November 16, 2005

Aaron: My blessings and love to you. I am Aaron.

It is good to look out at your faces. Such smiles, showing joy, ease, and gratitude. Have you found out who you are? Have your memories returned? Still the amnesia, or is it passing a bit?

Tonight I'm going to start with an opening talk but then I want to hear from you.

The human has physical, emotional, mental, and spirit bodies. It is the nature of the physical body to experience sensation, it is the nature of the emotional body to experience emotion, the nature of the mental body to give rise to thought. When a painful sensation comes, it may be unpleasant. When an enjoyable sensation comes, it will be pleasant. And some sensations are more or less boring, neutral, don't hold your attention much. The same is true in the mental body with thoughts and with emotions.

The sensations, emotions, and thoughts arise in the etheric bodies. Remember our sheet from the beginning of the year? Physical, emotional, mental etheric bodies, and higher etheric body. These etheric bodies are on the mundane level.

We can look at an emotion like anger. It is experienced on the etheric level. What is anger? Please tell me, what is anger?

Q: Fear turned outward.

Aaron: Yes, that's very helpful. Others?

Q: A big, major contraction.

Aaron: So anger is felt as a major contraction in the physical body and in the mental body. Hard to say precisely what a contraction is in the emotional body. Can you experience the emotional body without a contraction?

Q: I think so. Are the positive emotions opening rather than contracting? Love, or others?

Aaron: If there's no grasping. But as soon as desire for the loved object comes, then there's contraction again. Can you experience in the physical level with no contraction? Yes. Does it seem to you to be the same thing-- as soon as it's a very pleasant or very unpleasant physical sensation and it moves to grasping or aversion, the body contracts. But if it remains at pleasant or unpleasant, you can rest in that uncontracted space.

And in the emotional body, if it remains with pleasant and unpleasant, you can rest in that uncontracted space. So there can be an emotion of joy or sorrow, perhaps, without contracting. Can there be an emotion like anger without contracting?

Q: Yes.

Aaron: Yes. How?

Q: If one has equanimity with the arising of the anger.

Aaron: We'll come back to this… Tell me more about anger, first.

Q: I think that anger would involve contraction but there are levels of contraction. I think anger would always involve a pulling away and a contraction of the emotional field. But how one reacts to that initial contraction determines what level of contraction there is.

Aaron: I think you're very correct. Let's call it a ripple of disturbance. The anger causes a ripple of disturbance. And then, how is one going to relate to the anger and its ripple of disturbance. It's like having that bowl full of water; the ground shakes a bit and the waters starts to slosh over the rim. If you let it be, it will settle. The ripple of disturbance is there. But if you grab the bowl and say, "No! Stop shaking!" there it goes, sloshing everywhere. Tell me more about anger, please.

Q: I guess I'm feeling like anger can also be an expansion if it's expressed in a safe place. If it's expressed and not held in. I'm thinking like bataka, in a therapeutica bataka is something you use to beat, like a tennis racket, in a therapeutic environment.

Aaron: I understand what you're saying. That anger can have one of two expressions. It can close inward in contraction and diminish the experiencer, or it can be brought up and released so there is an expansion of energy. In what you're saying, we note that the anger itself is not good or bad, it's just energy, and the energy has the options of diminishing or enhancing. (Yes). And yet there are still ripples of disturbance with your bataka, ripples of fluctuating energy.

What does anger have to do with desire?

Q: It's always part of wanting things to be different from what they are.

Aaron: Yes. What does it have to do with frustration?

Q: It's the outward expression or manifestation of frustration.

Aaron: So can you see anger as rooted in frustrated desire, which gives this outer expression of anger? It may be desire for some object, it may be desire for safety, it may be desire simply for things to be different. It may be desire for being, it may be desire for non-being. Can you think of any anger that does not have roots in desire and frustration?


Some of you are thinking of a kind of righteous anger, seeing somebody be abusive to another person, but there's still desire for that abuse to stop and frustration because you are incapable of making it stop. Even in world affairs, seeing what you may think of as an unrighteous war, desire to change the political scheme, frustration because you can't, creates anger.

Can you see the connection to fear? We often talk of anger as rooted in fear. How does that connect with what we just said?

Q: The need to express, to create a boundary or establish a safe haven from something that is threatening.

Aaron: So there's a fear that one will be hurt or one's needs not be met. And that connects directly to the desire. Others?

Q: Fear that if things don't change, one will have to remain in the constant contraction.

Aaron: Yes, I think that's accurate. Any others? A lot of wisdom here tonight.

Can you see the relationship between this whole flow of frustrated desire and anger, fear, anger, and the delusion of a separate self? No self, no problem. And here we come back to, who are you? From the perspective of the small self, fear arises, frustration arises, anger arises.

Think if you will, probably at some time of your life most of you have been into, do they call it a spook house? What do they call it, a fun house? Or a haunted house. You know there's nothing unsafe there. Do you feel fear? Yes. Do you feel anger? In a haunted house, do you feel anger? No. Because there's not a self that feels unsafe. You're playing a game. Do any of you watch horror movies? One. Murder mysteries? Several. Do you feel fear? Do you feel anger? No. Sometimes, yes. For the most part, no. Mind knows it is not real. Mind can see fear arise, and still know its safety.

That which is aware of anger is not angry.

Do you understand that statement, at least theoretically? Anybody who needs me to talk more about it? Yes. Let's see how else it can be explained.

Have you ever watched a sunset with great joy? Have you watched a sunset with joy? Was there any sense of grasping, wanting the sunset to stay and wanting it to leave? (Q nods yes) For you, yes. Have you watched it with joy without grasping, also? (Q nods yes) So you know that experience.

From the perspective of the small self, there can be grasping, "I want more of that sunset!" But there's a different perspective in which you may rest and watch the sunset with a sense of ease and joy, and no grasping arises. Do you know that space? (Q nods yes) Speaking especially you who asked for more information about this, but for all of you. Do you know that space? This is the perspective of awareness….

When I say, "That which is aware of anger is not angry," that which rests in that spacious awareness of sunset without grasping can also watch anger without anger. Do you understand?

Q: Yes. Is that to say anger is not awareness?

Aaron: Anger is not awareness, anger is an object. It arises from conditions and ceases when the conditions cease. Consciousness takes an object. What I call "Awareness" is sometimes called supramundane consciousness. It is a level of consciousness. When mundane consciousness takes an object, consciousness is rooted in the self. When awareness takes the object, awareness is not rooted in the self. Thus we have consciousness, for example, eye consciousness: With contact, eye touching the socks, sense organ touching an object. Seeing consciousness arises. Mind touching a plan, and planning consciousness arises, or a memory, and remembering consciousness arises. Anger is mind touching an emotion as an object. The mind is a sense just as the eye, ear, nose, tongue are senses. The mind is a sense. The mind takes an object. But here we're still in the perspective of self because there's a self who is conscious. We habitually bring in the self. This is the level of the etheric template and all the etheric bodies: physical, emotional, and mental. I'm using these words in a very specific way. Awareness is the equivalent of supramundane consciousness, but supramundane consciousness is a bulky phrase. And people can become confused about mundane vs. supramundane consciousness. So I prefer the simplicity of consciousness and awareness.

Awareness moves into the astral template. It transcends the personal self. So it's the level of being that can hold any object without a self-centered story around the object. And if there's no self-centered story, there can't be desire. Yet if mundane consciousness sees an object and is frustrated in its desire to gain that object, and anger arises, awareness can take that whole process, it's not just seeing the anger. Desire, frustration of desire, and anger were the objects of the consciousness but seeing the whole process of moving into anger is now the object of awareness. Does that make sense to you now? I'm happy to speak more on it until it's clear to people, as this is very important to understand.

Can you tell me some of the questions, anybody who has questions. I want you to remember in this circle, there's no competition to get it or not get it. Our goal is for everybody to understand it, and your questions, those of you who are willing to ask the questions, may help to bring out the questions that others don't even realize they have.

Q: Would you say again what you just said?
(Clarification of what questioner wants restatednot transcribed)

New Q: So if anger arises in that spaciousness… (questioner loses train of thought during clarification of signing.)

Aaron: The conscious mind processes from a place of self. Eye contacteye touches sunset and seeing consciousness arises, and it's pleasant. Desire arises, wanting to hold onto that. There's a bit of contraction there. This is the consciousness level, the mundane level, the etheric level.

At another time, watching the sunset, there may be just spaciousness: no self, no sunset. Some of you may have experienced this with music. Listening to a piece of music, the whole sense of self departs. No listener. No sense of listener or separate object. No separation. Resting in awareness.

That far, I think is clear to people. Now we'll take it one step further. That awareness can also take the entire object of the one who perceives with desire, who feels frustrated in desire and anger arises. Awareness takes that whole choreography and says, "Ah, here is frustration, here is anger." From the perspective of self, there's a person with its stories. "Why didn't this work out? I wanted it the other way." From the perspective of awareness, there's just this flow of conditioned experience, and awareness doesn't build a story on it, or doesn't claim a self as a star character in it. There's spaciousness, there's compassion. Awareness says, "Ah, this is how it is right now, this human who wanted something and could not get it, wanting until the anger arose. Ahhh, sooo…" Does that help? (yes)

Further questions?

So from the perspective of awareness, awareness can watch anger. That which is aware of anger is not angry. That which is aware of fear is not afraid. That which is aware of desire is not desire. We rest in awareness.

Now, does consciousness or awareness pick up the sword?

Q: I think consciousness does.

Aaron: And awareness can watch consciousness pick up the sword and say, "Ah, here we go." No contraction in awareness but on a conscious level there's contraction.

Q: It seems to me that the problem is not that awareness watches consciousness, it's that consciousness forgets about awareness.

Aaron: It's not so much that consciousness forgets about awareness, although I know what you're saying. But consciousness gets so self-involved but it doesn't see the wholeness of awareness that is always present. Yes, I guess you could say then that it's forgetting about awareness.

Consciousness locks into the story. It becomes so contracted, so pulled in, that it can't look up. I see how you would say "forgets", yet. Consciousness forgets about awareness. That's a good way to say it. Thank you, Q. But also, we could say that awareness goes to sleep.

Tell me more. Can you see that it's consciousness that picks up the sword? Who puts down the sword?

Q: Spaciousness, the awareness of anger.

Aaron: Can awareness put down the sword if it never picked it up?

Q: Just as if anger doesn't exist, if there's awareness of anger then the sword can cease to exist or be put back…

Aaron: (claps)…Yes! It's gone, it evaporates. From awareness perception, the sword both was and was not real. Just as the danger in the haunted house is and is not real, consciousness says, "Ooo! Monsters!" And awareness says, "Ah, what a great show they made here!" Consciousness picks up the sword. Awareness cuts through the whole myth of the self and the need for the sword and all the stories. It rests in that spaciousness. But still it's only consciousness that can then put down the sword. This is important in terms of resolution of karma. Can you see that?

Because from the perspective of awareness, there is no karma. Both are necessary. To come into that space of awareness that can see the whole process of picking up the sword, the habit energy in it, and step back into the spaciousness. But you still have to come back to the human level to do the work on the human level. And this really takes us back into the entire work we did last year with the kayas, the bridge and so forth.

Those of you who were not part of that class, you still can understand this material. But if you read some of these transcripts, it will help to clarify it.

The essence we spoke of is what in Tibetan Buddhist terminology are called the 3 kayas. Nirmanakaya, the form body. Dharmakaya, the truth body. And sambhogakaya, which is the bridge between. As humans your job is not to get lost in the form body, in the mundane level, and not to hide out in the dharmakaya, in the supramundane level, but to connect, to hold that space.

When you hold that space, the awareness which can perceiveI'm using anger here as one example, but we could say fear or greed or anythingThe awareness that can perceive anger and yet is not caught up in anger, is not angry, provides the spaciousness that allows you to go back and see "I'm picking up the sword again." Notice how I'm saying it, "I am," because there's a self story there. From awareness perspective there's no self, there's just this mind and body and flow of conditioning picking up the sword. And yet we've got to be honest with the experience. On the consciousness level, there's a somebody here and I'm picking up the sword. But when I hold that in the perspective of awareness, the whole thing softens and opens.

It's a bit like your experience would be if you awakened from your amnesia in that haunted house, you fell and hit your head and fell into a rickety cart. The haunted houses that Barbara used to visit when she went to an amusement park as a child, had a train of little cars that took you through on a track. Monsters would jump out and so forth. So you're walking in the amusement park and you fall and hit your head and tumble into this cart. You open your eyes and find yourself in the haunted house, and there are all kinds of horrors there. Terror comes up. From the perspective of consciousness, there's a self that doesn't feel very safe. There are demons peeking out and headless creatures, and knives whizzing through the air. And then you smile and you realize, "Ah, I'm in a cart in the haunted house." Suddenly the fear goes. Can you see that? There still may be a reverberation when something jumps out and says, "Boo!" The body is startled. But you don't hold onto the fear, it's just a momentary experience of startle because you see the bigger picture. "Ah, the haunted house." You get a glimpse of the light outside as you go by one window, and then you're back into the dark again. A haunted house. You're all riding in that cart most of the time, and you forget you're just in a haunted house. I don't really want to call it a haunted house; that's perhaps a cruel euphemism for incarnation! Rather, a… let's not call it a chamber of horrors either, simply a difficult track! It jounces a bit and unpleasant objects appear. It's just part of the ride, from the perspective of awareness. It's fine. From the perspective of awareness, my dear ones, even death is safe. Do you understand what I mean by that? Death is safe. You've died so many times. You've always managed to make your way through it. If death is safe, what else could be terrifying? But the incarnation does bring its series of challenges!

I want to bring the early handout back into your work. The etheric template as consciousness. The astral template as awareness. I don't want to go beyond that, just want you to think in those terms.

As a part of our discussion, I would like to hear about your experiences with the sword. Let me read the closing notes from last week's transcript.

What I would like you to do is to go further into the question I'm going to read you from last week's transcript. I had asked you to tell me about the sword, and I said, "What you have all just told me is what your assignment is for the rest of the semester. Get clearer understanding of the nature of the sword that you presently aspire to lay down. Clearer understanding of what would support that movement."

When you consider what would support that movement, I would like you also to reflect on the relationship between consciousness and awareness, on the etheric template and the astral template, as we just spoke of it.

From the perspective of the astral template, or from the perspective of awareness, however you wish to phrase it, there never was a sword to begin with, just as the monsters in the horror house are not real. There was a flow of habit energy that created and picked up the sword, just in the same way that we can see the flow of desire, frustrated desire, and anger and then whatever the habitual reaction is to anger. This is one sort of sword that people might pick up.

In terms of what supports the laying down of the sword, I want you to think both on the mundane level and on the supramundane level. On the mundane level, how many of you have worked with me in the past with the Seven Branch Prayer and the Four Empowerments? For those who have not, I would suggest that you read the first two chapters from my book Awakened Heart. We will come back to review of this teaching as a very helpful process for putting down the sword.

Reading again.

We do not condemn the negative behaviors, we simply note, "This habit is unskillful," such as self-blame or self-judgment, or judgment of others. "This is unskillful. It's something that I picked up, my sword to protect myself." You each answered what would help the move to lay it down. You must move toward the nurturing of that support. And you must also ask yourself, "What resistance is there? If I know that seeking out and nurturing the support will help me to lay down the sword and I don't do it, it's because there is some fear." You all spoke of relief. Very few of you acknowledged the fear that would come up once you stood without the sword. Yet I think it would come up for most of you. Relief is genuine but also, there you are naked, you're vulnerable, because the sword has been something you brought in to protect yourself. So reflect on that.

Go deeper into the question of the amnesiac, who am I? Here you literally have the opportunity to rebirth yourself. "Where does my heart lead me? To what do I aspire?" What is the self you are creating in this incarnation? A frightened self? Angry? Judgmental? Confused? Or right there with those can you see the clear, loving, radiant self? What is the self you aspire to create?

Here again, that angry self or judgmental self, is from the perspective of consciousness. From the perspective of awareness, could there possibly be an angry self? There can be somebody going through the motions, but is there any reality to it on the ultimate level? And yet there certainly is a reality to it on the relative level. It's not either/or, it's both. On the relative level, here is the angry self or the helpless self, or the very competent self. And from awareness perspective, this is all just flow of conditions. No reality to it in the ultimate sense.

How do you use the support of awareness for freedom? That's the additional question I would raise. How do you use the support of awareness for freedom? Do you understand the question?

Q: Is it important to go through the motions of feeling your emotions, like anger?

Aaron: Of course. You have to know what's there before you can learn about it. Denial and moving into either a suppression of it or simply into a disassociation of it through moving out into the awareness perspective, that's just another form of denial, really. Then you can't do the work with it. You can go a long way imitating true equanimity, but it's just an imitation, and the karma is not resolved. Can you see that?

Q: Isn't freedom just putting down the sword, or not needing to pick up the sword?

Aaron: You tell me. Which is freedom?

Q: Both.

Aaron: Both. First there's the freedom of being able to put it down, then there's the freedom of not needing to pick it up. And then there's the deeper freedom of knowing nobody ever needed to pick it up. The sword dissolves and we just keep moving into bigger and bigger freedom. But it's a great relief not to need to pick it up. It's a great relief to be able to put it down.

Q: What happens when there's freedom?

Aaron: Do you mean what happens when there is freedom and there is a situation which is genuinely unsafe to the human?

Q: What happens when you actually put the sword down and hold the awareness?

Aaron: Joy, ease, peace. Barbara and I together led a 5-day retreat in Seattle this weekend. The first night of the retreat, that Friday night, somebody became very ill with a stomach virus, vomiting, diarrhea, fever. The next day, 2 more people had it. By Sunday, 3 or 4 more including Barbara. By Monday, there were only 2 people who were not sick. It simplified the meal preparation! A big vat of chicken broth on the stove. A bin of crackers.

But people were still deep in practice. They were getting themselves out of bed when they were able to and coming into the meditation hall and sitting. Going off to the bathroom as they needed to. Doing a very mindful practice. In the beginning everybody said, "No, I don't want to catch this," or, "Oh no, I've got it." But after awhile, almost everybody put the sword down. It was quite remarkable. The sword was laid down and everybody was so tenderhearted and open. There was so much compassion at this retreat. People bringing soup to their roommates, taking care of each other in a very loving way, yet maintaining the silence. It was very beautiful. The sword was put down. And because of the catalyst of putting the sword down around this physical object, and because they had 5 days, many people found themselves much more able to touch the much more deeply rooted swords that they've carried, swords of unworthiness and fear and armoring against grief and so forth. So that's what happens.

So I'm going to stop and let you take a break for 10 minutes and then we'll come back to hear from you.


Barbara: This is me, Barbara, back. (Asking about group receiving transcript.) I came back from a retreat in Durham on Monday, a week ago, and my computer wasn't working when I got back Monday night. And I couldn't pick up email on Tuesday. So I picked up the transcript on Wednesday and I went back out on Thursday. So I just cleaned up the last page and sent it out to you. I guess I sent out the whole transcript yesterday afternoon to Alice…So my apologies that it was so late. I know you like to get it early and I like to get it to you early. I will be home now for the next few weeks so this will get to you promptly!

Aaron says he told you about the retreat, also. I've never experienced a retreat like that. And it was very, very good and very, very difficult.

So I'm not sure if Aaron is going to come back or not, probably he will, but let's start this with me. Hearing about putting down the sword, and hearing about waking up of the amnesiac. Just any comments or thoughts you'd like to share, what you're learning.

Q: In my exploration of my sword, or swords, I have a tendency to go either up into the ethereal or down into my body, into opposite poles. Harder to hold the connection in the middle of the pole…

Barbara: What are you learning? How do you hold it in the middle?

Q: I'm trying to find stability. That's just what I've been experiencing…

Barbara: Does just looking at it in those terms help?

Q: It shows what tendencies are habit patterns and where they're residing. And the tendency to go up or down has brought some degree of clarity to the illusion.

Barbara: That's very important, if I get what you're saying correctly. That one habit energy is whether we try to root ourselves in relative reality and avoid the bigger picture, or to hide out in the bigger picture and avoid the relative. And either can be a very strong habit energy. Do others see that, the habit energy to do one or the other? (yes)

What helps to get you out of that? What helps to provide that stability and hold both?

Q: Trust, maybe?

Barbara: I think trust is an important factor in it. What else?

Q: Self-love?

Barbara: I was going to say compassion, very much the same. Kindness. Mindfulness. Aaron is saying, I'm paraphrasing him, intention, the power of intention. What else?

Q: For me, grounding, which usually I do by going out into nature if I can, but it can be done other ways.

Barbara: I think we get to a point where we know the experience of getting lost in the relative level, contracted, and we can ask, "Where is awareness?" Just asking in that way. You have to ask before you can ground. Then, aware that you need to ground and to invite more stability of that awareness.

Aaron is asking, can you feel the importance here of acknowledgment of fear? When you move into the habit energy, and it's so strong, it's usually locked in place by fear. Just to be aware of the fear can give you some space to step back from it. He says it's a relief to put the sword down but it's also terrifying.

I had an experience this weekend that was not scary but relates to putting down the sword. Aaron told you a little bit about the retreat. So Sunday night I was up all night sick, and I came into the meditation hall Monday morning and simply said, "Have a good sitting! It's 6:30am, I'm going back to bed." I came back in at 8:30 or so to give the morning instructions. Just basically looked around and said, "I can't do this. I'm going back to bed again." I had something that was planned that was written so that people could work with, that was going to be for the retreat closing. I left them with that. This was only half the people at the retreat because only half of them were… there.

Q: Upright!

Barbara: Upright! But talking about the masks that we wear, and "teacher" has never felt like a mask to me. And yet being sick was very humbling. It really tore away any subtle sense of separation as the teacher. We're just all here together with this stomach virus.

I saw a very subtle sense of coming into the separation of being the teacher, and that there was not really a sword to it any more, it was just habit energy that had not been fully acknowledged and released. But it was very helpful to see that and let go of it. I really had to let go of being the teacher for 24 hours. There were a number of senior students there and whoever was capable of doing it… Doron gave the dharma talk on Monday night. He was the only one who didn't get sick. Whoever was capable of doing it, did it.

Just letting go, letting go into that vast field of awareness and compassion. Others?

Q: How do you tell the difference between habit energy and the sword?

Barbara: The difference between habit energy and the sword… They overlap. I don't think that we have to try to figure out the difference. There's a habit energy to pick up the sword. The sword is a specific expression of the habit energy. For example, using the example I just gave, a habit energy of slightly separating myself as teacher. And I can see the catalyst from which that originated years ago, of needing to be the capable one, but that sword of being the teacher has long since been put down. It was just habit energy. There was nothing keeping it in place any more; the habit energy was propelling itself. It was just something I had not recently looked at. And I think the concept "teacher" was very thin. But I could see that there had been a sword once.

We need not to make the sword into too concrete a thing. The sword can be just the habit energy itself, or the sword can be a particular expression of the habit energy. What is it we do that separates us, that moves us off into a contracted self-centered place where there's a lot of fear, where we have to be the one who is angry or strong or controlling, weak or helpless, whatever. These all in a sense become the sword. To be helpless is a kind of sword, using "sword" here as a way of being in the world.

Q: It seems to me that the sword is that which is coming from the fear or grasping, the desire in some way. Of course that is connected with habit energy, but one can resolve the fear and let go of the grasping without having yet lost all the habit energy.

Barbara: Exactly. Yes. That's what I saw at the retreat.

Q: So you could have some residual habit energy unexamined, but have really already put down the sword. Right?

Barbara: I think so, yes. This is what I was experiencing. The sword was put down, but there was just residual habit energy. And I can't say that it's gone entirely. Sitting here right now, there's no sense of "teacher", no sense of separation. I really feel that. But I can't say I was aware of feeling that sense of teacher 2 weeks ago in class. It's very subtle. But in a situation that was threatening in some way, I can see how I would shift into that teacher. So that's both a habit energy and as I pick it up as a way of defending, it's just separating self. "Teacher" is one label for it, but any separation. "Me" is just another label for it. "My" ideas, my opinions, and so forth. Or being the one who knows, as the teacher. And that's not just a formal teacher, but having to be somebody who knows. That's a kind of sword.

Aaron is pointing out that it also can be skillful to be somebody who knows. He says, but there's no self-identification with it when it's skillful. There is nobody who knows, it's just knowing happening, wisdom being expressed. So that's very different. There's no control then or manipulation of any sort.


Q: I have been starting to see a bunch of swords that I was somewhat aware of but which at the moment are starting to come to the fore. I can't talk very articulately about it right now because I'm still feeling my way through that. But I have been involved in this improv theater project and have been performing this last week or two. And I'm realizing how it is foregrounding a lot of issues about self-judgment and my concern about the judgments of others, and my need to be the competent one. And just lots of inter-related stuff that I think is a very rich place for me to use these tools. But it's a very fraught time filled with sudden highs and lows emotionally that are fascinating to look at. And they are all swords of various kinds.

Barbara: It's important to remember these swords are not necessarily good or bad, they're just ways of being in the world. They're all the masks we have put on. Sword and mask in a sense are interchangeable. Sword maybe is more active expression of the mask. But they're all kind of interchangeable. We put on masks, we whip out swords. They're ways that we've had of keeping the seemingly separate self safe. From the perspective of awareness, none of it is necessary. And yet from the perspective of awareness, there's also a lot of compassion for the human that needs to do it. Not judgment for the human but compassion. But from that spaciousness, we then start to see ourselves doing it and just, maybe can say, "Not this time."

This was what I was experiencing at the retreat when I walked in and thought, "Well, I have to give the morning instructions." That mask of the teacher has to give the morning instructions, but Barbara who's been up all night vomiting does not have to give the morning instructions. Barbara can just take herself back to bed and let the retreat take care of itself.


Q: I have been repeating over and over the past 2 weeks, "Do it with love or not at all." And it's been amazing how much easier and more energy that I have just doing the daily things. And learning that it is okay to say no.

Barbara: Good, I am glad to hear that. It really helps!

As you said that, I was thinking of where that "Do it with love or not at all" fits in with my not giving the instructions on Monday morning. I can see how it was not fear that wanted to give the instructions, it really was love. I've come all the way out to Seattle and this is the sangha's chance to work with me and Aaron. And there's a real joy in sharing the dharma with them. So that was love. But it was not loving to push this body beyond its endurance.

Aaron says in relation to that "Do it with love or not at all," he was talking about relating more lovingly to tasks a few weeks ago. He talked about the car, not putting gas in your car because you should but feeding your car because it takes care of you and you'll take care of it. And he suggested when you went out that evening, if your car did not have a name, you name it, he's asking did any of you give your car a name?

Q: Jerk? (Laughter)

Barbara: He (Aaron) says he's serious about this. Try giving your car a loving name and see if it changes your relationship to the chores that you have to perform around your car.

Same Q: Every time I turned the ignition key on to start the car, the trunk would pop open.

Barbara: Aaron says, what do you think it's trying to tell you? (Laughter)

Q: My car doesn't have a name but usually I have named my cars. And I have a long and loving relationship with this one. But she doesn't have a name.

Barbara: So it's a she, at least. Others?

We have 2 more classes. I will get this transcript out to you as quickly as possible. We meet again in 2 weeks. (Announcing schedule)

For those who have not worked with the Four Empowerments and Seven Branch Prayer, they're in the book Awakened Heart… It should be on the web and you can download these pages: Part I, pages 4-9, is the Four Empowerments and pages 11-17 is the Seven Branch Prayer. I think you'll find it very helpful to read those pages. Either next class or the following class we'll work with this. We'll just spend a little time in the class. We won't talk about it at length because a lot of you have already worked with it and it's in the book. But we'll do it as a guided meditation in one of the next 2 classes.

So that's about it. Tomorrow I have part one of this two-part eye surgery procedure. And next Tuesday, part two. I'm hoping that I will end up with some vision in this presently blind right eye. So please hold me in your hearts. We'll see what happens. An adventure into the unknown. I feel very well-supported.

That's about it. Good night.

(taping ends)

Copyright © 2005 by Barbara Brodsky