May 19, 2011 Thursday PM, Venture Fourth

Aaron: My love to you. What Donald has said is very clear, and his guided meditation very clear. Thank you. (Donald has been talking about ways of knowing the experiencing of Pure Awareness, and led a guided meditation; now people are asking questions and expressing some confusion about their experiences)

There are many routes to knowing pure awareness. We've talked about this at length. All of you here have experienced it. Many of you experienced it as children, lying on a hillside watching the clouds go by. You weren't meditating. You weren't even trying to watch clouds, you were simply present.

My concern is that you build it up into your minds as some kind of achievement, someplace you have to go, rather than simply resting in your natural state. Now, it's not that simple because you're so trained by your culture always to be doing, rather than resting. But the primary shift is to let go of the tension-filled effort, to let go of pushing and pulling.

I've emphasized in the past watching contraction in the body. As soon as there's effort, there's contraction, so contraction is a wonderful thing to watch in the body. It's not good, it's not bad, it's just contraction, but when you make a fist like this, you can feel the contraction in the body, and then you release it. We've done that together. When you release it, feel the direct experience of that state of non-contraction and simply rest there.

We've talked about space and the habitual tendency to fill up space. As soon as it's empty, you want to fill it back up again. You have a garage sale and sell everything and then you go out to the store and start buying! You want to fill it up! Let it be. Rest in the emptiness.

So these are the tendencies that get in the way of your natural ability to rest in pure awareness. There's nothing hard about resting in pure awareness; you simply have to attend to those areas of habitual resistance. They will go. Are there questions?

Q: At the point of resting in pure awareness, is equanimity essential? Is it part of it?

Aaron: I need to reply very carefully-- I don't want you to try to find equanimity, because that's just more tension, more effort. All the practices blend together. In vipassana, as you watch objects arising and passing away, and see their essential emptiness and emptiness of self and see impermanence, eventually equanimity with arising and dissolution comes. This is a very vital fruit of vipassana practice, equanimity with arising and dissolution.

When you bring that together with resting in pure awareness as a practice, at first there's trying and there's no equanimity, wanting it to be this way, wanting it to be that way. When you merge the vipassana practice and pure awareness practice, or do the inquiry phase of the dzogchen practice,  and simply note, “trying, trying,” seeing that effort arising and passing away, the tension and “trying” fade. Rather, right there with trying is that which is effortless. As soon as there's equanimity with things as they are, then you open into pure awareness.

It's not a goal, “First I'll have equanimity and then I'll get this, and then I'll get that.” It's the flowing of it all together. It's like making soup, you have different ingredients. If they are well-matched ingredients and the broth simmers for awhile, it all melds together. Then you have good soup. Otherwise you just have carrots and celery and onions, there's not much soup there. It comes together.

In short reply, don't try to have equanimity. It is your natural state.

Q: You read me well because this is a lifelong problem I've had, and only recently have I experienced an ability to rest in awareness. And thinking about it, it seemed like I had equanimity.

Aaron: I think you're right, but I also think that much of your lifelong training has been one of attainment, which is constantly trying to get somewhere to change things. This is not only habitual pattern that will resolve itself to deepen your practice, but is part of your own inner work, learning the deepest value of you is not in what you attain but is simply in your pure being, and learning to trust the radiance of that pure being rather than always having to polish it somehow.

Q: Sometimes there is a shift at the beginning, like a wave that goes through, and I become aware that there had been tension, and that wave releases it. That helps me see that there's a field there, a space. So is it appropriate to just know that space, rest in that space? And when is it appropriate to expand out? My understanding of dzogchen is that you enter into a big space.

Aaron: Everything is appropriate. Try it and see what happens! You said, “There is a field there;” Yes! The Akashic Field, or just “The Field of Awareness.”

You're talking about the wave releasing the tension. What you're talking about really is energy, and energy movement. How many of you are familiar with the terms kyo and jitsu energy? Are you all familiar with this?

Jitsu energy is in contraction. Isolated kyo energy feels almost stagnant. If one lived completely in a field of kyo energy, there would be no movement. Jitsu energy is constant, frenetic movement.

Breathe with me. Breathing in, at the point where the in breath starts to feel full, can you feel a bit of tension? Wanting to release. At that point, releasing. And as the breath releases, it becomes much more kyo, much quieter. As the lungs empty, it becomes jitsu again, contracting. Shift, it starts to release. You can feel the jitsu energy release and kyo energy come in. Can you feel that? This flow of kyo and jitsu is the natural movement when there is balance.

Envision waves coming in from the sea. The water comes in and it builds up, a lot of jitsu energy in it. Smacks down. There's a moment when it hits when it becomes kyo, and then it starts to pull out with a force, meeting the next oncoming wave and becoming increasingly jitsu. The tension builds up. Kyo.

Your bodies are made to constantly shift between kyo and jitsu energy. The heartbeat is a mix of kyo and jitsu energy. If you reach out your hand, feel yourself holding your hand out this way (as if to receive), a sense of expectation. Bring the other hand up. Can you feel the subtle tension waiting for the other hand to touch the palm? Now as you touch it, feel the release of tension. And then there has to be a tension again to lift it in to you. Put it in your lap and it releases. Kyo, and jitsu; allow the flow.

There is one more step. We can envision a logjam in a river. The logs are compacted, jammed together. It appears kyo but is actually hyper kyo, which is an extreme jitsu state, so compacted it appears to be motionless. When you lift a few logs out so the logs, instead of being jammed, are able to go through the sluiceway and flow through, an easy flow, the energy comes back into balance.  As long as they're too tight together, it has the illusion of being kyo energy because nothing is moving, but it's unmoving because it's so tightly jammed together.

It's very helpful to watch the patterns of kyo and jitsu in yourself. Often you mistake hyper-kyo for kyo and add more tension rather than releasing tension. Many of you have a habitual pattern of bringing that hyper-kyo energy into yourselves as a way of simulating calmness, because everything is so compacted. This is enhancing the near-enemy of balance.

Coming back to the question, energetically in the body, as the tension builds up, as you experience any kind of tension, just note “tension.” If it's unpleasant, note it as unpleasant. There's no judgment on the tension, it's just tension. The whole body will respond to this kindness by restoring balance... the waves smacking down and just lying on the beach, then flowing out. The energy returns to balance.

So what you're describing is probably a not too conscious pattern of bringing the energy flow into harmony. Simply become more conscious of it. What you're doing is appropriate. Become more conscious of it. Okay?

Q: Since we only have Donald here for a short time, I'm wondering, he wants to talk about speech, if we could maybe save our questions for Aaron until after he leaves?

Aaron: That is perfectly fine with me. I'd prefer only to hear questions about pure awareness and what Donald spoke about this morning. And even those can wait until after he leaves.

Q: In my experience of pure awareness and deconstruction of self and other, other appearances of things being real, I'm realizing like Donald said, we have a choice, in a way, of moving from the continuum of more dual consciousness and seeing things as separate, or opening and resting fully in pure awareness. How real we're going to take everything that's arising. We choose that, and it takes effort. Is there value in practicing consciously at specific points in that continuum the way that Donald was suggesting? So, coming back and playing with that edge of, “Oh, I'm thinking the self as real. I'm seeing known and unknown.” Does this make any sense? Like, we can choose where on the continuum to rest our awareness.

The question is about practice. Is it valuable, as Donald was suggesting, to really focus just on the breath? Donald suggested 4 steps, even 5 steps. Is it valuable at times to pick just one and train with it?

Aaron: Yes. But don't force it. If you're finding value in it, do it. If it doesn't feel right, trust your intuition. A small piece, a bigger piece; what fits at the moment? It's what needs attention. Cleaning the window, you start by washing the whole window and then you pick out the small spots that still need polishing and you polish them. You step back and look. What else needs attention here? See the whole window; see the little spot. When the window is clean, put down the polishing cloth; don't keep looking for spots.

I will leave the body and give this back to Donald. Thank you.

(recording ends)