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September 4, 2018 Tuesday Class, The Dharma Path, Part II
What is the Dharma Path and Where is it Taking Us?
Aaron: We continue. The three kayas— Dharmakaya, nirmanakaya, and the bridge of sambhogakaya. In the Path of Clear Light, I speak about the radiant essence that is the core of each of you. The Path of Clear Light is basically about knowing this innate radiance of your being; this fully awakened aspect of your being; this unconditionally loving aspect of your being.
Sometimes people have asked me, “Aaron, why don’t we just stay in that light and not incarnate?” But, you had a plan to grow, to evolve. In that light it’s easy always to reflect the light and rest deeply in it. But for growth, you have to step out of it into the challenge of heavy density experience. That experience can take different forms. For you here now, the form is as human.
You ask, “Why is life so hard?” Life is your teacher. You are here in order to learn compassion, having come willing to experience these hard things. Nobody ever told you it was going to be a lifetime of R&R, of fun and games. You came committed to do the hard work in service to all beings, and with love, and knowing it was going to be hard work. From my perspective, a lifetime is like that (snap!). I know it seems long to you!
… One moment, please. L, I think if you just sit down, he (Banner, Barbara’s new service collie) will sit down (L is walking him around the back of the room). We don’t want him getting used to that kind of attention. He should just lie down… Banner, lie down!…. It’s okay if he doesn’t want to lie down, but (smiling) don’t encourage fun and games! He’s here to learn too! If he’s going to learn to be a good service dog, he’s going to have to learn to lie down unsupervised for long periods of time, so, this is part of his training.
Resting in the light— every one of you in this room has had the experience of resting in that light in deep meditation; filled with joy, really feeling out of your body, soaring into heavenly realms, filled with love. And then— crash! There you are, back into the body again. Worrying about your roof that’s leaking, or the rash on your leg, or whatever it might be; the mundane realm.
Two terms I want to which I wish you to accustom yourselves…. The “primordial purity”— this is the innate radiance of everything. We could say, the world within the Garden of Eden, the world within the heavenly realms, where there is no distortion, no contraction. There is no suffering there. There is no need of any sort, there; only love and joy, dwelling in that primordial purity. But, you cannot stay there.
Then, we have a second term: All-Ground. The All-Ground, we cannot say which came first, the primordial purity or the All-Ground, but there within the All-Ground we find the primordial purity and the darkness, spaciousness and contraction, stillness and movement. The primordial purity and the suffering, the chaos— it’s all there within the All-Ground. You cannot choose only the primordial purity. As human, you must be willing to touch the All-Ground, and also to stay very aware of the primordial purity, where is it in this moment.
I gave the example of Barbara sitting on the floor by Hal’s side. Knowing that he very possibly was dying. Knowing that in that moment, everything had changed. So easy to sink into despair, which is an expression of the All-Ground; into rage, which is an expression of the All-Ground; into anguish, into confusion. And those certainly will, and did, come up for her, in those minutes.
Your vipassana training helps you not get caught in the stories of rage, grief, confusion, but to note how they have arisen from conditions, that they’re impermanent, that they will pass. This is the fruit of your practice. We do not grasp at the primordial purity but practice in such ways as to increasingly not lose touch with it, and with compassion for the human into whom these painful experiences have arisen.
I cannot give you the primordial purity. I can only invite you to practice daily, to move into ever-deeper practice. For those coming to the Oakwood retreat in October, we’ll do some deep practice with this, helping to invite the experience of the primordial purity without attachment to it. But, with gratitude, to knowing that experience of light and of love, and asking, what blocks it?
This, then, is what I want you to bring to these next 2 weeks in your practice. If there is an experience during your sitting, of great light, of the open heart, say thank you. Be aware of it, with gratitude. If attachment comes up, and clinging, note how that clinging and attachment create contraction, and out of that contraction you lose the experience of light. Contraction can never stay open to light and to love, only spaciousness can. Where is the innate spaciousness of being? It is right there, in that moment, with the profound love for your beloved one, for example, and the grief. This person could be dying. I hope for none of you such a severe contrast. Your new car, and somebody runs a red light and— smash! You’ve had it for a day, and (smash!). You were so elated to finally have this new car, and (smash!). It’s impermanent. When you drove it out of the dealer’s lot it was already smashed, only not yet showing that smashed, otherwise you couldn’t drive it.
The great teacher Ajahn Chah,- there’s a story about how he used a very delicate cup for daily use with his tea. They said, “Aren’t you afraid it will break?” And he said, “No, it’s already broken. Not yet, but I know it’s already broken. So, I can use it and enjoy each time I sip tea from it, and know it’s already broken.” This body, Barbara’s body, your bodies, they’re already destroyed, they’re already decaying and in the earth. Live with them fully.
…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
Do you sit the cup on a shelf? Do you keep the car in your driveway and refuse to drive it? Do you stay in bed lest something uncomfortable happen to you during the day? Wake up! Be radiant! Be alive! Know the cup is already broken.
In your practice in these next 2 weeks, bring awareness to those places where you are filled with radiance, with joy, where the lilacs are blooming in this moment and they’re so wonderful! No denial that they will be gone tomorrow; in this moment, they are beautiful. Begin to see the distinction I’m talking about: All-Ground, in which there is both the beautiful and the un-beautiful, as the mind would see it— that which is painful and that which is free of pain— and that primordial purity.
Everything arises from conditions and passes when the conditions pass. I think all but a very few of you have studied the chain of dependent arising with me, and I’m just going to go through this quickly. It’s something else I want you to bring awareness to in these next 2 weeks.
The sense organ— eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind— touches an object. With contact, consciousness arises— seeing consciousness, hearing consciousness, tasting, touching, smelling, mental consciousness. When there is contact, there will be consciousness. A feeling of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral will arise. If I touch something soft and pleasant— this isn’t soft and pleasant but it’s beautiful. It has wonderful energy (a crystal from the Casa). Pleasant— pleasant energy, pleasant shape, pleasant visually, all the senses appreciating. If I walk outside and a skunk has visited the yard— phew! Unpleasant! Much of your lives, it’s neutral. Along with feeling, there will be perception. Smelling— skunk! Smelling— mmm, flower. So, consciousness, feeling and perception, they don’t come together but they may seem to come together.
When an object is pleasant, liking will probably arise. If it’s unpleasant, dislike may arise. When it is unpleasant and dislike arises, watch how quickly it moves into strong negativity. Not just dislike but strong aversion. You hear this political figure give a tweet. Hearing. “Oh, I know that voice.” Tension, feeling, unpleasant. “How can he say that!!” Rage! Or you hear another voice saying something very kind and beautiful. Liking, and perhaps attachment— “Oh, I really like this person. I wish this person were in office.” Grasping.
So, in these next 2 weeks, I would ask you to be increasingly aware— I don’t mean 24/7 but yes, it can become 24/7, even in your dreams. Some of you are familiar with lucid dreaming, and it’s something we’ll talk about further on. But be aware in your dream, when something pleasant arises, how you swing toward it, or, if it’s unpleasant, you want to run from it. And note, “dreaming, dreaming, pleasant, unpleasant”. Just start with that. And certainly, in your waking life— pleasant, unpleasant, neutral. Eh, neutral— I’m bored with it. Looking for something else to entertain.
What I especially would like you to watch is this shift from pleasant into like into grasping, and from unpleasant into dislike into strong aversion. Again, I talk about this in Human and in Path of Clear Light. This is the place where karma gets started or gets perpetuated. So, watching how you’re advancing the habitual karma by that move into the habitual pattern. “I hate skunks! I would like to kill every skunk on Earth!” Well, would you really? I’m sure they do some service in the world; everything does.
We can use the term “skunk” as a parallel for other things you may feel you hate. In this moment, how can I open my heart to my own pain at what’s happening? How can I wish myself and the one with whom I find strong aversion, how can I wish us both well? How can I shift the karmic patterns, not becoming caught in the repetition of the old habitual patterns, whether they’re of grasping or aversion?
And remembering, there is no “I” doing this, just love!
Now I’m going to take this just one step further. The Pali word citta— I know I’m giving you a lot here. I’ve warned you this first week the class was going to be dense. Almost all of you have done this with me before, so just work with it as you can. There’s no right or wrong way to practice. Just hold this in your hearts. The video of this talk will be available in a day or two, the transcript within a few days, I hope. Work with it as you are able.
Don’t say, “It’s too much! I can’t do it!” That’s just, “Oh!” —aversion, old habitual pattern— “I can’t do it— too much!” Can you see yourself doing that? Ahh, my favorite practice. — “Is that so?”
“I can’t do it!” —Is that so? In this moment, can I really not just breathe and hold space around the fear I’m feeling? “Not good enough. I won’t get it perfect.” — “Is that so?” Old fears. Ahhh… Breathing in, I am aware of the contraction. Breathing out, I hold space for the contraction. Breathing in, I offer myself loving wishes. Breathing out, I exhale; breathing in, I invite spaciousness. It’s all possible.
Clean to here
Citta, consciousness. I’m very much simplifying. We have mundane and supramundane citta. Kuttara citta; mundane citta. Lokuttara citta; supramundane citta. These are not at opposite ends of a spectrum, but are connected. Mundane, supramundane, all part of each other. It’s the bridge— Dharmakaya, nirmanakaya, and the sambhogakaya bridge. Where are you on the bridge?
The important part of this is that the supramundane, the lokuttara citta, is always available. But you have forgotten, have become a bit lost on the mundane side of the bridge, and this forgetfulness is an expression of your not yet being fully awake. The expressions of the supramundane, such as clear light, unconditional love, deep peacefulness, joy, gratitude, these are not the supramundane; these are direct expressions of the supramundane. When you’re feeling gratitude, the supramundane is right there. When you’re feeling peacefulness, the supramundane is right there. All I am asking you to do, these next 2 weeks, is mindfully to note, “Ah, that’s it. That one moment of joy; right there I was touching the Unconditioned. I’m not anymore, but I was for a moment. This deep moment of gratitude, heart so open, right there I am touching the supramundane. I am touching the Unconditioned. I am resting in the Unconditioned. I am resting in the Clear Light.”
Gradually, with mindfulness, your incursions into that light, joy, spaciousness, peace, they become more stable. You lose contact less and less. And this is all we’re asking. If right now you’re only mindful of these places of awakeness 1% of the time, and by the end of two weeks you’re aware 2% of the time, that’s a 50% improvement. Thank you. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.
So, these are the specific places I want you to watch. Especially, be aware of the shift between pleasant, liking, grasping; unpleasant, disliking, strong aversion. Remember, maybe you don’t have to go there, to the strong grasping or aversion, at this time. If you do you will suffer. For now, can you just stay centered with an open heart and watch what’s passing through? Do this in your daily practice and do it as much during the day as you can with mindfulness.
Grounded in this awakeness, grounded in love, reach out and touch things with that love. Pet your dog or cat with love. Answer the email with love. Answer the phone with love. Respond to someone in your house with love. If you feel yourself losing it, stop and breathe. Re-center yourself. Remember, you are Love, and you are awake. And if it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.
When the transcript becomes available, I ask that you read it, review. We’ve given you a number of things to work with. The groups will be meeting— I think you’ve all worked out the times at which you will meet… (schedule details). …Two are meeting next Tuesday, one with John and one with Barbara. Then, the next time around we’ll switch. The group that is meeting this Thursday is because Barbara’s husband’s birthday is the following Thursday, and given the fact of his stroke, and this being the first birthday following his stroke, she feels it’s important, and I agree, that she spend the evening with him. She is preparing a very small dinner party with him with a few friends. Mostly, we’ll alternate the weeks.
There’s been some confusion about what’s now being called “kalyana mitra” group, but could also just be called “dharma buddy”. My original plan was not to create a second group, and all the confusion of that, but just that 2, or maybe 3 of you— somebody asked me, is 4 okay? And I said yes, but it’s harder than just two— two of you get together between every class on the phone for 20 minutes, and just talk about, “I’m confused about this,” or “This is really hard for me,” or, “I love this practice, or that one.” Helping each other. So, creating a dharma buddy system. When you’re tearing your hair out and saying, “I can’t do this!”, you can call your dharma buddy. You can set up a time ahead of time to plan to meet, but also, somebody you can call when you’re tearing your hair out, and say, “Hey, I need help. I’m really feeling stuck,” or confused, or whatever. Or, “I just had this amazing experience and I want to hold onto it! How can I do that?”
So, this is the nature of these groups. Within your group of 10, ideally choose one person to meet with. But it doesn’t even have to be within your group of 10. If there’s somebody else out there with whom you feel you would like to meet, that’s okay. But I want you to form this connection now, to help give support through these two years. Two people together, three, or even 4, although as I said, much harder logistically. I want it to be simple.
That’s about it. Welcome to the dharma path. Alll of you have been walking it for many, many years, so it seems odd to welcome you to it. But, welcome to a new level of walking this path, a new level of commitment. That leads me to the last thing we need to discuss.
Please reflect in these 2 weeks about what your commitment is. If it’s simply, “I am suffering, and I commit to reduce my suffering,” that’s fine. If it’s a commitment, “This whole world is suffering, and I commit to bringing light into this whole world through my own deepening practice and opening heart,” that’s fine. Ultimately, if you reduce your own suffering, you bring light and love everywhere. Simply reflect on your commitment to the degree that you begin to be able— it does not have to be a formal vow; it can be, but it doesn’t have to be— simply to make the statement, “This is my commitment right now.”
The beautiful practice of Clear Comprehension has a number of parts, but the first part is to ask, “is what I’m about to say or do compatible to my highest purpose? If not, then what might I want to do in exchange?” Somebody is yelling at you. You’re ready to punch them in the face or slap them, or spit at them. Anger, anger! Is this reaction to the anger that I’m about to give suitable to my highest purpose? No. Then how might I respond in a more wholesome way? But in order to know if it’s compatible with your highest purpose, you have to know your highest purpose. If your highest purpose is “to protect me, only for me; my own good and nothing else,” you’re going to react in a different way than if you say, “My purpose is to help raise the vibration of the Earth. My purpose is to bring love to the Earth, to help the Earth move into the new density, into which it is moving. This is what I pledge.”
And this what I, as Aaron, have pledged, and this is why I’m here talking to you. I am fully awakened; I have no need to be here. But I love all of you, and I love this Earth. I know that the Earth does not have to die in flames, or dissolve in a flood of global warming. We don’t have to melt the ice caps. We don’t have to destroy the Earth. We don’t have to live in hate.
You came here for this grand experiment of love. Don’t despair. You are working so hard to reach that goal. And I firmly believe that it can and will happen or I would not be here teaching. I would have gone to some other plane where I felt there was more chance of success. But this is where you are, and this is where I am, because there is so much learning here in this moment, so much possibility of shifting negativity with love, and bringing love, joy, and peace not only to this Earth, but from this Earth to the whole universe.
You are all volunteers. You came here knowing it was going to be hard work. So, I won’t say, don’t be discouraged. If you’re discouraged, just explore that. How does “discouraged” feel? Note it. Yes, sometimes you’re discouraged. Can you experience the direct experience “discouraged” without stories? Just note it arose from conditions. It’s impermanent, it will pass. Not, “I won’t be discouraged!” Just “Oh… compassion for this human who right now is discouraged.” Hold it with love.
So much more I wish I could say to you. We will have a lot of time— we have 2 years. Lots to explore. My blessings and love to you all. I look forward to talking to you again, some of you in the next 2 weeks, others, the 2 weeks after, and 2 weeks from tonight all together. I am Aaron.