Rebirth: Releasing and Bringing in the New; Q&A on Love, Climate Change
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Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron.
What a joy to see the very earliest signs of spring, the earth thawing, mud everywhere, but mud means that spring is coming. A friend who lives in a more southern state said the first flowers are coming up there. Yesterday Barbara noticed the first tiny red buds on the maple trees in her yard. Everything will be bursting out of the earth in a month or so. Rebirth. . .
So, not surprisingly, this is my topic for tonight. I will give two talks. Tonight, it will be more about rebirth in general. And then, next month, before Easter, I will talk about what we think of as the Resurrection, not really very different than rebirth; but we’ll talk about that in April.
There is a line from T.S. Eliot’s, The Waste Land, “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land.” Why cruel? Perhaps because, even as you see them emerging, you know that they will eventually come to their winter and die, the blossoms falling away. Is this cruel? I don’t think so. Although, I understand what T.S. Eliot was saying. When we hold onto things, don’t want to lose them, we suffer. And, as hu-mans, you do have the tendency to do that. When you live enjoying what comes to you in each moment and knowing it’s already gone and you don’t cling into it, then you can fully enjoy it. Then the lilacs are not cruel, but magnificent.
There’s a beautiful story about Achaan Chah, who had a very fine English bone china tea cup that was given to him as a gift, very beautiful. He did not put it away on a shelf to look at. He drank his tea from it every day. Someone said, “Aren’t you afraid it will get broken?” He said, “It’s already broken. I know it can’t last. Maybe in a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a month, or five years it will break. Meanwhile, every time I drink tea, I enjoy that tea cup.”
Each of you has many things onto which you are holding, clinging in life. And, when you cling, there’s no space for something new to come. I’d like you all to pause for a few minutes, just silence for two minutes, and think of something present in your life to which you are clinging. Now see that item as Achaan Chah’s tea cup. Whether it’s a relationship, or your health, or a job, beautiful objects, money, or anything precious to you, it will go. Could you enjoy it if you locked it in a safe room? You could not even walk in the door for fear that a breeze would knock it off the shelf. Or, if it’s a relation-ship, for fear somebody hostile will come in here with you and turn this person against you. Or, if it is health, for fear a virus will blow into the room with you. Take this object, whatever it may be, and bring it into your heart. Say, “Thank you. Thank you for the joy you give me. Thank you for your presence in my life, in this hour. That’s all we have, this hour or really just this minute. Thank you.”
Now imagine what you might think of as the worst possible scenario, that the object falls and breaks, the relationship ends, the money is gone, the health is gone, the work is gone. Can you feel yourself contracting with that idea? What if, instead of contract-ing, you see this object going, and say, “Blessings on your journey. Thank you, for be-ing with me and for the time we have spent together, and blessings on your journey.”
Imagine it going out, as in the image of a loved one who has died, or of your health fail-ing in some way, losing a job, breaking your favorite tea cup, letting it go and watching it, giving it away, but not clinging. Feel the spaciousness in that joy and gratitude. “Thank you for having graced my life for whatever period of time we have had together. I release you with my blessings.” See if you can feel the spaciousness in that release. And then, in that spaciousness, the words, “I invite whatever beautiful and wholesome will come.” Don’t try to imagine how it will be, just . . . “I invite that which is wholesome and beautiful. I invite new love in my life, meaningful work, friendship, abundance, ro-bust health. Thank you.” Now there’s space for it, because you’re no longer contracted into the object that released. Feel the spaciousness. “Thank you,” then inviting what-ever will come into your heart, “Thank you. Thank you.”
This is the core of rebirth. Yes, we have the examples of rebirth, of the bulbs that will soon be showing up in your gardens and the buds on the trees, the warming weather. But these are just examples. The true rebirth is that which comes into the spacious heart and fills it. The heart knows that it cannot cling; that that which has arrived is im-permanent, graces you, and then goes. “Thank you. I offer my blessings as you move on and invite what will next come. And I know what will come will be beautiful. It may not be what I think I want, but it will be beautiful and have its own wonder to it.”
I want to give you a different example. I’m sure each of you has watched a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Let’s use the sunset as example, because the sky is filled with flam-ing colors. Moment by moment it changes. The sky is filled with pinks and yellows, golds and orange. Every second the sunset changes. Imagine yourself watching the sunset, filled with so much joy and gratitude at the beauty of it. But now the sky is growing darker; the colors are fading. There may be a thought, “I don’t want the sunset to finish. I want to hold onto it.” Can you? No matter how much you want to, you can-not hold onto it. Could you have enjoyed that sunset if, as you sat there, you kept say-ing, “Oh, it’s going to fade. In another ten minutes it’s going to fade. I can’t bear it; it’s going to fade.” How can you enjoy it?
You watch it, accepting the blessing of it and being thankful for that blessing. And then, giving it away to the night, watching the stars come out, a new blessing. You know that there will be a rebirth of sunset. Every night there will be a sunset. Some nights it will not be visible, because it’s cloudy or rainy, but there will be an abundance of visible sunsets too. Do you understand how you could not appreciate any sunset, if there was clinging?
Rebirth is happening with every breath, breathing in and exhaling, giving away that breath and welcoming in the next breath, filling the lungs, and then the exhale, literally giving away this breath and then a new breath. Some of you who have taken, with Deep Spring or elsewhere, the death and dying classes, have worked with the practice of taking each breath as if it were your last, holding that sacred breath, cherishing that breath and letting it go, because you cannot hold onto it and then being given the grace of a new breath or not. Perhaps it is the last breath. Whether it is one in a suc-cession of millions or the last one, it is no less precious and beautiful . . . the breath of life, the breath of spring, the breath of the sunrise or the passing away of the sun. Ac-tually, the passing away of the sun is a beautiful metaphor, because as the sun passes in its journey, it leaves you with a glorious sky in its passing. How could there be a sunset, if the sun never faded over the horizon? If you kept it overhead all day, you would lose the sunset.
April is the most glorious month, ‘breeding lilacs in the dead land,’ awakening spring. I’m sorry, T.S. Eliot, but it truly is glorious. And, spring will pass, and summer will pass, and autumn will pass, and the land will be frozen again. This cycle of birth and death, birth and death, is one of the precious jewels of incarnation. It is so, first, because of the joy that comes with each birth. But it is also so, because of the sadness and sense of loss that comes. When you feel you have lost something, it helps you to know the preciousness of it and not to take it for granted, to watch it pass, as you might watch that sunset. Know, in a few minutes the sky will be dark, and these colors will not be back again until tomorrow. “Thank you for the colors and thank you for the night, and for the contrast. Thank you. Thank you for the life of a friend or family member, who has come to me and been truly beloved, and now passes away. If I could not miss and mourn for that person, I couldn’t actually appreciate the beauty of his or her life.”
Mourning and even grieving are signs of the loving heart and pass away. Unless you truly love, you cannot mourn. Unless you truly love the sunset, you cannot mourn its passing.
Let’s take this one step further, though. To mourn or grieve is not necessarily to con-tract. Mourning can happen in the spaciousness of love, joy, and gratitude. It only comes with contraction when there is fear and clinging. Of course, clinging and fear are normal experiences for the human, so I’m not criticizing you if you mourn with con-traction, only asking you to look at this and know, “I have a choice.”
Each moment is bringing its precious birth, its precious light, and its precious joy. Each moment may also bring the fear, “What if I lose this?” When you live with long-perpetuated contraction, believing that the loss is final and that there will never be any-thing that will again bring light, you will suffer immensely. Your body and your energy will contract. It will be like drawing armor around yourself. Then how can new beauty, light, and love come in? The space for it is there. The space is always there within you for love and for joy. But, when you armor yourself, you cannot allow yourself the expe-rience of that light, of that joy.
Why would you deny yourself that? I think, in part, it was because you were so afraid of the loss and so afraid that you were not strong enough to bear the loss that you con-tracted, so as not to allow anything else to touch the tender heart; so the heart does not have to bear this kind of wound again. Is that really what you want? If you are unwill-ing to be touched by life, have you lived?
Again, from T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land:
Datta: what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment’s surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms
Rebirth — the constant releasing of whatever will release and the bringing in of the new, holding it in the tender and loving heart and then releasing it. Holding space — maybe the new is not there yet. You don’t know what will come — just holding space. That may be the hardest step, to hold that space without trying to hurry it along, be-cause there is such a deep urgency to fill what feels like an empty space instead of just resting in that spaciousness, in that emptiness and inviting; holding space with the arms open and the heart open. “I invite, and I don’t know what it will be, but it will be good.” Those words, “It will be good,” take a lot of faith. Upon what can you ground that faith? If you have had something in your life that you have recently lost and that was precious to you, that was good and felt right within the heart, now it will come back in its new form. It will not be the same thing; it will be something different, but it will be good.
In part, my friends, I am dedicating this talk to Barbara. Of course, she talks to me daily, but less so in this past year. She is not taking as much time for meditation or for any-thing for herself, for exercise, for eating nutritious meals. She is, as she puts it, juggling too many balls. So, my opportunity to talk to her has diminished to some degree. Will those of you who are here, and who love Barbara, remind her that this talk is offered to her, and that I wish her to take me seriously.
Let go. It will be good. Whatever will come will be wholesome and beautiful and she can trust it. Yes, of course, I’ve told her this, but I hope she can hear me in a deeper way, reading the transcript from this talk.
Let us take this in a slightly different direction. When you are aware that there is cling-ing and that it’s so hard to let go of that which was precious to you, how do you relate in a skillful and wholesome way to that clinging? — Not by saying, “No! No clinging!” — Because, that won’t do it. How do you explore the experience of clinging simply as one more conditioned object? Clinging arises and it will pass away.
Yes, I, as Aaron, have tears, and Barbara is not in the body, so she’s not hearing this talk. But I love this human very much and I have watched the intensity of her suffering this year. So, I hope that my words can be of some support to her. She knows all this, and yet she clings, not just to Hal. She clings to the old story, “I must juggle all these balls. I must get it all right.” And, she knows the folly of that. She sees it, that it’s an old habit. She is working as best she can with it and, in all truthfulness, she has released a lot, but she has a way to go.
You all have a way to go. You are all clinging. Clinging is based on fear. It’s based on armoring, not wanting to feel the pain of loss, not wanting to feel the fear of helpless-ness or loss of control, not wanting to feel the loss of control that comes with aging, that comes with illness, that comes with moving through the prime of your life and into that of a person who now must walk with a walker, who is unable to climb mountains or swim across lakes — letting go.
I find it interesting with Barbara, because she has let go of certain things very graceful-ly. She is no longer able to jump in the ocean and jump over the waves, or even to swim the length of the lake and back. But, she has learned to find real joy just in sitting on the sand with her feet in the water, or wading into the lake and swimming a hun-dred yards; it doesn’t have to be a mile. When communing with the water and the sky, even two yards is enough, presence with things as they are. And so, I find it interesting for Barbara, and perhaps this can be helpful to others of you, that she can let go of these things so gracefully. But, there are other areas which are so much harder to re-lease. The hard places will differ for each of you.
Barbara was driving her car one day a month or two ago when snow was falling, driv-ing past a local wood where she used to ski. She pulled over to the side of the road and just watched the snow come down. It was very beautiful, touching the branches, touching the earth, which was already deep and white. And she thought to herself, “This is the woods where I used to ski often in the winter, and now I can no longer do that.” But she could imagine; she could remember the trails and, as she watched the snow falling, she replayed it in her mind how it felt to ski down,… “and here’s a fork. Should I go the long, roundabout way or the steep, fast way? It doesn’t matter. I’ll come around and come back up again and I’ll take the other path.” She was really rejoicing and truly skiing in her inner experience. And she realized, after that hour or so of watching the woods and snow, that there was no more grasping of, “Oh, I want to ski.” She confirmed to herself, ” I’ve done that, and it was a great blessing and let’s see what comes next.”
So, this was an area that was easier for her. But, she is a person who is used to being able to manage things in her life well, and managing is sometimes interpreted as con-trol. This is true for many of you. But, you cannot always control. You think you’ve got it right, and then . . . She experienced this a week or two ago. She was juggling balls and one of them turned into a grenade and exploded, leaving her in a very challenging situation. Sometimes, when you try to juggle too many balls, they do turn into grenades and they explode. So, she could put down the idea of skiing, but it was much harder for her to put down the idea of “I should be able to manage this, and this, and this, and this, and keep it all together, and not have to still be at my desk at two and three in the morning trying to keep it all together.”
Spirit has been very stern with her this week, not just me. Father John, the Mother, Ye-shua have all said to her, “You must stop and take care of yourself. You must stop running. From what are you running?” The feeling of helplessness, “If only I can keep it all together, I won’t have to feel helpless.” Feeling in control may be seen as a beau-tiful flower. Relinquishing control is also a beautiful flower, putting it down. I’m using Barbara’s experience here. But I know this relates for many of you, people in situations in your life where you finally understand you just cannot control life. I could probably speak to each of you with some specific area where you have had to let go. I watch you; I watch you with so much love, struggling with this, with a place that feels like, “I have to hold on; I have to do everything.” What if you, literally, put it down. Do you think the world will dissolve and crash into a billion pieces if you put this one obligation down?
Barbara has had rejoicing this week, because Hal just passed his one-year anniversary of his stroke, and he began to walk a few steps in his physical therapy, using the paral-lel bars, only with one hand. The right arm is not usable, so holding on with the left hand, he stands up now, puts his weight on his right foot, which he is now beginning to trust, and moves the left foot. Now the brain is starting to communicate to the right foot, so the right foot now comes forward and the weight goes forward onto the right foot. Maybe only eight steps, but eight steps is a thousand miles. So, it’s wonderful.
So, she is rejoicing, but she’s also feeling a huge new burden. “How can I continue to support this, to pay for the physical therapy, which Medicare will not pay for and which is essential to his progress, to pay for the care team that helps him continue.”
Can you see the delusion there, “How can I do this?” instead of trusting? First of all, Hal has to co-create this by wanting it very much and holding the intention. Second, where is her belief in abundance? Maybe Medicare will hear that he’s walking and re-verse its judgment and say, “Okay, we’ll give him more for the physical therapy.” She is also inviting donations for his support and needs to trust in that generosity. Who knows from where the money will come??
You, each of you, do not have to carry the burden. Here is a place where release can be beautiful, the release of the flower that has grown and has passed its prime and faded away, the release of the sunset, the release of the self-imposed burden. How can you trust the Universe and invite abundance, love and happiness, if you cling to the old images of love, abundance and happiness and don’t make space for the new to come in? The old has to go, so that the new can come.
Is there any gardener amongst you, who in the fall, did not clean out his fall garden to make room for the new growth in the spring? Or did you look at the dying branches and plants and say, “Oh, No. I have to hold on to them.”? Everything you need will come, but you need to make space for it, or it cannot come.
Coming back to the fear and clinging; first, when there is clinging, there is contraction.
Anybody here who does not know what contraction feels like? Loud noise) Contrac-tion! “Breathing in, I am aware of the contraction. Breathing out, I hold space for the contraction.” And then you may have to do some hard work, or hard practice, with it, asking yourself, “In what way is this contraction based on an old habitual pattern, based in fear? You can work with the Four Empowerments and Seven Branch Prayer. That could be helpful. You can work with metta, karuna, or any of the Brahma Viharas. You can work with gratitude.
The most important thing is to be willing to acknowledge that there is fear, to touch on that place of fear, and say, “Hello, Fear. I see you, and I do not intend to be ruled by you.” Then find the spaciousness of the open heart: right there with fear, where is love? Right there with contraction, where is spaciousness? These are not at opposite ends of a pole. Contraction and spaciousness are there together. Light and darkness are there together. See if one of these seeming dualities is most pronounced for you. If you feel yourself to be in a very dark place, keep looking. “Where is the light in this moment?” In a place of grief, where is happiness? In a place of tight contraction, where is space? In a place of anger, where is love?
Don’t force yourself, saying, “I should feel love. I should feel spaciousness.” Know that the genuine love and spaciousness are always there. “I choose to allow myself to ex-perience spaciousness. If I am contracting and denying myself the experience, why would I choose to do that? What do I benefit by holding myself in this place of dark-ness?” Here is where the path of clear light, and awareness of darkness, are simulta-neous. Go out in the night. Look at the night sky and see the millions of stars right there against the dark sky. Which do you focus on, the vast darkness or the light? Can you focus on both? No denial of the darkness; the stars are made brighter by the fact of the darkness. You cannot see the stars in the daytime, in the sunlight.
So, we cherish the darkness and the way it contrasts and it gives us the light. We cher-ish the sorrow that brings us back to love. We cherish fear that reminds us that it is im-permanent, that we don’t have to choose to live in fear. “I choose love.” It’s not as easy as that, of course, but just offer the statement, “My highest intention is not to get bogged down in fear, and darkness, and negativity.” Remind yourself that the reason extends far beyond the person. You are doing this for yourself, yes. You are doing this for your loved ones, yes. And, you are doing this for all sentient beings. Because, each of you that makes a choice for love, in a time of fear, that makes a choice for spacious-ness and joy in a time of sadness and negative emotion, each of you is helping to shift the earth into this positive polarity, into this Eden of light and love. And, for many of you, this is truly what you came for. Do the work for yourselves, but always also for all sentient beings.
That Bodhisattva vow . . . people always ask me, “How can I save anybody else from suffering?” All you have to do is release some suffering within yourself, and it’s conta-gious. When you’re suffering less, everybody suffers less. When you feel joy, others feel joy.
Please be aware of the coming weeks, as this season of rebirth starts very gradually. Look for the very first signs of it in nature. Barbara read recently that in late March they begin to tap the maple trees, the running of the sap. The energy of the tree is released from the frost and it’s flowing. Watch for the birds. Some of you have probably seen the abundance of geese flying overhead in the past week or two, new songbirds appear-ing, the tiny bud on the maple, those very first snowdrops in the garden. Take the time to stop and cherish these. Think back to last year’s flowers, last summer’s warmth, and say, “Thank you. My blessings, as you go on your way; I empty myself, so I have space to truly adore this rebirth taking place around me and within me.”
As with the spring season, it will be a gradual, slow melting of the heart here, an open-ing of the body there, a smile, a laugh, a hug. April is the most glorious month, ‘breed-ing lilacs out of the dead land’. Rejoice! But, if rejoicing is too hard, then just sit and watch and hold space, allowing grief and fear if they’re still there, not trying to get rid of them, but finding the small space, opening, opening, opening a little space in the heart. Ahhh . . . how does that feel when the heart opens just a little bit? Is it good? I think it will be very, very good.
Q: Aaron said that you can’t grieve or mourn if you haven’t loved deeply enough. Can you speak about different degrees of loving? Can loving be more subtle and peaceful, and less of an emotional feeling?
Aaron: Of course. The key mark of loving is that the heart is open and connected to that which is loved. It doesn’t have to be strongly emotional. In fact, it often is not. With the emotions, there is often attachment and fear, where true loving is usually much more free and deep. So, when you have not truly loved, but been afraid, “I need this; I must hold onto this,” that’s very different than loving. And then you cannot really grieve freely, because there’s still too much anger, attachment, and volatile emotion. You cannot let go, as long as there’s that kind of fear-based clinging. But that’s not love; that’s something that many of you think is love. It poses as love.
Q: Okay. That agrees with what I thought. Thank you.
Aaron: Good. Other questions?
Q: I have been reading a paper by a man who decries the reversal of environmental organization to confront the reality that global climate change is happening much more rapidly than generally acknowledged, and we must begin to talk about creatively ac-commodating drastic changes in our whole way of life. How do you see it, Aaron?
Aaron: Let me speak with a metaphor. Perhaps you are a farmer with some cattle or sheep, pigs, or other animals. You’ve been busy in your life, and also not really paying attention. So, your fence is weak in places. The animals break through here and wan-der out into the forest. You round them up; you fix that area of the fence. You look around and say, “I think there must be other weak places, but I don’t have time to look at it now.” A week later, the animals break out someplace else, and then a month later, and then a month later again. But you never check the whole fence line, just repair quickly that which was broken through. The fence keeps getting older and weaker, so instead of the animals escaping once a month, now they are escaping once a week, and then once every three days. At what point are you going to pay attention and say, “I need to go around my whole fence line and make sure that it’s taken care of, so that my animals do not escape and become endangered? I choose to take care of my fence line as a matter of love for myself and my livestock.”
This is what I see happening. Everything is moving faster, and faster. There is a cry, “Pay attention! Pay attention!” It is not too late. But, soon it will be too late to avoid some areas of irreversible climate change. If enough of you are paying attention, then you will start to look for the broken fences and mend them before they decay further. If you turn your back on it, your cows are going to run off. Your various species are going to die away. The Earth is going to diminish. Once the cows are gone, it’s going to be very hard to get them back.
I would hope that this matter of climate change will become a major issue in the up-coming presidential election; and that leadership, not just for president but in all of your government body of leadership, worldwide, will start to see this situation as a reality, and not just as fake news, and take care of this beautiful Earth you’ve been given. You are co-creators of it; it’s up to you. But I think, in the deterioration, the Earth is literally speaking to you and saying, “Please, pay attention! I need your help.” Other questions?
Q: This is sort of a follow up on to your previous answer. Could you say something about the relationship of the planet, or the consciousness of the planet, and the con-sciousness of the human population? That’s addressed somewhat in your answer, but a lot of the solutions proposed to climate change hurt some segment of the human population, because they have the burden to change the problem.
Aaron: The consciousness level feeds back and forth. Evolving human conscious-ness, moving into a higher vibration supports the planet’s moving into a higher vibra-tion. The planet moving into a higher vibration creates a ground in which humans can move into a higher vibration. And it works the reverse. When humans get caught up in fear and negativity, and move into a lower vibration, it drags the whole vibrational fre-quency of the planet down with it.
It is led by humans. It is not led by the environment. For example, the trees, the growth, they mourn; they are sentient beings. But the planet itself; it has a basic high vibration. It wants to support high vibration in the sentient life form that lives on the planet. But it cannot force you into a high vibration; that’s up to you. As you move into a high vibra-tion and send out that offer of that loving energy to the Earth itself, it will respond by showing its true color. “Ah . . . I shine!”
So, the Earth has the potential for a very high vibration, but first you have to wipe off the mud, so to speak; and you do that through your love. Does that answer your ques-tion? It’s always an interactive process.
You say,” a lot of the solutions proposed to climate change hurt some segment of the human population, because they have the burden to change the problem.” In the long run, nothing that harms some forms of life can ever serve for well-being. All share the burden, or joy, to see deeply and invite wholesome change. If I steal your water so you die, who will take your unique and cherished place?
So, perhaps that’s enough questions for the night, and my blessings and love to you all. Thank you for being here with me. Remember to rejoice in the rebirth around you and within yourself. And, if there is any resistance to that rebirth, any pulling back from it, to pause and be aware of that resistance and to say, “Do I consciously choose the outcome of this resistance; and, if so, why? And, if not, then let me be conscious and release the resistance, so that everything may open and be born. Love will be born anew and over again, repeatedly, love, love, love.”
I love you all. I wish you a good evening.