January 7, 2004

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. We're going to do several things tonight. I want to begin with a guided meditation and then some silence before I talk.

With apologies to those of you who did this exercise with me earlier this week.

So often we create a false distinction between body and spirit. I ask you to think of a wave. What is a wave but water? Sometimes that water takes a specific form that we call a wave. Even when it is a wave, it is still water. It does not cease being water when it becomes a wave. The wave is one expression of water.

You are light. You do not cease being light when you move into human form. This human form is one expression of the light. Your thoughts are another expression of the light.

Sometimes you feel you have lost that ground of your being, of light, of spirit. It is so easy to forget, to step into being a "somebody" and forget your essence.

Picture the actor on a stage. She must fully identify with her part to speak that part with authenticity. She knows the potential in her to figuratively become the person whose part she plays. But she cannot forget her true self or she may turn her back to the audience. She may forget the lines she is supposed to speak and instead speak out other feelings of that character her rage, her pain, her fear. It is helpful to be authentic or the audience will not believe, and will neither enjoy nor learn, but not to an extent that the audience is lost, that she closes into the character and loses the self.

So much of our work together is about maintaining this simultaneity, knowing you are light, are spirit, and knowing your human characteristics as expression of the light. The world would be a very uninteresting place if there was only one texture and vibration of light expressed.

I want to do a guided meditation with you. I would ask you here-in to experience the liquid qualities, the water element, in the body. Feel the water flowing through your veins, literally. Feel the water in the cells.

Rather than sitting, I ask you to float, to be water. Water molecules floating in a big sea. Close the eyes. Sway the upper body gently back and forward, sideways. A gentle movement.

Water. The water is calm, just a very small current, a small swaying, this movement of the water, fluid, unlimited. (pause while we do this)

If I could ask for a helper, here, I would appreciate if someone sitting near the door would quietly arise and open the door wide, allowing in the winter wind to blow upon the water. Just hold it open for a few moments. I thank you.

Increase the motion. Feel the wind blowing you, blowing the water. Perhaps the door can be propped for a while so you may rejoin us (to person holding door). Let the body sway more and more, and then, as the winds blows the water, raise the arms together, up! Reaching toward the ceiling. Up! A wave erupting. And then gently bring them down. Coming back into the waterness. There is still wind; swaying, swaying. And another wave. Feel yourself moving into it, and up! (pause while we do this)

And gently coming down. Swaying, moving. (pause while we do this) Feel the energy building up toward a new wave. As you move into this next wave, try to keep touch also with the water. Be a wave as fully as possible, and be the water. Do it when you are ready. Reaching up! Exploding out! Keep the water moving as the wave reaches up. Feel the wave quality reaching toward the heavens, and the water body swaying. And then the wave coming back, receding to just water again.

Do this a few times with your own timing. Be a wave. Remember everyone's eyes are closed, nobody is watching you. Enjoy being a wave. And then in quieting into the water.


See if you can maintain touch with both the wave expression and the water aspect. Winter is coming in; please close the door. And then the wind dies down.


Please reflect on the meaning of this in your life, the light that you are and the various expressions of that light. We'll sit in silence now for 15 minutes.

Aaron: I am Aaron. In your small groups I'd like you to discuss this exercise you just did. I'd like you to talk about what it is like to feel yourself part of light, part of spirit, and to be the human expression. And what it is like when you lose touch with that core of being. What brings you back to it? What holds you apart from it? What suggestions can you give to one another?

We will spend some time in groups talking about that, and then come back into our larger circle. I pause.

Barbara: I got an email today, which first led both me and Aaron to chuckle, but also to look at the issue that was raised. He's asking me to read this to you, and then he's going to talk about it, to use it as a take-off point for his talk.

This is from an out of town student who got the book, Presence, Kindness, and Freedom. She says she found one of the little jokes in it, chuckled over it and sent it out to several friends. I'm going to read you a bit from the email she sent to others.

First she introduces me and Aaron. Then: .. "Anyway, back to the book. There's an answer from Aaron that is given tongue in cheek, though is usually a bit more serious. Here's one I think some of you will enjoy:

Q: You tell us that nothing is ever lost, but just goes somewhere else or changes form. If my ego keeps getting smaller, doesn't it have to go somewhere? Where is all the ego of all the enlightened beings? 
We have a big ego bin here and recycle it. It's far more efficient that way. Often we offer it to aspiring politicians (rest drowned out by laughter-I tried flipping through the book but I couldn't find this joke)."

So the student sent that quote out to some of her friends. One replied as follows:
"I read your message below and just had to reply. I recently read a book by Joe Fisher."

Aside from Barbara: I don't know who Joe Fisher is; does anybody know who he is? (No.)

"The guy who has written several well-known books on reincarnation. I read the last book he wrote, 'The Siren call of Hungry Ghosts', and man, was it an eye-opener. He worked with channeled entities for years, studied them closely, and sought to verify their claims of having lived as humans.

"What he found was shocking. The entities clearly had a vast amount of knowledge that was not available to the medium, and much of what they said came across as profound wisdom. They appeared to be highly advanced spiritual beings. What Fisher discovered was that these entities, while they propounded great truth, also lied to and manipulated the people they had drawn to them through the medium. He discovered that the entities are in fact spirits from the realm of the hungry ghosts, who have an unquenchable thirst for human experience, and who use every trick within their power to get it.

"Over the course of my spiritual seeking, I've read and valued teachings I've received from channeled entities, but Joe Fisher's book made me take a much closer look. Evidently these spirits do have access to profound, or in some cases, pseudo-profound teachings, and they use them to attain what they really want. Underneath they are ego-driven. The spirit you mention in your email says," "'We have a big ego in here.' (Barbara: Note the error that he put in Aaron said, 'We have a big ego BIN here, not "we have a big ego IN here) This may be the voice of an egomaniac spirit, flaunting the truth!"

Aaron would like to speak to this. He says not specifically to the question this man raises, but to the larger picture, the larger questions it brings up.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I will use this voice as loudly as it may speak, but I don't want to cause damage to Barbara. You will need to listen a bit closer. (Barbara is quite hoarse)

There's an old story that many of you have heard. A traveler comes to a new city. He sees a woman sitting by the city gate, greets her, and asks, "What kind of people live here?" She smiles at him and asks, "What kind of people lived in the city you have come from?" 
"Oh, they are very friendly people, very generous, very kind." 
"I'm sure you'll find the same kinds of people here," she replies.

He sits on a bench a short distance from her, preparing to go into the city, when another traveler comes down the road. He overhears this fellow traveler ask the same question. She replies to him with the same question, "What kind of people lived in the city that you've come from?" 
"They are very stingy people there, very dishonest. There was a lot of greed and anger there." 
She nods and says, "No doubt you will find the people in this city much the same."

Do you understand what's being said, here? We find what we invite. Of course, some spirits who channel through humans are hungry ghosts. Of course, some are negatively polarized. Of course, some are mischievous spirits. Just because a being has no body, that doesn't mean that it will automatically be clear and pure and loving.

When you meet somebody on the earth plane, a physical being, you seek something in that being. You are familiar with the term "unwholesome co-dependence". Sometimes when we have a strong need, we seek the answer to that need in another, even if what comes to us is hurtful to us and to the other.

Nobody can channel a spirit that is more clear than they are. There are a great many unclear people in the world, and some of them will choose to channel. Of course, the spirit they channel may know a lot. We have no veil here. We have access to much knowledge. But there will be a distortion. The same is true of the people you meet in your everyday life. Some will be clear and invite you into your own clearest space. Some will hold their own distortions and seek to invite you into distortion.

Your work is discernment. This is your work in every aspect of your life: are you going to fill up on jelly doughnuts or eat a little of that sweet and some more wholesome food? What nurtures your body? Are you going to fill up on soap operas or seek a more wholesome form of entertainment? Are you going to sit with friends and gossip in backstabbing, hurtful ways? Or are you going to seek out conversations about deeper truths and understandings? This is your choice, of course. If you seek out the negative, you have got to know why you seek that out.

We have been talking through the weeks about manifestation and how we choose to manifest that which is wholesome and beautiful, how we let go of the negative. Some of you may be familiar with a very beautiful piece of Buddhist scripture in which the Buddha advises, "Abandon the unwholesome. One can abandon the unwholesome. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it. Cultivate the good. One can cultivate the good. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it."

Abandon what is unskillful. One can abandon the unskillful. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it. If this abandoning of the unskillful would bring harm and suffering, I would not ask you to abandon it. But as it brings benefit and happiness, therefore I say, abandon what is unskillful.

Cultivate the good. One can cultivate the good. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it. If this cultivation were to bring harm and suffering, I would not ask you to do it. But as this cultivation brings joy and happiness, I say cultivate the good.

The Buddha
Anguttara Nikaya, Book of the Twos, #10

We aspire to this and yet so often we do cultivate the unwholesome and abandon the wholesome. We say we don't want to do that, but we still do it. The power of intention is so important. Perhaps you can begin to see where this ties in to the Four Empowerment practice and the Seven Branch Prayer, with which we have been working.

One sees an unwholesome pattern in the self. One does not condemn that pattern. To abandon doesn't mean to chop off the hand that grasps at the unwholesome. To abandon means to let go as you are about to take that which is unwholesome. You don't have to chop off the hand. You stop and acknowledge, "This is not for the greatest good."

A guest in Barbara's house this week brought an enormous box of chocolate candies. There must be over 200 bonbons in there. They're sitting on the kitchen counter. Every time she walks by, she sees this box, and it's so big there's no place to put it. Desire comes up, "Oh, maybe just one." She has to stop and remind herself, "I am cutting down on sweet things; I am not eating sweets. This will not be helpful to my energy. It will not be helpful to my body. What is there in me that wants this?" She sees the old habit energy, old craving. "Oh, something sweet! A reward. A small pleasure." But the greater pleasure, of course, is a healthy body. To abandon the unwholesome is not to condemn herself that the craving arises when she walks past the box of candy. To abandon the unwholesome is to be present with that craving without acting it out, to make the wholesome choice to literally let go and step back into the spaciousness of non-craving. That which does not need the candy is right there with that which says, "Oh yes, let's have a piece!"

So you have got to understand what "abandon" means. "Cultivate" is easy. To cultivate the wholesome, this is really what you're doing in these 2 new practices. You are cultivating gratitude and joy. You note the unwholesome tendency that has arisen, you note those great masters who have moved past that unwholesome tendency, and you feel appreciation that such masters have existed in the world to serve as a model for you. You thank them for their teaching. You allow your heart to open in gratitude. You feel their support. These are the practices that lead you to cultivate the wholesome.

I do not know the man who wrote the book. He says he has considerable practice in channeling, has spent much time with discarnate entities. What if one of you said to me, "Aaron, I've been around men. I've been hanging around bars and whorehouses for a long time, and men are crude. They're drunken fools." Could we say all men are like that? Come to a spiritual center and see if the men are still crude, drunken fools. So I think this man has limited himself in his choice of the kind of spirit he has invited and engaged with.

How do you choose on the spiritual plane and on the physical plane, to make more wholesome choice? I want to offer a very specific, very small practice here. I want you to continue your work with the Four Empowerments and the Seven Branch Prayer. But I would like to offer this as a small support practice to those greater practices.

Each morning when you awaken, I would ask you to bring consciously into your mind the thought, what do I choose to manifest in my life today? What do I invite into my life today?

For example, there might be a prayer that, "Today I am able to offer myself lovingly in service to beings," or that, "Today I am able not to enact the angry energy that I feel. That today I am able to be generous or patient."

Think of some quality you would like to nurture and bring that into your conscious mind as you awaken in the morning. "Today I am going to hold this quality in front of me and watch for the opportunities to nurture it."

For need of a specific example, let us work with patience and the intention, "Today I am going to bring forth more patience in difficult situations." This means, of course, that you will abandon, or let go of, impatience. When impatience arises, there will not be self-identify with impatience, but you will see it with wisdom and compassion as it arises, without the enactment of it.

So you get up and walk to the bathroom, and somebody else in the family is in there. The door is closed. Impatience comes up. Right there with impatience is patience. You don't have to slay impatience. You simply bring in the reminder, "Today, I am going to nurture patience. That means right here with this moment of impatience, and without denying the impatience, I am going to rest in that which is patient. Where is patience right now? Breathing in, I am aware of the impatience. Breathing out, I smile to the impatience. Breathing in, I am aware of patience. Breathing out, I welcome patience with great joy."

Remember, it's not an either/or thing. The patience has the same quality as the water in our opening exercise. The impatience is like the wave, expressing out of conditions. If you think it has to be either/or, then you are more moved to contract and to kill impatience. When you can ground yourself, be with the impatience as energy, and feel that center of your being, that which is innately patient, you find you can choose patience.

The door opens, you shower and dress. You're a bit late, and as you pull out onto the road, you find there's a traffic jam, many cars at the first light. There's an accident there. Here comes our old friend impatience again. "Breathing in, I am aware of my impatience. Breathing out, I smile to my impatience. Breathing in, I am aware of patience. Breathing out, I welcome patience with great joy."

Working with either the Four Empowerments or the Seven Branch Prayer, seek the support as first step.. Offer the sense of gratitude to these great masters who have exhibited the pure patience energy to which you aspire. See the impatience clearly as a conditioned object. Feel compassionate regret, that impatience still arises in you again and again, twice already in this half hour. Know the intention to resolve it. And then, the visualization of resolution, both the intention to resolve on the relative level, and a visualization of its already present resolution on the ultimate level. This means the remembering of patience and the willingness to apply the antidote. In this case, perhaps to reflect on what has happened here. Those ambulances, police cars; people are clearly injured. How about some metta for those people in the accident? What will open the heart and allow you to reconnect with your innate patience?

Negative energy, whether it is human or non-material, is attracted to negative energy. Indeed, sometimes when you're feeling very angry to the point where you're feeling, "He made me do it," wanting to blame, wanting to hit, or yell, sometimes there is spirit energy there pushing you on. A whole team of mischievous spirit cheerleaders. "Yay! She's angry!" You can stop and say, "Thank you, but not today. Quiet the cheers, please." This is how it works. The more you bring forth anger and negativity, the more you will interest negative beings on any level. Have you ever watched people get into a public brawl? Some people want nothing to do with it and walk away. Others say, "Oooh, fight! Fight!" Spirit is the same.

What do you wish to call forth? If you wish to call forth positivity and the very clear positive support that is available to you, you'll make that choice. If you are choosing to call forth negativity in your human relationships and in the spirit plane, then it is time to investigate why you are making that choice.

This is something that yields very well to this 4 Empowerment practice. We take as the primary situation this inclination to call forth negative energy, to support our anger, blame, or greed. We say, "Ah, here is this pattern again." For Barbara, this might be the arising of desire, seeing the candy box. "No." But the desire is there. The desire is not a negative energy. And for Barbara there has been no judgment about the desire. There has been skillful means of working with it. Nevertheless, it is skillful to resolve desire through wisdom and kindness.

We've talked about the fact that negative energy is contracted, and positive energy is uncontracted; you can feel this in your bodies. So when this emotion comes up, this impatience, or anger, or greed, but you lose the sense of center and are carried into the story of that thought, as soon as you see yourself getting caught in the story, you're out of it. That which is aware of getting caught in the story is not caught. You see it, you note, here is this old programming again. And then you move into either the 4 Empowerments or the Seven Branch Prayer practice. This brings you back to your true self. It pulls the wave back into its waterness. The fact that impatience has arisen is no problem. And it will cease to arise eventually. Meanwhile, can you greet it with kindness, and in that way not invoke negative energy?

In quoting this book, the writer believes that all channeled spirits are hungry ghosts. Are you familiar with the term hungry ghost? The idea is that this being has an enormous body and a very tiny mouth. It can only take in the tiniest bit of sustenance, sees plenty passing before it but it can't get enough. It's always hungry. I'm sure you know people who are hungry ghosts, who exhibit that quality.

The opposite to the hungry ghost is perhaps the bodhisattva, the being who gives freely of itself to all beings. For the bodhisattva it's not that there is no attention to its own needs, it's that it truly does not experience need because it feels itself to feel so deeply nourished.

How do you bring this quality into your own life? Here I'm going in a slightly different direction with a different question. I would ask you in the next few weeks to watch for both these qualities in yourselves. None of you are hungry ghosts, and none of you are truly fully realized bodhisattvas. You'll find times when each quality arises. When that hungry ghost quality arises in you, can you find the essence of your being, the already-existent bodhisattva, can you find that which not only does not feel needy but feels deeply nourished?

Know the water as the ground, and that arising of need as the wave, just passing object, moving up, exploding out and falling away again. You have the choice, then, to continue to manifest the hungry ghost or to step more completely into the deeper aspect of your being, the bodhisattva.

In a similar vein, you have the choice to continue to manifest the victim, the angry one, the betrayed on, or to step into your innate lovingkindness and compassion. There is no denial here that these energies, these thoughts have arisen, and there's no problem that they have arisen. There is only compassion that they have arisen. In that way, you align yourself with the highest in yourself. In so doing, you invite in the highest in others, material and spirit. You invite in that which you truly seek. Then the guidance that comes through will be clear, positive, and helpful in bringing forth the qualities desired.

Barbara's voice is wearing thin. We will stop here. I would like to hear any questions or sharing of experience from these 2 practices, the 4 Empowerments and the Seven Branch Prayer, and any questions about my talk. I thank you and pause.

Nicholas: With the chocolates you could struggle in temptation, or just think outside the box.

Barbara: I have been thinking outside the box. I've been sending a lot of gratitude to my son's friend who brought the chocolates, for offering me this practice! I've eaten 2, but that's pretty good. I'm doing pretty well. It's getting to be a game. Now as I walk past, I smile at the box and bow to it, "Thank you, teacher." . I almost brought them to class tonight, but my son wasn't readily available for me to ask him, is it okay if I bring them and pass them out here?

Q: I thought maybe that was an exercise in us staying outside the box!

Barbara: We could have passed the box of chocolates around and seen if everybody could not eat! It's a huge box! Others?

Q: We could offer it to the hungry ghosts!

Barbara: Aaron says, but they would eat it so little at a time, we'd still be left with half a box by next Christmas! He's asking, are there questions about these 2 practices, the Seven Branch Prayer and Four Empowerments?

Q: You gave an example about impatience, and that part of the practice might be the recognition that impatience is arising out of conditions, and also that it's impermanent. It occurs to me that patience arises out of conditions and is impermanent, but by setting the intention, to a certain extent, are we creating conditions for the patience or the virtue to arise?

Aaron: I am Aaron. I do not experience it this way, although I understand that many of you do. I think it's a matter of perspective. I experience the qualities of patience, gratitude, compassion, clarity, and so forth, as truly the essence of your being. We do not say that the clear sky arises out of conditions and that the conditions are the departure of the clouds. The clear sky is an innate state. When the clouds come, certain conditions have arisen. When the conditions leave, we are left with a clear sky, we do not have to DO anything to create the clear sky. These qualities of the heart are much the same.

Q: Yes, I understand. Perhaps the view that I mentioned might be a view from the mundane, or the worldly, where the understanding you have is the view from the Unconditioned.

Aaron: Yes, this is the ultimate practice of the wholesome states. What you suggest is the relative practice of them. Both are helpful. It is skillful to nurture the conditions that support these wholesome states, on the relative plane, so you may know them more deeply in their ultimate expression. I pause.

Barbara: Aaron says, many humans hold the view, what he feels is not original but distorted Christian view of original sin. There, there is no clear blue sky. And because we're so deeply embedded in that teaching, we fail to see our innate perfection. He says, I'm paraphrasing him, this is why he says he has a different perspective. Let him say it himself.

Aaron: From the human perspective, you see the sun set at night and rise in the morning. You think certain conditions have occurred so that you have lost the sun, and then a new set of conditions have occurred and the sun has come back. But if you go far enough into outer space you see the sun is never lost, it's just in a different location. When certain conditions come, the sun will be invisible from certain parts of the globe, but it's always there.

When you come into this, let's call it the simultaneity of the water and the wave, when you come into that perspective, then you begin to touch on this innate perfection of being.

I don't want to get into a long dialogue tonight about the forces that brought forth this distortion of original sin, but it's very clear to me that it is neither in Jesus' teaching nor in the Jewish teachings that preceded Jesus. So it is a distortion in those religious traditions that evolved out of fear. I pause.

Q: I expect I will discover more of the magic of intention as I go. It seems so powerful and magical, really touching something that is easily touched but beyond grasping.

Barbara: Aaron says, in these practices, we're working so much with the balance or antidote. And what happens is that as you remind yourself to do the practice, to come back to joy, to gratitude, and so forth, to feel the blessing of these beautiful beings who have gone before us and showed us the way, that opens the heart. That brings us back into our innate perfection. He says he can't do it for us, he can only give us exercises that will help us come into that place. But as you practice with it, each of you will come into that place. He says, that doesn't mean that the negative thoughts will cease to arise, only that there will be more and more ability to stay centered in the water and experience the wave, rather than losing the water for the wave.

We're about out of time. I just want to say here, I think you all know that I'm leaving for Brazil on Sunday. These couple of weeks of vacation, I've been doing a lot of meditation, just looking at a final readiness for this trip. I'm feeling enormous joy about it. I'm also feeling I'm going so totally embraced with love from so many people, so much support from both human and spirit. I feel totally open, no fear at all. A sense of awe.

I have a very strong sense of inviting hearing, but I have no grasping energy toward it. The stronger energy is really in whatever serves best, but also, if it does serve, I wish to heal. I have no intention to create karma in grasping for hearing, if that's not what serves best. My intention is that service. But also, over Christmas I was not listening to the Messiah, not listening to other things. At a Friends meeting one day they were singing carols, and I was singing along part of the time and just watching, experiencing my memory of the beauty of these old carols. Chanting here, experiencing the same thing. There's a strong intention really to reach out to hear.

I have no idea what's going to happen. It's going to be a wonderful adventure. I will see you in a month. We do have class on the 28th, which is just before I return. I return on February 1st. This time I'm not leaving a tape for that class. What I'd like you to do is break into small groups, assuming that enough of you are here to do so, and I hope enough people will come even though I'm not here, that you talk about all of these practices and share these things, spend a bit more time in meditation.

You're a wonderful group of people and I know you'll find creative ways to use this time. Last fall when I was gone for one class, I left some very precise tape and instruction and so forth, but I'm just going to put it out to you to use this time creatively to talk about what you've been experiencing. The only thing that I may do, but I do not commit myself, is that I may send some emails to the office here that can be sent out to the sangha if I have some experiences or thoughts to share.

Q: You could just leave the chocolates!

Copyright © 2004 by Barbara Brodsky