May 26, 2004

Barbara: I am paraphrasing Aaron here. On Monday night at the board meeting, Aaron spoke very briefly and somebody noted the jolt with which his energy entered my body. He said the reason I'm experiencing that jolt the last 5 months that I did not use to experience in that way is that he's letting so much more energy into me since I've come back from Brazil, that I've become much more able to hold that higher energy. With the higher energy, the channel is clearer. I'm more able to precisely pick up his thoughts.

He suggests we try something here as a group. Let us try a gentle group process for raising energy, me included, so that his channeling, his energy, comes to all of us without that initial jolt. He's asking you to bring attention to the third eye chakra. I'm going to get rid of the "he says", please know that I am paraphrasing him until you hear his "I am Aaron".

Bring a finger up to the third eye, touching gently. Sit as straight as possible. Breathing in. From a very deep place, bring your other hand behind you, back to the tailbone, to the base chakra. Feel the base chakra. So you've got one hand on the third eye, the other touching the base chakra. If it's uncomfortable, just bring psychic energy to the base chakra, if you can't hold that point easily.

A very deep pitched OM, resonant with the base chakra. (Group chants a deep "OM".) Can you feel it vibrating in the base chakra? Try it again. (Chanting...) One more time. (Chanting...)

Keep the touch on the third eye. We're not going to do each chakra. Bring your other hand to the solar plexus. Feel with your energy to try to find the right vibration that allows the solar plexus chakra to vibrate. (Chanting a higher-pitched "OM".) Don't necessarily try to match each other's sound. Feel it in your body. (Chanting...) And again. (Chanting...) (Chanting...) Come up to the heart. (Chanting higher...) Coming up to the crown chakra. I cannot personally create this crown chakra sound. I have to do it in a different octave. I can't bring my voice up that high. Try it for yourselves and see if you can find the place where the crown chakra seems to vibrate. I'm going to do it the way I experience it, with my voice sounding much lower in a different octave. (Chanting...)

One hand still touching at the third eye. Feel the energies of all these chakras pouring out through the third eye, and light coming in through the third eye. Breathing in light, feeling it in your body. Breathing in sound, energy. The chakras open. Breathing out light, sound, energy.

Literally open the belly and chest. Allow your body to expand, to take in all of this energy. If blockage is experienced somewhere in the body, very gently bring your hand to that place of experienced blockage. Sing to it, literally.

Some of you may be singing different notes than others. Sing "OM" or "Ah" and just touch gently at that place of blockage. Relax, invite opening. Make space for the energy of your true being that can more fully merge with my true being and fuller energy.

Aaron: I am Aaron. At this point, Barbara is no longer paraphrasing, but I hope it has been a more easy entry into my full energy for her and for you. Continue to touch any place of blockage with gentleness.

The energy that I bring forth is not my energy, it is simply a portion of that which is. You are that as much as I am that. No more you or me, but the voice of our deepest knowing and deepest love, all of us as part of a large speaker system amplifying and broadcasting that frequency.

Without, I hope, sounding too "New Age-y," I would like to remind you that you are a speaker for this spirit of love, and that you may broadcast the direct vibration of this loving energy. It may not be experienced fully through your body. There may be some places of blockage or withdrawal. This brings us to our relative/ultimate practice. On the ultimate level, the speaker is completely open and amplifying fully. And yet here and there on the relative level, there may be a few short circuits. So there's a little bit of static here and there. The static does not mean that the sound is faulty or bad in any way. There is the full sound, and there is sometimes a bit of static.

We have been working with this experience all year, watching how contraction shuts down the energy, but how even when there is contraction, resting in that which is not contracted - resting in that which is aware of contraction without participating in contraction - allows that loving vibration to flow. The issue is not the static but how we relate to this relative plane static. the contraction upon the contraction. When static builds upon the static-"Oh no, there's static!"--this contracts your whole system. When kindness greets the static"Oh, here is static; let us hold it gently," the system remains open.

We are certainly not finished with these teachings nor with the delicate nuances of how to manifest your energy in loving ways in the world. But at the start of my talk tonight, I want to return to the bigger picture. This is the ongoing question of whether you use your various bodies, physical / emotional / mental / spirit, to support the loving energy that is the core of your being, or whether you get caught in the fundamental habit of contraction and fear, and of self-identification of that contraction and fear.

Everything we have done this year is about this fundamental question. It is about learning to know this loving vibration in the self and how best to support it and advance its expression in the world

It is about knowing this loving essence of yourself that expresses itself energetically as vibration, that expresses itself emotionally as love, that expresses itself mentally as wisdom and compassion, that expresses itself spiritually as presence. Do you identify with the essence and know the depths and stillness or do you identify with the surface ripples and become lost in motion so the depth and stillness seems to disappear? And yet the surface ripples are also "real" and cannot be denied. How do we relate skillfully?

There is a child of our knowing, now quite grown up, that when he was a child, loved to wear Batman costumes. He would look at himself in the mirror and as a 2-year-old he was quite convinced, "Now I really am Batman." He had to be watched by his parents lest he make a flying leap off of the piano, dressed in that cape and truly believing he could fly. I remember a conversation in which this very young man was literally perched on the top of an upright piano. The mother was standing beside him and said, "Just what do you expect will happen if you jump from there." He pointed to the Batman image and cape and said, "I can fly!" Wisely, she stood in front of him and said, "Let's see this. Go ahead, fly!" And of course she held her arms out, and he jumped, and she caught him and set him on the ground. This little boy looked up at his mother, at first with tears in his eyes, and then a smile, and he said, "Does that mean I'm not really Batman?" The mother said, "You are a little boy in a Batman costume. Part of you is Batman, but part of you is a little boy. You can have the loving heart of Batman who wants to correct wrongs in the world, but you will have to do that in your human form."

He understood her. He continued to delight in these clothes throughout all his pre-school years, but he never again tried to launch himself again from the heights. He understood that these were both his costumes, not only the Batman cape but the human body and experience and that he must balance both.

It is easy to put on the costume of fear when you come into the heavy density of the earth plane. And yet fear is much more taught than instinctive to you. Have you ever watched a baby, who has not yet been taught to fear snakes or spiders, look with delight while such a creature walks past? Have you watched a child observe an ant crawling over his hand or foot? There is no movement to withdraw from the creature. There is no move to brush it off or kill it. The child will raise its hand and look with fascination, with delight. Last weekend we watched a four year old lift a bug from the lake and set it carefully on the ground so it would not drown. Another child, one who had been taught fear, shuddered to watch her touch this tiny creature. The fear is learned from the adult who says, "Oh, there's an bug on your hand," and harshly brushes it off.

You are necessarily born with a sense of self-preservation. The everyday mind, the relative mind, must learn to perceive the objects that come into its experience and learn what can bring pain, so as to skillfully avoid that pain. The child who is warned "Hot!" yet reaches out and touches will remember, "hot hurts." It is not necessary to go the next step and build up fear of hot objects. The hot stove cooks our food. The hot fire warms us. The hot sun nourishes all that grows on the earth. There is an enormous difference between respect for the power of heat or the sting of the wasp, and fear.

Fear is learned. So much of your work in the incarnation is about observing that habit energy from which fear arises and not putting on that costume of the one who is afraid, or if the costume goes on as a habit, to see it happen and know it as costume, not true being, and yet know it is present and to be attended. .

This task demands of you that you stay tuned in to that which is not afraid at the same time as you observe the arising of fear. If you are not thusly tuned in, the reaction to the arisings of fear may be controlled by willpower. But this form of control is through contraction, contraction controlling contraction. It is the voice of force, the voice of the power of the individuated self. It does not bring you freedom from fear by transcendence of fear, but freedom from reaction to fear by the enhancement of the small self and self-discipline, force, and greater control.

These habit energies have been with you for so long a time that most of you have forgotten how it feels to respond to a difficult force within the self from a deeply loving and openhearted place. This remembering has been my primary concern in this class this year. And yes, I am delighted to see the openings you're experiencing. That each of you, each and every one of you, has had at least some experiences of coming to fear from that transcendent place and finding that you can rest in that high vibration and allow fear and its many voice of anger, grasping, and so forth, to flow past.

So you are learning to deeply experience what we might call the love vibration, the energy in the self, and to trust it more fully. To experience the open heart and trust it more fully.

We have not spoken to that little boy about Batman for many, many years, but I suspect if the mother asked him now, "Have you as human learned to fly?" His eyes would light up and he would say, "Yes!" a very emphatic "Yes!" And of course, he still can't get his feet off the ground unless he's on a trampoline. But the heart knows how to soar. Then we no longer need to believe in the disguises.

You set up numerous disguises for yourselves. In the last class, Barbara asked you to find the courage to go into the most difficult places, the places of deepest fear, holding, and contraction. These places will differ for each of you. For one, it may be the tension that comes up around one's loved ones, not so much just the aspiration to help co-create safety for those loved ones, but the intensity of grasping need to keep them safe. We don't see this at first as a harmful habit energy. Of course, one wants one's loved ones to be safe. And yet, when the aspiration is guided more by fear than love, it can lead to unwholesome relationships where one is controlling, constantly nagging, expressing fear.

A very deep place of painful habit energy for many of you is around your relationship with the self and the ideas of unworthiness. That habituated thought may have been with you for many lifetimes. How do you find the Light of the true self? There is a beautiful Sufi quote, "A room that has laid dark for hundreds of thousands of years is illuminated instantly with the lighting of a candle." Yes, when the candle is extinguished, the room returns to darkness. And yet, you are more familiar with the room now. It can no longer hold the same nightmares.

Each glimpse of the true self is like that flame in the darkness. It further breaks through the old notions of the fear-based, limited, unsatisfactory self.

Someone once asked me, "Aaron, how can we possibly balance all of the negative karma of so many lifetimes?" Through that one flame. There have been ten thousand rooms of darkness day after day, and one flame lights it all up. The question then is where we find the love and courage to ignite the flame, to watch it burn ever more brightly.

Your psychological practices, such as therapy, can be very helpful in leading you to a readiness to light that flame. But there comes a time when you are ready to stop peering into every room, thinking somewhere you have missed a monster, and to accept the reality, "If these thousands of rooms I have seen are free of monsters, perhaps the monster never existed but was a creation of this small ego self, this everyday mind, part of the way this relative reality self attempted to cope with that which seemed overwhelming." Perhaps then you are ready to release the whole idea of "monster" and get on with the rest of your incarnation.

The practice of the Seven Branch Prayer is one very powerful instrument, one of many instruments, that can help to support the intention to choose love, can help to support your readiness to look at these most difficult habit energies from the perspective of love rather than from fear.

Some of you have questioned the details of the practice, and I've said to you, if they feel awkward, forget them, release them. But there is a reason for each step, although each step may not be needed by each of you. The basic question is, how does this individuated small self begin to feel safe and supported enough to let go of its old dysfunctional supports, and to find the greatest support of knowing the true self.

How does the person who has fallen into a raging river and is clinging for support to a small tree limb let go of that limb and take the few strokes needed to reach the firm log jutting out into the river from whence he can climb to safety? That moment of letting go from the fear-based self into the greater self is so frightening. There is such habit energy to maintain the image of who you thought you were because, painful though it may have been, it brought some measure of security.

To relinquish that habit energy, to step into your true being, it helps to feel support. The open heart can feel support best. Gratitude opens the heart. From that place, you can better look clearly at the habit energies and increasingly, look at those which create the greatest limits, and thus the greatest suffering for you. You begin to see the real possibility both of balance on the relative level, and also of resting in that place of light.

When the room lights up, where does fear of the dark go? One can still imagine the darkness, but here in this moment, there is no more darkness. Thus, fear of darkness is built on the fear of some non-present possibility. It is built on the mind's forays into possible, dreadful futures, and not on this moment of light. But even if darkness comes, it is transitory. It is only darkness, an intermittent state experienced as a break in light, like the blink of an eye on a sunny afternoon. I do recognize that not all people will experience it that way. This is our work, to help develop the grounding in light so that darkness is known for what it truly is, not seen as separate from the light.

It is a juggling act, I admit that, to rest in the place of ultimate light and to acknowledge the small self that experiences fear and darkness. Now that Barbara's body is healing, she has shifted to the healing of the emotional body and of old karma. She has been experiencing frequent dreams in the past weeks, dreams in which at first she was actually in the water and swimming, caught in what sometimes seems to be a giant wave. More recently, she has had dreams and meditations of being swept up by tumultuous energy and spinning in it, feeling helpless and out of control. It is the experience of chaos and disintegration, akin to the experience of dissolution, but with more awareness of the surroundings along with the body and ego dissolution.

In meditation you may move into these experiences of ego and body dissolution and find fear, "will I annihilate myself?" There may be a deep grounding that allows you to move through this process, resting stably in awareness, resting in Light. But that "resting in" may also involve some denial of the relative experience of chaos, a turning away from chaos with a kind of dismissal of it as "unreal." But on the relative plane there is the experience of chaos and one must eventually transcend it by visiting the heart of it and uncovering the non-dual right there, within chaos. This is where Barbara's recent ocean experience and present practice are taking her.

Barbara has been working a lot with these dreams with the practice we call lucid dreaming. This is a practice that can be learned, in which awareness becomes present enough that the dreaming state is seen as a dream state from within the dream. So there is awareness watching the dreamer - in Barbara's present experience, caught up in this maelstrom, helpless, tossed about, with fear and contraction emerging - and there is the lucid awareness that notes, "Ah, now we are dreaming about being caught up and helpless and flung about. But that's not real. Step back."

She is finding with fascination that increasingly she is able to feel herself flung about and helpless in that way, to recognize this as the emergent fear-based mind based on conditions, and from that more unconditioned level of being to say simply, "Step out of it. Let it go past," but with no denial of, nor even avoidance of, the relative experience of chaos. Here the duality of chaos and non-chaos ends.

This practice of lucid dreaming is another aspect of the resolution level of the Seven Branch Prayer. For those of you who are interested to pursue this a bit, I would suggest this: first your everyday meditation practice is an essential ingredient, to develop some consistency of being able to discern the arising and passing away of objects without becoming caught up in the story line those objects present.

Second, you must, of course, become aware of the dream. This awareness is best developed by setting the intention before you sleep to remember your dreams, to keep a notebook and flashlight by your bed or a tape recorder until you feel you are consistently aware of the dream. Not aware in the dream yet but aware of the dream and able to recall it afterward.

Then, you simply set the intention before you go to sleep to try to watch the arising of a dream. Like any conditioned consciousness, the dream state arises and passes away. The process of going to bed, here, is important. As you lie down, pay your attention to your breath and begin a vipassana practice, noting the in and out breath, noting the texture of the body and breath, noting the arising and passing away of thoughts. Keep the noting strong. You will see yourself note the whole process of falling asleep so that the present awareness is able to note, "Now this body is sleeping." And then the dream arises, and awareness notes the arising of the dream. The dream may have lovely content or unlovely content. The whole process of sleep and dream becomes no different at all than the practice you do when awake.

Those of you who have not yet read Barbara's story about receiving morphine for pain, I would ask you to read that and reflect upon it. The way she worked with both the seductive and demonic forms that arose into consciousness and came forth as hallucinations, by resting in awareness, holding that space of presence.

With lucid dreaming practice, you begin at bedtime by working with the beginnings of the Seven Branch Prayer, finding support, gratitude, the deepest intention for the good of all beings, to release those old habit energies that have enslaved you for so long. And then you consciously invite a dream that may bring forth that habit energy, and if there is lucidity within the dream, you see the "demon" arise. You see, for example, the sense of unworthiness arise, and there is much more clarity about how this story was built, increased ability to step back out of it and say, "No thank you, not today."

As you practice with that in your dream you will find yourself increasingly able to do the same thing in those hours of the day we call waking life, and which of course are but another part of the dream.

We worked here for some weeks with the physical body. I said to you then that we would start with the small and greater pains of the physical body because difficult though they were, they were easier to work with in some ways than the more deeply habituated contractions of the emotional body. Certainly we have not finished our work on the physical level. I hope through the summer you will continue to practice, working with scratches, bruises, strains and sprains, with colds and sore throats, and with deeper physical maladies as well. In that work also you are choosing love over fear. But as our year together draws to a close, I want to invite you more deeply to understand the choice to which you are committing yourselves, that you truly can express as that speaker, that amplifier, for openhearted lovingkindness. You can bring forth that high vibrational frequency of love to every aspect of your lives.

I want to challenge each of you to ask yourself, what aspect of my emotional/mental life, what long-held myth or story, most needs resolution? Where am I most enslaved and bound into the habits of fear? Am I ready to make the commitment to knowing that I have the option not to follow that fear vibration but to choose love?

Notice how I say that, that you have the option. This knowing that you have a choice is tremendously empowering because it allows you to find that place of innate lovingkindness and wisdom in yourself, and increasingly, to live from it.

It is good to be back with you again. I thank you very much for sharing yourselves with me this evening. We will have a very short time for questions and then invite you to move into your groups. You have gotten to know each other well now in these groups and to know a level of openness and trust with one another. As much as it is comfortable for you to do so, I would like you to explore some of those places of long-held habit energy, the deepest and most painful fear responses, such as the idea of unworthiness, or the fear of helplessness, the one that must constantly be the caretaker, or fixer, or the one who feels helpless in the world.

My experience is that simply by sharing your experiences with these states which you do recognize are not yours alone but are shared, and the ways that you have been able to shake the self-identity with these states, you can greatly assist one another and encourage one another.

In our next class in 2 weeks, my talk will be shorter. I want to leave a lot of time for questions and large group discussion. Please look over your notes for the whole year and bring in with you the questions that remain for you, and ways of tying together our work for this year. Please remember this is all work in progress, nothing that we expect to be completed. One is always moving toward enlightenment, always growing, always finding an ever-increasing capacity for love, and for the ability to amplify and broadcast that love in the world. I thank you, that is all.

Q: Aaron referred to the demonic-why? What's going on with that? How is Aaron using "demon"?

Aaron: I am Aaron. In a figurative sense only. I use "demon" here as in that familiar story of the Tibetan saint, Milarepa, who encountered the demons of his own life, of fear, anger, and greed, and invited them to sit by his fire and have tea. The demonic, what we title "demonic", is ultimately non-existent. It is the outpouring of all your mythical archetypes, the expressions of darkness, of fear, rage, hatred, that you see in yourselves, and that you view and enact throughout the world. I am not stating "demonic" as an ultimate reality, but in your experiences there is that of the shadow side of being that emerges. There has been a recent broadcasting of very sadistic images surrounding prisoners in Iraq. Those who enacted these scenes are certainly not demons, they are simply caught up in fear and negativity, unable to separate themselves from their fear to a sufficient degree to let it flow past. But through so many lifetimes, each of you has experienced so many situations of horror that you have created an idea of a solid negativity, which idea has brought forth that archetypal "demonic". On the ultimate level it's not real, but on the relative level it still must be respected as a force and understood so that you cease to react to it. Does that answer your question? I pause.

Q: Yes, that helps. But, if it's not too personal, I wonder about Barbara, your experience with the morphine, and your understanding that it was poison, and the experience of the demons and the seduction. Now that you're a bit away from that experience, is your understanding any different? And your response at the time of the morphine of going to the core light - it sounds, or the only way I can imagine that process, the going to the core light, it sounds like there was a lot of energy to do that, to stay with the light. I don't know, but for me I can only imagine with that extra effort of energy to stay with the core, that there would be a kind of hardening... or separation, or...

Barbara: It's more like the dzogchen, resting in that space of awareness, effortless effort, just pure presence. C, I see you shaking your head vehemently. Can you talk about this from an energy work standpoint? It would provide a different metaphor.

C: I think understanding what your experience was that night is not a subject for this class right now. I think it was a very complicated response, and I think when you get clearer about it, we will welcome hearing.

Barbara: I hear what you're saying, and my holding that light was my personal response. But one does need to hold that space. When you're driving and there's a lot of traffic, you don't get pulled off by all the traffic going by, you hold a steady space. How do you do that? What if traffic is moving fast on a 2-lane road? Cars are passing you and trucks approaching you, there's construction and no shoulder, and all the traffic is moving fast? You know that experience. Attention doesn't get carried away by this truck that's coming toward you or that car that's passing; you have to stay centered. This is the experience.

When I said I experienced objects as "seductive and demonic", this was a turn of phrase. I saw lovely objects that pulled my attention to follow, and I saw wrathful looking objects, faces and shapes that were harsh and gave a threatening appearance. I also saw that space in which all of this collapses, in which there is no lovely or unlovely, just that pure light of being. And I recognized this, with Aaron's support, as the experience that Tibetan Buddhism especially talks about as coming up during the death transition. The ground luminosity arises, or more clearly, that luminosity which has always been there is clearly seen, and yet our karma keeps pulling us back into dualities of pleasant/ unpleasant, grasping and aversion. The effort is needed and that comes as a result of practice is to know the luminosity and rest within it, to be present with the images that come but not pulled in by them. But our karma is strong and we do get pulled in. There was real effort, but from a very connected place, not a separated one. Effortless effort, the joy of pure presence, and yet there was still a lot of pain and some fear, not wanting to get lost in the seductive and nightmarish and the recognition that, without care, I could easily get lost there.

As Aaron noted, I've been revisiting this a lot in meditation this month and am learning more about it. I'm just sharing my process as it flows, not a finished product at all. This experience with the morphine was an extremely valuable one for me, one I have not yet fully integrated. But the images I saw were personal ones, my own consciousness offering the forms of seductiveness and nightmare, and also my conditioned experience of that Pure Light of Being, superimposed on the purest expression of it. That's why I saw it as a bright radiance, running through the body as the central chakra, and out through the crown and up. This isn't how another person might perceive it. So I'm aware that even as pure awareness was with that radiance, consciousness was imposing its stories. That was just part of what surrounded the radiance.

C, When I asked you if you could talk about it from an energy work perspective, it was because I thought that would provide a different metaphor for people that would be helpful, because you have talked to me about learning how to stay "with the road" so to speak, while doing energy work, not getting lost in the things going past.

C: I think it's a wonderful topic. I'm personally exhausted. I also think that though I would be delighted to share my personal experience of how to set my energy field for this...

Barbara: This is what I think would be helpful for people to hear because you have a very specific process for doing it. And it's one process, not THE process. But the more different models people hear for this, the more benefit.

C: I'd love to share it, but I would like about half an hour to share that.

Barbara: So, not tonight, but maybe next class if it feels appropriate.

C: Or a workshop!

Barbara: Or a workshop for those who are interested. That's another possibility. We have half an hour for groups.

I will see you all in 2 weeks!

Copyright © 2004 by Barbara Brodsky