December 1, 2004

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. Let's begin with somewhat of a guided meditation.

Think of yourself, if you can, as some kind of amphibious creature, something that swims but also crawls on the bottom, like a crab. That which touches and surrounds you is heavy, fluid and thick, placing a fair amount of pressure on your body.

When you look up, there is awareness of lightness, whereas down below on the sea bottom it is dark. There are no words for light and dark, but there is a perception of a different experience. It is beyond your ability to wonder what is up there, the brain is not yet that developed. Simply there is a differentiation, as one might differentiate warm and cool.

I used a crab as an example but let's make this a mythical creature. In its early life it crawls in the muck on the bottom but slowly it develops the ability to swim. Try to feel this progression in yourself, to imagine pulling yourself through the mud of the bottom, always in darkness. Feel the heavy weight of water pressure closing in on you. Movement is slow and cumbersome.

As the years pass, the body changes form a bit. First feel the ability to swim small distances. Eventually the legs begin to shrivel a bit and fins develop. For the first time, you can raise up the body. The bottom has been your feeding habitat for as long as can be remembered, so you still return to the bottom to feed. But increasingly you spend time just moving gracefully through the sea.

You are now able to live at both levels, to feed on the bottom and to swim, and your swimming draws you nearer and nearer to the surface. Light-oriented vision develops, that which can see in the light. Occasionally you see something floating on the surface, and one day you reach out for it and discover that it's edible. Then the pattern changes somewhat. Although you are still largely a bottom feeder, you also begin to feed at the surface. There is a certain joy and ease to the swimming motions as contrasted to the laborious crawling, and a pleasant quality to being in the light.

One day while breaking the surface to feed on an insect, you jump a little higher and break through into another whole world. You fall back into the sea and there is, we have to pretend here a level of intelligence beyond that of the average fish, there is some kind of appreciation of that experience, memory of it. Going after more and more insects on the surface, you break through more frequently, jump higher, until the whole body is clear of the water.

And then, after millennia of evolution, this creature develops legs and actually walks out on the land. I'm not trying to paint an accurate picture of evolution here, only to use imagination to think of how it would feel to be first the bottom dweller, then the swimmer, then the one who can break the surface occasionally, and finally the one who emerges into this next level out of the water.

You may dwell equally on land and in the sea. You begin to explore the foods that are available on land. You almost never frequent the bottom any more. You still swim for the pleasure of swimming. You drink the water. You float and rest in the water. You are stable at the bottom and swimming in the sea, at the surface, and on land.

Let us create a bit of a fantasy here and suppose that as more millennium pass, this being that you are develops the ability not only to support himself on land yet continue to swim, but he learns to fly in the air. He goes higher and higher. Then he finds ways to propel himself beyond the sky and up into the stars, not just in a spaceship but he adapts in some ways that permit him to live out of the earth's atmosphere, just as he learned to move from water into the earth's atmosphere. You can see how you might become stably able to exist in all of these environments by self-induced conscious changes in physiology and by natural evolution.

I want to use this as a metaphor for the evolution of consciousness. We have the bottom dwellers, swimmers, those just emerged onto land, those who can fly, and those who can go beyond. Our aquatic creature was stable in the sea. Our amphibian became stable on the earth and yet still was stable in the sea. In the most skillful pattern of evolution, each base will be stable before the next is built, but one could also conceive of a flying fish that can live in the air, but cannot move on land, but must return to the water.

Because of the basic makeup, every human has the ability to touch on every level of consciousness, but it will take much practice for stability at every level. Just as that aquatic creature who leaped beyond the sea could not stably exist in the earth's atmosphere, and yet had an experience of it, so those of an earlier level of consciousness may have what we call peak experiences. The baby can have a profound non-dual experience but it is not integrated. The person who takes hallucinogenic drugs may have a profound non-dual experience, but this person cannot consciously and with free will move into these experiences, nor can he live from that base. There is no ground in which to hold those experiences. They are not integrated into the personality.

What does it mean to have every level of consciousness present? The very wise patriarch who is known for his equanimity, his peacefulness, his kindness, he might under certain conditions have a deep experience of rage or grasping, become entirely self-centered for some moments. But he moves himself out of that experience quickly. Nevertheless, it happens. My point here as we explore the progression of consciousness, it's important not to see the progression as steps where you are on one step and that's where you are, but rather as a series of intersecting planes. One plane is the predominant one at any point in your life, but that plane is intersected by every other plane. You cannot stably rest in the higher planes; you are not stuck in the lower planes. Yet they all come at times.

I want to describe these phases of consciousness. Barbara and I are going to have to work out a more precise vocabulary. When I give her a thought, she might bring forth the word "phase" or "stage" or "level." I think it's important that we stick to one term to avoid confusion.

Let me phrase it in this way, choosing very precise articulation. The human will experience all three predominant states of consciousness, (gross, mundane or etheric; astral; and supramundane or causal) and is capable to experience stages of consciousness through the filter of each state. Each state is grounded on the others. just as the top floor of a building requires the lower floors or it will collapse. At first only the gross state is stable, and not even that is stable without mindfulness that draws attention into the present moment. As the human moves through a progression of consciousness, there will be one predominant state which is the highest stable state. Within the filter of that state, there will be the unfolding stages. Ideally, all the lower stages of consciousness have been integrated so the present stage and state are stable.

From my perspective, the entire spiritual path is about the progression of consciousness. There are many ways to describe these stages of consciousness. They are not floors but rather ramps. Think of a-there's a museum in New York City that Barbara has visited often. I believe the name is the Guggenheim Museum. The ascending walkway spirals around. There are signs that will say 2nd floor, 3rd floor, 4th floor just to orient you. But half a circle around on the 4th floor you're beginning the 5th floor. There's not an abrupt move. This is the way you move through these stages of consciousness also.

However, sometimes somebody takes the elevator up to the 4th floor without stabilizing the first 3 floors. If you develop the 4th floor first you're going to have to go back and re-work the first 3 floors or there's no stability.

Let us step back and see the stages of consciousness. There are many different ways to label the path of consciousness. I want to create two parallel models here for comparison. One is the chakra model; the second, let us merely call it model two.

In model two, we begin with the magical consciousness of the child. The young child does not yet have any understanding of reason, does not really yet understand cause and effect. Things that are needed appear like magic. The child feels he's empowered to bring forth these things. Sometimes when there is a distortion of this level, he does not learn that he is empowered.

There are 7 predominant chakras. The base chakra is about beingness, survival. On the chakra level, when the base chakra is open and clearly developed, there is a wholesome sense of self. There is a sense of safety and beingness. When this is not successfully developed, perhaps through episodes of abandonment or abuse, the child becomes fixated in that state. So we could combine these models and call this the level of being, of creation. Its highest, clearest expression is the magical consciousness, no rationality to it yet. This is the "I AM" before a separate sense of self fully develops. Pure being, but not yet awareness as we find at the other end of the spectrum, with the great "I AM": of non-dual awareness.

The second level of consciousness: In the chakra system we have the spleen chakra. This is the chakra that is about the self, and how the self relates to other selves. In model two, we see the child who matures out of magical consciousness and into what we might call mythical consciousness. The child is learning how to relate to things. Strong beliefs develop, out of what is heard, seen and experienced. These grow from an attempt to make sense of things and a way of seeking to be safe. If there is a belief from the parent that certain foods are prohibited, the child becomes absolutely certain that this is how it must be. If his friend eats meat and his family is vegetarian, he is appalled. "How can you eat meat? It's bad."

So on this level of consciousness, the being is trying to orient itself, first within the self and then with selected others, and finally as it moves into the third chakra, more into the world. But the fundamental structure is still one of belief.

We move up to the solar plexus level. On the chakra model, the solar plexus chakra is about one's relationship with groups, with the world. We have here the person who is perhaps involved in political groups, in organizations. Very oriented toward the world. This level parallels in our other model what is called rational consciousness. We move out of mythic consciousness and into an age of reason. We begin to see that although our family did not eat meat, those who do eat meat also flourish. At this level, we begin to use senses to discriminate and make decisions. The being in rational consciousness is very caught on the information brought in through the senses. A scientist may be very much oriented into rational consciousness. Many politicians are somewhere between mythical consciousness and rational consciousness, with some few moved into the next level, vision-logic consciousness.

On the chakra model, that next chakra is the heart center. This is the place where the lower physical chakras and the upper spiritual chakras are joined. It's a fulcrum.

In the heart center is the opening of lovingkindness, of compassion. The being stops weighing everything in terms of the logic, and moves into, on our parallel model, vision-logic consciousness. So there's a balance. The logical and rational have been developed; the person has begun to open into the whole non-physical plane. Everything up to now has been merely of the physical plane, that is, that which can be known directly through the physical senses and the mind's interpretation of the physical-sense input. As an overall group label, we say that mundane experiencing to be of the etheric body. Magical, mythical, and rational are all at the etheric level. Vision-logic consciousness is the beginning of opening into the astral level. Here is the beginning of connection with intuition, the beginning of opening to energies, to things not seen.

After the heart chakra, we come to the throat chakra. The throat chakra is literally about our voice in the world, not only the voice for the mundane third-density being but the spiritual voice. We begin to connect with our higher self, to connect with the whole world of spirit. We cease to think of ourselves only as this mind or body and begin to develop some certainty based on experience, usually on meditation experience, of a spirit dimension to being.

Beyond vision-logic is the psychic stage. The non-physical senses begin to open, to clairvoyance, clairaudience and so forth. Those of you who work with body energy are often practicing at the psychic level or above it. The next level is the subtle stage. The subtle stage goes beyond the non-physical senses. There's a beginning of the experience of the non-dual, and one begins to relate to the world from that place of center, no longer self. On the chakra model, we're in the third eye chakra.

These stages in the chakra modelthe heart, throat and third eyein our parallel model are the vision-logic, psychic, and subtle stages of consciousness. These are all part of the astral state or body. Sometimes vision logic consciousness is considered lower astral and psychic and subtle consciousnesses the upper astral. Sometimes psychic consciousness is termed part of the lower astral and only the subtle is considered the upper astral.

Finally we reach the crown chakra. Here we begin to open to the truth of ourselves, the Christ or Buddha nature, divine consciousness. The parallel to this on our other model is named Christ or Buddha Consciousness. The being thus evolved deeply experiences in a stable way his or her interrelationship with all that is. He or she knows the divinity of everything, that everything is an expression of the divine, and lives according to that knowledge, unable to do harm, for example. Although greed and anger may not completely disappear, they cease to be real forces in one's life. When they come, they are seen simply as the product of conditions and released quickly.

The stable resting in Christ consciousness or Buddha nature, beautiful though it may be, is not the end. Beyond these 7 chakras ending in the crown chakra within the body, there is another chakra above the top of the crown. The parallel to that in our other model is non-dual consciousness, the state of the fully enlightened being.

I can see many of you trying to figure out, "Where am I on this scheme?" You're confused because you have moments thinking, "Ah, I had that experience. I must be there. But no, I had this experience; I must be here." Remember, my friends, these are intersecting planes. Please remember also that while all of your spiritual work is about this progression of consciousness, there is no hurry.

Let me ask you a simple question. If I give each of you the exact same building materials, one of you might hurry to build a structure. The foundation might be a bit flimsy. The walls are not as well-built as they might be. The wiring isn't in yet, you have no electricity. But you've got walls and a window and a roof, and it looks like a house. Someone else is building very slowly. While the first house is up, this one is a perfectionist and every inch of the foundation must be perfect. But winter's going to come and he's going to have a very uncomfortable winter. Ice may eat away the foundation. Since there's not a roof on yet, ice will get in.

Somebody else might build, making a sturdy foundation, not perfectionist, knowing there will be time to come back and correct any minor flaws. She builds a strong structure, laying out the wiring and plumbing, getting the roof on, making sure each step is stable. She knows that there will be time to come back and finalize the work. Where would you rather live, which of these 3 houses? I hope it's not a hard question.

So we carry the intention to do this work in a stable way. Sometimes our lives take us into circumstances that create distortion. We carry the karmic tendencies for different habit energies, such as the perfectionist or the one who feels he must speed through, and we meet different influences that create conditions that rock the boat a bit.

In today's world you are used to thinking of a difference between spiritual practice and psychology. In the past there has been the tendency to regard various mental imbalances as disease rather than simply a distortion in the progression of consciousness maturation. There is a desire in your culture to fix everything. You begin to understand the power you have to thusly fix. But sometimes the power becomes misused, with the thinking that some things are broken and must be fixed rather than simply seeing things as subtle distortions to attend to, but with watchfulness more than a need to "fix."

There is no one norm for the progression of consciousness. However, the progression may become stuck in various ways, with a resultant need for attention and sometimes for support to rebalance and move on.

I spent many past lives, not only as a monk but a guiding monk in most of the Buddhist and Christian traditions. There was no psychological treatment in those days. Some beings suffered very terribly in their early years through being orphaned, through some kind of abuse, through wars or violence. Many of these beings found their way into spiritual practice and into a monastery. We did not look at them as "this neurosis" or "that psychosis", we just worked with people where they were. It was helpful that within the monastery setting there were enough mature monks to care for those who were not so mature, to help guide them and to state very clear and firm compassionate guidelines.

If somebody was creating a great disturbance to our lives, perhaps somebody who was always complaining, others quickly set him straight. This is not going to go, here. You can get away with it out there, but not here. If you want to stay, straighten up. And people usually did. I'm not saying it was easy, but we gave the tools that were needed, which led to the ability to look at the habit energies, and to shift those habit energies in a compassionate and mindful way.

We don't have the time to explore in depth all of the mind and body connections, and it's not necessary that we do so with this group. Clearly there are beings who have very difficult mental breakdowns, beings who become mute because of the trauma, for example. Beings who develop a kind of habit energy, for example, of rocking themselves and banging their head against the wall. There can be chemical shifts in the body that trigger some of these changes. But the chemical change is not only the cause of the difficult behavior pattern or delusive thought, but also a result of other things. In today's world, you may try to fix the chemistry and neglect the reasons for the chemical imbalance. This will not lead to long term healing.

My own personal experience is that everything that we term psychological difficulty, whether neurotic or psychotic, and I must add that I am not fond of these terms, but I bring them forth because you use them, everything that we place in those terms is really a spiritual distortion. The being is stuck at some level of development and needs to be helped through it.

Generally as the chakras open, there is a raising of the level of consciousness. It's a gradual process, one of many lifetimes. All of you who are here are engaged in this process of raising of consciousness. You've heard me talk about this before, that you are not doing this just for yourself but that the whole world is evolving into a higher level of consciousness. It's evolving from access only to the gross or etheric state of consciousness into access into the astral state of consciousness. I think it will be a very quick move for this world, relatively speaking, from stable access to the astral into access to the causal state of consciousness, the Christ or Buddha consciousness state.

Part of the shift in consciousness involves the whole vibrational frequency of the earth, of your physical bodies and of all physical structure of the earth and of the earth itself. It's all raising to a higher frequency, vibrating to a higher frequency. The vibration of the causal level is so high that most humans cannot tolerate it. I keep my vibration stepped quite far down, and yet some of you literally fall asleep when I start talking. You tell me, "I wasn't tired when I came in, Aaron." No, but the vibration is so high that it's pushing you, so the body falls asleep. At some level, you're getting both my thoughts and the energy, though. Even if you're asleep you're hearing some of it, and you're experiencing the higher vibration, and I hope you are reading the transcripts. The transcripts carry some of that higher vibration but of course not as much as the direct experience.

You are each doing this work in your own ways. For each of you, where you are is perfect. You are building stable houses, not houses that will collapse with the first breeze. The focus must always be on integrating the states and stages of consciousness so that everything that has passed before is stable and able to support the emerging state and stage.

Some of you who come to meditation retreats and practice regularly are beginning to move into what we call no-self experience, the place where the ego and sense of self dissolves. This is the opening into the causal state. We might phrase it to say, the causal body is opening. It Buddhist terminology we would say the supramundane or lokuttara citta are opening. It's a very powerful shift. You want this to be a smooth transition so that awareness can be present in all of the states as is appropriate. We come back to that pole meditation, where you practice being rooted in the earth and up in the heavens, not having to choose one or the other or feel forced into it but feel stable in all of it.

So what do you do with this information? Is it useful? I hope that it can serve as a bit of a map for you. What I would ask you to reflect on in these next 2 weeks is two-fold. One within the chakra model, are there areas where literally it feels like the energy is stuck? Are there places that have not been fully developed that are needed to support the higher level of consciousness? What helps to open these lower chakras, if they are thus closed?

For most of you, one or more of these lower three chakras are partially closed at least occasionally. For most of you, the one that is closed is consistent from one time to another. One is most habitually closed. You can work with this with the Seven Branch Prayer by beginning to bring attention; when the belly clenches, is it up here at the solar plexus, or down lower in the 2nd chakra? You can begin to bring attention to what triggers the closing of the chakras, helping to keep this whole flow open in support of integration through all the chakras.

On our other model, it would be useful for you to reflect, what is the highest stage that I consciously experience? What is the highest stage that you have had a conscious experience of, even just as a peak experience, and what is the level in which you rest most of the time?

Then watch for the lower stages when they open. It could be as simple as when driving in traffic, driving along and experiencing a deep connection with the world around you, with nature, with people, feeling very much at ease. Suddenly there's a traffic jam, you glance at your clock and you see that you're late for a meeting. Tension comes up, and rage comes up. Probably the third chakra closes, but maybe the second or first. There's the experience of rage. Begin just to stop and look at this and say, "Ah, here is the arising of this stage of consciousness. Hello, hello to mythic consciousness that says, This is wrong, they should have different kinds of traffic patterns. Whose fault is it?" Know, "Here's mythic consciousness". Don't get stuck there, be able to see what it is. I'm not speaking of denying the experience, but don't get caught in an identity with it, just note, "This is triggered by certain catalysts. It arose out of certain conditions". See if you can bring yourself back to your highest stable stage of consciousness.

No one in this class has rational consciousness as the highest usual stage.. Many of you experience vision-logic consciousness, others experience psychic consciousness at least some of the time and a very few experience subtle consciousness. There's no rush. The one who is experiencing subtle consciousness is not necessarily going to "get there" before the one who's in vision-logic. You can get just as stuck in subtle consciousness as anywhere else. Simply begin to get a sense of what your highest stable stage of consciousness is, and make sure that the infrastructure is strong underneath it.

I'm going to end my talk here. We'll come back to this with your questions. I thank you for hearing me. I know this has been a complex talk with a lot of material. I will see that you get the transcript as quickly as is possible. That is all.

Barbara: Let us hear questions.

Q: It's easy for me to understand when I fall into instability in the first chakra. I can note what's going on and understand what's going on and the reasons why from past experience. What I find difficult is realizing some sort of stability that Aaron was talking about for that first chakra.

Aaron: I am Aaron. The first chakra is going to close at times. It's going to be out of balance at times. This is the nature of the human experience. In terms of creating stability, the question is not about avoiding movement of the first chakra, but not getting stuck, not getting into a personal identity with it. Like any other difficult or unpleasant experience, when you have that experience and contract around it with an, "Oh, that's terrible, I should fix it," kind of attitude, you solidify it. When you note it with a bit of an open heart and even a smile, you just attend to it. This is what allows it quickly to open again. And for some of you, using energy practices can help that opening. You can't use energy practices to open something that you don't know is closed. So mindfulness of the movement of the chakras is important. I pause.

Q: If we're using the analogy of the creature starting on the floor of the ocean, if we're born as a land creature, we may still enjoy swimming. Are we stable in that consciousness without having gone through the evolution in this lifetime?

Aaron: I am Aaron. You'll go through the evolution in every lifetime because the infant always is in that magical consciousness stage, and goes through it and into mythical and hopefully into rational consciousness. I don't know how many of you have had teenagers who have told you, "Oh Mom! Oh Dad! You're so illogical!" They get into a stage where everything has got to be precisely reasonable, except of course themselves.

As I noted, difficulties happen when people do not move through these levels, when they get stuck in one or another level. Then they need assistance. But you all go through these levels. Most of you make it through them with a reasonable amount of stability. You tend to move quickly into the highest level that had been stable in past lifetimes. Those who had moved stably into subtle consciousness will find that their spiritual path moves very quickly until they reach the level of subtle consciousness and then everything seems to slow down. Or it might be vision-logic consciousness, or whatever level was the highest stable level before. Does that answer your question? I pause. (yes)

Aaron: I am Aaron. When you become stuck in a level through some kind of trauma, through some life experience, then intervention is needed. I said that in the monastery we didn't have psychology. Our intervention was of practice, and of sangha. Today you have the science and techniques of psychology and that's also a very helpful intervention. It is really a vital one in your culture that does not have the cohesive sangha of that long-ago Asian monastery. So different cultures will provide their own ways of passage through the places where one has been stuck. I pause.

Barbara: He wants to make it clear, he is not saying that everybody needs to rush off to a psychologist because one feels stuck in a lower stage of consciousness. He's saying that this is one tool that can be helpful. And the individual can choose from the available tools one that is most appropriate. One doesn't need help because one is in any predominant stage of consciousness, but needs help when one is unstable between two stages, especially two non-adjacent stages.

Q: Sometimes I can be very capable of not identifying with things that occur with various chakras. Other times for days or weeks on end, I'm not good at it. (Request for repeat) Sometimes I'm pretty good at not identifying with cause and effect. Other times I get caught up in identification. Is this the base building that Aaron is talking about? It can be very frustrating.

Aaron: I am Aaron. For most of you, you get caught up with self-identification in some experience, feeling self-judgment or judgment of another, feeling impatient or angry or frustrated, caught up in that worrying mind of "I should, they should." Then you're shifting back into mythical consciousness. For many, it's just a habit energy. It's like walking on a surface that feels unstable and grabbing for something to hold onto. Basically you're okay; you're just walking on an unstable surface. But fear grabs hold as a habit.

When you see yourself moving into that judgmental mind, that closed mind experience, here is where your vipassana practice is essential. I have said this 10,000 times, "that which is aware of contracting is not contracted". As soon as you can observe the movement, that clenching, however it's experienced, you come to the edge of it. You may still feel caught in it, but here is the difference between being caught in a whirlpool that's sucking you down or being on the edge where the current is still pulling at you, but you can see the still water beyond. You note that still water and you can move yourself out.

No matter how developed you are on the spiritual path, there are still going to be some triggers that pull you back in. Barbara has talked about her relationship with spiders. She's reached a point where if she sees a spider on the wall, she can catch it in a small container and carry it outside, and wish it well as she does so, without shuddering or holding it at arm's length. But if while she is meditating she feels something tickling her leg, looks and finds a sizable spider on her leg, there's still the, "Oh! Spider!" fear impulse. Or the, "Brush it off!" impulse. she has to work very hard noting that impulse arising, old habit energy, old fear, in order not to keep it going. The stories come. Mythical consciousness; Here , often a base chakra experience.

She notes; pauses. Take a breath. Offer the intention for the good of all beings not to harm this creature. She knows her own extreme discomfort in that moment. Then she's able to get up, get a cup and carry the spider outside. But that old habit energy, and it's really the shift into, at that point not even mythical but magical consciousness, the very infantile consciousness, still comes up. It's not a problem that it comes up, it simply offers her the opportunity to practice with it. It doesn't mean that she is not stable at the higher level, it simply means that this habit energy is still recurrent and needs to be attended to. I pause.

Barbara: He says, does that make sense to you?

Q: For the ten-thousandth time!

Aaron: Said with a smile, I hope.

Barbara: Others? If there are no questions, I would really like to hear from you your very personal experiences. How is this touching your life? When I say "this", I mean everything we've been learning this fall. Are you able to bring these teachings into your lives? Can you share some examples of how you've been able to do that, just to inspire others? What's hard for you? Share that, maybe get some ideas from others. So we have half an hour here, and I'd really like to hear from people, get more into a dialogue.

Q: The idea of poled energy has helped me stabilize in everyday things. When I feel scrambled about a decision or something I have to do, then I join my higher self with my present body and get balance, direction.

Barbara: Thank you. Aaron is asking, how do you join your higher self? Is there a special process you use to bring that in?

Q: A consciousness, of this is me here with this problem or situation, and I consciously join with my higher self, quiet down, and go from there.

Barbara: I have a process that I use sometimes that calls on an old memory, about 20 years ago. I had a 5-month-old collie puppy and it was January. We went walking in the woods. It was the first deep snow , with a layer over the ice on the pond. I had my skis on. The pond had been pretty solid. He ran out and he fell through the ice. So there he was, yelping and splashing. It's a shallow pond, which I knew.

So I had to take my skis off and wade into icy cold water up to about mid-thigh deep, breaking the ice as I went, to grab him. And it was very unpleasant! I was very clear what I had to do and it wasn't going to hurt me. It was just going to be unpleasant. But one of the things I remember doing as I waded in was noting the coldness. "Don't want this." It was a beautiful sunny day, one of those magnificent winter days with fresh snow on everything, blue sky and warm sun. My legs are frozen, the top of me warm. The sun is beautiful. Awareness was in both places. I couldn't just be up there with the sun. I had to walk, to pick my way through the ice. Could I be in both places at the same time?

I've found I've been able to hold that memory and use it as a tool when I find myself in a difficult human experience and to reconnect metaphorically that beautiful blue sky, sunny day, that higher self aspect of it. Probably many of you can think of similar kinds of experiences where it was both terrible and it was okay or even nice, where you can connect with both aspects of it.

That dog never again willingly walked on ice!

Q: Didn't take 10,000 times. 
Q: Dogs learn quickly!

Barbara: Cats have nine lives, dogs have just one. When I lived in New York City back in the 60s, my cat went through a screen and jumped out our 4th floor window not once but twice. I would have thought she would have learned after the first time! She was fine both times. She lived to 18 years.

Q: I found the pole exercise very integrating also. I had been feeling previously more polarized in a conflicting way between having the awareness of, I guess the higher awareness and the more fear-based or attachment-based day to day emotions. An example I wanted to make and just to talk about is that a childhood friend of mine died at a young age a couple of years ago. I was simultaneously very sad and at the same time I knew that it was fine and she was okay and she had come into this life to do that. I felt completely internally polarized by those 2 awarenesses and confused. So as soon as I learned the pole meditation I used that in part of my life. I stuck in the pole and I breathed them together. And that was very helpful for me.

New Q: I'm not sure if this image is the same as the pole analogy, but it helps me. It has to do with the phrase of "being grounded". I imagine being a tree with the leaves and branches reaching up to the heavens, the sky, the higher self, and the roots going down in the ground at different levels, on the lower chakras I guess. When I run into a difficult situation, I imagine energy by beginning from the top of the tree and streaming through the bottom and running out the roots. And somehow it clears me. It feels healing. It also allows me to just watch the energy flowing through me and not so that I don't attach to it and call it right or wrong, or make a judgment of it if it's a difficult energy that's flowing. I guess also with a positive energy, that too would flow through, and I don't hang onto it. It's a letting go. Helps me to be more aware of just being and experiencing the flow of energy in this life.

Barbara: That's very helpful, thank you. Aaron wants to say something here.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Several of you, hearing these examples, are experiencing some self-judgment and frustration. Why can't I do that? Please listen to these examples as statements of possibility. There is no right or wrong way to work, here. You're increasing in mindfulness. You're increasing in kindness to yourself and all beings. You're increasing in clarity of intention toward the work to which you aspire. All of these will see you through. It will take as long as it takes. No progress is ever lost or wasted. Every bit of opening, every bit of clarity helps to deepen the foundation. I pause.

Barbara: Are there others who have something they'd like to share?

Q: Is it important to be able to access the different energies from different chakras, and to be able to move through them in various situations? It just seems that sometimes I need to be grounded, like in the first chakra. And other times it's more important to be able to access the energy from other chakras depending on the situation.

Aaron: I am Aaron. As you begin to think in the pattern of chakraswe didn't talk about the colors associated with each chakra tonight, nor the tone, but each chakra does have its own color and tone, and they help to inform you what's what, what's blocked, what's openas you become more aware of the chakras, the knowledge simply serves as an extra tool for mindfulness.

I think it's more like somebody who's learning to swim. In the beginning, you ask them to kick, 1-2-3-4-5-6, to move their arms and face in just such a way. Sometimes they can't do all three, kick, arm movement, and breathe, at the same time. They practice one or the other. Eventually it all smoothes out and there's no more thinking about the swimming stroke. But if the water gets rough and the stroke becomes uneven, there's almost immediate insight into what's needed to help bring balance back into the stroke. We are also not so much talking about being in one chakra, but about stable integration so each chakra is open and one can work from each as is appropriate. When you ground, you do that from the first chakra. But if the second chakra is closed, then you can't use that grounding in a social situation.

Some very few of you have already developed to the point that it's not much needed to bring attention there any more. That is, for the most part, the chakras are relatively open. And then as Q suggested, sometimes she just knows she needs to ground in the base or in the heart. Some of you still have much more habit energy of closing one or another of the chakras. Some of you don't close the base chakras, the 3 lower chakras, you simply move up into the higher chakras as soon as you feel tense or challenged, so there's a kind of escape. Some of you lose contact completely with the upper chakras and feel stuck in the base chakras when you feel pressed or challenged. So it's just useful to see what the patterns are. I pause.

Barbara: He's saying, it's just one more mindfulness tool and not something to do right or wrong or master in any way. He's saying, as humans the chakras are never going to be completely open all the time. That's fine. Just be aware. Let him speak.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I know some people as I'm sure you do for whom sometimes strong anger can arise, and they engage that anger, yell, bring forth the angry energy, and it blows past. If you tell them, "You were yelling at me and I don't like that," they say, "Me? I wasn't yelling. I'm not angry." They really don't know they were angry. The experience has been so completely denied or suppressed, that they just don't know they were angry. For such a person, the first part of their practice has to be awareness, when there is anger, that there is anger. They're not working to stop the anger, they're simply working to see it.

Once they see it, then they can begin to see what the experience of anger is, how it's felt as tension in the mind and body, and how they relate habitually to anger, the ways that they pour it off on others, for example. That's part of the mindfulness practice. They're still not trying to get rid of anger, just to see it. In the same way we're watching the chakras and the energy to see what the habit energies are. Eventually the chakras will stay more open. Eventually anger and other heavy emotion will cease to arise so frequently. I pause.

Barbara: Anyone else?

Q: What I'm hearing is that getting to a clearer place is through mindfulness as opposed to some kind of working on the chakra itself. For instance, we were bringing in color one night, thinking about, I don't know whether is that healing chakras or is it just opening them? (Barbara: Seeing the colors?) Yes.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I would say that this is just part of mindfulness. You were not seeing the color to change the color, just to be aware.

Please remember at the ultimate level the chakras are never closed. They never could be closed. This is a different facet of the pole. We have to be aware of the level at which they are never closed so that we're not trying to fix something and also to be aware of the relative human level in which they seem to be closing. Then the energy is not to fix it but just to attend to it and invite it the energy back into the full spectrum of the pole. I pause.

Barbara: We're out of time and will say good night.

Copyright © 2004 by Barbara Brodsky