May 12, 2004

Barbara: It's so good to just be sitting here in this room with all of you. You've probably all heard this story in one way or another. I am simply grateful to be alive, grateful to be in one piece, without a broken neck or broken back or head injury...

I am going to talk to you tonight, as Aaron feels his energy is too strong to move through me at this point and that his gestures could do me damage. It's just too much energy for my body to contain. But I decided I wanted to come and talk to you just to be with you. Also it's been 2 very intense weeks of learning. So much of the practice has been wrapped up about the Seven Branch Prayer and the work we've been doing in the class. It feels very appropriate to come and share my, shall I put it euphemistically, the rewards of my investigations with you.

I'll pass around the "before" picture. This was taken the first weekend, so this is almost two weeks ago. As you can see, I'm doing a lot better. My face has healed. The face was the superficial part of it really, although I had a whopper of a black eye, bruised cheek and swollen jaw. But what I'm left with at this point is a lot of pain around my torso. Monday we were wondering if my kidneys were bruised, but I went to the doctor yesterday and they did tests. They decided no, it's just cracked ribs back there around the kidneys. It seems I have 4 different cracked ribs, some with more than one fracture, plus bruises everywhere. They're in the front so I can't lie on my stomach, they're in the back so I can't lie on my back, and they're on the side. So I spent the first week literally sitting, with that neck brace that's in the picture. Some nights I sat and people took turns literally holding my head upright while I slept for an hour. I was in a lot of pain. It's improving. I'm on very strong painkiller medicine still, but there's nothing that will not heal. It may sound strange to say I'm grateful for pain, but at least the nerves are alive and functioning, far better than the alternative.

We were having a wonderful retreat in North Carolina. This was a senior student retreat by the ocean, and it was a magnificent setting. The houses are perched right on the dunes, right on the beach overlooking the ocean. Very luxurious accommodations. We had 24 people, almost all senior students who have been attending several retreats a year with me for 5 to 12 years. So a very senior group of students from all over the country.

The focus of our retreat was to be vipassana, the Seven Branch Prayer, and working with habit energy using the Seven Branch Prayer. Tuesday was a lovely day and we had sat on the beach in the afternoon doing dzogchen by the ocean. At the end of the dzogchen period, there was some unstructured time. The water was very inviting. There were little wavelets coming in. I went out chest deep and I was jumping over these little waves. I didn't even have to jump. At their top height they were up to my neck, just stepping on my tiptoe. I have one of those mini-surfboards that helps me balance and I was having fun jumping over them.

Then I went out just 20 feet further, beyond those breakers where there were soft swells. I was just lying on the surfboard bobbing up and down on the swells. One long-term student and friend was swimming with me, and other people were on the beach. Suddenly I looked up and saw a big wave coming, much bigger than the others had been. It was not going to swell beneath me and then break, it was going to break where I was.

I stood up and I dove under it, which was no problem. I'm a good swimmer. I had the surfboard tethered on my arm so I just let it flop, and I dove into the wave. I stood up and almost immediately a second one came. They were big. As they approached me before I dove, they were towering over my head. I dove under. And as I dove under the second one, my immediate thought was, "I need to get in." This was rougher than I could handle easily because it was hard to get my balance after it passed.

As soon as the second wave passed I turned to head in, but they were such big waves and the undertow from them was so strong that I couldn't move or balance. I saw a third one coming, even bigger. My error here was I should have turned and faced it. Aaron has told me for lifetimes, "never turn your back on the ocean". I was off-balance because I was trying to walk in and wanted to get into shallower water where it might knock me over but I would be in shallow water. It felt like the undertow just swept me into the belly of this wave and lifted me up, swirling me around.

There was an enormous pain around my middle. I thought my back was broken. I felt myself blacking out and swirling around underwater, no sense of up or down. There was a seductiveness to that state of unconsciousness, so easy to slip into it and away from the intense pain.

A moment of digression here. Back when I was preparing to go to Brazil, I spoke to many of you about the fact that I had real equanimity with my deafness. That for many years I had felt it's okay one way or the other, however I can best serve. Literally, "Thy will be done". If I can serve best deaf, okay ; hearing, okay . But then I started looking at the question that if it were okay either way, then what would bring me to Brazil? There has to be some force that chooses to hear. I had seen fear and grasping as that force and released it years back, yet here I was again choosing to go. Why?

Fifteen months ago, at a retreat at Howell on a snowy day, I was sitting by that big window watching thick snow coming down, and it was just so beautiful. I was so aware of the joy of the physical body that can see. There is an enormous gift given to us of the beauty of the world we live in. That's not in denial of the harshness, but simply there is so much beauty. There is the beauty perceived through all the senses and mind, including the beauty of sound. What I imagined was the hush of snow that day. I experienced not a grasping energy but a very deep prayerful joy; we've been given the gift of these bodies, with our senses, with our brains, to use them in this world. The teachings tell us that to attach is to create suffering and I know that to be true, but I had forgotten there can be joy, truly passionate joy, without grasping.

Not hearing through the years, there was sadness, anger, grief, and also true equanimity as I learned the gifts deafness brought. I had looked deeply at that sadness, but not fully resolved it. There was still self-identity, the one who is deaf, the one who is coping. There was resignation that the deafness was here and just to do the best I could with it, and within that resignation was the attendant fear and grief. I ignored it. The equanimity served as a handy smokescreen, allowing me not to have to touch the resignation. Suddenly I began to see the difference between equanimity and resignation. If it were one or the other, it would not have been hard to see, but both were there. So in choosing to travel to Brazil, I had to bring forth the resignation, the anger and pain again, and see it for what it was. Only in presence with that which was not resigned, not angry, could I truly know equanimity. And that equanimity is able to choose what is wholesome without grasping.

So it is okay either way. We're willing to say, if this is how it is, this is how it is. I can live with it. There's not a lot of suffering. But as soon as there's a more wholesome option, there's the willingness from the place of love, not of fear, to reach out for that more wholesome object. I really learned that before I went to Brazil. It surfaced repeatedly in Brazil when I found myself grasping and saw that the reaching for the possibility of hearing was coming from a place of fear. Each time I came back to the true equanimity, the deep gifts that my deafness has brought me, the okay-ness of it. And the aspiration to hear from a place of joy and not from a place of fear.

It was a very powerful lesson to see this difference, that we can't choose what's wholesome from a place of fear. It has to come from this place of love and of joyful, really exuberant love of the world around us, of our bodies and our senses and our minds, and all the enormous gifts we are given to co-create this world of ours.

So, there I was. The wave hit me. I was very close to unconscious, struggling not to pass out. On one level it seemed so easy; I could just slide into unconsciousness and not experience drowning in the fearful way of gasping for breath, feeling myself dying; that I would just slip into that sweet unconsciousness and go. How easy that would be, as contrasted to the enormous pain of staying conscious and in the body..

There was a very strong, much deeper voice in me that said, "No, I choose life." It was interesting to me that there was no fear. In that place of enormous pain - blacking out, tossed around by the waves, no sense of which way was up - there was no fear at all. I don't know how there was no fear. I think the sense of affirmation of life was just so strong. And the knowing of, "I'm not done my work. I choose life." In that moment there was a recognition that I could come back to a very different body, to a quadriplegic body or with brain damage. But there was just, "I choose life."

I needed to make that free will choice. As soon as I made that choice, I felt Aaron's energy come into me, very strong, and say, "Surface. Call for help," and almost pull me up, I was swirling, I didn't know which way was the surface. There was terrible pain to make the body move. But somehow I got to the surface and I called for help. The student nearby, who also must have been buffeted by this wave, (I realize I never asked her what she experienced with the wave, although it may have been where I was and not so big, 15 feet over), saw the blood streaming down my face and heard me cry for help. She got to me very quickly. I was semi-conscious. I wasn't aware of where she was or looking for her at all, just surface-breath-help. Then I went under. Do it again. Get myself up to the surface. Don't black out. "Help". Within moments I felt her grab me. As soon as she grabbed me, I passed out, because I had done all I could do.

She's half my size. Somehow she pulled me in through water that was surging in over our heads, shouting for help herself. By the time she got me into waist-deep water, a half dozen or more people were there and they all carried me up close to the beach.

I lay there on the sand. I started to come back to consciousness in that shallow water. I was lying on my back and the waves kept washing over my body. They were trying to hold my head up and wait until they had enough people to lift me and carry me. As I came back to consciousness, I was aware of the possibility of a back and neck injury, and I said, "Please hold my head and my body as little as possible while you get me onto the sand."

I lay there on the sand and there were a dozen very anxious faces. Perhaps they didn't even think about what was going on in the rest of my body, there was so much blood streaming down my face. I wiggled my fingers and they worked, and I wiggled my toes and they worked. There was such an enormous sense of joy, just lying on the sand, alive. Even the pain was proof of life and a body that still was somewhat intact.

The rescue people came quickly and strapped me to a backboard, strapped my head down and took me off to a hospital. Somehow they carried me over a large dune, up a flight of stairs and down another to the ambulance. Did a CT and X-rays and all the needed tests. Miraculously nothing was broken. My face looked like a boxer had used me for a punching bag. I had a huge yellow-brown-red-green bruise running all down the side of my face, neck, and down into my chest and sternum. They couldn't believe my neck wasn't broken.

Someone was watching out for me. To all those loving entities, incarnate and discarnate, I offer thanks. I am just so grateful to be here and alive, with no serious injuries, nothing that won't be healed in 6 weeks.

There's been a lot of pain, and I've been working a lot with the Seven Branch Prayer. It began as I lay there strapped to the backboard. It was 5 hours from the time they strapped me down, drove 45 minutes to the hospital, and until they had results of tests that showed no broken neck or back. Very uncomfortable, obviously, lying there on that hard board, head immobilized. Having made this decision to life, I just visualized the Ever-Perfect body and really held to that. I could sense the bruises and the possible breaks. There was a very clear image of what we've been practicing in the Seven Branch Prayer: attending to the relative situation with as much wisdom and compassion as possible, knowing it as "real", that there are real injuries, for example, and they need to be lovingly attended; and seeing the intact spinal cord and neck, holding that Ever-Perfect image. Seething images of brokenness would penetrate and start to throw that ever-perfect askew. Each time one came in, I just gently noted it and held that straight image.

It's not that the possible broken neck or back is "imperfect", but the work was clear: to see the real, relative plane distortions and work lovingly with the pain and fear, and to know that which was not in pain, not afraid, and hold to that pure presence.

I can't say that that is what helped me not have a broken neck or back; I didn't have a broken neck or back simply because I didn't have a broken neck or back. But I found it very powerful to do this work on both levels, to hold together the dharmakaya and nirmanakaya with no duality, to see the nirmanakaya expressions constantly arising from and not separate from the dharmakaya. I also saw my ability not to take it personally, as a fruit of practice. The wave didn't have a personal vendetta against me. The wave was just being a wave. We can't even say I was there for some reason. I was there because I was there. The wave was there because it was there. And what I learned from it is the fruit of my practice. We really do reap what we sow.

The ER released me because nothing was broken. I went back to the retreat. The people at the retreat were wonderful. They're all people who have known me for a long time and love me very much. They set up a night and day schedule. I was never alone. I couldn't do anything for myself Now I can stand up and walk, but then I was totally helpless. So I really needed round the clock care.

My room became conversation central. At first I wasn't aware there was much talking. Please remember I'm deaf. I was pretty knocked out and unaware of much. But by Thursday I saw that people were talking here, in this silent retreat, and considered what to do. It felt to me that people needed that release because there was so much fear. But my perception, and as reported to me later by a number of people, was that they were able to come into my room, not just care-takers but an occasional visitor, drop out of the retreat for 10 or 20 minutes, and then walk back very seamlessly into the silence. I was very impressed with how they were able to do that and were able to hold the silence, as people reported it to me later..

That first night when I was in the ER and nobody knew what was happening, only that I was alive; they had no idea what the extent of the injuries. were. I was supposed to give the dharma talk. They just sat in a circle and had a wonderful discussion about many areas of fear and touched on many usually untouchable topics. Impermanence: we can't hold on to anything. We never know what's next. Things are as they are, and not to take it personally.

Apparently it was a very heart-opening discussion for everybody there. It allowed many people to touch a place of deep openness and vulnerability in themselves, to see their teacher almost die, their friend almost die. To feel their own mortality and how fragile we really all are. It allowed people to touch very deep places of old habit energy and work with them with the Seven Branch Prayer. How to we react to the approach of death? How to we react to shock? The places that we normally don't get to, such as our fear of impermanence, of death, our fear of bodily pain, of helplessness, of being out of control all came forth..

People touched on all of those themes during the retreat in a very deep way. And a lot of discussions, both instruction periods, dharma talks, group discussions, centered on some of the deepest held fears that somehow this permitted to surface. I had the opportunity through the week to talk to about half the people in some depth. It opened places of personal loss and grief for many people, and the areas of uncertainty about their own body ailments. Many used this as an opportunity to go so deeply into areas they had previously not allowed themselves to touch. I was deeply moved by that courage, and to see how each of them used this difficult catalyst, each in their own ways, to deepen practice rather than losing themselves into fear and old habit patterns.

When I came back to Michigan at the end of the retreat, my doctor wanted them to do all the tests again; he didn't trust that little hospital. He said I was in so much pain that he wanted to make sure that there was nothing they had missed. So I spent that night again in the ER, here at University of Michigan hospital. At this point I had one other interesting experience with working with the resolve/resolution level of the Seven Branch Prayer, an experience that was truly profound.

After hours of tests, they gave me an IV morphine shot, to help me sleep, to ease the pain in my body. As it went into my body, almost in seconds I felt nauseous and a whole sense of chaos erupted, a very difficult experience. Aaron was outraged. He said, "They're putting poison in you!"

It was a very interesting experience. Through all these days, I had been resting in rigpa, really holding this space of pure awareness and holding the breath, the present moment, as a way of not drifting into mind's countless fearful stories. As the morphine entered, almost in moments, the visual I had was it was almost like visually seeing a brilliant white line, radiant light, straight and centered. Around this line there were very seductive shapes, almost like snakes but writhing, but not just parallel lines but wide and narrow, sinuous, winding around this pole with flashing colors, beautiful lights. It was very seductive to go out into that. But these lovely shapes also changed into demons, nightmare faces and forms.

What came next was almost like the experience in the water, saying, "no, I choose to be here and present." I could feel that the morphine was pulling me out of awareness, out of rigpa. It connected for me very deeply with the whole bardo of becoming.

Tibetan teaching in particular focuses on the bardo states as we transition out of the body and mundane consciousness. There is a moment when we see the "ground luminosity" that we speak of in dzogchen meditation, deeply experience that clarity of our true being. But the seductive images of our minds, our past karma, draw us away from that clarity and we move on into the bardos of becoming, rather than finding liberation in that moment. There is that moment of clarity, and all these seductive images everywhere, "Oooo, this way! That way! This way!" We don't recognize them as illusion, so we lose our true self and move off into this illusion, which basically plays into our old karma and pulls us into a new birth.

It became so clear to me how that whole process - that whole bardo of rebirth consciousness, vinanna - how that occurs. It was very powerful. I had Aaron with me saying, "Just breathe, and no matter what comes, what illusions, nightmares, beautiful illusions, no matter what, just hold that straight line and breathe." For 15 minutes I just sat there on the table in the ER, not pushing anything away, no aversion to it, just seeing it as that literal bubble or dream, that whole world of illusion, and holding on to this pure awareness. I found awareness able to hold that and rest in that space. Slowly, all of these shapes - nightmare shapes, beautiful alluring shapes - all faded away and there was just that radiant line of awareness, fully present, really no self or other, just full presence. Slowly I began to talk to the people in the room again, but still holding that presence.

And at that point, of course, the morphine didn't work. There was no pain reduction quality to it because I had released the illusion. Morphine doesn't really limit pain, it just takes one off into a never-never land where the pain is irrelevant. And yet at that point I didn't need strong pain killer any more. That was interesting, because I had been in such excruciating pain before, thinking I needed something to help me. But as soon as I came into that place of pure presence, so much of the pain shifted, there but with no projections. The bruises were still there, there was still pain, but it was not unmanageable pain at all, just holding that line.

The learning here was profound, as I reviewed it afterward. I've experienced deep resting in the unconditioned, ego and body dissolved. I've experienced resting in rigpa, touching the outer edge of the Unconditioned and aware of the conditioned arisings coming into form and passing away. But here awareness was so deeply in the state of pure presence, holding of necessity to that Presence, and the whole process of rebirth consciousness became so clear, how we lose that center and drift off into the bardo of rebirth. The relationship of conditioned and Unconditioned were also so clear. This is the simultaneity of dharmakaya and nirmanakaya about which we've talked so much this year. The core of Clarity was there, and the delusions shaped by the mind's conditioning were there, and each had to be attended fully.

So again, it was the resolve/resolution. The resolve to attend the body's situation skillfully, which at that point meant that I accepted a very strong dose of ibuprofen, lots of ice packs and more skillful drugs to control the pain. Seeing the already-resolved level and just holding it really taught me how powerful this practice is, and that that place of Ever-Perfect is so dependably there and accessible through our practice..

Yes, I'm a very experienced meditator. But I don't think that crucial. I think what is most important is just knowing there is a choice. You can do it. We can do it. And liberation, true liberation is accessible to us all.

The thought came to me some time during the night, if there was a log resting on the ground, and somebody said, "You must walk across the log," bad balance and all, I could walk across the log. But if the log was over a chasm 100 feet deep, there's no way I could walk across it. Fear would limit the knowing of one's infinite nature. Knowing you can walk across it, you can walk across. The chasm is part of the illusion. And we create all of this in our heads, the many :chasms", all the stories. . "It's going to be unworkable. It's going to be unmanageable pain. I'm going to die. I don't know what's going to happen." Then we lose that center space.

Talking with people at the retreat, people, as I said, were working with very deep old fears, very deep emotional places, memories of childhood abuse, memories of terrible loss, sadness, deep fear. Some people having very deep meditation experiences of no-self and coming to that edge of fear of annihilation. Just using the Seven Branch Prayer - I've only been taking out that one segment, but using the whole thing, the intention, the self seeking support, the experience of gratitude, the commitment to find the antidote and work with the antidote, clear-seeing of what that balance means, - working with it on the relative level, and also finding that which is also beyond the grief, beyond the outrage at the abuse, beyond the grief at the loss, that which is really clear and openhearted and says, "It's past. It was a wave and it toppled me, figuratively or literally, and it's past. I don't have to carry that wave with me the rest of my life, it's gone." Many people at the retreat were finding that kind of freedom. I wish it for you too.

I'm not sure where to take this class from here tonight, because I've talked some with Aaron but I wasn't here 2 weeks ago, and my intention had been to talk to some of you and get a clearer picture of what you had done 2 weeks ago. I think what I'd like to leave you with is just this affirmation of the practice and the encouragement to take this practice to go into the places of deepest fear and pain and hurt and uncertainty in yourselves, and acknowledge the repetition of the habit energy that keeps coming up, toward whatever it is: repeated anger or fear, or I'm getting out of here, or whatever habit energies we have. To use this practice to go very deeply into these places. Do it with a very open heart-no "I should," just a lot of gratitude. Stop and ground yourself in the gratitude that you're alive. You have this precious human experience, sometimes torturously difficult. And yet, still, the opportunity for true liberation for ourselves and for all beings. And coming through that experience, one can be of such service to all beings.

There's such an experience of joy. For me, it was very much of a liberation experience, really, because I don't think anything will ever scare me again. I don't think anything will every feel unmanageable again. And it's not because I've passed some place where that will never come up, but because I realize that "unmanageable" is a concept. Terror is a concept. It's a body experience but it's also a concept. It's habit energy. It's just like with morphine; mind was so habituated to go to those beautiful sinuous colored shapes writhing around or grotesque shapes and faces, rather than staying with this pure presence. But awareness can see the habit. And presence is it; it's everything. When you're present in that way, there's no self or other. There's no fear, there's no nothing. There's just the experience of this moment and complete clarity that who we are at the deepest level cannot be destroyed in any way. And that who we are is what feeds the vast sea of love, which is all of our salvation. Salvation is perhaps not the word I want to use; it has too much of a Christian connotation. But this vast sea of love in which all beings truly are liberated from suffering. It just shows us the immensity of our power.

So that's about it. I would like you to just reflect on this in these 2 weeks. Aaron will be back with us in 2 weeks, he says. He thinks 2 weeks will be enough time for my body to be channeling again. And we'll move on from here and see what we'll do with these last weeks of class. It's very likely that in about a week you'll get an email from me with a specific exercise to work with, as a prelude to the next class. Meanwhile, just, I love you all and I'm so happy to be here with you, and I know you're happy to have me be here with you. I have felt everybody's love through this 2 weeks, everybody's support. That's another thing I've learned, how deeply we're connected energetically, how strongly I felt all this loving energy surrounding me constantly. Thank you.

I would be happy to answer some questions for about 10 minutes and then I'm going to leave you to break into groups for the last hour, and I'm going home to bed.

Q: I would like to offer some bodywork.

Barbara: Thank you. I would very much welcome it. I'm in a lot of pain. Are there any questions about anything that I have said?

Q: I've been working with this same concept in regard to my pets, Miso, who has cancer, probably, and Zena, who was nearly eaten by the dog.. Just so you all know what is going on, the dog has a very enlarged teat underneath her, she looks like a male, the darn thing is so big. I think what happened was, the cat was sleeping on the hamper at the foot of the bed and not on the bed as she ordinarily did. And in the morning she stretched and rolled over and fell off onto the dog, I think, on the poor dog's teat. So of course the dog wakes up--- "YOW!" The cat is "What?", is disoriented. She goes running into the closet. So the dog was able to corner her, needless to say. So I awoke to sounds of cat and dog fighting. So I jumped out of bed, ran to the closet, "Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!" The dog finally backed off. The cat goes flying out of the room. I thought, "Well I don't see blood." The cat did run out on her own power, so perhaps things are okay.

About an hour later I finally found her. Her face looked like it had been mashed. It just looked terrible. As Kevin, bless his heart, said to me, "It probably looks worse than it is." But the dog was, "How dare you," and she grabs the cat like this, pushed the lip into the mouth so the cat's own canine tooth actually punctured her cheek. Imagine having your face in your mouth so you can't eat...

Barbara: It's so hard to see our animals suffer that way. I can only say, hold that clear space where there's infinite love and access to infinite love and know how much they are playing out their karma, each of them. Miso has had so much love from you in her life.

Q: So we're working with both relative and ultimate, with that same concept of holding the space.

Barbara: Holding the space is it. I think that was what worked for me in that moment of, "do I black out and go or do I stay here?" Blacking out was not holding the space. Blacking out was like that morphine dream, all that alluring stuff, so easy to go there. And holding space was being with the pain.

But after a bit it was not a personal pain, there was just while holding that space, there was all the support from everywhere in the world, to be present in that space. And I was not holding it just for me, I was holding it for millions of other beings, just there and holding that space, that space of pure presence. "I" wasn't holding it; Love was holding it. But both happen at once. They are inseparable.

Q: talk more about "presence", relative/ ultimate and rebirth consciousness.

Barbara: The biggest piece of learning for me was the clarity about what rebirth consciousness is, how rebirth consciousness takes us out of that space and into either nightmares or alluring wonders, and that it doesn't matter which, but it takes us into a self. Because as soon as there's the nightmare or the alluring wonder, there's a sense of self perceiving it. Conversely, that space of pure presence is like that teaching of Ajahn Chah's, "taking the center seat". He would tell the monks, "You sit in the middle of the room and all kinds of things will come and go. A parade of elephants may come, or monkeys, or some kind of demon-looking creature. It doesn't matter what comes, just sit in that center seat. Whatever comes, let it come and let it go. If you make any effort from a "self" moving out to it, it says, 'Oh, you're interested!' and comes to probe around and see where it can get in. And yet you can't deny that object is there. There's just this full presence that can take anything. Resting in awareness, fully present with each object.

The rebirth consciousness is experienced as almost an energetic contraction, a tension, a contraction that becomes personalized. It's not the tension itself. This is that whole flow of kyo and jitsu balanced. Tension will come and then we, note it and relax and note that. It will come again, tension, noting, relaxed, noting. Present with choiceless awareness. But as soon as the tension comes and there's this small notion of "Oh, tension, something to fix," there's the self. And it doesn't matter whether it's about some kind of nightmare or some kind of beautiful alluring sensuous object; just center.

We spent a lot of time on the retreat, the first day of the retreat Aaron said to people, "This is not going to be a normal retreat. I do not want you to do only formal sitting and walking practice, or striving to be a good meditator this week. I want you to sit by the ocean. I want you to dig sandcastles, take walks on the beach, along with some formal practice."

We talked a lot about kyo and jitsu balance. The waves come in and you can see the jitsu energy of them building up, and then slap on the beach, and the kyo. People were finding sitting there for an hour, over and over watching this, how they were able to find that balance in their body, even if the body was jitsu, to break through the jitsu as that self-created alluring object and to find that place of perfect balance. The perfect balance is always there even though there is kyo or jitsu. Does that make sense?

So it doesn't matter if the body is imbalanced into jitsu, that's just an object. Just the parade of elephants going by. It doesn't matter. That which is aware of this jitsu imbalance is balanced. And watching the ocean was a very powerful practice, just sitting there watching, eyes watching the waves. For those who could hear, hearing the waves. We also worked a lot with Four Elements practice. Earth, sand, water, and the hot sun, breeze, and finding that balance in ourselves. Feeling what was out of balance and inviting literally if there was a lot of agitation, sticking your toes in the water. Cooling it off a bit Digging your fingers in the sand. If there was a feeling of sluggishness, standing up and feeling the sun and the breeze. So we worked a lot with the Four Elements meditation to bring balance.

So this is on the relative plane, the resolve, finding balance, finding the already-balanced kyo and jitsu, finding skillful ways to balance the imbalance of kyo and jitsu. Finding skillful ways to deal with anger, sadness, fear, desire, whatever might be there. And yet, just holding that space.

Any other questions or comments?

I am going to bed. Talk about what I've said. Share your experiences with this practice these 2 weeks. It doesn't have to be life and death issues. How did it work on a splinter? How did it work on the anger or agitation that came up when you were stuck at a traffic light? What's going on as you work with this practice? Be practical. No theory. How is it really working for you? And give each other suggestions about how to make the practice work. Raise questions if you have them with each other about how to do the practice, the steps of the practice. And especially concentrating on, how do we hold this space of clarity. How do we really hold this space no matter what's going on around us, and find that place where it's really unshakeable and we can start to trust it. That no matter what's going on, I know it's there. okay ? And I will see you in two weeks...

I love you all and it's so good to be here with you.

Copyright © 2004 by Barbara Brodsky