April 2, 2014 Wednesday Class: Vision is Mind, Mind is Empty

(This talk only lightly reviewed by Barbara and Aaron)

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. I'll keep this preliminary talk short, just to lead you into meditation. Much of what we have been doing with the Vision is Mind practice is to help you deeply know that everything that arises in the body and the mind arises out of conditions and passes away. If you take it personally, that resultant contraction also a conditioned object, that taking it personally. If you contract around it, if you grasp and cling to it, it's all part of conditioned arising.

The second phase that we'll be meeting tonight, Mind is Empty, what do we mean by empty? Dan had an interesting exercise he passed on to Barbara yesterday, and I want him to share that with you.

Dan: Okay, everybody put their hand in front of their face. Wiggle your fingers. Now look at the space, right here, that your hand takes up. Now take your hand away. Can you still see that space? It's very difficult to do. Your eye wants to move to the next conditioned thing, to the next manifest thing. The first time I did this, I realized, and it hit me like a brick over the head, that I've been looking at the space 6 inches in from of my eyes for a long, long time and I've never actually seen it. I've always looked through it, but it's always been there.

So, you've got this space in front of your face. And whether you have your hand in the way or not, the space doesn't change, right? The space can be full of your hand, or it can be empty. But the character of it doesn't change. So what is that character of spaceness? What is spaceness? Because even if it's full, it's the same.

(A comment about there being an energy field there with/without the hand.) Okay, but my energy field also takes up space. And so, even if my energy field is there, or my hand or the air or my foot or whatever, that character of space stays the same. (Aaron adding on review: “energy field, hand, or any object may come into the space and out of it again,. The space remains.” So that's what emptiness is, it's that character, that openness. Even when it's full, it's empty. Does that make sense?

Q: One of the things that is helpful for me is to focus on context instead of content. So, to stay aware of the context in which all takes place, and to focus on the context that surrounds the broader (hard to hear). And to put attention there and not on content, (the words or objects, context).

Dan: So when we're talking about Mind is Empty, we're talking about the characteristic of the mind in the same way we're talking about the characteristic of the space in front of us. Because our mind wants to go to the next conditioned object, right? I want to look at L instead of looking at this. If I'm driving, I have to look at the next conditioned object that's in my mirrors or in front of me because that's the way I have to live. But when we're doing Vision is Mind and Mind is Empty, we're looking at the characteristic of the space that those objects are in, or the context. And it's a very simple exercise, but to me it's a very powerful one, because your eye always wants to go to the conditioned object and look at that. But can you just look at the space? And even if you're looking at a conditioned object, can you look at the space the conditioned object is in?

Anything else? Questions?

Q: This might be for Aaron, but is this another way of understanding the cylinder inside the cylinder, and the teddy bear with a foot in mundane...?

D: I would say yes, but Barbara is responsible for the teddy bear...

Aaron: There is another way of seeing that second cylinder that lies outside the small cylinder. Here's the small cylinder with the teddy bear in it. (demonstrating with hands) That edge is where our eye goes. We think that's the end of the space for the teddy bear, but the teddy bear is also  in the next bigger cylinder. However, I would need a thousand graduated cylinders, the last one being infinite, not having any walls.

We're talking here about conditioned versus unconditioned space. So when mind moves past the conditioned, or as Dan calls it, a manifest object, whether it's a physical object or a thought or any kind of manifest object, and sees the space, one is still only seeing the space in the cylinder. You have to break open the walls of the cylinder too, because this mind is infinite.

As soon as you create any kind of barricade or limitation you are limiting yourself into the personal experience instead of moving out into the unconditioned and universal experience. As soon as you do that, then you start to build stories on it, get caught up in “It's good, it's bad, fix it,” etc. So, resting in the spaciousness objects simply arise and dissolve. They do not affect the spaciousness. .

What I want you to do now during the practice, and I'm going to talk quite a bit more after we sit, but I want you to watch how objects arise into consciousness. Some of them will be physical objects—hearing, an itch, whatever kind of physical sensation might arise. Some may be a thought, such as a fantasy, a memory, a planning thought, a judging thought. Some may be more, I don't want to call it just emotion, but mood, texture. Impatience, tension-- tension is really a physical object. What is the feeling of impatience? What is the feeling of joy?

We watch how each of these is arising from conditions. As we bring attention to them, as D just showed you, see it moving around in space. And as that object changes or dissolves, don't come back directly to the primary object but just rest in that space. You may be able to rest there only for a second or two. When mind starts to wander, or the thought, “What next?” or “I'm not getting it” or “Where do I go now?” comes up, just note “thinking” and come back to your primary object.

But some of you perhaps for some period of time during this sitting, will rest there for a few seconds, or even a few minutes. Just rest in the spaciousness. When something pulls you out of the spaciousness, simply note, with a memory, “That was spaciousness. Ah, I see that was spaciousness, and now I come back to my primary object.” Bring awareness to doing that. Breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out. If you're breathing there for a while, begin to see the space between the inhale—space—and the exhale. Between the exhale—space—and the inhale. One of those two will be predominant for you.

Our intention here is just for you to get a real taste of this emptiness, and of the awareness mind that perceives the emptiness, which is different from mundane consciousness.

Reviewing a bit, here. Consciousness, citta in Pali. Every citta takes an object. Ear touching a sound, hearing. There has to be an ear organ and a sound for hearing consciousness to arise. There has to be an eye organ and an object for seeing consciousness to arise. There has to be a mental facility, and a thought, for thinking consciousness to arise. Mundane consciousness touches a mundane object. This is all within the realm of mundane consciousness.

The way I use these terms, I use pure awareness, simply called awareness, as the supramundane citta. When you breathe in and there's a space, and you find yourself even very briefly resting in that space, awareness is functioning, not mundane consciousness.

So I want you to explore in this sitting, just to be able to say, “Ah, maybe that was the awareness Aaron's talking about,” and come back to your primary object, the breath—how many of you are using the breath as a primary object? How many of you use nada, anybody? Luminosity, anybody? Other objects?

Q: Space.

Aaron: Space. A supramundane primary object!  So the primary focus in this sitting is to help you distinguish the manifesting objects coming into your consciousness and, as they dissolve, to note the spaciousness. And then, for a few of you who are able to take it this far, see if you can see the simultaneity of consciousness and awareness. This is going to be an important foundation for working with the akashic field further on in the semester, that we have to at least intellectually understand that there is simultaneity and begin to have a small inkling of the experience of that simultaneity.

Some of you will go deep with it. Some of you have many years of practice. Some of you have fewer years of practice and may not yet go as deep. Are there any questions before we sit?

Q: On the simultaneity of consciousness and awareness, is that simply the arising of thoughts or objects within that field of awareness?

Aaron: Yes. Consciousness observes the arising mundane objects but awareness never lets go of the object of awareness, which is the Unconditioned itself.  I keep saying, “That which is aware of thinking is not thinking. That which is aware of fear is not afraid. That which is aware of anger is not angry. That which is aware of feeling pressure is not pressured.”

From awareness there's no self perception. It's not about me. What has arisen is simply arising out of conditions, impermanent, and passing away. From the perspective of awareness there's just space and objects floating through.

So as we begin to see the simultaneity, sometimes with a (clap!) sound, hearing, hearing, and immediately awareness mind is resting in the spaciousness that doesn't contract with the hearing, that doesn't have any thoughts about the hearing. But nevertheless, if there's noise in the hallway, the everyday human gets up and closes the door. It's not done from a contracted place.

The way this goes together with the akashic field work is, to open into the akashic field we need the foundation to be able to be present with objects that arise in our experience with some degree of peacefulness and equanimity. We need to not be self-identified with them. We need not to go so far out into the spaciousness that we lose contact with the object or we can't respond wisely and wholesomely in the world.

So it's a balance point between the everyday human that's experiencing objects arising and passing away and knows: mind is empty. Vision is mind, mind is empty, really understands that. And that's still mundane mind. And then the resting in the spaciousness.

D was going to read something from Garuda. Let me read something here from it, too. This is the book Flight of the Garuda. It's a dzogchen teaching poem. How many of you have seen this before? I believe we have copies available for sale, not on the bookstore shelf, because you must be introduced to the practices before you may buy it, but I think Tana has some in the locker. Barbara also has some on the computer and will send them out to anybody who would like an e-copy of it.

It's a beautiful poem. I'm reading from Song 15. It starts with the word “Emaho,” which translates to “Wonder”.

Flight of the Garuda, Song 15.


Once again, noble children, listen carefully!

Rest your mind loosely in naturalness and

See how the mind is when calm.

Observed, it rests calmly in the continuity of awareness.

Calm, and yet empty, thus is the state of awareness.

Fortunate heart-children, you must understand this.

This is how calm resting is the mind's ornament.

Give rise to a thought and observe how it arises.

Since it does not depart even in the slightest

From the state of empty and luminous awareness,

Arising and yet being empty is thus the state of awareness itself.

Fortunate heart-children, you must understand this.

This is how arising is the play of mind.

Nothing's really arising or passing away on the ultimate level. To illustrate that statement, when you get up in the morning early, if you're by an open area you might see the sun rise. It comes up as a disk. You say, “Ah, the sun is rising.” Now go out to outer space. Is the sun really rising? The sun is just where it's always been, and the earth is rotating so there's the appearance of the sun rising. Nothing is really arising or passing away, you're simply turning into contact with it. If it hadn't been there before, how could you contact it? The sound, where is the sound before it arises? Where does it go after it fades? And there's that moment, hearing, hearing, a loud startling noise. You've come into contact with it. It's all empty.

We'll talk more about it after. Let me read you several more stanzas of the poem.

To illustrate this, no matter how many waves may arise,

They never depart from the ocean even in the slightest.

Similarly, whether still or in movement,

The mind never departs from awareness and emptiness even in the slightest.

So rest, since whatever rests calmly is the state of awareness.

Rest, since whatever arises is the manifestation of awareness.

To believe that meditation is only when the mind rests quiet,

and maintain that there is no meditation when the mind moves

Is proof of not knowing the core of stillness and movement,

And of not having mingled stillness, occurrence and awareness.

For this reason, fortunate and noble heart children,

Whether moving or still, mind is the continuity of awareness.

So when you have fully comprehended stillness, occurrence and awareness,

Then practice these three as one.

This is how stillness and thought occurrence are nondual.

Without any further speaking, let us sit... (Barbara returns to the body)

Barbara: One small instruction here. Don't try too hard. Just be. Just rest in awareness. Let objects arise and pass away. Don't try to fix anything, control anything, just be. So easy. No grasping, nothing to fix or do. We'll sit.

One more thing, Aaron says. He says, start with your vipassana practice. Here we are merging vipassana and dzogchen or pure awareness practice. The vipassana becomes the base, and then the pure awareness practice gives us the place where we rest. As objects have arisen and passed away and there's spaciousness, we just rest in spaciousness. But it's all vipassana.

(sitting, ½ hour)


Hearing, hearing. A sound object has come into your consciousness. Note it as hearing. Where did the sound go? Feel the spaciousness out of which it arose and into which it falls again.


With the third bell, see if you can hold both the consciousness perceiving a sound and the field of awareness, the spaciousness, the emptiness, simultaneous with the sound.


Opening the eyes. Seeing consciousness, but allow the spaciousness and the emptiness to remain.

Aaron: So this is our practice of Vision is Mind, Mind is empty. We've brought the Dalai Lama's cat into this mix as a way of helping you relate these meditation spiritual practices to everyday life. In Chapter Four,  it speaks of: (paraphrased, not reading)

Our cat perceives, vision, seeing the Llasa Apso. He hears people praising him. It brings up an unpleasant feeling. “It's taking something away from me. They're no longer loving me as much, they're loving him.” It brings up jealousy and other difficult mind states.

Then he perceives how this poor dog was found starving, tied, locked in a room, and his natural compassion allows spaciousness to open, so he's not so attached to the stories anymore. But they don't go immediately.

The chapter goes on to talk about the nature of happiness. Does anybody have a paper copy of the book? I can't read it on my ipad and continue to record. I'm not sure if I can find the section anyhow, because Barbara has it highlighted...(examining copy of book, no Table of Contents) I don't want to waste our time looking for it. You have read it or will read it. Perhaps when I give the body back to Barbara she'll turn this off briefly and read the small several paragraphs she highlighted.

Happiness is in your hands. Unhappiness and suffering are in your hands. Vision is Mind, it's all arising in the mind. You have a choice to go with the stories that arise or to come back to the spacious empty field, but without denying the feeling of jealousy or envy or discomfort that has arisen in the physical conditioned consciousness. It's all okay. It has arisen, it will pass away.

So we'd like to hear some now from you how you're doing with this, a bit more about the question of happiness and suffering. Where you have some insight, draw in how this relates to this practice of Vision is Mind, Mind is Empty. But if you don't have much insight into that at the moment, just share what you've been learning. I'm going to give the body back to Barbara, and I'll return if there are questions directed to me.

(Barbara reincorporates)

Barbara: You may have heard from D last week, Hal and I took a long-awaited cruise to celebrate a very special anniversary. We had a bucket list, things we wanted to do: sailing, snorkeling, going to Belize and Roatan. The cruise ship for me was really just a pleasant means of transportation, much easier than climbing on and off of airplanes. But I'm not big on cruising, and all the nightlife and such, of cruising.

So we got on the ship, and just about the time we were boarding there was a big collision in Galveston Bay harbor. A big oil tanker and a barge hit each other. The barge sank in the shipping channel and 200,000 gallons of very heavy oil spilled. There's the bay, and there are two outer barrier islands that are national park, environmental protected lands. The damage was right at the entrance, floating up onto these islands. Lots of water fowl migrating right now, and severe damage to the environment.

We were told the ship could not go out; they're out there trying to clean up the environment, trying to clean up the oil. I have some pictures I took; I'll show them to you later. At first we were told “tomorrow we'll go out.” It will be a day late, but we'll still get to all our ports. Then day by day it was clear we weren't going anywhere. For me, at one level it was okay, because the environment is more important than my convemience. But there was still the mind saying, “But, but, I want this vacation!” A lot of anger arose, especially as they kept saying “later' and then rescinding it. .

Some people were more angry and irrational than others. Hal overheard one man at a main front desk on the ship complaining, “I don't understand, why doesn't Princess Line bring in another ship for us!” Some people really didn't get it.

So here I was in this lovely floating hotel. We weren't told immediately, and this was some of the anxiety, but by Day 3 or 4 we were told we would be fully reimbursed. Spending a week on a lovely floating hotel, comfortable room, 3+ meals a day—a dozen meals if I wanted, food flowing in abundance. Often, wine being offered freely in the lobbies before dinner. Night club shows with entertainment, which is not something I'm big on, but I went to a couple of them. Just sitting on a deck serenely reading a book.

Is this a prison, or is this happiness? What am I looking for? Sure, I wanted to go snorkeling, but that was going to be a couple of hours, maybe 6 or 8 hours in all those days on shore. Could I be happy with the rest of it? What's blocking the happiness? And it was fascinating to watch, each time they would announce, “we may go this afternoon,” how the mind kept jumping to, “Oh! We'll get there!” Then they announced we won't go. Then they announced, “if you go ashore now, we'll reimburse you. If you don't go ashore, there will be no reimbursement.” But to go ashore meant to find our way an hour and a half back to Houston and find a hotel to stay in, or change our flight back, all of which would be expensive. Could we just stay and enjoy what we had? What's blocking the enjoyment of it?

Finally we just settled in. It was very pleasant. I even spent one morning teaching meditation to a couple we had met on the ship, who were eager to learn how to meditate. We walked all around the ship from one end to the other. It was only 50 degrees; the pools were open, but the water was frigid. So, no swimming. Where is the suffering? It was a very powerful teaching, all week long.

Finally on Day 5 they let us out. We sprinted for Cozumel, which was to be our first stop. Got there about 9 o'clock Thursday morning. Had 5 hours on shore. Our shore trip, that was to be 8 or 9 hours, was cut short. But we did get to Cozumel. I had one hour of snorkeling! Back to the ship by 4PM , and a sprint back to Houston to get there in time to disembark Saturday morning. It was such a challenging and fascinating trip that basically was very pleasant. The only unpleasantness was in my mind.

I've only been on one cruise, to Alaska, which was a different kind of cruise because it was so focused on seeing scenery and getting off the ship at each port. I can't say that I will ever go on a cruise ship again, it was casinos and nightclubs and so forth, not my style. But still very pleasant. Where is the suffering?

Okay, passing it on to you...

(tape paused during sharing)

Q: speaking... not recorded.

Barbara: She's speaking about the “Lhasa Apso” that showed up in her life a month ago, and all the pain around it. How hard it is to open her heart, how much anger, and so forth.

Have you done any metta for yourself, with this? This might be a good place to start. Just, literally sitting, “Breathing in, I am aware of the pain. Breathing out, I offer myself kindness.” Or a more formal metta. “This pain arises in me and in all beings. I see how this kind of pain arises in all beings. I offer it out.” Working with the loved one, how this kind of pain might have arisen for a loved one. Wishing them well. Then turning it to yourself. “This pain has arisen in me, this anger. I wish myself well.” And then, if you are able, turning to this “Lhasa Apso” and seeing this person also has pain, suffering, anger. Without necessarily trying to forgive them, in this moment, can I simply wish them well? Can I hold this field of spacious kindness for all of us? Will you try that?

Dan or Amy, do you want to add anything?

Dan: There's another way to approach it that's also heart-opening. The key was the support that you find here. You can use the practice of taking refuge. Traditionally the practice is, “I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the dhamma. I take refuge in the sangha.” But mostly it's a response to suffering. It's the acknowledgement that the world is a crazy place, that it's absolutely insane. And more <>, that our reaction to the world is absolutely insane. But the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha are something different. It's a protective space. It's a space where there'
s something different than that insanity.

As you continue to take refuge, and as you continue to find relief from that insanity, it becomes more and more something that you go to, and it becomes more and more powerful as time goes on. And the support of the sangha: when we're sitting together, there's a greater field of support than when we're sitting alone. The more and more you experience that, the more and more valuable it becomes. That leads to heart opening. To me, what it leads to is gratitude. I can have gratitude for this <>. And it's a very powerful way to open your heart, <to be grateful> for this protective space that's different than the suffering that I find all around me.

Once you figure out that you can use gratitude to open your heart, you can look for gratitude in different places. You can use <>: I'm grateful for the warm covers over me when I go to sleep. I'm grateful for the car. I'm grateful for the sunshine. But if you use that kind of gratitude, then it's a temporary kind of gratitude. Can you be grateful for something more permanent? For something supramundane? Can you be grateful for <spirits>? Can you be grateful for luminosity? Can you be grateful for nada? Another way to say it, can you be grateful for God, or love? Or however you choose to decide to use the supramundane.

So you go from taking refuge, to being grateful, to-- as you become more and more grateful, it becomes a sort of devotion. And that devotion is absolutely, extremely powerful, as powerful as any technique we're talking about, here. You don't want to have devotion to a mundane object. Devotion to a person, there's a lot of trouble. But if you can have a strong devotion to something supramundane, that can be very powerful.

And where do you find the supramundane? Can you find something inside of you that you can be devoted to, that you can draw from, that you can find refuge in, that you can be grateful for?

Now, when I use the word devotion, that's a wonderful word. What does it mean? To me it means connecting, the desire to merge with the object, to be very close to an object, to the object of your devotion. I love God so deeply I want to move very deeply into that experience of being devoted to God, of opening my heart to that. And that's going to become very powerful later on. That's why I'm talking about it in a Consciousness and Its Objects class. Because if you can refine your intention that deeply, to merge with an unconditioned object, then you as the subject and the object come together. And we'll find that later on-- this is the spoiler alert!—when we get to union, clear light as union. Subject and object are going to collapse into each other. We're going to become the object that we're looking at. Awareness aware of awareness, if you will.

Very difficult to talk about. And if nothing I said makes sense, you can use devotion to open the heart very powerfully and to come toward that. One of the ways you can do that is through refuge, because your mind, at least my mind, naturally moves from refuge to gratitude to devotion. Lovingkindness is one way to move through that. But another very powerful way, at least for me, is through devotion. We're calling it pure awareness practice, but the dzogchen, they absolutely-- you need to have devotion. That's a requirement for vipassana. If you are not devoted, if you don't have that sense of heart-opening devotion, we're/they're not going to teach it to you. So it's absolutely at the center of what we're talking about, it's a foundation.

I hope I didn't add a layer of complexity...

Barbara: Let me expand on that just a little. Often when one can't find any gratitude, any devotion, one can just stop and say, This heavy situation has been dumped on me. I don't want it. But I understand that in some way I've allowed it into my experience as a teacher. I don't want it. I want it to go away. But here it is. Can I just open my heart to this human that's suffering in this moment because of the aversion, “Don't want this,” and say, “Okay, I want to learn. Even more than I don't want this experience, I'm willing to open my heart and listen and learn. What is this experience able to teach me, if I will open my heart? What do I get out of keeping my heart armored? What do I get out of holding on to the anger? What does the anger protect me from, what vulnerability or old fears? You don't have to be specific, just, feeling vulnerable.So we start to see how we can use anger as armoring. How we can use holding onto opinions and old resentments as armoring. It's a gradual process.

I agree with what Dan said about devotion and gratitude and how they go together. But there's no way to teach this to you step-by-step. Just, in any kind of situation like this, start to ask yourself, is there something that's here as a gift to me and for which I can be grateful? Just begin with that.

The object will change itself. Days and weeks will go by and something else will present itself as the “famous person” or “Llasa Apso.” It will keep changing. It's going to keep coming, in one form or another. What do I have the opportunity to learn, here? And can I experience gratitude, really say, “Thank you, universe. Thank you, God. Thank you, Essence of all things.” However you phrase it in your own terms. “Thank you for this opportunity to learn, to evolve, to become a more loving person through this experience.”

Okay, passing this on to others...

(tape paused)

Barbara: The speaker is talking about spheres that come down into a center sphere that she says is her source, and resting in that sphere. But you still have to stay conscious of the outside, you can't hide in that center sphere. You can rest there, enjoy it, feel gratitude for it, know it as truth, but not hide there as a way of escaping the everyday pain.

Q: My meditation is coming to center, letting the last sphere go. I lose consciousness of the outside sphere. As I move to the point, I lose my awareness of the last sphere.

Barbara: ... This is the simultaneity of consciousness and awareness. And as you practice, you'll find that you don't lose contact with the outer as you rest in the inner.

Q: I merge...(to the point).

Barbara: Okay, that makes sense to me. Does this help you to relate to something challenging in your life? (Q: Yes.) Perfect, good.

Q: I find intimacy by becoming one.

(tape paused)

Barbara: This speaker is talking about some pain and disappointment with a family member, feeling that needs are not met, not getting what she needed. This is where the akashic field practice can be very helpful. And you've had a little experience with it, more than some of the people in the class.

Going into that center space. Seeing, it's like if you were in a big space with feathers flying all around, and the instinct is, “It's going to crash into me!” But it's just a feather. Just relaxing and letting yourself be touched by the feathers. Coming back to the spaciousness, where you begin to see his anger, his confusion, is just his. And really begin to see how you get hooked into it, and begin to see the simultaneity of that which can rest in awareness, not hooked in, not resistant or fearful, and that which is in this moment hooked in and afraid and angry.

It's almost like, if I have dust on my shirt, just picking up, here are the feathers sticking (blowing them off?). I release it. Seeing into the old patterning where you feel pushed and push back. Feel unheard and want to do something to be heard. Ah, maybe I don't have to do that anymore,to the degree that eventually you're able, when he's talking in a clear way, to say to him, Thank you, I appreciate this.And when he's not talking in a clear way, to at first just let it go past you until you can respond from spaciousness and center. What Q spoke of as that core of concentric circles, to respond from that place and just say, When you speak this way, I feel hurt.End it. You are not expecting anything from him so you can't be disappointed; you're just expressing your pain. It's very different than when you're pushing him by saying, I want you to change because I feel disappointed.But you can start to come from that clear space by entering into the akashic field and seeing the simultaneity of the disappointment, want something,and that spaciousness that doesn't need anything.

Dan: <background noise-- When you talked about the “Lhasa Apso”> you talked about having a sense of your higher self. And that really is the supramundane part of you. That supramundane part of you is connected to the supramundane part of him. So if you're going to go into the akashic field, one of the things that you can do is connect with his higher self. Have your higher self and his higher self, I can't say have a conversation because that's a mundane concept, but to interact in a way that allows that spaciousness that you were talking about, you can act from that spaciousness. That spaciousness itself can tell you what needs to happen between you and him in order to untie this seemingly intractable karmic knot. And that technique is one way that can be very valuable, I've found.

If you can make that supramundane connection with him, and you understand that consciousness and awareness are non-dual, then your mundane self can also have a conversation with him. And it can be informed by that supramundane higher self. If you can't talk to him in person, that can be a way of starting to unravel (it). He may respond, he may not, but it's a way of helping yourself out. Because ultimately you can't control who he is and how he's going to react, you have to worry about yourself.

Barbara: Next class we would like to hear more sharing from all of you. What happens as you work with this “famous person,” Vision is Mind, Mind is Empty practice? In what ways can that help you get past the places of clinging and aversion and fear and confusion? Just finding that innate spaciousness of being, resting in that spaciousness without trying to fix anything, but attending to things where it's appropriate.

So please work with this. We meet again next week, because this is a make-up class. So we have one week to work with this. Dan, is it okay if we don't go further tonight? (Dan: Yes.) But let's get this stable and then build on it as a path into the akashic field work

Dan: We're rocketing through this material. Emptiness is Clear Light is next, and all of the foundations we've talked about, the edifice keeps rising. We're on the third or fourth story, now. So please work with it. That person who's driving you crazy, we found out it's in our head, and our head is empty. And now that difficult person is going to become clear light, whatever clear light is.

Barbara: Let me just add: but he or she may continue to drive you crazy, and there's got to be compassion for the human that's experiencing that, too.

Dan: Gratitude, even.

Amy: Just to add, it may be parts of yourself that are your “famous person.”

Group: Bingo! (laughter)

Barbara: Do you know the two different Milarepa stories? You know the sit by my fire, have tea” story. Anybody who doesn't know that? He sees all these demons, and instead of trying to chase them away, he just says, “Sit by my fire, have tea.” They ask, “Aren't you afraid of us?” He says, “No. Your hideous appearance only reminds me to be aware, to have mercy.” So we learn how not to take a stick to our demons and chase them away, but to invite them back to the fire and have tea with them. But we don't get into a dialogue with them.

The second Milarepa story. He's coming back to his cave. He's carrying a big load of firewood and he sees all these demons at the cave. So he drops the firewood bundle and takes a big stick and starts chasing them. And they laugh. They think this is wonderful, they're really getting him angry. He realizes, I'm not going to get rid of them in this way.So he thinks about it, and says, “I know, I'll give a dharma talk on kindness and opening the heart.” And again they laugh at him. It's clear he's trying to manipulate them. So he thinks, Maybe they've always been living here and I've never seen them before. Maybe I just need to relax and try to get used to them, and see what they're aboutwho are they, what are they.

So when he stops reacting to them, all but one of them leave. They're bored, they're not getting a rise out of him anymore, so they go. But there's one big ogre with a giant mouth and huge teeth, bulging eyes, and he just follows Milarepa around constantly. Milarepa reflects and begins to acknowledge, “I am part of him. He is part of me. And I'm trying to separate myself from him.” So he walks up to this ogre. He looks him in the eyes, and he says, “Eat me,” and puts his head in the ogre's mouth. This takes a lot of courage, of course. But when he puts his head in the ogre's mouth, the ogre dissolves, because the separation dissolves.

The ogre is just the ogre aspect of me. When I'm willing to merge with it completely and see the darkness in myself, the anger and negativity and so forth, without trying to change it or fix it, just opening my heart to it, I see Vision is Mind, Mind is Empty. There's nothing solid here. And it goes.

I'll leave you with that thought. We can talk about it more next class. I'll send you out a link to that story. A friend of mine, Aura Glaser, wrote a beautiful article about it in Tricycle. Spring 2012


For those who are interested, we have a Remembering Wholeness session at Interfaith Center on Saturday morning starting at 10am... Feel free to join us... Gratitude to Interfaith Center for sponsoring it this week.

That's all, have a good week.

(session ends)

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