November 2, 2005

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. Welcome.
(pause while the heat is adjusted)

I hope some of you masqueraded a bit on Monday night, put on costumes and masks and played a bit with who you might be as an alter ego.

The physical body has a frequency vibration, much like the thermostat that controls heat in the room. You can dial it up, and turn it down. It's a lot more complex a mechanism than the thermostat, but you can learn its workings.

When the vibrational frequency of all of your bodiesphysical, mental, emotional, spiritualare attuned and high, you are much less likely to caught in fear and negativity. When the vibrational frequency is low it is much more difficult to be peaceful, or even to maintain a daily spiritual practice. It's more difficult to be generous and patient and kind because your bogged down by this heavy energy.

There are a number of ways to tune yourself and to raise the vibrational frequency. Offering the intention and carrying through on it, to act in kind ways, to pay more attention, does raise the vibrational frequency but sometimes with this route, you are constantly pushing against the heaviness. The experience is like that of somebody swimming with heavy weights. You can bring forth the intention, "I'm going to get across the river." You struggle a bit because the weights pull you down, but you can do it. But if you take off the weights, the swimming is easier. How do you learn to know the true self, without the weights, without the lower vibration of fear and negativity?

We do not just ask, "How do we raise the vibrational frequency?" The learning is less about what raises the vibrational frequency but more, what releases us from the idea that we are carrying those weights. Here we come to that simultaneity that I talked about several classes ago. The presence of fear, negative thought, and so forth, and simultaneously the presence of clarity, joy, and open heart, ease; it's not either/or, they're both there.

When the vibrational frequency is lower, you get stuck more easily in the illusion that this low vibration is all there is. It's the difference between going outside on a day that is partially cloudy, seeing the clear blue sky, and focusing on the clear sky without denial of the clouds. With no denial, you take a raincoat with you when you go for your walk. Or going out there and saying, "Oh, woe is me! I was going to go for a walk and there are clouds. I can't go for my walk, it might rain! This is horrible!" Which way do you go? You call the idea, "cup half empty, cup half full." But as the clouds close in and the blue sky is less visible, it is easy to forget that clarity exists, and get stuck in the darkness.

Negativity is not innate, it's learned, but once learned, it is brought forth because the vibrational frequency is lower, and the vibrational frequency is lower because of the cycling through the negativity. Catch-22-which way out?

Intention is the starting place. All of you hold an intention to live your lives with more kindness, and intention toward spiritual growth, or you would not be here in this class. I said earlier, that even with intention, there can be a great struggle. This comes when you erroneously believe you must overcome a nature that is inherently negative. Thus, some of you hold loving intention and have the belief that in order to carry through on it, you have to pick up that sword we talked about last class and fight your way through, and others have the understanding that the best way to move in the direction to which you aspire is to put down the sword. Habit energy is very strong so when something triggers you to pick up the sword, it's hard to remember, "This is not what I want to do." Let me give some examples.

One moment please… Barbara is not conscious of what I am saying at all, but before I use her as an example, I do need to clear it with her. That's what I just was doing.

She's mentioned to you, I believe, that her mother was experiencing the effects of Hurricane Wilma, was without electricity, without water. Stores are empty of food. Long lines for gasoline. And now into the second week following the hurricane, not really a better situation except she has electricity.

Last week before the electricity went off, Barbara was supposed to lead a retreat here for the weekend. The electricity went off on Sunday and now it was Thursday, and still no electricity. This is an 88-year-old woman. Barbara is her only living child. There's a responsibility.

Love said, "I need to take care of my mother." And fear said, "I need to take care of my mother." Both were there. Very hardyou ask, "What do I do? How do I know when it's love? How do I know when it's fear?"

The mother did not say, "Please come," the mother said, "Don't come, I'm fine." Fear was coming up. What is the fear about? When Barbara sat with this in meditation, she saw that within her which felt, "I want to lead the retreat. I don't want to have to go to Florida now," and then felt guilty about that feeling, as if saying, "I'm consigning my mother to second place and she should be in the first place. So I should go to Florida just because I don't want to."

Seeing the wild mechanisms of the mind, she was much more able to say, "That's ridiculous. Does Mom want me to come? Does she need me to come? No. Is she safe in this moment? Yes." She had spoken to the downstairs neighbor who had just brought the mother water and batteries for her flashlight. He reassured Barbara, "she's fine, we're taking care of her." There were no flights in anyhow. To get there she would have had to fly in several hundred miles away, rent a car, and drive through impassable roads. The mother is fine.

So she sat again in meditation simply holding her mother in her heart, holding herself in her heart with metta, and holding also in the heart all of those literally millions of people who were in the same situation as her mother, many of them also elderly. Just sending love. As the love came in for herself and for all of these people, she could feel what I described to you as the weight with which one swims across the river, she could feel the weights dropping off until there was just clarity and love. And from that place of love there was the clarity, "I do not need to go, but I also need to be available to go like that (snapping fingers) , if she says, 'I need you.'" At that point, the electricity went on. Of course! And certainly Barbara's husband was willing to go, so that eased any consideration, "Which shall I do?" So it's interesting her mind got caught up in "I should do it," merely based on the fact that there was some guilt. "I want to do this, I don't want to do that."

How often do you get into that kind of guilt? The stories? It's very hard because the human does have preferences, and this is natural. And as soon as you have a preference that feels at all selfish or self-centered, it's so easy to chide yourself for it, and then out of the contraction of guilt, move into a place of lower vibrational frequency. Then fear makes the choice. You can feel it coming out. "Fear, fear." Not helpful.

In Barbara's situation, meditation is what helped her find clarity but there are many ways in which you can work. I brought to you the idea that you're amnesiacs sitting here in this circle saying, "I don't remember who I am." We talked about whether you would go to the park, the cathedral, the bar or the sports arena. Where you would go, and and could you go as a trying it on, seeing what felt comfortable.

One alternate reality you can try on, is to remember, "I am spirit having a human experience." It's very different if you think you're a human who should have spiritual experiences, and try to get to those spiritual experiences through one or another route. It's very different than remembering, "I am spirit and here I am, sitting in this room with my comrades, and we're all having human experiences. Here is a human experience of joy and there is one of fear. Here is one of guilt or shame or confusion, there is one of clarity and ease."

What human experiences do you choose? And if you are choosing difficult human experiences, why are you doing that? "To learn", may be the answer and that is useful to do. "Because I'm stuck," is another answer, not so helpful a reason.

So at one point in that night when Barbara was reflecting what to do and became aware of the guilt, I said to her, "Why do you need to feel guilt?" She looked back at her whole history with her mother, which has by and large been a very loving relationship, and at the fact of her mother's subtle tendency to praise Barbara on the one hand and tell her how wonderful she is, and on the other hand to say, "But you could do it a little bit better." Thusly, Barbara always felt she just wasn't good enough. And here was the opportunity finally to be good enough. "I'm going to do it right this time." But the whole thing is built on a myth because the not having been good enough in her mother's eyes was part of the myth, it was just her inner projection of her mother's words, "This hair is out of place; fix it, dear." "Are you really going out with those socks? They have a hole in them. Yes, a hole in them. Shame on you!" (Aaron laughing as he shows the hole in one sock.) I see some of you checking your socks!

It's all an illusion and you buy into it, and then you live your life around a myth, the myth of your unworthiness, the myth of your imperfection, the myth of your carelessness or clumsiness, the myth of your stupidity. They're all myths.

So I think it's important to ask yourself when you get caught up in a negative story, "Why am I choosing this? Why am I thusly caught? I am spirit having a human experience, and it can be a radiant experience." Of course there's going to be some pain, that's part of the human experience. The back hurts. The head hurts. There's sadness because a friend moves away. Of course. But you don't need to build a negative self-concept on pain, to think, "Because people move away from me, something must be wrong with me." "Because I have pain in the body I'm going to die tomorrow. I better just go check into hospice right now." So many stories. When they come, just relax, be present in the moment and ask yourself, "What is this story?" Watch how it's impelling you into an unwholesome place.

To raise the vibrational frequency, you do not have to get rid of the story. Rather, you have to step back to a perspective that can know it as a story even if it's a very compelling story that's still sticky. You don't have to destroy the story. You step back into that spaciousness. "Ahh, here is the story again. And here is this human who's just being pulled downstream, as in a heavy river current."

Do we have a few good swimmers in the room? Anybody a good swimmer here? Yes. Either of you, both of you. If you tumble out of a boat into a river with a strong current and it's pulling you rapidly downstream but the shore is 20 yards away, what are you going to do?

Q: Swim diagonally toward the shore.

Aaron: Right. Thank you. Note, you don't pick a place on the shore and keep trying to head for it even as you're going downstream. You just keep going toward the shore. The current takes you down and you keep moving in toward the shore. You may hit the shore half a mile down from where you overturned, but you just keep heading toward the shore. If you pick a spot on the shore and say, "I'll go there," and the current is carrying you down, you'll exhaust yourself because you're fighting the current. When you allow the current to be a current and carry you downstream AND you hold the intention to reach the shore, you just keep moving gradually toward it.

Can you see the metaphor here? If you hold the intention to more fully be that spirit that you are, that spirit that is innately loving and clear, and negative thought, fear, old stories come, if you say, "No old stories, just this truth," and attempt to deny that the story exists, you'll exhaust yourself with denial. That's like picking a spot on the shore and trying to get to it, fighting the current. The current is the habit energy of all that negative thought, all those old myths.

But you acknowledge, "This heavy current of old myth keeps pulling me downstream but I don't have to go down and be washed over the waterfall, because the shore is here and I keep an eye on the shore too, and I keep moving myself closer and closer, I hold within me the clarity of my own divinity. I don't lose track of that. I don't lose track of the shore. But I don't fight the current and exhaust myself, but actually allow the current of habit energy to support my work."

It does support the work. It keeps you alert, like a sailor on a stormy sea who has reason to be vigilant. It keeps you connected to intention. It gives you the opportunity to exercise your free will.

Because there comes a certain time when you see clearly into how you had been hooked, see your choice, and can finally choice with wisdom and love. For example, as Barbara reflected that night, why did she feel she had to go? Who was she trying to prove something to? Her mother? No, to herself. Was it fear or love that primarily guided the decision? She could see the guilt. "I'm putting something else first," and that there was a certain habit energy to her response to thusly choosing. Feeling selfish, shame about feeling selfish. Self-interest, shame about self-interest.

At that point, instead of being an opponent, that habit energy becomes the teacher. Can you see that? As you look at the habit energy and say, "How old is this? It's been going on forever. I've believed in this myth of my own unworthiness forever." You realize it keeps bogging you down, these heavy weights that you are carrying. You don't need this; you let it go. Then it's not an opponent any more, but is just a reminder. This is where putting the sword down comes in, or putting the weights down, in the present metaphor.

Let's imagine we were going to have a race here in this room, but the room, rather than being 40 feet long was 100 yards, and wide enough to line you all up at one end. I tell you as you line up, "Anybody who feels very clear and loving about themselves, doesn't carry any negativity about themselves, you just stand there ready to run. Anybody who feels a little negativity about themselves, I've got weights in 20-lb increments. How many pounds do you want, K?" You don't have to answer. M? L? D? How many pounds do you want?

You get so used to carrying around that baggage that you feel naked without it. You believe you have no choice but to carry around this low vibration of fear, of negative thought, especially negative self-image. Do you want the race to be easy or hard? Some of your companions are not going to be carrying weight. Some of them are going to be carrying only 10 or 20 pounds. Do some of you want to carry 100 lbs? Or perhaps you want an excuse to lose, to say, "Well I just can't do it. It's different for me; because in my history there's all this negativity." So you've resigned yourself to it. "I can't walk it. I can't even crawl the distance."

The weights are optional. All of you are divine and radiant and wise and loving. All of you have the ability not only to walk or to run but to fly. The weights are optional.

So when you find yourself living with a lower vibrational frequency in any or all of the bodies, it's very important to ask yourself, "Why am I doing this?" The question is not, "How do I get to a higher vibrational frequency?" but as with the weights, let it go. Why not drop them? It's just like the question with the sword. Last class I asked you to take off the sword. Most of you said you felt relief. But some of you also noted it's scary. If I take off those weights, drop them off, move into this high vibrational frequency, I have no more excuses. That's part of it. What do you need excuses for? The excuses come out of the old self-image; that which believes it needs the weights needs excuses. That which knows it doesn't need the weight needs no excuses. There's an almost instant recognition there. I don't need this. Here we see the simultaneity, holding the negativity and that which knows its divinity and innate perfection.

There are other things that can help raise the vibrational frequency. Meditation certainly is one of them. Chanting. Not for all of you, some of you feel, "I can't chant." If you really hold that illusion then chanting is not going to raise your vibrational frequency but simply further frustrate you. But of course, all of you CAN chant, you only believe you can't. So once you recognize that you can chant, music, the vibration of the voicetry chanting with me, just a clear loud OM. No special tone needed.

<group chanting OM>

Can you feel the vibration in your body as you chant it? Do it again, loud!

<chanting OM>

Can you feel that vibration? A very strong vibration. If you do that a dozen times, it's going to change your vibrational frequency. The whole body starts to vibrate. There's a higher energy.

None of these will work for everybody; see what works for you. Play. Play can be as simple as going out and rolling in the snow or rolling down the little hill in your back yard. Throwing a ball to your dog. Dangling a toy for your cat. Interactive. Your cat's the one that's playing but you're playing with the cat. Relax! Coming back into that which is playful and joyful and at ease. Gardening helps some people. Dancing. An activity like running, bicycling, swimming, canoeing. A repetitive and easy motion that doesn't take a lot of thought. For some people, something more rapid, like a game of basketball or tennis, but then that can create a lot of tension. Missing the stroke, missing the shot. Tension. When you're walking or running or paddling, there's nothing to miss, you're just moving, in tune with the body.

Simply sitting quietly and enjoying a cup of good tea, or whatever gives you ease. Hot chocolate. I would say, nothing with high caffeine content. Decaffeinated coffee if you're a coffee lover. This is not a statement against coffee, but caffeine lowers the vibrational frequency of the body. It seems to give you energy, but it creates contraction in the body.

Knitting. Another one that might work of some of you and not others. If you become frustrated with that then the vibrational frequency won't raise. Something that's easy, flows from you. Knitting or dance or swimming. What are some other ways that you have when your body feels tied up physically, emotionally, or mentally, and you can feel, perhaps you have not thought of it in terms of low vibrational frequency, but you can feel the contraction. What works for some of you?

Q: Nature.

Q: Writing and journaling.

Q: Listening to music, drawing.

Q: Playing the piano.

Q: Painting, walking in the woods.

Q: Splitting wood.

Q: Baking cookies.

Q: Eating cookies!

Aaron: Others?

Q: Ice skating.

Q: Silently repeating mantras.

Aaron: Those are some wonderful ideas.

Q: I have one more. Writing a letter to a friend.

Aaron: Will any of these things be of help if you approach them from a viewpoint of, "Look how negative I am, I have to do something to fix myself."? No. So first it's in the mind. What is the intention, not to fix your negativity but to reopen the window into the blue sky? Not get rid of the storm clouds, just see the blue sky beyond the clouds. Not get rid of your negativity but find that which is inherently loving and clear and radiant right there with the negativity. You have got to be honest with yourself. If you see that subtle fix-it energy and merely give lip-service to the idea, "I'm not fixing anything," but you feel the contraction then the first step is just to sit there, present with contraction. What is this idea that there's something to fix? Simply acknowledging that the idea is there can help the release of it. You mighty say, "Noting that old idea that I have to fix something. I take a deep breath and smile to that idea, and hold the intention to bring forth my highest radiance and clarity, through some loving, pleasant activity, something that opens my heart, something that opens my energy."

It's so deeply embedded in both intention and habit energy, and if the habit energy to fix is there, that's not a disaster at all. Then it becomes the teacher. Here is the habit energy to fix like the habit energy to panic in the middle of the river and try to get to that point on the shore, exhausting yourself. It's the teacher. "That's not what I need to do; go with the flow." By "go with the flow," here, I mean be present with the negativity with no denial of the negativity. That's the only way to cut the self-identity with it. So as you're present with it in that way, then you find that which is also there, which is not negative. And it is from that which is not negative that you offer the intention to journal, write a letter, play the piano, sing, and so forth.

First I want to hear if there are questions about what I have said, and then I want to give you a few minutes to stretch and then involve you in a dialogue related to the assignment from last class. Looking more at putting the sword down and how you may have experienced that. What helps you to do that. Are there questions about what I've said, or comments?

Q: I get affected by cloudy, dark days, and oftentimes I'm not even aware that my energy is low, and what I need or can do to raise my energy. I can just spend the whole day with this low energy and non-productive time. Do you have some good suggestions how to change that?

Aaron: I hope so! This happens mostly when the weather is cloudy, dark, dismal days. I would ask you to hang a small note on your bathroom mirror. Do you have a mirror in your bathroom? … So put a note on, "What is the external weather today? Cloudy or sunny?" Just that. And then below it, "What is the internal weather today? I cannot control the external weather. I am responsible for the internal weather. Do I choose" it's getting to be a long note. You can type it out or you can abbreviate it. "Do I choose to create an internal weather condition of cloudiness that matches the outside, or do I choose to come to that place that is clear and light and spacious and open, within?"

Q: Hearing what you said already raised my energy!

Aaron: What do I want to be? Outside it's cloudy. As soon as it's cloudy outside it gets cloudy inside. I can't move the outside clouds but right here I can change it. I change it just by perceiving it. Perceiving, the atmosphere is bringing the external clouds. My own reactivity and habit energy is bringing the internal clouds. I do not have to move the internal clouds but break through them. I break through them simply by remembering the sunshine that's beyond. Then having read your note and seeing the internal forecast for clouds, but now this morning clouds inside too, choose something, often gratitude is a helpful and easy path. Stop and breath and ask, "In this moment, what am I grateful for?" As soon as you experience genuine gratitude, it breaks through. It's like the clouds, I'm breaking through the clouds.

Aaron: Gratitude is a very powerful tool. It's almost impossible to feel gratitude without the sun breaking through the clouds. Now it may not last, so you may have to remember to do it repeatedly for a few minutes. Letter-writing to a friend. Feeling that internal weather and saying, "I'm going to turn this around by opening my heart" in whatever way opens your heart. Barbara does not experience much depression but one place she experiences a lot of joy, she simply gets on the floor and rolls around with the dog. She gets on all fours and barks at him and he barks back! I hope I am not embarrassing her. He has a long braided toy. He brings it up dangling to her. She grabs the other end and pulls it with him.

Simply being silly. Playful, silly. But if it works for you…. First you have to recognize the internal weather is cloudy. Clouds with a chance of sunshine breaking through. Recognize it by posting that on your reflecting glass. Am I correct that the word is mirror? Hang it there so that you see it every morning, and allow that to be a few minutes' reflection as you comb your hair and wash your face.

Q: Thank you very much.

Q: What is going on when you find yourself depressed and you don't care, you're just apathetic about it, not even motivated to take a walk. What's that all about?

Aaron: That there's no motivation to get out of it? It's hard to give one answer that fits everybody, Q. I can offer several suggestions.

Often it's mostly about anger, anger that is not acknowledged. Anger at some situation, at somebody, at yourself, some area of anger that has not really been investigated but rather pushed away.

Second, you live in such a high-pressure culture, so achievement oriented. There is so little time in your days to just sit and relax. That pressure builds up until you become literally exhausted. So sometimes it may not be anger at all but just exhaustion. The energy field closes in and moves more and more into darkness because it doesn't know how to move away from the constant pressures the ego is placing—do this, take care of that, do this better. Exhaustion closing in, you don't want it to get better. If the depression gets better you're going to go back into the pattern of doing this better, doing that faster. Such absence of energy may be the only way you have allowed yourself to stop.

Those are the two primary causes. Often they interrelate in that there may be some anger about all the things that one feels one should do. Even if nobody else is asking you to do them, only yourself asking. But there's anger. And yet there doesn't seem to be any way out because you're the one imposing the "I've got to do this."

One of my first instructions to Barbara, came many, many years ago when I first met her and we were working with the situations in her life, and she had at that time 3 very young childrenbusy life. She was working in sculpture studio and teaching sculpture and raising a family.

There always seemed to be much more to do than time to do it. As she was more and more engaged in a spiritual practice, she felt frustration. So I said to her, do it with love or not at all. A very simple reminder. What does that look like? Here I'm going to tell Barbara's story. It's a story she has told several times and she will not mind me telling it.

She had come upstairs from meditating, her quiet space being down in the basement at that point. She had come upstairs early on a Sunday morning and made herself a bagel, some orange juice. She saw the children playing in one room. She asked them, "Do you want something to eat?" They said no. Her husband was asleep. The third child was asleep.

She went downstairs and a few minutes later one of the boys, one who had been sick, who was just getting over a bad cold, came in and said, "Mom, what's for breakfast?" This boy was 10 or 12, certainly old enough to toast himself a bagel. But he had been in bed sick and missed the whole week of school. Guilt came up. She thought, "I should fix it for him. I don't want to. I just sat down." She was writing in her journal.

"Do it with love or not at all." And she realized she could do it with love so she went upstairs. She made him a bagel. He had such a big smile when she brought it into his bedroom. He was so grateful, just needing mom to baby him a little bit, to take care of him. Again she asked the other two who were playing a game, "Do you want something to eat?" "No." "I'm going back downstairs and write in my journal."

Five minutes. The youngest one came in. "Mom, I want breakfast now. The game is finished." Do it with love or not at all. It's okay to say, "You told me 5 minutes ago you didn't want any; you'll have to wait a half an hour." Can you do it from a place of love? So she went up and made him the bagel. The third one came in and he got his bagel at the same time. She said, "Fine, I'm done." She went downstairs, she was writing in her journal. Five minutes passed, when she feels footsteps on the floor behind her, and there is her husband. "What's for breakfast?" Do it with love or not at all.

The doing does not have to be a burden if you remember this refrain, "I have the right to say no." If it doesn't come from a place of love, then the whole effort becomes poison. Better to say no than to do it without love. But usually when you check in in that way and ask, "Is there love here? Is there the possibility to do this from a place of love?" you realize there is, and it's the habit energy that's doing it from the place of resentment. It's very difficult to take care of a house full of children, a lot of work, a lot of responsibility. So it's very easy to get into a place where you constantly are pushing yourself. Then the anger comes up. You feel guilty that there's anger because of course you "should" love your children and you do love your children, and you want the best for your children. And yet anger still does come up.

As soon as you remember, "I can do this with love if I so choose, or I can put it aside for now or not do it," then there's no more pressure to do it. Instead of asking, "When am I going to get time for me?" the time that you're doing for your children becomes time for you because it's a time when you have the opportunity to explore your capacity to do with love, and how beautiful that feels. And once you develop that capacity it's much easier to say no when you need to say no.

Q: What if the things you don't want to do are chores, like housework or taking the garbage out? Taking care of things, and you really don't want to do them, and you say you don't want to do them from a place of love…But there are consequences.

Aaron: This is just it. Does love prompt you to live in a house that eventually absolutely stinks because the garbage has not been taken out in a month? Or does love say, "That's enough, I need to take the garbage out."? But it's not a shaming voice that says, "Look how sloppy you are, how lazy you are. Take out the garbage." It's not that kind of voice. It's a very loving voice that says, "Ah, I would feel a lot more comfortable without that smell. Let's take out the garbage." Can you see the difference?

It's the same activitywhat is prompting it? And right there with the "You should take out the garbage," - "Thank you mom, thank you pop, thank you grandma, thank you auntie," whoever's voice you hear telling you you're lazy, you don't do your work, "Thank you, but not today. I'm not going to listen to that judgment today." But from a place deep inside, there's a loving suggestion, "Let's do this."

Q: That's very interesting because I've noticed that a lot of the things I do, I do because they have consequences. And the things that don't have consequences, I have a hard time doing. So this changes the whole, it puts another reason or another impetus to do things, that it isn't necessarily the negative that will happen but acting from a loving stance rather than avoidance.

Aaron: Yes, yes. I could ask some of you do you brush your teeth in the morning solely because you don't want cavities? Or do you brush your teeth because your mouth feels fresh after you brush your teeth? Is it both? Yes.

If every morning when you woke up, your thought was, "I've got to brush my teeth now so I don't have cavities," it would get to be a real strain. But it's a pleasure to brush your teeth and get that fresh taste in your mouth, clean out your mouth. You may shower in the morning, not just so you don't stink but because the shower feels pleasant on your skin, or the bath. It's something you look forward to. You do it because you know that personal cleanliness is important to your health, but I would say that the primary reason for doing it is that there's a certain pull. Let's take care of this body, this would be kind. And there's a certain joy in that.

When you're tired you lie down in bed. Is it pleasant? When you finally get in bed at night, is it pleasant? Yes. And if you did not lie down in bed, if you didn't sleep, you'd get sick. But you don't think, "Now I have to sleep," you think, "Ah, time to curl up in bed. Pleasant."

It's the same thing. Instead of thinking about the consequences"My house will stink if I don't take this out,"you think to yourself, "How nice it will be to have a nice clean trashcan. How nice it will be to have a nice closet. How nice it will be to get rid of the pile of clutter." Not, "I should. Look how messy I am." But "I'm really going to enjoy having a desk that's clean and organized. What a pleasure."

There are some chores that are literally more odious than others. At Barbara's cabin there is a composting toilet. They use the outhouse through the summer, but sometimes in the winter when there's a lot of snow or bad storm or simply frigid outdoors, they use the composting toilet. That means sometime in the spring somebodyat this point it was Barbara, maybe it's Hal's turn for this jobhas to go in there with a small trowel and dig out spoonfuls of this muck, put it in a plastic bag that gets carried out and emptied into the outhouse. Not the plastic bag but the contents of the bag.

So it has the whole winter's excrement in it, and it's got to be scraped out. It's an odious job. So she used to approach it from that place of, "There will be consequences. Once the weather gets warm it's going to stink. I've got to do it." I asked her several years ago, "Can you do even this with love?" As she cleaned she began to reflect on her appreciation for this composter. She had spent a month-long retreat there in March. Some days were brutally cold. Getting up in the pre-dawn darkness, and not having to walk out in the snow or sleet and sit in an outhouse where it was 15 degrees. Her appreciation. "Thank you. Thank you for being here. You have taken care of me all winter and now I can take care of you. Would you like to be cleaned?" And she was really able to bring up gratitude for the presence of this device in her life, and out of gratitude to take care of it. And it was a whole different experience. It was the first time she did not find it, to use her terminology, gross. I can't say she enjoyed it. But she just relaxed and found not an enjoyment in the cleaning of the toilet but an enjoyment in experiencing the depth of gratitude. And your trash can is the same thing, and your desk, and whatever it is that's hard to clean up. Where's the gratitude for this in your life?

Some of you find it hard to take care of your cars. It becomes a chore. They get dirty, they need to be vacuumed out, they need gasoline, they need to go to a shop for maintenance work. It feels like they're always demanding something of you, but think how much they give you! Where would you be without them? It was easier in the days when transportation was with a horse because it's much easier, I think, to feel love for a horse than a car, a living being. But your car is also a living being of sorts.

Start tonight by, if you have not done so already, when you go out to your car, ask it what its name is. Please give your car a name. Begin to talk to it, refer to it by name. See if that changes your relationship to the maintenance work you must do. When it needs gas, ask it, "Sally", or Sarah or Susie or Sam, "are you hungry? Would you like me to stop and feed you?" Offering, "You brought me all this way tonight, now I'll feed you."


Q: I am having a difficult time applying what you're saying to myself in this moment. I feel negativity right now and then I feel a frustration with my negativity, and that I'm not taking what you're saying and shifting it. I just feel like I'm getting part of what you're saying, not fully what you're saying. But I also recognize that I feel almost constantly in this fight with myself about negativity. So I think that you've already spoken to this, but could you say a little more?

Aaron: This is the putting down the sword. That answer to Benjamin Franklin, carry it until you can't carry it any more. It's not bad to carry it. Eventually it will feel heavy or awkward or out of place. So right now there's anger, there's frustration. These are old habit energies. And immediately we see how strong the habit energy is because when the frustration comes, you feel anger at the frustration. When you hear my words and you feel you're not getting it, then you feel angry at yourself for not getting it. So feeling "not getting it" is one kind of frustration. And then feeling anger at not getting it, a second frustration.

In the Tuesday meditation class several weeks ago, working with anger and aversion, the class was studying a sutra called The Arrow in which the Buddha gives a simile. He says, arising anger or frustration feels like getting hit with an arrow. It hurts. Tension, pain. If you get hit with an arrow, will you be kind to yourself for being hit with an arrow? As soon as the thought comes up, "I shouldn't have been hit by the arrow. Maybe I wasn't careful. Why did this happen to me? Something's wrong with me. I hate this." it's just like getting hit with a second arrow. The first arrow was painful enough. The first arrow you couldn't avoid, you didn't see it coming. The second arrow you're responsible for. And yet to say, "I'm responsible, I have to fix it," is just a third arrow.

To give a deep breath and say, "Ah, this is that truth of suffering, this is it. I cannot hold on to what I love. I cannot keep from me that which is uncomfortable. I experience body pain, confusion. When it's warm, I get too hot and I want it cooler, and as soon as it's cooler, I get too cold and I want it hot. I can't get anything right. It never stays right. I can't hold onto it." This is the human condition.

When you deeply see into that, relax, then simply note, "Here is frustration. Aaron is speaking and I'm not quite getting it. I feel like I'm missing something. There's tension and I don't like the tension. Frustration. Ah, kindness is going to watch this experience of frustration. How different that is. Breathing in I am aware of tension, breathing out I smile to the tension. Just holding a space for it and seeing what will happen to it."

Right there with tension is that which is not tense, but you've got to give it some space to show itself. Have you ever gone into a grassy backyard where there were weeds and small flowers? You look at the weeds and think, "I've got to get these out." You get busy with a trowel or some kind of weed poison. Just stop and look at the flowers. There are probably a lot more flowers than weeds. Relax. Then if you decide later that you do want to attend to the weeds, attend to them. But first, stop and enjoy the flowers.

But the habit energy that sees, "Weeds! Weeds! Get it!," is so strong Frustration, then "kill the frustration". Anger, "kill the anger". And this, the whole putting down of the sword, is coming to see the powerful habit energy that attacks negativity, contracts around it, tries to smother or destroy it, and in doing so, moves the whole of all the bodies into a still lower vibration, a more contracted and depressed placed. Does this answer your question?

I speak here to a many of you. In my book, Presence, Kindness, and Freedom, there was a chapter on depression in which I likened the depressed human to a plant that has been planted in nutritious soil, given adequate water, and then put into a dark closet. When you look at the plant a few days later and it's wilting, you wonder, "Why is it wilting? I gave it fertilizer, I gave it water; it's got good soil." But it's back in a dark closet. You are no different.

Suppression of your feelings, such as feelings of guilt, "I should not feel angry, I should not feel resentful towards my family," for example, these are the ways you put yourself into a dark closet and then you wonder, "Why am I depressed?" Bring yourself out into the sunshine, and that's really what we're talking about tonight, the ideas you all have, ways to bring yourself back out into the sunshine. But first you've got to recognize that you've put yourself into a dark closet. Often it becomes so habitual that you don't see it.

Are there further questions? Some of you might like to read that chapter.

Q: You talked about when we are conflicted about doing something and using the idea of doing it with love or not at all, which I understand and have used. But you mentioned that when one does it but not purely from love, that the doing is poisoned. (Aaron asks for clarification/repeat) When one does something without love or not solely from love, that the event is poisoned. I understand the idea that the karmic stream is not running pure or clearly but it struck me that the word "poisoned" gives the idea that there is no good that can come out of that. But it seems to me that we cannot always get to perfect clarity about our actions, especially in complicated family situations. And I had thought that certainly there would be still some good that comes from actions that are at least partly coming from love, that it would not be poisoned, although perhaps cloudy. Is that correct or am I …?

Aaron: You are correct but we need to take it further. First consider that water that is poisoned is still good. Before using it, one needs to filter out the poison. The pure water is still there. But don't drink it with the poison in it!

Taking this further, let's use Barbara's example with her mother. If Barbara had made the decision to go down there, she could have done much good for her mother who's presently quite exhausted. She would have packed a big case of food for her. The stores are really empty of food, and she is living on of sandwiches given freely at the distribution center where they're giving out food and water. Peanut butter sandwiches or whatever. That's what she's been living on for 10 days.

So she could have done some good and she just would have hugged her and been there and let her feel supported, that would have been very loving. That's the positive side of it. There's a wholesome karma there that truly loves the mother and wants to take care of her, does not want to see her suffering. AND, not either/or but and, the unwholesome side, that which thinks, "I should do this," it would have been given more habit energy. Perhaps in the doing of it she would have had the opportunity to sit and look into it, so she might have learned something. But she also might have just stewed a bit in the resentment. "I'm supposed to be leading this retreat. I know John can lead the retreat. I'm not needed there and I'm needed here. But I wanted to be there and I had a commitment to be there." Tension, anger. Her mother might have picked up on that anger. There might have been a strain between them. Maybe not, it would have depended how clear she became, how quickly. But there's the potential to carry that habit energy further if one is not deeply mindful. This is where the poisoning comes in; one just keeps the habit energy going. She could even have gone and come back saying, "Well I did what I had to do," a bit of pride and self-righteousness instead of looking deeply at the feeling of shame or guilt about not wanting to go, wanting to stay here and lead the retreat. She could have covered up that feeling, just buried it completely with the feeling, "Well I did what I had to do." But that's not wholesome. Can you feel that?

So it's not either/or. That which is wholesome brings wholesome karma and good results. That which is unwholesome furthers the unwholesome karma and often brings unwholesome results.

Q: Exactly. That is really my point that… that it is mixed.

Aaron: It comes together. The thing is, when you look deeply and see that which is unwholesome, you often take the same action, for example, to take out the garbage. But there's no unwholesome karma around it any more, it's coming from a place of love. Barbara was able to stay here and lead the retreat from a place of love and I think after that reflection, had it turned out the electricity had not gone on and had her mother said, "Yes, I need you," she could have said to John, "You have to lead the retreat," and gone down there and done that from a place of love. You have to be present and see what's going on.

Q: But sometimes one has to make the decision before one has reached total clarity.

Aaron: Yes, and then one has to stay as awake as one can and watch what's happening. In each moment asking, "Where is love here? And where is fear and negativity here? And how am I relating to that fear and negativity?"

New Q: I was at the retreat this past weekend. Saturday was a wonderful day and I found a lot of inner peace. Then Sunday morning when we sat, there were very few people at the early sitting and it was very noisy. Doors were opening and squeaking and closing, and I was getting very angry and distracted. And every time I would come back to my breath, another noise would come. I went into all kinds of anger and judgment and entitlement, being incensed, it seemed like I could not get to the place where I could see through my anger. And I'm wondering if you have some suggestions for that.

Aaron: You are more new to meditation. It's hard for somebody who is more new to not be supported by the quieted energy. It's also important not to chastise yourself and say, "What was I doing wrong?" Just, it was more difficult.

But I also think that at some level you got exactly what you needed because on Saturday you had the deep experience of peace and spaciousness and joy and recognized, "This can be a fruit of my meditation practice." And then on Sunday, crash, where did that peace and joy and spaciousness go? We start to see really the truth, the first two of the Four Noble Truths, the unsatisfactoriness of experience, dukka. We can't keep things the way we want them to be. If they're pleasant, they'll change, become unpleasant. If they're unpleasant, they're here and we can't get rid of them sometimes. They don't go as fast as we want them to. And the primary reason for that unsatisfactoriness is our grasping.

A dhamma teacher, Joseph Goldstein, tells a story, that he was meditating at a long retreat at a center in Burma. They were doing construction work and hammering on metal right by the room where he was meditating. Just hammering on walls. Loud noise. He said there was Hindi music playing over loudspeakers in the village just down the road, blaring. Finally in anger he came to the head teacher of the center, U Pandita Sayadaw, who was the teacher there, and said, "There's all this noise." He expected him to say, "Oh well I'll take care of that, I'll ask them to be more quiet." But the Sayadaw simply said, "Did you note it?"

Hearing; ear touching the noise, unpleasant. It's only unpleasant because you want it to be quiet. If you had a leak in your roof and finally the crew showed up and were hammering on your roof to fix it, it would be a very pleasant noise. Ah, they're fixing my roof! Unpleasant because you felt this is not how it should be. Craving, grasping. Did you note it? Ear touching the sound. Noise perceived as unpleasant, and then feelings of aversion. "I don't want this." Your peace didn't go away because of the noise, your peace went away because of the aversion and because of the self-identification with the aversion. "This is not what I want. I want it to be different. If it's different, then I can be peaceful."

But perhaps not. You can be just as peaceful once you note, "Here is aversion and I don't have to attack the aversion, that's just further aversion." This relates to what we were just talking about. Just further aversion. Right here, where is spaciousness? Where is the loving heart? Right here, where is the essence of that peace and spaciousness and joy felt yesterday? Because that space of joy and peace is there. There's a conditioned level of peace that arises out of conditions and passes away when the conditions are no longer present. And there is this innate spaciousness and peace and joy, the true light and radiance of your being.

Q: I would re-find that place of peace, and then the door would open again… It's very difficult for me to find the place of peace when the outside conditions are constantly aggravating me.

Aaron: But, I repeat, it is not the outside conditions and it is not your aggravation, even. It's your relationship to the aggravation. And this is why you were at the retreat, to learn about how you relate to so-called aggravation. Wonderful, you found peace on Saturday. Now you have a chance for another lesson. In your life, it's not always peaceful. You can't always, metaphorically, stop people from walking or doors from squeaking. How are you going to create a spaciousness that can be present with things as they are without building up the story "I want it to be otherwise," or, "it should be otherwise," because this presence is where true peace is found.

(tape ends, next tape; Aaron is writing the tape label)

Aaron: I had learned to read English before this new form of channeling but not to write. Barbara was still in the body and did these mechanical tasks.

Q: How do you like English spelling?

Aaron: It's atrocious!

Q: It's fun. You have to have the right attitude…

Aaron: I knew Old English of the Chaucerian times, and in some ways this is quite an improvement on that!

Q: That was totally phonetic but you got to choose your own phonics.

Aaron: Yes, there was no consistency.

Q: I read Chaucer in the original…

Aaron: Pali is such a clear and simple language and the spelling is clear. Sanskrit is even more so.

Q: Well, mixed motivations, mixed results. English is the result of a mixture of languages and cultures. It was never a pure language devised by one group.

Aaron: The English alphabet is easy to master. The shapes of the letters are quite easy compared to Chinese, for example, or Japanese. It is an easy language to learn to write, easy letters to learn.

So… other questions? (none)

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."

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?

So please reflect on this. Take it into your meditation and come prepared to talk about it in the next class. I have enjoyed sharing with you tonight. Thank you for being with me. May these weeks bring you blessings and joy. Our next class is in 2 weeks, the 16th. I hope many of you will join us on the 23rd when we have an open session and I'll tell some Thanksgiving stories. We'll talk especially of gratitude that night…

Thank you for signing for me, M, and to all of you good night.

(taping ends)

Copyright © 2005 by Barbara Brodsky