December 10, 2003

Barbara: We're going to start here with Aaron talking about the 4 Empowerments. Then I'm going to share some of my experiences with these.

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. We have done a lot of talking about the simultaneity of dharmakaya and nirmanakaya, noting that nirmanakaya is an expression of dharmakaya, and thus, dharmakaya is always there. Nirmanakaya is not always there, but dharmakaya must always be there. I would use a flower as example here. There will be the roots and a small stem. A flower may express itself out of these roots and stem. At times there may only be the roots and stem. The flowers come and go. They are expression of the roots and stem. Without these, the flower cannot exist.

Another example, one that we have used before, is the clear, vast, blue sky. Sometimes clouds come into the sky. Sometimes the sky is free of clouds. The sky remains. The clouds come and go. Without the sky, the clouds cannot exist, but the clouds do not change the nature of the sky.

Neither of these examples serve to give the full nature of the relationship of nirmanakaya and dharmakaya. This is because they do not include that "wealth" or "transition" body, sambhogakaya. It's almost impossible to talk about sambhogakaya except in terms of energy. We can give so many examples. The glacier, and the melt-off running into a stream, which is an expression of the glacier. The bud, which is an expression of the apple tree and out of which the fruit will appear.

The closest I can come to a precise metaphor is to ask you to think about a very pure, deep underground spring, and the river that flows from the spring. So long as the spring is underground, it's shut off, it cannot pick up impurities. And you can't reach through into it. It's underground. But there's a small opening through which the spring expresses. In that opening, you have spring and you have the potential for stream. We note the pressure of the spring water and the fact that there's an opening. This potential is one statement of sambhogakaya.

In the same way, if we look at our apple tree, because there is a flower that is pollinated, the seed develops into fruit. In that moment, when there is a tiny bud, there is the potential for fruit. At that moment, when there is just a bare branch in winter, there is the potential for the flower. Of course, when I speak about an underground spring or an apple tree, these are not dharmakaya because they're not ultimate reality. They are not unlimited, unborn, undying, eternal. We can only use metaphors for this. There's no thing I can give you to consider that is the dharmakaya. We can only talk about it, but we can't present it to you.

There is another way to get at it. Draw a deep in-breath, filling the lungs. I'm going to ask you to offer an intention to the word "om" and then chant the word. The breath, the intention, and then, "oooommmmm." Do it with me again. Take in a deep breath, pause, and feel the intention. It's an energetic intention, almost a blip of energy. Inhale. Intention. Ooooooommmmmmm.

So in this case, the breath is like the dharmakaya. Or the drawing in of breath. The intention is the sambhogakaya. The om is the form body, the nirmanakaya.

I am going to pause and make sure that this is clear for you all before I talk further. I know we have spoken before of these three kayas. I want you to understand each in your own experience.

Barbara: Aaron asks, are there questions? Do you all feel you have at least some sense of what each of these 3 is?

Q: I heard Aaron say once recently that the sambhogakaya could also be viewed as a bridge between the other two. Is that correct? And is it a two-way bridge?

Barbara: It is a bridge, it is a two-way bridge, but that is the most rudimentary aspect of it. And tonight he wants to get us past thinking of it as a bridge. He's been talking a lot about dharmakaya and nirmanakaya. He wants us to really understand this transition body of sambhogakaya.

Q: The rudimentary is okay with me.

Barbara: So, he is asking, can you see the way that this intention is a bridge between the breath and the om. The whole life cycle process of pollination, and the growing flower is a bridge between the bare winter tree and the apple. He says, first it's a bridge. Then, can you feel the energy, the impulse in it? The movement in it? He's asking those of you who do bodywork, there are a number of you here, to reflect on what you have experienced feeling the level of the Ever-Perfect... let Aaron say this.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Everyday mind and body cannot quite enter the Ever-Perfect. In this way, no, it's not completely a two-way bridge. Let me rephrase. You can draw the outer expression out of the Ever-Perfect but you cannot completely bring the outer expression into the Ever-Perfect. There seems to be a film over the Ever-Perfect. When you enter into the Ever-Perfect, you lose touch with the form body. When you touch just at the surface, you can be connected with the Ever-Perfect and the form body.

Let me use this as an example. You stand on a rock and gaze into the lake. Once you dive in, you cannot still be on the rock. But you can emerge from the lake and you will be wet, carrying some of the lake with you. The water is an expression of the lake.

Here is another example. Think of an artist who wishes to draw a person's face. The person is in another room. They can look at the face, they can look at the drawing, moving from room to room. . If they fully enter the room of the face, they can no longer attend to the drawing. If they come back to the second room with the drawing, there is no longer direct access to the face but there is the memory of it.. With the intention to draw, you know you must leave the room with the person and go to the drawing room. You do not get lost in that room of the face, you see the face and your memory and intention serve as a bridge. At this point we must understand the energetic level of the intention. This is the sambhogakaya.

For those of you who work with body healing and energy, you are sometimes aware of the Ever-Perfect level. You are aware of the distortion. You are the energetic force that brings them together. It's not quite a bridge. Bridge is part of it. Intentionality and actual energy are part of it. So perhaps what we're speaking of here is the nature of the bridge, as grounded in intentional energy. Without the intention, there's no bridge. It's that specific intentional energy that I want to get at, the importance of that for sambhogakaya. I pause.

Barbara: He says, has he lost you, confused you completely, or are you getting it? He says it's a very difficult thing to understand. He's saying, picture the artist rushing from one room to another, trying to hold this in their mind, rushing. But then you stop, trust the memory and intention, and bring it together. So there's the non-dual aspect of it; the Ever-Perfect right here and the drawing, right here together. There's the body energy at the Ever-Perfect level, the distortion, and the intention to draw that distortion back into a reflection of the Ever-Perfect.

He says he can feel that some of you are confused and he would like to hear your questions.

Q: I'm confused about where intention lies. Is intention an aspect of the Ever-Perfect, or does it come out of the Ever-Perfect?

Barbara: Aaron says it's both. The intention has its own dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya level. But here we tune into the purest level of intention we can, and we recognize that it might not be 100% pure. He says, "go to the intention free of a self." Do you know that experience? It's not a, "I want this to happen so I'll go here and do that." so much as just seeing and intending. It's a very seamless movement of the heart. Open energy; uncontracted.

He says, we can use contraction and freedom of contraction here. The intention from the heart is free of contraction. The intention from a place of self is contracted. When it's contracted, then the dharmakaya and the nirmanakaya remain like that, and the sambhogakaya, this intention, is a bridge. But they're very separate.

He says this is really of highest importance, and he thanks you for bringing it out. When there's no contraction, then we're very much in touch with the dharmakaya. The intention energy is not contracted, and that's when the nirmanakaya and dharmakaya are most connected. Otherwise we stretch out this long bridge through being a personal self.

Q: In cranial-sacral terms, is sambhogakaya the "breath of life"?

Aaron: I am Aaron. One of you is going to have to explain the term "breath of life" to me, to answer that.

Q: I'm not sure! I think it might be dharmakaya. The breath of life would be universal energy.

Barbara: He's asking, will others of you who practice cranial-sacral therapy please just mentally send him your image with or without words, of breath of life.


Aaron: I am Aaron. Yes, I would say this is accurate. The breath of life - the way several of you are using that term, it is the dharmakaya. Let us say, it is the expression of dharmakaya in the body. It is the energetic expression.

These things are so difficult to speak about. We so lack a very clear vocabulary. It is both gradual and instant. The dharmakaya exists. It offers its highest, clearest energetic or physical expression. Metaphorically, that pure spring is one expression, pure water. What you call breath of life is a similar expression of Dharmakaya..

And yet it is still an expression, it is not the dharmakaya itself. Do you understand that? This leads us to the teachings of the direct and indirect expressions of the Unconditioned.I pause.

Q: I'm not sure I understand...

Barbara: Do others of you understand that? That it is and is not the dharmakaya. It is an expression of the dharmakaya.

Q: It feels to me as if it is a different vocabulary, and therefore pretty confusing... I would love to have this conversation but not when we're trying to figure out these 3 concepts, because they are a whole bunch of different concepts. Trying to describe the same phenomena...

Barbara: Aaron says he doesn't want to go deeper with this discussion here because it's not meaningful to so many people. The only value to it is to bring forth the point that the dharmakaya is the ground, and all of these things are the highest expressions of that ground. We talk about this sometimes in meditation practice, talking about the Unconditioned and the signs of the Unconditioned, such as nada, which is not the Unconditioned itself, but it's a clear, direct expression of the Unconditioned. In the visual range we have ground luminosity. And in physical energy, we also have that highest expression, which is this "breath of life." So the direct expressions of the Unconditioned are nada, ground luminosity, the taste and smell of the Unconditioned, and also that energetic expression which seems to be consistent with what you're calling breath of life.

All of these are part of the conditioned realm. They exist because the conditions are present for them to exist. They are not the Unconditioned but are expressions of it. We call these "direct expressions" because they need nothing but the Unconditioned itself for their existence, unlike indirect expressions that need the Unconditioned and also relative plane conditions. To exist, the tree needs the Unconditioned and also needs a seed, sun, soil, water. It's an expression of the Unconditioned, but a conditioned or indirect expression. "Breath of Life' is more like nada. As long as the Unconditioned exists (and by it's nature, it is "Unborn, Undying" and limitless) nada, ground luminosity, and breath of life will exist.

Q: Prana, or chi, or Breath of life are the same concept.

Barbara: Yes, but there's a very specific vibrational frequency to it when it's at its highest vibrational level. These, then, are expressions of the dharmakaya, but they are direct expressions. They don't depend on any conditioned thing to exist.

So there's that intermediary step. He's saying this is important because this is really the sambhogakaya. He says intention is not the best word, but English has no other word. It's the movement from here to there. But it's not just movement, it's creation, the act of and moment of creation itself.

Q: In terms of a very basic example, I would think of a conversation happening. Somebody asks you, "How was your day?" And you could say just about anything, anything is possible. You could reply with a "rraa rraa rra rra" or a "wow!" or whatever. In that moment before replying, there is a very pregnant moment, infinite potential. Anything could come out.

Barbara: Pregnant moment, Aaron says. He says that's a perfect phrase.

Q: Right there is where the intention comes in. And that very first intention or imprint sets it in motion. So that's how I relate to sambhogakaya.

Barbara: Aaron really appreciates your phrase, pregnant moment. The hand has the potential to open. It hasn't yet, but it's right there. And when it opens, then we've got the nirmanakaya.. But that hand that has the potential... He says movement is part of it, but it's not the whole thing. Intention is part of it but not the whole. He says what you need to do is try to get a feel for yourself from your own experience of what he's talking about. He asks, are there some of you, he doesn't want to embarrass people, but he also wants to know, if there are people who don't get this, we can talk about more about it. That's fine. He doesn't expect everybody to get it all right at once, but he doesn't want to leave off and move ahead if there are people who are really confused. I know it's more difficult to talk in this larger group.

Q: I would imagine that we all have a pretty good basic idea but that none of us really understand it.

Barbara: Aaron says, thank you C, that's about right. But he says, you have the potential to understand it, the hand about to open! He says, you must look deeply at your own experience. He's going to take this now into this 4 Empowerment practice and tie them together, and teach you how to use the 4 Empowerment practice on a more mundane level first, and then talk about the practice more on this energetic level.

Q: I just want to say that it isn't something you can wrap your brain around. It's not a concept that is static. It seems to come into understanding simply by observation and experience. It's not a linear insight.

Barbara: He says he thinks what comes closest to allowing you really to get it is the experience of chanting. Breath in and feel the impulse energy. The energetic intention to om before the om comes out. He says, as K says, that pregnant moment. He says, try this once more. Breathe in, and feel the impulse and that there's a subtle tension, but it's not a contracted tension. Can you feel the difference between dynamic, balanced tension and contraction? It's not a tight contraction, but there's a subtle energetic tension. And then "oooommmm".

Breathing in. Pregnant moment. Om.

He says it's the energy that you might feel when you're having a cup of tea. The tea is hot in your cup. You haven't yet sipped it. It's an impulse energy to reach out before you actually reach out.

Are there any specific questions? If not, we will go on.

Aaron: I am Aaron. First I'm going to speak about the more mundane level of the 4 Empowerment practice, and then relate it energetically to our discussion just past.

On the mundane level, let's use anger here for our example. For many years I have been teaching you that if the conditions are present, anger will arise. It's not bad that it arises any more than it's bad that sleepiness arises at night time, or an itch arises if you get a mosquito bite. It's the outflow of conditions. I have been reminding you that your work is not to cease to have emotions, but to learn equanimity with these emotions. All of you have worked hard to learn such equanimity in your meditation practices, and many of you have come very far in learning not to be reactive to difficult emotion.

Nevertheless, the habit energy is there for it and it continues to come up. The conditions repeat themselves incessantly, and anger, greed, fear, other difficult emotions, continue to come up.

With this practice of the 4 Empowerments, and later the 7 Branch Prayer, we begin to purify the habit energy itself, and release it. It must be done in a very openhearted, spacious way, with kindness.

I would ask you to think a moment today when you experienced anger. Bring it into your mind. This will not be as effective because right now you're not experiencing anger, and I would not choose to manipulate and anger you in some way in order to help you do the practice. But when you are doing this practice, it's at the moment when anger, fear, or some other strong emotion is experienced. Restlessness, uncenteredness. In that moment, the first step is finding support. Actually the first step, unspoken here, is recognizing the existence of that emotion, and the intention to work with the habit energy that was a part of the conditions out of which it arose, to help resolve it and help resolve that karma.

Having seen the emotion and the intention, the first step is support. Here we turn to whatever deepest support is accessible to us. It may be a prayer to divinity, however you experience that. That divinity may be seen as expressed through a human who is no longer living, such as Jesus or Mary, the innate perfection and awakened nature of the historical Buddha. It might be a prayer or connection with a living being who deeply inspires you. Seeking support. It's basically an alignment of the self with the beautiful and awakened qualities of that being.

The second step is to reflect on what arose, not to try to understand it technically, not to seek the various conditions led to that arising, simply to reflect, this anger arose out of conditions. And to allow yourself truly to experience regret. I want to be very clear this is regret, not shame, not guilt. Sadness. The conditioning is still there. Anger, greed, whatever. These still arise in this mind and body, and there's sadness about that.

The third step is the resolve, the deep resolve, to clarify the conditions around which this has arisen. And the fourth step is to bring in the balance, the antidote. For instance, if there is anger, you might bring some conscious metta practice with yourself and the other person, or with the situation. If there is greed and intense clinging, you might literally ask yourself to give something.

The clinging might be about a certain object, and you don't have to give that object. But you shake loose the tension, the weight of clinging, by simply turning to another person and saying, "Can I help you?" Or offering somebody a smile. A conscious giving.

So there are these 4 steps: finding the support, allowing reflection on the conditioned nature of this experience to arise, and the experience of regret or sadness. Bringing forth that resolve to clarify this habit energy. And the way we actually do resolve it through offering balance.

There is another part of the third step, resolve. We use resolution in two ways. We resolve to clarify the energy, and we also see the resolution of that habit energy. This is where we bring in the dharmakaya. On the mundane level, we resolve to fix something, in a sense, let's say attend to it; I do not like the word "fix". But to bring forth resolution through our own effort. On the supramundane level, we see the Ever-Perfect, the place, literally, where there is no contraction, no fear, no anger. We see the potential for resolution and yet we recognize this mind and body still resonate with fear or anger. This is where we bring the nirmanakaya and the dharmakaya together. We make the choice deeply to rest in the dharmakaya while still being aware of it, the energetic reverberations of that nirmanakaya, that fear, anger, greed, or whatever came.

Let's do this together.

I want you to remember this is a simple practice, and it is something that I'm going to ask you to do 50 times a day. Each time may take only one minute or less. Here you are, the moment of fear or anger. Let's stay with anger but please, be aware that this is for any difficult mind or body state.

The moment of anger and the impulse to move into either acting out that anger or stopping the anger, separating yourself from it, controlling it. In that moment, seeing "Ah, here is habit energy." Breathe in, find your support. Just for a few seconds, connect with whatever being you've decided ahead of time you're going to turn to for support. Breathe in and feel that support. Breathing out, reflecting. "The conditions are still present in me for anger to arise." With several breaths, reflecting on that, and allowing yourself to experience, I repeat, not shame or guilt, but sadness. A wholesome sadness that supports growth.

Shaping the resolve to release these conditions out of which anger continues to arise. And - this is additional, in this class where we're working at a different level than the meditation class - to see clearly the already existent resolution of anger, without any denial of the state of anger. The dharmakaya and the nirmanakaya. What prevents resting in that already existent resolution, that ever-perfect? Is it just habit or is there still something to be resolved? And then the antidote. Intuitively you're going to know what's needed. Just envisioning the situation that brought up anger, and breathing in and smiling to that situation, the balance will reveal itself.

As you work with this, first just on this mundane level, without the ever-perfect resolution, but just the resolve. First get that state. Then add that resolution, that image of the whole issue in a state of resolution. That means coming back to the dharmakaya.

After it's stable on the mundane level, then I would ask you to focus on that moment, that breath that K called "pregnant moment". It's the moment of choice. In that moment, the old karma literally releases as you let yourself fully move into the movement of kindness, of smile, of generosity, working with the antidote to whatever difficult energy had arisen. Again, I will pause for questions.

Barbara: Aaron is pointing out that the transcript you received is from the first 2 chapters of the book Awakened Heart. There are very clear notes about how to do this practice. So please read that. The first chapter is on the Four Empowerments. The second chapter is on the Seven Branch Prayer. We'll come to that in a few minutes.

Are there questions about this process?

Q: Can compassion be substituted for sadness?

Barbara: Aaron is saying, on the ultimate level there is compassion, but on the relative level, there needs to be some feeling of regret which resolves into compassion. But it needs to begin with regret because we are experiencing the negative energy on the mundane level. So we need to use the mundane experience of knowing there's some regret or sadness, that this is coming up. And then compassion is really part of the antidote. Compassion is that coming back into balance.

Q: I find that Stephen Levine's words are very helpful. He says over and over, "Ah, so."

Barbara: That's a wonderful phrasing of regret.

Q: It's regret but it's also compassion...

Barbara: It's ahh, this is how it is, this is still coming up. But there's not a hardness to it. This is what Aaron is emphasizing, in regret there's not hardness, there's just that "Ah, so," which is a compassionate regret.

Q: I find that when I hold the word regret it gets snarled up in other baggage. I was using just a touch of acknowledgment... and then the sadness sort of naturally melts into compassion all by itself, kind of.

Barbara: Aaron says he thinks C's "Ah, so" is perfect. Can you hear that there is regret or sadness in that, but there's no blame?

Q: Just acknowledgement.

Barbara: ... that this is here again. And if blame and self-judgment come up, then that becomes what we work with. We start the process again using that. "Ah, so," here is judgment.

I found when we first channeled this teaching back in 1996, Aaron had me doing this repeatedly during the day. At first it took me 5 minutes, and I said can't do it, I'm constantly doing this practice! He said, practice it a bit and it will ease. And I came to the point where I could do it in 35 seconds, go through the whole thing. It just became a habit energy, a wholesome habit energy. Whenever a contracted state came up, instead of just saying, "Well, here's anger again," which is one step past, "I won't be angry!", But instead of just "Here's anger again, I'm just going to keep experiencing it forever," here is a very positive way of releasing. It doesn't even release the anger necessarily. You may still feel the reverberations of the anger. But it acknowledges that it came out of conditions and that I'm releasing and resolving those conditions. And I found that it was life-changing to do this practice, because the conditions stopped coming so fast. They still come; I still experience greed and anger at times. But as I worked with that practice, it really slowed that down for me. It really changed the karma around which these heavy emotions arose, and led to them arising less frequently.

Are there any questions at this point?

Q: I understand in applying the antidote that by opening to our inner wisdom, we'll know the antidote. At times where I'm very muddled, and I'm not even clear the difficulties I'm working with, is there a good list of antidotes...?

Barbara: Aaron says there is a basic list, metta for anger, generosity, for greed.

Q: Actually going through the list might really help me figure out where I am!

Barbara: Simply resting in fearlessness, noting that within the self which is not afraid right there with the fear. And metta can be helpful with fear. I'll see if I can come up with a very precise list!

Inserted later. There's a wonderful chart that I can't reproduce here. Look at this web site:

Aaron says, no, he does not want you to have a precise list because he does not want to limit you in that way. He wants you to learn to trust your intuitions.

Q: Aaron was beginning to put dharmakaya on to these steps. He said that one is dharmakaya, that one is nirmanakaya. Is that useful for this practice at this point? If so, could he repeat.

Aaron: I am Aaron. This is around the dual aspects of step 3. On the mundane level, we intend to resolve this karma. On the supramundane level, we come to the place where the karma is already resolved. So on one level, we resolve, and there's a linear process with which we involve ourselves. Here we have the dharmakaya, the energy of sambhogakaya, which is our intention to resolve, the nirmanakaya which is the anger or the freedom from anger that we seek. It's a linear progression when we say, "to resolve."

On the other hand in step 3, as you become settled into doing it with resolve, then I want you to step to that aspect in step 3 of resolution. Here, you are not starting with dharmakaya and nirmanakaya separate and bringing them together. At one level there's still anger, and at another level, we keep saying "That which is aware of anger is not angry." We rest in that awareness. We see the already existent resolution of anger. We still bring in the antidotes because on the relative level the anger still exists, and the body and mind are still reverberating with it, even as we put our weight over to the place where there is complete resolution of it. Where we acknowledge that angerlessness or fearlessness, or freedom of greed. I pause.

Q: So all 3 of the kayas are in step 3?

Barbara: He says yes. He says the first few days that you work with this practice, forget the term resolution and work simply with resolve. Here is anger. I see the dharmakaya, the Ever-Perfect, and here I am in this nirmanakaya. My resolve is to understand and release the conditions out of which anger still arises. It's still a linear practice.

Once you're comfortable with that, then simply remember, "But while I resolve to do it, it's already done." But he says don't try to do that until you're stable with the resolve, the linear aspect of it. Does that make sense to you all?

We don't meet again this month because the next Tuesday night is Christmas Eve... So what we would like you to do is then, after you've read Chapter 1, practice it.

Then read the second chapter of Awakened Heart. This is the Seven Branch Prayer. I am not going to go into it tonight. The steps are very clear in the chapter. The heart of the Seven Branch Prayer is these 4 steps. Read the chapter.

Do the Four Empowerments for a week or two. Then move on to the Seven Branch Prayer. If you have questions about it, please email it to me But I think you'll find it very straightforward. The heart of it is these 4 Empowerments but it's bigger. So work with it.

I think you'll like it and you'll find it easy. Do it step by step. Start with the Four Empowerments on the simple mundane level. And then on the level of resolution. And then go on into the Seven Branch Prayer. Aaron is saying that some of you may read through the Seven Branch Prayer, practice it a bit, and find that it's not really useful to you, that you'd rather just stick with the Four Empowerments. That's fine. But if the Seven Branch Prayer is useful, then use it.

He wants to point out to those who do not know this, that these are not practices that he has devised himself. They are ancient practices. They're in many different religious traditions. There is a practice very analogous to the Seven Branch Prayer in ancient Judaism. Shantideva, a famous Buddhist teacher and writer of, I think, 7th c., wrote a book, "Way of the Bodhisattva." Alternate spellings: Santideva; The Bodhicaryavatara) Aaron's book Awakened Heart is a commentary on Shantideva's "Way of the Bodhisattva". And Shantideva expresses these practices, the Four Empowerments and the Seven Branch Prayer. So what Aaron is doing here is trying to make it more current and alive for us, and to talk about ways we can practice it and bring it into our lives.

But these are not limited to Buddhism. The basic practices of the Four Empowerments and the Seven Branch Prayer are found in many religions. So, simply explore them and see how they can support your practice.

Are there any questions?

(Discussion of availability of the book Awakened Heart)

It's almost 9;00 and we have a choice here. I was going to have you move into groups, but I also felt I'd like to talk with you about my experiences with this practice, and especially my immediate experiences as relates to my upcoming trip to Brazil. (People want Barbara to talk).

I'm going to talk about 2 different things here. One is what Aaron just taught us. Shortly before I left for class tonight, I got a phone call from one of my children that worried me. (details omitted)

So I saw myself tensing up. I told him, "I have to get off the phone, I need to go to class. I'll call you back after class." Then I couldn't find my shoes, I couldn't find my glasses, I left my backpack somewhere. I don't know where I left it. I drove off without it. I was really feeling scattered. So I came in here and I sat.

I want to point out that this practice is not just about negative emotion, but here I was using the practice for this scatteredness, for tension, and uncenteredness. First, reaching out for support. Each of us has our own place to go. Then the reflection of not taking the time to process as I need to, the whole energetic buzz that still comes up around my children, which is still true for many of us. Both the "Ah, so" but also regret, really, as in a sense of, "I don't need to keep doing this any more." Regret in that sense. This is enough. The resolve, I really intend to move past this. And seeing the resolution. In that moment, seeing that which was still and centered, along with the contracted outer energy. And making the intention, offering the intention as the intent really was just release. The intention, "whoosh", letting it go, letting that go and coming back into that very stable centered place, resting there.

And my whole energy shifted in 5 minutes. All of the fears, all of the worry went. The deep sense of trust of my son's path and his ability to resolve his own situation and to learn from it. All of that just came flooding back.

So this is just one little example of how I use this practice.

Brazil. I have been deaf for over 30 years. The deafness has sometimes been very difficult but also it's been quite an amazing journey, learning so much. At first I had to look at all the aversion to deafness, then I had to look at what attachments I had to it. What does this deafness protect me from? And finally I came to a place where I really felt equanimity with it. I've been in that place of equanimity for a number of years now, really feeling it's fine either way, and I would be happy to hear, but if I never hear again, that's okay . Really, however I can best serve. Seeing that my deafness does serve people in certain ways. It's okay .

Then the applecart got shaken up. An acquaintance who I knew was very sick, literally dying, wrote to me and said she was going to Brazil to see a healer there named John of God. In Portuguese, Joao de Dios. I thought, "Oh, that's nice. Good luck!" But I did look him up on the web; he doesn't have his own website but many people have websites about him. I felt a strong resonance with his energy and interest in what he was doing.

I next heard from her 3 months later. She was down there for 3 months. She came back. She was out of her wheelchair. She said she was off medication for the first time in 30 years. She had had lupus since childhood. From the medications she had taken, she had many organ failures and a lot of body pain. She couldn't walk. So now she was out of her wheelchair. She was completely off medication. She had good energy. She felt well. And she said to me, she saw him heal several people who were deaf.

Part of me said, "Well, I could do that," and part of me said, "I don't need to."

What I didn't see at the beginning was that while the equanimity was real, there was also a need to reach out and invite whatever healing is possible. That equanimity and inviting are not contradictory. Inviting and grasping are not the same thing. I saw that I not only could but needed to invite this. And I needed to learn how to invite it with equanimity, without grasping.

Last winter I was leading a retreat at Howell and it was snowing outside, big beautiful snowflakes. I was looking out the window and it was so exquisite; I was filled with so much joy at what I was seeing. Then the thought came to me, "Being here in physical incarnation we have these gifts of our senses. It's so beautiful to see the snow but I can't hear the birds or the wind or the snowfall. I can't hear these things. I want to invite this in." And there was really a sense of, not grasping, but "I invite this."

So I made the decision to go to Brazil this coming January, which was the first break in scheduled retreats. Since I made that decision, there have been so many changes, so much learning. I began to see that I hear very well one on one lip-reading, but if I don't want to hear something I can just look away! I had to ask myself, what would it mean to hear fully? Not to separate myself in any way. The question that came up was, what is it I don't want to hear? And while I do allow in the pain of the world very deeply, I'm also in control. I can turn away.

I looked again at the end of my last lifetime before this one. A man who was in a ship that was torpedoed in WWI. He was swimming in the sea and the ship was burning. Explosions. People screaming. He was a good swimmer and he thought he had a good chance to survive, that there would be people coming to rescue them and so forth. But fire burned that took off the oxygen from the surface and he literally suffocated. What I see as he's fading out of consciousness, the last thing in his consciousness, are the excruciating screams of pain and terror, and the explosions of the ship. Here is one expression of what is sometimes stated as the 10,000 cries of the world And the thought, "I don't want to hear that.".

What would it mean to be willing to let all that in? So I really had to look at that these past months. It came to the point where I can say, "Yes, I'm ready to let that in." And not only am I ready, but I want to let that in, I need to let that in, not to separate myself.

There was this question, what do I not want to hear? What would it mean to allow myself to be fully intimate with the world? My ears are not the only thing I want to ask him about. I have a very slow metabolism. I take thyroid medication but even so, it's slow. My body holds weight even on very low calorie diet. I see that as part of the same question. The body creating a separation from the world through the weight, through the low metabolism. What would it mean to have normal metabolism and to let go of the weight? And again there's this barricade that protects me from the world.

So it's the same question. It's not just about hearing, it's about touching, it's about becoming fully intimate with the world. This has been my practice for 8 months, looking at anything that stops me from that intimacy and coming to the full intention to become intimate in that way. To invite this healing.

Then the next question came up that I found very interesting. Someone that I know who was down there who was deaf and came back. Joao said to her, "I can heal you. I can cure you, but it will have to be gradual. Nerve regeneration is slow." This is the linear progression. This is our belief system that we live in linear time. This is the dharmakaya, the bridge of sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya. But at the level where they're right here together, there's no need for it to take any time.

So I started to understand that perhaps his statement of "gradual" was more about traditional belief systems. There are things I've read about his work that, in many cases, such as with quadriplegics, they will eventually walk again but it's gradual and they come back for many repeated visits. But I started to see this is just a belief system. If I understand that it is here, now, immediate, then it is.

So I think much of this trip for me is going to be to explore this truth of bringing it together. To understand it both through my own experience and through watching others.

I'm very excited about the trip. I can't say I don't have expectations. I fully expect that I will return hearing. But I also don't have any grasping energy, and if I don't return hearing, I won't feel that I've failed, only my highest intention is whatever is for the good of beings. If there is some reason that I don't understand at this point, where it's more important for me to be deaf, then that's okay . But it's clear to me that the karma around my deafness is resolved. And there's no need karmically for me to be deaf any more.

Who knows! It's going to be a wonderful trip. Kate is coming with me and my son Davy is coming. I leave January 11 and come back February 1st. I'm told that I must be very quiet for a week or 10 days when I come back. So I've planned to come back, have 2 days here with classes Monday and Tuesday night and then I'm going off to Florida to visit my mother for a week and just lie on a beach. I'll be back February 10th.

(tape on and off)

Q: It's not really a question, it's a statement. This is about your personal story, not the teachings for tonight. I am so happy for you. My heart just reaches out and touches you and wishes the best possible outcome for you and your family. And I feel in my heart that it will happen for you. That it will be a positive outcome. And that makes me so happy. Namaste.

(tape on and off)

Barbara: It can be only a positive outcome, because the result will be exactly what I need. Either way, it will be positive. Because I have such a clear intention to manifest or allow what will best serve the needs of all beings, it can only go that way. I had an interesting talk last week when I was in Seattle. I got together with a friend out there who is a channel. She channels Jeshua ben Joseph, the Christ energy. I find it a very clear statement of that Christ energy. I've really come to have a lot of love and respect for this specific strand of the Christ energy. So usually when I'm out there we get together

I asked him what I needed to work with. He said "Courage." I understand that. It's going to be wonderful to heal, and it's also going to be terrifying not to have control of what comes into my senses. Perhaps not to understand the sounds I'm hearing. I have not heard for over 30 years. The sounds may seem strange. I may not recognize them as words, which is okay . There will be times when I'm elated, "Wow!" And times when I just want it all to go away. Courage in that respect, extremes, which he suggests I probably will experience, and Aaron has also suggested I'll experience. Courage to have the faith for that instant experience.

I see how it would be much easier for it to be gradual and to go down there a half dozen times to regain a little bit of hearing, and a little bit more, but that's not my intention. I don't need to do that! It's right here. I feel like it's all there, it just needs to be plugged in. I think that's what Joao can do. Like a house, the wiring is all complete, just connect it to the main current. We'll see what happens!

Courage to surrender the personal 'I am" for the ultimate one. Courage to let spirit work. This is something I go through with Aaron a lot. I ask him what he'll talk about. He says I can read it later! If spirit is running this, relax and let go and let spirit do its part!

I know all of your prayers and your love will be with me, and that supports me. I'll share with you in February when I get back.

Are there any other questions or anything that anybody wants to share?

Q: What you have shared with us about the trip to Brazil and the whole process you've explored over the past year and the past 30 years, for me this is so valuable. That you share with us the human experience. We all try to control the inputs in one way or another. So thank you for the sharing and I am always divided when you get to go off on retreat or your own learning, a teacher who learns is the best teacher.

Barbara: Thank you A. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by this loving sangha. I don't have to put on pretenses or anything. You're people who accept me as I am. You don't ask me to be up on a pedestal and perfect. I'm free to learn with you rather than having to pretend I'm already there somewhere, when I'm not. We're all learning together. So it's just a great joy to share this path with all of you.

Q: That pretending that you're there becomes a distortion anyway. So it's a double-delight that you learn with us. And that you have done so much learning that you as the human can help us so much too.

Barbara: I love you all!

Q: But it is also much more authentic that you do not put yourself on a pedestal, and therefore we do not have to keep you there!

Barbara: I don't like heights! I hope I'll see many of you next week ... but if I don't see you, have a wonderful holiday and I'll see you in January. Good night.

Copyright © 2003 by Barbara Brodsky