabric, so that you begin to understand and deeply experience the fullness of this dharma path.

We’ve touched on intention, and grounding that intention in the commitment to do no harm, and to serve the highest good of all beings. We’ve woven in vipassana, and the importance of moment to moment mindfulness, deepening the practice so that wisdom grows. Wisdom teaches you, whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease, and is not self. You know what I mean by that “not self”. The ego experiences it as happening to you, but of course there is no solid, separate you. That’s an illusion. And yet we honor this “you” with so much cherishing and kindness, because this is your incarnation tool for growth and experience.

Everything is impermanent. There used to be walkway right here into the dining room and the kitchen and bathroom. It’s gone— the whole room is gone. The footings have been poured. Tomorrow they tell me they’re going to start building up blocks on top, then a floor. But this door is going to remain closed for a while. So those who may need the bathroom can go out this door and in the front door, which is unlocked, and into the bathroom, and come back. I’m sorry for the inconvenience! Three months— patience! It is really not so far a walk. But I’ve noticed Barbara groaning every time she is there and needs to make a phone call, which is here, or she is here and wishes to use the bathroom, which is there.

I have to smile at all of you. I have lived, as you all did so many lifetimes, with a small shelter and perhaps an outhouse dug 100 yards down a path, and a pump, or even a stream somewhere for water, and a fire for heating and cooking. You are all unaware of the luxury in your lives!

I’m just telling a little a little story here on Barbara. Two hours ago she wanted to relax, she wanted to use her hot tub. But she can no longer just walk out the back door to use her hot tub; she has to walk out the front door and in this office door and around. Of course, the hot tub is right here and it’s very close. But she thought, “Oh, it’s so hard— maybe I won’t.” What is it, an extra 25 feet? (smiling)

So we grasp, and because we grasp, we suffer. Barbara was suffering because she wanted to use the hot tub and it meant pulling on a robe over her bathing suit so she wouldn’t be cold and going out the front door , then out this door. If you could only re-member the ways you have lived, the enormity of suffering you have experienced, and that this dharma path is truly able to release suffering. Some of you have been telling me, “It’s so hard, Aaron.” Well, maybe it’s hard— is it really going to be easier to keep suffering? You are ready or you would not have registered for the class. You are all working hard. Barbara and I are getting wonderful emails from you describing your pre-sent practice and how much you are learning, and the “It’s so hard!”. Yes, maybe so.

So, we have the commitment, intentions, mindfulness, concentration, vipassana. We have practices like joy and gratitude. We have the deeper look at the hindrances and what seems to balance those, as we talked about last class. In the small groups we’ve had some wonderful conversations about these things.

In the small groups, one thing that came up repeatedly was the challenge people had with old habitual tendencies that are so deeply embedded. With the tendency believing the self to be limited or unworthy. The tendency to judgment. The tendency to anger, at oneself or at another. The tendency to get lost in stories and lose track of the essence of your being, because there are always a multitude of stories. Some of you have heard me say repeatedly, that which is aware of anger is not angry. That which is aware of fear is not afraid. That which is aware of loss knows that ultimately there is nothing that can be lost. And yet you still do get caught up in these stories, the stories of unworthiness, of fear, of loss, of anger, of greed.

Tonight I want to bring in a practice that some of you have done with me before; it is part of my book Awakened Heart. The Seven Branch Prayer has the bigger picture and then the small, condensed essence of it: the Four Empowerments. Barbara will email both to the whole group tonight or tomorrow.

This teaching, the Seven Branch Prayer, is found in many traditions and in many dif-ferent articulations. The one I have drawn this from, when I taught it many years ago in the book Awakened Heart, is from the teacher Shantideva, in “Way of the Bodhisattva”. For those of you who want to look further, you might want to look him up. This is a very beautiful practice to help us move past karma that seems to stick. So, for example, there may be somebody with whom you feel frequent anger. Whenever that person is around, irritation comes up. Or perhaps it’s about yourself, irritation at yourself, feelings of unworthiness or self-disdain of some sort.

All of these old stories that each of you carries are first explored with mindfulness and vipassana. We use the familiar, “Is that so?” when the story “I’m no good” comes up. Oh, is that so? “He’s no good.” Is that so? “I shouldn’t be angry.” Is that so? “I shouldn’t be afraid.” Is that so? We watch how these different moods and mind states arise out of conditions and pass away when the conditions cease. In a very large part, when you practice in this way you really start to see through this, and the ego lets go of owner-ship of it. Awareness lets go of ownership of the ego, for that matter. There is much more spaciousness, and then something triggers the thought again and it arises. You note it. You note that it has no solidity, and it passes. There’s a lot of freedom in this work.

But what of those mind and body states that simply grab you and hold on so tight, like something you’re zipped into, that you start to think of it as self, like the turtle with his shell. When a habitual mind or body state does not open at least a bit with mindful-ness, many of you are asking, what do I do about it, Aaron? How do I find freedom? This is where these beautiful practices come in.

I’m going to start by reading you my condensed version, here, of the Seven Branch Prayer. I’d like you to follow this with me, so to start with, so it’s not intellectual, I’d like each to bring up in your heart and mind some state that clings, that keeps coming up, that doesn’t seem to yield to mindfulness. That, even with your vipassana practice, this state is like burrs sticking all over your clothing. You try to tear them off but they just im-bed deeper. How do we relate to these in a more wholesome way?

The bodhisattva, of course, is one who is on the path to awakening and has arising within, the commitment to consecrate his or her life and practice to the highest good of all beings, to do no harm, to act with love. So, when you commit to that, and then you see yourself attacking yourself or another, even if only mentally— well, if you want to follow the way of the bodhisattva you need to attend to that habit. We’re moving away from just being, resting in awareness, but if there is no center accessible, no aware-ness accessible, then perhaps we can use a little bit of doing to ease us on to a more open space where we can put the doing aside and truly rest in awareness, in loving kindness, again.

So, to start with, think of whatever habitual pattern might be a strong one for you, that seems very hard to shake, that comes up again and again and again. I’ll give you a mi-nute to reflect on this…. (pause)
(further pauses were sometimes a few minutes. They are just noted by ‘pause’.)

So we begin with part one. I’m going to read these parts, and we’re going to spend per-haps a half hour going through this slowly as a meditation, not just intellectually.

(reading; variations from text in handout not noted)

1. “Bring into your heart and mind the image of a great spiritual teacher, or a beloved person. It may even be the image of Light itself, of the Ever-Perfect Divine Presence, of God or Goddess, or any expression of those.”

Holding up Kwan Yin, here, a small image of Kwan Yin, as one example. And on this side behind me, I don’t know if you can see, but Yeshua… the Buddha…

“Whatever calls out to you, to your own heart. Open from your heart to your willingness to honor this energy.”

This is step one and we’ll return to this energy in a few minutes. So, step one, remem-bering, connecting. Step two is offering.

2. “Offer all of yourself to this energy. You can offer very specific aspects, such as your body, your mind, your energy, as well as the interconnected aspects, such as sunlight and laughter. There needs to be a fervent wish: “Whatever I have that can be used by the forces of light for the alleviation of suffering, I freely offer it. Let me be a channel for light and love. I consecrate this mind, body, and spirit to love and light, and to service to the highest good of all beings and harm to none.”

Please do this… (pause) So, we begin by finding the refuge and making the commit-ment… (pause)

3. We move on to step three, and this is the step that begins what we call the Four Em-powerments. The first of these empowerments returns us almost to the first step, that which we most deeply honor and cherish, but here we have a more personal expres-sion of it.

a. Finding something in which you take refuge. This can be the Buddhist Triple Gem of Buddha, dharma, and sangha. It can be Jesus or Virgin Mary. It can be God or God-dess itself. It can be goodness or kindness. It can be a revered figure of any tradition, or it can be an expression of that figure. Compassion. Kwan Yin is the goddess of com-passion. Or compassionate self; there doesn’t have to be a figure. But there needs to be something to which you feel a connection.

We call this “finding the support”. In this step, when you look to this support, it is not something out there, but you find that same lovingkindness and goodness within yourself. It’s a reminder that yes, this bodhicitta, this awakened heart, is within me, and I cannot lose it. I misplace it from time to time, but I cannot lose it. I can access it.

It’s good to practice this before the heavy emotion arises, so I asked you to consider something to work with, but we have not yet gone deep into that. So that when the heavy emotion comes up, and you feel yourself being swept away by it, you can enter into that loving heart, that loving heart of the Buddha, heart of Jesus, and rest.

So, step one is finding support, knowing the support, remembering the support. Please do this… (pause)

b. Now we return to the challenging mind state, mental or emotional, or even some-thing that’s held locked in the body, a place of strong contraction somewhere in the body. We observe that, while we would choose not to have this frequently arise, still it does— maybe not frequently, but sometimes. The strong intention is not to do harm. We see that when this state arises, harm follows it— harm to the self or to others. With this acknowledgment, we do not condemn the self. “Oh, I’m bad. I can’t fix this.” — That’s not what this is about. Instead, we open to what I call compassionate regret.

There’s a big difference between regret, compassionate regret, and self-accusation and blame. Can you feel the difference? Compassionate regret is compassionate. It understands that this arose out of conditions and it’s stuck. It understands that it can fall away with proper care. So, this arising of the memory of that emotion or thought is not to be used as a way of criticizing the self. You’ve not done anything bad. Maybe you’ve done something unskillful, but you are not bad. You are not ultimately bad. No one is. But there has been something unskillful that happened. And here you have the time to reflect with kindness on the various chains of fear and misunderstanding that led to the strong experience of this emotion; recognition of the way negativity has aris-en leads both to a regret and a reflection on how it happened.

Within “regret” is an allowing to arise from the heart the strong aspiration not to allow the self to be so possessed by such energies in the future. There is true sorrow for what has arisen. Within “reflection” is the ability to see how the self’s delusion was conditioned for the investiture into the emotion. The self’s delusion— the whole delu-sion of a separate self, as one who believes it has to be right, or it has to fix everything. Just opening the heart to the self. If you are stuck into the illusion of self , within reflec-tion is the ability to release. Thus, one cultivates wisdom and compassion together.

Let us pause now for a few minutes to invite compassionate regret. Be careful that this does not become self-criticism and blame, but compassionate regret… (pause)

Remember the idea, “I just can’t do this. I’m not good enough. I’m not skilled enough” is a story. It may be this story, if it becomes strong, arises to replace your original emotion. So, if the emotion was anger at the self or at another, and then the story comes up, “I’m not good enough to do this,” note the story, and the compassionate regret for the fre-quent arising of this story.

(We apologize that we cannot completely turn off the furnace— there’s too much cold air coming in from the barely insulated doorway.) (brings microphone closer, easier to hear)

c. So we move on to c, the third part of Step 3. The resolve not to repeat the unskillful actions, words, or thoughts. The resolve to not be ensnared again in the strong emo-tion in just the same way, not to be caught in misunderstanding, even if misunder-standing was not enacted. Here there is a clarity that because you experienced the self as separate, because fear arose, and other conditions were present, certain other emo-tions followed. So, there is a deep resolve to work in more depth with penetrating the delusion of separation, to really bring non-dual awareness into your daily life, and begin to see everything as made up of non-self elements, so as to be less likely to move into such fear and delusion which give birth to anger. Again, I emphasize that this is not a statement that what has happened before is to be met with condemnation. It is simply clear-seeing that what has happened has been painful and is somewhat recurrent, karmic, or habitual. That there are more skillful ways to handle it when this comes up. That within this great heart is the ability, the readiness, for such responsibil-ity.

So now pause and do the resolve step… (pause)

d. The fourth step of Part 3. The 4th step of the Four Empowerments is to allow to arise an antidote or balance specific to this mind state and use it mindfully and skillfully. Sometimes the word “purification practice” is offered, but that seems a bit harsh for some of you. With purification comes the idea of grabbing something and scrubbing yourself until the skin is raw. But this step is really one of much more kindness or gen-tleness, yet the intention and willingness to bring in balance.

Most religions offer such practices— many do, at least— some of them more effective than others. In the Christian church, one goes to confession and then might say a number of prayers at the request of the priest. This is a kind of purification practice. In Buddhism one might do a series of prostration practices, or some kind of service. These do eventually create a kind of release when they are done skillfully, but often they are not done skillfully but as punishment, and then they’re not only not effective but they’re harmful.

So, we need to understand what the purification practice or balance might be. For ex-ample, when one is very angry at a person, one might sit quietly and hold that person in the heart, and just recite metta, really wish them well. If a lot of greed comes up, one might consciously ask oneself to mindfully give. Not just, “I should give, I should give,” but really mindfully give. And then observe— how did this feel? Did it bring up more fear? In what way did it feel good to give in this way to others? That which is aware of fear is not afraid. Awareness gives, and the ego grasps with fear.

We’ll talk more after we finish introducing the practice about what some of these bal-ances might be. But I think intuitively, since you already have a deep practice, many of you know what might balance the mind state or emotion you’re working with. Let’s pause for a few minutes while you invite such balance…. (pause)

Sometimes this balance or purification, this antidote, is merely something you can do in meditation with the heart, and sometimes it asks you to go out in the world and bring it forth in a much more active way.

(pause)

So, we go on to the next step. I’m going through this faster than you might do it on your own. It’s fine to go through these Four Empowerments in just 2 or 3 minutes when something strong comes up; that’s helpful. But at other times, when something is really stuck to you, you may want to spend an hour in meditation several times in a week or so, just looking at how frequently this mind state arises. The whole intention to release it for the highest good. To release is really too harsh a word— to balance it and let it go, to free it.

So, you want work within this Four Empowerments, but the whole Seven Branch Pray-er is also valuable to work with. We have finished Step 3, the four parts of the Four Empowerments.

4. This next is an important step energetically. It really does make a difference. Move out of yourself to see that there are other beings who have done harm but there are al-so others who have done good. In many people you can see the ways they’ve done both harm and good. With mudita (sympathetic joy), look at those who meet difficulty not with fear, greed, jealousy, or hatred, but with a truly open heart. Think of the models in your life. And yes, there will not likely be one person who always responds with the open heart. But there are those who do so more often than they are unable to do so. So, hold those people in your heart, the image of them, and give thanks to them.

5. Offer thanks that there are beings capable of this – those who act as teachers of love and compassion – and ask that they remain available to you. Here, some of you may find your personal guides fill this role, or dear friends, or even a pet. This state is one of offering thanks and connecting with this teacher. You don’t have to channel the teacher the way Barbara is channeling me. Just feel the love of that teacher, the love of the Buddha, of the Christ, of the Mother, of the Father.

6. From deep within your heart, ask to be taught how to live this way. There is a sense of surrender of the ego in this step. Not, “I know everything,” but, “I invite.” Nothing will come to you if you do not invite it. This step is not on the fringe, but part of the core of the practice. The willingness to invite what you seek to manifest, to invite support for the manifestation. To invite the remembering that it’s already within you. To invite the allowing of it to manifest for you. To invite the dropping away of the armor, the hard shell that has prevented you from knowing this within the self.

So that is Step 6.

7. And then, in the Seven Branch Prayer, the final step: dedicating the merit. Whatever good comes from this practice, we offer it out for the highest good for all beings. We give thanks that these teachings are available in the world, and we ask that all beings have access to these teachings and this ability to blossom and allow their true radiance to shine forth.

That, then, is the Seven Branch Prayer and its core of the Four Empowerments.

This practice is especially helpful with those mind, emotional and body states that come repeatedly and bring weariness to you. Sadness, feelings of despair— “I just can’t get past this.” Sometimes the karma is very strong. This practice is really the clearest way I know to help release old karma that’s sticking and doesn’t seem to want to let go.

It’s a fruitful practice for humans and also for any kind of sentient being. You can use it with the trees outside, with the animals. You are helping support the practice for them. A simple example. In a storm, 15 or more years ago, the big maple tree in Barbara’s front yard. Where there were 3 big branches, one of them just snapped off and split the tree part-way down the trunk. An immense branch came crashing down on the drive-way and on cars; fortunately, not on humans. It took several days and some profes-sional help to clean it up— chainsaws, and so forth. And then Barbara and Hal began to ask, shall we simply remove the tree, or should we wire the other branches to sup-port the wholeness of the tree?

Barbara spent some time simply sitting in the yard, touching the tree and actually hug-ging the tree. She sensed in the tree a kind of sadness that it could not prevent break-ing apart and doing damage. She sensed in the tree a leaning into its weakness, rather than remembering its strength. So, discussing this with Hal, they made a decision to have a tree specialist come and wire the tree to support it.

Many people who came— and perhaps not tonight, but if it’s a little warmer next time when you come here, look at this big maple tree. Walk up to it and hug it. Feel the joy in it. It’s missing one large branch. It still has a visible crack part way through that’s bolted through, to hold it. But it’s a joyful, energetic tree. So, in this way they were able to help the tree move past its karma. This is a tree that, when it progresses into 3rd density, is much less likely to believe in its unworthiness, but to know itself as a radiant being.

We’ll use Banner as another example. We were discussing him last week, with some of you. Those who know Banner know him to be a very gentle, loving dog— playful and friendly, but also very easily frightened, especially by loud noises; very timid. We were asking, how do we help Banner? In his most recent past life, Banner was a, I don’t know what they’re called— K9 dog? — a dog who served with a soldier in a war. Highly trained, very loyal to his soldier; courageous, openhearted, strong and beautiful.

They were walking across what the soldier knew to be dangerous territory. The dog was trained to smell explosives, and so to walk ahead of the soldier. So, he walked. He did not want to proceed, hung back because he knew the danger, but the soldier asked him to walk, so he walked and the soldier followed him. The dog Banner was did not trip the explosive but his soldier did. Kaboom! Huge explosion, the soldier thrown up in the air. Banner badly injured also, but he came crawling back and stood over his sol-dier. There were explosives going off everywhere. He was trembling, he was terrified, but he did not give way. He shielded his soldier with his body, although the soldier was already dead, or dying—close to death. But he had the courage to do that. But he did not have the ability to make space for his own fear.

So, he died there. So now he has the courage and the great desire to serve a human as a service dog, and also the terror at loud noises or something bright and flashing, catching his eye and scaring him. Each time something scares him, Barbara sits with him. She just talks to him and praises him, tells him how wonderful he is. Helps him to remember his own courage and love, and to know that he can move past this fear, that it doesn’t have to harden into unwholesome karma, which it will if he’s constantly terri-fied of everything. So, this is the chance for us to serve the service dog and help him to move past what was a terrifying and ultimately a painful death experience for him.

Do you see how it works? So it’s not just something you do for yourself; it’s something you can do for your pets and your plants. You can offer to support a friend, if they come to you and say, “I have this habitual tendency that I don’t know how to move past. Can you help me?” And you can then invite them. But you can’t walk up to them and say, “You know, you have a habitual tendency to greediness. Let’s sit down and do the Seven Branch Prayer with it.” No, can’t do it that way; only if requested to help. But you can assume if the pets and the plants come into your home, that is in part a request for your help.

And you can also trust that if a friend displays certain challenging characteristics—of being very judgmental of the self or others, very angry all the time, or whatever— that you might ask them, “Do you see this in yourself?” “No.” Well, okay. Or, “Yes, I do.” “I know some practices that can help you to release this energy. Would you like to learn?” Then you can help.

We’ve been talking now 59 minutes and 30 seconds… Let me pause and invite you all to stretch, and we’ll take just 15 or 20 minutes of questions before we end. Take a few minutes to stretch first.

(break)

This is an extraordinarily beautiful practice. I think you’ll find it helpful. Remember to use it gently. You are NOT fixing, you are not broken, but you are addressing old kar-ma. Seeing it repeating itself over and over, and saying, “No, I do not choose to perpet-uate this.”

I talked about the dog and the tree. Barbara had a challenging day. She is working to get Hal on Medicaid, and the attorney gave her a list of things, hoops they must jump through. One of them is that Hal may not have any assets over a low amount She thought through these months she had taken care of that; that some of it was now her assets, that that which was communal property was spent down, as they had to do— giving the prepayment for the renovation, and so forth. But as she went through the paperwork this weekend and today, she found 3 places where certain the work was not complete; they were not in her name. The attorney’s list said: if there is any money held by the person beyond this $2000 it will not go through, Medicaid will not pay for the nursing home. And they were going to be paying for it for October and November. But if it’s not finished, she’s going to owe $25,000 and still have to finish it in December (in-audible, before they pay for it again). OH! She panicked.

I kept trying to talk her down. The old habitual pattern— fear. She’s not afraid of very much, but she felt so helpless and out of control with this because she has no idea le-gally how to take care of these things. She will have to investigate. She spent 2 hours at the bank today, and they were not at all helpful. She doesn’t know where to go. So, she was frightened and angry, and the old mind patterns began to come up. Help-less— “I can’t do it. I’m not good enough,” etc. I kept leading her into, “Is that so?”

So, finally I invited her to put it all aside at 5 o’clock and climb into the hot tub, and work with this practice. She spent a half an hour soaking in hot water, meditating and work-ing with the practice, and came out of it much more spacious, and knowing, “All will be well, and all will be well.” It’s not going to be a problem. However, it will take work and determination, and not much time to do it. All will be well. Letting go of fear.

When you come to a situation like this, it’s probably because there’s something that’s still sticky that needs attention. Something that still needs to be addressed. I said to Barbara, a bit of a final exam, here. Is the ego getting thinner, or is it getting tough again? Open, relax.

It’s a beautiful practice. For Barbara right now, it’s mostly about feeling out of control, feeling helpless. You’ll find in your lives when something comes up repeatedly, it’s probably in an area where there is karma, strong habit energy, and something that needs some attention. Realize that it’s ready to go— you wouldn’t be inviting it if you weren’t ready to work on it.

So, any questions now about the actual doing the practice? Anyone in the room or online with a question about how to work with this practice?

Q: Aaron, you were going to talk a bit about some of the practices that balance the kar-ma. I was wondering if you could give some more examples.

Aaron: A number of you were in Venture Fourth, including Q. You remember the bal-ances we worked with there. Mostly it’s intuitive. If there’s greed, what will balance it? If there’s, as with Barbara’s example, a strong story— “I’m helpless! I won’t be able to do this! What will become of me?” — simply metta for the self. Holding the self in one’s heart. Another practice there that I had guided Barbara into in the hot tub was remem-bering her strengths. Not convincing herself, but literally remembering her strengths. Remembering you are a loving wife and mother, you are a dharma teacher, you have much wisdom. You’re a compassionate person. You did not come into the incarnation to fall apart. Remember who you are! She said, “Well, Aaron, I know you’re right, but right now my brain is stuck in this!” And she began to chant metta, karuna, mudita, up-ekkha, repeatedly, coming back to center. Because when you come back to center, this is a balance— remembering the already present awakened heart. So, there’s nothing to fix. When you’re helpless, you have the idea you have to fix something. When you remember the awakened heart that is your essence, the practice is simply to come home.

Anger— there are many good practices with anger. One of my favorites is simply look-ing at the other person and envisioning them as a helpless baby. It’s very hard to be angry at the helpless baby. And seeing the experiences that baby had that led it into becoming an angry adult; opening the heart in that way.

There’s another practice— “Vision is Mind”, that some of you have worked with before with me and Barbara. I’m not going to introduce it now. It’s a big practice— way too much for one night. But sometime in December we’ll work with the Vision is Mind prac-tice.

Q, does that answer your question enough? Any others? Be intuitive about the bal-ance. Start with your intention to come to this place of balance and ask for help, and then listen. Allow yourself to be guided. Allow the One Who Knows within you to speak.

Q: I’m having feelings about something, and I have been able to work somewhat suc-cessfully with making spaciousness around those feelings. But I think, I don’t know, but I may have done harm. I’m worried because I don’t know if I did harm. So I’m won-dering how to deal with that. There’s no way I can find out. But I may have done harm. I can go into specifics, if you want.

Aaron: Specifics are not necessary. I would suggest that you work with forgiveness meditation. Offering forgiveness for others who may have harmed you in this way and asking forgiveness for any you may have harmed in this way. Forgiveness resolves karma. You don’t have to go to the person and say, “Please forgive me,” although if that’s doable, you can do that. But sometimes to ask forgiveness of a person can create more harm, because they say, “I’m not ready to forgive you,” and that creates more strong feelings.

When you can forgive yourself—and this is what it’s about, Q— when you can forgive yourself for whatever was said or done that may or may not have created harm, and can resolve not to repeat such words or actions in the future, and then fully forgiving yourself, and then look at others who have done similar to you and truly forgive them, it’s finished.

I pause. Q, do you have a question about that? (No. Thank you.) You’re welcome.

So, any more specific questions about tonight’s teaching?

(class scheduling details…) So any questions that come up about this practice, please try the practice between now and Thursday so you can discuss it in the group. And then others will have time over the weekend to practice with it, for Tuesday.

Okay… We’ll end. How about singing with me? (singing)

May the blessings of God rest upon you
May God’s peace abide with you
May God’s presence illuminate your heart
Now and forevermore.

(repeating)

Thank you, everyone. I will not see all of you, so I wish you a happy Thanksgiving. To-morrow night my talk is going to be about gratitude, the power of gratitude, the joy of gratitude. Please join us… Perhaps I’ll see some of you tomorrow night…

Q: For everyone out there, we have a birthday cake for Barbara. Someone had the idea to light the candles before Aaron releases the body.

Aaron: So now we need to figure out how you’re going to pass it through this little blue dot! (on the video camera to the Zoom attendees) I think you will all have to go out and find your own piece of cake!

Very kind— who brought the cake? …
Thank you all, I love you. Good night.

(The cake is lit; Aaron releases the body)

Barbara (moved by the cake): Thank you, Aaron… Thank you everybody…

(Someone begins singing, “All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you…” tape ends)