July 31, 2010 Saturday Afternoon

Keywords: satyagraha, elements, kayas, akashic field, Truth Mandala

Aaron: I want to speak more of satyagraha and then try to tie together a number of these separate items. We've already done a lot of that, but I will speak briefly and then answer your questions.

Satyagraha: soul force. In essence this is what you have been working toward not only since the beginning of Venture Fourth but since you first began a spiritual practice, to learn how to be in the world from that place of centered soul truth and how to hold that truth with deep intention to no harm, but only the highest good of all beings.

If we went around the room and asked you all, "What is your vision for the highest good?" we'd find a lot of overlap but also some differences. There are certain things that you would all agree upon. One is what Barbara said yesterday, you are not your brother's keeper; you are your brother. You are all one. Harm to any aspect of your worldwide community, of Earth itself and all the beings upon it, is harm to everyone.

The differences will come in what constitutes harm. One person will say it will be harmful to disband our army. That would make us vulnerable. And another would say it's harmful to maintain our army because as long as we have an army it means we're willing to use that army, we're willing to kill in the name of peace.

These are the places where each of you will have your own truth. The importance here is the ability to listen and not to be attached to views. It's not problematic that you have differences of opinion as long as you are able to deeply hear others' opinions, take it into yourself and meditate on it until you come to clarity.

All the tools you've been assembling – working with the elements and chakras, working with your crystals, working with your guidance, working with the breath, journeying, harmonics – are just tools to help you come more and more into that place of center. When you're all in the same place, there will not be opposing views. But because you are human, you're not all in the same place and that's okay. The work is not to be in the same place so much as to hear deeply and be open. It's a part of the richness of this Earth experience that there are opposing views.

But in the long run there cannot be peace by planning for war. There cannot be liberation by enslavement of others. There cannot be personal liberation by centering within the ego self.

Satyagraha was developed by Gandhi but of course Gandhi did not invent it. This use of what we might call soul force or soul truth has been around for as long as I can remember, which takes us back thousands of years.

What does it mean to live one's truth? The being that Barbara described to you last night, the Native American shaman, was raised in a very militant Native American tribe who were possessive, tried not only to oust others from their lands but to take over others' lands, taking whatever they felt they wanted. They were aggressive, taking lives as well. They were merciless against those whom they captured.

Part of the ritual that this young man faced as a teenager when he first was permitted to fight with the adults, or first was moving into the readiness to do so, was to kill in cold blood. There was a captive taken in battle. He was tied to a tree. The ritual that this young man was asked to perform was to look this captive in the eyes-- the man was bound, could not move-- to take his knife and kill him. This was his ritual of pledging himself to the highest good of his tribe.

But he knew that his true "tribe" was much beyond his immediate tribe and that this man, while not of his immediate tribe, was also one of his people. He dropped the knife and said, "No, I will not do this." He knew the man would be killed. The fact that he did not kill him, did not save the man's life. But he would not do it, and he knew what it would mean to him, that he would literally be banned from his tribe. He chose simply to leave rather than to be excluded. And his father was chief, the role he was being trained to assume one day. So this cut him off completely, from tribe and family. He became known in his tribe as He Who Ran From the Knife, a very derogatory term.

Barbara has seen all this clearly in meditation. He lived in the wilderness alone for about 10 years. He had always eaten meat. Now suddenly he realized, "If I cannot kill a man, I cannot kill an animal either. How am I going to feed myself?" So he had to learn a whole new way of living. There came a time when he encountered a bear. The bear chased him. He slipped into a crevice between two rocks. He did carry a knife with him. He used the knife to cut herbs and to skin dead animals that were fresh, that he found on the ground. He did not entirely cease eating meat; he simply would not take the life himself just to serve himself.

So he drew himself deeply into this crevice, and the bear reached in his claw and raked his chest and abdomen. His knife was there and he could not use it. He said, "If the bear needs to kill me, he will kill me. I will hold to this truth." So this was an initiation. The bear clawed him, then turned and left.

The bear – just to make matters interesting – Barbara later realized that the bear was Maharaj-ji and that it was literally an initiation. The bear had no intention to kill, only to ask, "Can you live this truth even when you are threatened to death by a bear?"

I'm slipping off a bit for a moment. How many of you know Ajahn Thanasanti? How many of you have heard her bear story? She's a senior Buddhist nun. Years ago, before she was ordained, before she was a nun, she was camping and hiking and encountered a grizzly bear.

The friend who was with her leaped up onto a high boulder but the bear grabbed Ajahn Thanasanti in his teeth, grabbed her skull. She was terrified but she also said, "If this bear is going to kill me, I'm going to die with love, not with hatred," and she allowed herself just completely to go limp, which of course saved her life, because the bear shook her a few times and then dropped her and lumbered off.

They were many miles from the trailhead. She was bleeding badly, as a skull wound will bleed, teeth raked. Right now she has scars, and of course she has a shaved head so you see the scars running down her skull.

Somehow she half-walked, and her friend half-carried her the many miles to medical help. She survived. She was fine. This happened many years ago. This is another expression of satyagraha. For her she had no weapon so she could not attack the bear, but her truth said, "I will not hate this bear."

So for Barbara's karmic ancestor, he did not hate the bear. He tried to offer gratitude to the bear. He literally sewed up the wounds himself using whatever kind of material he had then, literally sewing himself closed. He had fever. He was very sick for a long time. He eventually healed.

He lived alone all these years, over 10 years in the woods, avoided people. And then he was in a-- when I say "he," the shaman he became, this young man, so he was perhaps 16, 17 when this happened, and about the age of 27, was looking out from the woods when he saw a youth injured in a hunting accident; the wild animal that they were trying to capture attacked the youth and gored him, a wild boar. The people with him did not know how to attend to his injury. By now Barbara's karmic ancestor knew the medicinal properties of herbed. He had lived for 10 years in the woods. Now his truth invited him in the need to come forth and expose himself. Who were these people? They might kill him. They might see him as an enemy. But he could not leave this youth there to die. And they clearly had no idea how to treat his wound.

So he revealed himself. He made himself understood what he wanted to do, and brought herbs and compresses. He healed the young man and they asked him to come back with them to their tribe. This was quite far from where he had grown up, a very peaceful tribe.

He became known there as a shaman because of his healing skills, his knowledge of herbs, and his connection with spirit. And through many years his skills developed until the story Barbara told you last night, which was perhaps 20 or more years later.

This is an example of somebody who strived to live his own truth. We cannot say it is THE truth. Those of you who eat meat – Barbara eats meat and I told her last summer she must catch fish if she's going to eat meat. I was not going to require her to raise a steer and slaughter it, but she had to catch fish and clean them. She had to learn how to take a life in that way with respect and reverence. And to offer love to that being whose life she took and gratitude, not to waste it in any way. To only catch what she would eat, what she and her family would eat. It was very hard for her. She did not want to kill a fish. She could see in herself that there was a little bit of excitement-- "Oh, did I catch it?" and that appalled her.

So she worked with it for quite awhile, learning how to release that predator/prey instinct, you could almost call it, or conditioning. How when she felt the fish on the line to immediately ask it, "Are you willing to become our dinner? If not I release you." Not to hook it immediately but to communicate with it. And then if it remained hooked, to bring it in, thank it, kill it swiftly, not to dangle it from a hook in the boat where it was gasping for air but simply slit its throat, kill it swiftly. Thank it, take it home, clean it and cook it. To offer it deep gratitude, to offer the earth deep gratitude for providing food.

She said to me at first, "But this goes against the Buddhist precepts," and I said, "That is partially accurate." The Buddha's teaching said not to kill meat or ask meat to be killed for you, but if meat was already prepared for a group you might partake of it. If monks go out with alms bowls and are given meat, they are free to eat of that meat. It was not killed just for them. So where it went against the teaching was that this was specifically being killed for her, for her use.

But if you kill a cucumber or tomato, is that really any different? The degree of consciousness differs, yes. A tomato is not as conscious as a fish, but a tomato is still conscious. What are you going to eat? Only fruit and nuts? It's possible. It's not healthy for the human body.

Find your own truth. I did not force Barbara, of course she has free will. I simply suggested, make a decision: either become a vegetarian or catch some fish and learn how to do this. If her truth was, "No, I cannot catch a fish," then be consistent and stop eating meat.

One is asked to go into the deepest place of one's heart and find one's truth, and to be aware that that truth will change from time to time. And that what seems true for one at one point may change.

If I said to all of you, I'm 6' 6" with black hair and black eyes and I have a reddish colored skin, and I am superior to any other human, and only people who look like me are the real humans, and everybody else, the rest of you, you may be servants. You may work 100 hours a week for me. If I wish to separate your families, and send you away, I can do that. You have no value; you are not humans. And I want to sign that into the Constitution because I'm somehow a highly elected official in this country. And several of my kind are also such officials. And you're all in the Congress also. Not only that but, look around you; do you see all the people that look like me that are gathered around in this room? They all have guns they're holding to your heads. Now we're coming up one at a time and sign. Then it will be the law of the land. What are you going to do?

It's likely that if you say no, you'll be killed. It's likely that if you're killed one of my tall, red-skinned, black-haired, let's use green skin, I don't want to imply a racial group here, one of my green-skinned compatriots is going to take your place. What are you going to do?

Can you allow yourself to sign that paper? There is no right answer. Some of you may say, "No way. If I am killed, I will be killed, but I will not permit this." But others may say, "I will do what it takes to stay alive, not to save my own skin but to retain this position with the hope that I can have more power at some time in the future to change this unjust law." One way is not better than the other.

Then we might add to that dilemma; those who sign, if you're going to sign you must prove the authenticity of your pledge by taking the gun that's been held on you and killing another being who looks like you. Some of you who might have signed at that point will say, "No. I could sign it with the idea that where there's life, there's hope, and I might be able to change things. But I cannot sign it if I must then kill somebody to validate my signature."

It just keeps changing. What are the conditions? We get into a karmic question here, one that some of you have tossed around with me before. A man has broken into a kindergarten classroom. He has a machine gun. He's obviously what would seem to be crazy with anger, grief, or fear. He says, "I am going to kill all of you children because my young son died in an accident on the playground. I'm going to kill all the teachers and all the children."

He brings up his gun. He's ready to shoot. You are standing behind a doorway, and you have a gun. Are you going to shoot him? I'm curious, how many of you would shoot him? I would. How many of you would refuse to shoot? I'm not saying this is a right answer or a wrong answer. How many of you would just back away and say, "I will not kill for any reason."? (group is divided)

Now we get into the intention, the karma of intention. If you kill this man from the intention to prevent him from killing many people, there's wholesome karma in that, in that you are trying to prevent the loss of life and there doesn't seem to be any other possibility. Yet there is also the reality of the karma of taking a life. And there is karma if he kills because you did not act. Karma here; karma there. You think you can reason with him but there's a dead body on the floor; you've already witnessed one person walk up to him and say, "Please, think about what you're doing. Please do not kill all these children," and tried to engage him in talk and reason with him, and he just turned around and shot this person. So you know that if you do that, he's just going to shoot you. It's not his shooting you that worries you but that he's then going to turn and shoot all the children.

The intention is for non-harm and yet here you are killing a man. And yet we say that killing only begets killing. There is both wholesome and unwholesome karma. Wholesome karma also in that for him it's very bad karma to shoot a room of children. By killing him before he can do that you're sparing him that karma.

You must pull the trigger from a place of highest intention to non-harm. You ask his forgiveness even as you pull the trigger. You do not try to justify your action and say, "I had no choice," even if it feels like you really did have no choice. You still have to acknowledge, "Yes, I killed a man. I killed a man whose back was turned to me. I accept the consequences-- karmic, spiritual." There would probably never be legal consequences in that situation; you'd be a hero. But you accept the karmic and spiritual consequences. How does it feel after you kill this person? Can you imagine that?

There would be regret, wholesome regret. Might there also be some sense of power that was unwholesome? "I am able to take charge. I am able to fix things." Where might that sense of power lead you? Could you then eventually become the political leader that says, "Now sign the paper."? I'm taking this to an extreme, of course, but you understand what I'm asking.

What happens if you kill this one man and then you become a policemen. You decide maybe this is your calling. And in the line of duty you're called to kill a number of other people. And then there's a situation that's not clear but you pull the trigger.

Each person must make his or her own choices. And as you mature and look at the questions, your view will change. I said I would kill this man, would shoot him in the back, and yet I would do so trembling because everything in me says, "Killing only begets more killing." I would feel that I needed to do this. I could not leave these children to be murdered if I could protect them. But in doing so I'm willing to take the whole karma of the situation onto myself. I am now a murderer. And yet we've all been murderers in one life or another.

How do I then release and balance that karma? I might want to set up a program for people with mental illness who have homicidal tendencies. Raise a lot of money to help treat them, to prevent other people from moving into that position that this man had. Many possibilities.

What I want you to understand is that you each have this power for truth within you. The deeper you go into your own deepest truth and into your courage to uphold that truth, the more powerful you become in the world. And then you must use that power in wise ways, for the highest good.

I'm suggesting situations that are so unlikely to happen to you but much lesser situations will happen. You're in a department store, a store with many kinds of goods. You see somebody take a $30 or $40 item and slip it into a pocket? What are you going to do? Your world being as it is, if you confront them they could shoot you or knife you. People do that. Very unlikely but it could happen. They could punch you in the nose, and try to run out. Are you going to confront them yourself, or are you going to go to the store management, or are you going to turn your back?

At what point do you confront? You're in the supermarket now and you see somebody pick up a loose banana from the shelf, peel it and start to eat it while they shop. Are you going to act on it? Is it worse to steal a piece of jewelry than a banana?

You're in the market and before you buy the grapes you want to try one to be sure you like the taste. There's a little sign that says, "Please ask us if you want a sample," but there's no salesclerk around. So you take a sample. Is that okay within your ethics? How does the grape differ from the banana? Is the difference only in intention, to taste before buying versus to take that which does not belong to you?

The important thing is not to be rigid but to be honest. Not to say, "Ah, it's just a grape, it's just a banana." But also not to say, "He's stealing a grape! Thief!" Not to be rigid. What does your heart say? The soul truth comes from the heart.

I'd like to open the floor to your questions.

Q: I attended a couple of workshops with Jean Houston. We did several exercises where we healed our ancestors going back in time. What do you think of that?

Aaron: The idea of healing one's ancestors? Yes, of course. There are certain exercises one can do, but for the most part when you resolve the karma in yourself, you heal it for the ancestor. When Barbara understood and released the karma after the Freedom Ride, of the need to be willing to hear others' truths and not to be self-righteous, she also healed her ancestor.

The ancestor's karma is her karma. They are 2 different unique beings but they have one karmic stream. So when you heal your ancestor's karma you heal your own, but it's often easier to heal your own and pass it down to your ancestor.

Q: Are you using "ancestor" in this instance to mean your karmic ancestor rather than a biological ancestor?

Aaron: Yes, karmic ancestor. You can heal group karma of non-karmic ancestors. In other words, if you grew up in a cultural or racial group, when you heal your own karma it helps to heal the group karma of that whole group of people. But it's not as direct, it's not one karmic stream but simply a karmic stream that you have been a part of. It's a bit different. So we do not directly heal our physical ancestors karma.

Q: I'd like to just share a story I heard. Recently in South Africa they had the World Cup soccer games and there was a documentary done in Capetown. There was a beautiful stadium. Next to the stadium was a township of very, very poor people ravaged by drugs. Seemingly all the young people were addicted to drugs. The story is that there was a single mother who had a son who was addicted, maybe he was 18 years old. She got to the point where she put bars on the windows of her house so her son couldn't come in an continue to steal from her. She did provide an area for him, a little room for him to sleep. And he continued to lead this drug-ridden life. And one day when he was sleeping she went in and murdered him. It's a true story. And she went to court and she was given probation. I tell that story because it just reminds me of what you, Aaron, have been talking about.

Aaron: It's a very good example. What more punishment could a mother receive than to have lost her son in such a tragic way? Putting her behind bars would mean nothing. To be driven to the extent that she had to kill him. And we cannot say it was wrong or right. Very sad that she was driven to that extent, that there was no other suitable choice for her. And this is the culture's karma.

One of Barbara's sons had a very interesting experience just after the tsunami in Thailand that hit the shores of Sri Lanka. He was moved almost immediately to go to Sri Lanka. They were not admitting most people but with his press credentials and so forth he got himself in.

He simply wanted to travel around and see how he could help, what kind of help was needed. Something in him drew him there. Shortly after his arrival he found a man who had a lot of money and was going to the various, I don't know what you would call them, survival camps, tent cities that were being put up where people could go for food and shelter. The government was providing some basics like rice and tents or cots and blankets.

This man was entering each camp and asking, not to the officials but the camp leaders from the people, "What is most needed?" In one camp they said, "We've had rice for two weeks with no seasonings or flavorings of any sort. It would be wonderful to have just a bit of seasoning or some kind of dried fish or something to add to our diet." In another place he was told that people who had lost their glasses, could barely see. They could use old glasses so that people could see what would fit them. One person could not chew, he had lost his dental works.

This man was simply obtaining what was needed, bringing it back, and not giving it to the person himself and saying, "Look what I've brought you," but bringing it to the camp leader to pass on. Barbara's son followed this man for about a week. In that week he found out that this man had been a drug dealer in the U.S. and was very repentant. He had made all this money dealing drugs, and had suddenly realized he needed to balance this, he needed to stop dealing drugs and he needed to go and give the money away in an appropriate way. D was quite awed by the man's emptiness of ego and his deep intention to help people.

Is the karma balanced? One cannot say. What happens if drug money that has done so much harm then does so much good? We can't say. Only, for this man there was a release and balance of karma. Might he come back and deal drugs again? Who knows? Should one refuse the good he did because of where the money came from? I would say no. He did not deal the drugs in order to provide the money for this, but he had a change of heart.

This same one of Barbara's sons, 10 years ago lived in Washington D.C. There was a 9 year old boy that he befriended on the playground shooting baskets together, who was very taken with this young man's maturity and wisdom. And the boy talked to him about the murders he had seen living in this inner city environment. D asked the boy would he be willing to be part of a movie, and the boy said yes so he went with the boy to his mother, talked to the mother.

So through the years D returned to Washington periodically taking footage of Emmanuel as he matured. He often thought, "I should get him out of here. There's so much death here. And he's not going to finish high school, he's going to get into drugs. He's got so much potential." But D himself, well now he's 35 but then he was only 25, 30. What is he going to do with a young black boy from inner city Washington? Who doesn't want to leave his mother, doesn't want to leave his home. Where would he take him?

D was down there last summer shooting footage and Emmanuel had graduated from high school, a remarkable feat. He was engaged to a woman who was in college. He was going into a training program to become a firefighter. He had a real future ahead of him. And then on New Year's Eve, someone broke into his home and Emmanuel tried to block this intruder who had a gun, and was shot and killed protecting his sister and his baby nephew. The intruder fled but Emmanuel was dead.

D blamed himself. He kept saying, "I should have gotten him out of there." But of course this was Emmanuel's choice; he didn't want to leave. He was finishing school, he was surviving, he had a girlfriend, he had his sister and nephew who lived in their home, his mother, who was apparently a fine woman who has raised children who survived in that neighborhood and did okay.

D has created a walk that will start tomorrow, taking about 30 inner city Washington D.C. children, all ages from about 7, one of Emmanuel's young nephews, to late teenage, Washington to Washington, he's called it. He's taking these children from Washington D.C. to climb Mt. Washington. He's asked for donations but at this point probably $10,000 of it has come out of his own pocket, which is a substantial amount of money for a young man who is a writer and does not have regular income.

He just received a wonderful donation he told Barbara about from L.L. Bean. They gave him something like 10 tents like these, 35 sleeping bags, backpacks, mattress pads, not a big company but they provided so much so these children could have a good camping experience. And D's intention is that this program will continue as an annual program.

(Barbara: If so led, please read more on the web site:) http://www.washingtontowashington.org

One looks at a young man like David and says, "What is his karma? What drives him to go to Sri Lanka and other forms of service?" He's not been doing it to get notoriety or get something for himself; he's clearly trying to balance some old karma.

I would say that he's released the karma and now he simply has a deep need to give in this way in the world, to see where there is strong disaster and attend to it. Yet somebody could be doing exactly what D is doing and doing it from a place of deep self-centeredness, trying to write Readers Digest bestseller articles, make a lot of money, based in greed. What is the intention? One always must ask, what is the intention? Each time D proposed to set off on one of these trips, Barbara asked him and I asked him, what is the intention?

The intention will never be 100% pure. That's okay. Can one be mindful of those areas of the intention that are not fully pure and use the circumstance as an opportunity to clarify that intention, purify that intention? What is the intention? Where are the less pure intentions? Are people paying attention? "Am I going to get recognition, will they write me up in the paper?" None of that for him, but that kind of intention could be there along with the higher intention. It's not bad that that is there; it's just an opportunity to observe it and purify it. One must be very honest.

And here we come full circle to the Mussar work that you did for the first year. Why did we do all that work? To help you reach that place of deep honesty, to know yourselves well so you're less likely to slip off into something unwholesome without recognition of it, and honest enough that when you see it, you will attend to it. Honest and mindful of it.

We will have more time for questions tomorrow. Tomorrow we have very little planned besides discussion and questions, and some discussion of Intensive 5. What other questions do you have? Let's spend just 10 more minutes here and then I want to give you an exercise to do, 10-20 minutes maybe.

Q: We talked about the four elements and mentioned akasha as a fifth. I'm wondering, is the akasha balancing the karma balancing, or is there any akasha involved in that moment-to-moment balancing of emotions, physical body, etc.?

Aaron: I'm not completely clear on your question. Could you say it again? I got the words but I do not fully understand the question.

Q: It was my understanding that space or akasha, soul space, was one of the elements. First, is that true?

Aaron: Yes.

Q: Then does akasha balance on a moment-to-moment basis, or is it only applicable in the very larger karma sense?

Aaron: Is it only part of a larger karmic sense... First, akasha is an element but different from the other elements. It is the container for the other elements, an infinite container. When the other elements are balanced there is little disturbance in the immediate akashic field. One does not send out those chains or ropes if the elements are all balanced. One is sending out one's own silver threads that project through ropes and chains that others have sent out. One then asks, what happens when my silver thread intersects that density? Can I rest in that intersection with this chaos about me?

What comes to mind is Nazi Germany, as an example. Can one who holds the highest good of all beings live in a situation like that, sending out only silver threads, being in a place of non-contraction, while seeing the hatred, terror, and greed, around oneself? Can one stay absolutely clear in that setting? Yes, one can. It's much harder to do. I'm giving an extreme example. One can.

This is what Gandhi was doing. In essence he was simply sending out silver threads through this network of chains with the intention that the silver threads would make contact and stick. A person with the chains attached to them would feel this gentle touch of silver light, say, "Oh, what is it?" and begin then to divest themselves of their own chains so that they could more clearly experience the silver threads.

Akasha simply is the container for it all. Space is one more easily experienced expression of akasha. Infiniteness is another. Space and infiniteness are not necessarily synonymous. We see the unlimitedness of akasha, the universality of it.

Let me phrase this carefully. On the ultimate level the akasha is innately balanced. On the relative level it can be unbalanced. It's just like anger. On one level there is no anger. On another level there is anger. The anger is creating contraction and tension and yet resting in the awareness of emptiness of anger, one can experience the different sides of the akasha.

One who comes into that akashic field aware of a sense of fear and contraction and self-centeredness will experience how it's filled with chains and ropes and be whacking away with a sword to cut the chains that are uncomfortable to it but be building more chains.

One who is in a very centered place will look around and just say, "Hmm, an interesting tangle here, but I see ways through and I'm just going to keep clear of the chains and ropes and work as compassionately as I can with those who are ensnarled in them."

Clean to here

Q: This is one of the questions I emailed Barbara. What is the relationship between the akashic field and dharmakaya, and what is the relationship between the elements and dharmakaya?

Aaron: The elements are rupa. In main part, Dharmakaya holds the elements. It's the consciousness, the awareness, citta, that holds the elements as a conditioned object, and can be aware of the elements. The elements at the highest level are also Dharmakaya in themselves. So Dharmakaya is the container for the elements and all that is, the highest expression. And the highest form of any element, purified, is Dharmakaya.

The akashic field is not a thing but a space that contains everything. It is not synonymous with dharmakaya.

You ask a wonderful question, N! Thank you. Let me give this a little thought...

So the conditioned elements are nirmanakaya. And yet the unconditioned aspect of the elements is an expression of the dharmakaya. The akashic field is sambhogakaya. Okay?

Q: Is the unconditioned expression of the elements sambhogakaya as well as an expression of the dharmakaya?

Clean to here

Aaron: Not quite. Here we just have a language problem. We talk about the expressions of the Unconditioned, as light or Luminosity, nada, and more. These are not the Unconditioned itself. They are the Dharmakaya in their essence but they are not the full Unconditioned, they are expressions of the Unconditioned. We must choose words with care. On the relative level, these expressions arise and cease, yet on the ultimate level, they simply are. They do not arise and cease. Rather, you open awareness to their ever presence.

So are these sambhogakaya? Yes and no. They participate in both levels. At the conditioned level they are sambhogakaya; at the unconditioned level they are Dharmakaya.

While reviewing, I asked Aaron to speak further on this topic. He said, "Think of a beach, a dune, resting above the sea; if you walk it into the water it becomes the ocean bed. Is it land or water? Is it earth/ beach or ocean base? It is both. It is earth element and serves as the base for air or water. It also contains them. Everything contains everything else. Dharmakaya and Sambhogakaya have no distinct boundary from each other, any more than the sand beach and ocean base.

"Visualize the bridge we often use as example of the kayas. It is grounded into the earth. No matter how far out you go from the grounded pillars, if you are on the bridge you are touching the Dharmakaya, even while walking on sambhogakaya."

They are simply expressions of the dharmakaya and expressions of the Unconditioned.

The akashic field likewise is a sambhogakaya expression of the Unconditioned. It is dharmakaya in its nature and sambhogakaya in its expression.

We have an exercise I want to give us about an hour to do, and I was going to give you a little bit more time before dinner. That means we need to stop now. And Barbara's body is tired. The energy is low. You might notice that I'm stumbling a bit. She's not holding my energy field as clearly. I think that this body needs to release my energy for the moment and you will do the exercise. We will have time to talk tomorrow morning, more time for questions.

Tonight we are going to do an exercise. I want to talk very briefly about this before we stop. This exercise comes from Joanna Macy, although I've experienced expressions of it hundreds of thousands of years ago, so she did not invent it, she uncovered it.

She calls it the Truth Mandala. "This ritual exercise," this is from her website, "provides a simple, respectful whole group structure for owning and honoring our pain for the world and for recognizing its authority and the solidarity it can bring. The practice emerged in 1992 amidst a large tension-filled workshop in Frankfort on the day of unification between East and West Germany. Since then it has spread to many lands."

It's a very beautiful exercise. Barbara participated in it once with a group of dharma teachers. She's just had that one experience but was very moved by it.

We will read the instructions to you later. So we will gather here promptly at 6:30, one hour for dinner, 5:30 to 6:30. Gather here and I want you to meditate first from 6:30 to 7. And then we will move directly into this, explaining it, giving it about an hour and a half, the recommended time to do it.

After we're finished we will move out to the fire. Tonight, not a silent fire, but a chance to sing, to share. Not a lot of chattering but a chance to bring some sharing from what you just experienced and a chance to sing. So we'll have about a campfire. That's our plan for the rest of the evening.

Now we're going to do an exercise that I've put together for you. You've read this in the material that was sent out, the satyagraha exercise.

We're going to break into 2 groups at random, we'll count off, A, B, A, B. The A's will stand down near the lake. You are self-designated guardians of the lake. Only A's may use the lake. B's are inferior and may not use the lake; they might pollute it. No B's in the lake.

A's then are required to hold this truth, which is probably not your truth, but to see how it feels. Gather together and give yourselves pep talks. "We're the A's! Hurray! We're the best! No B's in our lake." And the B's are going to gather together and center themselves and respectfully ask of the A's from their own highest truth, "We would like to enter the lake." You don't need bathing suits, you don't have to go in the water, but you can put your feet in if you come through to the lake. You want to experience the waters.

How many of you read the book, The Fifth Sacred Thing? Anybody read that book by Starhawk? It's a beautiful book. I recommend it to you. It's fiction but very beautifully written. Perhaps good summer reading, very deep. The four elements, and spirit is the 5th sacred thing., What she writes about in The Fifth Sacred Thing is another example of speaking one's own truth.

So the B's ask to get to the lake, the A's say no. The B's approach. What happens? No force, no shoving each other. But you can gently try to elbow your way through.

Okay, the A's are here, the B's are there, what happens? It's up to you to decide what happens. I'd like to try this now. We'll probably have about 25 minutes in one direction and then in 25 minutes going in the other direction, A's and B's will switch.

Q: The intention of the B's is to express their right to be in the lake?

Aaron: The B's intention is not so much to reach the lake as to state their own truth, that all beings are equal and that being so, they have just as much right to reach the lake, to wade in the water, as the A's do. They hear the A's personal truth, "We are better, and you will pollute our lake," but they from this deep soul-centered place, they say, "For the sake of all B's everywhere in the world, I must say no to the A's blocking me." The A's can yell and act angry. Please don't hurt each other. No punching. But without too much force you can try to push somebody aside to walk past, or hold your hand out to stop them. No one gets hurt; that's the only rule. No one gets hurt.

I want the A's to feel what it feels like to polarize in your view a prejudiced, self-centered view, and to be opposed by this force. See at what point this force breaks down your resistance, if it does, or maybe it won't; we don't know what will happen. I want the B's to connect to each other and to connect to this place of soul force in themselves. See whether you do it as a group or one-on-one. There will be 9 of you in each group. See how does it feel to say no to something that is deeply hurtful.

It's not about reaching the lake, that's just the immediate goal. Like for Gandhi, getting salt to people was not his immediate goal but opposing the restrictions and saying, "We have freedom." So the lake is simply a symbol. But it's important if you do break through to the lake, that you actually get your feet wet.

Q: In a similar way, for the A's how much of their attention should be on not permitting the B's to get to the lake versus simply putting their attention on the racism, the superiority?

Aaron: They are interwoven completely. So you really have to play at it. You're on stage. "We're the best! We're the A's!" How does it feel to hold that place of prejudice?

Q: 25 minutes for each side?

Aaron: Probably half an hour by the time we get out there. It's 4:15. We should have close to half an hour going each way. But you may not need that much time, we'll see how much time you need. If you don't need all that time, that's okay.

Q: So there will be a lot of discussion between each side?

Aaron: Each side can discuss within themselves, and each side will try to approach the other side to discuss. Similar to what Barbara's described to you, carrying the picket sign saying, "No Nuclear Submarines". Barbara paddled around in a small canoe blocking the launching of a nuclear submarine. You can imagine how big a nuclear submarine is. So they did some civil disobedience and paddled out into the river and up to the launch site. There were hundreds of people gathered there for the ceremony of launching the submarine. The boats that were there, the police boats, tried to catch the canoes, but canoes are much more maneuverable than these big boats.

Saying "No, this is my truth. I block the launching of this submarine." I know this is the reverse, you're saying, "This is my truth, we're better than you." But it's still a statement, "This is my truth."

How does it feel to hold that kind of truth on each side? How does it feel to hold an ego-based truth and say no to others? And be honest with yourself, at some point their arguments may break you down and you might say, "Okay, you're right. I invite you in." So this has got to be an honest theatrical performance, an improvisation.

Q: This sounds like another extrovert exercise. Can some of us quiet types on both sides go argue at a picnic table? (laughter) Have some coffee or something? My truth would never do this...

Aaron: I would really like you all to do it together. You do not have to be extrovert to do it. The introverts might simply stand in silence. They don't move back, they don't push forward. If you're outgoing then express it in an outgoing way. If you're quiet then the A's who feel that way might simply sit. Let us make a rule that if there's a body lying on the ground you cannot step over it. So the A's might line themselves up lying on the ground, blocking it. Then the B's might sit in front of them and just look at them. How long can the A's lie there and be looked at before they pay attention?

Just see what happens. It's an experiment. Just play with it.

Q: I wanted to offer something from Aikido which is, this is for our training. So to play all out, I know for me it will be hard to be the A. But I know I will serve the B's and the A's by really going for it and really trying to be an A. So really trying, as hard as it may be it will make it a better exercise for all of us. And then we bow at honored opponents.

Aaron: Have any of you ever been on a debating team? On a debating team one must take both sides. In a sense this is that kind of an exercise. I just want you to feel how it feels to come from this place of soul force, satyagraha, and state your own truth. And how it feels to release some of that truth, to open up and see another view, if that happens. If it doesn't happen, to feel how your body feels as you're resisting. Just watch. There's no right or wrong way to do this exercise, just mindfully watching. What happens?

That's enough talk. A's, count off... No one wants to be an A so I am going to...

(group counts off A, B, A, B)

You're all going to be both A's and B's at some time during the next hour...

(session ends)