July 31, 2010 Saturday AM

Keywords: intention, karma

Barbara: I gave an assignment in one of the handouts for you to look at the precepts in relation to the specific focus for each of you, patience or humility or courage or whatever it might be. How that relates to each of the precepts. I'd like to start with that by breaking you up into small groups and just to talk about that. So let's say, 18 people, 3 groups of 6. Let's just count off 1,2,3...

(groups meet for 45 minutes)

Barbara: We've just spent 45 minutes time broken into 3 small groups and talking about Chapter 1 in Donald Rothberg's book, and about the precepts and the predominant areas that each person is working with, such as patience, humility, responsibility, courage. Our intention this morning is to cover any questions related to chapters 1 to 3 of the book. First we're going to talk about intention. Aaron suggests I stay in the body for now and then move out of the body when there's a question for him, as we did last night.

I hope that you all read Chapter 3 on intention. But even if you didn't, you all understand intention from your vipassana practice. We talked yesterday about karma, about sending out the single thread versus acting in fear, the intention to invite rather than the intention to grasp and control.

We can all see how important that intention is, to invite what we need into our lives, to attend to fear, to the grasping mind or the clinging mind. When we do this we're practicing with intention. It's the intention not to give rise to the unwholesome, akusala, karma but to give rise to the wholesome, kusala, karma. I don't know if I'm pronouncing that right, I have no idea how it should be pronounced.

I invite your questions for discussion. I think it all weaves together. I'd especially like to hear from people who have not been talking much the last 2 days. Anybody is welcome to talk, but especially those of you who have been sitting quietly. And I know that's your nature, just to sit there quietly and absorb. What would it mean to ask a question? Not just ask a question in order to ask a question, but to give voice to your own deeper questions?

Q: I'll try and ask a question. In my practice I am trying to understand how to act in a pure way, at a pure expression of Unconditioned. And my mind questions motives. Let me say what I've told my group.

I recently gave a dharma talk and this quote was relayed to me after my talk, in that, with each dharma talk you create a thousand years of karma. And I was really feeling that. So even with the purest of intentions, action seems to be a distortion of the Unconditioned, of the sacredness.

Barbara: I'm not sure I agree with that quote. Create a 1000 years, or purify a 1000 years? Where does the quote come from? Is it from the Buddhist scriptures?

Q: From a woman. She's quoting someone.

Barbara: Did she draw it from the scriptures? Or is it just from her heart or experience?

Q: From her teacher.

Barbara: With each dharma talk that comes from a place of self, yes, we're hardening unwholesome karma. With each dharma talk where we're able to come into a selfless place with a highest intention simply of the good of all beings, willing to be a vehicle through whom the dharma flows, there is no adhering karma and we purify karma, and balance it. This is what helps to release the unwholesome karma.

So I don't agree with the quote. If I come into the dharma talk with the intention, "Now I'm going to show everybody how wise I am," or "I'm going to save people," or "I'm going to present the dharma so clearly that everybody releases all delusion," there's a lot of karma in those kinds of motivations. But for the most part I don't think that's what motivating you in a dharma talk. It's not what's motivating me. All of those of you who are teachers here, I don't think it's what's motivating us.

Q: But it's being filtered, it is my view of the dharma. So I struggle with that, that I'm changing pure dharma. Even though it's coming through me, it's being altered.

Barbara: To filter it is not necessarily to distort it. What is "pure dharma?" The container through which it flows will never be perfectly pure. But the container can enhance. If I have grown tomatoes with much love and then make a tomato sauce, it may have a higher energy because of the love than that from someone who just makes it by rote, yet empty of self.

Aaron says that doubt, "I'm changing the dharma; I am not a clear channel for it," that is where the karma lies. He says, but if you release the doubt, picture a room that's been closed up for a thousand years and is filled with very musty air. In that room are dozens, thousands, hundreds, of very little windows, just 3x3 inches, so when you open it you get a little 1.5"x3" opening. You go into the room, he says perhaps you're wearing an oxygen mask, and it's filled with other people who are gasping for a breath, and you open one window. It helps.

You can't open all the windows at once, you open one window. He says those sitting nearest the window will benefit most by the fresh air, figuratively speaking. In other words, those who are most karmically ready to receive the fresh air will benefit.

Then somebody opens a window on the side of the room. On this side is the sea, and the air that's blowing in contains that salt air and moisture, and off to that side of the room is desert, sand, and it's hot, and dry air is blowing in that side. Two different kinds of air blowing in. You can only open one window at a time, but eventually those who thusly aspire, will experience the opening of enough windows that they will taste the pure breath of truth, of enlightenment.

Q: So do you personally state an intention, however subtle, before you talk?

Barbara: Yes. My personal intention before I give a talk is that the talk come from as complete a place of emptiness, egolessness, as is possible, and that it be of service to beings. That it be as clear a statement of truth as I understand it in the moment, as can be presented through this vehicle, which is of course a flawed container.

In other words, if we think of it as a perfectly clear water dumped into a pitcher, and then pouring the water out of that pitcher, the ultimate water purity depends on the cleanliness of the pitcher. The water is pure but what's poured out can be tainted by the pitcher. I do my work to keep the pitcher as clear as possible, yet knowing it is not perfect. Here is non-harm and even satyagraha. I ask forgiveness in advance for any remaining distortions, and offer the best I can.

So my statement before a dharma talk is that I speak from the clearest place possible, without ego, and in service to beings, that what I offer may be of help to beings.

Aaron says, he thinks you do the same. So he says, please look at the doubt. He says, for all of us we want to be the perfectly clear pitcher but that is a gradual occurrence. And we cannot-- he says let him speak in the first person but he is not incorporating, he wants to keep me in the discussion.

Aaron&Barbara: I am Aaron, partially here-- Barbara is here too so it will not be quite a clear. It's not quite as clear but it's an adequate vessel. The vessel that I am, this consciousness you know as Aaron, is more clear. When it comes through filtered through Barbara's processes it's subject to some distortion. That's okay because she works to keep herself as clear as possible.

The human experience will always inform the words so you all are coming back to mindfulness of speech, clear speech, in Chapter 2. There is always an intention to speak from a place of the greatest truth, integrity, love, and so forth, and to be increasingly mindful of anything that might distort that speech slightly.

Then, catching with mindfulness and practicing with self-kindness and self-honesty, you may not notice until afterward--you notice the distortion, you ask forgiveness to anyone who has been harmed by that distortion. If there's a strong distortion, you tell the group at the next meeting, "I see that I distorted this in a certain way and I want to clarify. I see how it was my own fear or ego that somehow distorted it." So you work to clarify it.

The whole practice comes together so that the speech, whether it's a dharma talk or simply sharing the dharma or anything else with one person, you hold onto the intention for increased clarity and lessened distortion. Because you hold that intention, you are much more apt to see where the distortion is, to catch it and say, "Oops, that's not quite right. Let's take care of that. What prompted that stretching of the truth, or that emphasis on this to the exclusion of that, what prompted that?" And one attends to it. And then the pitcher is cleared a bit more.

But to withhold speech because you say, "Well I'm not yet perfect," there is also very strong unwholesome karma in that. If one has the intention of service to beings, one has to recognize the nature of the human vessel as having some inherent distortion and to work with it as best one can.

There's a fine line, this goes back to your practice many months ago with humility, the fine line between pride, "Oh I know all of this; wait til they hear my dharma talk, I'm going to blow their minds," and false humility that says, "I really don't know anything and they're all suffering but I'm still suffering myself and I don't understand this all so I better keep quiet."

Let me put it in a very simple way. You are sitting on your front porch and a child is riding by on a bike, your neighbor's child, and slips, falls, probably has skinned his knees and elbows, starts to cry. Are you going to say, "Well I'm not a doctor. I'm just going to sit here. I'm not his parent and I'm not a doctor so I can't do anything." Or are you going to go out and do what you can?

You can hold the child, you can help the child get up and walk him home. If nobody is home you can help him wash off the cuts. If he needs medical attention then you find a way to get him more professional medical attention. Can you see the unwholesome karma based on fear, sitting on one's porch and saying, "Well I'm not a doctor. I can't help him. I might do something wrong." You have to act. Kindness acts, not ego. And so it is in the intention to give a dharma talk or to speak of the dharma or other spiritual truths with your friends and family and other people.

If the intention is as pure as is possible, the results will be good. Maybe the person needs to hear just that distortion that you offered, it coincides with his distortion and hearing it from you he says, "Ah, that was a distortion, what I heard from him. And I see I carry that distortion in me, too. I wouldn't have seen it if he had not mirrored it for me." Who knows? Just watch the intention. And look at doubt and how you may be buying into its story.

I'll give this back to Barbara.

Q: This always reminds me of that <>, how to <do> without doing.

Barbara: Yes. How do we do without doing? Who does? It's in the (reading), "Saturday morning we will share thoughts about the question, 'What areas of service in the world call most to you?' How do we interact with our world? With love and while resting in awareness, or from a contracted place? Who interacts?"

We keep creating that who. We become increasingly mindful of it, then we become afraid. "I'm bringing too much "who" in; I better just back off and stop all of this." And we see that by backing off and stopping giving in any way, we're also creating harm.

I had a wonderful talk years ago with a bunch of kids in my son's high school. There was a breakfast kitchen for the homeless at the church across the street and many of the kids were involved in serving food there. Some of these young people came and meditated and talked dharma with me. Not so much with Aaron, though a few kids came to the Wednesday nights with Aaron, but many of them came and just meditated and did spiritual practice with me.

So we had a wonderful discussion. Some of these kids had dropped out of the food service program because they said there's too much ego in it. People were bragging about doing it. Even for them, these stories kept coming up, how "I'm helping and saving these homeless people I'm giving them breakfast, aren't I great?" And all I could say to them was, don't stop; just pay attention to the stories that are coming up. To withhold breakfast from them because you have stories is not service to the world. They'll be hungry! Can you give them breakfast and pay attention to the questions? Keep giving breakfast.

Service is a wonderful teacher. This for me was so much a part of the beginning of my channeling Aaron. After some months had gone by and I really had gotten to know Aaron, I felt very safe with him. I knew that I could fully trust him. I could trust that he would be present when I opened to his energy, that our world views were the same, our intentions were the same. That he would never violate my free will. That he deeply abided in the intention of non-harm to all beings.

But I didn't trust myself. It was very scary to channel him knowing, if my ego distorts what he's saying then I'm causing harm. He said to me, "If I catch you doing that I'll stop you. I'll point it out to you. But it's up to you to watch deeply and do the inner work when you see ego distorting, to release the distortion."

There was one situation; this is back in the early days of channeling when I was doing conscious channeling. I would get the thought from him and put it into words, and there was some consciousness of the thought. We were working with a man who had been coming for several months and who I liked. I liked the man and his wife personally as people and my husband and I had spent a little time with them just having lunch, or something of that sort.

I wanted their friendship. Aaron started to say to the man that he was not being honest with himself about something. It wasn't really scolding; you all know Aaron doesn't scold, it was just pointing out, "Here is a place where you need to be more honest with yourself."

I didn't want to channel it. I stopped and I thought, "He will not like me because he will feel like Aaron is scolding him." And Aaron came in very strongly. It's one of the few times I've felt Aaron's anger. He said, "You make a choice. Either you channel what you hear or you stop channeling. If what I say does not resonate as truth, you're free to say, 'No, I will not channel that.' But you know as well as I do because we've talked about it that this man is backing away from certain truths, certain self-honesty, and this is what he needs to do. Your ego wants him to like you so you don't want to confront him with it. It's your choice. If you want to stop channeling, that's fine. But otherwise you must look at the ego and release the ego."

Channeling has been such a powerful practice in terms of getting beyond the ego, literally giving the body to somebody else. It's very powerful.


Q: You explained this quite beautifully but I wanted to add my own comment about the strong sense of self-judgment that a lot of us have is just part of being human. And I often have to realize that I'm beating myself up about having an ego. Remembering compassion for that good intention but still being human and having maybe less ego but still having an ego. I find that helpful. It seems to be a very long process.

Barbara: It's a very long process. Aaron is saying, imagine you're a very adequate cook and you are cooking in that soup kitchen. You are trying a new recipe for chicken vegetable soup. You made a first pot of soup and it was just a little too salty. People are starting arrive for the noon meal. You think to yourself, "It's not good enough." It could be ego that says it, "I can do better," or it could simply be, "This is not right for people. I don't want to offer them this because I want to offer them something that's really wholesome." Are you going to throw away the pot of soup and send them home hungry and say it's too salty? Or are you going to just serve it to them with an apologize, "This is my first time making this recipe. It's a bit salty. I'm sorry. Tomorrow I hope it will be better."?

He says, you could keep them starving for weeks while you try for the perfect soup! By the time you've come up with it they've all died of starvation!

Questions specifically related to intention or indirectly related to intention? Or sharing related to it.

Q: When you make an intention, how long does it last?

Barbara: A moment. One keeps re-setting it.

Q: So is it the more times you make the same intention that last a couple more moments?

Barbara: It still only lasts a moment, but it's right there in the next moment instead of having to go and find it.

Q: So the idea of a virtual intention is not correct?

Barbara: I set an intention every morning when I get up, before I ever get out of bed, part of my routine in the morning. The setting of that intention helps me to remember to come back and remember that intention moment by moment through the day. If I ignore it and don't set it in the morning and then I'm in a challenging situation, it's further from me. It still has to be moment by moment.

If I don't set the intention for non-harm and the highest good and I get up and have an argument with Hal-- "Did so! Did not!"-- and I see myself getting caught up in it, I need to come back to that highest intention: is my intention to be right or to have harmony and to hear each other? But if I start the morning with that I'm much less likely to get caught up in the argument in the first place because the moment the "Did so! Did not!" or "want this, don't want that," comes up, I feel myself contracting and immediately hold the intention for hearing, for harmony, for clear, loving communication. Then I can ask, "What is he really saying here? How can I open to and really hear what he's saying?" And then how can I share my truth with him in the most skillful way?

If I do that day after day after day, year after year, it still is in each moment. He comes in angry about something, I tense up. I note the tension. There's a lot less garbage between me and the pure intention. It's much more accessible.

Q: Do you visualize in any way what the highest good of all beings means?

Barbara: Only in a very loose way because it's far beyond my ability to understand. I cannot understand; I can hope for the highest good and see things that seem to me to be antithetical to the highest good, but I can't know for certain what is for the highest good.

Going back to what I talked about last night, in some way for that Native American shaman that I was in a past life, his intention was to co-create the highest good. A certain door had to be opened. Perhaps it did not have to be opened through violence, perhaps there were other ways, but nevertheless what he did, although it led to violence, also led to the readiness of people to look for another path, a non-violent path. And that would not have happened perhaps without this violence.

I would never plan something with the idea, "Let's get a lot of people to kill each other so they can see how bad violence is." That would be a very unwholesome direction. I intend for the highest good but I also trust that if I hold that intention, I don't know what all of the different threads are doing and how they come together, I can only hold my intention.

Q: The reason I asked the question is that, as you say, the formulation of the intention is nebulous. And it occurred to me that I could more accurately concretize it and make it easier to remember if I identified the highest good of all beings is achieving what we're trying to do. Living in a non-dual state.

Barbara: I think that as a specific visualization would help as long as there's not attachment to how it's going to manifest. That shaman's error was in holding on to the way he thought it should manifest itself. So was the error on the Freedom Ride.

Q: Lynn McTaggert, who wrote The Field also wrote a wonderful book called The Intention Experiment about how powerful intentions are. And that she did a lot of experiments with that and saw that they could hold an intention to change the pH in water, like 3000 miles away, and it happens! That's how powerful our intentions are.

Rothberg's book says intention is karma or action. That's what leads to all of our actions, creates our world, our karma. So it's important to me to be made more aware of karma.

Barbara: We need to better understand karma. Within any moment it's sometimes hard to know, but we hold as pure an intention as possible, and stay mindful of what arises moment by moment. There's wholesome and unwholesome karma. In any given act, being human I'm probably going to bring some of both in. I'm reminded of working with a class many years ago, a question that a woman asked. There was a little boy in her co-op who the other kids didn't play with much. He seemed lonely and sad. She noticed one day that he got a new bicycle and she walked out onto her front porch and she said, "(whatever his name was), that's a beautiful new bike! Wow! Bring it over and let me see it." Her intention was a very clear loving intention, wanting to give this little boy some attention, some kindness, to appreciate his new bike and appreciate him.

He was beaming. He was so happy that somebody noticed his new bike. She went back in the door and she thought to herself, "I wonder if anybody saw me do that, if anybody will appreciate what I just did." These are 2 very different karmic streams. One is the intention to kindness, to help this human being to find some joy and happiness and sense of safety and to feel seen, and that's wholesome karma. And one is the, "Did anybody see? Am I going to get some brownie points for that?" And there's unwholesome karma.

Unwholesome karma is not necessarily bad when one sees it quickly. Seeing that, it was a teacher for her. She went in then and meditated for a while and thought about, what is there in me that wants people to notice that I'm doing good? How can I resolve and release that in myself? So it was a teacher for her. And it was not the primary motivator for applauding the new bike. But she saw that she needed to be attentive to that karmic stream.

Seeing that, it does not create a strand of unwholesome karma. In that moment, seeing it, being attentive to it, working toward its release and balancing it. So we ask, what would help balance it? And talked some about, in that situation for her, the feeling of needing attention, and that paying more attention to others would help balance it. That was her answer. There are many possibilities there, many possible ways of balancing it.

So this is part of the healing of karma. When we offer an intention we need to be aware there are all these different intentions. Aaron is reminding me of a classic story about karma. Workmen were building a Buddhist temple. The work was very hard. One workman was tired of the job by the time he finished. He had signed on at low wages because he felt he would be happy to be involved in the building of this temple, but it was a longer and harder job than he expected. He did it, he stuck to it, but he was angry-- why is this taking so long? He cursed at the Temple.

At the end he wasn't even paid because it went beyond the expected building time, so he was angry. But then it was finished and it was so beautiful and the people came there and meditated and had services there. His heart opened to this beautiful thing that he had helped to construct. Because the money had run out there was no bell so he took his own money and bought a bell. And it was a beautiful, perfectly clear sounding bell.

In a future life this man was reborn, Aaron says he never did the work with releasing the anger about the money running out, or the work being harder; he just brushed it aside. He did buy the bell, but he didn't do any work with emotions. In a future life he was born, as the ugliest woman you could ever think of! She had a beautiful voice, absolutely clear voice, but when she sang she had to do so behind a drape because people would be horrified if they saw her face. He says this is probably not a true story; it's a teaching story passed down to point out that karma is specific. Due to the karma for the anger about building the temple, he was born into a being with a very angry, ugly face. And he gave from his open heart, his own pocket to buy this beautiful bell because he felt the temple needed it a lovely voice. That was a loving act, and that carried this wholesome karma that expressed itself through the beautiful voice.

Q: The Rothberg book seems to contradict what you're saying, maybe.

Barbara: I haven't felt that in it but I will read it again with that in mind.

Q: It says painful situations are not a result of past unwholesome action, that that's a misunderstanding of karma.

Barbara: That is correct. They are not punishment for them. It's a difference to say are they result indirectly or are they punishment. The ugly body was not punishment for anything. Simply, the attitude of anger, sourness, "I'm not getting what I need," came into expression in the whole body creating a (sound effect) kind of body.

Conditioned by, not punishment for. Does that clarify it?

Q: Yes.

Barbara: I've seen in my own karma a past life that I think I've shared with you, the most recent past life before this. He was a chaplain in the Navy. The ship was torpedoed. He did the loving thing to give his place in the lifeboat, which he was offered because he was a chaplain, to get off the boat first, to a man who said he couldn't swim, who had a family and was terrified. He gave him his place in the lifeboat because of his kindness and also he was confident in his swimming ability and he felt they would be rescued. So he dove into the water. There were not enough life boats because some of them were destroyed in the fire.

So he swam out away from the boat. The water was cold but he was okay in it. He had a lifejacket on. He felt he could last for an hour or so and he would be rescued. People started to grab at him, people who were feeling overwhelmed by the water, and he had to push them away. He knew he could not hold them all up. People were screaming and he couldn't turn back and help them. He knew that he would drown; he had no way to support the men who were overwhelmed by the water.

There was fire, the boat was afire and fire burned on the oil in the water, so that the whole sea was burning. He was okay in the water but he was suffocating because there was no oxygen, because the whole sea was afire. As he passed out of consciousness the hearing facility was still there and he could hear people screaming, and he wanted so much to be able to do something. He felt such pain that he couldn't, having to turn his back on them. Now he was almost unconscious, truly unable to go back to them. He just shut out the hearing. He couldn't bear to hear these screams. This is part of the karma for me in this life, to open the heart and be willing to hear everything. The choice to hear it all is heightened because I cannot hear.

I know that my present deafness has many reasons for being. There are physical reasons, environmental, genetic. Part of it is karma. In the book Rothberg mentions the sutra in Samuta Nikaya, in which it states 8 reasons why things express. Karma is just one of them. There would be many ways to direct me into that karma for the opportunity to release it and balance it. What came up was what happened in my body during childbirth, with blood vessels constricting and the lack of oxygen to the inner ears and nerves.

We can't say it happened because of karma, but certainly the karma was involved. But it gave me the opportunity to come to this question, "What is it I don't want to hear?" I want to hear all the beautiful sounds of the world. That became very clear to me when I was asked at the Casa, "Why do you want to hear?" To hear my children's laughter, to hear birds singing, to hear running water, to hear all these beautiful things that I miss, music.

Do I want to hear everything? And I could see that I didn't want to hear the cries, the pain of the world. So the question became for me how to heal that, how to become open, happy to hear the beautiful things but also open to the pain of the world, not trying to separate myself from it. This was the karma that needed healing.

In seeing that, I was able to release the karma and now to work to balance that karma by being willing to hear the pain of the world and attend to it in skillful ways. First there has to be the readiness to hear it and then the actual doing of it balances it. So I hope this helps to clarify how karma works.

Q: Does releasing karma have a lot to do with identifying and releasing what we call negative feelings? Like anger, fear...anything to do with releasing negative feelings.

Barbara: Absolutely. It relates to how we respond to the negative feelings. As long as we hold on to a self-identity with those negative feelings we perpetuate the karma. Also, as long as we feel negativity toward experiencing such feeling we perpetuate the karma. When we first bring mindfulness to the negative feeling, then bring the intention to clarify it, instead of pushing away the negative feelings begin to investigate them, open to them, ask, "Where is healing here?" And as we release them, this releases the karma.

There is more to it. The heart of the karma is the view of a self. This is what keeps us coming back. When we see that this feeling has arisen out of conditions, and attend to the emotion but cease to create a self from it, this frees us. This is a very specific part of the teachings of dependent origination.

Written as I review the transcript. I would strongly suggest you read pages of Aaron's book, No Chain at All, on the DSC web site/ archives/ books/ No Chain...


Look at the first 3 transcripts, starting January 14, 21 and 28. If you have not previously read this book, you may find it helpful to read it all, on loine or it can be purchased from Deep Spring Center.

Q: Last night Aaron said that I had a lot of air and fire elements and some earth element, but I was very, very low on water. I'm curious what role intention plays in balancing that element because I have a lot of water in my life, in many different forms, that I have access to being in or around.

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron. He is saying that you have often separated yourself from the water. It's "me" and "that" rather than fully knowing your oneness with the water. He says it's a way of control. He says, not the usual kind of information he gives out in a group but he knows you are all very close brothers and sisters, and this is not intensely personal. There was a past life in which you drowned, and he thinks that is important in this separation.

So he's saying, with that in mind, please consider how you may historically and with reason have separated yourself from water, and how you can fully allow, he says so much of your body is water. He says, not just the past life of drowning but also some intellectual idea that to be a strong person and assert your views you had to overcome the water element to some degree. There was desire to be heard and a feeling that the water element was just a bit wishy-washy, wanting to be strong. But that strength needs to come from the balanced water element.

Q: I don't know if it's appropriate to ask a personal question in this group. But is there a past life that is <lost to background noise> painful bladder that I should know about, that would be helpful?

Barbara: I don't think it's necessary to know about it. It could be helpful but it's not vital. Simply ask yourself with the bladder, "What am I holding in this bladder area? What kind of energy is in there? There is too much fire in the bladder? So asking yourself, given that I choose to heal this, what do I get out of perpetuating the fire in the bladder? Was there some karmic ancestor who perpetuated a fire in the bladder? And for what reason?

Just take it into your meditation. You may not get specific past life information-- "Joan Smith in the year 1637 experienced this or that." You don't need that precise information, just a sense of it.

Q: Once again, give examples of how to balance karma versus how to release karma, and how they're different.

Barbara: How to balance and how to release, and the difference... Releasing usually comes first. After I lost my hearing, it was very challenging. We had a new infant. I was already less available to Hal because I was busy with a new infant. This happens in many families when there's a new baby. Now I couldn't hear him. And I was sick, I had no balance, I couldn't walk well.

He was very angry and he kept saying, "Look what happened to me, I have a deaf wife." And I was very angry because instead of saying, "How can I help?" he seemed to be saying, "Look what happened to me," and feeling sorry for himself. So there was a lot of anger, and the more I was angry, the more he was angry and withdrawn.

I realized very quickly that it was not a matter of right or wrong, it was a matter of two human beings who were in pain and needed to hear each other, and that I could not make him hear me; I could only hear him. So the release of the karma was in looking at the times throughout my childhood when I did not feel seen or heard. When I did not feel safe to speak my own truth. And how much I wanted Hal, at this time when I was in so much pain, to be the one who could really hear me. And that I had to do that for myself. Could I hear my own pain? It took me years to allow that. That story is in Cosmic Healing, and also in Being Bodies: Buddhist Women on the Dilemma of Embodiment, Shambala, an anthology, in my chapter in that book in more detail than in Cosmic Healing. It would be nice if he could do it but I also saw what I had to heal in myself.

This was the release of the karma and it led me to a point where I was able to hear him say this and nod and say, "I can hear how painful this is for you," and not take it personally but hear this was his pain speaking. That was the release of the karma.

The balancing of the karma, and it was an old karma of feeling unheard, unseen, for me came, I was teaching at UM then and I became especially attentive to those students in my classes who seemed the most quiet and the least heard, inviting them to share both personally with me and with the class, to make themselves more heard, to be able to speak their truths better and to trust that people could hear them. So as I helped them, it helped me to heal it in myself. I was also balancing the karma by a mix of hearing Hal , kindness to Hal but also firmness that he be responsible for his own pain. Does that clarify it?

Q: I'll try and paraphrase: so the balancing is about taking the learning and putting it into practice in the world or sharing it with others. Is that correct?

Barbara: Correct. And it is not always conscious, but the more conscious it is the better. It can be unconscious. Somebody can be very angry and then have some kind of experience that resolves a lot of the anger and simply become a kinder person in the world. Then people start to like that person. It's not a conscious choice to be more kind. It still balances a lot of the karma but it's still not fully released because it was not conscious. So it's in a way more balanced but yet there's still more to release.

So I guess what I'm saying is, the balancing can be unconscious to a large degree and still be useful, but the release needs to be more conscious in order to take full hold. And it goes back and forth. It doesn't mean I release it and I balance it, but I release some and I balance and I go back and see what needs to be released and I balance more, and I release and I balance more.

Q: It seems that the releasing is really not only the full healing on all levels, mind, body, emotions, but also the learning or the wisdom that comes from it. There's a growing that comes from the releasing, is that true?

Barbara: It's true. And in the story I just told you, at first I was not ready to go all the way. I released a lot of the karma with Hal. I needed to balance some of this with the students, inviting them to be heard, before I could go back to Hal and hear him more fully and further invite him to be heard. So the practice I got with my students, which was a much more impersonal relationship, then helped support my doing that work with my husband. And the more I was able to hear him and hold space for his truth, the more he'd be able to hear me. And all of this led to my being willing and able to hear myself, not to condemn my own feelings. It was only though that work that the idea that all of this was happening in a separate self began to dissolve and I could move into deep liberation experience, was ready to trust and then integrate such experience. The experience of no-self can happen and become a memory, not integrated or truly learned.

Okay, we're going to pause this discussion now. We'll have more time later today.

(session ends)