MARCH 5, 2019 TUESDAY, DHARMA PATH CLASS
GUIDED MEDITATION: CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN OF AWAKENING
HOMEWORK ON PAGE 14.
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Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. Here is Michigan deeply bound in a winter, 10 degrees out there, snow blowing around. Barbara was thinking to herself this morning, “I’ve had enough of winter.” How many of you have said that, in the past weeks? When it gets to be August and it’s 100 degrees, how many of you are going to say, “I’ve had enough of summer.”?
Herein is the basis of your suffering. There is always going to be winter and summer, always going to be extremes. Always going to be that which is unpleasant, that which leaps out and tries to grab you. In teaching this Dharma Path class and planning the class, my central focus has been on how we can relate more openheartedly to difficult experience; how can you not take it so personally?
Even if it is exactly the way you want it, you can’t hold onto it that way, and you know that. Barbara got up early one morning last week, a beautiful morning. There was a little bit of fresh snow; everything sparkling and white. Sun not yet risen, but pink and blue streaks in the sky. Not terribly cold— a beautiful morning. She came to the door to let her dog out. Fortunately, before she opened the door, she caught sight of a movement. Ah— there was a skunk on the deck!
There are always going to be skunks on the deck. And if they’re not… (people on Zoom cannot hear Aaron, long pause to adjust equipment) Everything is arising and passing away, pleasant and unpleasant, neutral. How are you going to relate to it? When conditions are pleasant, you want them to remain that way, and you contract. When they’re unpleasant, you want them to go away, and you contract.
Aaron continuing: I noted the morning last week, a beautiful morning. Barbara came out early and the sky was streaked with beautiful colors. A little bit of fresh snow, making everything pure and white. She came to the door feeling such joy, so beautiful. Was about to open the door to let the dog out when movement caught her eye. And there was a skunk 10 feet away on the deck! Pleasant, unpleasant. There’s nothing unpleasant about a skunk if you’re another skunk. But this was not how she wanted to spend her day— bathing her dog to get rid of skunk odor. “Oh no! A skunk!”
Did we lose everything, from the beginning? Let me assume we did and just start over.
I began by saying that for me a core of the Dharma Path class for these 2 years, is first, learning that while we have little choice what experience will come, we have a choice about how we respond to experience. If conditions are present, the experience will arise; then it will pass away. You can’t hold onto it; you can’t stop it. How do you relate to it? And, second, as you learn to relate in a much more openhearted way, you find yourself increasingly resting in spaciousness, in egolessness; just present. You begin to find a much deeper joy and wonder in your experience. A skunk is really quite a wondrous thing, as is a zero degree morning. As is the heat from the furnace blowing and warming your body. Sunshine, and blizzard snow. It’s all beautiful if you don’t have expectations, and if you are not contracted and holding on to expectations.
Let us look a bit at manifestation. You can manifest through an open heart, or you can manifest through fear. Because you are human, often the manifestation comes from a place of fear, and then you wonder, why am I not getting what I thought I wanted?
Remember, my friends, that you came here into this incarnation to learn and also to help shepherd Earth into a higher vibration through helping yourself into a higher vibration. You do not create that high a vibration; rather, you keep remembering and uncovering it, because you keep forgetting it’s there. “Higher vibration— where did I put it? I can’t find it! I thought it was here somewhere— Ah, here it is.” It’s always been there. Where would it go? As soon as there’s contraction it’s so easy to lose touch with the pure self.
So many of you have issues— lifelong issues, for many of you— with feelings of unworthiness, of shame, of pride versus humility, of accepting the ego in the same way you accept your hair color or foot size. It’s just part of the incarnation. So, as soon as an issue comes along that brings up feelings of unworthiness and shame, your immediate reaction is to contract. Feelings of pride can also bring contraction, with the thought, “I should be humble.” When you contract, you stop the flow of energy moving though you that allows connection to the awakened heart. And then you say, “Why is nothing happening the way I wanted it to?”
Interestingly, yesterday when Barbara got the phone call early in the morning that they had taken Hal to St.Joe’s ER, she had no information at all. She just contracted, and she packed up her purse and whatever she needed, her dog, and off they went to the ER, early in the morning. No food, nothing to drink— just (sound effect). When she got there, she found out his feeding tube had somehow gotten caught in his sleep and pulled loose. It was not it was not life-threatening; it simply needed to be taken care of.
She was agitated. She sat there hour after hour. Hal was uncomfortable, so he was agitated, crying out, and she was trying to get him comfortable. He was lying on a narrow hospital gurney. From that contracted state, she kept saying, “When will they come and take care of him? Why isn’t this working?” Hour after hour— 6 hours, 7 hours, 8 hours.
If she had asked me, I would have said, “Relax!”, but she didn’t ask me, she just continued the agitation. Finally, 4PM they informed her they could not do the procedure at this hospital; that he must be taken to UM hospital the next day. At 6pm or 7pm they got him back to his nursing home room without the condition being attended to. So, he had an appointment today for U of M. She didn’t get to bed until quite late last night. Got home, ate dinner at 9pm. Got up this morning and went to Hal.
But, in between, she had a chance to remember that she had a choice about how she could relate to this experience, for herself and Hal. To hold the vision of a very positive movement: “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”
His appointment was, I think she met him there at U of M about 11am. They took him down to the specific place in Radiology where the tube was to be reinserted. He had to wait about an hour for the attention he needed, for his turn. He was a bit early for his appointment. Barbara was relaxed today; not, “Will they get it right this time?!”, but, “Ahh, thank you. This will be perfect.” Truly knowing, “This will be perfect.” I think she was agitated yesterday in part because she knew they couldn’t do it there. She was angry that they had sent him to this other hospital in the first place, when he needed to go to the university hospital. She knew from past experience with the PEG, but that’s where they had sent him, to the hospital across town instead of the one he can see from his window.
So, she had started off agitated. “I want it this way!” Well, she could have said, in that first hour, “He doesn’t belong here. I am his guardian. I want him taken back to his nursing home room, and an appointment made with U of M.” But, she’s not a doctor. She thought, “What if it IS urgent?” And it could have been. It could have been a critical medical condition. So, today, she was resting in spaciousness. Finally the nurse came in, looked at it and said, “Oh, that’s easy.”
At the nursing home they had forgotten— some miscommunication: they had given him breakfast. She had gotten a phone call saying, “We cannot put him under sedation. Can we just use local anesthetic?” She asked Hal; he said yes, fine. So, the nurse came and looked at it. She said, “This doesn’t need any anesthetic.” He did shout out, “Ouch!” when she pulled it out, and another ouch when she put the new one in. Thirty seconds of “Ouch!” Pulling the old tube out, putting the new one in, and an x-ray, to make sure it was placed properly. That’s all; go home.
I’m not saying that Barbara’s energy changed everything, but she was able to hold a loving and spacious energy which allowed her to support that spaciousness and light for Hal and for others in the room. Yesterday she was sending out a tense, anxious energy, which aggravated the energy field. You have so much power. You forget how much power you have.
Your work, my dear ones, is with each moment of experience, to ask yourself: how am I relating to this? Is this the way I choose to relate to it? Am I relating to it from a loving heart, from a place that trusts my ability to co-create a positive outcome? Or am I relating to it from a place of fear?
There is no guarantee that there will be a positive outcome. They could have looked at U of M and said, “Oh no— something is torn out inside of his gut and we have to take him to surgery.” But still, they would have handled it well, and in the end, it would have been a positive outcome.
You can’t promise yourself it will be the way you want it to be. So you must ask yourself, what do I mean by a positive outcome? What my ego wants? Or, from a place of trust in the whole flow of love, that this is the most has to be?
A friend who we spoke to a few months ago, her husband had had a heart attack. He was in critical condition. He was an older man in his 80s. She said, the positive outcome she wanted was for him to get better. But they could not heal him, and he died there in the ER. So she asked me, “Aaron, why did I not have a positive outcome?” I said to her, “Your ego wanted his recovery. Can you trust that perhaps he was ready to move on?” He was in his mid-80s. He had a lot of pain in different parts of his body, and (perhaps) he was choosing this as an easy way to transition. What do you mean by a positive outcome?”
The ego becomes very attached to, “Oh, I know what I want.” Certainly, we foresee certain kinds of positive outcomes, such as a world that takes care of its environment, that takes care of humans, animals, trees, all sentient beings. That does not brutalize anything. We would hope for that. But even there we must remember that there may be some important universal learning being offered when there is some kind of major trauma.
I remember— I don’t know how many years ago, but a long time ago— there was a major earthquake in San Francisco. A friend who lived there asked me, “Aaron, why did this happen?” Buildings and bridges had collapsed. Some people were injured; some even killed. There was a lot of damage. He was traumatized. He said, “Why did this happen?” People were killed. I said, “Those who were killed, they at some level understood that this would happen and volunteered.” This earthquake and the damage therein dramatically changed the building codes. Structures were shored up that did not meet the codes. New codes were put in place, so that although a handful died, it prevented thousands from dying in the future. It was very courageous of those souls. We can’t ask why they chose to do that; only, at some level they made a choice to participate in this global learning.
There’s a song, I believe it was sung by Bob Dylan, Blowin’ in the Wind. A verse, “How many deaths will it take til we know that too many people have died?” How many species must be annihilated before we attend to the environment? How much global warming will it take, and flooding, before we’re willing to attend?
You do not learn from suffering, you learn from paying attention. But, sometimes when you’re relaxed you’re not paying much attention. When you’re suffering you pay close attention. If you can pay attention without the suffering, so much suffering can be omitted.
Which leads me full circle: Are you learning to pay attention from a place of spaciousness, not a place of fear? This is the whole of our dharma path: to be present with love; to pay attention with love.
The old stories come so incessantly— and each of you has so many stories. So, tonight we’re going to do a bit of a guided meditation, starting with each of you, with a very familiar story, and remembering how you usually relate to it.
Let’s take a simple example, the story of helplessness. The story of wrongness of some sort— “What’s wrong with me?” The story of shame. The story of lack of control. The story of unlovability. Choose one and try to think of a life example in which this idea has arisen and become so predominant that it froze you, contracted you.
Breathing in, raise the hands up— open. Breathing out… Not contracting but closing, letting the breath out. Open… exhale… open… exhale… open… As you open yourself, feel your energy rise. Feel the opening in your heart. Put your hands on the heart, if you wish. Open… and then closing, not taking the energy away from the heart, just closing down, releasing the breath. Open… release… open… release… Do it without my talking about it for about 2 minutes, and then we’ll go on…
Now I ask you to return to whatever story you were holding, of shame, of unworthiness, of fear, of not being enough. This is an idea. It never had any basis in any ultimate reality, but it’s an idea. Breathing in, I am aware of the idea. Opening, allowing the idea to rest there in spaciousness. I’m not asking you to hold that inhalation all this time, but keep the lungs relatively filled, hand on the heart, one had raised. Inviting yourself to connect with the light, with love. Breathing in, I am aware of this very old idea that I am inadequate, insufficient, unlovable. Ohhh…. what a painful idea… Breathing out, willing to release this idea and the power it has taken from me for eons. Breathing in, I remember this old idea. I don’t have to know why it began. It’s sufficient to know that I have carried it for eons. Breathing out, I release it.
Breathing in, I reflect on the idea again, and open my energy field. Feel the idea. Hold it in your hands. Feel the weight of it pressing down on your shoulders so it’s hard to open fully. Heavy, heavy. Are you ready to take it and just… shove it? Release it! “No, thank you. I’ve had enough of you. I do not choose to carry the burden of this idea anymore. No, thank you.” Holding yourself open, feel the weight of it lifted off, at least for this moment. How would it feel in this moment not to feel ashamed or inadequacy, not to feel unlovable, not to feel guilty? Not to feel yourself as a victim? Breathing out, with the exhale I release this whole idea. Breathing in, I lift myself into the light, into the core of love that is my essence. Breathing out, I release old stories that have weighed on me forever. Breathing in, I open to the light. I am the light, I choose the light. Breathing out, I release anything that is not light. Breathing in, I open to love. Breathing out, I rest in that spaciousness.
(some time in silence)
Now begin to imagine yourself emerging from a dark woods. Climbing the mountain and beginning to come above the timberline. There is a rocky path leading up the mountain, a pre-dawn morning. We are climbing and climbing. From somewhere just beyond the summit of the mountain you can see the sky getting lighter. Allow yourself to ascend into that light. Breathing out and resting… Looking up again at the summit of the mountain, and the increasing light with each step. Please feel yourself moving toward the light out of the power of your own body and mind and heart. “I choose the light. I choose to ascend to the summit of this mountain.” Breathing out, and resting…
Looking up, the sky getting lighter and lighter. The path is steep— it’s a hard climb. It does take strong intention, one foot in front of the other, to keep climbing. Keep looking at the light and feel it drawing you. The sky is starting to blossom with pink and yellow and orange and rose, beautiful sunrise colors. Growing lighter and lighter with each step. Exhale and rest.
Look up again. The sky is filled with such beautiful colors, light and lighter, the higher you go. Begin to feel the intensity of the sunrise. Feel it in every pore of your body, in every cell of your being. “I am that light!” Feel yourself coming home into the light. Exhaling and releasing anything that feels heavy or sticky, anything that wants to be released. Anything that blocks you from ascending further up the mountain.
Keep climbing into this increasingly intense light. Feel it burn away any darkness. If the light begins to feel too intense, it’s fine to pause. Simply sit on this beautiful plateau to which you have come and rest. Observe the darkness, the shadow, and know the light, Be patient with yourself. No force, but the deep heartfelt intention, the one who yearns for the light, and is willing to release whatever blocks that light. Releasing fear, old stories, contraction, old beliefs.
Sit on this bench with a beautiful view for as long as you wish. You’ll note others sitting near you, and still others pass you and continue to climb. This is not a competition. You don’t have to do it because they are doing it. Rather, let them inspire you: it is possible to keep moving toward the light, and to invite that light to burn away anything that is heavy and needs release.
Feel the beauty of that radiance, the joy. You may feel a soft breeze and smell a beautiful scent of roses or lilies. You may hear music, heavenly tunes, melodies. When you feel ready, looking at the light, get up and walk, even if only for a short distance. There is no shame in stopping. But don’t believe that you MUST stop. Just keep walking.
So many of you in this class have had profound experiences of the Unconditioned, felt that you came to an edge beyond which you could not pass; that to go further would destroy you in some way, annihilate the self. And it would, perhaps, annihilate the ego self to the degree that you could not believe that that ego was self anymore, because you find a new sense of who you are. You ARE the light. And the closer you come to the light and burn away any shadow, the more you can know yourself as that light.
Many of us are gathered together now at a plateau very near the top. Figuratively reach out and take each other’s hands, feeling the energy of all the others in the group…
I’m thinking of a song, here. Barbara recently attended a concert given by some local musicians. They were singing songs of the ‘60s and inviting the audience to participate. Do you know the civil rights song (singing), “Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on, hold on… Keep your eyes on the prize, hold one…” Excuse my off-tune singing. I think I scared the dog!
“Keep your eyes on the prize; hold on.” All together— are you ready? If you need to drop back, there’s no shame in that. But if you feel able, let us climb this mountain together into increasingly intense light. Pause any time you need to and feel the energy of your comrades beside you supporting your intention, patiently waiting until you’re ready to take the next step. And if your comrade falters, patiently wait for him or her, holding out love. Reminding them, “We are on the mountain of awakening, and we can go further. We choose to summit this mountain.”
Walking, climbing. Allow yourself to feel the intensity of light permeating every cell of your being. Feel your energy rising, a sense of joy, spaciousness, ease. Keep going, one step at a time, sometimes leading, and sometimes being supported by your comrades. Remember, there is no shame in needing to pause. But it is important to be a able to say, “This is getting hard. I need to pause.” Then invite the energy and love from those around you. And minutes later, you may be the one providing that energy and support.
The music gets louder— celestial melodies. The light is streaking across the sky, beautiful colors, and up above you, the utmost radiance. The Divine Light, burning away everything that is heavy in any way. Let it purify you and wash through you, like a waterfall washing away an impurity. A waterfall of light, filling you and washing out everything but love. Remind yourself, “I am this light. I cannot be annihilated, because this light is what I am, and everything else I release.” Ahh… letting it go. “I am love, I am light.”
Climbing, climbing… Surrounded by the scent beyond flowers, so sweet… The scent of goodness, of love. Rose petals raining down on you, and lily petals. A rain of flower petals, and the light ever brighter. Moving up, moving up… opening yourself, breathing in and feeling yourself ascending. “I am That.” Releasing the ego; releasing identification with the physical body and the mental body. Letting go of everything except this essence of your being. “I am That.”
Until we come to rest at the summit, totally bathed by radiant light. Looking around you at the group, in your meditation, seeing everything and everyone bathed with radiance. Feel the high energy and love. We are That…
Bringing the hands together with a thank you for this gift of radiance and truth, this immersion into the deepest truth of being. Bowing to it and allowing yourself just gently to slide down the mountain into a place of less intensity of energy and light. Relaxing. Take a few minutes to breathe and come back into the relative reality body. I’ll be quite…
Thank you. I hope this gave you a taste of resting in the Unconditioned, of resting in the awakened heart-mind. Some of you have said to me, “Aaron, I can’t do that. I can’t release the ego so easily.” But many of you just did. Now, it’s not a permanent condition; the ego will be back. That’s okay. But I know many of you could feel the power of releasing the old stories for a few minutes and opening into the light that is your true being.
I cannot give you an awakening experience; I can only point the way. I can give you some taste of how it feels. I can give you the faith that it is possible, that you do not have to be burdened by those old stories. The rest is up to you and is the fruit of your practice.
It’s 5 after 8. We’re going to take a few minutes; break and then come back. I want to read some from Path of Clear Light, the next step in practice, and answer some questions….
Barbara: I’ve been reading Path of Clear Light from page 26, but I forgot to turn on the recorder. I don’t think I’ve said anything outside of what I’m reading, just re-emphasize one or two paragraphs at Aaron’s request. Now I’m on the top of page 31.
The question is not whether things will push at you,
but how you relate to that push.
Imagine a sudden heavy downpour
that wets and chills you.
Will you stand outside
ranting in anger at the weather,
or will you seek shelter?
You could scream to exhaustion at the cold and rain,
thusly depriving yourself of the energy
to find a place that is warm and dry,
until you lie soaked and shivering on the earth.
What benefit derives from such
to what we experience?
The habitual human reaction to a push
is one of the mammal: fight, flight, or freeze.
But you came into the incarnation
to transcend such ancient patterns
and demonstrate the ability to live from the heart!
Fight, freeze, and flight impulses
This contracted state arises out of conditions.
It is impermanent.
It is not Self!
By that I mean contraction
is not the Unconditioned essence
but is merely arisen from conditions,
with no ultimate reality.
The fact of contraction is not a problem
but a teacher.
A vital practice
when one is mindful of contraction
is to ask,
“Right here with contraction,
where is Spaciousness?”
“Right here with darkness,
where is Light?”
Yes, I am equating Spaciousness and Light.
When you harden yourselves
with contraction of body or mind,
how can the Radiance of the Unconditioned shine in?
How can your inner radiance shine out?
Here is an essential starting point.
While Light and Spaciousness
are direct expressions of the Unconditioned,
and can never be lost in the ultimate sense,
still you must practice to retain a connection
and not turn your back to the sun.
In the empowering words of the Buddha,
“If it were not possible,
I would not ask you to do it.”
You have free will to choose:
Spaciousness or contraction,
darkness or Light?
You came into the incarnation
to know your divinity
And to remember the ability
to live from your Light.
The purity of the human heart
sees the impulses that drag you down,
and knows them for what they are.
An impulse arises from conditions
and has no ultimate reality.
There is no need to be enslaved by it.
But what if you reacted from unconscious habit
to the storms of life,
the rain and wind?
There you lie in the mud,
soaked and shivering.
“Wet, cold, disappointed, angry, afraid…”
Whatever is predominant,
one greets these unpleasant mind and body states
This expression of free will to choose
what is wise and compassionate
is the heart of human learning.
It means you have the ability to say no
to eons of old habitual patterns
that have pulled you down into the muck.
I repeat again;
please listen closely:
You have the ability
to live in the Light.
He says, we’ll stop there for tonight.
Aaron, do you want to incorporate? Yes.
Aaron: I am Aaron. So, you have the ability to choose to live in the Light, and you have the ability to choose to live in darkness. If you are choosing to live in darkness, you might want to ask yourself why. What does this darkness protect you from?
I think many of you experienced an intensity of light and high energy in the guided meditation. I know that you feel you could not sustain that high vibration for any length of time. It’s about like high altitude training— somebody who’s going to climb 20,000+ ft peaks. They don’t start out on 20,000 foot peaks; they gradually climb and acclimate the body to the altitude. It takes practice. So, choose to live a little bit of each day in that high vibration. Repeatedly during the day ask the question: if I am in a heavy contracted place, would I like to invite myself out? What will help me to come out? Often it’s just the awareness that you’re responding to habit and closing down. “No, I choose to reopen,” and see what happens.
It’s really not so hard. At the beginning, harder; but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Do not shame yourself into the idea, “I should be able to go higher.” Rather, invite yourself. “I choose to go as high as where I can stably acclimate, in this moment. If it becomes too intense, I can step back.” The more you live in this high vibration, the more clarity there will be, the more access you will have to the innate radiant heart. And you will see the world around you beginning to respond to the energy you’re pouring out by sending that energy back into you, reflecting it back.
This is my assignment, then, that I would like you repeatedly, through these two weeks, to note “contracting” any time it happens. Feel the body contracting, the breath, the energy field, and simply note, “contracting”. You could choose several steps from there. Simply reminding yourself, “That which is aware of contraction is not contracted,” and asking yourself, in this moment, where is the uncontracted? That’s one possibility.
Another is to find yourself at that plateau, climbing the mountain, and just sit with your beloved companions around you, feeling the habitual contraction that has arisen because of shame or guilt or confusion. “I choose to move past this contraction. I choose to ascend the mountain. Please help me.” And find all the loving guides that are around you that will help you to further ascend, to come out of the temporary place of darkness.
You have free will and it really is your choice. But I say that carefully, because I do not want you to feel guilty if you become caught in fear and contraction. Only, I want you to be mindful of it, and know, “I am making a choice right now for some reason, mostly through habit and fear. And it’s not a happy choice. I ask for help to move on.”
In your formal meditation practice, sitting, and there’s an itch or some pain in your back. Mind becomes agitated. Notice contraction. Really see this contraction as an arisen object, arisen out of conditions and impermanent. Stop and bow to it: contraction. Right there where you’re sitting is an easy place to do it— much easier than at your workplace. “Contraction, contraction. Hello, contraction, what have you come to teach me? Sit by my fire, have tea. I will not chase you away. I am open to learning from you. You come as a teacher.” And instead of trying to fix the contraction, begin gently to rest in the uncontracted which is able to inquire, “What has this contraction come to teach me?”, until you see it begin to fade away.
In these and whatever other ways you think of, please in these two weeks simply note contraction of the body— feeling it in the belly, perhaps, or the chest, or the throat. Contraction of the energy field. Be aware of the absence of light, “closing, closing.” And our old friend, clear comprehension: what is my highest purpose? Is what I am doing, contracting, suitable to opening to that highest purpose? And if not, how can I more skillfully and lovingly relate to contraction? Just that.
Now let’s have some discussion. Let’s just have a show of hands here: for how many of you could you feel some of the high energy of the guided meditation at the start? Many of you. Not all, and that’s fine; if you couldn’t feel it, no problem. I’m asking, in a sense, because I want to best know where to go from here, depending on whether we need to go more into this or whether most of you have experienced it. I think in your meditation at home, if you work with this guided meditation a bit, you’ll experience it more. What are you afraid of, in climbing the mountain? Is it that old, “Will I annihilate myself?”
Opening the field now, to questions.
reviewed to here; just a quick look past here.
Q: I appreciate your last question, “What am I afraid of?” And I ask myself that at times. And the answer is often the same: I am afraid of the unknown. I am afraid of the lack of control.
Aaron: So many of you are afraid of the unknown and so you create artificial boundaries to keep yourself and others safe, with an emphasis being keeping others safe. You might simply try seeing that fear— the arising of self; the question, “What am I afraid of?”, of lack of control, of the unknown— to say, “Okay, just for this moment I’m going to try to open myself more into the spaciousness that is my true being,” and just see what happens. Just watch it. It doesn’t have to be (sound effect), just Ahh..
Q: I want (inaudible)!
Aaron: If you aspire to that, you’ll get there, but you can get there (sound effect) that way, or you can get there (gesture) this way, and either way is fine.
I think it’s also important, when we ask, “What am I afraid of?”, to be able to drop the question gently, like dropping a pebble in the water and watching the ripples spread. Not to have to go after an answer. To trust your life and your practice in whatever ways it will (go), to bring you the answers, rather than saying, “Now I need an answer.” There’s a matter of just relaxing and trusting. “I have made the request. It will come.”
I’m going to bring something up here that I have found interesting. For about 6 months, Barbara had very big rough patches on her hand with big scabs. A friend who is a doctor looked at it and said, “I think it’s skin cancer, and it needs to be seen by a dermatologist.” She was afraid: what if it’s skin cancer? She’s had some major surgery with skin cancer. So, she didn’t want to look at it— I don’t mean just figuratively, I mean in any way; she wanted to not own that hand.
At the Casa she asked for help. She began seeing the blemished skin, which was an expression of fear, and the ever-perfect skin. She made a very clear statement, “I choose to release the skin cancer in a wholesome way.” She could see that at some level some of her self-negativity— anger and fear— at some level she wanted someone to cut that out, and this became a symbol of it. “Cut off my anger. Cut off my negativity.”— Let it heal. Let it release. Well, we let it go, but it’s a gradual process. It didn’t happen overnight; it happened over 2 months, gradually releasing.
So, in the same way, this being symbolic, the negativity, the contractions, the old stories of shame and wrongness— “I choose to let it release.” And you don’t have to figure out what they represent. You don’t have to intellectually understand it, only find the place in your heart that says, ‘“I am ready to let go.”
Other questions out there?
Q: How is your encouragement to go to the Light, releasing the ego, related to teaching light and darkness are one?
Aaron: Q, you are going to have to wait until next semester for my answer! First, we want to establish you all comfortably in the light, and then we use the light as a path for going into the darkness, because they are one.
Q: Okay, thank you.
Aaron: I want to say to Q, though: if you must ask yourself the question now, watch the places of fear, of contraction, of negativity, and just say, “Thank you, teacher,” and see how the darkness and the light become one. Just try that.
Q: I’m trying to understand two things together. One is a circumstance that, as a teacher (for instance, Hal’s stroke), while you’ve also said that many things just happen because that’s the nature of them… How can something be simply be an event/result of conditions and a teacher? One implies intention, the other is a consequence.
Aaron: When there are conditions there will be results. The teaching comes in watching how we habitually relate to such results, whether they’re pleasant or unpleasant. Each of you will have habitual patterns in how you relate to results, and those patterns are what create the suffering. If you relate with clarity and spaciousness, you can attend to what has arisen skillfully and compassionately. If you have a lot of fear and habitual patterns that lead to self-blame, to fear-filled trying to fix, you’re going to suffer and enhance the suffering of others. I don’t know if that answers your question because I didn’t really hear a question, more a statement.
Q: I’m still trying to figure it out… Teachers imply to me intentionality…
Aaron: The intention comes in because you came into the incarnation to learn, so everything is a teacher. If you are caught in a habitual pattern that’s repeated over and over through this and even many lifetimes, then there’s no way to learn. You’re just repeating the same path over and over and over again.
Imagine a man who lives one side of a swamp. It’s a big swamp, so to go around it could take days. There’s no access to his car; his car is on the other side of the swamp, just 100 yards away. But to get to his car he has to walk through the swamp.
In places, the paths are just that much below the surface and, if he has rubber boots on, he can walk through. In places there is deep mud and even quicksand. The clear path is not straight across but has to wrap around this way. But he has it fixed in his head, “I want to get there fast. I’m going that way.” So he starts on the clear path, and then where it deviates, curves, he doesn’t curve with it, and he’s suddenly up to his waist and up to his chest in mud. He pulls himself out somehow. He gets himself over to his car. He goes off to work. He has a shower over there— he showers, he dresses. He gets in his car; he goes to work. He gets home; he says, “I’m not going to get caught in the deep mud again.” But he’s impatient and he starts across, and he says, “No, I don’t want to go a few hundred yards out of my way and wander. I’m just going straight through. The mud won’t be there this time.” And he keeps getting caught in mud. He’s living in denial.
Eventually he’s going to have to accept the truth that in order to get from point A to point B he’s going to have to go a little bit out of his way or he’s going to end up in deep mud. The old, “I want it my way!” is a very challenging habit energy for him because it keeps getting him caught in deep mud. Take this literally or figuratively. How many of you keep getting caught in deep mud because you want it your way? And you’re not willing to walk around a bit, but you keep holding the delusion, “This time I’m going to be able to walk across.”
So, we say, “Thank you, teacher,” up to our chest in mud. We get ourselves out, we shower off, and we note: the path that I need to take goes this way around, and that will keep me dry and safe. I hold the intention to be dry and safe. I don’t have the ability to dry up the deep mud, but I do have the ability to see where the path is, just that much below the water and marked with little flags. I can follow that or not. I can choose wisely and with a loving heart, or I can choose according to my old habitual patterns, which are often self-destructive and lead to suffering. How many times do you have to drown in the mud?
Q: That was great! Thank you.
Q: But going around the long way may be very safe, and where is the learning?
Aaron: I think the learning here will be after you’ve gone around the long way a number of times, the idea comes in, “I’m going to fill in the swamp. There’s all this pile of dirt from construction, and with my wheelbarrow I can carry it out and begin to fill in and create a dry path that goes straight across. I do it with love, not with fear.”
So, you’re not slave to conditions. You respond in a wholesome way, in a loving way to conditions, and use your intelligence and your heart. This is where all the greatest discoveries of humankind have come from. Think of something like the use of the wheel. People carting things and carting things, and somebody who saw something round and said, “Oh, that could roll. Oh, I know— I can attach this to a barrow and roll it. I don’t have to carry it.” Insight. But can you see how that insight comes from a place of love? An openhearted, “I choose. I choose to make life more pleasant for myself and all beings, more wholesome. I choose joy. I choose ease. I choose spaciousness.” Why not choose those things, when the choice comes from a loving place and not a place of fear and limitation?
Any further questions? Are you clear on what I want you to practice, especially in these two weeks?
Aaron: Where there is contraction, instead of running with the contraction, simply note, “contracting, contracting”. And then, either, “What does this contraction protect me from?”, or, “Breathing in, I am aware of contraction. Breathing out, I hold space for the contraction.” Not figuring it out; just holding it in spaciousness, because as a conditioned object it will dissolve when the conditions are released.
Choose the light. Choose the loving path. Choose spaciousness. Choose joy. And see what happens. Take some notes. Keep a brief journal every day, noting at least one place of contraction during the day and how you responded to it. This will help bring your attention to watching contraction and the habitual patterns with contraction. Thus seeing, as you release your self-identity as the one who is contracted, do you find the one who is awake? Does that one who is awake become more available to you? Who is this one who is awake? Where has he or she been hiding? Are you ready to welcome that part of you back in?
That’s all. And if you can accomplish this in two weeks, I’ll give you a new assignment. (smiling) And if not, we’ll keep working with this for another two weeks.
The one who is awake— you are that. Why should you be any less? Wake up! There’s a beautiful poem…. I can’t think of the words to it exactly. Rather than slaughter his beautiful poem, I’ll ask Barbara to email it to you. It’s one she used to read often at the early morning sitting at retreats. It starts with some words like, “Wake up! Wake up!” I said I would not slaughter his words. Barbara will email it to you. I don’t remember the exact words and it’s too beautiful to misquote.
This was Kabir:
My inside, listen to me, the greatest spirit, The Teacher is near,
wake up, wake up! Run to his feet. He is standing close to your head right now.
You have slept for millions and millions of years.
Why not wake up this morning?
Q: You give beautiful images about how to get relief from the darkness into the light. My experience is heaviness. Do you have any suggestions for images on how to be freed from the heaviness?
Aaron: Only with great care. If you wake up in the morning and say, “I will not experience heaviness today,” you can set up a pattern of aversion to heaviness. Much better to wake up in the morning and say, “Today, if I experience heaviness, I will know it as simply the product of old conditioning. And right there with the heaviness I will choose to find that which is spacious and light.” That way you are not creating patterns of stronger aversion with the heaviness but really knowing it as arisen from conditions, impermanent, not self, and the intention not to get caught in a relationship with it. But, to be aware it has arisen, and, “I choose, I have the power, not to get caught.”
Be a fish in a lake. He is hungry. The fisherman on shore tosses the hook with a big, juicy worm, and the fish says, “Ah!” (chomp!) He’s caught. It hurts. He tears himself free. His cheek is ripped. He goes away in pain. “I’ll never do that again,” he thinks. Two days later he’s hungry. Here comes another worm. “Oooo!” (chomp!) And he’s gone again. How many times are you going to get caught before you finally realize, “It is only the old conditioned mind that keeps me being caught.”? And the deepest essence of me is not this conditioned mind. I choose to live from this pure awareness mind, this awakened heart that doesn’t go leaping after fish hooks, no matter how juicy the worm looks. And sometimes the juicy worm is an old negative pattern— not necessarily something delicious and enticing but simply the old habit of, “Oh, this happened. Here is shame.” How often do you chomp down on shame? How often do you chomp down on “incompetent” or “unlovable”? How long are you going to keep doing that and tearing out the cheek, until finally you say, “It’s going to hurt. Maybe I don’t want to do this.”?
My blessings and love to you all. I’ll see some of you next week and others of you in two weeks. (with hand gesture, and laughing) Live long and prosper! (How did Spock do this?) Live long and prosper! Good night. I’ll release the body to Barbara. Thank you.