October 15, 2019 Tuesday, Dharma Path Class
Sisyphus and the Suffering in Grasping at Perfection; Aaron’s Past Life Story: Path of Sacred Darkness From Rage to Compassion; Finding Freedom From Perseveration
Year 2; Session 1; Class 3
Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. Well, the digital equipment is amazing, but of course it doesn’t always work. There’s always a trade-off. In the old days, you would have had to travel long distances if you wanted to see and hear me. Here, you can see and hear me from afar, BUT the equipment has to work. And it’s never going to work all the time. When we expect it to work all the time, we suffer. When we recognize that maybe it will work and maybe it won’t work… We hope that the crucial kind of equipment, like the steering and brakes on your car will work all the time. The computers—it’s optional.
At the retreat, many of you went very deep looking at some of the roots of your own personal suffering, at what we have termed “the places that scare you”; the places from which you have wanted to distance yourself. A retreat gives us a wonderful opportunity to do that. To reflect on the places where one has hardened and become caught in fear and the mode that wants to control everything and fix everything. Of course, you do want this—you’re human!
The more you grasp at control, the less you are able to see the reality that in the ultimate sense, you, on the mundane level, have no control. And yet, your higher self has complete control because it is connected to and part of everything. So, the Higher Self is not trying to control that which is out of its personal small-self control.
Let me say that a bit more succinctly. If the snow is packed after heavy storms in the early spring and is leaning out over the valley, there’s probably going to be an avalanche. You who live on the opposite hillside, you and your many neighbors cannot control that there will, or will not be, an avalanche, only control that it falls safely, in a way that it will do no harm. And that you can do. You can clear the ground below and then consciously trigger the avalanche so it falls harmlessly. But you as humans do not yet have the ability to co-create with the weather and with the force of the snow melt and the big heavy ice of the avalanche, to shift it and have it shrink. It’s not something the human can do.
Could it ever? Back in Lemurian times, many of you knew how to do this. And since those days, now that you are more fully human, you have grasped at that old ability, and said, “Why can’t I do it? I used to know how.” Well, because you’re human and things have changed. And you agreed to these changes—to live with the more limited DNA, to live with the inability on the relative plane to co-create in those same ways.
It’s a trade-off. That being that you once were could not learn many things because it was so involved in the co-creation that it could not put itself in the position of the one who experiences, only in the one who creates. Eventually, yes; you’ll move to a place where there is no longer duality of creator and experience. But for now, you seem to be either creator or experiencer. And this is fine, because you have incarnated on the earth plane to learn how to experience with more love. Not to become caught in fear and anger.
This means not to see yourself as a victim, living in fear and anger. To know you are part of the co-creation but, as yet, you don’t really understand how to fulfill that creator/experiencer non-duality, how to bring it together. And so, you experience. Fear comes up. Anger comes up. Grasping comes up.
I have repeated this over and over: if these did not come up, how would you learn how to be here with these challenges with love?
So, you did not come to the Earth to be in control of everything. And yet, where there is love, there is always power and some degree of control.
Barbara has been reflecting for some months, and came deeper to it in the retreat, looking at the ways in which she keeps repeating thoughts, like somebody going through a maze. Having walked one path and come to a dead end, and gone the other way, a third way, gone back to the first way, trying it again—it’s got to work! But of course, it doesn’t. Some way to change everything, to find some safety and control. So, she spent a lot of time at the retreat looking at this whole grasping for control. Who is grasping? Grasping for what?
You’ve probably all practiced with me of the story of Sisyphus, who is condemned to try to roll a boulder up a hill all day, a heavy boulder. He gets it almost to the top. When night falls, he must return to the bottom of the hill. And as soon as he lets go of the boulder, it rolls back down.
We push it over and over. There is no suffering in pushing it up the hill, assuming one is strong and not forcing one’s body beyond its strength. If one knows, “Well, it’s going to roll back down. Still, I can roll it up.” And for whatever good it does, rolling it up. And here we need a slightly different metaphor, because of course just rolling a boulder up a hill is not particularly useful.
But for Barbara, trying to organize the things around Hal and support him, is her boulder and she can never get it perfect. Something goes wrong; the boulder rolls back down. A computer system was perfect, and then the boulder rolled back down. Now we’re using a laptop. Good enough. It’s never going to stay perfect.
The suffering is in that grasping for it to stay perfect. And the question is, can one look deeply into one’s pain, one’s fear? Can one see how that grasping is the heart of suffering? And that it is optional whether one continues the grasping? One can still move ahead in appropriate ways without holding on so tight?
Imagine Sisyphus up there as dark is falling. Rain is starting to pour down. He’s exhausted. He says, “I won’t let the boulder roll down the hill.” He’s standing there, holding it. It gets to be 11pm, midnight. He’s totally exhausted. “No, I won’t let it roll back down.” But eventually he’s going to have to let go.
What does it mean to let go of the boulder? It does not mean defeat, as most of you imagine it means. Each day, when he rolls it, there’s an easier trail to roll it up because the day before it smoothed the path. So, each day he gets it a bit higher. And one day he’s going to finally reach the summit with it and find a little hollow in which it can rest.
Everything that you do and think and say has importance. Everything brings you closer to the top of the hill. But when you feel you have failed and turn the anger on yourself and on others, then instead of fulfilling the work of the incarnation to increase in love and compassion, instead you increase in anger and fear. Is that what you’re here for? No.
Clean to here
I want to tell you a story. Long ago and far away, I was shaman to a large tribe of very peaceful people. We lived in many places in the forest and the mountains, and I would travel, one week here, one week there, to help people with their healing and their spiritual practice, and the other kinds of work I was brought to do as a shaman.
My people were deeply loving, very supportive of each other. Some lived by the sea and fished; others lived in the forest and hunted. Others lived in fertile valleys and grew crops. Everybody found great joy to share the fruits of their work. There was never a fear of, “Am I getting my share?” but everybody shared openheartedly and with love for others.
There was a great range of mountains on one side of our nation and a vast sea on the other side, forests on the third and fourth sides. For generations there had never been any war or strife. Certainly, there had been years when food was less plentiful, but people made do, years in which there was great abundance, and people found ways to dry and store food for the lean years. People shared their skills. Every two years, there was a vast gathering in the summer, people coming from the mountains and the sea, from the forests and the valleys, the different tribes, to dance, to speak. The young people could meet each other and have their weddings. A very joyful month of celebration. We were not perfect, of course, but we lived in peace with abundance and joy, celebrating life and living with love.
One day we had word from the people who lived near the sea that strange ships were on the horizon. And then a few days later, a runner with the terrible news: “They are invading us. They are killing people. They are raping the women. They are killing babies. They are taking the male adults as slaves. Protect yourselves.” But we knew nothing of protecting ourselves, other than through love.
As the spiritual leader of all these people, I felt responsible, how to help them. We had no weapons. A group of men gathered to try to face these invaders. And it was determined to take the children, the elderly, the women, high up into the mountains. I knew of a passageway through the mountains to the other side. Because of my travels, I knew this, but no one else knew this passage. So, I led many hundreds of people part way up the mountain. Then it was determined we must separate, because we were making too easy a trail to follow.
I went ahead with a group of the most fragile— mostly the children and a few elderly who could tend to the children, to help them over the mountains. It was early spring, still snowing. The snow hid our path. For the others, I described the several routes, determining that each of several groups would take a different route, the snow again covering the tracks. So, I was responsible for this group of children and elderly.
We were successful. We got over the mountain pass and down the other side into what I truly believed was a safe valley, as it proved to be. And then I immediately turned to go back, to see who else I could help.
As I was coming back, I saw our—‘enemy’ is the only word in your vocabulary that would fit. But the word ‘enemy” gives the idea of somebody hateful. These were simply very ignorant and fear-based humans for whom we needed to have compassion. Call them what you will. I saw them coming up the mountain. I let them see me. And they all started to come after me, and I went in a different direction, trying to mislead them so that others could travel more safely. Coming up the mountain where the snow lay deep, many of them close on my trail.
I came up to a snow overhang where there was a narrow ridge that I knew could lead me to safety. But the snow was heavy, and as I walked, it gave way in an avalanche. I tumbled down the mountain with this falling snow and ice. I had no idea what happened to those who chased me, only that when I found myself returned to consciousness, I lay within a cocoon of tree branches covered with snow and ice that had rolled down the mountain with me embraced in its arms so that I was in what would seem to be a snow cave. I was bruised, cut a bit, but not seriously injured. There was here and there a small crack in the snow that let in air, so I was in what was essentially an igloo.
I had warm clothes. I had a flint that I needed for a fire, and there were the branches of the tree around me for wood, and snow for water. I had a bit of food. So, I was not in any real danger. But I was filled with anger, because I wanted to try to pull them off the track. I did not know what happened to my people; or to the invaders. Would they have seen me slide down the avalanche, and then go off to attack, to rape the women, to kill the men?
I knew that I could eventually dig my way out. But for then, I was trapped. I was helpless. I could not do what my heart cried out for me to do, which was to protect my people.
For the first day I was there, my mind kept playing over scenario after scenario, and then replaying the first one, and the second one again, seeking to find some solution. I knew it would take me some days to break out and to climb back up the mountain. And I had some injuries that needed a few days to heal. What was I to do? How could I protect my people? I was so filled with grief and anger.
What to do. The second and third day, watching my anxiety level, my anger; seeing myself in a very dark place, and wanting to find some way out of that dark place. And feeling myself to be a failure. Of course, I had seen the avalanche danger, and I had taken a risk willingly. But at some level, I had felt, “I’m going to get through.” That’s not what the snow and ice had in mind.
In those days, wrapped up in my snow cave, I saw the limits of the relative plane human. I saw that, while I was a powerful shaman and could do so much in the world, there were things I could not do. I could not control life and death. I could not control the weather, nor the fate of the people I loved. I went through some days of feeling that my whole life had been a sham. That I had started to believe that I had power when I really had very little power, in some areas.
Where did I have power? I began to see how I had begun to hate myself for being powerless. How I hated the opposition for the destruction they were wreaking on my people. I saw how hate had me contracted into a place of darkness.
Each day I was digging more, breaking off some sticks from the tree that was wrapped around me, and using them to dig through the snow. But remember, this was compacted ice, not something soft that could be dug away easily with a stick.
The sun was warming my snow cave. As I said, I had fire and water and food. It was the perfect situation for me, painful though it was, because it forced me to stop and look at where I did have power and where I did not have power.
My power, I began to see, came only through love. I had to look at my hatred of this enemy. Were they inherently evil? Or were they just ignorant and perhaps hungry and afraid? How could I find compassion for them? I was so angry, I did not want to look for compassion! Healing could come only through finding compassion for myself, and acknowledging my human limits, and simultaneously acknowledging my infiniteness. I grew up in that 10 days in the cave. Rage kept coming—how many have they killed? Rage at my helplessness, and so forth. I had to make space for the rage, not hate myself for feeling it. And then, compassion.
Finally, I broke through the ice. I was able to climb back up the hillside to a place where I had a view. Knowing the mountain so well, and this enemy had not tried to disguise their own trail, I began to follow the trail. I came to a place where, within a small high mountain level valley, they were holding many of my people captive. Certainly, they had killed and raped and done damage, but many were alive.
I had been able to see deeply into my own fear, and it helped me to understand their fear and superstition. I had the ability to create—I don’t know how best to explain this to you—an aura of light around myself energetically. It was something that I understood how to bring about, as a shaman. So, that first night, creeping up to a point high in the mountain where I knew they could see me, creeping up in the darkness, I then brought forth this vast aura of light around me, and spoke in a resounding voice—I don’t mean to imitate Moses— “Let my people go!” This was, let us say a different time and place than Moses; no one would have heard of him. I stood there and gave forth a loud cry, “Let my people go, or you will suffer!” They were terrified. They saw me as some kind of a wraithlike creature, a demon, because they believed in demons. My people did not.
They came after me, but I could easily escape into the mountains, hiding my tracks. They were relatively incapable in the dark. They returned to the valley. The day came on. They were forcing the people to march, trying to head them back to the sea where they were going to take them on their ships, as slaves.
The next night, a repeat performance: “Let my people go!” I had prepared the way, so that the path they would travel through—not on top of them, but close enough to them on the path ahead of them—I had created the way for an avalanche. And I stood near but safely. “Let my people go!” And then I let loose the force that would bring the avalanche down onto the path they were taking toward the sea. “What kind of power does this demon have?” they wondered.
And a third night, a similar performance. I could not terrify anybody who was not already terrified in their heart. Anybody who lived deeply in a place of love would have seen through it in a minute, because they would not have been capable of such destruction. Only somebody full of hatred could believe in a demonic origin of such destruction. Their own hatred ensnared them. Their own fear ensnared them.
I saw the dis-ease in them, as they tried to walk again. I knew what was coming the next day, because as a shaman I knew the movements of the heaven, that there was going to be a partial eclipse. That night I cried out, “Let my people go, or I will blot out the sun!”
And it came, the eclipse. They were terrified! They ran for their ships. Of course, some of our people were killed. What was important for me was that I understood that I could not have done any of this from a place of hatred. I could only do it from a place of deep compassion toward them. I did not want to kill them, and I could have. I could have brought an avalanche down upon them. That was not my intention. Let them go back and sail away and tell everybody about the power of these people across the sea.
You have that power. You are the people across the sea. You are the people who have come into the incarnation in love. You are the people who have come, yes, with the human idea of demons in the self and without. But also with the idea of angelic presence, and that you are the angel. You are love.
The “invaders” are all around you—the people in your world who are steeped in fear, steeped in hatred, in greed, intent to kill others, to take from others. How do you say no? What is the portion of the self that is strong and fearless and loving, and how to trust that quality as the essence of what you are.
At the retreat, we had 30+ spiritual warriors, people going to a very deep place to greet the demons of fear, greed, and hatred in themselves, and invite them to release; to find the true self and understand how to live from that true self, even in the presence of fear and contraction. To do this, you each had to go deep into what seemed to be the darkness in yourselves to find the true light. And the true light is always there. Many of you found it. All of you found at least a flicker. Some of you found a brilliance.
As we work with this path of sacred darkness, you must remember that the sacredness in the darkness is a true flame with radiance, right there within the darkness. If you do not get caught up in the darkness as an opponent but understand that the darkness is nothing more than the extension of the light, you can walk through, walk the path of light and find your way.
I’m coming back to Barbara here for a minute. Perhaps better for her to tell it, but I know if I give back the body, she will find it hard to speak immediately after me being incorporated.
Her son M remarked to her today how often she is going into repetitious fear-based stories, rather than seeing clearly, as she usually did in the past. She’s noticed that she does this more and more. She was reflecting this afternoon, am I ready to stop? M, you gave her a word; “perseverating”. To perseverate. She looked it up to clarify the meaning: “Repetition based in fear and anxiety.” She read some ideas about it: “based on anxiety, based on old stories.” What is a good help for that? Meditation—no surprise!
Are you doing this? Are you repeating the old fear-based stories so that you can’t find your way out? It’s like being in a maze where there’s a very clear entrance and exit, but you keep taking the side paths because you’re so tied up that you don’t see the clear way. The more anxious you get, the more quickly you lose track of clarity and light. Good word, “perseverate.” Thank you, M.
Barbara knows she is your teacher, but she still is human and can get caught. And this experience with Hal, these last 18 months, is pushing her to the very edges of her practice. So, as the weeks go by, I hope she will tell you how she is working with the unhelpful tendency of perseveration, and how she is finding freedom from it. As a teacher, she has to keep herself honest and do her work, so I’m challenging her, here.
I’m challenging all of you, as well. Where are you spinning in circles? Why? Here is the sacred darkness, but you can’t take it as sacred because there’s so much fear of it. You have to stop, as I was forced to stop in that snow cave of the avalanche. Trapped, knowing, yes, I still could die here. Who knows what will happen. I had tools to survive, but that was no guarantee of survival. More important, I could not help the people that I was pledged to help, at least not at that point. I had to just stop and survive in the cave. Dig and meditate, and dig and meditate, and dig and meditate, until I could overcome the old habits of fear; of trying to push the stone up the hill and make it stay there. To realize, to remember it’s all impermanent. Take it one step at a time, with an open heart. See where you are. See what the next step might be. Do it with love. And if it’s not effective, stop and meditate again, and see what a different step might be.
You did not incarnate to fail. You incarnated to learn to find the path through the darkness with the inner light that is your essence, and to live that light.
So, let us pause here, in this opening talk, and I want to hear from some of you any stories to share of the retreat, any questions about what came up—whatever has come to the surface in these few days since you’ve come home.
Thank you, those of you who were at the retreat, for all the power of love that kept you centered and growing. Thank you for those who were not at the retreat but are walking the same path. I love you.
I’m going to release the body to Barbara and let her participate in whatever you share. If there is a need, I will come back…