April 6, 2005

The session was begun with 5 minutes of silent meditation

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. I will begin with a guided meditation, so please keep your eyes closed.

(Recited slowly, with pauses)

Envision yourself in a flower-filled meadow, with flowers of every color and shape, and of a variety of sweet scents. There are butterflies everywhere, and there are rabbits. A short distance away, deer graze. It is a deeply peaceful spot. There is a stream bubbling over rocks, with a lovely sound. Across the stream there is a woods, quite dark, a somewhat impenetrable woods. But the stream is wider than this room and holds the woods at a distance.

As you sit here in the meadow by this stream, sun warming your body and feet pleasurably cooling in the sparkling water, you feel safe. At the furthest edge of the meadow behind you, steep cliffs rise up. In those cliffs there are caves, which you have enjoyed exploring. Just sit here, feet wet up to the calves, the sun warm. Such a lovely scent in the air, and butterflies alighting on your shoulder. A deer comes up almost within reach, looks up to gaze in your eyes, and goes on with his grazing. Feel the sense of serenity and of safety, the peacefulness and joy.

A hundred yards away you see friends also sitting quietly by the stream. You know that later today you may share a meal and some conversation together. Can you feel how open your energy field is, free of contraction, free of fear?

The mind is quiet and peaceful, not filled with plans for the day, not filled with worries, just here enjoying this sparkling water rushing over the rocks, and the bright colors of flowers and butterflies. A soft touch on your hand. You look down to see a small rabbit, its fur brushing the back of your hand as it browses in tender shoots of spring grass.

Suddenly something hard and painful strikes your shoulder. At the same time you hear shouting, angry cries. Even as you look up, something hits your chest, and another object hits your forehead. People across the stream are throwing rocks with various kinds of projectile weapons, slingshots and such. They are yelling, really agitated. The rocks are coming harder, they are bigger.

You run toward the cliff and toward the cave you know is right there behind you. This land has a bit of magic in it, and this is a magical cave. As soon as you enter, the walls lighten with a soft luminescence. Turning around, you place your hands on either side of the entranceway, and a door, a flat sheet of impenetrable material, slides closed, closing more like an aperture, closing from sides, top and bottom. Closing in and in and in until there are only a few inches of circle left, and then that closes until the entrance is entirely sealed.

Just at the entrance, the floor is rocky but then it becomes carpeted, and the walls glow a bit more. It is a completely safe place, nothing can break through. You hear the thud of rocks against the outer wall where the doorway is, but you know nothing can break through. Mind is agitated. Who were these people? Where did they come from? What did they want? When will they leave? What about my friends? What about the deer and rabbits? Is everyone safe?

You continue to hear some sound of rocks so you retreat further into the cave. There is a padded surface on which to lie and a soft covering. Lying there you can dim the lights a bit. At first you are too agitated to sleep, but as time passes, you fall asleep. You awake to silence. You are hungry. This cave provides everything that you need. It has washing facilities. It has food and water. Everything one could ask for within the cave. It is made so that only one person at a time may enter. There are books to read, music you may hear, but you are alone.

Several days pass. Your fright was so severe that you do not even enter into the outer chamber but stay well within the inner recesses of this space. The mind continues to churn for a few days and then it quiets down. You read books, you watch films. There is no telephone, no email, no communication directly to another being. You play music, play your own instrument a bit. You eat, you sleep, you bathe, you walk in circles around your small space, perhaps do yoga, and stretch.

You rejoice in feeling safe. You feel gratitude for this safe space. But as the days pass, loneliness comes. You feel quite certain now that each of your friends will have retreated safely into a cave, that the animals fled to safety. You have heard stories before about angry beings coming from across the stream. You never experienced it yourself until now, but the stories are part of your people's history.

More days pass. You reflect that spring, which had just barely begun when you went into your cave, must now be in full bloom. The lovely fruit trees will be blossoming and filled with scent. The new fawns must be born. Your heart yearns for the sweet smell of the grass growing. Each time you think of coming out, though, the image of those angry faces and the feel of the rocks contracts your whole mind and body so that you settle back into your safe cocoon, pushing away the yearning for connection.

How long will you stay in this safe cocoon? Remember the door is like an aperture that opens gradually. One day you open it just an inch or two so you can peer out. A doe and her fawn are grazing just in front of your cave door. Rabbits are in the meadow, and yes, the apple tree is in full bloom and as you open the door, the scent comes spilling into your space. How lovely! But there is that element of risk. These people may not have been after the doe and fawn and rabbits. What if they're lying in wait for you?

A day passes and you look out many times. The next day you open the door a bit more, big enough to put your whole face through. It seems peaceful. Open the door further. It opens in such a way that the sides move backwards into the walls and the top lifts, all away from the floor so that you may sit in the doorway, literally right there in the doorway, the doorway shaping an arch around your body. Should you feel endangered, in one moment you can touch the walls and it will snap shut.

Sit in the doorway. Sit there as long as you need to. Reflect on the dangers that you experienced, the fear and pain, and reflect on the joy and beauty that awaits you if you are willing to step outside of this space of armor and allow yourself once more to be vulnerable in the world.

Let us sit in silence a few minutes while each of you works with this. See what invites you out. Know that you may sit in the doorway for as long as is necessary. You do not have to come out. It must not be fear or any judgment of "I should" that brings you out, but love. There are no guarantees. You may get out as far as the stream and find rocks thrown at you again. What draws you to the willingness to take that risk? Try to experience directly how it feels to sit in the doorway and then to move out.

This is a conscious choosing of love over fear, a conscious release of fear's stories, because the open heart aspires to connect and not to stay within a barricade. The door is open just a few inches. The sweet smells come in. The deer and her fawns graze undisturbed just 50 feet away. Yet the rocks that were hitting the cave are piled on the ledge outside where they had struck the walls and fallen Their presence is a reminder there are rocks as well as flowers.

I'll be quiet now for a few minutes.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Welcome into our communal cave, a delightful place. Please will you share your experiences or thoughts you have, or whatever special happened to you that you'd like to share.
(long pause)
Did some of you come out? How was it? What brought you out?

Q: I wanted to see if the other people were OK, so I found myself knocking on the cave walls.

Aaron: So the loving heart brought you out, not fear for other people but love for other people. (Yes.)

Q: I was thinking about the animals and the image of my cat came to me. And then I thought about my mother.

Aaron: So again, love brought you out. Thank you, C.

Q: The desire for connection and being with the flowers and the deer and the butterflies and the water and the people, all of it, the connection.

Aaron: And if I read this correctly, L, it was not a grasping to connect from fear but really love, this loving enjoyment of connection.

Q: I wanted to play with them all.

Aaron: The rejoicing in the connection. Those of you who continued to sit in the doorway, how was that?

Q: Honestly, I felt in and out.

Aaron: Could you play with that, feeling safe because you could go out and you could give yourself permission to come back in? Not forcing yourself out?

Q: It was more just noticing how safe I felt, and noticing sometimes I felt better in the cave.

Aaron: Safety is a key, here. What allows you to feel safe is not the doorway itself and the magical aspect of it, but giving yourself permission to stay inside as long as you need to. As soon as you force yourself out, there's a feeling of threat, of danger. But when you allow the heart to lead you out, you know you are safe. Can you see that?

Q: I went out when I realized that I could come back if I needed to.

Aaron: I'm not speaking directly to you, M, but to all of you: in what ways do you NOT give yourselves permission to come back to a safe space when you need to because of judgments? Yet if you give yourself permission to return to a place of safety, it's much easier to come out.

Q: I experienced being by the stream and seeing an angry person with a rock that they were about to throw at me, and not knowing what to do.

Aaron: But it's OK to duck!

Q: Or run, or…

Aaron: Or say no. These are all the different ways you have of entering and departing the cave. To enter the cave is metaphor for the ways you barricade yourselves. But also to come into the cave is a way of coming into a place of safety, not just a prison but a place of deep safety. Coming into the inner heart. Coming into touch with your higher self. Coming into meditative resting in ultimate reality. These are all ways of touching safety. Coming into prayer, into devotion, into song. You each have your ways of providing a place of safety.

The place of safety is skillful. The difficulty is eventually you must venture back out. So you must recognize that you are coming into a secluded place, that it feels safe and good, yet it also has its limitations. You cannot live your life in ultimate reality. You have to come out and touch the world. And in a different metaphor, you cannot live your life with armor around your heart and still live a life of love and connection. You need to see the limits of that safe place, whatever the nature of it might be.

Are there others who would wish to speak?

Please take this meditation home and practice with it. You do not need to repeat the whole beginning of the story, simply set yourself down and feel the cave around you. Feel the safety of it and also the limitation of it. Sometimes this will be in relation to a direct experience, feeling hurt by someone's words, for example. Retreating into the safe cave. Feeling overwhelmed by challenges of the day, retreating into the safe cave. Stay there for awhile until the heart is ready to lead you back out. There's no forcing of the self, but a gentle invitation, getting in touch with that which is beautiful and good beyond the cave, so that you find the innate connection, joyfulness and love that bring you out. Some of you may retreat into such a cave because of anger or shame or depression. What brings you out?

Is there any other comment offered before we go on?

Q: I was enticed to go back to the shiny water, the animals, the sunshine. I thought of myself as a target, and then also thought of myself as ammunition. And so I was able to go outside the cave and enjoy the things that were enticing me. Sunshine was important.

Aaron: I think you've made a very important point that within this safe cave there is no sunshine. There's artificial light, but there's no sunshine. Where's the natural human yearning for sunshine?

Q: The cave only felt safe for me emotionally, and then not knowing what was going on outside made me feel very uneasy, angry. When I first came out, it was just filled with joy, but then sadness when I saw the rocks that had been thrown.

Aaron: In the human existence there will always be rocks. There's no life without some thrown rocks. Sometimes you are the thrower. How can we make peace with that? It is skillful to seek shelter when rocks are coming at you. It is not skillful to use that story of danger to keep oneself hidden away, not able to participate in life because of the possibility of danger, because there will always be a possibility.

C, in terms of not feeling safe because you don't know what's going on out there, I think it would be useful to look at that part of the self that wants to control. We can find real shelter coming in but still the stories say, "They might still be throwing them. What if they break through?" It's important to look at those stories in order to feel the full refuge of the shelter. It is a real refuge. It's important not to step out because of fear, seeking safety outside because the cave no longer feels safe. At a certain time, the refuge does shift and become a prison. At that point, we yearn to go out. But here it is love that draws you out. Can you feel the difference? (Yes)

Aaron: I want to move on now to a related subject. Barbara was walking in the woods today, a beautiful spring day. All the small shoots were just coming up from under the dead leaves. Rebirth. What we have been talking about, emerging from the cave, is a kind of rebirth, and I think this is a good season to talk about the meaning of rebirth.

What are you birthing this spring? You're here in a spiritual inquiry class, let's call it spiritual rebirthing class. What is it you most wish to birth? Love, faith, joy? Patience, gratitude? The answer will differ for each of you. Give some conscious attention to this rebirth process. The woodland plants were not gone, they simply were dormant for the winter. In just the same way, these beautiful qualities in yourself may have lain dormant for decades, even for the entire lifetime. That does not mean they're not there. The warm sun, the warming soil, the soft spring rains, awaken the woodland plants, and invite them to emerge. What is the parallel in your lives? What awakens those qualities that you wish to nurture and invites them to express? But first you must remember they already exist. They have been lying dormant under the snow of winter. What gives warmth in your own life? What gives sunshine?

For so many people, the belief is that they must be rid of something to make space for the new emergence. For example, to see impatience in the self and believe, "I must get rid of impatience so that I can be patient, I will conquer impatience." How? Are you going to get a stick and beat it to death? Or anger. "I will beat anger to death so I will be loving." That's even more strange.

You must understand that love, patience, generosity, joy, ease, all of these beautiful mind states already exist. There is nothing to get rid of. The sun does not change the soil, it just warms it. The ice goes not because somebody has come out there with a hatchet and beaten the ice into little bits but because the sun has warmed it. How do you warm the soil of your own being to nurture the qualities to which you most wish to give rebirth?

I want to emphasize the rebirth aspect of it, because within rebirth we acknowledge this quality is already here. Therefore there's nothing outside of yourself you have to get, only to come into to touch with this already existent, hidden quality. Right there with anger is love. Right there with impatience is patience. Right there with fear and grasping is generosity. What will nurture these for you?

I'm going to ask you to do a drawing. The drawing ability itself is in no way being measured and is quite irrelevant. If you're a good artist, fine; if you're not a good artist, no problem. I would like you to draw at home with crayons, markers, watercolor or colored pencils so that you have some color in it. Draw a garden, the garden of your own being in this season of rebirth. Sketch it a few times to get a feeling of it. Drawing it without thinking, "Now, this is a patience plant." Just draw. Then look at the plants you've created. See if you can identify them. What are the plants that you most wish to nurture? Which ones are big and strong? Perhaps you see yourself as a very generous person and you recognize this big flowering bush as generosity. But you also feel that patience is difficult for you. So the little plant that's just coming up, that's patience. Are there weeds around it? What blocks its growth? If it's very small, perhaps it's being shaded out by fear, and if you just separate the leaves of fear a bit, you can let the sun come into the patience plant.

Aaron turns the tape and remarks that Barbara usually does this, that he is not experienced with such tools.

Q: It's good for you.

Aaron: Indeed it is! I have enjoyed playing with Barbara's new computer. Patience!

These give out different kinds of energy than any I have met before. I've never known this kind of electrical energy before. And indeed it takes some getting used to. It has a mind of its own.

Draw this garden. Identify those plants that are strong, robust. Identify those plants that are emerging and that you most wish to nurture. Identify what you think of as the thickest weeds. Don't get out a scissors to cut them down, but rather, ask, what can allow the weeds to open a bit so the plant can grow? If you've got a 2 foot plant and 4 foot weeds, weeds shade out the plant. But as the plant grows, the weeds just fall away. The plant begins to shade out the weeds. So you don't have to get rid of the weeds, just to open space in them so the plants you most wish to nurture can receive light.

Hang this drawing someplace where you will see it every day, perhaps in the place where you meditate, and look at it each morning with the recognition, "Today it is my intention to nurture the plant of patience, or generosity or lovingkindness", whatever it may be. Pay attention throughout the day. Be aware when the weeds come. Be aware when they're thick. The thicker they are, the more energy you need to give to the plant itself. Not to getting rid of the weeds, but to nurture the plant more because the weeds are thick. Can you see how that works?

So I'd like to ask you to try this, and if you will, to bring your drawings to the next class. You do not have to share them with others if you do not wish to. But for those who are willing to just pass them around and share them, talk a bit about how it worked for you. What did you choose to nurture. Is it growing? So please do this in the next day or two and work with it for 2 weeks. And then possibly after the next class you will be ready to do a new drawing showing what has happened, what has grown in 2 weeks, what has changed. What are you birthing, and how is it growing? Are there questions?

Barbara has been working on the plant of equanimity with her eyes. Patience and equanimity. Last fall there was very little equanimity. Big weeds of fear and doubt. She was able to bring loving attention to the fear and doubt, to know doubt as doubt, to know fear as fear, and to trust that somewhere under all that huge bush of fear and doubt, there is equanimity. She didn't think she had to create equanimity, but to find the equanimity that already existed and has always existed. There would be brief moments where she connected with it, and each time she connected, she found it grew. It grew and it grew until finally it became strong and solid. That does not mean fear and doubt ceased to arise, only they no longer made a big difference. The equanimity towered above them. She would feel the fear and doubt. She would choose not to get caught up in its stories, to return to a spaciousness that understood, not that her eyes would get better, but that she was safe. Equanimity is not about choosing this over that and believing it will happen, that's grasping. Equanimity is about knowing whatever happens, it's OK. So that is the predominant plant Barbara has worked with this winter.

Think about what plant you are working with, and also reflect on what plants are already strong in you, because these are the basis of your already-existent garden. Don't take them for granted. Feel the joy of their existence. Are there questions?

Q: Is it OK to focus on the rebirth of a chakra rather than a quality?

Aaron: It is fine to focus on the rebirth of a chakra, remembering that the chakra has always been open at some level, and to focus on what will help it to establish itself with more power, to flourish. Remember that each chakra connects with certain qualities of mind and heart. For example, the throat chakra, the ability to voice one's truth in the world. The solar plexus chakra, the ability to be with groups of people and feel at ease with groups, not into a power struggle with others. The base chakra, the ability to bring forth life, life force, life energy. So they're not specific qualities like patience or gratitude. But they're very real qualities, yes, and it's fine to work with those qualities.

Are there any more questions?

Q: Can you say more about the assumption that equanimity just exists already?

Aaron: You use the word "assumption," and I feel it in a slightly distorted way. Let us use the word "knowing" instead, knowing the quality exists, versus the assumption that it exists. I can see that for some of you there is not yet knowing and you have to assume. But I would like you to try to come to the place of knowing because you can confirm its existence. At a time, for example, when you feel angry, as the anger quiets down, love remains. Maybe you're angry at someone in your family, someone you care about, and you can feel the power of the anger. As the anger quiets down, ask yourself, "Do I love this person?" Yes. The love is still there. The anger's temporarily gotten in the way of seeing that love, but the love is still there. In a situation where you are asked to give something of yourself and fear comes up and blocks your generosity, rather than say, "I assume there's generosity," say, "Where is generosity in this moment? Can I literally get back in touch with it?" You will find you can. Then there's no more assumption, there's knowing.

Take this process to equanimity. When there is agitation, ask yourself, "where did I misplace equanimity?" and see if you find it.

Assumptions are easily knocked aside. Experiential knowing is not so easily knocked aside. Does that answer your question? Others?

You are quiet tonight. If there are no other questions, we will stop here. We're going to shift our energy and work on the vision tree. I am delighted to see this tree taking blossom with the visions of the entire community. It is a profound work of co-creation.

I will leave Barbara at this point and let her explain this exercise. My blessings to each of you and may you enjoy this beautiful spring within and without.

(tape off and on)

Barbara: This new way of being with Aaron is quite different and I want to share just for a minute about it with you. I used to not know what Aaron said but to be aware that a process was going on, to be aware the time was passing and I was doing something through that flow of time. Although I didn't get the content of his thoughts, I did get a subtle sense of them. I had some idea of what subject he was talking about. Probably much like an interpreter for a foreign language, I was struggling to get the meaning of the words, process it and say it out, so I couldn't get involved in the content, but I had some general idea of the content.

But now I have no idea at all. I have no sense of the passing of time. No idea of what he's doing. The other day apparently I was drinking herb tea sweetened with milk and sugar. We started a session with somebody and he tasted the tea and said, "Pfthth!" And he walked in the kitchen and got himself a cup of good black tea! I had no awareness of the movement.

Q: Has he had cognac yet? (long ago, when asked if he missed anything about human experience, Aaron replied, "butterflies and a good glass of cognac.")

Barbara: I don't have any in my house! I'll have to get him some.

When I begin a channeling session now, the new process that I'm using is to breathe deeply. Aaron slowly comes in and takes over the functions of the body. First there is the challenge process, which we always do. I offer a challenge, for the good of all beings, and more. He accepts it. Then he has me breathe and slowly I can feel him taking over the process of breathing, taking over the nervous system. I can feel him taking charge of the heart, in a sense, the heartbeat. The limbs start to feel numb, they disappear. We repeat the challenge together; "for the good of all beings; in the spirit of love; harmonious to the teachings of Jesus." Here it is more a statement of mutual intention. And then finally the last moment, there's just a "I give you the body, Aaron." And he just takes it. I'm totally unaware at that point until I feel him kind of nudging and say, "Breathewill you please take back the body now?" And then we go through the process in reverse.

Q: Where are you when Aaron is in the body?

Barbara: I don't know but it's very peaceful. I'm in a place that feels very much like that space where nothing arises or dissolves, a very peaceful, light-filled space. There's just awareness and not cognizance. I'm sure if a fire suddenly swept into the building, I would come back immediately, Aaron would wake me up out of that space immediately or would just move the body to safety. I'm not in danger. I'm just in a very peaceful place. It's much more restful than the previous way I channeled.

How is it for all of you with the dialogue that he's now able to do?

Q: It's obviously different to me. Aaron is completely present here and it just feels different. It's cool!

Q: I love to look into his eyes. Have you ever watched video of you leaving and Aaron coming, or vice versa? This feels more pronounced.

Barbara: No. I've always wanted to, I never have.

Q: (inaudible)… very loving, very different than anything I had experienced before. Like there's a really honorable, wonderful being here, a very wise being and very spiritual.

Barbara: It has felt to me like his ability to dialogue with people is helpful, that it's much easier to just let him take it than to try to paraphrase it and go in and out of a trance state… Were you doing all the signing (speaking to a person sitting in front)?

Q: No, he's very good at lip-reading.

Barbara: So he can lip-read. Can he lip-read the people in the back row? (Yes.) Does he put my glasses on? (No.) No glasses, interesting. Let's stop with this now and move on to the DSC vision tree. I'm going to turn the tape recorder off.

(taping ends)

Copyright © 2005 by Barbara Brodsky