December 13, 1995 Project Expand

I am Aaron: My love to you both. We had been talking about energy. I offered background which aroused many questions. My intention was not to dwell on the background, which remains conjecture, but to move from that background to that of which I can speak from personal experience.

My intent in offering this foundation was merely to point out that this energy is the core of each of you. It is the distortions to that energy which create adhering karma and lead to the replay of that particular tension. Today I will provide an overview. In future weeks we will examine these teachings in detail.

When you are resting in rigpa, you are present observing the myriad catalysts of physical, emotional and mental bodies from a very clear space which does not enter into a personal relationship with those catalysts. What I see of your energy field at the times I have just described is as entirely open.

I am going to use Barbara's foot as example of what happens when there is some kind of personal relationship. Barbara's foot is injured. She held this ice bag against the skin and it was cold. Burning, burning. Although she made space for that burning sensation and simply noted the unpleasant quality of it, and did this rather skillfully, there was not full presence. She was able to open her energy completely to the unpleasant sensation itself, but could not open her energy completely to the emotional reaction to that unpleasant physical sensation, in other words to the dislike and wanting to get away from it. She noted, burning, burning. She noted the unpleasant quality of the burning—still open. When she came to aversion, aversion, she got into a personal relationship with that aversion.

The unpleasant quality of the physical sensation of burning is not the same as the unpleasant quality of the further sensation of aversion to pain. At the point when this aversion arose, the energy contracted in judgment of the aversion. To my way of seeing, there was then a minute tension which contracted the previously open energy field.

We talk often about Ultimate and relative reality. On the Ultimate plane karma is an illusion. When you rest in rigpa there cannot simultaneously be formation of adhering karma. No matter what arises in the body, in the emotions, in the mind, when it is greeted with that spaciousness, there is no adhering karma. This does not mean, for example, that anger or strong opinion with not arise, but it will arise like a cloud that by its very nature has no substance and it will dissipate. There is no contraction, no tension. The entire stream of karma begins in the mind because it is mind that first gets into a relationship with what has arisen. The sensation burning, burning ... no tension. Unpleasant, unpleasant ... no contraction. Yes, the physical body contracted around that burning. The physical body, in itself, does not create karma. The mind simply watched the physical body contract—no fixation, nothing to do. Contraction is merely contraction. Then the emotional body contracted with aversion to that burning and suddenly the mind thought there was something it had to do. It thought it had to get rid of the aversion. Then there was suddenly a doer.

When I say that karma is specific, the contraction here has nothing to do with the foot. It has nothing to do with the arising of physical pain. It has to do, only and specifically, with the arising of judgment about one's relationship to that which is unpleasant. In ways which I will delineate in precise detail in future weeks, that pattern of contraction which is not met with mindfulness becomes ingrained into the consciousness stream. One then manifests situations in which this same tension may be replicated. One rehearses it over and over and over until finally one gains insight into the pattern. That first moment of realization, “Maybe I don't need to judge this,” shatters that pattern.

What I wish to do here is look at the classical steps of dependent origination and understand it from this perspective of energy. As human you cannot easily see, smell, view, touch and taste energy. The energy field has much in common with a stream of water which your five physical senses can know. Thus, I will occasionally use water as metaphor. Please be aware that I am talking about energy. While water is adequate metaphor, it is not precise. It lacks elegance. I pause here.

(Q shares that the movement of mind to be in a personal relationship with the catalyst takes one out of the present moment and into linear time. Barbara adds that when we enter linear time we are back into the samsaric cycle.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. You cannot be in linear time and rigpa simultaneously. To rest in rigpa is to recognize the conditioned device of linear time as myth which the relative being is willing to entertain in order to function in the conditioned realm. It does not have to believe in it though. Here is the importance of the mind. It is the mind that first gets caught. Why does the mind get caught? It is not just lack of mindfulness. The human cannot always maintain perfect mindfulness. To do so would necessitate a “somebody” always on guard and then you are back into karma. It is not “somebody” who is aware; awareness itself is aware.

This is, in part, a developable skill which notes that tension which screams “somebody!” and is willing to relate to that tension in a kind and openhearted way, rather than in a threatened and controlling way.

The next question then is, what allows that spaciousness? It has many foundations. It is developed slowly, patiently. One must recognize the immense resistance that the human has acquired to letting go of “somebodyness.” This is what I see as the most potent starting place. When you develop kindness toward resistance itself, the ego loses one of its most powerful tools. What supports kindness to resistance? All of the foundation practices which all of you have done for so many lifetimes and in this present one come together. All the practices of lovingkindness, generosity. sympathetic joy. All the practices of morality, of right action, right speech, and so forth. All the practices of mindfulness of the body, of the breath (which is part of the body), of feelings, of mind, of the dharma. Each of these is a finely-honed tool. No one tool is enough. They all come together: faith, love, wisdom, concentration. They are not focused on getting rid of the “somebodyness,” but on opening the heart—or, more precisely, allowing the individual to rest in the ever-open heart which is the core of the Ultimate condition. That's it. That is all you need to do. It is so very simple when all the tools are available, sharpened and when there is understanding of their skillful use. So, we are back to resting in nonlinear time, resting in pure awareness. There never was karma, but there seemed to be.

Have you ever stood behind a window and watched someone throw a snowball at you. Do you flinch? I am not talking of an ice ball which might shatter the window, but just soft snow. You know it cannot touch you, yet the body tenses at its approach. Each time that you shift from pure awareness into the ego self and then contract around that shift, you invite back in the illusion that there must be a “somebody” to react to: the relative plane. The relative plane is simply that snowball. When you rest in rigpa, you are behind the glass. If response is needed, it grows out of the space of pure awareness. For example, if there were a kitten outside the door which was caught in the middle of this tossing of snow, the words, “Please stop” might be appropriate. Or one could venture out and rescue the kitten. The human is making use of the tools of body, of speech. One does not need to be in the illusion to use the tools. An ego doesn't need to speak from a place of fear, “Stop, stop! You'll hurt the kitten!” There is no tension.

We are still touching the surface. I wish to go very deep. My preference is that this depth grow from questions based on your experience so that this teaching does not become conceptual. I would request each of you to observe three things in the coming week.

One, the simple shift which you have observed many times before from rigpa into what we call sem or dual discursive mind. Two, I want you to notice how it seems that you can rest in rigpa and watch sem arise with no relationship with its arising. What rests in rigpa watching the discursive mind? What is it? Can you label it? Can you experience it? Is there any tension to it or does that tension divide you from it? This is the pure awareness state. Please especially watch any attachment to the sem mind and how that attachment relates to resistance.

Three, the resistance that I spoke about. When you note the way that self wants to take over and to note it with spacious kindness, can there be no contraction around that self wanting to take over? It doesn't have to go away. It will dissolve when nothing holds it to solidity. Right there is a profound moment of choice. Right there is where resistance most strongly arises. What is the relationship with that resistance?

It may seem like I have offered more than three points. I pause here and suggest that we go over this material and make sure that these three points are clear.

Discussion not recorded.

Aaron: I am Aaron. With the move from rigpa to sem you are habituated to a kind of giving up. Clarity is shattered. You are immediately stuck and rigpa appears lost. The resistance is to letting go of the use of an old pattern which seemed to solidify and, therefore, protect self. When there is contraction around the emergence of sem, that is just another contraction and rigpa can watch it. We cannot specifically define the resistance as attachment or aversion. It is both. Merely watch how it arises and the relationship to it. My question is very specific, who is experiencing this? When you see it is the relative conditioned self and that it solidifies because of fear or desire, when there is much kindness, much spaciousness, that resistance in itself ceases to be a viable tool for the ego. Then pure awareness can watch resistance with the same spaciousness with which it observes less potent catalyst. Do you understand?