September 29, 2004

Barbara: I received an email about which Aaron will speak. As I read it, please note that this is not about whether our foreign policy is right or wrong, but whether the foreign policy comes from a place of love or fear, of contraction or noncontraction. How can we make decisions from a place of noncontraction? I'll read the e-mail and then Aaron will talk about it.

"Hi Barbara. Would it be possible for Aaron to talk about noncontraction in the context of politics? I wonder if he could talk about skillful ways of reacting to the political situation today. I find it difficult to remain uncontracted in the face of so many distortions and misrepresentations, so much fear and so many wrong choices. The administration is clearly coming from fear in choosing war, in forcing our will on others and in being so distorting and mean-spirited at home and yet contracting in favor of peace is also fear. What would spaciousness and equanimity look like in this case when the choices being made are so unskillful and the stakes are so incredibly high? And how is it possible that such fear-based, obviously wrong choices and so many lies and distortions are being accepted by so much of the country? When I step back and watch the whole thing, I feel alternatingly amazed, horrified and fascinated and need to take many deep breaths."

Aaron: I am Aaron. My blessings and love to you all. I want to start this talk in a non-verbal, or less verbal way, with an exercise similar to one that we did last year on expanding outward.

Bring your body into a relaxed position and close your eyes. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathing in, know that you are breathing in. Feel the sensation of the breath as a touching sensation in the body. Breathing out, know that you are breathing out.

Breathe a little bit loudly (demonstrates) just a few breaths. And listen to others breathe. What you breathe out, others breathe in. What others breathe out, you breathe in.

Hear the cars passing by on the road. The air those car occupants breathe out, you breathe in, and they breathe in your air. Perhaps there are bird sounds. You and the birds breathing in the same air. Breathe in deeply with the intention to allow yourself to be open, to literally be touched by everything around you, through the air that comes in to you. And breathe out with a long ahhhhhhhh. Release that which has touched the self back out into the world.

Now feel your energy. By that, I mean simply sit up a bit straight and see if you can feel the energy moving through you body from the base of the crown chakra and back again. Feel it coming out of the fingers down to the toes. I'd like you to try holding your 2 hands open, facing each other, and see if you can feel the energy in that space between the hands.

Very slowly open the hands out, just to the edge of that energy field that goes between them. For some of you it may be a good distance; others of you may not be certain that you feel the energy at all, and that's okay.

Now, cradling that ball of energy, I would like each of you to find a partner, the person sitting right next to you, or if necessary, behind you. You may need to turn a bit to do this.

Designate a person A and person B. If anyone lacks a partner, a threesome is fine. Person A, holding your ball of energy. Person B, shake your hands, release the energy you were holding, and then hold your hands open face up. Person A, I'd like you to try to place that ball of energy in Person B's hands. There will not be physical contact. Take what you feel is the ball of energy and literally reach it out with it, offering it until you feel it coming in contact with the energy field of Person B. Simply lie it down and then lift your hands slowly open, letting the ball of energy settle into their hands. Not too far, but a little bit, so the ball of energy settles into B's hands.

If there are 3, there will be two B's here, and A will place the energy in both person's hands. With the two B's holding their hands out together, right next to each other, fingertips touching, so that A deposits energy in all four hands at the same time. Simply pass it back and forth. B or multiple Bs, now place it back in Person A's hands. Feel the energy shift as B retracts his or her hands.

Feel your own energy, holding it as a ball. Reach out and settle it into the others' hands. Think of the bubbles that we play with sometimes, how delicate they are, and yet they seem to have a solidity. Pass this energy back and forth as if it were a ball or bubble.

(pause; we do the exercise)

I thank you. You may turn around and face the front again. Draw your energy into yourself, noting it is not "your" energy but simply a portion of the energy that you have been passing around.

Now let us take this to a different place. Sitting up again, feeling your own energy, your energy field, raise your hands above your head. See where you feel the top of your aura, and slowly bring your hands along the edges of that aura. If you do not feel it, please do not worry.

Bringing the hands slowly down along the body…

Those who do not feel it, just try, with the hands just an inch or so above the head, bringing it down close to the face where you may feel the heat of the face. Very close to the body. But those who feel it, feel the edges of it around the body, all the way down to the feet.

Breathing in, as you breathe in I would like you to draw in energy from the fingertips and the toes, and from the body, moving from the crown of the head through the base of the spine. Draw it in to you. And then breathing out, ahhhhh. Expanding outward. Letting the energy field open.

Again, breathing in. You might use your hands literally drawing the energy into the self as Barbara is. Arms spread out, drawing it in with the in breath, and then ahhhhh, releasing. For those who have done so, dzogchen with us, breathe as you breathe in dzogchen, letting the energy field open outward. Expanding outward. It will be easier if you sit with the back erect so the energy can flow from base to crown chakra. Breathing in, breathing the whole universe into the self. And then, ahhhhhh.

Opening outward. No boundaries, no limits. Be all that you are. Expressing the radiance, the power, of your being. Breathing in. Letting it go, ahhhhhh.


Expand outward. How far does that breath go? Does it stop at your neighbor's face across the room? Let it slither through the cracks and out the door. All across the world. And as we are speaking of energy, not breath, all across the universe.


You as body and mind, everyday mind, are finite. You as energy are infinite. Whatever spaciousness has developed, rest in it. Let the physical body be relaxed, jaw and shoulders soft, face soft, belly soft. Again, ahhhhhh…


Opening outward. Free of physical contraction. Even free of that contraction of being a self. Ahhhhhhh.


My intention here is that you might at least get a glimpse of the experience of your true infiniteness, your limitlessness, and of the uncontracted state of the infinite expression of being.

No boundaries. But if you must place some boundaries, observe the self doing that, the everyday self. Just the habit energy of the incarnation. Feel the subtle contraction of the boundary. Let us bring in a conscious boundary here.

Put your arm out gently so it gently nudges the person next to you, and so that their arm or hand nudges you. Not with force but enough to firmly touch. With that touch, observe whether the boundary re-expresses itself, as well it might, with habit energy. Bring your hands in and expand your energy field again, allowing it to open. Now touch again. Touch with enough force, enough pressure, that you begin to feel the boundary coming back and the contraction with it.

And then, relax, come back to the expanded self. Consciously letting go of that boundary, breaking through it. Ahhhh…

So the human aspect of being creates the illusion of a necessity of boundary. The infinite self knows its boundarilessness. And you may experience both in sequential moments.

Rest in that spaciousness. Energy field open. No limits. If possible, see if you can touch on that experience of contractionlessness.

When you touched arms, contraction arose. Contraction arose within the contractionlessness, and then dissolved, leaving only the contractionlessness.

On the relative plane, contraction arises and passes, arises and passes. And on the ultimate plane there is only spaciousness. No contraction.

We can see, then, that the experience of contraction is something that happens on the mundane level. It is a real experience. But in no way does it prove you as a limited or finite being. It is simply the experience of contraction at the relative plane, and has no impact whatsoever on your true infinite nature.

You may relax here and I will continue to talk.

Last week we worked with impulse energy. We saw the arising of an impulse such as to swallow the water. The second stage was the tension that arose when you did not follow the impulse. I asked you to observe this as an exercise at home. Observe impulse to talk, to swallow, to eliminate, to take a step, to answer the telephone, and feel the tension that arises when you do not go with the impulse energy.

Many of you have seen that when you bring awareness to that tensionseeing that it has arisen out of the self's contracting, wanting to obey the impulsewhen you bring awareness to it and just note the discomfort of it, you break through it. Some of you saw that you could rest in the uncontracted while observing this level of relative or mundane contraction in mind and body.

This is the primary point I want to make. On the ultimate level, you are already uncontracted, there is nothing to do. It is your true nature, uncontracted. And on the relative plane, contractions arise.

The question then is how you work with those contractions regardless of what the catalyst is that brings them up. Your political situation in your nation and throughout the world is certainly a strong catalyst, one that is deeply ingrained with fear.

There is so much fear at times that it's hard to see what's happening. But the work is really no different than that on a very simple personal level, such as holding the grape in the mouth and wanting to chew.

The work is simply this: to learn the experience of resting in that uncontractedness; to become aware of when ripples of contraction arise into the spaciousness of the uncontracted; and to observe the habitual energy with those ripples of contraction. It is much easier to work with a grape or the mouth full of water than with a world gone crazy with fear. Yet when you establish this ground of spaciousness, you can take any catalyst and begin to observe how you contract around the catalyst, the impulse, wanting to control, wanting to fix. Wanting to grab hold and shake the world into greater awareness.

You can feel that impulse energy. You can feel your own fear contraction. And you then can make the choice to go with that impulse energy and the tension that accompanies it, or to rest in awareness noting its passage and to refuse to become absorbed into its stories.

A useful step might be to work, not with a worldwide situation, but simply the small disagreement with the spouse, friend or child. She wants this, you want that. This movie, that movie. This restaurant, that one. Turn the light out, read for another 20 minutes.

It is wonderful to use these situations as a place to look at the whole movement: the impulse of wanting or grasping; the tension that arises, wanting to have what I want; and the possibility to rest in spaciousness and observe all of this movement. When you have that difference of opinion with the partner or friend, and each of you is able to observe the move into contractedness, you can both literally smile and breathe together. You can expand outward and try passing energy back and forth a little, or just focus on the breath separately for just a minute until you come back to a ground of spaciousness.

Within that spaciousness, together you can observe the question: which movie or which restaurant. Perhaps a more difficult question, which car will we buy? Where will we take our vacation? Hold yourselves and the question in the light. Continually re-ground yourselves in awareness, in spaciousness so that it is not the ego self that makes the decision but rather, it is love and uncontractedness that holds the needs of both and makes a decision.

Some of you are saying, what does that have to do with the political situation, when there are a billion people each expressing different opinions? Let's take this work with the partner one step further. What if you hold that space and the partner doesn't? The partner becomes angry, agitated. "I want this for dinner! I want that car! I don't like the car you like!" At some level you note that the partner always pushes in this way and uses his or her anger to get his or her way.

Now we come a little closer to the world situation. The partner is not going to be able to rest in spaciousness with you. You still rest there. You can tell the other person, "I need a minute here. I'm feeling agitated. I need to create a little space around this question." They may be belligerent even with that, and you can note, "feeling pushed." The idea here is to know the experience of non-contraction, the experience of unlimitedness, of awareness, and to invite yourself into that space, however fragile the resting there may be.

Decisions made from a space of contraction will always carry karma. They will always come from the self, from the ego. Decisions made while resting in that spaciousness that is aware of the contraction and is not hooked into a self-identity with it, are free of karma and can hold the spaciousness of the loving heart as ground for the decision or words.

Your partner is getting angry. Blustering a bit, complaining. "We never do what I want." Whereas your view is you always do what he or she wants. Noting, "Pushing, agitated." As you feel agitation coming up, hold it in spaciousness. Learn how to come back to the uncontracted. This is the heart of your meditation practice, coming again and again back to the breath and the spaciousness as you watch objects arise and fall away, until you know that ground and how to rest there, no matter what throws itself at you.

From that space, what needs to be said will be clear. If it's just the ego wanting your choice, not his, and the ego relaxes, you realize it doesn't matter which car, which restaurant. But if it goes deeper than the ego, if you feel that she is choosing for an unwholesome reason, if the food in this restaurant makes you sick and you've said that repeatedly, if the desired car is above your financial reality and you feel there is grasping and fear and greed, lust for that car; I am not suggesting the partner will be able to hear you but you will be able to hold the door open, so to speak, by making the statement, "I'm having a difficult time here. We've been to this restaurant 3 times recently and each time I've had heartburn. I hear how much you want to go there. I'm willing to go and sit with you without eating and then have you come sit someplace with me, but I can't eat this food."

So you reach out in a non-antagonistic way, truly hearing the other person but also able appropriately to say no. This is speaking from the heart of compassion. There is no guarantee the other can hear you. Your job is simply to keep holding the door open.

Perhaps you can see how this relates to politics. Your job is to keep coming back to your unlimited expression and to the uncontracted aspect of your being through noting the arising of fear and contraction and stepping through it. Then you hold the door open for your friends and family, your neighbors, and even for those across your land, across the world. The more of you who rest in this place of non-contraction, the more others will see it modeled and may be able to learn it for themselves. Admittedly, the stakes are high. There is a worldwide karma here: the intention throughout the world for beings who are coming into birth through these days, in this time of transition to 4th density, the intention to finally learn their true nature of unlimitedness and unconditional love, and how to express that. Everything else is simply the ground for practice.

Just as the baseball player is going to take his major league championship game a bit more seriously than tossing the ball around in the back yard with his children, so when the stakes are higher, you are pushed a bit harder and further to do this practice, to learn it, because you understand that everything you do has a repercussion throughout the whole universe.

I don't want to paralyze you with fear and responsibility! Nobody expects you to be perfect. But you're like a room full of schoolchildren learning to spell: CAT, DOG, HAT. Then the teacher tosses in a harder word. If everybody says, "Oh no! No! Only 3-letter words!" how will you ever learn to spell longer words? But of course when you first get into those 4-letter words you make spelling mistakes.

You keep reaching out, letting go of where you thought was your greatest capacity, the limit of your ability, and taking one more step. Sometimes you're not going to be able to do it, and that's fine. You pull yourself back again; you see how you failed. You try again.

So how do we address the terrorism, the politics, the hatred, and the confusion in the world?

This is one of your practices. Do it with love. Watch what within you makes love possible, what within you enhances fear, separation, and the illusion of limitation. You are angels; you are divine. It is up to you, those of you who have some small understanding of that fact, to introduce the idea to others so that this world may truly become the Eden that was promised.

Do not go with the stories of fear. Watch when those stories come up. Clarify it for yourself, and then talk to your friends in a calm, centered way. And if they become reactive and hysterical, ask them to quiet down. Teach these things to others.

Look at the way mind grabs hold of stories, whether it's the personal story of not that car, or the worldwide story of annihilation. Certainly that war could happen and annihilation could happen. I don't think it will, but it could.

What would be annihilated? This particular place of learning. A great loss, yes, but your essence will not be annihilated. Learning will continue.

Trust the process in which you are involved and that everything comes as teacher. That ultimately there is nothing disastrous. Relatively there may be; but on the ultimate level, no. Whatever comes, that is the teacher. Greet it as that and relax and practice the lessons that the teacher brings for your practice.

I will close here, give you a chance to stretch a bit, and then we will open the floor for questions and discussion of the homework of practicing with impulse energy. Thank you. That is all.


Q: I sort of have a question that I'll frame in terms of what's happened to me. The question is, what if it's an impulse to do something that's for your good? My example is, being working in cranial-sacral therapy, and feeling an impulse or a need to move. Something that would allow things to change, something in a way, organic. But I don't do it because I'm afraid. Then I don't feel good.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I hear your question. Please consider the distinction between impulse, that usually carries a contraction with it, and simply, let's call it intuitive movement of the heart. All impulse is not bad. We're not saying it's bad. If somebody throws a ball at you, you reach up to catch it. If you don't, it will hit you. Or at the very least, your team will lose the ballgame.

The question is not so much whether you follow the impulse energy as whether it is fear or love that heeds the impulse. There is need to reflect and see the difference. Often both fear and love are present, yet one is predominant. If I were to throw a soft ball at you, there would be the impulse to catch it. Yet if we were not playing a ballgame, you could just let it bounce off of you. It would be easy to watch and release the catching impulse. But if I was throwing a big wet snowball, the impulse would be to stop it. One can see both fear and love in that action. Which is predominant? If fear, can you hold space for that fear?

Once the snowball stops, you watch the body and see the contraction that it may be carrying. Let me shift the image here. Think of the difference between the snowball catcher where it may be impulse energy, and the tennis player, or the ballet dancer. It's not an impulse that moves them into the next swing or the next step in the dance. Can you feel the difference? There's no self dancing; there's only the dance happening. There's only the tennis movement happening. And it's very possible with the snowball there is only the person moving in that way; no self. So there still may be an impulse to catch the snowball, but it is not the impulse that catches it. There's no thought about it. There's simply the simultaneity of the impulse and the movement. Movement of the heart.

Now, what you are talking about with the cranial-sacral therapy is you feel an intuitive movement of the heart that tells you to shift, to receive the work or do the work in a different way, to come to a different expression of the body. Watch and see how these are superimposed upon one another, that deep movement of the heart and the impulse energy that comes from a much more surface level of the mind and body, that says, "We should do this," and is tense and contracted. Can you all feel the difference of which I speak? I pause.

Barbara: So he is saying, just watch the impulse come and go, and stay centered as much as is possible around the impulse. He says this is especially appropriate with cranial-sacral therapy, where you are very much in tune with the tides of the body. And that this so-called impulse is coming from a much deeper level than impulse energy. Whether it's in the client's body or your own body.

Others? Will some of you share some of your experiences with impulse energy?

Q: I found some great experience with my children, to impulse. And the exercise we did with holding water in my mouth came back many times a day, an hour. I found that reflecting on the water exercise brought me spaciousness to watch my impulse energy of irritation or anger with something the kids were doing. Sometimes my impulse just overrode and the anger would flare, or the irritation would flare. And there was a lot of judgment.

Barbara: Did you invite your children to try the water exercise? (Q: No.) It's a wonderful way for children to learn about impulse energy. Not getting detailed about it, just hold the water in your mouth and watch the impulse to swallow, and you'll begin to see impulses in your life.

Others? What experiences did you have with this exercise at home?

Q: I seemed to be connected to impulse when I slowed down and dealt with habitual habits, such as eating or the desire to eat, or the desire to get on the phone. Several everyday tasks. I have difficulty, I realize more and more, when the impulse gets translated into anger. I can follow it at times and understand it. However, (with the) recent political situation, I have probably never been so angry, and tend to talk even in groceries stores to people! That has been very difficult for me. Once I've done it, I can reflect back on what I did. But in the process, I have a hard time catching myself because there's so much passion in the impulse. And I am beginning to have a hard time maybe with the concept of activism, being passive, active, not feeling guilty, feeling guilty because of anger, trying to find a way to be heard with a loving heart. So could Aaron come live with me?

Barbara: Aaron says he already does! (laughter) He says, with each of you where he has been invited.

Q: He has seen the worst!

Barbara: He says he's seen the best too. He sees the capacity we each have for love.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Please do not confuse awareness of the arising of impulse and the non-self-identity with impulse, with a withdrawal or dispassion from life. The most passionate people that I have met are those who have stepped into this spaciousness, the realization of their true being, and can live from that open heart.

These people may have opinions but they understand that they are opinions and not absolute truth. They do not need to force their opinions in any way, but they are not the least bit afraid of voicing their opinions nor of hearing differing opinions. But when they voice their opinions, they do it with passion. Do you know people like that? I pause.

Barbara: He says, understand the distinction between the person who is passionately right and authoritarian about their views, and the person who is passionately alive, curious, open, expressing what they see but not holding it as an absolute truth, but very open to others' experience. And these are people who live passionately because they are open. They take everything in, filter through it and let go of what doesn't seem relevant. They're not afraid to let something in.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Let me say this for myself. People who are highly opinionated hold on to their opinion out of fear, afraid to let something new in for fear it will dislodge them from their prior opinion. So they become rooted in one place, inflexible. Contrast that with the person who expresses his or her opinion with love and then says, "What do you think?" And is not frightened by your differing opinion but asks relevant questions, educated questions, truly seeking to understand your thinking. And then is willing, if appropriate, to challenge what you have said through what he or she experiences as truth. And always redefining that truth as more is understood. This is the richest approach to living that I know.

So please do not become dispassionate. Equanimity does not mean lack of passion, only uncontracted passion. I'm using the term uncontracted a lot, last class and today. Truly the deepest work of the incarnation is to come to know the contracted expressions of the human, to hold them in a loving space and increasingly to center and rest in the uncontracted, able to observe the contracted expressions arise and pass away. But not self-identified with that contraction. I pause.

Barbara: Aaron says, what about his opening talk and his question of how do we relate to the politics and negativity, the mudslinging of the politicians? All of the different views that are tossed around, how can we relate to this in a more centered way? Or, he's saying, a different way of phrasing the question is, how can this election become a teacher? What can it teach you?

Q: It seems like a really big step from practicing with a sip of water and going to politics! Would Aaron suggest maybe some middle ground steps between the two?

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron. He's asking, have you ever watched a young child learn to walk? (Q: No.) He says, some of you have, but let's try a different image. Have you learned any skill in recent years that started out feeling awkward and eventually became easy? He says, you may think of something like rollerskating, rollerblading, typing, working with a computer, or driving car. These things that felt so awkward at one point. He's saying, you did not try to learn to drive a car, you simply learned how to shift the gears, or how to apply the brake, or how to steer. And slowly it all came together. He says, just practice with the glass of water, with the mouth full of water, and practice as an intermediate step with the friend or neighbor. Allow it all to come together. He says, once the practice is stable, it won't matter what the object is.

He says, it is much more comfortable to deal with a fly buzzing around your head than an onrushing 18-wheeler, but the practice is basically the same. You step out of its path.

Q: This issue of coming to terms with my feelings about politicians, really just opposing politicians, came to a head for me back in 1992. I was advised at that time to accept opposing politicians as people. It was very difficult to begin to do that because I think, at least for me, I thought I had an inalienable right to hate them. And I had to get over that. So it took a long time, many elections, to get to the point where I hadn't completely put aside my negativity but I looked for ways to see how they are more human. And I happened to discover that sometimes what I don't like in them is something in myself.

Barbara: That's a very important observation. And I think it's true not just in politicians but in anybody that we feel strongly oppositional to, that what we're really reacting to is what we see mirrored in them that we don't like in ourselves. How did you learn not to hate them?

Q: I think it comes naturally when you try to like them, or see something good in them. Just the glimpse of something human in them will dull that, or still that sharpness of hating.

Barbara: John Orr talks very movingly of way back before he became a Buddhist monk. He was traveling and was taken as prisoner in Uganda and thrown in jail. They stopped him at the border and said he was a spy. He talks about sitting in that prison. Though he wasn't there for long, it was very scary, hearing people being tortured, hearing the screams of people, and not knowing what they were going to do with him. He speaks of needing to practice non-hatred of the man who ran the prison. He had an instant karmic reaction to this man, a very strong past-life recognition. So he was just practicing metta with this man.

One of the things that helps me is picturing somebody as a child. I've thought sometimes it would be helpful if politicians had their pictures beside them of themselves being potty-trained or something! It would help us to relate to them in a different way.

Q: I have found that one of the most helpful ways for me to look at anybody that I have a lot of trouble with, but specifically politicians, is to remember that I'm on a path and so are they. And I'm just in a different place than they are. I could just as likely be where they are and they could be where I am. That kind of flips the whole thing around, and I have to start to really look at what is it I'm really so intent on hating.

Barbara: And then either the contraction dissolves or the self-identity with the contraction dissolves, even if we're still watching that contraction, with a judgment, "Don't like this anger coming up." But we step out of it a little. Not disassociate with it, but are deeply rooted in that spaciousness and watch the personality self being antsy and uncomfortable. Then we're not caught up in the stories that are surfacing. And at that point, I think, it's a chicken and the egg thing. We can't say this comes first and then that, it's circular. But as compassion develops in that way, we become better able to hear people, and if we're better able to hear people, we become less oppositional, less "this is all bad, this is all good." And are really able to see the bigger picture. And I think this is as true in personal as political, universal, national situations.

It's so easy to take that whole oppositional party and lump it into one evil-doer. But of course it's not. These are people with their own ego issues, with their own habit energies, trying in their way to do the best they can as they were taught. And probably bungling it. It's a pretty thankless job to be a politician. You can't please everybody. Somebody's always going to be angry at you. It's a tough job. And I'm not implying that it's okay that they bungle it and people die; only, this is a national karma and worldwide karma really. What are we all learning here? Why do we keep getting into one war after another and killing each other? What do we citizens of the United States have to learn here that could make a real change in the world?

Q: Can Aaron give the historical perspective on his, what he truly thinks of the amount of negativity in the world today vs. previous times? He talks of moving towards 4th density but I see so much fear and hatred, it seems hard to imagine it's very close.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Those who are deeply immersed in fear and hatred will not move on to 4th density, of course. However, they are the catalyst that, let us put it this way, they are the graduation exam for those who are ready to move into 4th density. Instead of hating them, can there become compassion, and within that compassion, the ability to compassionately say no to the expressions of fear? This is what you need to master to get to 4th density.

Perhaps some of you know the story of Gurdjieff, a spiritual teacher in France. He had a community of very loving people except for one man who was a constant challenge to other people. He was argumentative, bigoted, blamed others, irresponsible. He even lacked personal hygiene and his clothes and body were not clean. He carried a foul odor.

He got tired of people, as he put it, picking on him, so he left. The people gave a sigh of relief. Ah, he's gone. But Gurdjieff went after him and asked him to come back. When the man said no, Gurdjieff offered to pay him to come back. The people in the community were aghast. How could you pay him to come back?! Gurdjieff said, "He is the yeast for the bread. Without him how do you learn compassion?"

You cannot practice compassion unless there is something that you need to learn how to relate to compassionately. Can you view the negativity in the world in this way, literally here as your teacher, here as a challenge? It is a lesson that you will never master perfectly. Simply, in each incident can there be a little bit more presence, a little bit more compassion.

You ask me, how is the world today versus 20 or 50 or 100 or 500 years ago? I think it is more highly polarized. There are more awakened people, more people aware of the spiritual nature of their lives, more people trying to live their lives with kindness. And there are more people who are more clearly negatively polarized.

Several hundred years ago, let us say 500 years ago at the time of my final incarnation, there was more of a neutral polarity, more people who were more self-centered but kind enough to not do great harm to others. The attitude was more, "Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone." And there was a bit more space in the world, in terms of less population, not so much friction. There was still enormous fear but of different things. Yes, fear of an invading army, but also fear of disease. If somebody was sick, he would be shunned, not cared for. There was more pronounced greed. People were not sharing in the ways you share today through your social service systems, choosing to give tax money that will help people who would otherwise starve. So there is more pronounced division, positive and negative, and I think as more people become positive, those who are negative become more deeply entrenched. But negative polarity, is interesting in that eventually it hits a dead end, because the being who is so deep in negativity is suffering so badly. And the only way out is the shift into the uncontracted heart, the shift into more lovingkindness, and eventually every being sees that need and makes that shift.

Does this answer your question? I pause.

Barbara: Others? Let me talk about a couple of things here. We talked last class of the pushing arms exercise. As you push, you feel the contraction. To release, to just let it move through you. Aiji is a tai-chi teacher. She had a family commitment tonight and is not in class, but she'll be here next class, and I'm going to ask her if she will teach you this pushing arms exercise, which is part of tai chi, and which she has done with Aaron, also.

We will have group discussion. What I'd like you to talk about is what Aaron discussed tonight, the working with impulse energy, seeing the contraction, seeing the contraction when somebody disagrees with you about something small, not when it's something big. Fear places in your lives. The boss who's controlling or angry, or the person in your workspace who's always chomping or chewing gum, just distracting and unpleasant. Or some area of habitual contraction and response. We would like you to watch this in these 2 weeks. See how it goes along with the impulse energy. If you did not practice with impulse energy the past 2 weeks, please do that at home. Re-read the transcript, or the end of the transcript, with the assignment that Aaron gave. He talked about trying it with a potato chip. Try it with a potato chip in your mouth, it's a very strong impulse energy! Try with a grape or just the water.

And then take that into the life situation, pick one challenging and recurrent life situation, one person who is challenging and where there is contraction. Watch the whole experience, the impulse to fight back, the impulse, want to get it your way, the impulse to screen them out, or whatever your habit energy is. See what your habit energy is. Watch the impulse.

And then see what happens as you are more present with that whole flow of impulse and intention. Aaron is saying here, in that moment, can you find the uncontracted, as hopefully some of you experienced tonight? Are there questions?

Aaron wants to know, could you feel that energy tonight? He will not ask how many could not feel it, he knows a few of you could not feel it. He would like those few that could not feel it to try practicing at home with a plant, a cat or a dog, a sleeping baby, or whatever might present itself. Just see if you can feel that animal or person's energy field. No right or wrong. He reminds us that the energy field is there; as you relax and offer intention, you will allow an experience of it. Some of us put so much of a boundary on our energy field that we really can't feel another person's energy field. When you relax, it's there. It's much easier with a sleeping pet or child because the boundary isn't there.

So, he says, were you able to experience that expanding outward, that falling away of boundaries? He is saying, get to know how that feels so as soon as boundaries come up, something literally or figuratively pushes you and the boundaries come up, then note what comes in immediately, "boundaries". That which is aware of the arising of boundaries is not caught up

Watch when boundary comes up, seeing it as a habit energy. Just note, because of this push, the habit energy arises to create a boundary for safety. As you bring awareness to it, watch the boundary fade so you're back in spaciousness, so that you really come to know that spaciousness as the ground. The boundaries come and go, they're triggered by condition.

The last thing, I would like everybody to work with the Seven Branch Prayer. If you need a copy of the Seven Branch Prayer and have no computer, please talk to Alice, to get the transcripts from the last spring semester from her. With a computer, look on the web in the book "Awakened Heart." And some of the recent newsletters. The class transcripts are also there.

Please become familiar with this practice and start to bring it into your daily spiritual practice. I'm going to go over the steps very briefly. Aware of something coming up as habit energy, just ah, here's that habit energy. Compassionate regret. Whenever there's a traffic jam I get angry and impatient. I'm tossing out a simple familiar one. This comes up every time I'm stuck in a traffic jam. Anger. I'm not saying it comes up for me, although sometimes it does, but not always. But using that as an example.

The first step, simply asking for help, making the note, "I want to resolve this habit energy." Be aware with gratitude of the many enlightened beings on all planes, physical and non-physical who are available to support us if we do this work. A feeling of gratitudereally opening with gratitude to the possibility of support as we work with thisis important because it's very hard to feel contracted and angry and feel gratitude at the same time. When you allow that experience of gratitude, it helps to resolve the contraction already, to soften it.

And then come back to the item/habit, with compassionate regret, knowing this is such an old habit energy, so deeply entrenched. Note the willingness and intention to bring balance to it. So you would ask yourself on the relative plane, what will bring balance here? Perhaps literally doing metta with the other drivers who are in the traffic jam with you. Sitting there in traffic and reciting metta phrases. That might bring balance. Making a decision for a couple of weeks to always drive in the right lane, in the slow lane, not try to pass other cars, but go slow. Three weeks of slow driving just to see how it feels. Going slow. Being willing to go last. Letting others in, in front of you. That might help to bring balance.

We don't just work on the relative level or we can get into a lot of fix this, fix that. But on the ultimate level there's a place that is not upset about being in the traffic jam. Connecting to that spaciousness. Do you understand what I mean by that? We spent a lot of time with that this last year; and those who were not in the class, please look at the transcripts from last spring. There are a lot of pages but it's workable. If you can do a word search on your computer, look at the transcripts, take them off the web, find Seven Branch Prayer and read about it. I don't want to repeat it in depth. But we do this practice, and then again the offering of gratitude, the taking of this traffic jam as a teaching, not as an obstacle that's being thrown in our path. It's not there to hurt us. Don't take it so personally. It's just a traffic jam. Thank you, teacher.

That's the essence of the Seven Branch Prayer. Please work with this. All of these different facets are going to come together. Using the Seven Branch Prayer is a very powerful way to work with habit energy. Watching contraction and non-contraction and getting to know both experiences in our body. And watching impulse energy and the contraction there. And watching this in daily life in whatever comes up for us that's difficult. Everything's a teacher. Some teachers are very unpleasant! It doesn't matter whether we want it or not, it's there. The present politics of our country, that's how it is. Our own body's health. If it's unpleasant, if there are health problems, that's how it is. It doesn't mean we resign ourselves and say there's nothing we can do about our national politics, nothing we can do about our body. We work in ways that are appropriate and skillful and loving.

So. That's about it. 9:29. I'll see you all in 2 weeks.

(taping ends)

Copyright © 2004 by Barbara Brodsky