August 11, 1995 Project Expand

Private (to B and K): talks offered specifically for the newsletter. We lost the center of the first talk from the computer; Aaron gave a replacement talk three days later. They mesh well but not perfectly. We have chosen to leave them as they are rather than edit Aaron's words.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I wish to offer an abbreviation of the work of the past eight months, one slice of the essence of two hundred pages summarized so as to fit this newsletter. In these pages we can touch on the essentials but much of the richness and depth are lost. The serious student will wish to read the original material in its entirety when that becomes available. It is my expectation that this past material and the coming year's work will be published together in a volume I suggest be entitled Radiant Passage. These words are not mere poetry but bespeak the true experience of your passage from delusion to clarity!

We begin with the One. This “One” is all that is. It does not appear here and there, nor would I even say it is in everything. It is everything. The “everything” cannot be separated from the “One” which is the true nature of that “everything. “This One is unborn and undying. We distinguish between phenomenon of the conditioned realm which arise when conditions are present for arising and cease when conditions which maintained it cease, and the Unconditioned, that which never arose and will never cease but is Eternal. This One did not come into existence, arising with conditions. It is The Unconditioned. Some may choose to call it God. I do not intend here the western cultures' vision of a puppet master god, nor is it a masculine rather than feminine energy but is simply God as infinite energy, intelligence, and light. There are many labels we could use. They are mere labels, concepts! For simplicity's sake. I will usually use the label “God.”

God is all! There is nothing else! It appears in two ways, in it's Unconditioned essence and as conditioned expression of itself. These are the same, merely the ultimate and relative . It is all One. The infinite potential expressions of the relative dwell in the ultimate. The Unconditioned core is at the heart of each relative plane expression. To find this heart one need not travel outside of oneself and to God. There is no place where the Heart is not found. One goes within, to the pure heart/mind, the pure and luminous awareness, which is the Unconditioned core of each being.

This pure heart/mind bears the same relationship to the divine as does a drop of water to the sea. It is not the whole sea but there is nothing missing, no element of the sea which the drop lacks. The pure heart/mind is the core of Unconditioned which resides within the conditioned expressions. But both are God, the pure heart/mind and the myriad expressions of that Divine essence.

It is more difficult for the human to directly experience the Unconditioned essence because the human is accustomed to perceive only through those conditioned expressions we call physical senses; these senses cannot perceive that which is not expression. The human is not accustomed to go beyond these senses. Through these senses the human seeks in vain for a direct experience of the Unconditioned. This is like going outside on a dark night to seek light at a neighbor's fire rather than sitting by your own hearth, finding the spark there, and adding wood! The divine is found immediately upon resting within, in pure heart/mind, pure awareness.

This pure heart/mind is not something you must attain nor seek anywhere. Rather, you learn the true nature of your own ‘hearth,” see how it flames and warms. The spark is always present! You learn to stabilize the experience of that Light so that when wandering in darkness you can easily return home. Your meditation practice is essential tool here to stabilize clear awareness. You discover that “home” is everywhere. There is no place special to find the light. You carry with you in every moment. You recognize it everywhere. Each form brought to mind by the senses, each sensation, thought and emotion, brings deep awareness of the radiant Heart of all that is.

That which we call God chose to manifest its energy in infinite ways. For reasons upon which we will not elaborate in this abbreviated transcript, it invited infinite expressions of itself. The pure spirit body, which knew the Eternal as both giving and receiving (non-dual), desired also to give and receive in emulation of that of which it is part. It therefore was not content merely to receive but also began to offer myriad expressions of itself. It began with the mental body; thought allowed the expressions of the emotional and physical bodies. Please note that all of this - material form, mind and spirit - is of the same nature as the Divine, as is every expression of those bodies. We can see the analogy in a river. The original water flows. If the river divides into three streams, all carry that same water. So, also, does every small rivulet stemming from the stream. . Nothing is “other-than” the river. Nothing is “other-than” God! I ask you not to take my word for this but begin to look for yourselves. Can you find anything which is not God?

It is within the confusion about this question that the distortion of duality lies. For the human every variety of sensation and thought is possible. Some sensation is pleasant such as the scent of flowers or the coolness of water on a hot day. Some sensation is unpleasant, such as a tack piercing the foot. Some thoughts are pleasant. Regard the loving memory of a friend or the expression of generosity and caring which allows the heart to feel open and connected. These are pleasant thoughts. Some thoughts are unpleasant such as anger. We speak of burning with anger; desire also. The sensation of these emotions in the body is decidedly unpleasant. Pleasant or unpleasant, they are all merely conditioned expressions of the Unconditioned. Often the human does not see it in this way but calls some “good” and others “bad,” some “of the light” and others “of the darkness.” But everything that arises has as its true nature only Light, even if it moves through considerable darkness on its way to the expression of that Light.

Let us examine the process. With bare attention, we note a series of conditioned expressions and become aware of the process we enter with contact. . The tack's puncture of the skin touches nerves and creates pain. Pain is a conditioned expression of the physical body. Seeing an angry face approach, the seeing touches the emotional nerve endings of the emotional body. Here I will not elaborate the details of the process. Again, there is pain. Pain is unpleasant, be it physical, emotional or mental pain. The energy field contracts. If there is not deep awareness, one moves into aversion or, with desire, into grasping. These mind states at first seems to focus on the catalyst. Upon deeper looking at the situation with the tack, one begins to see that the real focus of the dislike is the pain. You don't want the tack to go away, you want the pain to stop. You have learned that removing the tack will end the pain and so you remove the tack. You don't want the ice-cream soda but the sense of comfort which accompanies such a treat. The contraction is around the pain and holding to alleviation of pain. The same process occurs with emotional pain. You wish that person with angry energy to leave so as to be free of pain.

Whether that which has arisen is pleasant or unpleasant, a similar process begins. We see it as “other-than” the One, as separate from self, and are afraid we will be immersed in it or will lose it. Then aversion or grasping and clinging arise. This is a very oversimplified explanation of the entire process of dependent arising.

Contraction is result of any fear, tension, pain or desire. When painful or unpleasant sensation arises, the body will contract. When you step on that tack there is pain and resultant from that pain is contraction. Sometimes, with such contraction arises judgment related to the contraction. As example, first there is contact and contraction around the pain. There is a thought of dislike of the pain. Unaware of the conditioned response that moves one to wish to be free of pain, one attacks, not the pain but the catalyst for pain. It is seen as something separate which is attacking the self. You enter into a relationship with that catalyst and it is seldom a loving relationship! I speak not only of aversion. Clinging is also not a loving relationship. It is important to note here that without duality there can not be something outside of the self that attacks or of which one is deprived.

There may be a secondary contraction, either a thought about hating the unpleasant sensation or anger at the self for reacting. . You wish to be free of pain because it is unpleasant, but it also brings up long held opinions and judgments such as, “This is bad! For it to leave would be good.” Or you may judge your response: “I shouldn't feel this. I should feel that. Then I would be good.” It goes on and on and on if you are not attentive. The same experience will occur if the primary catalyst is a thought - remembering, perhaps - and with the memory, the arising of anger or some other heavy emotion. As soon as that which has arisen is regarded as “other-than,” the energy field contracts again in opposition to it.

The greatest difficulty I see is that you have come to view arising in a dual way: this is “good,” that is “bad.” Certainly, it may be unpleasant—that tack puncture or angry person - but it is not good or bad. Perhaps stepping on the tack draws you to attention and you notice that the ground ahead of you is strewn with broken glass and other debris. How fortunate that you stepped on the tack just then and it brought attention before severe damage was done to your feet. Was the tack's presence bad? Was the pain bad? Unpleasant, yes. Good, bad, they are meaningless terms.

Nevertheless, such judgments, “good, bad” do continue to arise. They are less value judgments than indications that a certain situation is pleasant or unpleasant. Eventually the mind will purify itself, will obtain a clarity about conditioned arising which ceases to offer such judgment. For now, the judgment “good” or “bad” is just another judgment. When you hear yourself labeling “good, bad” be alert, “Here is a place of contraction, an unpleasantness which I wish to push away, or a pleasantness which I wish to hold onto.” That the mind gives rise to such labels is not bad nor good, it is simply the nature of the untrained mind. There is nothing you need to do about such judgment but note “judging, judging.” and note “contraction” if it is present. Let it remind you to have compassion for all humans, that they live in bodies and prefer the pleasant. Let judging mind open your heart. Judging mind is not bad. It also is God.

Everything that arises is a conditioned expression of the Divine. Everything! There is no other-than. This is the first lesson you must learn. You learn it by attending carefully to each arising in the self, noting that it is a conditioned expression - that certain conditions were present which led to its arising and when those conditions cease, what arose will cease. What is your relationship with it? Notice the contraction around “unpleasant.” The contraction is also conditioned expression. The Unconditioned expresses itself in infinite ways. When you look deeply, you enter the direct experience that each conditioned arising is simply a conditioned expression of the Divine, of the Unconditioned. You begin to develop the wise and kind spaciousness which does not get into a relationship with arising but simply observes the conditioned nature of it and finds increasing compassion for the human who experiences this painful cycle. There is no duality around that which has arisen. One attends to it with increasing skill.

The human body in harmony with the universe moves in an ebb and flow of contraction and release. That which is contracted will release. That which is free of tension will contract. Physical and mental energies follow this pattern. In the harmonious human they are in balance. Fear leads to contraction, such as the fear of anticipated need. Desire leads to contraction, as do aversion and pain. When you note such arising contraction, allow it to pass through you and note the conditioned nature of what has been catalyst for that contraction, the mind balanced in wisdom and compassion does not fixate on the catalyst nor on the contraction itself. It does not try to get rid of the contraction, nor does it strive to maintain it. It does not move into any relationship with the contraction other than to note, “Contracted, contracted.” It sees that such contraction is a call for skillful response. For instance, you remove the splinter or tack from the foot. You listen to the voice behind the angry face to see what the matter is and what help might be offered to alleviate its pain. There is no extended relationship with the catalyst or contraction. One notes, “Contracted” and tends to what is needed. If the catalyst is unpleasant, one notices one's distress with kindness and allows it space.

You are in a human body. Sensation, emotion, thought, contraction - these are all a priceless gift. Every sensation, emotion and thought is an opportunity to balance yourself. On the relative plane there is pain or pleasure and, perhaps, the arising of like or dislike, desire or aversion. Are you going to be at war with all of these conditioned expressions, or will you open your heart to them as teacher?

There is a teaching in Zen Buddhism: The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon itself. You can look at ten thousand fingers and, if you focus only on the fingers you will never see the moon. The fingers are every conditioned expression of the phenomenal world. The moon is God. Each time you note the arising of any conditioned expression, ask of it, “Other-than” and see that it is a conditioned expression of the Unconditioned, a reflection of the Divine, then this experience of the conditioned expression points to the moon. “Ahhh, the Unconditioned is right here and right here and right here! To find God I need look no further than the itch of this mosquito bite, than my opening heart which feels gratitude for the kindness of a friend, than my pain at the experience of another's anger. God is right there in all of it.”

When you practice this way, the relative and ultimate come into a natural balance. Practice is needed, of course. It is easier said than done. I want to look a bit at the human tendency to fixate on what arises, to judge and to choose.

Please visualize a crystal. Light shines through it and the crystal offers a conditioned expression of that light in the form of a rainbow display. Please notice that you cannot pick up that rainbow and move it. It has no solidity. It is conditioned expression. You may look at that display and say, “I like the blue or purple light; I do not like the orange light. The orange light is bad.” Can you grab it and move it? It is all conditioned expression. If the rainbow display is shining in someone's eyes and causing them pain, in relative reality harm is being done and you are responsible to move the crystal so the harm will cease. That is all you need do.

Through the crystal of self is manifest the conditioned expressions of anger, jealousy, patience, generosity and so forth. One takes care, one must be responsible, that those energies are not given solidity and used to harm another. One works with skill. One notes that patience is a kind and loving emotion and allows oneself to act upon that. One notes that jealousy is a conditioned expression grown out of fear. One neither denies nor acts out the jealousy. One does not need to enter into relationship with it beyond the knowing, “Here is jealousy.” If one does get caught in relationship with it, one simply notes for example, angry speech which may be a conditioned expression of the jealousy. Staying present, one sees the habitual patterns grown out of old pain and slowly one finds a spaciousness wherein reactivity ceases. You catch it where-ever you catch it.

Those with much practice will not fixate upon the jealousy, but just let it run through them and go. Those not yet so highly practiced may take a while to catch on. The effort is not to get rid of jealousy, but to note it as a conditioned expression, to see how one tenses against it as other-than the Divine. This is what you must watch: this long-held tension. Relax. breathe. Note “Contracted, contracted.” Look back on the emotion of jealousy. It is also a conditioned expression of the Divine, a finger pointing to the moon. This, too, will bring you home.

There is much work here. First, one must develop the mindfulness to be present with what arises. Second, one must work with those practices of lovingkindness, generosity, forgiveness, sympathetic joy and so forth which open the heart and nurture the experience of connection. Third, one must practice meditation in two ways. One connects with mindfulness, choiceless awareness of the moment, this moment of relative reality. Also needed is meditation in which one deepens the experience of the Ultimate, of the pure spirit body, of the Unconditioned Divine. within and without. I call this the pure heart/mind which rests in infinite space of the Eternal.

Next one must use that deepening awareness of relative reality to observe the infinite numbers of fingers that are all pointing home, ... home, ... home, and one must have the courage to follow them, a step in which the ego self does not delight!. This is the path. There is a very beautiful line from the Buddha's teachings which I take slightly out of context. “If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.”

I thank you for your attention to these thoughts. I hope that they may be of service to you. My love accompanies you on each step of your path. That is all.