Dharma Path – Transcript – Nov. 27, 2018 #7

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November 27, 2018 Tuesday Evening, Dharma Path Class

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. Welcome. I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday. I always smile at the fact that you put aside one day to give thanks! How about 364 days of Thanksgiving, and on Thanksgiving Day, you say, “Well, we’ll let it go for the day.”?

You have so much to be grateful for— so much richness in your lives, so much possibility. Each of you moving into, literally—I don’t want to use a number here, or people will try to pin me down—into infinite numbers of lives in which your wholesome karma has brought you to this life and a chance to practice deeply with love, with wisdom, with compassion, with a loving sangha. You have enough to eat. You have a home that is warm. You have friendships. For the most part you live free of threat of violence. You have so much in your lives, and you take it for granted.

There are parts of the world where there is a lot of struggle. Barbara was reading— I don’t remember what country— where almost the entire population is malnourished and approaching starvation. In another headline today, Russia and Ukraine at each other’s throats. And yet even in these countries and in these situations, if people would hold clarity in their hearts for what they choose to manifest, and step at least a bit past the ego self and fear, so much could be possible.

You read some of these headlines, and you start to imagine the worst: World War III, or millions of people starving. I’m not saying it can’t happen. When fear comes up and becomes predominant, your whole body and energy system contract, and you shift from this open spaciousness of heart to the small self, to the stories of fear. That movement opens the doorway to negativity.

Or, it may happen in your personal life. Perhaps a doctor’s appointment where you had an unfavorable report and immediately fear came up. “What will happen to me? Will I be safe?” Maybe your roof is leaking, and you learned you will need a new roof, many thousands of dollars. “What will happen to me? Will I be safe?” Your life is not so much about what happens to you as how you receive it. Which leads me to this beautiful practice, titled “Vision is Mind”.

This is a practice that we introduced to a number of you probably a decade ago. Some of you have been working with it since; some visiting it from time to time. I want to put it in our toolbox. What you’re doing is building a vast toolbox and learning how best to integrate and use the various tools.

Imagine if you came to me and said, “Aaron, I’d like to learn how to build a house.” And I said to you, “Well, good. What is your experience to date?” “Well, I can hammer a nail, and most of the time it goes in straight. And I know how to use a slotted screwdriver. There are some other screws I don’t really know about. I can use a hand saw. That’s about it.” We perfect the skill with these tools, and then we add pliers and a big wrench, and the electric saw and power drill. Gradually you become proficient with different tools. But you’re still a bit confused when to use each tool.

We buy the wood for the house. We have the blueprint. We’re ready to start. The first thing we have to do is cut some wood to shorter lengths. “Oh, I know how to do that,” you say, and you grab your hammer and you start banging on the wood. “What are you doing?” “Well, so often when I’m trying to hammer a nail into the wood and I miss, finally I end up shattering the wood. So, I assume this is the best way to break the wood in two.” “We have a saw for this, and this is how we use it.”

You want to put two pieces together. Again, you grab your hammer. It’s your favorite tool. Hammer and some nails, and you start to hammer it together. I hold up a screw and ask you, “Do you know what this is?” “I think so, but I can never hammer it into the wood well enough.” “We use a screwdriver for that.”

Gradually you begin to understand which tools will work in which situation, and the most skillful way to proceed. You gain skill and confidence in your ability. You also gain the ability to stop and ask, when you’re stymied: what is the best tool here? You’re trying now to get the walls to come together at a right angle. They’re a bit askew. What is the best tool? And I hand you a big straight edge angle. Each tool has its own use. Each tool can be improvised to fit in, if you lack the best tool. But as you become increasingly skillful, you start to see the way it all weaves together and you learn to cherish and care for your tools.

This is what I’m trying to do in this whole two-year program— to give you added tools to your toolbox; to make sure you are skilled in using them; and that you understand which tool would be most appropriate in which situation, or how to mingle them together.

We’ve been working with the Four Empowerments and Seven Branch Prayer, and of course your vipassana practice and pure awareness practice. The Four Empowerments are a very beautiful tool to help release old habitual patterns that are stuck, that don’t want to easily release. In order to identify those old habitual patterns, we have mindfulness and vipassana. In order not to become caught in fear and paralyzed by it, we have the deepening wisdom of dharma, that whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease. It arises out of conditions, and when the conditions have passed away, it will cease.

So, instead of going after the results, you learn to take care of the results, and deeply look at the conditions out of which these results arose; to understand each condition that arose is in itself a result of prior conditions. This one is built on that one, is built on that one, is built on that one. This is an oversimplification as each arising is built on many conditions. There is no first cause. Just look at the result and ask, is it wholesome? If not, what present result asks to be released, balanced or otherwise attended so it does not become the condition for future unwholesome arising? Consider also the Pali word papancha.

We come back again to the start, which is the deep intention to live one’s life with love, with wisdom, with skillfulness. And then to look at the places where one is not living in this chosen way, and to ask, why not? What’s happening here?

Different parts come together. My intention right now— I will talk a little bit more about this after you are using this practice— my intention now is simply to introduce this practice and give you an idea how it fits into your prior practices.

Vision is Mind, is this first step. I hope you have opened your emails and taken a look at this, sent out yesterday. I’m sorry it was not sent out a week ahead. A Tibetan meditation master, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche,introduced this practice, and I find it very beautiful. What has been sent to you is freely downloaded from the internet and is in no way directly connected to Deep Spring Center. The teaching is very compatible with our vipassana and non-duality practices. This is a dzogchen practice; we’re going to start with steps 1 and 2. In the spring or late winter we’ll add step 3. For now, just the first two. I’m going to read this to you first.

Vision is mind: Vision includes everything we perceive, but I suggest that you use what bothers you as an entrance to this practice. Do you have a “famous person” in your life? The famous person is the one who seems to be born to create a problem for you, as if that were his or her number-one mission in life. Sometimes we feel there are people like that. Such people can make trouble for you not only with their presence, but with one single postcard sent to you. When you see the postcard with their handwriting on it, you are immediately disturbed. So we begin our meditation practice with this famous person as our starting point.

Create a protected environment and sit in a comfortable upright position. [First I’m going to read this, then we will do.] Now invite the image of your famous person to come into your awareness. They always come anyway, but this time you are inviting them so that you can look more deeply into this experience. What exactly is this famous person composed of? See the image of the person, the character of this person who bothers you so much. Sense the energetic or emotional presence of this person. When your famous person was born, he or she did not show any physical signs or marks of what you now see. And not all people share your view of this person. What you perceive is your mind, your karmic vision, which is more karma than vision. So in this moment, instead of looking out and focusing on that person, look inward. Step back and let the experience come in. Just sit and close your eyes and reflect on this person, and experience what you’re experiencing at this very moment. This is your vision. [I would add here, it has no ultimate reality. It is simply your perceived vision.] It is very much in you, in your mind. That famous person is now an image or a felt sense. Perhaps you have a sense of being contracted, closed or agitated in the presence of this person; feel this fully, not simply with your intellect. Sit with the image of your famous person, and with the resulting feelings and sensations, until you recognize that this experience is in you, and you conclude, “Vision is mind.”

Let us do this now. When Barbara sent out the email with the Vision is Mind practice, she also introduced a piece of quotation from the Dhammapada. She did not print it out. Did anybody here in the room print it out? …
(tape paused)

I’m reading here what was sent out yesterday from Dhammapada, because I find it very beautifully presented. Dhammapada, verse 397. “Whoever has cut all the tethers and found fearlessness, who is beyond attachments and defilements, I recognize as a great being.”

Is there any one of you who is beyond defilements and attachments? I thought not. What prevents you from being beyond it? Why do you hold onto the defilements, to the attachments, to the states of anger and fear, greed and so forth? Why are you attached to these? Or, why do you say that you have aversion to them and try to deny them? Let me read a bit further. This is the presentation I found very beautiful.

“To be able to abide in the state of fearlessness sounds attractive indeed. But how might we reach such abiding? Fearlessness is to be found in the very same place as that in which we feel fear. We do not need others to stop behaving the way they do, nor do we need to go someplace else.” Let me repeat that: “we do not need others to stop behaving the way they do, nor do we need to go someplace else.” “We do, however, need to look more deeply into the reality of fear that we are already experiencing, and to do so can be very frightening.” I might add to that, we do need to look into the reality of greed that we are experiencing, into the reality of aversion, into the reality of judging mind, into the reality of almost any mind state. And to do so can be very frightening.

The temptation to turn away from that which frightens us can be strong. This is why the Buddha wanted us to develop our spiritual faculties. Mindfulness, sensory restraint and wise reflection. Further on in the winter, we’ll spend some time with the spiritual faculties as support. These are just a few: mindfulness, sensory restraint, wise reflection, faith, energy, wisdom. These are all spiritual faculties.

When our heart is buoyed up with a wholesome sense of self-confidence, which arises when the spiritual faculties are well-developed, we won’t be so intimidated by fear, or anger, or greed, or by judging mind. Instead we will be interested in what fear has to teach us. Can you imagine that? To be able to greet fear with a, “Oh, hello. What have you come to teach me?” Rather than, “Get out of here!” said while chasing fear with a big stick! Big difference. Anger. “What have you come to teach me?” This famous person who brings up so much aversion, “What have you come to teach me?”

So we start with the Vision is Mind famous person. But we need to bring a lot of care, that we are not trying to fix something, the famous person or ourselves. As we open ourselves to this famous person, it’s not done with a gritting of the teeth and saying, “I’m going to fix myself and get rid of the negative relationship with this famous person.” But instead, “This famous person truly is within me, and I am going to open my heart to inquiry. I’m going to bow to this famous person. I’m going to bow to my own fear of being in the presence of this famous person.” All I’m really saying is this practice, as with any practice, needs to be done gently and with love, no harshness.

We start by inviting the famous person into the mind. Something reminded us of them; here they are. How do we relate to them? Vision is Mind: am I really seeing this other, or am I seeing my own reflection?

So often when we think something is going to be unpleasant, we create that unpleasantness. For example, imagine a trip to the dentist. You have had numerous cavities in recent trips, and you’re tense. But the dentist finds there’s nothing wrong with your teeth; your teeth are in perfect shape. Perhaps you had pain the week before your dental appointment because you were gritting your teeth, clenching your jaw because of fear of going to the dentist. It’s all in here, within the mind; it’s not the dentist’s office.

One of the most frequent things people watch in this practice is the self. Do you have a lot of trouble with yourself sometimes? You might think, “everybody else is nice, but me.” So, you are your own famous person! This person, me, is judgmental and too often angry, impatient. See the stories there. That which is aware of judging is not judging! Rest in awareness and watch the judging mind come and go, resultant from conditions; not self! Vision is Mind.

We’re going to spend a few minutes now with a guided meditation, doing the first part of the practice, and then the next question, Mind is Empty, a bit of explanation on that and then we’ll practice it.

Sit in a comfortable position. And whatever famous person you decided to invite in, invite them and watch any resistance to allowing them into your mind and heart. Eventually you may be working with a situation as a famous person, or it may be a person. But for this practice right now, a person may be more useful.

This famous person— the qualities that disturb you in this famous person— look deeply into it. Maybe the famous person has those qualities; maybe not. How about you— do you have those qualities? For example, if the famous person is somebody who is impatient, always impatient, and it really bothers you, why does it bother you? Are you perhaps impatient? Or have the habitual pattern that you could easily become impatient? In what way is this famous person reflecting something you do not wish to see in the self?

Perhaps this famous person is quick to judgment— are you sometimes quick to judgment? Maybe the famous person is greedy— are you sometimes greedy? Why is it that this person, who is judgmental or impatient or greedy, disturbs you, and that other person who is often very impetuous, quick to jump to conclusions, that person doesn’t bother you? Could it be because that person does not reflect a quality you judge in yourself? You are not impetuous, you are not quick to jump to conclusions.

See if you can sit back and let them just be the way they are. But if the person reflects you too closely, then negative thought arises. “I don’t want to be with this person because it’s coming too close to what I have judged and found wanting in myself.” It’s all in your mind. The person is just how he or she is. And you are just how you are. But if you judge how you are in that respect, in yourself, you will be uncomfortable with it in another person; it mirrors something you don’t want to see.

Consider what I read from the Dhammapada; if you go into impetuousness, judging mind, greed, impatience, if you go into these, you see that they are just traits that have arisen from conditions. Each arising will have results. We are not trying to fix the results, although we will pay attention to the results so as not to do harm. We take a deep breath and understand: this particular character trait that I am uncomfortable with, this is the result of conditions.

We’re not going to try to psychoanalyze ourselves or figure out the conditions, only to know that it did arise from conditions. Whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease and is not me or mine. I see how it arose. I hold space for it and leave it room to dissolve. In other words, I find that which is fearless in myself, and hence am able to be with this aspect of myself that I have so strongly judged and disliked. And as I do that, I befriend myself. I find compassion for myself. And suddenly the famous person has no more hold over me.

Just as I offer myself kindness when impatience or judging mind or impetuous action arise, and I no longer need to dislike myself for that, then I can have compassion for the famous person. More important, I see the truth of the words “Vision is Mind.” It’s all arising in the mind; it has no solidity at all.

Now I’m going to be quiet for a few minutes. I would like you to take this famous person and see what it is reflecting in you, and invite the fearlessness in yourself, the loving kindness and compassion, that can be present with this that is reflected in yourself. And then, breathing back to the famous person, you might do it in a more formal way. “Breathing in, I am aware of judging mind. Breathing out, I hold space for judging mind. Breathing in, I am aware of judging mind in others. Breathing out, I hold space for judging mind in all beings.”

Or you might simply do it by acknowledging how much you don’t want to be with this aspect of yourself, and how the famous person throws it in your face. Think about it. —Let me phrase that differently: don’t think about it; be with it in the heart.

A few minutes of silence now… (silence)

If it is too hard to look at this aspect of yourself and what the other is reflecting, be gentle. You can step back. No force— take it a little at a time…

Now, please notice that this character trait that the famous person reflects back to you, you don’t want to acknowledge in yourself. It may be that you do not enact it, you simply see the potential to enact it, and that horrifies you. You may be a very generous person. The famous person is very stingy. But you see how easy it would be to be stingy. That fear does arise, and you stop yourself from enacting that fear. We don’t have to analyze why the famous person is as he is, only to look at what that person is reflecting.

We’re not going to immediately go into “Mind is Empty.” We’ll do that next. For now, I want you to come back to the Four Empowerments.

This state has arisen in me, or I am afraid it will arise in me: impatience, greed, judging mind, whatever it may be.

Compassionate regret, that regardless of what I do, this continues to arise in me. Strong self-judgment— I’m going to use that because it’s such a common one— this continues to arise in me. The famous person upsets me because he or she is so judgmental, either of himself or of me. I acknowledge that this is very, very old in me. This tendency toward self-judgment and judging others.

Opening my eyes to all possibilities, I invite support through my guides and teachers, my friends, and myself. To shake loose from the self-identification as being “the judgmental one”, or being the one who will not be judgmental, which is just the other side of the coin.

I acknowledge that judgment arises in all beings. I open my heart to myself for the ways that judgment frequently arises in me, of myself and of others. I open my heart to the famous person for the way judgment frequently arises in him or her toward himself or toward others.

I give the clear statement that I am ready to learn, ready to release, to be free of this particular trap that has held me for so long.

I might ask, at this point, what does the judging mind protect me from, whether it’s judging myself or others— what does it protect me from? Let that sit… Don’t try to find an answer. Just let the heart be open and see what comes. If I were not judging this famous person right now, what might I be experiencing?

Invite support to find the courage to be with this experience, whatever it might be. Not present with any stories, just the direct experience of grief, of fear, of anger, of confusion— whatever it might be— of shame, of sadness. That which is aware of shame does not experience shame. That which is aware of anger is not angry. That which is aware of fear is not afraid. That which is aware of grief is not grieving. Can you find that spacious awareness right there with the fear, anger, judgment? Just rest in that awareness, even if only for a moment.

And then, with the Four Empowerments, you might ask, what is the balance, the antidote? In some ways, just this wisdom is the antidote to that which is aware of it. The greater antidote is simple the awakened mind that is here in this moment, present! Come back to rest in the spaciousness. And thus, the empty mind is really the central antidote. You may find other balances as well, but this one is always central.

I’m going to be quiet for 2 or 3 minutes while you finish working with this. And then I’m going to move on to that Mind is Empty portion of the practice…

Pause

So we begin to see the famous person as a reflection of our own minds. I’m going to read the next portion here, “Mind is Empty.” I’ve invited you with the Four Empowerments practice to reflect on what has arisen, and then note, for example, that which is aware of fear is not afraid. That which is aware of anger is not angry. That which is aware of experiencing shame is not ashamed. Reading, here…
The next question is, “What is this mind?” Look for your mind. Look from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. Can you find anything solid? Can you find any permanent color, shape or form that you can call your mind? If you look directly, you come to the conclusion that your mind is empty. Some people come to this conclusion very quickly; for others, it requires an exhausting search to discover this clear awareness. [Now, I know there’s a bit of confusion. Let me read this and then I’ll explain.] But this is what mind is. You can obviously pollute that clarity in any given moment, but by continuing to look directly, you can discover that mind itself is just clear. Clear means empty. “Empty” is a philosophical term, but as experience it is clear and open. So what began as the famous person is now clear and open. If this is not your experience, you are grasping the image and holding on to the experience in some way. Just be. Relax into the experience. Simply be. Mind is empty. When we arrive at the experience of emptiness and vastness through the doorway of the famous person, it is possible to have quite a strong experience of emptiness.

The famous person, let’s use the example of a person who is very self-judgmental and judgmental of others. You’ve come to see that this is a reflection of you. You’ve come to see that while you might say, “I am judgmental,” really what you are saying is that you have the karmic pattern, the habitual pattern, for, when certain triggers are present, judgment arises. It’s not you, you don’t own it, it doesn’t own you. It arises because it’s such a deep habit. But when you work with it with the Four Empowerments and the Seven Branch Prayer, when you observe it mindfully, each time judgment arises, to say, “Hello, judgment— sit by my fire, have tea,” and instead of trying to get rid of judgment you’re willing to look at it, investigate it, poof! Smoke! Gone. It was never solid; that was all in the mind.

As it diminishes, what remains? That which is aware of judging is not judging. What is this awareness? This is the clear empty mind. It is the mind that is capable to just be, and to hold everything. It is the vast, still lake that reflects, one day the stormy clouds and the next day the blue sky, and another day the rainbow. It is not you; it is not self; but is arisen from conditions.

But you are responsible for it, responsible for what has arisen in this mind and body, not to use it in ways that harm yourself and others. Here we come back to the beginning of the semester and deepening your intentions. What is your highest intention? Clear comprehension of purpose; of suitability. If this is my highest intention, is what I am about to say or do suitable to that intention? We keep coming back, though, to this clear, radiant stillness that is the essence of it. Clear comprehension of the domain of meditation; of Dharma.

This emptiness is an aspect of your being that you may experience in a deep meditation sitting, but in a sense, we’re coming around the back door. It’s wonderful if you experience it in a sitting, but you can also experience it by this questioning: who am I? What am I? This that has arisen me, is it self, or is the pure self empty and all of this is just a reflection of the habitual patterns that come and go? Then we come back, based on our highest intention to do no harm, our intentions to espress love and compassion and wisdom. We come back to working with the Four Empowerments, practicing with metta and compassion. Coming back again and again to this pure, clear, radiant self, which is the essence of who and what you are; what everything is.

Take it step by step. If a famous person presents to you, ask, what does this famous person reflect? Why is this the famous person so compelling in this moment? What am I afraid of? In what ways am I closing my heart both to this person and to myself?

Then once you understand the character traits that you are uncomfortable with, begin to use your practice to see through the eyes of awareness, that this is simply a reflection, the storm cloud reflected in the clear water, that it is not self. Begin to ask yourself, am I attached to it in some way? Is being judgmental, self-judgmental, what does it protect me from? Maybe, just maybe, if you judge yourself then you do not feel so much pain when others seem to judge you. That’s one thing it could protect you from. Or the experience of self-judgment may mask anger or fear. It could protect you from the deeper truth that ego doesn’t wish to see, that you truly are EMPTY! You are That! I can’t tell you what it is; I can only encourage you and say that I trust you. Remember, you are not trying to fix anything, you are simply working to see what’s there. And as it dissolves, to rest in the radiant clarity and beauty of your true being, in this mind of pure awareness.

Just try it. Vision is Mind, Mind is Empty. Just see where it takes you. Not to fix anything, just out of curiosity. I’ll look forward to the group reflections of what you have found.

So let’s take a few minutes to let you stretch, and then, open to your questions.
(break)

Questions and replies have not been reviewed. I’ll do so when time permist. Please let me know ifyou find any errors.
I welcome questions within the room or online…

John: So, as we were going through this guided meditation I saw that, in regard to my famous person, that I was feeling fear and anger as protection from this person. Historically, that is what I have experienced with him is fear and anger. I see that used this as a way of protecting myself from the famous person. However, when I don’t have the fear and the anger in response to this person, it makes me feel more vulnerable. When I feel the sense of vulnerability, that can feed back into the fear and anger. It’s hard for me to allow the sense of vulnerability because I feel I might be hurt by this person by what they say and by what they do. So, it feels like a cycle of feeling fear and anger because I’m feeling vulnerable. If I let myself feel that vulnerability, then I feel more fear and anger arising. So I see how I’m caught in the pattern. I have come to the place, before, in regard to the famous person where I have allowed myself to be vulnerable, to work with the fear and the anger. However, it keeps coming back up repeatedly. Does Aaron have any suggestions? Or is it just a matter of continuing to work with this as he described?

Aaron: Thank you, John. What you’ve described I’m sure fits many people, each with their own famous person. To try to be invulnerable means to armor the self, to separate the self, to come into the small ego self, which is the one that is armored. When you rest in spaciousness, you move through a phase of feeling vulnerable because the human does experience fear. If there can be genuine compassion for the human experiencing fear, not getting behind and pushing, just a quiet spaciousness that acknowledges, “Breathing in, I am aware of the fear; breathing out I hold space for the fear.” I choose to allow myself to feel vulnerable, which means to allow myself to release the armoring of the ego and come to the place where I connect with everyone and everything, very vulnerable, to do this to whatever degree I can. And then watch the building up of armor and work with that pattern, with the Four Empowerments and Seven Branch Prayer. Increasingly moving into remembering the one who is spacious, openhearted, and free of armor. Being able to rest in that truth of your being, more and more. As time passes, it becomes easier. It takes practice. Do you have further question based on what I have said?

Q: Not really That was very helpful. I see that it is helpful for me to have compassion as the antidote for my fear. That that seems to be an important step in working with this. Thank you.

Aaron: And patience. Remember, for many of you these patterns have been building up over eons. On the one hand, they’re gone, but they come again because the conditions have not been fully purified. Each time you address those conditions with kindness, with patience, with the open heart, they get thinner, and thinner, and thinner.

Imagine, if you will, a vision. You are out walking in the woods. It’s a very misty evening, thick mist. And suddenly you see what appears to be a bear, a giant grizzly bear in the path 20 feet in front of you. Terror comes up. A grizzly bear? In the woods in your neighborhood? A few of you who live in Canada, perhaps. But for most of you, no grizzly bears. You note, “Ah, it’s just mist.” And the next day on your walking the same thing happens. Each time, fear comes up. But, as you can probably imagine, each time, instead of running and trying to throw rocks at the grizzly bear, or digging a hole, or whatever you might do, you say, “Ah, vision is mind. This is just a reflection of my mind and the mist creating this image.” And then let it go. With kind, gentle persistence, finally when you see the mist, it’s just mist. The stories no longer come.

I welcome any questions, but is there further question about what we’ve just been discussing, before we move on?

Q: I myself found another aspect of this, as a result of this practice. When I look at my famous person, I’ve found qualities in that person are qualities within myself. And so I asked, what do those qualities serve for me? And what I got was, it helps define who I am, or my ego. So, even these negative qualities are part of the self-construct of who I am.

Aaron: Thank you. So it’s the same question: what does the identification with this quality, in what way does it serve me? Why have I chosen to carry it? Who or what would I be if I release it?

Q: It’s just a habit. It’s just the topography of me. And I had a very strong visual of like a cone or a mountain of sand underwater. It was very impermanent.

Aaron: There’s a point where you do not need to analyze it. I know that for many of you psychotherapy of some sort has been helpful. And I certainly am an advocate of that, when helpful. But also, we can overanalyze things and move into a process of trying to fix them, rather than just knowing this built up through eons of time, and perhaps I don’t need to be controlled by it anymore. Who am I without this? And then we can start to explore in that direction. Then, at a later date it may be useful to look at the history of this lifetime and see how that particular image became so powerful, that image of the self. But sometimes you don’t need to do that. It may just be gone. Trying to figure it out is just reattaching to it.

Other questions?

Q: (inaudible) mind is clear. And then out of that clarity and emptiness comes this intention to live one’s life with love. So, when that comes out of the mind, that intention, which is so important for directing your life and your thoughts, how is that explained to come out of the mind which is empty and clear? What is that intention? Is that intention…

Aaron: This essence that you are, this essence of love, of clarity, before it ever became stained by relative reality, it was clear and brilliant. But then it picked up various images and self-images. This was not a bad thing. This is the process of maturity. A painful thing, perhaps, but the process of maturity. You started out, if I can phrase it in that way, in that Garden of Eden, flawless and radiant, but not knowing the self as separate from anything else. Only knowing the unity.

From that place of unity there was no real free will. Nothing moved you to act in any way that could create any ripples of disturbance in this spaciousness of pure being, of divinity and love. But you came here— if I may quote the Bible— created in God’s image, with certain attributes of divinity such as love, clarity, loving kindness, patience, generosity. And these are only and best expressed by free will choice. There was, therefore, a need to experience the idea of the individuated self, the one who can make a free will choice for loving kindness versus hatred, for patience versus impatience, for sharing and generosity versus greed and grasping. It is in these choices that you most fully express your positive polarity and shift your whole being from neutral into highly positive polarity.

This is what you are, what you choose. This is where free will choice comes up, to be a being of high vibration, loving and connected, kind and generous, wise and compassionate. I’m reminded here of the metta sutra: “This is what should be done by one who is skilled in goodness and would know the path of peace.” Well, this is what you endeavored. “Let him be able and upright, straightforward, and gentle in speech, openhearted and not conceited…” Etc.— I’m not going to recite the whole metta sutra to you; google it and read it if you do not already know it. But all of these beautiful qualities, you are choosing to enhance them by your own free will choosing to manifest them in the world.

After a while, the negative— that which clung, the bits of burrs and seeds and thistles that were sticking to you— fall away. The darkness falls away, and the radiance is what remains. Then you are back to Mind is Empty. And then we do the further parts of this practice. (inaudible) Clear Light. I’m not going to touch on that tonight. This takes us to the book Path of Clear Light. We’ll talk about it in the spring.

So, Q, does that answer your question, at least to some degree?

Q: So, where you are, Aaron, having lived human lives and then transcended that into 6th density, do you still have the power of will and intention to continue to even evolve higher than you are? Do you still have intention, will, to expand even more?

Aaron: Yes, because one has shifted from the newborn infant, the fetus, the state of just resting in light, to really the Biblical story of the apple in the garden. The knowledge of good and evil, of love versus fear, of ego and self versus connection. And one has made a choice. And no matter how high we evolve, one is continually making that choice. I am no longer ensnared in any way to anything that is simply service to self.

But I constantly consecrate my energy and my being with love, for the highest good of all beings, knowing how easy it is to fall backwards even now, even as an awakened being. What would it take? I don’t know. But I know that those who are elder to me sometimes have suggested to me, “Aaron, you’re not ready to go here, yet,” as far advanced as I may be, because there are certain places that would be perhaps so painful that they could pull me back into the small self. Now, that would not be a terrible thing, it just would mean I have work to do. But, as we move ahead we do not throw ourselves to the wolves just to see how it feels to be torn apart by wolves! It’s not kind. We practice kindness toward ourselves as well. We know our limits.

So, if this famous person, for example, is a person who is constantly angry, and you see the anger in yourself that has not been fully purified as yet, there is wisdom not to go into a lion’s den of raging, furious people if you feel you don’t have the steadiness to hold the space for that much anger. This is just wisdom. It’s also free will choice. It’s not a stepping backwards to say, “I commit myself to service for the Light. I consecrate this mind, body, and spirit to the Light. And it would simply be ego and foolishness to barge in and try to do something that I know is beyond me. Eventually I’ll grow into it. I’m not yet there.”

There are some very dark forces, of course, just as there are light ones. The great masters help with these dark forces. I do not state that I have limits; only, I trust my wisdom to know how far I can go.

I’m thinking of an example, here. Barbara is an excellent swimmer. On a warm day, given quiet water, she could swim several miles. But if she gets into the lake and the day is cold, the wind is blowing and there are waves, she stays close to shore. She has no need for her ego to say, “Oh, I can swim to the end of the lake today because I did it last week.” It’s important that you know what you CAN do, otherwise it’s just ego saying, “I will do this.”

I’m a bit passionate about this because I see so many of you trying to push yourselves faster than you are ready, and that’s just ego. Rather than saying, “I invite myself to move forward to the Light at a steady and sustainable pace, chosen not out of fear but out of love.”

I think we have time for one more question…

Q: When you say, “That which is aware of fear is not fearful,” I feel myself responding that the part of me that is not fearful is not notably strong or secure. I’m wondering whether it is better to just remain in the stillness that allows the pure energy, or whether it’s sometimes better to try to figure out what is your resistance and your ….

Aaron: (smiling) There’s a wonderful song, I think from your Fiddler on the Roof: “A little bit of this, a little bit of that…” We just try and then see what the results are. There’s no better or worse, as long as you hold the loving intention to act and live and speak for the highest good of beings and with no harm. And then be willing to explore. You’re not going to get it perfect. What if the toddler said, “I’m not going to walk until I can go 100 yards without falling.”? He would never practice. When you practice and you stumble, then stop and ask, what needs to be strengthened here so I can walk a bit further?

We’ve spoken some about pure awareness practice. I think most of you have some experience with this. And at the December 8 workshop we will spend some time with instruction and practice in pure awareness. Even those who have done it before, it will be valuable to have some instruction and talk about it. What is this experience of resting in awareness?

So, online, is there any one of you with one more question?

Q: My famous pattern that I was working with has come up in several personal relationships. It has to do with picking up the unconscious or rejected or denied aspects of other people. And it makes me feel like sometimes I don’t realize it’s even happening, that I’m absorbing and acting out somebody else’s negativity. But when I do notice it, it’s very hard to be able to say what I think is happening because they usually don’t know or they’re denying it… so then I feel stuck with it. It’s a very lonely and horrible feeling. And a disempowering feeling. I don’t know how to resolve it, because it makes me feel like relationship isn’t possible. Like I have to do it all inside of myself.

Aaron: I hear you. Thank you for bringing this up. This takes us back to the aspect of your vipassana practice where we watch one object after another arise and pass away. We stay with what is predominant. If something else becomes predominant, we don’t try to hold onto the first object but allow ourselves to practice choiceless awareness, present with a pleasant or unpleasant object that has become predominant. But not drifting from object to object. Coming back to center, as is (used to).

I think if you take what you are describing and watch the move into feeling invulnerable, feeling helpless, feeling alone, some one or another of these experiences is going to frequently be predominant. Begin to explore it: what is this feeling? From what has it arisen? This specific experience becomes the famous person— not where you started but what’s predominant right now.

We can talk further about this personally and in the small group.

So, I wish you all a good night and I will see you all on December 8. I look forward to it. My blessings and love to you all. Thank you for being here with us tonight.