February 25, 2004

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. We discovered this afternoon that our class transcript from 2 weeks ago was floating in cyberspace. It seems either to have been eaten by Barbara's computer or to be floating in a distant neverland. So we apologize that you have not yet had the opportunity to read it. It will be mailed out to you tomorrow.

I know you did get the transcript on the trainings to review, and I trust you have been working with your own personalization of the Four Empowerments and Seven Branch Prayer. Most of you were in this class last semester, but there are a half dozen or more new to the class. We have requested those people to review the latest transcripts, but I've decided I want to start our semester by touching lightly on 2 areas that are of special importance to our continued work. I know this will be a useful review for those who have met this material before. Each of these 2 areas involves specific terminology that I want to be certain you understand experientially and not just conceptually.

The first is about energy and the kyo and jitsu patterns of energy. Those words, for those taking notes, are spelled k-y-o and j-i-t-s-u. These are terms used in shiatsu bodywork. Because they are very precise, I have chosen to use them rather than attempting an English equivalent.

Kyo is a very still energy, free of contraction or movement. Jitsu has a contraction to it. Think of lake water lying calm on a windless night. The lake very still in the moonlight. That's kyo. Then the wind blows and waves come up. The water becomes jitsu. It's not just that it's active; jitsu has a contracted energy to it.

You can feel this in your body. Hold out your hand as if I were going to put something in that hand. Try it. Think how it would feel if I said I was going to come around the room and put something in your hand. Feel the subtle contraction of expectation to receive. Now take your other hand and gently place it in the open palm. Feel the tension dissolve with that touch. That which has been reached for is received.

Of course, your mind may then jump to the thought, "Oh, that was not Aaron, that's just my other hand." Then the tension may resume. But I think you can see the tension/tensionless pattern. This pattern is in all life. We find it in every cell. It is the balanced kyo/ jitsu pattern of healthy life. Kyo energy is not better than jitsu nor jitsu better than kyo; both are essential.

Breathe in a deep in-breath until tension comes up, and wanting to release the breath. Deep breathing in, deeper, deeper. Can you feel it becoming jitsu? Now, at the moment of release, feel the tension resolve. Release. It becomes still. Now breathe out, keep pushing, pushing the air out, feel it become jitsu again. When you cannot push any more air out, let the in-breath begin. The breath becomes kyo and then builds into jitsu again. This is also the pattern of waves pounding on the beach. There is a moment of stopping, and then they pull under, drawing back into the sea. Jitsu. A moment of stopping as they collect into the next wave; then they build up, ready to roll toward shore again.

Balanced kyo and jitsu is a healthy energy pattern. A kyo imbalance leads to low energy, or lethargy. A jitsu imbalance leads to tension held in the body and mind, restlessness. I would ask each of you in this coming two weeks to observe yourself and watch as to whether for the most part kyo and jitsu are balanced, or if you have a habit of either kyo or jitsu imbalance. If you see that habit of imbalance, just note it. What happens to it when you note it. Does jitsu imbalance arise more at certain times, such as when you're driving your car? How about kyo imbalance? What brings that on? Sleepiness, boredom? How is the breath with kyo imbalance? How is the breath with jitsu imbalance? Is anger a kyo or jitsu energy? How about frustration? Boredom? You may be surprised at some of the answers. We're not trying to fix the energy, just to attune to it, to be aware of it.

Now we come to the second review area. We spoke at length last semester about the 3 kayas. The term kaya means body. The terminology is very specific. Dharmakaya means truth body. The second is nirmanakaya. Nirmana means form. It may relate to physical form, to emotional form, to mental form. It is the outer expression. Your physical body is the outer expression of your physicality. Your thoughts are the outer expression of the mental body. Emotions are the outer expression of the emotional body.

We can think of the relationship of dharmakaya and nirmanakaya as that spring and river of which I spoke last class. The dharmakaya is as the underground spring, ever pure, ever perfect. It bursts out of the ground and runs down the hillside. Ten miles down, we have a small stream flowing. It contains that pure water. It also contains runoff from the nearby farmer's field, fertilizer, and so forth. Animals have come to drink and churned the bottom. Bits of vegetation have fallen in. And yet, the perfect water is still there. Last class I reminded you, you don't have to walk back up to the spring to get a drink, and yet you do not want to drink directly from the stream or you'll get a bellyache. So you filter the water. You filter out the additives to find the Ever-Perfect. But you don't go elsewhere for it; it's right there. We speak of this as the non-duality of nirmanakaya, the outer expression, and dharmakaya, the heart essence.

The third kaya is sambhogakaya. This is given the translation, transition body. In part, it's the process wherein that pure spring emerges out from underground, flows down the hill, and becomes a stream, with the various pollutants that have entered the stream. It's easy to think of it that way, to think of the Ever-Perfect, and the transition into the outer expression. But sambhogakaya is not just that; sambhogakaya runs both ways.

Right there in the stream we find the pure spring. Right there in the pure spring, we know the stream. When you see a blossom on an apple tree, right there in the seed that it bears is a whole apple orchard. The acorn contains the whole oak grove.

We spent a lot of time on this last semester. I wanted to refresh your memory about the terms. We did a number of exercises, such as one in which I asked you to be the sea, swells gently riding and falling on an almost still ocean. Then we opened the door and had the wind blow in, had you become a wave rising out of the sea. People were almost dancing, raising up their arms, becoming a wave. And then we closed the door, waves dying down into the sea, feeling the ground, the dharmakaya, in this case, the ocean. You saw you were both at once, the depths of the ocean and expressions of that ocean as waves.

Thoughts will express. Emotions will express. Body contractions will express. Jitsu or kyo imbalance may express. Anger, sadness, joy, bliss. Each will come in it's time. The ground remains stable. Your meditation practice is the means to come to know that ground directly. Sambhogakaya is the stage of knowing and holding the non-duality of ground and expression. Another translation of sambhogakaya is wealth body.

Your mindfulness practice is the means to stay present with the expressions of that ground, and to observe the habitual patterns of relating to those expressions. The most familiar habitual pattern for most humans is to create a self and look at the expressions as good or bad. When they are experienced as good, people usually want to encourage them. When they are experienced as bad, people want to cut them down with a sword. These patterns just enhance the whole sense of duality and separate self. This is part of the learned habit energy. People tend to either deny the expressions or act them out. They forget the third and most important possibility, to just rest in awareness, aware of what has arisen, tending to it, but free of self-identification with it. Here the wisdom deepens that everything arises out of conditions, is not self, just the outflow of conditions, arising and passing away.

If you read the trainings that were sent out 2 weeks ago, you will recognize that what I'm talking about here is the work that brings us to the level of mastery, where an arising sensation, emotion, or thought, is attended skillfully, but without a lot of stories about it, without getting caught up in it personally.

If you spill a glass of milk, the story from when you were 3 years old, "Oh, I'm clumsy," may come. If the story comes, it comes. That story also is simply arising out of conditions. At any stage, we can stop and simply bow to the story, thought, or judgment, smile to it, and let it be. First there is the spilled milk, then the memory of parental judgment, and then perhaps the contraction, shame around that judgment. Each one comes like an actor entering the stage on cue.

You do not have to get caught up in the drama. You can watch each emerge, see if there's anything that needs to be attended to there, and if so, attend to it, such as wiping up the milk.

The stories will run as long as there's fuel for them. We don't worry about that, we simply note that it's happening and cease to be self-identified with it. In other words, we come back to a balanced kyo/jitsu energy. First, there is contraction: milk spilled. And then a further contraction, with the memory of judgment and shame. There is no contraction around the contraction. Nothing keeps it going. The primary experience is simply energy contracting. Remembering. Tension. Knowing it as unpleasant.

We rest in awareness and watch these old patterns pass by. Like the polluted stream where we drink the water only with a filter, we don't have to take this stream of stories in as continued nourishment. We filter it with mindfulness and with lovingkindness. What you are learning to do is rest in center, however you wish to name it. Dharmakaya is one handy term. The simple terms, that of God within, Buddha nature, or the indwelling Christ, will also do. These are all handy labels. The label is just a label. Each of you must find this experience of center. I can only give you guidelines to that experience.

We cannot say that the experience is free of contraction. The ocean is an ocean whether or not there are waves. The nature of the ocean is fluidity. When the wind blows, waves come. The nature of the mind is to give rise to thought. Memory may bring forth pain, and therefore contraction, waves. That's all.

Let us take this summary one step further now. We've been working with the personalized expression of Seven Branch Prayer and Four Empowerments. Each of you will have individualized the process for yourselves. To me, the primary steps are these. First, awareness. Let us use a hypothetical situation. You are in your car. You are late for work or an appointment. You left home on time but the streets are wet and traffic is heavy, and now you're late. Tension is building. The car ahead of you has sputtered and died, as the light turned green. A thick line of traffic moves to your right and left, but you're frozen in place. Then the driver behind you begins to honk! Can you feel the tension building?

Here is unbalanced jitsu energy, as anger, as tension. The first step is to note, "tension". Name whatever is predominant, whether in the mind or the body. Perhaps anger is predominant, felt more as mental than physical tension. Or perhaps you feel the seat of that anger in the belly or the chest.

However you are experiencing it, focus on the direct experience of anger. You may feel it as heat or as a short, fast breath. You may feel it as pain in a clenched jaw, or notice the outplay of it as the hand tapping impatiently on the steering wheel. Tension, anger.

The first step in the personalized Seven Branch Prayer is the knowing that this physical or mental state has arisen. Judgment may come, such as the thought, "I should not be angry, or I don't want to be angry." Or judgment of others may come. "Why is he angry?"

If you can slip a bit out of the personalized story into a little more spaciousness, you will invite what we call compassionate regret. Here, there is the clear understanding, this body or mind tension arose because the conditions are present. There are many contributing conditions, the weather, the traffic, the stalled car, the honking horn, and your own personal conditioning. Tension has arisen. For another person or in another time, compassion might arise. Compassion for all the beings stuck at this intersection. But in this moment, what has arisen in this mind and body is tension or anger.

We come to step two. Without blaming the self, we note with compassionate regret, "This has arisen." We know it arose out of conditions, but we also note the possibility that this kind of energy not arise from this set of conditions. We acknowledge we can change the conditions subtly by bringing kindness rather than more tension to a situation. We take charge of the conditions, but in a way led by kindness, not by fear.

The most important third step is to remember that there are beings who have learned this, who have learned under highly difficult conditions, to stay present and openhearted, not to move into an imbalanced state of jitsu or of kyo. Imbalanced kyo would occur in that situation if one moved into a place of denial, closing down. It's just the flip side of imbalanced jitsu.

So we look toward whatever beings model for us a very loving and skillful response to the situation. We call this seeking support. We turn to our teachers who are not only the literal teachers, living or dead, that is, those who bear the traditional label teacher, but to all of our teachers: our children, our pets, our parents, our friends. But here it's most helpful to turn your mind to a teacher who you know could be spacious in this situation, and a model of that spaciousness.

Fourth, we offer gratitude that such teachers exist. The step of gratitude is an important one. It's impossible to feel continued anger and gratitude at the same time. Gratitude softens and opens the heart. The reverberations of the anger may still be there, but the doorway into our most centered space, the doorway back to dharmakaya, is opened by gratitude.

So in brief review, there is reflection of what arose, compassionate regret, the calling up of support and offering of gratitude toward that support. And then the clear statement that we wish to transcend this habitual pattern. It is a statement of invitation to whatever may balance the habitual pattern. It's a statement of willingness to work skillfully with the habitual energy.

The fifth step is the most complex. On the relative plane, it is the step we call resolve. We resolve to bring in the balance or antidote to what has arisen, and then we do it. For example, sitting in that traffic jam, you might begin a formal recitation of metta, lovingkindness. Or you might reflect on how many beings all over the world face such stressful situations moment by moment by moment. Reflecting on this, we let it touch our heart so that there is a spontaneous movement of compassion offered out.

Here you must be intuitive. When you express the intention to balance, you ask, "What will balance this tension that I feel?" On this level, we are working on the relative plane and there is still somebody doing something, that is, balancing. There is the nirmanakaya form expression, and the seeing that the expression brings pain. With love and clarity, we attend to the expression, but there's still a self attending. It is a skillful step, and yet one can do it all one's life without ever transcending the sense of a self, me fixing that, the other.

We cannot ignore that outer expression, so we attend to it. That is the resolve. Simultaneously, we bring forth what I call resolution. This is the place of greatest immediate learning, for some of you. It is the finding of the clear spring water in the muddy creek. What are you going to drink down there? After it's filtered, what do you find?

That which is aware of tension is not tense. We find that Ever-Perfect in ourselves, that place free of fear, free of tension. That which is aware of fear is not afraid.

Here we are returning to the dharmakaya. We cannot turn to the dharmakaya in denial of the nirmanakaya expression. We know the outer form expression and we know the center. To balance, you use this transition body, sambhogakaya, knowing that this is not a bridge connecting point A to point B. Rather, your situation is like being in a skyscraper. The ground is always there. When you are on the 10th floor, the ground is still under you. People can get so busy on the 10th floor that they forget that there's a foundation under the building. You can become so engrossed on the ground floor that I forget there's a building above you. Sambhogakaya holds both with equal weight.

The resolution phase of the Seven Branch Prayer is aware of the dharmakaya but does not hide in the dharmakaya. The resolution phase involves the clear attendance on the form level while still resting stably on the ground. It is a bit like wading across a fast stream. You must take the force of the current into account, and you must keep your footing on the firm earth. Whether there's 6 inches of water or 4 feet, you keep your footing and you attend to the current.

On the ultimate level of the Seven Branch Prayer, we rest deeply in that which knows that there's nothing that needs balance, nothing to attend. Perhaps, using my skyscraper analogy, it is like being in a building that you know is built to withstand even the highest grade of earthquake. You're on the 10th floor and you feel the building begin to tremble. If you're on the 10th floor and forget the nature of the building, terror may come. If you ground yourself by recognizing the earthquake resistant strength of the foundation, you won't get lost in the terror. But you still will want to note there's an earthquake, and not stand next to a shelf of books that may topple over on you. Love attends this way, not fear.

This is the central step of the Seven Branch Prayer, but all the steps are important. Without the compassionate regret, we do not open our heart to attend. Without gratitude, we cannot find our heart and center there to attend. When we view the situation with spaciousness, with gratitude not only to the support and the teachers, but even gratitude to the situation which is also a teacher in its own way, right there is a way of balancing the fear that comes. Then we move into balance. We experience resolve, and application of the antidotes, and the resolution. We see that place of already-existent clarity, center, radiance, and perfection.

We work with those processes of resolve and resolution for as long as it takes. When whatever the condition and reaction has passed, we again offer gratitude that the teachers have been available to us, and their heart has been able to listen. Finally, we offer out the good of this peaceful space to all beings, whoever wants to share it.

Many of you will find that the observation of imbalanced kyo and jitsu, or the flowing of balanced kyo and jitsu, becomes an early warning system, so to speak. You may not even know you're tense or angry, but as you become more keyed to your body energy, you will start to notice these imbalances more quickly.

Last week Barbara had a small splinter in her hand. It was round the backside of her hand in a place where it's not so easy to see it, beside her wrist. When the splinter came into the hand, there was a pinching, a small bit of pain, and then the pain went. She forgot about it. The next day, the hand was not painful, but as she scanned her body, she became aware of a subtle tension that precedes pain. That small area of the hand and arm was energetically blocked off. The energy was so jitsu that it had become impacted. We can use the imagery here of logs floating down a river. They're moving. It's a jitsu energy. But then they come to a dam and lock one against the other until no more movement is possible.

It seems at first glance like a kyo state. We call it hyper-kyo, because when you release one log, all the logs begin to move again. Where there is no contraction, no jitsu energy, if you remove one log the others do not move, just float peacefully. So there was not any real sense of pain, no inflammation. What she first noticed was as she used her hand, there was energy locked together there. It brought her attention to the hand. She looked, and then she saw the little black spot of the splinter. "Oh, I forgot! I picked up that splinter yesterday in that stairwell." So she got a tweezers and she pulled it out.

Of course, a splinter is not so difficult an object to work with. When instead of a splinter entering the hand we have somebody's anger pushed against you, it's more painful. Still, some of you may not know what you're feeling. But you will feel the difference in your energy field. Get to know your energy field at a time when you're alert, at ease, and the energy feels balanced, so that when it becomes imbalanced in any direction, kyo or jitsu, you note, "ah it's becoming this or that."

Some of you are thinking, "Aaron, I don't think I can do that." Is there anybody in this room who does not know that he or she is hot, when hot, or cold when cold? It's no different, only since childhood you've been taught to recognize the experience of heat and coldness. Now, you are going to train yourself to recognize the experience of imbalanced kyo or jitsu. You don't even need to know fear is present, anger is present, jealousy is present, greed is present; only here is kyo energy; here is jitsu energy. Here I am sitting in this traffic jam thinking, "Oh, I'm very peaceful." But the breathing is coming fast and short. The jaw is clenched. And you recognize, here is jitsu energy. You don't need to name the emotion, just work with the Seven Branch Prayer and that jitsu energy. See that this energy is the habitual arising in this kind of situation, bring forth the compassionate regret for it, and work with it. This work is the foundation for everything else we will do this semester. In our small groups, I'm going to give you a specific exercise with which to work. Tonight we'll do the exercise here in the large group and then go into the small groups and discuss it.

When you come to class in two weeks, on that day when you come to class, I'm going to ask you to find some small scratch, irritation, bruise, hangnail, pimple, some small irritation in the body, preferably not deep within the body but on the outer surface of the body. And I'm going to teach you how to work with this Seven Branch Prayer in terms of this specific physical distortion. First, I want to work with you on stabilizing the foundation, so we will send you the Feb. 11 transcript, send this transcript as soon as possible, and ask you to practice this in these two weeks.

We'll begin with the physical body, next class, because it's very accessible. But this practice is about healing the physical mental, the emotional, and spirit bodies, all of it, and about finding the Ever-Healed, and inviting it forth. You're going to be amazed how quickly things heal when they're attended to in this way. Although we will not begin to work with the physical body formally until next class, I noticed that several of you have colds or the beginnings of colds. When you're feeling stable in the practice, I invite you to bring in the cold in this way. The compassionate regret, the sadness, that out of certain present conditions, the cold has arisen. The resolve, attending to it, by getting adequate rest, nutrition, vitamins, whatever. And simultaneously finding that within the self that is free of the cold, finding that center that is not touched by the cold. See how you can step into and rest in that center and bring it forth more powerfully, while still attending skillfully on the relative plane to the existent cold.

That's enough for tonight. I'm going to give you a chance to stretch for a minute in place, work for a few minutes with a simple exercise, and then move into your groups. I thank you for your attention. I pause.

Barbara: We've divided people into pairs, with A and B sitting facing one another. A, close your eyes. B, I want you to take your forefinger, put it in the middle of A's forehead and push, not so hard as to push A over, but hard enough that A definitely feels it. A, we want you simply to observe. First, know, "touching", the feeling of being touched. Is it pleasant or unpleasant? For a few of you, it might be pleasant, but assuming it's a slightly hard push, and you're having to lean into it to avoid getting pushed over, it might be a little uncomfortable.

We'd like you to just sit with this, the B keeping the pressure up, A watching the whole arising of tension if it comes. See if the energy field does shift into a jitsu energy or a kyo energy. Or, see if tension, or anger, or any kind of state, arises. At the point where you've noticed that a specific state, either of tension or of resignation or whatever has arisen, even a state where you want to burst out in giggles, when you've noted that something has arisen, reach out gently to your partner and just lift their hand away. And then work with it with the Seven Branch Prayer process. The partner will simply sit. B's who did the pushing, be aware. Know if some tension came up in you as you pushed. B's work with that.. Then we're going to switch...

The pressure needs to be firm enough. If nothing arises, that's okay. Just sit there resting in that centered awareness. If nothing has arisen, how does it feel to rest there in that spaciousness? If something has arisen, work with it with the Seven Branch Prayer...

Aaron: Please note all the stages: see the tension and experience compassionate regret, not chastising oneself but simply aware that with this kind of push, discomfort may come up. It's habit energy. Find the support, the gratitude for those who model this freedom from conditioned response. Know the intention to bring balance, that resolve and the bringing in of balance of the antidote on the relative level. And find that part of the self that really is centered, that was able to watch this and even be uncomfortable, and not be pulled out of center. Awareness was not pulled out. Rest in that space, that center while still offering the antidote. Then as the energy feels like it has balanced itself, offer the expression of gratitude again, and offer the sense of spaciousness. Offer it out to all beings, that all beings may benefit by what you have learned, by what you practice.

(students do the exercise)

Barbara: Some of you may not have felt finished, but I'd also like you to learn how to go through this quickly. It's not something that has to take 10 or 15 minutes. Just move through the steps, find the already-present place of resolution, and go on. Unbalanced tensions can come up 20 times an hour; just keep doing the practice.

We're going to move into groups. What I want to try with the groups this semester - first, I'm not sure we will stay with these specific groups. There are a half-dozen people here that I don't know very well; I have to learn more about you and your practice and so forth. We'll see how the groups seem to feel after 1 or 2 classes. I may change them around some.

I want to make the group process a bit more specific this semester. For example, now going into groups, I want you to go around and each share something about how this process was for you. Some of you may feel you don't want to participate in a small group, that you don't like to talk in a group. The reason we're moving into small groups is that some people find it uncomfortable to talk in this big a group, 30 people, and of course everybody can't talk in a group this size. My hope is that these small groups will become a small family, that you'll feel comfortable in the group, and without forcing yourself, will find yourself able to share. If it feels hard, work with it with this practice, watching the resistance, watching the tension. You might simply say to the group, "I'm feeling tense, and instead of talking I need to just work with it. Please work with me, with the tension of talking." So that's okay if that's what comes up.

Move into groups; end of large group talk.

Copyright © 2004 by Barbara Brodsky