July 30, 2010 Friday AM

Keywords: akashic field/akasha, karma, relationship, elements

Aaron: Good morning. My blessings and love to you all. I noticed a few of you sleeping here... Not much energy, we'll get you out on the lake and give you some energy. Are you sleeping poorly? Why are people not energized? I noticed a lot of people falling asleep here this morning, including Barbara. Not sleeping well?

Q: Jet lag, and chocolate.

Aaron: If you have too much chocolate, share it with others and everyone will sleep a little bit poorly instead of a few very poorly...

Q: Maybe we should have chocolate now to wake up!

Aaron: So, let's wake you up. Stand up...

Turn and face the lake. Feel all the elements in balance out there. These wonderful trees around us, the water, the sky, the sun. Invite it in to your body. Be one of these trees. Feel your feet rooted in the earth, drawing the energy up in the body, through the arms, the branches, the fingers gathering sunshine and energy, and drawing it back down into the trunk. Wave the trunk a little in the breeze...

Breathe deeply...

Now I am going to come around with a hose attached to a tank to which I have added energizing food, fertilizer, and I'm going to water all of you! Feel all that energy coming at you...

Breathe deeply again, letting the arms come back down. Roll the shoulders a bit, releasing tension. Let the head roll around a bit. Good, okay, you may be seated.

By now you have at least some sense of what each of the four basic elements feel like, balanced and unbalanced. I want to read you a quote from a book called, The Field, by Lynn McTaggert.

"Human beings and all living things are a coalescence of energy in a field of energy, connected to every other thing in the world. This pulsating energy field is the central engine of our being and our consciousness. There is not me and not-me duality to our bodies in relation to the universe, but one underlying energy field. This field is responsible for our mind's highest functions, the information source guiding the growth of our bodies..."

And it goes on to say "the source guiding our minds, our thoughts, our emotions, everything." She doesn't use the word akasha. She might as well. What she's describing is the akasha.

The akashic field is filled with akasha as ether/ space/ energy in the same way the ocean is filled with water. The akashic field is the container that holds the akasha. There is not such a subtle distinction. The ocean is an overall term and the substance is water but also sea creatures, sand, coral, the different kinds of impurities that enter the water, so it's not a perfect metaphor at all. But the akashic field is the infinite container that contains akasha.

The akasha is... I was watching some of you working with clay yesterday making a thumbprint. It's the clay in which you can make your thumbprint. If you take the moist smooth clay and you press against it with a finger or thumb, the image with the swirls comes out; the finger or thumb is seen. The akasha is the substance that holds everything, but it is also that which is imprinted. So it's not just the clay, it's the thumb and it's the intention to press the thumb, it's the energy, it's the thought "Now I will press the thumb," the akasha is all of that.

Every action, every thought, every movement, these are all imprinted somewhere. I used the image the other day of very fine filaments of silken web expressing from – literally the way I see it – the different chakras. So it's all imprinted somewhere, it's all interconnected. Intention is at the heart of it.

I described to you the condition in Barbara's house. The ground floor was what had the flood and needed work. The tile man came and the insurance company paid to have a new floor put down, to tear out the old moldy rugs, and they decided not to put carpeting down again but to put tile down. So this was fine.

For many years, Barbara and Hal's upstairs dining room, which has tile floor, a number of the tiles have been cracked. A subdivision was built behind their house 10 years ago. It changed the water table, and the concrete foundation under the dining room sank a bit. About 3 dozen tiles were seriously cracked, with sharp and jagged edges. They had a few estimates and people said they would need to pay many thousands of dollars to tear up the whole floor and repair the concrete and put in a new floor.

Barbara and Hal wished for a repaired floor. Not a new floor, they love the floor, but a repaired floor. Too much money, just forget it. So Barbara had thought, we'll just get inexpensive carpeting and cover the whole thing. I said to her, send out the image of what you want without grasping, without fear. Simply invite. That was 6 or 8 months ago.

Now this tile man was working in the basement doing an excellent job so she suggested to her husband, ask him how much it will cost to repair the dining room floor? He came up and looked, He said, "Oh, I can do that; it's fine; $400 dollars." Soon he will repair the floor.

Just inviting. There was not a "But it won't work, we won't find anybody," because then they wouldn't find anybody. And there was not a "Forget about it, it can't happen," so no resignation. One holds the image one sends out, from the heart. In this case, this one silver thread holding the image of that dining room looking beautiful as it once did, without tiles that catch on your feet and cut you. A safe, pretty floor. Nothing big, just the floor that they put in 25, 30 years ago, a nice floor, an adequate floor. Sending one image out. It connected. The man smiled and said, "I'd be happy to do that." Just that one silken thread.

The real trick to this is that when you send out that silken thread, the next thought is, "What if it doesn't work?" Then you start to receive messages back, energy back, for all the reasons it won't work. It's very hard, takes a lot of practice, to hold that balance where you send out that one image and release.

Using Barbara again as an example, she's been learning this year after year, deepening her understanding of it, with her hearing and at the Casa. In the beginning there was grasping. First there was no grasping, there was more a, I would not call it equanimity but simply resignation. There was equanimity but there was also, "I won't hear. I accept that."

Then she went down there and they said, "Possibly." There was still no grasping. But then they said, "You will hear." Oh! When? When? Grasping. So it's taken, she's been going down there for 7 years. It's taken about 4 or 5 years to understand how to invite without grasping, how to hold up the image or experience, hearing, as something to which she aspires and then let it go, and trust the universe to send exactly what's needed.

For your work here at Venture Fourth, I think you know that Barbara had planned to have somebody else come, not Norma. She was excited about this woman, about her work, thought it would be perfect for the group. But then she got a couple of signals that perhaps this was not perfect. She emailed Barbara 2 weeks ago and said, "I cannot come. My mother is very sick. I must go and take care of her. I'm sorry. I'm sorry to leave you in the lurch so close to your date. I cannot come." Fine. Who was meant to come?

Somebody reminded Barbara of Norma. Barbara emailed Norma. Norma said, "Wonderful. I'd love to."

If you try to push these things around, you simply invite more negativity, more obstacles. The more you can stay open, trust that you don't have any idea how the universe is working but you hold this vision, the intention for the highest good, and let go, the more space there is for what is needed to arrive. It's very hard to let go sometimes. (Person) spoke the other day about his situation and the bankruptcy. That's scary. It's a scary thing to do. And yet he and his wife have done this with a deep sense of trust. Not always trust, I am sure-- fear, but also a sense of trust: the universe is working through me in the ways that are needed. What will come, will come.

This is what Barbara was experiencing this past two months with the lump under the tongue and it's removal. It will be malignant, it won't be malignant. However it will be, it will be. I aspire to health. What that path to health will look like I don't know. I'm willing to just follow it where it takes me.

So this is about the physical body, about the emotions, about the mind and thoughts, about relationships. It relates in a central way to karma. Contraction solidifies karma. If you have a thought, "Oh! I need this to happen. I need it to happen just this way," and the energy goes back and forth and the body is contracted, and this silver thread becomes a heavy steel rope, you've created some very strong karma.

Let's use for example the relationship with some family member-- spouse, parent, child, cousin, grandparent, with whom there's been some misunderstanding, some kind of pain. Your highest aspiration is to have that pain healed for both of you, for there to be joy, ease, deepest connection, but you don't really understand how to do that because when you make overtures of kindness, often they're rebuffed, and there's anger or fear.

Your families, of course, are a primary teaching and learning ground for you, these primary relationships. Picture in your mind, visualize, this angry family member. Angry maybe just at you or angry at everybody. You make an overture and it's rebuffed. Picture just one silver thread spinning from you to that person, just touching lightly, ever so lightly. Let that thread carry love and lovingkindness, caring, and respect for the other's free will. You don't withhold the thread, you send out the thread and then you let it be. Once it touches it will hold. It may be a thin thread but it's like a thousand-pound-weight fishing line. It's thin but it's strong and it sticks. Wherever they go it's there, it's attached.

Have some of you, when you were feeling angry or blue, had a sudden thought of a loved one thinking of you? Just that thought, knowing, just out of the blue, "So-and-so is thinking of me, is thinking of me with love," and that thought supports you. It's just that. Imagine the difference if that person, instead of this had thrown a heavy lasso around you and was trying to pull you in. You'd fight back. But this, this can be opened to.

So when you're dealing with challenging people, not just your family members but other people, but let's use the family primary relationships as example, if you send out that one thread, "May you be well, may you be happy," unconditional love, "That's all I ask of you is to forever remember me as loving you," touch, and then hold that person in your heart, in so doing you are not creating any unwholesome karma, and if there had been unwholesome karma, unwholesome co-dependence, you're beginning to resolve it by letting go of that fear/control factor in yourself. So instead of sending it back and forth, there's just this silver thread of connection that can carry the heart energy. It can carry the energy from any of the chakras but I'm specifying heart energy here because that's a primary one.

If there was heavy karma between you, had been even years of anger, disagreement, and strong hostility each to the other – still with some love but the love buried beneath the hostility – the only way to cut that heavy rope of karma is to shift yourself from the somebody who is trying to fix, me trying to fix that, into the emptiness that simply sends out love.

This immediately releases the karma. The karma still needs to be balanced. It's not yet fully resolved. There are 2 parts to resolution of karma, the release of it and the balancing of it. So this releases the karma. However, you can pick it up again. If that person calls you on the phone and says, "Why are you ignoring me?" in so many words; "I haven't heard from you in a week or two, what's going on? Why are you ignoring me?" his words may bring up energy in you that says, "Well I'm not ignoring you, I thought you wanted to be left alone, why are you bothering me?" Then it goes back and forth again.

But if she calls you and says, "Why are you ignoring me?" and you say, "Oh, I'm not ignoring you, I'm always here. I'm glad you called me. Would you like to get together and have tea?"

"No, I don't want to have tea with you."

"That's fine. I'm thinking of you. And if you're feeling ignored by me, maybe there's something you want to talk about."

"You're never there when I need you. Why are you ignoring me?"

"I'm always here. Tell me what your needs are and how I can help?"

"Well I need you to lend me $200,000 and a car, and cure my disease. What are you doing about those things?"

"Well, I'm praying for you. I'm holding you in my heart. I love you. I know that if you need a new car, you'll be able to find the means to get one. And I know that if you wish to improve your health, you'll find ways to do it. And I'm here to support that in any way I can."

So you don't take their anger personally. They throw back ropes. You just respond with a silver thread. And you let it go.

And when they hang up the phone, if the mind plays with, "What was that about? How am I gonna fix it?" then you're sending out your own ropes. So you've got to be mindful at that point and be able to say: "obsessing, taking it personally." To note that energy and using element practice, chakra practice, vipassana, resting in awareness, all these tools, to release that energy, and not to do anything else until you release at least some of that energy and the mind stops obsessing. Just rest in Awareness. That which is aware of obsessing is not obsessing.

See which chakras are closed and work to open them. Sit with a photo of that person and do metta with them. Find the different ways that will help open the energy field, holding as the highest intention not to create any more unwholesome karma between you and this person, for the highest good of both of you.

You can do it. You who aspire to service in the world, first work out your relationship with your mother, brother, spouse, or son. It's doable.

These are your teachers. These people have come into your life as teachers. Q mentioned working with Rob Schwarz' book, The Soul's Plan. Your soul does come into incarnation with a plan, and you come into incarnation specifically with these sometimes very unpleasant people as your parents, siblings, even children, because this is where your work is. They're here; you are here, to do this work together, to heal, to learn. You did not come into the incarnation to have a wonderful relationship with your parents or your siblings or your children. You came in with them to learn with them. The wonderful relationship is a result of that learning.

If you are very blessed, you'll have wonderful relationships with at least some of them, or at least some of the time. You will love each other, but often you may not like each other. They say you can choose your friends, you can't choose your family. You may not like them. That's okay; you don't have to like them. You do have to love them.

Contraction: the state of contraction is a primary guide in terms of whether you are sending out silver threads or ropes. If somebody says, "Why are you ignoring me? I haven't heard from you all week," watch the contraction that comes. Maybe the person is forgetful and you just called them last night. Here they are calling again today or maybe you called them again today, "I haven't heard from you all week." You can defend yourself and say, "Well I called you last night and the day before, I call you every day." You can say it with antagonism or you can say, "I think you're forgetting. I do call you every day." Or you can just say, "I'm glad to hear you missed me. I love you."

What is for the highest good? If you say, "You're forgetting, I do call you every day," you could upset the person who then thinks, "Oh, my memory is getting bad." Well, the memory is getting bad, the person is in her 90s. But you don't really have to remind her that her memory is bad. It's sufficient just to say, "I think of you every day. I love you. I'm glad you missed me." That's all. Can it come from the heart, not needing to defend the self?

This is the result of all the practice we've been doing all year, working with these various spiritual qualities, working with your vipassana and awareness practice, working with your guidance. Learning how to be in the place of center where when somebody comes along and pushes you, you don't take it personally, you just look at them and say, "What's wrong?" If they push you again, you say, "Now wait a minute. You may not push me. But I want to hear what's happening with you and why you're so angry."

This is the foundation for the work you aspire to do in the world. A great deal of harm has been done in the world by people who aspire to service in the world but serve from a place of ego and take everything personally.

So, akasha. How can we more clearly define the element of akasha? I'd like you to all sit up. Some of you turn around more so you're more facing each other. Turn so you can see each other, not necessarily one on one but people facing different people. I want you to be able to see many people, the people here facing that way, almost more like a circle...

First I want you to close your eyes and just breathe. Find the heart center and a feeling of gratitude for this beautiful sangha and what you mean to each other. Breathing in joy, breathing out gratitude.

Open the arms, feeling the energy of the group. You don't have to hold them way out, just resting open on the lap is fine. Now whenever you feel ready, not yet but when I'm finished talking, I want you to open your eyes and allow your eyes to make contact with somebody sitting across the room. Let both of your eyes communicate the joy you find in each other, appreciation, gratitude, lovingkindness. Hold that eye connection for as long as you wish. It may be just 2 or 3 seconds, it may be a minute or so. You'll feel a sense of mutual agreement to let go of the eye contact and then simply move your eye contact to someone else.

As you make this eye contact, feel the silken thread, a silver radiant thread, spinning out from your heart to the heart of the person with whom you are in contact. When you move your gaze to another, that thread remains in place, so after we've done this for a few minutes, the room will be filled with threads running from one to another of you, a web of connection. You may not be able to see it-- some of you may; many of you will be able to feel it. The important thing is that when you move your gaze to another person, the thread with the first person remains, and with the second and third, as many people as you connect with.

Whenever you feel ready, then simply begin. We'll do this for 5 or 6 minutes, giving you ample time.


You may leave your seats as they are. We'll finish up here in just a minute. Could you feel that energy? (laughter) You all could. Akasha is sometimes called space because this field that you've created in this enclosed space goes out forever. These people fly back to Washington, California, Texas, Florida, wherever, and the thread just grows, it lengthens. There's no break in the connection.

So you are working within the akashic field, opening your heart here to these specific individuals. Then you expand your direction of your silken threads out into the world. Practice today outside, connect with the trees this way, with the lake, with a flower, with a bird. Explore your relationship with everything and see if it's one of contraction and fear, wanting to control, wanting to fix, even from a place of concern, wanting to control, or if it can be one of deep respect and love that lets go, that is simply present and holding the space, each for the others, each for the world.

I know we didn't have time for questions this morning so I think it's best that we pause here-- let me just ask, are there any specific questions about akasha?

Q: Is the interpretation of the field as presented by McTaggert just a semantic difference in expression?

Aaron: I have not read the book, The Field; that quote simply came to Barbara on her computer yesterday. I said, "It's perfect, we'll read it!" So she copied it over.

Q: I'm curious about the word akasha; what language is that?

Aaron: I don't know the formal origin of that word. I would have to research it.

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akasha gives us this:

Akasha (or Akash, Aakaashá, Ākāśa, is the Sanskrit word meaning "aether" in both its elemental and mythological senses.

There is much more, and also a chart that I found interesting and will attach to the email.

Q: The mutual friend that Norma mentioned yesterday, Adam, his last name is Kasha, and it's Russian in origin, and he named his company Akasha. Probably 1988, he named his company, it came to him.

Q: There is a sentence I missed. It goes, "If there had been years of anger, disappointment, etc, the only way to change that heavy rope is to _____"

Aaron: I don't recall my exact chain of words, but basically, to forgive and let go. That anger is held in place by contraction and fear coming from the ego self. As soon as you shift into the big self and trust. Know that this person's path is just perfect for him and you don't have to take his reactions personally, but you do have to explore in yourself if you are provoking those reactions in some way. But as you cease to provoke him and simply hold him in spaciousness and kindness, if he keeps pushing at you, you can say, "No, you may not push at me." I step back. That means you may literally may sever connection with that person for awhile if you need to and say, "As long as you are abusive to me I cannot participate with you, I cannot be with you. I do not choose to be abused. I love you and I'm happy to be with you if you're able to be with me without abuse." And then hold that connection open.

We have one friend in a distant state who was sexually abused by a father when she was a child. The father, now grown old, wanted contact with his daughter. Through the years she had tried to maintain some kind of quasi-contact, usually at family celebrations like at Thanksgiving, but now he wanted her to come to his house for dinner and so forth. She said, "How can I do that?" So it was a matter of learning forgiveness, learning compassion for him who was now a sick old man.

When she went to his house, he was appropriate unless he drank. If he drank, he started making sexually suggestive statements, which were very upsetting to her. So we said to her, "Let him know, 'This upsets me. It is not acceptable to me. I want to be here for you and to support you. I know you're old, you're sick. I want to be supportive to you. I am your daughter. But you must respect me. I will not wait until you become abusive. If you drink, I will leave.'" She said, "How can I do that? It's a 3 hour drive to see him. What if he's drinking when I get there?" I said, "Leave."

She actually had to do that a few times, and then he learned, "If I want her to stay, she meant it; no drinking or she will go." Slowly the relationship healed. I cannot say fully healed, but from her perspective she began to feel his love and respect for her. He was able to apologize to her for the actions of her childhood. She was able to find compassion for him and to begin to see him regularly. It came from getting out of herself and her own story, dissolving her own story, her own anger, her own fear, which means not inattention to the story, not dismissal of the story, but honoring the pain and the intention to release and to heal.

There's this place of non-contraction where 2 souls meet. What you were experiencing was the meeting of 2 souls. Could you feel how the web interconnected? When A looked to B and then A looked to C but A was still connected to B, B and C often then connected next. It was very interesting to see. It seemed random but often you were connecting with a person that your partner had last connected, and with whom you had not yet connected.

Does that answer it for you?

Q: Could you please say a little bit about the relationship between the akasha and the akashic records?

Aaron: Have you ever looked at a very old person who has lived their life with an open heart, has a smile in their eyes and a thousand lines in their face? All of the suffering of so many years and all of the joy is written there, too. Their face is a record of their life. You look at the face and you can see the whole life in their face, in their eyes, in their wrinkles, in the posture, it's all written there.

The akashic records are like that. The akashic records are simply the record of everything that transpires in the akashic field, which is composed of that element we call akasha.

When I look at any of you, I see the human before me and I see myriad past lives, all the lives that you have been. There are so many I could not see all in any one moment, but whatever is predominant in that moment.

Have you ever tried just sitting in front of a mirror and looking into your eyes and watching your face? As you look, very often your face begins to change. Suddenly there's a different face looking out at you. Sometimes even a different ethnic face, male instead of female or vice versa, Oriental, African, different faces looking out at you. And there's a strong sense, "This is still me." What you're seeing is the Akashic record. Those who have not tried this, please try it.

Q: You mentioned releasing karma and clearing karma. You spoke of releasing. Can you say a bit about clearing?

Aaron: Clearing karma, balancing karma. We balance karma by, it's hard to give an overall statement. By seeing what brings it into balance. If somebody has been very hostile to me and I have been hostile in return, I've felt strong dislike for this person but I've done my work with myself and seen that what I dislike about the person is the way they mirror some of the characteristics I dislike in myself. I've worked with metta with myself. I've opened my heart to myself. In this way I've released some of that karmic strand in myself.

Now I might want to go back to that person, apologize to them and say, "I see the ways that I've been hostile to you in the past, and I apologize for that." And if they answer in a hostile way, to say, "I hear you." To help them begin to find the way to open themselves to their own self-negativity, to that which mirrors you.

Teaching is one important way of balancing karma. Offering lovingkindness is an important way. You do the work in yourself to release the karma and then you find some way to balance that in the world. If you've been a very greedy person, you might want to be very generous and watch it mindfully to see where that generosity is springing from.

Balancing, if you've been an angry person, practice kindness. As I said, teaching, teaching the dharma. Barbara's primary work here is a way of balancing her own karma. In doing so she's balancing the karma for others. When I say for others, for others of her teachers.

Some years ago in a personal discussion with Lama Surya Das, Barbara was describing a situation and said to him that she felt she was often working to balance not only her own karma but that of others, karmic ancestors in this case. And Surya replied, to the idea, it seemed like my whole life is bound up in trying to balance my own and my teachers' and my ancestors' karma.

So I think the more you mature, the more you get into the awareness that it's imperative to find ways to balance the karma. And then it's fully resolved. At a certain point you are no longer doing it balance the karma, you're doing it simply because that's what needs to be done.

Q: I still don't understand the difference between releasing and balancing.

Aaron: The releasing goes into the self to see the habitual patterns, and to cease the perpetuation of those habitual patterns through mindfulness and kindness. The balancing then looks around at the harm one has done through that karma and finds ways to balance by releasing that harm, or helping the other to release that harm. It's not always personal. Barbara does not have personal karma with most of this group, or very few of her students. But because she is aware of the way she has created suffering in the world in the past through her own negative tendencies, having resolved many of those negative tendencies, then the balancing comes in, for Barbara here by helping you all to learn how to resolve your own negative tendencies. So it's not always personal.

Q: So would that be sort of like, the release would be when you stopped digging the hole and the balance is when you fill up the hole?

Aaron: When you fill up the hole and you look around you at the others who have been imitating you and been digging holes, and you point out the possibility to stop and to fill in. So it's not just your own hole you're concerned with.

Q: I just wanted to thank you for the imagery. I find the thread image to be extremely helpful. I have a lot of ropes!

Aaron: We all have! I want you to take 15 minutes to stretch, put on your bathing suits, and meet us down at the beach, and we're going to work with the element exercises.

(Aaron releases the body to Barbara)


Barbara: We're sitting here Friday morning on the beach by the lake at Sunnyside. We've been talking for about 20 minutes about the elements. Everybody has a tray of sand and we're talking about the earth element. I've been answering questions and Aaron suggested that I put on the recorder.


Correct. However, let's give a different hypothetical situation, one in which there is rage, huge anger. Probably the fire element, my mind immediately says the fire element is probably out of balance here. Let's go to the fire element first and see if the fire element is balanced in itself. When I look at the fire element when there's a lot of anger, there's probably too much air in proportion to earth, and probably very little water.

What happens as I just close my eyes and breathe and focus? For me the fire element – I feel many of the elements right here in the solar plexus but you may not – bringing that into balance, inviting more water into the fire element, inviting grounding and earth in.

And then I look at the other elements. If they're not back into balance, each of them independently, I help to support balance for each of them. In each of them I may find too much fire, so the water element may be boiling. I need to bring in more earth, more grounding to the water element and more water, cooling it, so it's in the right ratio to the fire. The air element may be turbulent and need grounding too.

Then I look at the 4 elements together. Are they balanced? First I go to whichever one intuitively says, "This is where the imbalance is," and you really start to know. With anger it's often fire. With fear it's often earth. Sometimes it's water, with fear; the water element becomes very imbalanced. With feelings of shame and unworthiness there's usually no air; the air is very out of balance. Fire and water are spinning around like whirlpool, and there's not much grounding so the air element is very out of balance.

But look at this individually. Each of you is unique. See what emotion has arisen and then just stop. You've got all afternoon to work with this. When you're feeling an emotion, be it a beautiful emotion like gratitude or joy or a challenging emotion like anger or impatience or sadness, stop and ask, "Where is the imbalance? What elements might I want to bring in to add more balance?" Look at the overall pattern, one element very predominant over the others, and bring that into balance, and/or look at the predominant element and bring that into balance and see what that does to the overall balance. It feeds both ways.

Q: If the earth element is in balance, and too much water comes in, is it okay to just increase the earth instead of trying to let go of water?

Barbara: It's intuitive. If too much water comes in and you increase the earth, is that going to set the air and fire out of balance? Does something need to be released or does something need to be added? Right here I've got way too much water (in the sand container). I pour some off. I'm inviting sun in. If I play with it – I'm not going to because I don't want to get my hands sandy for the recorder – but if I play with it, I bring air in and that will help release water. I spread some of my dryer sand out here so it can pick up sun, and let it dry, see what happens to it. This is a perfect metaphor for practice.

The practice today is just to learn how it works. Use the sand and the clay – the clay is all there and available – sand and clay to practice with the earth element because that's one that's more readily accessible for most of us.

As you understand the earth element and the balance of the 4 elements in the earth element, you'll start to understand the balance of fire and water and air elements also. They're harder to work with but go out on the lake, float with a noodle. Feel the water element all around you. Then put your feet down. This is water (demo object). Float on the water on your back with a noodle for support if desired. Clench your fists and tense the jaw. Tense the belly too, if possible. How does the body energy feel? How about the elements?

Now open the fists, relax jaw and belly. Invite water to move through the body. Feel the sun and breeze. See the trees on the shore, feel the lake bottom beneath you. Be aware when the field feels fluid but not so much so that it's ungrounded, then rest in that balance.

I've got 4 extra copies of these instructions; if you need one please take one... so work with these through the afternoon. There are a number of different exercises. They're pretty much self-instructed.

Q: When you were telling the anecdote about the skidding on the road, of course I was trying to see how that would feel in my body, as you were telling that story. And you came to rest on the side of the road. And I'm in that position, I'm feeling that position, and the first thing that comes to my mind is to drink water and to breathe deeply. Now, that's somatic, that's physical. I'm not cognitively thinking, "What's out of balance here?" But I'm just intuitively doing those things as a way of bringing whatever is, into balance.

Barbara: Yes, absolutely; let your body tell you. Don't try to think about it. So it may be for you the earth element with that, the earth element got heavy and solidified so that air and water was needed, whereas for me there was too much water. I said we're each unique. There's no one rule for this.

What we're doing here is learning how to bring our energies back into balance by using the elements and also by using the chakras, by using meditation, by breathing, by whatever supports we have. By just chanting, talking to our guides, chanting witrh harmonics, whatever supports when we're out of balance, to recognize the imbalance--

Knowing the highest intention to come back into balance for the highest good of all beings and myself. Not to spread this imbalance out, not to harm others through it, not to harm myself through it. To invite balance. What best invites balance in this moment?

This is what I want you to spend the afternoon playing with. How does your body feel after lunch? How are the elements? For me I'm usually earth-heavy after a meal. Then rest or exercise can help. When I exercise I'm bringing in more water and air, which invites balance.

I don't always think of it in terms of element imbalance. Mostly with heavy emotion I think of it as element imbalance. With the body as after a meal, sometimes less so. I'm very aware when there's fear or anger or a sense of sadness and closing down, that the elements are unbalanced. And I can choose to maintain that imbalance, which is probably part of a habitual pattern, or I can choose to release it. It's up to me what I do with it.

Q: In our book, there is a review of what characteristics comprise each element. Would it be helpful to review that?

Barbara: I have my notes up in the meditation hall. If you all brought those with you, I sent them out as part of the last notes and asked you to print them, so I'm not going to recite them all now, just look. If you don't have it, they're up in my little purple folder next to my chair in the meditation hall. Feel free to read it.

Q: ... I'll bring it and put it here... if anybody wants to review them (has book).

Barbara: Okay, but that's just this author's characteristics. What I wrote in the notes, Note 24, I think it was in, just before this intensive, was an overall summary drawn from Aaron drawn from that book, drawn from other books.

Reading a little: Earth, physical body, material, base chakra, associated with yellow. Characteristics physical, solid, dense, weighty, strong, structural, related to endurance and stamina, firmness. Earth contains and limits. Balanced earth element: the person is grounded, stable, secure, organized, considerate, objective, able to manifest needs. Excess of earth element: i.e. too much earth element, not enough air, water, fire in the earth element. Person may lack flexibility, be stubborn, ultra-conservative, unable to change, fight.

Excess of earth and fire, a person may be greedy, grasping, over-indulgent.

Lack of earth in the earth element, a person may be unstable, weak, lacking cohesion, can't hold things together, unable to manifest.

Consider which of these would result from lack of earth, too much air, water or fire. And it goes on. I'm not going to read the whole thing, do that on your own.

Q: So the basic idea is, whether you're working with a physical state like a trembling body and/or an emotional state where you're rattled, or even a cognitive state where you're confused, do you apply the same methodology of checking out earth, wind, fire, relationships?

Barbara: I always do. But I've gotten so it comes very fast. I see it immediately. It's mostly about the intention. Often I see the resistance, "I want to be stubborn. I want my own way." Holding on to the earth element, not bringing in balance. Okay, right here harmony is more important than getting my own way so let's invite balance.

The emotions and body reflect each other. If the elements are out of balance in the emotions, they're out of balance in the body and vice versa. And I also immediately go to the chakras.

Barbara: Let me ask if people need to get out of the sun... you can come down here and I can turn around a bit. We'll probably only talk for another 5 minutes.

Q: If someone is incapable of doing that for themselves, can you invite balance to go to them where it's needed?

Barbara: You can. If you see somebody very agitated, you can just sit next to them and suggest to them that they breathe or that they have a drink of water. With a very young child you can actually help balance, like a one or two year old baby, you can do that balancing, help them energetically to balance. For an adult, they have free will, even for an older child they have free will. You can point out to a person, "I see how angry you are. You feel like fire coming out of you. Is there any way I can be of help?" but that's all that's appropriate to do unless they ask you for help. If they come to you for help, that's fine, that's different.

Q: What is the relationship between balancing the elements and balancing the chakras?

Barbara: The chakras cannot balance and be open unless the elements are balanced. Closure in one or another chakra often leads me to realize that elements are out of balance and need attention. As I bring attention to the elements and bring them back into balance, the chakras may open or they become accessible to work with. But as long as the elements remain out of balance, I can't do anything with the chakras.

Q: It's confusing... for instance, the base chakra earth has a different color associated with it than the element.

Barbara: The earth element is associated with yellow. Aaron, can you speak to this? Paraphrasing it, not incorporating.

Aaron (paraphrased): The base chakra is associated with red. The earth element is associated with yellow. The earth element is in all the chakras.

If you are addressing mostly an imbalance in the chakras and closure of the base chakra, you'll want to work with the C tone and red light and other paths that help open the base chakra. If you are more aware of the imbalance in earth in the base and other chakras, bring that earth element into balance visualizing the earth as, whether it's too yellow, too red a yellow, too orange, or if it's too gray a yellow or too greenish a yellow, helping to bring it into a true yellow color. That will help to balance the earth element. Then return the base chakra.

Q: When you work with the elements to balance them, do you first try and balance the elements in relation to each other or do you try to balance each element within itself? Which do you start with?

Barbara: It's intuitive. If everything just feels slightly out of balance, then I look at them in relationship to each other. If there's a very strong movement, I'm shaking, the car spun and I'm shaking, or huge anger, or a feeling of enormous sadness and despair, then I look at the specific element.

Q: How do you blend the work with the elements with vipassana practice?

Barbara: Four foundations of mindfulness. Mindfulness of body, thoughts, etc. The elements are one of the foundations of mindfulness, within the body and the mind. Part of the awareness of the body and of the mind is awareness of the elements within it. This is actually within some of the Theravada teaching, some of the Abhidharma has specific instructions and I think Visuddhi Magga has a section on the elements.

It's just mindfulness plus the deep intention, the highest intention: do no harm, do only good. Not to let this imbalance run rampant.

Look in Satipatthana. Google "four foundations of mindfulness"+elements for many sites. Here is one other example I like a lot from the suttas:

SN 35.204 PTS: S iv 191 CDB ii 1251 (corresponds to CDB SN 35.245)

Kimsuka Sutta: The Riddle Tree

translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

© 1998–2010

Alternate translation: Walshe

A certain monk went to another monk and, on arrival, said to him, "To what extent, my friend, is a monk's vision said to be well-purified?"

"When a monk discerns, as it actually is, the origination & passing away of the six media of sensory contact, my friend, it is to that extent that his vision is said to be well-purified."

The first monk, dissatisfied with the other monk's answer to his question, went to still another monk and, on arrival, said to him, "To what extent, my friend, is a monk's vision said to be well-purified?"

"When a monk discerns, as it actually is, the origination & passing away of the five clinging-aggregates, my friend, it is to that extent that his vision is said to be well-purified."

The first monk, dissatisfied with this monk's answer to his question, went to still another monk and, on arrival, said to him, "To what extent, my friend, is a monk's vision said to be well-purified?"

"When a monk discerns, as it actually is, the origination & passing away of the four great elements [earth, water, wind, & fire], my friend, it is to that extent that his vision is said to be well-purified."

The first monk, dissatisfied with this monk's answer to his question, went to still another monk and, on arrival, said to him, "To what extent, my friend, is a monk's vision said to be well-purified?"

"When a monk discerns, as it actually is, that whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation, my friend, it is to that extent that his vision is said to be well-purified."

The first monk, dissatisfied with this monk's answer to his question, then went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he [reported to the Blessed One his conversations with the other monks. The Blessed One then said:]

"Monk, it's as if there were a man who had never seen a riddle tree.[1] He would go to another man who had seen one and, on arrival, would say to him, 'What, my good man, is a riddle tree like?"

"The other would say, 'A riddle tree is black, my good man, like a burnt stump.' For at the time he saw it, that's what the riddle tree was like.

"Then the first man, dissatisfied with the other man's answer, went to still another man who had seen a riddle tree and, on arrival, said to him, 'What, my good man, is a riddle tree like?'

"The other would say, 'A riddle tree is red, my good man, like a lump of meat.' For at the time he saw it, that's what the riddle tree was like.

"Then the first man, dissatisfied with this man's answer, went to still another man who had seen a riddle tree and, on arrival, said to him, 'What, my good man, is a riddle tree like?'

"The other would say, 'A riddle tree is stripped of its bark, my good man, and has burst pods, like an acacia tree.' For at the time he saw it, that's what the riddle tree was like.

"Then the first man, dissatisfied with this man's answer, went to still another man who had seen a riddle tree and, on arrival, said to him, 'What, my good man, is a riddle tree like?'

"The other would say, 'A riddle tree has thick foliage, my good man, and gives a dense shade, like a banyan.' For at the time he saw it, that's what the riddle tree was like.

"In the same way, monk, however those intelligent men of integrity were focused when their vision became well purified is the way in which they answered.

"Suppose, monk, that there were a royal frontier fortress with strong walls & ramparts and six gates. In it would be a wise, experienced, intelligent gatekeeper to keep out those he didn't know and to let in those he did. A swift pair of messengers, coming from the east, would say to the gatekeeper, 'Where, my good man, is the commander of this fortress?' He would say, 'There he is, sirs, sitting in the central square.' The swift pair of messengers, delivering their accurate report to the commander of the fortress, would then go back by the route by which they had come. Then a swift pair of messengers, coming from the west... the north... the south, would say to the gatekeeper, 'Where, my good man, is the commander of this fortress?' He would say, 'There he is, sirs, sitting in the central square.' The swift pair of messengers, delivering their accurate report to the commander of the fortress, would then go back by the route by which they had come.

"I have given you this simile, monk, to convey a message. The message is this: The fortress stands for this body – composed of four elements, born of mother & father, nourished with rice & barley gruel, subject to constant rubbing & abrasion, to breaking & falling apart. The six gates stand for the six internal sense media. The gatekeeper stands for mindfulness. The swift pair of messengers stands for tranquillity (samatha) and insight (vipassana). The commander of the fortress stands for consciousness. The central square stands for the four great elements: the earth-property, the liquid-property, the fire-property, & the wind-property. The accurate report stands for Unbinding (nibbana). The route by which they had come stands for the noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."

Q: I'm thinking that balancing the elements doesn't release karma but it helps break from the habit of a particular karma.

Barbara: It helps to balance habit energy but it also does resolve karma because, let's say there's a lot of fire energy. Somebody has said something very nasty to me and anger comes up, and the old karma is to push back, figuratively, to fight back. I may not be able to control that impulse unless I pay attention to the anger. Then I note my intention to non-harm and notice the elements. As I bring attention to the elements and how the fire is so out of balance, and my intention to bring that into balance, there's much less of a sense of self. I'm much more open to an emptiness that can respond in a wholesome way, which releases the karma.

So instead of just running with the habit energy, I could have spun in my car like that, stopped and said, "I'll never drive again! Aaaah!" Flagged another driver down to have them call Hal and come and get me and said, "I've given up driving for the rest of my life." Fear, I'm helpless.

Looking with mindfulness at that which feels out of control, which feels fear, which wants to be rescued, these are all different karmic patterns. Knowing the first step here is to be more cognizant of what's happening with the elements and the chakras and the mind and body to bring everything into balance.

Then, in a clear way to consider, what just happened? In what ways did I cause it? Was I going too fast? If no, was it wise to be driving in this very serious rainstorm? Why couldn't I wait?

This actually happened yesterday on my way here. I was hurrying to get out of my cabin before the rain. I set off just as the downpour started. There was water all over the road just a few miles past my cabin. It just pouring, I could barely see through my windshield. A car pulled out ahead of me from a driveway so I slowed, and I skidded. So I could say, I could have just sat in my cabin and waited until the storm stopped.

Q: This brings a whole new dimension to the Seven Branch Prayer.

Barbara: Yes. It gives us more insight into our habitual patterns. Sometimes we don't need help to release them, just to pay attention. Sometimes we're stuck and we need help, and then we can work with the Seven Branch Prayer in finding more support.

Okay, I want to stop here. First, the sand that I spread out here is now nice and dry, the way Aaron had intended it. You can feel that it lacks moisture. I would like everybody to go into the lake and work with water; float on the water on your back, with a noodle for support if you like. Clench your fists and tense the jaw. Tense the belly too, if possible. How does the body energy feel? How about the elements?

Now open the fists, relax the jaw and belly. Invite water to move through the body. Feel the sun and breeze. See the trees on the shore. Feel the lake bottom beneath you. You can stand at that point if you want to. Be aware when the field feels fluid but not so much so that it's ungrounded. Just rest in that balance.

So I'd like you to try this, and then through the afternoon to work with the sand, with the clay. It's a beautiful day to be out here. Sit in the sun or the shade. Simply sit on the dock or up on the deck and meditate, pure awareness practice, vipassana, whatever works for you.

Q: The last word that he used in what you just read, "field," is that field of consciousness? What did that mean, "field"?

Barbara: I said how does the body energy feel? What about the elements? Does the body energy feel contracted or does it feel open?

Q2: Where did you see "field"?

Q3: The second to last sentence, "Be aware when the field feels fluid, but not so much that it is ungrounded." Under elements, Water.

Barbara: Aaron, what did you mean by "when the field feels fluid"? When the whole energy field of the body feels open but not wishy washy. When you contract, everything closes down. When you invite that movement of water and air, it opens up--when it feels open.

Okay. You can keep your clay out here. You can put the sand back in the cups so you can use the clay. Whatever suits you. It's your tray, your cup of sand. When you use the clay, please be sure that when you take a lump out, the bag is closed tight so air doesn't get into it, so that the clay doesn't dry out.

(session ends)