June 9, 2004

Barbara: Aaron is saying that we will be working with a very we're going to do a different chakra meditation, to what we used last class as he experiments with form. Similar but different. He says he just wants to watch this in you and get feedback so he can see which way is more effective for raising your vibration. And this is a tool that you can use at home as well.

He's asking you to sit straight with the spine straight so that the energy can flow more cleanly from the crown to the base chakra. Last class we worked with sound, chanting OM, resonant with each chakra. Tonight we're going to work with the chakras, visualizing light.

Feel yourself sitting in a brilliant, radiant light, so that the light is shining down on the crown of the head. Breathe in that light, drawing it in through the body and into the base chakra with the inhale. As you exhale, send that red light out into the body from the base chakra, down the legs to the toes; down the arms to the fingers. Breathe in more red light. Exhale, filling the body with red light. Inhale red. See it as a brilliant red color. Breathing in, drawing it to the base chakra. Breathing out, allowing waves of it to flow out into the body. Intense red light. And again. And again.

Feel the energy movement of it in the base chakra. Keep breathing it in and then releasing it into the body until it feels like the body cannot hold any more of it. Breathing in, filling the body with red light. 
(Pause to do this.)

When you cannot breathe in any more red light, with the inhale draw it up from the fingers, toes, up the arms and legs into the base chakra so the base chakra is a spinning orb of red. To help it spin, let's offer the chant as we did in the last class. Try to feel the vibrational frequency of voice that resonates with this spinning chakra and helps it to spin faster, cleaner. 
(Chanting OM...)

Leaving the base chakra spinning, envision brilliant orange and draw it down to the second chakra just below the navel. Breathing in orange, and as you exhale, let it flood the body. Breathing in orange again, bringing it down to the second chakra. And with the exhale, filling the body with that orange radiance. Do it at your own speed until you feel the body saturated with this color. 
(Pause to do this.)

Then draw this orange light back into the second chakra. There is just a small bit of awareness left with these chakras, aware of them spinning. A red orb, an orange orb. And now feel yourself sitting in yellow light and draw it down to the solar plexus area, third chakra. Breathing out, releasing yellow light through the body. Breathing in more yellow light, from the source. The body filled with yellow light; just a small bit of awareness in the spinning red and orange orbs. Two brilliant lights spinning in this large expanse of yellow. Until the body cannot hold any more of the yellow light. Let it go wherever it wants in the body: fingertips, toes, ears, eyebrows, nose tip, everything yellow.

As you draw it back into the solar plexus chakra, let's chant with this one again. 
(Chanting OM...)

The note that is right for Barbara may not be the exact note that is right for you. Don't worry about it. You don't have to match her voice but to match the resonance of your own third chakra. 
(Chanting OM...)

Three balls of spinning light. Bring in green, and bring it down to the heart center. Feel it filling the heart with the inhale, and with the exhale, the whole body filled with different shades of green, a radiant rich green. Filling the body. Bringing in green through the crown. Exhale and fill the body with green. Breathing in; exhale. Green. Green. Feel the richness of it. Feel the heart filled with it.

When you cannot hold any more, with the inhale draw it into the heart. Drawing in blue through the crown, drawing it down to the throat chakra. With the exhale, the body is filled with blue. Inhale blue. Exhale, filling the body. Some small bit of awareness noting the 4 spinning globes of red, orange, yellow and green. Not overly absorbed in them, just knowing their presence. Inviting blue to join them. Fully saturated with blue. Draw it back into the throat chakra. Feeling the throat chakra begin to spin. Let us sing to this one. What I'm doing is chanting with the chakra's frequencies. 
(Chanting OM...)

Leaving this blue orb spinning, bringing in indigo, a blue-violet color, into the third eye. Breathing out and filling the body with that color. Breathing in indigo again. More and more of it filling the body.

The body saturated with indigo and then draw it up into the third eye, a spinning globe. Aware of these 6 spinning chakras, perfectly aligned, perfectly balanced. Draw purple light into the crown chakra. Breathing out, filling the body with purple light. Breathing in, filled with purple, until the body can hold no more of it. And then draw all into the crown chakra.

Barbara's voice range does not cover the whole octave. Those of you who can chant this higher note that reverberates with the crown chakra, please do so. Barbara will need to chant it in a lower octave. 
(Chanting OM...)

These 7 globes all perfectly aligned, the energy field open. And finally I would ask you to visualize a brilliant white light about 6 inches above the crown of the head. White and yet filled with color, like ice glittering in the sunshine. Feel the intensity of that color. Radiant as the clearest crystal, and yet having a quality of whiteness.
(Pause to do this.)

Allow it to align with the others. When we are all ready, not yet, I'm going to invite you to send all of these colors up the central channel and out through the crown of the head, touching into that white globe above the head, and then erupting out from that, falling over the body and shoulders like a waterfall, as if you had turned yourself into a fountain. A white light has the crystal-like quality, the clarity and brilliance of white and each of these colors passing through.

Breathing in the readiness to do this, breathing out, send it out from the base chakra, slowly, letting each color rise up. The base chakra pushing the others out, pushing up and out and out, exploding out through the crown of the head and through this brilliant white radiance above the head. Exploding out and pouring down over you as a shimmering waterfall.

You may have experienced that it does not all leave, you're left with a core of light of each color, the chakras aligned, spinning, but no longer feeling super charged. I would hope that you now feel alert, relaxed, at ease. After my talk I will ask for some feedback. For now I'm just going to use this readiness in all of you and go into my talk.

As you may have already ascertained, it is now direct channeling. (Aaron has been speaking.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. My blessings and love to all of you. We have covered a lot of territory this year. Not covered any of it fully, but we have explored many channels of healing. I have shared many tools with you, and you have become more or less proficient at using these tools. Some of you have mastered more than others. Remember that it is all process, and mastery will grow with practice.

I've promised to make my talk short this week, as I want to leave a lot of space for discussion and questions. I would like to attempt to tie things together. The place where everything comes together in my experience is with the teaching of the simultaneity of relative and ultimate. Of a necessity grounded in the limits of the English language, we have spoken of relative and ultimate, mundane and supramundane, as if they were each different. But of course, the mundane is right there in the supramundane, and the supramundane is there in every mundane expression. It is all God. That is all there is! But to speak of it from the conceptual mind, we must use this limited vocabulary.

We learned relative plane practices such as tonight's rainbow fountain chakra practice. We learned to feel our own and others' energy, and to connect with that energy from a place of deep center. I laugh as I speak, because how could there be an "own" and "others" anything? And yet from the relative practice we must use that vocabulary and practice.

You learned to experience contractions in the self and to know them as simple contraction, not to contract around the contraction. You learned experientially how the small self cannot control things, but how the greater self can co-create, very different than control.

For the most part, these are all relative plane practices. You also learned by direct experience how it feels to rest in that place of deepest clarity and light. To rest in the ultimate highest essence of your being.

This is the heart of practice for you: to be fully present with the relative expressions of the body and mind and simultaneously present with that experience of deepest centeredness. Neither must be neglected for the other, for they are non-separable. At times you may feel you are just touching that center with one little finger, not really standing square into it. But you are learning, all of you, how to recognize that center and reach out the finger to connect.

I'm reminded here of the painting in the Sistine Chapel, God reaching out his finger to Adam. That finger can always reach out and connect to the ultimate realm. You cannot hide in the ultimate realm. I hope this class has left you better able to recognize when you are connected and when you are not connected, and to remember when you are not connected that it is your responsibility and privilege to reach out.

All of this work is a balancing act. We constantly see where we have become too contracted or too slack, and bring ourselves back into balance.

As we worked with the 7 Branch Prayer, some of you said you felt it to be unwieldy. It does become unwieldy if there is too much of a doer. Instead of "doing" the 7 Branch Prayer, can you become the 7 Branch Prayer? What do I mean by that? I mean to be mindful presence, a presence supported by the deepest intention of supporting that which is for the good of all beings.

When you recognize contraction or distortion from this deep, openhearted, centered, loving intention, there is no judgment of the tension. It is more like warm hands that hold a cube of ice until it melts. Fear melts. Fear's stories dissolve away, not because a judging mind has said, "Get rid of that story," but because you have learned fully to bring it into the compassionate heart.

The act of asking for support and expression of gratitude help to ground you and open the heart. You have understood me well to say that these steps may be as prolonged or brief as feel suitable to you. One moment of heart-opening gratitude is sufficient. Gratitude right here, within the challenge itself. Not gratitude for the potential passing of the challenge, but gratitude that's really for the challenge. For the difficult person in front of you. For the pain in your neck. An opportunity to bring love to something difficult. Gratitude.

So to those of you who have asked, "Can I just eliminate these steps?", know that there will be consequences if you eliminate them. Be as brief as you wish, but don't eliminate completely. When you are sitting with vipassana, and you recognize yourself to be in a place of habit energy, and especially one that is not wholesome, give this 7 Branch Prayer practice even just 10 seconds. The statement of intention, for the good of all beings. Breathing in support and breathing out gratitude - that quickly that step can be done. Be aware of the habit energy and willing to bring in a balance on the relative level, which also can be just one breath. Breathing in awareness of fear, breathing out I smile to the fear. The releasing of the tension, and simultaneously on the ultimate level, resting in that which is not afraid. Resting in the open heart, stepping back, watching the physical, mental self. Experiencing fear from this place of clarity and awareness, this place beyond fear. This is the nonduality of relative and ultimate.

And once it has settled, simply come back to the breath and the vipassana practice, and if nothing else comes up in the sitting that you see immediately as old deeply rooted habit energy, then you don't come back to the 7 Branch Prayer practice again. Just sit. You don't pick up a hammer when there's nothing into which to hammer the nails. You don't pick up a saw when there's nothing to be cut. Don't pick up the 7 Branch Prayer unless you feel that contraction. And even if you do feel the contraction, be aware that it may release with the next breath. But bring in the 7 Branch Prayer when there is a strong sense of ongoing habit energy.

Through this route you will become increasingly perceptive of the various habitual tensions of the body and mind, and you'll find many of them release spontaneously, simply through your attendance to them.

In this way, this practice is not at all antithetical to a deep vipassana practice. But it also fits with mindfulness. When you are not in formal meditation, but walking in the garden with your friend and somebody says something that's uncomfortable for you, watch the habit energy. Give it 10 seconds. And then come back to your conversation. You don't have to make a show of it. You don't have to turn to your friend and say, "Oh, something is happening, I need to stop and meditate." Just pause, pause and look at a flower in the garden, and move through this practice quickly, with ease.

I urge you to bring these practices especially into your emotional life. There is certainly much habit energy caught in the body, much of it literally at a cellular level. The contractions within the physical body are supported and held in place through the mental and emotional bodies. And the contractions of the mental body are held in place by the distortions in the emotional and physical bodies. It all interweaves. So there is no proper starting place. You start wherever you perceive the habit energy to be most sticky, wherever it gets your attention.

Please work with so much gentleness and kindness. My dear ones, there is nothing in you that needs to be fixed, there's nothing broken. Know your innate perfection. Cherish yourselves. Cherish the angel, the heavenly radiant being that you are, and attend to the sometimes fearful and confused human with kindness.

I hope you will make these practices very much an ongoing part of your life.

I've promised a short talk tonight. There is perhaps enough said at this point. But I know that some of you have specific questions. I would very much like the opportunity to speak to them. Barbara also wants to speak about the class next year and get some feedback from you. We will pause here, give you an opportunity to stretch, and then we'll continue. I pause.

Barbara: (Talk about working with chakras and light not recorded.) Aaron is reminding me of a time perhaps 10 years ago. One of my sons had a strobe light. We got some transparent color film and placed it over the strobe light. Aaron did a very similar meditation and when he said "Red," we had the red light... and then I'd just pull the red paper off and put the orange paper on. People found it very powerful. You can make something for yourselves like that very simply. We used sewing frames and a cellophane kind of paper that comes in bright colors.

Q: There is a very interesting videotape which is still available last time I looked at Hollywood Video. It's a videotape made by Shirley MacLaine called "Inner Workout" and it's basically a color chakra meditation. You can rent it and put it on your TV. It helped me because I'm not a visual person. It was helpful to sit and watch the colors, it's like watching a kaleidoscope.

But, my question in this is, or my understanding, is that these colors are traditional but for any person at a given time other colors can arise connected to those chakras. I believe that if one is visual and is getting different colors connected to a chakra, I believe Aaron said to us long ago that we should allow those colors which arise to simply arise, like with vipassana. Whatever arises, note it and be with it.

Barbara: Aaron says thank you, and he's saying both are true. He's saying, within a group like this, if he's going to lead the meditation he can't just say, "Bring in a color." So he's giving it a sense of direction. These are the traditional colors. But don't use force with it. If you're coming up to the heart chakra and turquoise wants to shine out, don't say, "No, it's supposed to be green." Just let it be turquoise, or gold, or whatever color is there. That's fine.

He is saying, the colors, just like everything else, the colors are non-dual. Right there in green are yellow and blue and even red, it's all there. Also, the expressed color, and the light, are different.

Q: Isn't it a matter of, as we sit in this kind of openhearted practice, the process brings our body into alignment and brings whatever color is needed to whatever part of our body is inviting it? So, in fact, different colors arise for different people...

I want Aaron's feedback on that one.

Barbara: He says, Correct! But also, each chakra does have a frequency that is associated with a color. There is a difference, one, to bring in the color of the chakra, to reflect that color back to the chakra. The other path is to sense what is lacking in that chakra and bring in that color to further energize the chakra. For example, if the chakra's traditional color is green, it may be too bluie or lacking in yellow, so the feeling might come to focus on yellow. I experienced that a lot when I fist was working with spirit energies.

I bought a box of paints 2 weeks ago and have been playing with them. One of the things I have been doing is sitting in meditation and focusing, "Om....", connecting with the base chakra, and then just reaching out. They're acrylic paints and I can use them as fingerpaints. I've just been getting into it, getting the color that resonates with that "Om..." and then going on to the next chakra, and the color, and playing with them. I'm having such a good time with it. And sometimes they are basically reds and oranges and yellows and greens, but very different sometimes, sometimes a very deep brick red, sometimes a fire engine red. Sometimes a salmon-colored orange that's almost peach; sometimes flaming brilliant orange. Just trying to feel, what fits with the resonance here today?

I was thinking of literally rubbing it on my body, but I haven't done that yet!

Q: Just a comment. I enjoyed the beauty and the joyful experience of the fountain of colors at the end.

Barbara: And after that fountain you can start again, just bringing color into the base chakra again. You can spend half an hour just running through this over and over.

Q: What is the white light, it's not a chakra?

Barbara: It is, but it's not part of the physical body, it's part of the energy body. It's the top chakra which is outside the physical body, and more the aura's chakra.

Q: Don't the colors more or less indicate vibration?

Barbara: Aaron says it's circular. They indicate vibration and they enhance vibration. So that if you bring very strong concentration to the color and really focus on it, it heightens the vibrational frequency.

He says, picture a can of paint. It has a lot of tiny pinholes in it but the paint is thick enough that it doesn't pour out. But if you start the can spinning, the centrifugal force is going to push the paint through the pinholes. The faster it spins, the more light and intensity is emitted outward.

When we talk about chakras and alignment of chakras and the opening the chakras, remember they are not literally closed. When they're blocked it means they aren't spinning. Then there is no movement from one to the next.

Again picture something spinning and centrifugal force pushing outward. When this (using hands) chakra is spinning and this chakra is spinning, the energy of them connects. If the chakra is not spinning, it's like a bucket of water just still. This chakra is here, this chakra is there; they may seem to be aligned but without the spin, there's no energy connection. At that point we say the chakra is blocked. It's not really that there's a block in the middle, it's just that they're not spinning so they're not connecting. The energy isn't moving through. If it's blocked right here (pointing to waist) , it's because the 2nd and 3rd chakras are not spinning. So once we start the chakras spinning, that does not automatically mean that the blockage will lift, it means that the connection can begin to form.

(Barbara asks for clarification from Aaron.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. There are 2 different factors. They are connected but not identical. The spin of the chakras is one factor. If they are not spinning, not energized, let us say, then there can't be any movement through the central meridian. Each chakra in itself is part of an organ meridian, and without spin, that organ meridian will be somewhat dysfunctional. For example if you have a bad headache, usually that's an indication that the third-eye chakra is not spinning. Without spin, the whole upper belt meridian that circles the upper head is not energized.

Or, it may be that this is spinning too much and the throat and crown chakras are not spinning, so the energy is stuck here in the head, pulsating around the upper belt meridian. You have to feel it out.

What is needed to bring it into balance? Sometimes you can't immediately tell what is needed but if you work with an exercise like the one we just did, with the intention of inviting balance, usually it will balance, the system will open and whatever was blocked will open. I pause.

Barbara: He says, don't worry too much about it, just feel it out intuitively. If it feels like you've got a big lump somewhere right here, then just work with it, feeling, is there energetic movement coming up? Is there energetic movement coming down? Am I holding another chakra very closed and not allowing movement to flow through?

Q: One important part here is that if there is a feeling of pain in the middle, one usually would be well-advised to start at one end or the other. If there were a traffic jam, one would begin pulling the traffic away from the outside of the jam, not from the center point. If there's a blockage in the system, begin working at the base chakra or the crown chakra and move energy off to create space for the flow.

Barbara: Thank you. It's very powerful when you work in that way, and as C just described, we really do have the capacity to openness and to create a flow of energy. I want to cut this discussion short now. I want to do 2 more things in the time we have left: to talk very briefly about next year and get some feedback from you, and to hear questions from you.

This year we broke into small groups and to some degree those groups were helpful. But many people who used to come to Aaron Wednesdays back when they were at my house really liked the format of a dozen people sitting around a living room hearing Aaron give a talk and then asking questions. And we've not been able to do that because we have too many people. But the alternative seemed to be limiting the class and turning people away. And I'm not that comfortable with that idea and many people are not. And people have said to me, I don't want to see other people turned away just as I would not want to be turned away.

In the Tuesday class, I've decided on a format for the meditation class where there will be an early class from 6:45 to 7:45 and then from 7:50 to 8:20 everybody will sit together. And then from 8:30 to 9:30 a late class. So that there will be 12-15 people in the early group, 12-15 people in the large group, they won't have time to talk together, interact very much, just a few minutes after the sitting, but we'll have a small group of people like we used to have sitting around my fireplace, 12-15 people.

So today I was thinking about, why couldn't we do the same thing with this. It would mean that some people would have discussion before Aaron's talk and some people would have discussion after Aaron's talk. But I think that would be OK. The early group would have to come in with the last week's transcript and discussion of that last week's transcript, and the late group would be more likely to be discussing this week's transcript.

Q: It's very different from the Tuesday class because class discussion can happen before or after the meditation, but with Aaron's talk it's pretty hard to have the discussion 2 weeks later.

Q: Why not have the group be whatever size it is and just let whoever has questions ask them, and when we run out of time, we run out of time.

Q: Another possibility is that during the break, people could write questions and you could look at the questions or someone could even help you look at the questions. It's getting to the bigger group format, but that way anyone who had a question that wasn't answered one week and wanted it answered, they could eventually get their questions answered.

Q: I like that format (writing the question) also because in a group this size, it often becomes a problem that perhaps 2 or 3 people might monopolize the interaction. I really enjoyed when we could write questions. That was great.

Barbara: We used to write questions, I had forgotten that. So it sounds like more of you think we should stay together even if it's one group of 25 people rather than 2 groups of 12-15 people, and have Aaron give his talk and then questions, and not break into small groups. Occasionally there will be small groups, but not a permanent small group, only to do an exercise.

Q: I have a lot of trouble staying awake even until 9:30, but certainly after 9:30. I wonder how other people feel about the timing of the class.

Barbara: I really would like to end the class at 9:30.

Q: Or earlier? (Group agrees.)

Barbara: I think the people that need to leave earlier can just leave.

Q: But should it start earlier?

Barbara: I could start at 7 but some people can't. It's hard for people with children or people who have to drive from an hour away, or leave work and come here. Some people can't get here at 7:15, they can't get here until 7:30.

OK, I have one other question about the format of the class. As Aaron and I have talked a little bit about what he would like to focus on next year, one idea he had was to have units. That might be 4-6 weeks focusing on heavy emotions, or relationships, money, sexuality. And to maybe talk about the subjects that people are most interested in and choose those subjects. One possibility that I thought about was to have, if we have 20 weeks of class, to have 4 or 5 units, and people could just register for 5 weeks. But I have a feeling that might be too disruptive. People coming for this 5 weeks and then a different group coming for another 5 weeks... t I think if we make it optional for people to just sign up for a 4 week session, that it would be too scattered.

Q: I think it's a very good idea. I think you should investigate how others feel about it. Because in this large group, having it larger or smaller does not affect it. What would affect it was if you're covering basic concepts which everyone needs to have. But once people have that, applying them to specific subjects...

Barbara: Aaron said his concern about doing it that way is that he could not build on it; what we learn about sexuality will be the ground for what we talk about in working with emotions and so forth.

Q: People could read the transcripts if there were a relevant piece of background material.

Barbara: He is saying when we used to have just drop-in Wednesday nights, there was so much repetition. People would be asked to read the transcripts but they didn't always do it. And then the questions that were coming up were things that had been covered and covered before and covered before. He has valued about this year that people did do their homework and did read the transcripts for the most part when they missed a class. He was able to keep this continuity going. So he's saying he's not said no to this idea. I was the one who suggested the idea and he said he's considering it but he sees some real difficulties in it.

Q: Is it possible to put the responsibility on the students such that if there is material they should read, then the expectation is that they did their homework. And since questions will be written, if people don't do the homework, their questions are referred back to what they should read and then he can build on the questions that have done the homework?

Aaron: I am Aaron. I have 2 concerns here. One is that at a certain level, each of these aspects of human experience is interconnected, and I don't want to create a false structure where we see grief here and co-creating abundance there, as not deeply inter-related. How we co-create abundance or relationship has to do with how we co-create a sense of ease and equanimity in our life experience.

What I see as difficult in the plan Barbara suggested, in having people sign up for only one cluster of weeks, is if somebody comes and then they drop out for 4 weeks and then they come back, there's a certain amount of spontaneity lost. Let's say somebody came for the first 4 weeks then missed 12 weeks then came for the last 4 weeks. Unless we say, "You must have read all 12 of those transcripts to come for the last 4 weeks," they will be lost. Even if they've read the transcripts, they haven't been a part of the discussion, haven't been thinking about it,. They're not in the same place. So there's a degree of spontaneity lost as we go back and explain.

I would be prefer that the class be registered early, by the end of August, or at least that all of those who are registered early choose the topics that most interest them. Register for the year, or at least for the semester, and then allow me to create an order and flow between those topics, not just staying with this for 4 weeks and then shifting to that, but merging them together.

But what I'd like to focus on next year is the life experience, the process of co-creating your life, and what that means. What that means in terms of happiness, of abundance, of health, of joy, of ease. I propose to get into very specific areas like sexuality and relationship, using as a guide for my focus those areas that those who are pre-registered have indicated are of greatest interest to them. I pause.

Barbara: Many people are nodding yes. He's asking, does this as a general topic for the class interest you? He says we will not ignore meditation. OK, let us use the remaining time to hear any questions that you have that have come up during the semester that we haven't touched on. And also, if you have ideas about the class for next year, please do email me.

Q: I feel that my understanding of the 7 Branch Prayer is not deep. Are there other resources that I could study?

Barbara: Have you read the chapter in Awakened Heart?

Q: I read the transcript I was sent by email.

Barbara: In Aaron's book Awakened Heart, from back in 1995, the first 2 chapters are on the 7 Branch Prayer and they're a very clear statement of it... So you could read that.

Q: I think I did read that. Are there more?

Barbara: Aaron is suggesting that you simply practice with it for a few weeks. He says, make a little crib sheet and practice with it, and then email us the questions, the places that feel sticky to you.

Q: I created a mnemonic. Yet I feel I need even deeper understanding.

Barbara: You can go to Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva, the ancient text that Aaron was offering a commentary on when he gave the teachings that are in Awakened Heart. This does not include the relative and ultimate level, it's simply to offer the antidote; it's not to bring awareness to the relative balance and the ultimate already-balanced. So Shantideva doesn't include that part of the practice at all. But the rest of the 7 Branch Prayer is there in his book Way of the Bodhisattva.

Q: I liked the image or metaphor tonight of the fountain. And I couldn't help but feel that this was a nice culminating point for this class. And it certainly goes along with the growth that I've been experiencing this year related to a feeling of perhaps regeneration, or perpetualness of this energy within all of us. In other words, I think I've found in myself that instead of feeling drained, that I feel a regeneration or perpetualness of this energy. That indeed perhaps we are tapping into the deep spring.

Barbara: That's the image that comes to me when I work with this fountain. The deep spring, it's both down there and it's up here and it's....

Q: Finally after 10 years I understand why you called it Deep Spring!

Barbara: When I was in Brazil, there's a sacred waterfall. It's not a huge waterfall, comfortable size waterfall. But when you sit under it there's a very heavy pounding of water, very clear, very cold. And I could really feel it, sitting under it, so that with it hitting the crown chakra, I could feel it moving through me. It was a very powerful experience. Did you experience that? (speaking to someone who just returned from Brazil)

Q: Yes, very much so. And after the waterfall I did the crystal bath. My chakras were all open and vibrating, pulsating. I went to the waterfall alone. Much prayer.

Barbara: You can find the same thing to some degree just taking your garden hose, hanging it from a tree and standing under it! It's not the same water, not energetically charged like that water in the sacred waterfall. But just that movement of water is powerful, because so much of our bodies are water. The movement of water tends to open everything for me. When I swim in the lake I feel the water flowing past me, and I feel that opening of the chakras just by swimming. For me in some way it connects to the high water content in the body and that that water content can become dis-energized, in a sense, or it can be very open, so that the whole body is in flow, not just the chakras, but the whole body.

Q: I have become very interested in studies done on different formations in water. How the water forms into different kinds of crystal shapes depending on the vibration it is exposed to. It is totally amazing. I would love to give Barbara the book on that with the pictures of the different formations depending on what chanting is done. It's totally mind-blowing. It's a Japanese scientist who has done this study.

Also, near the waterfall there are many water devas floating in globes, that some in my group could see. And although one is not allowed to photograph there, 2 men in my group could tell their digital cameras to photograph globe devas elsewhere in nature, and the images were totally amazing... There's so much out there in vibration all around us.

They had the ability to just tell their (own) cameras, digital cameras, because they photograph with ultraviolet light or something like that, to catch these energy balls. And then they showed me on their computer, they brought it up, and I was just totally blown away.

Barbara: Were they balls of brilliant light?

Q: They had different formations in them. Some were bright and when you brought them up there was some orange and green in them. Some were more white, which is what the photos can do in the interaction with the energies around us, and the new technology, it was one of the biggest lessons I learned...

Barbara: Questions?

Q: Can Aaron talk a little about the retreat?

Aaron: I am Aaron. People will be practicing in different places depending on their experience. For those who are newer to vipassana, the emphasis will be on stabilizing vipassana. But for the continuing students and even to a large degree for the newer students, the primary focus I want to give this retreat is the integration of practice. Keeping vipassana as the primary practice, how do we work skillfully with the different support practices in ways that deepen vipassana? With that in mind, we will be working quite a bit with the 7 Branch Prayer, with dzogchen, moment to moment mindfulness, and with simply enjoying the lake and woods.

At the recent beach retreat, although we were cut short a bit by Barbara's accident - I'm asking Barbara to rephrase that, I'm not quite happy with the term "accident". Let us call it "interaction with a wave" as nothing is completely accidental. Certainly not intentional, but also we could not call it just an accident. - At the beach retreat, the first day I asked people not to focus on being better meditators but rather to focus on being. Just pure presence.

As soon as you force practice, it becomes constricted. What we are working toward is the uncontracted, resting in the innate uncontractedness of one's true nature. There has got to be a commitment to do the formal practice in the retreat, but to do it from a place of joy and aspiration. One can watch the habit energies and work with them from the same place of joyful aspiration, not a "gotta fix it" kind of energy. That ease, connected with the place of loving aspiration, can be found so deeply in nature, such as sitting beneath the beautiful catalpa tree, watching the blossoms fall. I would estimate that it's going to be perfectly in bloom when we get there, with this week's hot weather.

Floating in the lake, just looking up at the sky, one also rests in pure being. So I would encourage people to this kind of easy playfulness along with formal practice. Perhaps we could just sum it up as bringing in balance.

The intention is to open to profound life-changing experiences of the Unconditioned. But they can never be grasped at. So along with the many very specific tools for vipassana that you will stabilize, we want to bring forth ease and joy and gratitude, to keep it all in balance. I pause.

Barbara: He says, many of you are coming to the retreat for the whole retreat, but some just for the weekend. For the whole week people, he wants to emphasize, he says many people have had dzogchen instruction already and we'll offer some instruction, but he wants to emphasize what he would call a natural dzogchen, natural, just resting in. Going down to the lake with a "noodle" and lying on one's back, just looking at the sky. Non-doing. Non-meditation. Rather than the dzogchen that sometimes can still have a constricted effort, as "doing dzogchen".

Aaron is asking, are there any questions left from the semester, anything that you are not understanding?

Q: In reading your experience with morphine, and the different mind states that you had, you used many Buddhist terms to describe it. I recognize those terms referred to only vaguely. I wonder how to relate to them. I wonder if we have had experiences with them... I wonder if I have had experiences with them and am not able to put the terms to the state of mind.

Barbara: I'm not sure what kinds of terms I used that you didn't recognize.

Q: I don't remember the specific ones.

Barbara: Would you email me, would you look back at the transcript and email me, and tell me what terms were uncertain for you. I don't remember using new terms in that writing. There's nothing in what I experienced that most of you have not experienced. I was just coming into it from a very powerful place, because of the extreme discomfort that I was in, and the way the morphine knocked me out of presence and into the mind that creates illusions. We all get sucked into those illusions. For example, in the workplace, somebody comes up to you angry and suddenly the mind is thinking, "I'll be fired". Then you've got your kids homeless and penniless on the street, and the mind is creating all these hallucinations, really. instead of just staying present in the moment with tension. When we stay present in that way, along with tension is that very clear light and radiance of resting in the center, that awareness, the awareness that's able to watch tension, watch the hallucinations form, the stories fly away, and not go after them.

So it's really an everyday experience. For me it was specifically about the effects of morphine. But what it clarified for me was not about the morphine. It was about the value of resting in that place of deep center, seeing objects arising and passing away without jumping on them and floating away with them. I could really see the literal freedom in that practice. And when we experience that simultaneity of radiance/ ground and objects, one powerful result of that practice is that this is what we experience in the moment of death. We can see directly the fruition of our practice as liberation. There is that, the term we use is ground luminosity, that radiance of pure presence. It's there and accessible to us. It can't be lost, although we do misplace it, or forget it. There's so much else going on, it would be like trying to hold your focus on a candle flame while sitting in Times Square. There's so much going on.

But once we learn that none of that material has a separate ultimate reality, that it's just movement and energy and flow and forms and thought, material forms and thought forms, it's all just flowing through. Then we don't jump on it. Aaron is saying here, it's like sitting and watching a circus train. The first dozen or so cars you're fascinated, and you get into each car looking at it. What's in this car? What are those monkeys doing? Ooo, lions! I wonder how tame or vicious they are. But after you've seen one dozen or two dozen or three dozen cars, after awhile you start to realize, while there are separate animals with separate characteristics in each car, they're all animals. It's just one train. I don't have to jump into each car and control it, fix it, or ride along it for any ways. And yet we better watch the train because otherwise we may just walk out in the path of the train and get run over by it. We've got to stay aware of it, he's saying.

So, I don't know if that answers your question or not.

Q: Yes

Barbara: 9:30, it's time to stop. It's been wonderful sharing this with you this year. You know this is the first year we've done this class in this way. There are wrinkles to be ironed out, but basically I'm very pleased with it. After years of looking for a good way to make Aaron available in a regular way for people, this has felt good because the drop-in Wednesdays were just not doing it; there was too much repetition, not enough flow. I would very much welcome your feedback about the class, your ideas for how the class can be improved, for things that were successful for you and for things that didn't work for you, thoughts about next year and what you'd like most to cover. So please email me. If you email me now before July 4th you're not likely to get a reply until after the retreat. I'm going to be pretty busy next week organizing the retreat. But know that I did get your email and will reply when the retreat is over.

For those of you I do not see, have a wonderful summer. Please don't forget about the 2 drop-in meetings, one in July and one in August out at the lake. I would especially hope that people from this group will come, those who have worked with Aaron all year.

Good night.

Copyright © 2004 by Barbara Brodsky