October 19, 2005

Aaron: Good evening. My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. Light show; you're on stage! (Lights are being adjusted to a comfortable level.)

Last week I gave you an assignment to try to watch carefully the textures of thoughts and feelings. Was anger felt in the physical body, in the emotional or mental body? In all 3, probably. Most important, right there with anger, could you find the place that wasn't angry?

We'll come back to this to hear what you experienced. First I want to build on last class' talk. In future weeks we will go deeper into the handout you received, that movement of the different levels of the bodies. Tonight I want to talk about something related but different. I want to use the same on-stage metaphor.

When we say that you are creatures of conditioning, what does that mean? When we say that you can transcend your conditioning, what does that mean? You are not puppets. With a puppet, when I pick up the strings and shake them, the puppet has no choice but to dance, but you have free will. Therefore, when anger comes you have not responded to the movement of the strings but to the mindset that says, "Ah, the strings are moving and I must move in time with them." What does it mean to establish your free will? And what is it in you that makes the decision of how you will act when that acting goes against old conditioning?

I'd like you to reflect on a possible situation. You're traveling in a foreign country. It's a country of whose language you know the basics but in which you are not fluent. One day as you're walking down the street, a car hits you. You come back to consciousness finding people gathered around you asking, "Are you hurt? Are you hurt?"

You move your arms, you move your body. You seem to be uninjured, just a bruise on the head. You assure people, "I'm okay, I don't need medical care. I'm okay." You get up. You begin to walk on down the street and suddenly you ask yourself, "Who am I and where am I?" A bump on the head, and you have amnesia. You have no idea what country you are in, only that people are speaking a language that doesn't feel like your native language. No idea what your name is. When you were lying there unconscious, that looter (referring to last class with a smile) came and took your wallet and ID. No idea where to go, who to contact. "Who am I? Where am I? What shall I do?"

You're downtown in a city, life bustling around you. Signs blinking, "Bar! Bar! Drinks! Dance! Disco! Movie! Sports complex!" Here's a cathedral. There's a meditation center, a park, a coffee shop. "Where shall I go? "

Where are you going to go? I'd just like you to reflect on that for a minute, not just the places I have named but all the possibilities you can think of. The little corner coffee shop, that might seem like a safe place to go. Go in, get yourselfwhat shall I order from the menu? What do I like to drink? Tea, coffee, cocoawhat are you going to order? And then reflect, what next?

The sign "Help needed to serve meals to the homelesstoday." Don't know what day it is but today. Help needed to serve meals to the homeless. Do you inquire at the restaurant and say, "I'll help"? After you finish your coffee or taste your coffee and spit it out"bitter, not what I like. I want something sweet," are you going to go across the street to the bar? Are you going to the meditation center? What calls to you?

What I want you to see is this choice is not just about the conscious mind. What choices resonate for you? You don't know who you are or where you are but you know what happens in a bar, in a disco, in a movie theater, in a meditation center. Where were you on your way when the car hit you? Were you meeting a buddy in the bar? Were you going to walk in the park? Were you going to meditate, or perhaps you were coming right here to serve meals to the homeless.

From a deeper place beyond the everyday mind, what resonates for you? Let's sit here for a minute with that question. Try not to think it out so much as to touch a very deep place of knowing.


I'd like to go around and hear from you. Have you any idea where you would go? Some of might just say, "I'll stay here in the coffee shop. I don't know where to go." Others might have a clear sense. I repeat, don't try to think this out from your brain but from the deepest place inside. Ask, "What is it that brings me joy? What has meaning to me? I don't know my name, but still can know what has meaning to me." Where would you go?

Q: I would go toward a park or something natural, trees or water, I think. Or a church if there were no park in the city.

Aaron: C, where would you go?

Q: I think I would feel unsettled and fearful with the amnesia. And the safest place would be a meditation area to find help.

Q: I would probably go to a coffee house with friendly-looking people.

Q: I think I would go outside to have a vantage place to just look around and try to soak up what was going on around me.

Aaron: So watchfulness would be your inclination? Two to find peaceful places. One something more familiar, something, to find more stability and understanding.

Q: For me, one of my most peaceful places is the beach at Pickerel Lake. That's where I would go.

Q: I would go, I think, to the meditation center for a sense of safety and trying to figure out what was going on. And also feel safe in asking other people there to help me.

Q: I would connect with people. Or if there were no people, I would find trees or woods.

Q: I would be afraid and confused, so I would go to the meditation center.

Q: I think that what felt natural to me in imagining that was to get a cup of coffee and try and find the beach.

Q: I would try to find a place where I could be alone, and I would try and go inside of myself and be with myself, whoever that was.

Q: I would probably walk around for awhile and attempt to get an intuitive feeling or direction where would be the best place to end up.

Q: I would go to a quiet place outside to make a plan.

Aaron: Thank you all. Did everybody speak? So you can see the clear differences, the individual personality differences, the character differences. Some of you want solitude, some want people. Some want a natural place, some want an indoor place.

I think it's clear from your answers that you would not head into a place that looked negative or violent, it wouldn't feel safe. And yet all of you probably at least know people, not well but acquaintances, who would choose a place that was alive, and I don't want to say just "lively" but challenging. Noisy, threatening, with lots of action. This gambling place, let's go there and see what the action is. Here's a baseball stadium. Different people, different kinds of characteristics. Certainly these are conditioned characteristics, but they go beyond the brain. The brain did not make this decision, did it? Can you feel that it came from a deeper place? (yes)

So we ask the question, who am I? You have amnesia, all of you. You were walking somewhere and now you're at a meditation center with amnesia. There were all those traffic accidents this evening, and now you're all sitting here asking, "Who am I? What am I doing with my life?" We can give you some basics. You're in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Do you speak with a British accent, perhaps that's your native home. We have a different accent here. You're in Michigan in the Midwestern United States. Do you speak with a southern accent, that southern drawl? So here you are in Michigan. I don't know your name, I don't know why you came here, but you've come into a meditation center.

And intuitively, you know how to meditate. If I ring the bell and say, "Now we're going to sit," none of you says, "Sit? But I am sitting. Did you want me to stand up?" The hands know where to move, the body sits up straight. "Yes, I know this. This is familiar to me." But if you had gone down the street where they're rolling dice and somebody said, "Oh, yeah, you're in Ann Arbor. You want to play?" Some of you might know that. Certainly I did in some past lives. I'm not trying to make a value judgment here, I'm just saying you've chosen something that's in accord with your deeper spirit, a place of not only safety but a place that you recognize, that you recognize with your heart.

So let's pretend that you've each gone to the places you chose, sat there for an hour or two, not found any real answers, only a bit more quietness of the fear. You've come out from wherever it is you went and you're back on the street asking, "Now where shall I go?" You have a little money in your pocket but not much. No ID. No idea where your clothing or possessions are. Where shall I go?

As you're standing there, you see a dog begin to cross the street. A car comes around the corner and hits the dog. Doesn't run him over. He's not going fast, just enough of a bump to the dog to knock him off his feet. The car just drives off. The dog lies there whimpering. You hear people saying, "Hey, he got him! Let's see if the next car finishes him." What comes up in you when you hear that?

I know there's nobody here who lauds that perspective. What are you going to do? Do you go to pick up the dog? Anybody here who doesn't go to pick up the dog? Probably not unless you're allergic to dogs, in which case you might ask somebody else to help.

Again it's coming from a deep inner place. You are not the kind of person who says, "Yea, let's see if the next car finishes him." You are a compassionate person. You've learned something more about yourself.

We could go on with this game for a long ways. You have enough money for a place to stay. What kind of place are you going to choose? The meditation center says they've got rooms, and then there's a little boarding house down the street. There's a bed and breakfast. There's a big flashy hotel. Where are you going to stay? With each step you learn something more about yourself.

It's getting dark and you make a hasty decision, "I'll go into that big hotel. It's lit up." But when you get there the room feels sterile and cold. Then you've learned something, haven't you? It's not a bad choice if you learn from it. You stay there one night and the next day you say, "I need to find a different place to stay. That was not a suitable choice for me." So you haven't wasted your night, you've learned something more about yourself. Can you see that?

You go to the Y, get a room there, but it's a bit shabby. The place is noisy. You also don't feel at home there. Again you've learned something about yourself. Maybe the third night you try the bed and breakfast. The people are friendly, the room is clean, it feels just right. Or maybe you go to the meditation center and hear what rules come with the room, that you're to show up at 6am for morning meditation. If that's a joyful thing to do, you might stay there. If that feels like something imposed on you that you don't really want, then you move on. You keep discovering, "Who am I?".

A few days pass. You're learning more about yourself by this calm investigation. What do I choose to do? I said just a little money, but let's say you've got adequate money, that you're fine for 2 weeks. The thief got your wallet and ID but the money was in a hidden pouch.

Some people are playing basketball, volleyball, and it looks like fun. You decide to join in. You find, "I know how to do this." Somebody else comes along and wants to play, another stranger to the group on the court, but he or she keeps making mistakes, dropping the ball. Some of the people there are quite rude to the new one who came, start calling him names, making fun of him or her. Part of you wants to be liked so you join into that bullying. Here's a group of people you're connecting with so you start to do what they're doing. The man or woman finally goes away, head hanging down. You can feel his shame or despair. And as you reflect, you realize, "I don't feel good about myself for doing that." Again, the quality of investigation that asks, "Why did I do that? Am I that kind of person that bullies others? Or am I the kind of person that supports others? Which do I wish to be? I have a clean slate here. What choice am I going to make? Who am I?"

So the desire for approval by this group led you to make one choice, and then a deeper truth comes up and it makes a different choice so that you excuse yourself from the group and go up after the one who is walking away. Go off to apologize. Invite him or her for dinner, perhaps.

So you're not stuck in your habit energy, you constantly have the opportunity to investigate your behavior and make and new and more skillful choice. You're only stuck in the habit energy if you think you're stuck, or if you are not mindful and simply slide along with it.

What I'm describing here is not only a situation of amnesia from a blow on the head, it is literally the amnesia into which you are born. Suddenly there you are, squalling in a delivery room. People pick you up; they have a familiar-sounding voice and odor. It's clear that they love you. You don't even speak the language. You have no idea what your name is, where you can go for safety.

So the conditions that you are brought into are what start to feel safe. If the people who took you home, who call themselves your parents, if they're loving, you start to trust that situation and develop the ability to love and be loved. If they're very critical, judgmental, fearful, you seek safety elsewhere, perhaps in denying your desire to be loved and to be safe, moving into a posturing of, "I don't give a darn."

You may become angry or defiant. You may become self-judgmental. Basically you test the water to find out, "What do I have to do to get love, to get approval?" Here you are in this new situation, and the baby, the young child needs the parents' approval. On that athletic court, you first acted out to get your teammates approval, joining in their mocking of the odd one. And then a deeper voice said, "No, this is not who I am." Those of you who experience unworthiness or judgment of the self or strong judging mind of others and of the world, when are you going to say no and allow the heart to say, "This is not who I am. In my deepest heart I am not a judgmental person of myself or others."?

You always have the choice. It's not easy to be born with amnesia. It's an agreement you made before the incarnation, to not remember who you are, to come in with this forgetfulness.

If you knew exactly who you were, if the mind was clear for the newborn infant, looking back at lifetime after lifetime after lifetime, and all the things that have happened, a clear knowing, "I came into the incarnation to learn or do this," for example, to learn how not to be judgmental, how not to be impatient, how not to react with aggression to others when I feel endangeredif you knew that, can you see that it would just be a matter of self-discipline to enact it?

Let's use a very simple situation. You've learned to drive a car. You're taking the driving test. You know that the rule is, you don't exceed the speed limit. There's an open stretch of road and the officer is sitting beside you. Are you going to speed? "Oh! I could go 100 here! But the sign says 35. The officer is sitting beside me. I want my driver's license. Self-discipline. I'll just keep a light foot on the pedal."

So in the same way, if you came in with a full remembering of who you were, it would be mostly a matter of self-discipline. Those who were able to maintain that self-discipline, they would not change the karma. You can't change the karma with self-discipline because the minute self-discipline softens, you're back to the old habit energy. There's no real insight. There's no inner change.

But those who have the control to be that self-disciplined would seem to succeed. That's not why you came. Each of you came with a very clear blueprint of what you came to learn. For most of you, that learning involves becoming more loving to others and to yourself. Ceasing to create duality of self and other, but truly loving the other as yourself. Nurturing those mind patterns that are wholesomepatience, generosity, caring, and so forthand observing the fear-base behind the distorted tendenciesgreed and aversion. That's what you came to do. Of course, each of you have specifics within that broad generality, but this is what you came to do.

So you're all amnesiacs. And you are discovering through the process of the incarnation who you are, but in order to discover that you must be present and mindful. If you're not mindful, you just boo the other one out on the basketball court, get a clap on the back from your buddies, and don't think about the pain you've caused. It only feels good that others are approving of you. When you are mindful, you realize "My higher intention is not to be approved of so much as not to cause harm to other beings. And I've just harmed another being. That's not acceptable to me." You don't need the brain and knowing who you are in terms of ego identity to make that decision, the heart makes that decision.

The most challenging places in your lives are often the places that you have co-created to help bring you to a decision about who you really are. That's a strong statement; please think about it. The most challenging places in your lives are often the places that you have co-created to help bring you to a clearer realization about who you really are. Sometimes you keep enacting that bully on the basketball court until finally you realize, "Oh, I can't do that any more." Mindfulness clicks in and the awareness comes, "This is not what I came to do. I can't act in that way any more." So the habit energy prevails until mindfulness sees deeply into it as habit energy, and there's a deeper insight, "What did I come to do? What is most important to me here?"

There's a lovely story I have heard told of a man who was the founder of the state of Pennsylvania, William Penn. He was a military officer. He got to know one of the founding Quakers in the Philadelphia area, and he decided to become a Quaker. He resonated with the teachings of Quaker; so there he was, he was a Quaker in his military uniform. And he asked his Quaker advisor, "When do I have to stop wearing my sword?" "When you can't wear it any more."

Do you hear that? You are that amnesiac and you've armed yourself with a sword because it felt safe. Some of you have, not all of you. But if you've armed yourself with a sword, and most of you have, it may be a sword of unworthiness, it may be a sword of judgment of others, a tendency to try to manipulate or control, it may be a sort of fear that your needs won't be met. So William Penn looked at his sword, "Well, it's not doing anyone any harm just wearing it in its scabbard. But if I wear a sword it's because I'm willing or intending to use it if the need arises. It's a very different thing to disarm, to take off my sword."

What is the sword that you carry? You are wandering around the street and you've picked up some kind of sword. What is it? And how long are you going to wear it? The whole lifetime has led you into it. Your parents may have strapped it on you. Probably did. And we don't say, "Oh, you must take it off." Wear it until you can't wear it any more. And the "I can't wear it anymore" message comes when you start to know who you are. So who are you?

We're not condemning the warrior with his sword. We're not judging the frightened person who wants to be safe, nor the habit energies of so many lifetimes. But exactly that which led you to go out and rescue that injured dog, that quality of lovingkindness, acknowledgment of that quality of the self, of one's innate radiance and divinity, this is what will lead you to lay down the sword.

I'm not going to put you in a situation of asking you what the sword is that you carry. Some of you might feel embarrassed to share that. Rather, I'm going to ask you how you think it would feel to put it down. Some of you might feel there would be relief. Some of you might feel it would be terrifying. Some of you might feel it would be both. Whatever the sword isthe predominant sword, some of you have many swordsbut what you see in this moment as the predominant sword, swords, knives, guns, you're well-armed.

Two questions, and we're going to go around again. How might it feel to put it down, whatever it is that the predominant sword may be. And what might support your ability to put it down. If you wish, you may simply say, "I pass." No shame in that, if you don't feel able to talk about it. But I would like to make this full circle again. V, I am starting with you again.

Q: A greater confidence in my ability to rest in awareness.

Aaron: You're saying that you can rest in awareness…

Q: If I felt more confident in my ability to rest in awareness, then I would be more willing to put down my sword.

Aaron: So this is the skill that you most need to stabilize… Thank you.

Q: Relief is the first thing I would feel putting the sword down. And I have felt at times that I have put the sword down, and the knives and everything down. And it's a wonderful, free feeling.

Aaron: What supports your putting it down?

Q: I think just feeling love inside.

Aaron: … feeling that you are loved, or your ability to love, or both. In no specific order, just working our way around.

Q: I would feel relief. Being around people who have already put down their swords is very helpful.

Aaron: And what supports the putting it down for you?

Q: Interacting with people who know how to put down their swords.

Aaron: That's a wise answer.

Q: Relief is the feeling. And what supports it, I think I get flashes of the relief and the feeling of what supports it is just being more compassionate with self, myself. And just the continued practice and awareness of that pattern.

Q: Pass.

Q: For me it would be a release and a relief. I think also, feeling a sense of love for myself and others would help me to get there and support that. And certainly being around others who have done that, and are trying to do that.

Q: Initially, relief and expansion, but then that propels me into a new level where there's a process of initial terror, and then eventual relief. What supports me is information from a larger awarenessAaron, actually! And then working with it and experiencing that larger consciousness that I resonate with.

Q: I would feel relief and lighter. What supports me is…being in loving energy and allowing myself to take that in. Spiritual energy, I don't know if that's any different. That experience of that inside of me.

Q: Last night M and I, or I, came to a conclusion that in a symbolic sense I will not lay down my sword, I will just move it to a lower level. So a very big decision for me.

Aaron: It's important to remember that the lowering is part of the preparation for releasing it. Some people may feel they can release it immediately and then, as M pointed out, after the relief of letting it go, terror might come. Others may say, "I need to put it down gradually so I know I am safe without it and my loved ones are safe without it." And to keep investigating that process. And eventually, how low can it go? Once it's down there, what's the next step? So just keep watching it in that way. Your process is not wrong.

Q: My sword is constant fear, now and projected onto the future…I feel that putting it down would be a relief, and that it would open up joy and being able to experience life on this plane.

Aaron: Thank you for speaking, my sister.

Q: I would feel liberation and freedom, but then I would feel vulnerable and it would be like a seesaw between the two. What I would need is someone who has laid down one of their swords but is still dealing with their other swords. I want to ask a question but I will ask it after everybody goes around.

Aaron: We will return to your question.

Q: I would feel exposed. What would support me is to feel safe in my ability to love myself.

Q: I pass.

Aaron: M, we return to you.

Q: It feels like I tried to lay down my sword, and the very person who was encouraging me to do so hurt me in that vulnerable exposed state. And so it is hard to trust that that won't happen again.

Aaron: Please remember that you have multiple swords. One may be the need for verification from others, and another may be a different kind of sword. I'm not just speaking about you, M. Then if one acts and the other person seems to abuse the trust and does not confirm your action but negates it, perhaps what's happening at a deeper level is that within the self there is awareness of the need to give one's own affirmation, and not to need to rely on affirmation from others. And perhaps that is the higher learning that is sought.

I don't want to speak in such a way to suggest that I condone unskillful or negatively based words or actions from people. But when we co-create those in our environment, anger from a person or abuse from a person, clearly if someone abuses you they are responsible. You are not responsible, because whatever catalyst you offer, they have free will to respond with kindness or with negativity. If they choose negativity, they are responsible. But you have co-created the situation by giving the catalyst by which they will respond however they will respond.

So for some reason you've gotten yourself into that situation in the first place. That means there's something you sought to learn in that situation. And if you look back at what were some of the most challenging situations in your life where you feel you have grown, you'll see that that precise situation was the charge that helped bring forth the growth. Perhaps you had to go through it 5 or 6 times before you finally caught on and said, "No, I don't have to do it this way," and were able to do it in a more openhearted way, and then you literally put down the sword.

What you have all just told me is what your assignment is for the rest of the semester. Getting clearer understanding the nature of the sword that you presently aspire to lay down. Clearer understanding for what would support that movement. In other words, to lay down the sword of self-blame, self-judgment, or to lay down the sword of impatience or quick anger, inharmonious speech, quick reactive speech.

We do not condemn these behaviors, we simply note, "This is unskillful. It's something that I picked up, a sword, to protect myself." You each answered what would help support my move to lay it down. Then you must move toward that support, the nurturing of that support. And you must also ask yourself, "What resistance is there? If I know that seeking out and nurturing this support will help me to lay down the sword and I don't do it, it's because there is some fear." You all said relief; very few of you acknowledged the fear that would come up once you stood there 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.

Take it back deeper into the question of the amnesiac, "Who am I?" Here you have literally the opportunity to rebirth yourself. "Where does my heart lead me? To what do I aspire? What is the self I am creating in this incarnation? What is the self I aspire to create?"

Are there questions?

Q: Do children co-create how their parents react to them?

Aaron: To some degree, yes. Some of you may not be comfortable with my answer. I want to first state that no child who is abused is responsible for that abuse. No matter how provocative the child, the adult is always responsible. If you have a dog that nips a little and every time it nips you hit it, will that teach it not to nip? The adult makes the decision how it's going to respond to the sometimes provocative and sometimes not provocative at all, just simply childlike behavior. Sometimes the adult has very little skill and the child feels the impact, even the brutal impact of that lack of skill. The child is not responsible.

And yet, the child has moved into the incarnation to be with that being as parent, caretaker, or primary figure in its life, for some reason. The child moving into the incarnation can only know the karmic tendencies of the parents, but if those parents are working to resolve unwholesome karmic tendencies, the lifetime could be very different. If the parents are unable to even approach resolution of those negative karmic tendencies, then the child will be in for a rough trip. The child doesn't know the future when it incarnates. At some level it is taking the role to serve as foil to the adult, not just that the adult is teacher to the child. But the child brings whatever it brings into the incarnation: its innocence, its lovingkindness, hostility, its fear, it brings whatever it brings, in part to challenge the adult to respond in a more skillful way that the adult aspired to respond when it came into the incarnation. But sometimes it feels like it just gets into a whirlpool of negativity.

The situation of your insulated nuclear families in this culture is quite destructive. There is not wide family input in the home; the child only has its parents, not the aunt or grandparents, not the cousins, not the people who live in the home or immediately adjacent to the home. You have schoolteachers yet you change your teachers each year, for most of your children, so there's not a teacher throughout their life. So the children in your culture have a very hard time learning because the impact of the home is so powerful and not softened as it is in so many cultures.

I have lived in lifetimes where as a growing child, boy or girl, I lived in a compound, sometimes a matriarchal lineage, sometimes a patriarchal lineage. Given, for example, a matriarchal one, the mother and all the daughters and their husbands lived in a compound, maybe 5 or 6 daughters, the mother, and perhaps the grandmother, the mother's sisters, the sisters' daughters and the mother's children, they all lived together. Fifty people, sixty people. And in that situation, the child could always find support. Even if there was strong negativity in one or several of the adults, the other adults were not afraid to challenge that one and to protect the child. The lack of protection to children in your culture is appalling to me and I think much of it has to do with the isolation of the nuclear family.

That being said, this is still how you live. This is the situation into which you have chosen to incarnate. It's the situation you have chosen for your children. Therefore each of you must be even more responsible to be careful of your children, knowing that they do not have the protectors, and each of you who grew up as that unprotected child must recognize that at some level you made this decision to incarnate into this culture. You did not know how your parents would be with you, but you know that it was important for you, as it is for almost everyone in this culture, a very primary piece of learning in this culture, to learn to trust yourself. Not to buy into others' opinions of you but to trust yourself. And as part of that trusting of the self, one has to open oneself to one's own emotions, including the negative ones, and cease to condemn the self.

It's hard. You've chosen a hard incarnation. We've gotten a bit off-track from your question. I hope I have answered it. Are there further questions?

Q: Do you wait until you have that trust, until you work on putting the sword down?

Aaron: How does a baby learn to walk?

Q: It tries.

Aaron: Does it tumble a lot first? Or does it get up and just walk perfectly across the room? It tumbles. And what does it do when it tumbles, does it cry? Sometimes. Does it just lay there and quit or does it pick itself up and try again? It takes a lot of tumbles to learn to walk. There's a fierce determination to learn to walk. Not a grasping determination, but a deep aspiration from the heart to be afoot, to be independent. Does this answer your question? (yes)

Are there others with a question?

Q: I would like to hear a little more about what you were saying about this culture having a primary focus on learning to trust oneself.

Aaron: In some cultures, one forms one's self view from those around you. Since in those cultures one is ensconced in both negativity and positivity, in other words, as I described, those who were negative in my family and those who were loving and supportive. So I had different models of myself to look at and was able to find out who I was by looking at the people around me and knowing what I wanted as my model.

In this culture, children are often in a situation where there is only negativity. Sometimes they're in a situation where there's strong positivity, too, of course. Then there's not a problem. But when there's only negativity, they don't have the model. The only reason that I can see that a human being would move into such a situation is because they needed to learn how to say no to that negativity and trust their own deeper sense of their radiance and divinity, of their innate goodness. So no matter how many thousands of times you hear, "You're rotten! You're incapable! You're stupid!" instead of rage coming out, there has to be a deep knowing, "I am not those things."

There's a beautiful Buddhist sutra [Samyutta Nikaya VII.2 Akkosa Sutta]. A man comes to the Buddha and condemns him. Speaks in a very negative way. The Buddha remains calm. The man says to the Buddha, "Don't you hear me? Don't you hear what I'm saying about you?" And the Buddha asks him, "If guests come to your house and you serve them some food, and they say, 'No, thank you, I'm not hungry,' to whom does the food belong?" To whom does the food belong if it gets turned down? Does it still belong to the one who has served it? Yes. Yes, if I offer you something and you say no thank you, then it's still mine. So the Buddha said, "You're offering me your anger and I'm saying No, Thank you. It's yours."

This is basically what's being learned. How to do that, how not to buy into the stories that are fed to one, one's stupidity, one's incapability, one's wrongness. So, so many of you have come into the incarnation so many times with the positive models, and yet because you judge yourself, because you aspire so deeply to purify the self, you see, let us call it God or divinity or simply That Which Is, goddess, whatever you want to call it, you see it as so radiant and pure, and you see your own shadow. And you feel in order to be worthy, to reconnect to that which you most deeply aspire to reconnect with, you must cleanse yourself perfectly and absolutely. You must get rid of every tiny bit of negativity in the self. And of course you can't do that. Always as a human, emotions will come up and some negative thoughts. But there's the aspiration that you want to take steel wool and scrub yourself until you bleed, and you're still not good enough.

So no matter how many times people tell you you're wonderful, you can't believe it. Rather you think, if only they really knew me, if only they knew the negative thoughts I haveI'm just getting away with it! And that makes you feel even more shame.

So the move into the incarnation, then, and surrounded by negativity is for you to finally be able to say, "I am okay. I am whole. I am radiant. I am beautiful. And yes, I still have some negative thoughts. And that's part of my wholeness, it's not a problem because I don't act those negative thoughts out on other people. At least, not too often. And I keep trying to do it a bit better. And I respect the innate divinity in myself."

This can be learned to some degree by the modeling from another, but once you hit that point where you feel, "If they really knew me, they wouldn't say that. If they really knew me, they'd know what I was like underneath," then the only option is that you have to bring it out in yourself. And when you come into an incarnation that's challenging, challenging parents and situation, your only possibility is finally to go into yourself and say, "This is not who I am." The example of the basketball or volleyball player who bullied with the others at first and then said, "No, this is not who I am." And walked off the court. Went after the one whose feelings were hurt, to apologize. You start to see who you are. Does that answer your question?

Are there other questions?

I don't want to challenge Barbara's energy by releasing the body and then coming back into it, so I'm going to ask you just to take a minute to stretch in place…. And then I'd like to discuss just a little bit the homework from the last class.


Aaron: (Reading from last class) "Come to know the simultaneity of stillness and movement, tension and non-tension, confusion and clarity. That's what I would like you to do in the coming 2 weeks." We spoke about the experience, elsewhere in the transcript, I don't know quite where it is, we talked about watching to see the movement in the physical, mental, and emotional body. That there might be a movement, for example, into tension. Where was the tension held? What was the physical experience of tension? What was the mental experience? What was the emotional experience?

And right there with tension could you find stillness? Right there with confusion in the physical body, the mental, the emotional body, where is clarity? Could you see that the clarity was right there? This came in part from our improvisation last class, the acting out the part and seeing the personality self involved with the part and the pure awareness self able to observe so that one might be perhaps afraid or aggressive, that was the part you were acting out. And right there as you acted it out, there was also that which was not afraid or not aggressive. So we're talking about the simultaneity. If any of you explored this during the 2 weeks and would like to share it, it would be helpful to hear your exploration.

Q: This is something that happens to me all the time. I hear something on the news, something the White House has done or like Katrina or the war or Sudan, and I contract and my body feels completely tense and tight, and I feel hopeless and despair. And then I take a deep breath and I remember that there's a larger purpose to all of this difficulty and struggle, like clarity about the wrongness of the war or attention brought to the invisible poor. And then I feel better. But there's so much pain in the present, all towards a larger progression, but still pain in the present.

Aaron: And of course, recognizing the pain in the present and the deeper purpose, finding that stillness, we may still act out of that stillness to alleviate the pain. Others?

Q: I had an appointment for a medical procedure today. I left home in plenty of time, but ran into construction and was 15 minutes later than they wanted me to come but still 15 minutes before the procedure. I signed in and sat down and waited a half hour, and went to the desk and asked them what was happening. And they said they took someone else in my place. And I was pissed!

I could see myself having a choice to be pissed or not, and I chose to be upset. But it was a conscious choice, and I walked out. Now I have to reschedule. But in the frustration, I was at a consciousness of what I was doing.

Aaron: At some level, perhaps enjoy is not the right word, but at some level the experience of the anger felt good. I would presume that there was something enticing about it.

Q: But I would just as soon had they taken me and I was through with this. So I'm upset with myself….

Aaron: I assume if you had stayed there they would have eventually gotten to you.

Q: Eventually.

Aaron: So you learned something, something about yourself and reactivity and being kind to yourself. And perhaps, to always take a good book with you.

New Q: I didn't always remember to notice the simultaneity when I was confused or anxious. But looking back I can see that in those times I can see that I did have the clarity and centeredness at the time, but I wasn't tuned into it.

Aaron: Yes, I think that's a very astute observation. I think it's true of many of you. Confusion and clarity, and it's hard to hold both. The confusion is swirling around and you move into it, and in doing so you turn your back on the clarity. So at first one has to repeatedly bring consciousness with the question, "Right now, where is clarity? Right now, where is peacefulness and non-anger? Where is patience? Where is fearlessness?" If you look, you find it there, but it's very easy to forget it's there so you need to remind yourself very frequently to look. And you must not use the presence of that clarity or peacefulness as a way of dismissing the confusion or agitation.

Simultaneity. You rest in the both. The conscious human being on the mundane level, using our chart, the physical, mental, and emotional body is experiencing this (happening)

There must be no dismissal of the relative experience but the recognition of how the heart can stay open with kindness to the difficult relative experience, embracing the relative experience, helping to create more space for it. And yet not so caught up in it as self, with self-identity.

And then one reminds oneself to ask, "Where is simply staying open to (the) both?" Feel the level of reverberation on the mundane bodies and begin to make the shift into that etheric template, which is where you find the beginning of the clarity, peacefulness, spaciousness. They're both there together.

So this is what I would ask you to do for the next class, continue with this assignment from last class transcript: come to know the simultaneity of stillness and movement, tension and non-tension, confusion and clarity. And I would also ask you to reflect on your human situation as amnesiacs. Who are you? What did you come to learn? What is the nature of the sword you carry, the predominant sword you carry?

When you put it down or even consider putting it down, feel the mixture of relief and fear. If I put it down, who will I be without it? Will I be safe? Knowing that there will be relief for most of you in putting it down then the question comes, what will I gain by continuing to hold it?

So next class I would like to discuss these, to go around as we did tonight with more time spent in discussion. I thank you for your attention. I wish you a good evening. I will return the body to Barbara and she may have some announcements.

(taping ends)

Copyright © 2005 by Barbara Brodsky