August 29, 2009 Venture Fourth Fall Intensive, Saturday Evening

Barbara: I'm going to open by talking a little and then Aaron will come in. We are looking at the question, “What blocks my power?” Aaron spoke a little on our opening night about releasing limitations but I'd like to go a bit further with that.

The Dhammapada says, “We are what we think. With our thoughts we make the world.” When we go deep to understand what the Buddha meant by that, we see how the ideas we have of how things should be are what we create. We keep creating it over and over again because we believe it to be that way. We are constantly remaking the world in the image that we hold in our minds. We are constantly remaking ourselves. What images do we hold of ourselves and of our world?

Many years ago I participated in a wonderful workshop at the Friends Meeting House in Ann Arbor with a woman named <Elise Boulding> who was a Quaker, an elder and spokesman for peace and for envisioning a peaceful planet. And she led this workshop all over the country, envisioning the world that we want to create. It was an all day workshop and she had us break into small groups at one point and literally vision and draw. She handed out big rolls of paper like 4 feet by 10 feet, and gave us markers to envision in words and to draw the world we wished to create.

This is something D brought up the other day, “May all beings be free from suffering.” It's a negative statement of it. It's a beautiful wish but there's a tension. Let's get rid of the suffering. So we discovered as we went through this day that we all had the inclination to phrase ourselves, “May we not have war. May we not have famine.” rather than envisioning peace or envisioning a world where there was plenty for everybody.

It was a very powerful insight for me. When I saw how much my vocabulary was stuck in that mode of getting rid of rather than envisioning and holding the vision. Part of it is simply cultural, and <>, but our vocabulary, our English language does give us a way to speak of the fullness of being, not just the negation.

My experiences in Brazil have been life-changing here. Many of you think of the people who go to the Casa as there for physical healing, but really only a small percentage of the people that come to the Casa are there for physical healing or only for physical healing. People who go for other reasons may say, “My knee hurts, maybe they can help me with it,” but many people go for spiritual and emotional healing. People go with the question, “What is my highest purpose in life?” or “How can I best be of service in the world?” And sitting in the current in meditation they begin to have insights into this because there's so much energetic support.

I saw that I needed to go with the question, not just “How can I hear?” but “Is there any old attitudes or opinions that block healing and block hearing?” And immediately I began to be shown those in my meditation.

I had already seen in meditation years before the ways that I used deafness to insulate myself. In the simplest terms, if somebody is angry at you and you can't hear, it's easy to turn away. I didn't have to lip read! Probably the final last word when somebody's trying to tell you something in an angry way is, “Could you please repeat that? I didn't understand.”

So I saw the ways that I was subtly using deafness. I saw the attachment to deafness as a way to protect myself from negative emotion in the world and as, what I envisioned as a way to protect others from me. What I didn't hear, I didn't react to. So I didn't get angry enough to have to worry about anger. I saw that I couldn't do that anymore.

So by the time I came to the Casa, I had a pretty sophisticated understanding of this and I naively thought I was through with this. But I still asked, “Am I blocking hearing in any way?” And also, “Am I blocking balance in any way?”

I began to see deeper ways in which I held on to deafness, in which I held the concept even that “I cannot fully heal,” simply because that's what I had heard the doctors say so many times. “The nerves are dead. You can't do it.” Well, why should I be different? Why should I think I can do it, is this is what the whole medical establishment says? But I finally began to see how important it was to open myself, not to say, “I WILL heal,” but “I am already healed.”

I had an important transformative experience there on my 2nd trip. After my first trip there I had that accident in the ocean and amongst all the more serious injuries, one of the things that happened was a small fragment of shell or something cut into my lip and probably cut an artery in my lip, so blood was spurting out. Eventually it stopped bleeding, but then for <8> months afterwards, if I brushed my teeth and hit this little piece of scab, it would pop off and it would bleed for 24 hours, not just drip but spurt blood. I went to the doctor several times with it when it seemed uncontrollable.

Finally he said the only thing we can do is to send you to surgery and have the lip cut open, have them cauterize the artery, and then sew up the lip, but it will leave a scar. So he wanted me to wait and see if it would heal by itself.

I went through the line in the Current room the first day there, asked the entity, “What's happening now with the hearing? What do you want me to do?” And he took one look at me and he said, “I keep telling you, you will hear. Now just go and sit in my current.”

The lip had been spurting blood all morning and I was holding a paper towel on it. So he lifted the paper towel and he said, “What's this?” And he looked at the lip. He said to me about the hearing, “You will hear. Be patient. But this I can fix now.”

I was already scheduled for surgery when I got back from Brazil. He just looked at me, he looked at this. He didn't touch it, he didn't do anything physically obvious with it, he just said, “Just sit here in my current.” So I sat there in front of him. And I noticed that it was no longer bleeding, I no longer had to put on a fresh part of the paper towel. And the current ended and I went back to my room. The next day there was a scab over it, as there had been before. The scab fell off in about 2 days and it was gone.

I realized at some level it was already healed or it couldn't have healed. At some level I was holding on to that which was broken, to that which was cut and injured and damaged. Not out of attachment but out of lack of belief in the wholeness. But when I moved into a trust of the potential for healing and into what we might call the Ever-Healed, it responded, it healed.

It's the same thing that led to my toe's healing last summer. The toe could not have healed if I had said, “But it's broken, singing to it's not going to do any good, why should I sing to it?”

So gradually through the years I've learned not to dwell in that which seems to be broken but to hold the image of wholeness, to know the wholeness. But, one cannot know the wholeness and deny the seeming distortion. The wholeness is there both on the ultimate level and the relative. It already has the potential to express, therefore even on the relative plane it is expressing. But the distortion is also there.

We relate to the distortion, physical or emotional or whatever level of our being, with kindness, with patience, but not as something that has to be fixed, because there's nothing there to fix. We just attend to it. It's exactly the same work we do when we're sitting in meditation and strong anger has come up. We don't try to fix the anger and we don't deny the anger, we just hold space for the anger. That which is aware of anger is not angry.

As we hold space for it, gradually it dissolves itself and that which is not angry and has always been there appears. All these days the sun has been there behind the clouds. We couldn't move the clouds away, we could just hold space and invite the sun. When the clouds were ready to dissolve, the sun came out. This is that <mis-> we're talking about and of course there will be clouds. But nobody has any doubt that the sun is up there behind the clouds. Why do we doubt that our wholeness is there beyond these inner human clouds? Why do we doubt that love is there when there's anger or fear?

I had a similar experience 2 years ago at the Casa. My first week, they had done surgery, sent me immediately to surgery. It was a strong surgery and I had been in bed for several days, and I was feeling quite weak. I don't always use my walking sticks but that day I had walked down to the Casa with the walking sticks and walked in front of the entities. And the entity looked at me and said, “What are these? Get rid of them!”

And I said, “I'll fall over without them.” I was experiencing a lot of back pain, I don't know why, I don't know exactly what they had operated on, but my whole body felt sore. I know they had done abdominal surgery, and my back felt sore, my whole body felt weak. So I said, “I can't walk without them.” He said, “Leave them home.”

So I came back after lunch without the walking sticks. I didn't think I was going to be able to make it down there. There was body pain, there was weakness, and I said in meditation, I stopped and sat on a bench part way, it's not a long walk, less than half a mile, but I stopped and sat on a bench and said, “I cannot get there without your help.”  Immediately I felt an entity with me, more than one, and they said, “Stand up. Just walk.”

Without my walking sticks and not feeling balanced, I was used to walking in little mincing steps like this, like one would walk on ice, trying to stay balanced. So the entity said to me, “Just walk!” And I didn't feel like I could just walk. He said, “Lean on us. Feel us supporting you.” So as I just walked, of course when you're walking like this, your back seizes up, but when I began to step out normally, the back relaxed.

So I spent a week walking up and down and investigating this. Part of me has balance and part of me has no balance. How can that be? Either there's balance or there's no balance. How much of this is in my mind? Remember, at this point I had been deaf for 37 years, and with the deafness <fell> also the nerves in the middle ear that control balance. I had literally had to learn to walk again like a toddler, holding on to things, crawling at first, there was no balance. And now after the accident and being blind in one eye, there was no balance.

So the entity said, “Walk!” And by the end of the week I was just walking. I found for 37 years I couldn't close my eyes and stand because I had what I believed was a visual balance, but I found that I could easily close my eyes and stand. The balance was there, I just had to trust it was there.

At the end of the week, when I came back to the entity, without the walking sticks of course, he said, “Now go get a bicycle.” I immediately thought to myself, “I can't do this.” It was a men's bike and I had to swing my leg over the seat, and the first time I tried it, I fell over on the ground and I thought, “I can't do it!” Aaron said to me, “Can't? Or won't?” A lot of anger. I got back up, I swung my leg over the seat and off I went. And yes, I could ride a bicycle, the balance is there. Some of you have seen me riding a bicycle. This spring, for our anniversary Hal and I bought ourselves 2 bicycles. We are having a wonderful time with them.

There are literally no limits. Well let me rephrase that. It's probably quite a challenge if you have an amputated limb to re-grow it, although  I would not say it's impossible. Heather was speaking about who had to have a spleen removed and the entity said to the person not to worry. And when the traditional doctors did the surgery, they found a new spleen growing beside the original spleen, the damaged one they were removing. Somebody I know who had a kidney removed was told by the entities that they were growing a new kidney. I would not want to say one could not grow a new limb. It's more of a challenge certainly than healing a lip.

Some of you saw a picture tonight in my photographs of a friend from the Casa who had a degenerative eye disease. He lived in California and had access to a very good hospital. They did recurrent surgeries and injections. They told him, “We'll control the progression of the disease but we cannot stop it. You will be blind.” They encouraged him to learn Braille and they said, “Within 10 years you'll be totally blind.” And sure enough, within 10 years he was totally blind.

He was blind for 3 years when he came to the Casa. So the first time he went, he was there just 3 or 4 days. He traveled down there with somebody else. The entities did surgery on him and then they went off sightseeing--well, he's blind, he can't really sightsee, but traveling. He didn't follow the Casa instructions to rest after the surgery. And he didn't get better.

He came back and the entities said, “You didn't follow our instructions.” So he went through this again. They worked on him. He followed the instructions and vision began to return. It took him 4 or 5 trips. The optical nerves were dead in both eyes so according to his California doctors, there was no possibility of returning vision. But he has perfect vision in both eyes now. He must be a bit careful of those eyes. The entities ask him not to read a lot, especially fine print. Not to overstrain his eyes. But they've re-routed the vision and he has very clear vision. He's capable, he can drive a car. The doctors in California still swear that he's got to be blind because there are no optical nerves. They don't know what to make of him.

I use him, he helps me as a model because I know they're re-routing the hearing, re-routing the dead nerves in my ears, re-routing the way I will hear. What I finally come is when they say, “You will hear,” it's already done. I don't need to worry about it anymore. The entity says to me, “Now, you know I'm helping you. Stop worrying about it. I'm doing the work. Just go sit in the current.”

It's not instant. Most things are not instant. But the more I know and trust that this hearing is there, the more I allow it. I think all of you are familiar with the story that happened to me this year. Most of you have heard this—2 years ago I heard thunder down there for the first time. That was quite amazing. A few of you were there with me.

This year, people have asked me, “What would I like to hear as the first thing I hear?” and I said, “My children's voices, or the song Amazing Grace.” I was sitting down at the Casa, it was a Sunday morning service, not the Casa current room, and for some reason I had been pulled to go there even though there was nobody to go with me and sign for me, I just felt compelled to go.

So I sat there and looked around, and I asked myself, “Why am I here? I'm not going to be able to hear anything.” “Close your eyes and sit.” And within that silence, within about 20 minutes, I started to hear what seemed like music. And I turned around and looked, and there was a man standing behind me, standing up and singing. Everybody was singing, but this man was clearly leading it. And I could lip read that he was singing Amazing Grace. And I could hear the music so clearly. I just sat there and wept. And I'd never heard the song Amazing Grace before because I'd never heard it before I was deaf. I know all the words but I had never heard it.

He came to my pousada the next day and sang it with me. And I was able to hear his tone and match his tone, and he said I was maybe 95% on tune. I was able to hear his tune and follow it.

All I'm trying to say is how deep this has gone for me in teaching me there are no limits except our own beliefs. If we believe we are unworthy or damaged in some way, we perpetuate that belief. If we believe we are not good enough to hold too much power, because we might misuse that power, then we deny ourselves this power. If we believe that we're not lovable, we perpetuate that in the subtle ways we act.

But even more than that, if we hold the intention to be of service in the world, and knowing that to be of service we need to invite the expression of our wholeness, but if we're afraid of that wholeness because it means we're powerful, and we're afraid to be that powerful because we recognize there is still the root of negativity that hasn't been fully cut, that anger comes up, greed comes up, “If I'm really that powerful, what if I enact my anger or my greed? What if I do harm?”, the more grounded we are in positive polarity with the full intention to do no harm, the more frightening our power can be to us when we recognize that we still do experience anger and greed, hatred, separation, and how much harm we can do if we're that powerful.

This takes us right back to that dilemma that the Atlanteans had after they left Lemuria, after the age of Lemuria when they were experiencing emotion and they didn't know what to do with emotion.

We're in a situation, though, where we've come around full circle. We've gone through all the negative emotions. We've learned how to work with them skillfully. We've really consecrated ourselves to positivity, to love, to caring. And we're ready to do this.

So the next step is to ask the question, “What blocks me claiming my wholeness and full power?” There's an overall answer that I just gave, a fear of being that powerful, but each of us has to look in ourselves and see what the specifics are. For one, it may be more about greed than anger and another, more about anger than greed. For one, it may be more fear of the ego, for one, it may be just some deeply embedded karmic memory of hatred that's held in the cells of the body. Are we ready to release all that?

Yesterday when Heather was drumming behind me, I shared with you the image I had of being a tortoise with something stuck in between the shell and the body so the shoulder couldn't move. Seeing that ancient karmic memory, and knowing, “I don't have to do that anymore.” We each have the opportunity, we don't have to see karmic memories, these memories are available in the present body. If you do see a karmic memory, that's fine, but you don't have to. It's all visible right here in this moment.

It was very interesting, I took about a 20 minute swim today and when I first started swimming, the shoulders were very sore. And the more I swam, the more they loosened up. Then I rolled over on my stomach and started doing breaststroke, and I really was the tortoise! Just sending healing energy into him, loving him, feeling how good he felt to be free of this, this impediment, this pain. How the arms can move freely. And then as I was swimming, also looking at the ways this body has undoubtedly done harm through countless lifetimes—hitting people, stabbing with knives, throwing swords or missiles of one sort or another, through so many lifetimes. I don't see those lifetimes specifically but of course they exist. So I can sit and do a forgiveness meditation, asking forgiveness from all beings that I've harmed through the misuse of these arms and shoulders, and offering forgiveness to all beings that have done such harm to me. Specific detailed images of a life don't come but fleeting images of dodging or being hit by rocks, by knives, by some kind of sharp instrument, this or that thrown at me. And I'm the thrower and I'm the one at whom it's being thrown.

This is the ground of compassion. When we recognize, “I'm both,” and we genuinely open in compassion, there's no more need for forgiveness. There's nothing left to forgive.

So our vipassana practice connects so deeply because as we open our hearts to ourselves and to all beings, truly with love for ourselves and all beings, and we deepen in the intention to hold to the precepts, to do no harm, we deepen in our trust of our ability to follow the precepts. We work with mindfulness seeing the subtle places where we slip. And we don't judge or hate ourselves for slipping, we just come back and say, “Okay, let's try this again, and again,” until finally we learn how to do it.

And in this way we can learn to hold our wholeness, not to believe in limits. To own our power and not be afraid of our power but grateful for it. For all the good that we can do in the world when we know our power.

So that's my dharma talk for tonight. Questions are welcome but the discussion is simply this, just sharing what blocks your power, what blocks your knowing your wholeness, and what skillful means have you come to understand that help you get past those blockages?

Q: Is it necessary to clear that karmic path? Sometimes I feel like just this lifetime is enough to work on!

Barbara: Just this lifetime is all you need to work with. When you clear it in this lifetime, it clears it all the way back. Sometimes if people happen to see a past life clearing, it can be helpful to work with that past life. Sometimes if you're working with the karma in this life, you see a past life.

Some years ago I had a bad leg infection and the infection was spreading up my leg. I was on IV antibiotics in the hospital. They were trying different kinds of antibiotics. It wasn't stopping, it was moving up my leg until there was a point where the doctors were talking about the need to amputate the leg if the infection could not be stopped, to cut it off above the infection part so that it didn't spread into the organs of my body.

There was a lot of fear, and it was hugely painful. I'd been in the hospital over 10 days with it. I began to meditate. There was a woman moved into the next bed about 2 in the morning. They must have just brought her from the post-op room. And the doctor and some people were working on her and the curtain was pushed aside a little. And I could see that they were working on a newly amputated leg, and I could see that the other leg had previously been amputated, it was just old scar.

It broke my heart open. It was a very powerful experience watching her. And I began to meditate and hold in my heart all the people in the world who had lost legs that day, in accidents, in car accidents, through bombs, land mines, in whatever ways, through disease, thousands of people, probably, who had lost a leg that day.

As I opened my heart to her, I opened my heart to me and I saw how I was putting myself out of my heart, how I was putting the leg out of my heart, and suddenly there was a very clear past life of a karmic ancestor of many hundreds of years before, whose whole story you don't need, but she was being led back to what would be certain torture and death with a leg iron in the Inquisition. And during the night she used a stone and literally hacked off her leg.

Now how does one do that without separating oneself from one's leg? Can you imagine the pain and how hard it would be to stay conscious through cutting off the whole leg? Not a quick knife blow but just hacking away at it.

So it suddenly led me to see the old habit energy of separating myself, separating this leg from the rest of me. It could have been any part of me, but because of the karma, it was the same leg and the infection was exactly where she was cutting.

So I spent most of the night meditating with my neighbor there in the hospital room and myself and all the thousands of people who had lost legs, and this karmic ancestor, just sending love and forgiveness, and with the understanding, “One leg to heal for us all.” This is not my leg anymore, it's the leg, it's one leg for everybody. No surprise the next day the leg began to heal, the infection started <to go back down>.

So we don't want to create a separation. You don't have to see past lives, but my experience with many people is that past life images may arise spontaneously, sometimes in a dream or a meditation. You don't have to believe, “This is my past life,” it's an image, imagination. Call it what you will. It happened to somebody and if you attend to it with love, healing happens.

Q: It seems that we somehow need to work with the wholeness and seeing the wholeness, holding the space for wholeness, and then letting go of the results. Not being too attached to the results.

Barbara: I think that's accurate. When you hold the space for wholeness, there's no longer concern about the results because the results are already there. And yet if, for example, if you had a cut that was badly infected and you hold the space for wholeness, you still have to wash the cut and put the medicine on it.

Q: But what if it doesn't heal, then?

Barbara: You just keep giving love to it and knowing the non-healing is part of the process. It can't always heal.

Q: The reason I ask is because some of my clients work so hard, like I had a client who had cancer and she thought, “If I just envision myself whole, I will heal this cancer.” And then the cancer didn't get better, she died from it, and so now we had guilt that I didn't do it right, on top of the...

Barbara: Aaron speaks to this with much clarity in the book that we just finished. I'm still looking for a publisher for this book so I cannot offer it to you in beautifully bound format. But if anybody would like a copy of it, my guess is it will cost between $25 and $30 to print it out with a spiral binding. It's about 300 pages. And I'd be happy to print and mail a copy to anybody who would like a copy. Eventually I hope it will be available in a beautiful format but I don't want to just keep sending out little sections of it.

Aaron goes into this in depth in the book. All I can say is that we don't know what the end result is meant to be. We're not here just to live life and live it with comfort and ease and pleasure, we're here to do certain work in the world and work with ourselves. The healing of karma—I know I came into the incarnation to resolve and balance old karma. And that has nothing to do with being comfortable in this life.

Part of the release of that karma might be dying. I have a friend who, after being sick for many years and at a place where she was really very, very sick with Stage IV cancer that had spread throughout her body, finally at that stage she decided to come to the Casa.

She had sent a picture to the entities and the entities had said, “Come but we probably cannot heal the cancer.” They had told her thought. But she and her husband went down and stayed for about 2 months. In that 2 months she came to a great sense of peacefulness about dying. She came to understand her life's journey in a better way, and instead of clinging to life with fear, she was ready to go. So that when she went home and died about 6 months after she returned home, she died very peacefully.

Q: There was a friend of mine who had cancer and went to a healer. When he came back, I asked if he had the <> to healing, and he said, “Yes, but not the healing I expected. I didn't receive a physical healing, I received a spiritual healing and I can accept and be at peace with my cancer.”

Barbara: Exactly. And this is what the person came into the incarnation to learn and to heal. The cancer then is simply the teacher and the death is part of the teaching. None of us are going to live forever. It's understandable that those who are ill in that way want to heal. None of us wants pain, none of us wants a premature death. So we do everything that we can do to support healing. But at the same time, there has to be a deepening equanimity that knows, this is simply the conditions, and I accept it as it is.

There's a difference between that equanimity and resignation. It's not a “I can't do anything, I'm just going to die.” One keeps holding the vision of healing. I had a friend at the Casa for several years, some of you may have met him if you were there with me a few years ago, a man named Matt who had a brain tumor.

Matt had conventional surgery and radiation and chemo at a top hospital. The tumor was too big for them fully to operate on. The cancer was spreading. And finally they said, “We can't do any more for you; it's time for you to go home and just say good-bye.” Matt was a young man in his early 20's and was not about to accept that. He ended up at the Casa through magical means—suddenly just at the time he was told, “Go home and die,” a number of people mentioned the Casa to him. And then a neighbor said, “I'm going to buy you a plane ticket. I want you to go there.” And off he went.

The x-rays, the CAT scans, whatever, show that he's completely free of cancer now. There's a tiny bit of scar tissue. When he got down there, they didn't even send him to surgery, they just had him sit in the current room. He said all the work that was done on him was really spiritual work, and that as he came to know his wholeness, he was able in some ways to release the whole idea of distortion, releasing the idea of wrongness in himself. Allowed him to release the cancer itself. And gradually the cancer healed and was gone.

Q: I'd like to go back to “what blocks my power”. And I think Aaron said that I block my power because negative emotions are still present. But I also am seeing that my conditioning blocked the power. I was in a large family and I was the only old soul in the family... and my power was not accepted. It was not okay to have power in that family. It's also been conditioned to not be okay to have power in a female body in this world. I've had past life memories of abusing power. So there's lot of conditioning.

Barbara: This is accurate. There's a lot of conditioning, a lot of habit energy with it. Women in our culture have been taught not to have power. Many of us grew up in families like you did that were taught it's not okay to have power. Also taught it's not okay to have anger or to have greed. If you're not allowed to be angry, what do you do with that anger? Anger brings up a certain kind of power and energy, and if you squelch the anger, you also squelch the power.

So we learn these things. What I find for me is that the incarnation has brought these conditions. I'm not a victim of my conditions but rather at some level I choose these conditions as catalyst to bring me to a point where I had to see that I had a choice, and that I could choose to go along blaming others, blaming circumstances, or I could say, “That's enough. I no longer choose to follow these old destructive beliefs. I claim my power. I claim my wholeness.”

Many situations we've literally co-created the conditions just so as to bring ourselves up against that wall, so we have to make that choice finally. And the more we don't make that choice and keep falling back into the old traps, the more hopeless it feels. Then we do dharma practice and we start to work with all of these emotions and develop a more openhearted attitude toward ourselves and the world and our emotional body and mind, we begin to see with more wisdom how it's all arisen from conditions. Whatever has the ability to arise has the ability to cease. If it has arisen, it will cease. We see if we stop the conditions, there's nothing left to keep it going.

We're going to do... I think I've got it here... there Seven Branch Prayer. I think I gave it out...We're going to do that as a guided meditation. We'll do it tonight at the start of the sitting. This is a very helpful practice for releasing old habit energy. Very supportive practice.

Questions? It doesn't have to be just questions, it can be discussion and sharing, too.

Q: Late last night I was sitting in the kitchen and waves of very dark thoughts and emotions came over, and I finally just said, “Please help me.” I could hear, I don't know who it was, there was no name, I didn't ask and they didn't offer, it was a they or they referred to themselves as they, it felt somehow related to <> but I don't know.

They talked to me about essentially, faith. They've given me so many examples and so many proofs that they're there and they're doing stuff, and they're doing stuff for me, and I still come up with this, “Okay, but you have to prove it one more time!”

Barbara: So this is the habit energy you work with, with the Seven Branch Prayer, this habit energy of doubt and retreating into a place of fear and doubt. As we go the Seven Branch Prayer, holding that up.

Q: And part of the question that I also have around that is, how perfect does that faith need to be?

Barbara: The faith does not need to be perfect at all. What needs to be strong is the discernment to watch doubt come up and the willingness to go back into the practice knowing the experience of doubt, and not getting swept away by the experience of doubt. So it's not faith vs. doubt, it's doubt vs. empty awareness. Faith in some ways can also become an ego trip, and doubt is an ego trip. It's just like humility, there's this place in the middle resting in awareness where there's just a spaciousness that's not going to get swept away by any of the stories—it won't be, or it will be--but just a deep trust. It's a different kind of faith. It's not faith this or that happen, <but> the faith in one's highest intention for the highest good, and in one's own power and ability to hold to that intention.

And certainly sometimes unpleasant experiences are going to come. I can only think of Jeshua, there being led to the cross and thinking, “I didn't think it was going to end this way! But I signed on for this and I'm willing to carry through with it.”

We don't know where our paths are taking us. So it's a different kind of faith, and it's basically a faith, whatever is happening is what I need, and is what I need right now in order to fulfill my intention for the highest good of all beings. And we can tell when we're on that path because there's a certain spaciousness very similar to resting in pure awareness. Able to see the whole picture without a lot of contraction. Let me say it differently: even if there is contraction, there is simultaneously the uncontracted and the ability to rest in the uncontracted even while watching contraction.

Q: If I may share a bit more of what they said to me, I think it might be useful. They said, “How do you know that this outcome that you want is the highest and the best?”

Barbara: Exactly. This is why when I take people to the Casa and they're suffering from some ailment or other, I suggest to them together we work out, people will give 3 requests to the entities for healing, up to 3. It doesn't have to be 3 but maximum of 3. S has cancer, for example. Then I will suggest that they ask for healing of the cancer and then, second, that, “My intention is for my highest good and for the highest good of all beings. And for that which will most fully release and balance karma.” That's an example of what somebody might ask for.

So they're making the clear statement, “I would like to be free of this cancer but if I need to carry it, okay, I can do it. If there's a reason for it beyond what I can see, I can do it.” Occasionally I can bring somebody through who has some ailment who says, “No, I don't want to say it's okay, I just want to get rid of it.” So then they have to make that, that's an honest statement of where they are, then. But when they're able to make the statement, “My higher intention,”—like what I've been able to make with my hearing—“My highest intention is not to hear, it's service for the highest good. If it serves in some way to continue this deafness, I'm willing to do it. But if it's not necessary, then I choose to hear.”

Q: Do you want me to bring up this question about Oversoul now or tomorrow?

Barbara: Tomorrow when Aaron is incorporated, okay? An Aaron also says he promised to tell you what orbs are.

So further discussion of this? I'd love to hear from some of you who have not spoken much this week. What blocks your power? What blocks you knowing your wholeness?

Q: For me it seems to be very similar to <>, I was raised in a very abusive and denigrating environment, and conditioned through fear of violence, <partially?> to not want to stand out. There's an <interjective> of self-deprecating, self-doubting pattern. I also think that there are past life components to this. And there's also an awareness of anger, greed, lust, and fear of those aspects within the persona. I just wanted to tell you so you know.

Barbara: You have learned and are further learning how to work with all that.

Q: Yes, this is true.

Barbara: Self-deprecating feelings arise; we note them. I need to bring t-shirts for everybody next time, the one that says, “Don't believe everything you think.” <> will you please bring it in November?

Q: I will wear it tomorrow.

Q: When working with the illness of the physical body, one holds the perfect template in mind. But when desiring to heal something of the emotional body, in order to embrace one's power, what is the perfect that is held?

Barbara: It depends what kind of emotion you're healing. If you're healing anger, for example, we hold the presence of metta or karuna. It's right there with anger. If greed, we hold the experience of generosity, which we've all experienced in mudita, the joy of others' joy. You're not trying to create that, you're aware that it's already there but it's gotten buried by the heaviness of the negative emotion. So instead of trying to get rid of the negative emotion, we just bring attention back to that little sliver of sunshine that's coming through. We nurture it.

It's like having a garden where the weeds are very thick but you have not way of pulling out the weeds without disrupting the little sprouts that are coming up. So you push the weeds aside a bit so the sun can come in a bit and you nurture the sprouts until they grow strong. Eventually the sprout is going to grow up and be 3x the size of the weed, and the weed will die away.

So it depends on what the emotion is. Whatever the emotion is, we work with--in the course pack I sent out, Sylvia Boorstein's chart of emotions and what balances them. Do you remember seeing that in the course pack? Take a look at that and see what she suggests with different emotions. It's a very beautiful chart.

Q: What balances shame?

Barbara: Kindness. First, mindfulness, seeing that the shame has arisen out of conditioning. Strong intention not to get caught up in the repeated stories of the shame, noting, “This hurts me and it hurts others. It's time to release this, to release my belief in shame.” And then, maybe metta for the self, metta for this human who's experiencing shame again and again, until slowly it starts to take. Just the little thought, “Maybe I'm not so bad.”

Sharon Salzberg tells a wonderful story. She was on a metta retreat in Burma with U Pandita Sayadaw, working with the repeated practice of metta. And she was finding every time negative emotion came up, shame came up with it. She felt like she was trying to conquer the shame. “Note it, don't let it come up.” Maybe it wasn't with U Pandita, maybe it was with somebody else. She was on a long metta retreat, though.

And finally she says, one day it struck her, “Maybe I'm not so bad. This emotion keeps coming up but I haven't acted it out. I haven't yelled at anybody on this retreat. I haven't hit anybody. I haven't really done anything wrong that hurt anybody, maybe I'm not so bad.” And she said it really hit home. She realized how strong this was just old habit energy, and that she didn't have to get caught in it. But one just keeps coming back to kindness to one's self.

Q: So then, one can begin to trust oneself to use their power.

Barbara: Exactly, exactly. And one starts to see shame as the habit energy you might want to work with, with the Seven Branch Prayer. Seeing it's not helpful to me or to others to carry this anymore. Think about Emmanuel. Know that you don't want to pass this pattern of shame onto your son. And the commitment to release this long-term habit energy, and you don't have to see where it came from in this or past lives, just to know, it's an old habit and I don't have to carry it anymore. And then it's just a long-term mindfulness practice.

An experience that I've shared with some of you before was my own experience of unworthiness that I grew up with as a child. And came into from my own early childhood experiences and abandonment experiences as a child, that made me feel I was not good. That my primary caregiver became ill and had to leave. And I was angry and I was told, “Don't be angry, it's not her fault, she got sick.” I had a nanny. My parents thought they were doing the best thing for me to have a nanny taking care of me, but then when I was 5 or 6, she got sick and had to go. And I was not prepared for it in a skillful way, I was sent away to summer camp and when I came home, she was gone.

So I experienced very strong feelings of unworthiness and abandonment. And through my whole childhood, teenage years, college years, it was very, very painful. With the help of a very compassionate psychoanalyst, I got past it to the point that when it came up, I stopped believing in it. I became able to go to a party, for example, and talk to people without being terrified. But I was pushing myself. It still came up, it still was painful, I just learned how to control it.

So finally, on a month long retreat, I realized it was time to work with this. When I walked past people in the hall, we were observing noble silence, and people would avert their gaze because this is what the retreat was. But I would look in people's eyes, and of course that invited them to look away. And each time they looked away, this sense of shame came up. And then I would ask myself, “Have I done anything bad? Am I bad in any way? What's really happened is simply I opened myself to somebody's gaze, they looked away because they're in noble silence, and then the old conditioning came. Am I bad in this moment? No. Have I ever been bad or is it just old conditioning?”

Through the month I repeated this over and over again, 20 times a day or more. There were a lot of senior dharma teachers at the retreat. One teacher for whom I had very high respect as a vipassana teacher, this was almost 20 years ago when I was very new to teaching. At every meal, I was sitting at a table by the window and he came in and sat across the table from me. He would sit down, I would look up at him and smile < and he would avert his gaze>, and shame and feelings of unworthiness, “He's abandoning me, he hates me,” all of these stories just kept coming up. Anybody unworthy in this moment? No, just old conditioning.

So finally, it was good it was a month-long retreat because it took that long, but somewhere into he beginning of the 4th week, when somebody looked away, it was just somebody looking away. And the stories finally stopped coming. Just doing it, being with it with an open heart, seeing how strongly it was conditioned. I worked with a practice similar to the Seven Branch Prayer with Aaron guiding me, and it went.

Q: It sounds like nothing really replaced the shame.

Barbara: No, nothing replaces the shame, exactly. Emptiness. I remember saying to Aaron, “If I'm not unworthy then I'm worthy,” and he said, “Don't create a somebody. If there's somebody who has to be worthy, that's just more suffering. Don't be unworthy, don't be worthy. Just stillness.” What replaces the shame is the absence of stories. The mind not having to go into that conditioning of stories to be the good one or the bad one.

Q: Thank you.

Barbara: You're welcome. At the end of that retreat, this teacher who'd been sitting across the table from me, and of course I was a teacher at that point too but he was a senior teacher, I was a beginner teacher, and he walked up to me and he said, “I really enjoyed sitting across the table from you every day. (laughter) I loved feeling your energy there.” All those stories!

(Barbara, a lot of laughter during this question but I couldn't pick up what it was about, or the related chatter.)

Q: Going back again to the “what blocks my power?”, this isn't necessarily a new theme but it has taken on new dimensions, I guess. When I hear you, Barbara, making your intention to basically, I'm paraphrasing your intention to...

(Barbara asks him to start again; laughter)

Q: <> all beings can do no harm to all beings, I just find that, I find it overwhelming for myself to think in that way, that I could open my heart to all beings and serve all beings. So it feels like a block, there's a fear there...

Barbara: The intention and the <> actions don't always merge. I hold this as the highest intention, but last week when I was sitting in my cabin meditating and felt something crawling on my leg and opened my eyes and saw a big spider, I hit it! It just came out. I've learned mostly to respect spiders. I'm still scared of them. I cannot love them but I can treat them with respect and catch them in a cup and take them outside. But this one just caught me by surprise. I forgive myself. I ask forgiveness of the spider, and I bring forth the intention again. Just keep repeating the intention.

Q: For me it goes beyond, when I think just about human beings, and being able to serve or do no harm to all human beings, I find that overwhelming.

Barbara: I find that an interesting statement from you because from what I know of you, you're a very kind person to others. And you do hold the intention not to do harm. And you're not a selfish person, you're not an abusive, manipulative person. Think about it.

Q: Somehow it's about the universality of all people.

Barbara: Then let the intention be, “In this moment to do no harm to the next being, the next sentient being with whom I am in contact.” One at a time, that's enough. Okay?

Q: Thank you.

Q: So in changing and looking at these habit energies, and I decide, for instance, “I'm not going to be sad anymore. And I choose to be happy.” If I do that enough times, I think there's a change in my circuitry in my brain.

Barbara: You've got to be very careful with that. To say “I'm not going to be sad anymore, I'm going to be happy,” it can lead to a denial of your immediate experience. A better statement of intention, a more skillful statement of intention would be, “When sadness arises I'm going to be present with sadness in an openhearted way, not build stories on the sadness that enhance it. Not let the ego feed off of it. But simply know it as sadness and hold space for it until it passes. And as it passes I reopen to happiness.” As the clouds pass, the blue sky appears again.

If you keep doing that, then you stop feeding the sadness. But if you say, “No sadness,” that indirectly gives energy to the sadness. It's just something that's not permitted, and it needs it.

Q: Does eventually your brain change, though?

Barbara: I wouldn't say the brain changes. We're not talking about... I don't know what happens in the brain, I'm not a brain expert. Consciousness changes. Consciousness changes from self-identity of a self who is either sad or happy to an emptiness in which happiness is a predominant ground.

Q: If I may expand on the question, there seem to be people who, for example, are hardwired for depression. I'm sure there are other examples. And the question is, is there something that can be done to change that because that's not an insignificant part of it.

Barbara: Really just the practice of mindfulness and something like the Seven Branch Prayer, seeing the strong inclination to that particular habitual response, that rage comes up or futility comes up, or feelings of self-deprecation come up and how strong they are and how fast they come. Reflecting, as we will in the Seven Branch Prayer, “This is not wholesome for me and for others, and it's my highest intention to gently shift away from this habitual reactivity or reply to catalyst.” To begin to see what catalyst arouses that response, and when it comes up, to see/say, “This is just old conditioning.” Within the Seven Branch Prayer, we release it.

Q: Aren't there affirmations of sorts that can be done in conjunction...

Barbara: Are there affirmations—no, not affirmations. Affirmations just hold the old energy in place. There's a self that's creating the affirmations. There's a difference between affirmation, which can be a convincing, “I am not unworthy, I am worthy, I am worthy,” trying to convince the self, and seeing the whole idea of unworthiness or of being the angry one or whatever it may be, seeing that it's just the result of conditioning and I don't have to follow that anymore.

So if there is an affirmation that comes out of it, it's... repetition of the word metta, “metta, metta,” just coming back to the whole experience of lovingkindness.

I'm going to stop us here... I would like people to take a 10 minute break and come back here, and we're going to do the Seven Branch Prayer for about 10 minutes and then sit. Okay, so we'll have more time for talk tomorrow. I'd appreciate your going into the silence now instead of a lot of talking. If there's a little bit of mindful talking, something you need to share, that's okay, but not just conversational talking.


There are 2 sorts of habitual patterns, one in which there is still a strong karmic force behind it and one in which most of the karma is really resolved, it just keeps coming up, it's just conditioning expressing itself. Of course, that's it's own kind of karma, but it releases much faster.

(The following was done as guided meditation.)

This Seven Branch Prayer is helpful with either kind of habitual pattern. It takes more persistence when there's still karma. Sometimes then we have to look more deeply at the pattern itself rather than just the intention to release it.

We start by bringing into the heart and mind the image of some great spiritual teacher, or it may be of Light itself, the Ever-Perfect Divine Presence, whatever to you is the highest expression of love. It might be your guide. Open in your heart and energy to this being, inviting its presence into your heart.

Offer all of yourself to this energy. You can offer very specific aspects such as your body, your mind, your energy. And also aspects in which you're interconnected with all that is. You can offer some light or laughter to it. It's not your laughter, it's simply the laughter, the sunlight, the joy. “Out of my love for this beloved teacher, beloved friend, I offer this which I hold precious.”

It's interesting to note that at this stage of the practice, it is still useful to work within the illusion of duality, that there's somebody out there to whom we're offering this. Eventually that separation has to go, but at this stage we use it as a tool. “Because I have such love for you, I offer you my heart, my energy, my light.”

There needs to be the fervent wish, “Whatever I have that can be used by the forces of light for the alleviation of suffering, I freely offer it. Let me be a channel for light and love.”

Sit for a few minutes with this intention...

Now we move into the third step. The first was opening to the teacher or master, to the beloved. The second was offering. The third has 4 parts, it's called the Four Part Empowerment.

Take refuge in that which <will> sustains you. It may be the Triple Gem of Buddha, dharma, and sangha. It may be Jesus or Mary, Buddha, Allah, God or Goddess, divinity, love. There don't need to be words attached, just the experience of resting in that force, that power and beauty.

With an open heart, allow yourself to remember the specific habitual pattern which has concerned you, such as the repeated arising of shame or perhaps of blaming of others, of quickness to anger, of disrespect for others or oneself, of greed, whatever it may be. This pattern that no matter how often you see it, it just still comes.

If the mind state is very strongly present now, in other words if you're doing meditation at a time when that mind state is strongly arisen, it can be useful to reflect on how it arose and come to better understand the ignorance or delusion that led to this strong arising. But if you're doing this in a quiet time of meditation and recalling how that mind state arose, then simply become aware: this arises frequently in me.

“I see that it is unskillful, unwholesome for myself and others. I resolve not to repeat the unskillful actions, words, or thoughts but to be mindful of how they arise and not get caught in their stories. In this way I bring forth the intention, when this mind state arises, to bring balance to it.”

“If it's a state of greed, to offer generosity. If it's a state of anger, to offer metta. If it's envy, to bring forth the experience of gratitude, just to remember these beautiful states, nurture them in myself. I do this not to fix the unwholesome state but to remember that the balance for it is there.”

Take some time to do this...

No fixing, just opening the heart to what is there, with the fear that brings forth the unwholesome state and the wide open loving heart that nurtures the wholesome state...

Perceive that while there are beings who have done repeated harm in the world, there are also others who have done good. With muditta, look at those who meet difficulty with an open heart rather than with fear, greed, or jealousy. You're not comparing yourself here; rather, you're offering gratitude that there are these beautiful role models in the world, beings who meet difficulty with love. Offer thanks that there are beings capable of this, those who act as teachers of love and compassion, and ask that they remain available to you.

From deep within your heart, ask to be taught how to live this way. There's a send of surrendering in this step, a willingness to let go of the deeply embedded old pattern, to absorb the reflection of these very skillful ones, and to open to the real possibility, “I also can do this. I also have this capacity.” This is not ego. We looked at this with the trait humility. We know that for which we have the capacity and we state, “I take this seat. I'm ready to do this. I choose it.”

Keeping the heart open to these loving beings, we ask them to teach us through their examples, both on the outer or relative reality plane and on the inner planes.

The last step will be the dedication of merit. I'm going to leave you to continue the practice, and when I ring the bell, we'll dedicate the merit...

(recording ends with several minutes of meditation, no further speech or bell)