January 10, 2017 Tuesday Class

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. Welcome. Welcome to the class members who are not here tonight. (winter storm) We will send this out to you; we feel your energy as part of the group.

We began the first semester with Human, looking at the simultaneity of relative and ultimate. We are here in human bodies, the relative experience. Often that relative experience seems to define you, but of course it doesn't actually define you, any more than the clothing you wear defines you. Are you going to call her Barbara, or are you going to call her Gray Fleece? White Wool? These are surface attributes. Your body appearance, the way your mind works, how fast you can run, even how well you can explain dharma, these are surface attributes. What does your heart know to be true? How well are you able to live that truth? And when you cannot fully live it, what blocks your living it?

Barbara spent most of last week counseling the people that are coming to Brazil with her, talking with them about their intentions. A lot of the group is very experienced, have been there several or many times with her. But some are new, and they come up with, “Well, I want to fix this, and I want that. I want to get rid of unworthiness. I want my knees to get better.” That's wonderful— why not? But also, what is it you really intend? When you know what you aspire to manifest, it becomes possible for it to manifest because it is already there. What blocks that manifestation?

Barbara played some years ago with an art medium in which she took crayon and filled a piece of paper with it, colored everywhere. Then she covered the whole thing with india ink, black ink on top of crayon, and let it dry. And then she took a sharp stylus and began to draw, scraping off the ink, so that the colors bled through. The underlying colors were spread out, thick, no paper showing but solid color. Areas and streaks, various areas of colors, so when you scratch, it shines through with light. Oh, what a beautiful picture! The picture was already there; she just scratched the ink off to reveal the picture. The essence of you is already there. The black ink obscures it. When you scratch away at it a bit, the essence emerges and shines forth. But you're not creating that essence; it's always been there.

This semester we want to work in more depth with the “it's always been there” aspect of the human experience. You all have a solid vipassana practice. You practice, I hope, with some regularity. You understand the basics of the practice. So, we begin with the question, what is your highest intention? This is the same thing with which she was working, with the Casa group, these people going to Brazil to ask the entities to support them in manifesting their highest intentions.

It's already manifest. You are radiant. You are beautiful. You are awake. Not expressed 24/7, but you are awake. (For those listening, I've just rested my head on my hands and snored a bit.) We're still awake but sometimes we take long naps.

My first request of you, then, when you go home, is to do much what they are doing with the Casa: to begin to reflect, what is my highest intention? Perhaps not to be so caught up in fear and old stories of limitation. Perhaps to bring forth more patience or generosity or kindness in my daily life. Scratch off the black surface so these qualities can shine forth. Perhaps, “to support the health of the physical body. What blocks you from eating well, exercising, taking care of your physical body? What blocks you from taking care of your emotional body? What blocks you from taking care of the spirit body?

There are a lot of “what ifs” that come up when we would look at the seeming blockages to expression of your wholeness.Please ask, if I truly expressed this wholeness now, what might I be experiencing? In other words, if my body is strong, I'm whole, I can walk, I can balance, what's going to be asked of me? Where will I be asked to walk? Am I going to be asked to lead? What will be asked of me?

If I move past feelings of unworthiness, what might I experience? What if you truly are as whole as I tell you, you are? What does the unworthiness or the story of limitation protect you from? You want to be a writer? A pianist? An acrobat? What stops you from writing? What if you sit down and write? What if it turns out beautiful? What if you then develop writer's block? You start to create an identity. Me, I'm the writer, and people tell me it's so wonderful, and I can't write anymore. Or I can't sing anymore, or I can't play tennis well anymore.

We get into stories of who we think we are or of who we think people want us to be. These are like the black ink over the surface. You can't see the radiant color underneath. When you scratch it off, what emerges?

For those of you who feel inspired to try this, you'll need a fairly heavy sheet of paper, not just typewriter paper but something much sturdier. Take wax crayons, Crayola crayons are fine, and cover the surface completely. It's okay to have layers of color on top of each other, as many layers as you want. You're not trying to make a beautiful design with the crayons, you're just covering the paper. It can just be a 9x12 sheet of paper. Then cover the whole thing with black ink. I don't know the name of the ink— India ink? Good black ink. Let it dry. Then take something like a very sharp knife or stylus and begin to scratch off the surface. Just draw it. Write your name on it. Scratch. Or draw lines. Play with it and see what emerges. Watch any hesitation before you begin to scratch. What is that fear? If after a while you don't like what's coming out, put more ink on, let it sit for a while, and scratch again. Play with it.

So you can do this literally, with the ink and paper. And you do it without thinking, what am I creating? Just scratch. Let your inner essence guide the scratching. Don't try to plan it or think about it. Just scratch and let it emerge. There has to be an intention. You had to cover the paper with crayon. You had to cover the crayon with ink. But then you let the heart, bodhicitta, the awakened heart do the scratching. Not the intellect, not the ego, the heart. See what emerges.

Start with an intention. For example, I want to bring more joy into my life. I want to more easily express kindness, or gratitude, or patience. Then call this black sheet patience, or joy, and without thinking about it just begin to scratch. See how it feels; see what comes forth. Play with it. You are not trying to create a great work of art. You are allowing your own deepest inner vision to come forth.

So again, the question: what blocks your deepest intention? We do the vipassana sitting not trying to control the sitting with intellect but allowing ourselves just to be deeply present, sometimes peaceful, sometimes agitated. Sometimes what arises is pleasant, sometimes unpleasant. Sometimes there's spaciousness and ease, sometimes there's contraction. We watch to observe, what is my relationship with what arises? Habitually, what patterns do I see? Like, if something is unpleasant, “Get rid of it!” If something is pleasant, “Hold onto it.”

In your book here, I don't know if you've all had a chance to look at this but I hope you will this week. When I say in your book, the e-book, Don't Look Down at the Defilements, They Will Laugh At You. Both Barbara and I find the cover delightful. Don't look down on your, we could substitute almost any word, your desires; they will laugh at you. Don't look down on your aversions; they will laugh at you. Don't look down on your habits; they will laugh at you. What do we do if we don't look down? What do we do?

Q: Look right at them.

Aaron: Be present. Look at them, not down. Not up, saying, “I aspire to that. Someday I'll get there.” We look right at it, we be present.

Turning to page 14 in the book, let's review dependent origination. Very quick review for me here, 2 minutes. Contact. One of the six sense bases, of mind or body, touches the object. With contact, consciousness arises. With contact, there will always be consciousness; consciousness comes with a base of contact. Feelings that are pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral will arise. There will also be perception. Sometimes one first, sometimes the other. If as you drive you suddenly smell the smell of a skunk, which comes first, the unpleasant feeling or the thought, “skunk”? Both. Literally one may precede the other like that, but so quickly that it doesn't matter. Perception and feeling, pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.

With a pleasant feeling there may be liking; with an unpleasant feeling, dislike. When liking is just liking, “Pleasant, mmm, I like it,” unpleasant, “No, not so much,” but there's no big contraction around it, we do not need to shift to grasping or aversion. That moment where you shift or do not shift is called the active moment. Within that active moment there is a whole new world being born. If you sink back into the habitual relationship, “I don't like this,” aversion, get rid of it, or, “Oh, I want this!”, grasping, it keeps the karma going. This is within the cycle of dependent origination. Barbara will find a good picture of this and email it or bring it for the next class. But within this cycle we have the step of “becoming”, in a sense taking rebirth into the next moment, creating more ego, a new somebody who's caught and rolling, like that little mouse spinning on the wheel in the book illustration.

This coming two weeks I ask you to watch. See if you can slow down the process, at least in formal sitting, but hopefully to some degree in daily life as well. When something is pleasant, know it as pleasant. When something is unpleasant, know it as unpleasant. Watch your energy go out to it or push it away, and feel that moment of grasping or aversion. See if you can step back and watch how that shift happen so unconsciously. See if you can pick one area, maybe impatience waiting in a line in the market or at a traffic light, just watching impatience, or impatience waiting for the eggs to boil. Eating something that was delicious and suddenly you're down to the last mouthful. “Oh, I want more.” Watch that “I want more.”

These are just two examples, impatience and wanting. Take something that is recurrent for you and see if you can begin to catch the active moment where it shifts from pleasant and liking into grasping, or shifts from unpleasant and disliking into “get rid of it.” When you catch it, just pause and say, “do I want to deepen the karma around this?”— Do you? Do you want to deepen the karma around it? No. Watch and see what happens.

Q: So I do this practice all the time, but I notice it looking at Facebook, I used to block the things I didn't want to see, but I purposely unblocked them. And I do feel that my tolerance and the going against, pushing and shoving, is reduced, except the thing that I can't stand to see is tortured animals. I literally can't stay with watching that. I can read pro-Trump things without being upset. But the animals, I can't take it. Should I sit there and try to look at it?

Aaron: “Who” is trying? This is the heart of it.

Q: It's just too painful. I don't know…

Aaron: When I ask, “who is trying?” is there a subtle, “I should be able to,” or “I'll overcome this,” or a sense of a somebody who must fix something? Fear of disappointing self or others? A subtle contracted energy?

Q: I feel like I don't want to see that. It's too painful. But I'm pushing it away to protect myself from pain. So I think, should I be able to look at this?

Aaron: That's it— “should I?” That should, should. Do you understand what I'm saying? The “I should,” is judgmental and it's forcing yourself in one direction or another rather than with compassion for the human that chooses not to. You look at it and say, “No, not this.” You would only see the tortured animal if you look at the video that's there, because rarely on Facebook is there a photo of a tortured animal. (Q: Oh, they're there.) Well, you're looking at different sites than I see. Block those sites. There's no reason to look at them.

Q: There isn't?

Aaron: What good reason could there be?

Q: Because if we're looking at equanimity and I have a huge reaction, that's showing my— something, I don't know. This is my question, I guess.

Aaron: I think you're brooding too much here, Q. I think you need to cut yourself some slack and just say, “Out of kindness to myself, I choose not to look at this.” If I could use a different example, somebody who is an alcoholic and has not had a drink in 5 years, very happy and proud of themselves, doing very well. But then they decide to go to a big cocktail party where everybody is inebriated. People keep pushing liquor at them. Maybe they're ready for that experience, maybe they're not. If they're not, it's fine to leave.

Somebody who grew up in a situation where there was a lot of emotional or even physical abuse. They come into a room where people are angry and abusive to each other. They might say, “I should be able to stay here.” Well, if it's too grating, leave. You're only adding to the contraction in the room if you say, “I should stay here.” But when it's easy, when you're able to stay there and see the abuse going on and just sit in a chair and close your eyes and do metta for all the anger you hear around you, fine. When you're ready to do that, then stay. When you're ready, able— and this is not a goal to reach for, you are not lacking if you're not ready, we each become ready for different things at different times— when you are ready to look at that picture and say, “Ahh,” and offer metta to that poor animal, the same as you would do if you saw the corpse of an animal on the road— you can't avoid it if you drive a car and you drive down the road, but you can avoid it on Facebook, so why go there?

Does that answer your question? (Yes.) My main point here is, ground this in compassion for yourself and all beings, not in “I should,” which is not very compassionate. Just that.

Q: When I feel pain, and I'm feeling it now, aversion kicks in, and I know that that makes it worse. And I can't separate the two.

Aaron: This is where the stability of your vipassana practice is important. You are newer to vipassana practice than most in the circle. That doesn't mean you can't do it, only you need to be patient with yourself. Coming back to dependent origination: unpleasant, dislike, unpleasant, dislike, aversion. When you watch this mindfully, just sitting, the fly buzzing, hearing, zzzz, hearing, hearing, unpleasant, there's nothing unpleasant about a fly's buzz; he's just being a fly. Maybe you're sitting outside on a summer day and it's a honey bee collecting pollen. Nothing unpleasant about that. He's going to make honey for you. But bzzz, bzzz, bzzz.

Watch the body contracting. Watch the whole process, the whole flow of unpleasant, dislike, aversion. And what I want you especially to watch is what creates this leap from dislike to aversion. If you bring compassionate attention to dislike, does it jump to aversion? Watch that. You're with somebody and you have a disagreement, not a major disagreement, maybe just, we're going out for dinner. “Well I want pizza.” “No, I want Chinese.” “Pizza would be right tonight.” “No, Chinese!” Your child, your husband or wife, your parent, your friend… Watch, “No, I'm right. It should be this way.” come up. “I want it my way.” Because they didn't say, “Yes, pizza,” when you said, “Pizza.”, dislike came up. “Naw, not Chinese.” Dislike. Hearing words that don't go along with what I wanted. “I fully had the expectation that after the ballgame we were going to go out and get pizza, and now she wants Chinese. Not fair! Not what I wanted!” Watch it building it up.

What stops it from tumbling into aversion, into the anger, “I'm right. We can't do it your way.”? What happens there? What helps you come back to an openhearted place that can truly hear the other person, truly open your heart? Two people hearing each other. “I hear you saying you'd like Chinese, and I'm saying I would like pizza. I really don't like Chinese and I have a feeling you don't like pizza. What other options do we have? What else could we do here?” Play with the possibilities, but this openness comes from hearing each other.

This is important in your personal life, and it's important in your life in the world. I've given some talks here lately about the present-day political catalyst as an invitation to opening the heart and to evolution of consciousness. Many of you are unhappy about how the way the world is flowing around you right now. More anger is just going to add more anger to the situation. One of the hardest tasks for all of you is to find somebody with a completely different political outlook, one who really applauds the coming inauguration of the president-elect, can't wait to see this person as president. Can you sit down and talk to such a person? Can you ask them, and hear, what is it you're so enthusiastic about? Don't try to interrupt every third word and say, “No, don't you understand…?” but, “I hear you. I am listening.” Can you truly listen? It doesn't make them right. It doesn't make you right or wrong. Can you truly listen and gain insight?

When Barbara has tried this, and not often because she doesn't know many people with that political outlook, but when she has tried, she hears the fear, the sadness, the frustration that people have in their lives. Often it's not even so much that they support they president-elect as that they are looking for something different because they have so much pain in their lives. They want someone to blame. The present politicians, people of other minorities or whatever, they want someone on whom to blame that pain. You can't tell people, “Oh, you're wrong,” because they can't listen, they can't hear you. But if you deeply listen and tell them, “I really hear your fear, your sadness, your confusion,” and find common ground, “I also wish that everybody's needs could be met in our country. We may have different views as to how that can happen, but I want the same thing as you. How do you envision that could happen?” Get into this kind of dialogue. But you cannot get into this kind of dialogue if you're caught up in “I'm right, they're wrong.” And we begin to do that with ourselves, with the “I should be able to watch this. I'm wrong if I can't watch it.” Opening the heart compassionately to the self.

So, swinging back here a bit. Contact and consciousness. Feelings and perception. Feelings of pleasant leading to liking. Feelings of unpleasant leading to dislike. And then that shift to grasping and aversion. What are the aversive states? What are they in you? Anger, judgment, impatience, and so forth. Finding this spaciousness that can open your heart to yourself and not judge yourself, but be present even with the whole body shaking with aversion, with anger, with fear. What if you bring compassion into that?

And then the next step, and this brings us back to Q's statement that she cannot feel the difference between the negative feeling and then the aversion to that feeling. What do we do? Do we need to feel the difference? No; not at the beginning. Start where you are, with aversion.

This was in the email that Barbara just sent out; this whole catalyst slamming you. What does one do? I want you all to think of something that brings up strong negative emotion. Something that you feel angry about now, or fearful about, or worried about. Here we're coming back to the “famous person” practice (Vision is Mind) that we worked with last semester. That person who's right in your face, unpleasant. Thinking of this, bring your hands together and say, “Thank you. Thank you for coming as my teacher.” What happens to the negative energy when you bring your hands together in this way? Can you maintain the negative energy? It's very hard to keep the anger going with the hands together and “thank you.”

So the last phase of my talk here. In the next two weeks, whenever you feel that shift into unpleasant, dislike, aversion, in whatever form it takes— fear, rage, jealousy, impatience— “Ahh, this has come as a teacher to me. Thank you.” It must be sincere. You need to see, here is a learning place for me. Thank you. I don't want this, but at the same time, okay, thank you. What if I just relax and allow myself to see what is to be learned here? Thank you. And a wonderful thing is, when you move out of that contracted state and into thank you, your whole energy field opens. It brings you back home. It scratches off the black ink. You begin to uncover the awakened heart that has always been here.

I said at the beginning we're going to work more this semester with simultaneity rather than just linearity. This place of thank you, this place of open heart, what happens when you come back to it? The anger may still be there, but perhaps not pushing you into aversion. Is there also an open heart?

That is sufficient for now. Are there any specific questions about what I said? And if not, I want a chance for you to go around and speak about your practice.

Q: I've been looking at the active moment, whether it's for attraction or aversion, as the moment of divine creativity. And it seems like the purpose of our practice is to be conscious of how we are creating. I was just wondering if Aaron has any commentary on that.

Aaron: If I understand you correctly, I think there's a subtle misunderstanding there, because basically yes, you can be creative just as you can cease to be reactive, etc. In either case, there may still be a strong “somebody”. But when the ego steps out of the way and simply allows the creative expression to pour forth, the “thank you to come forth, there's nobody there. It's empty. There's no ego pushing. It's a very different experience. And this is the true creativity. The creative force, the life flow of the universe, the force of love. Can you feel the difference? It is the moment of “Divine Creativity” only when the self falls away. Awareness of the active moment may be a place where self does fall away, but is not necessarily stable.


Q: I appreciated Q's approach, but mine is, when I face it, I just don't want to go there. Period. Aversion.

Aaron: Can you explain, when you say you don't want to go there, don't want to go where?

Q: I don't want to face that emotion. I don't want to face the anger. I don't want to face the fear.

Aaron: Aversion to the anger may indicate some attachment to the anger. Then we ask the question, what is this anger doing for you? What is this anger protecting you from, or what power does it give you? Ask, “If I release this anger, what am I concerned I might experience? Will I be helpless without my anger, or vulnerable? It's a wonderful investigation. For many of you, two different objects, helplessness and feelings of unworthiness may be seen, one or the other, sometimes both.

(Q clarifies his statement was that he does not want to investigate the anger.)

I understand that your point is you don't want to investigate the anger. That not wanting is an object, a kind of aversion. Feel the tension in it. Pulling away… Do not force yourself to investigate, just be present with the experience of not wanting, of avoidance, of fear. Rest in that presence until there is more space.

Noting that you don't want to investigate it, ask yourself, what is my highest intention here? Clear comprehension of purpose: what is my highest purpose? Is it to keep myself safe by avoiding investigating, to keep a false sense of being safe and powerful? Or is it to truly find out what's real here for me; where the open heart is and how it can shift things if I allow myself to experience the anger, the causes of the anger, and my relationship with the anger? But choose through love, not shame that says “I should.”

Knowing you, that heart opening and growth will be your higher purpose, but that doesn't mean it's easy. We have the illustration of somebody float in the middle of a turbulent river, hanging onto a log. He knows that a mile or two downstream there's a big waterfall. He will be swept to death over the falls. But he's still clinging to his log and floating down the river. There are trees that have fallen into the river. He comes very close to them. He will have to let go with one hand to reach out for the tree, to pull himself to shore. Or he will just keep riding the log over the falls. What is he going to do?

Q: He's going to try!

Aaron: You don't have to let go with two hands, Q, only one. You can hold onto some illusion of safety in the old habitual patterns until you begin to find some real base of ultimate safety in the loving heart. And begin to trust it, and the interesting thing for me is, you already do trust it. So much of this is just old habit.

Q: I want to say to him that after the service here on Sunday, I spoke to the minister and told him my vision, my aspiration, and I said, “I'm going to try for that.” And he reminded me of the Gospel of Yoda, who said, “There is no try. There is only do or not do.”

Aaron: And yet, while that's true in the ultimate sense, for the human sometimes we're not quite ready for do, so we have to try until we build up the readiness to do. As you're floating down the river, clinging to the log, you reach out. You try. Can't quite reach it. Finally you see you will have to almost let go and really make the leap. You do. But it may take many tries first, and that's okay. We come back to the book Human, compassion for the human.

Q: I think he was reminding me that I can choose. The choice is mine.

Aaron: Free will choice is the heart of your human incarnation. You have the choice, always. Perhaps it seems you don't have the choice—the bank gave way, you ended up—plunk— in the river. You have the choice of what you're going to do about it.

Many of you anxious about the inauguration and what comes after. Well, you had a choice, you voted, but you ultimately did not control the outcome. So now here you are in the river. What are you going to do about it? How can you approach the situation with the compassion that is called for, the strong compassion that knows how to say no? Not with fear, not with wishy-washiness, and without putting your head in the sand. Find the strong compassion that knows how to say no, but from a place of love, that can really hear your own fear and thus can hear others' fear and pain. This is what can create a shift. I'm going to talk more about this next Wednesday at the Open Aaron night.

Q: I first sat at your feet as a student over 20 years ago and you taught us dependent origination. It was the first time I ever heard about it. And here we are, still talking about it. I feel it is the central wisdom of the practice, to recognize the active moment.

Aaron: May I give you a hug! You wouldn't believe how resistant this human was! Dependent origination — “No, I don't want anything to do with that!”

Q: I couldn't get it back then. But now I realize it's the whole game, in a way, really.

Aaron: Well, it's not the whole game, but it's a big part of the game, and compassion is the other half, wisdom and compassion. We can't do without either one.

Q: I actually believe that the aversion to the pain recreates the pain over and over.

Aaron: The aversion is the pain. The aversion is the suffering.

Q: So many people are really suffering because of Donald Trump. But because of their thoughts, they are making their world, with his (inaudible).

Aaron: Donald Trump, as I see it, is a symbol. There is much about him that brings up a much angst for people, many of his words, his thoughts, his policies. We've talked about this before, the arrival of anything negative; we talked about it last semester in terms of the famous person. When we look at that famous person, what in that person is reflecting ourselves? If it's not fully manifest in ourselves, we're afraid it could manifest. Is there anybody in this room who has not at times felt angry and wanted to bully somebody? I'm not saying did you do it, but is there anybody who has not felt a wanting to do it? Is there anybody in this room who has not felt some small moment of fear or prejudice against another person? Somebody who looks different, speaks different. You may have been conscious of it and quickly overcome that fear and not enacted it, and that person may have become a dear friend. But still at some level each of us has created separation, me and them, and I am better, my beliefs are better, my something about me is better. Pushing them away. Trump and the people he is bringing into his cabinet too, they provide such a fierce mirror. It's very painful. We don't want to see those sides of ourselves.

This is Barbara's story, and you all know that Barbara is freer of prejudice than most human beings. When her son D was small, kids all through the neighborhood came to play. It was a multiracial neighborhood. So it wasn't about the race of the person, just his whole appearance. The doorbell rang. She came to the door. D was little. There was a big tough-looking kid with, I think you call it a butch haircut. His skin was black. He just looked fierce, to her. “Is D here?” “Why are you looking for D?” The boy had one hand behind his back. Her thought went, does he have a knife in his hand? What's he going to do? And this is a peaceful Ann Arbor neighborhood. Why does he want D? Then he swirled a basketball out from behind his back and said, “I want to know if he can come out and shoots some hoops with me!”

It made her look deeply at how quickly she moved into a reaction based on somebody's appearance. Of course she wanted to protect her child. But it was a stranger, she had not seen this boy before. He did not live on their block, so somewhere else in the neighborhood. She reacted to his appearance, as his energy was not angry. She called D, he came up— “Hi!” Ran off to shoot hoops.

Looking at that in oneself with honesty and compassion, not, “I shouldn't feel this,” but, this is all of us reacting to fear, protectiveness, all of us who are capable of judgment of others and fear of others and seeing self and other. So when we look at the, I like to call it the “loyal opposition,” —and for many right now, the president-elect and those chosen ones of his have become the loyal opposition—“A thank you for this catalyst and all this can teach us. And, I will still say a very clear no to the policies that can do harm to others.” But kindness says no, not hate. So, not smacking into each other. They can't hear if you punch. They can't hear if you kind of whimper and cower and hide in the corner. How does love say no? It takes kind, not brutal, self-honesty, the self-honesty that's willing to look at reactivity, look at fear, look at old habitual patterns of thinking. Look at that to which we cling to. This is the way this world is going to move into a higher consciousness. Each of you has your part to do. Each of you is vital to this effort.

Q: I'm interested in the resistance to receiving (inaudible— good?) when you (inaudible) aversions.

Signer: She experiences a resistance to the good when she stops aversion. —She experiences resistance to owning the good, allowing the good.

Aaron: Sounds like a very fruitful area of investigation. What is this resistance? Just repeatedly, when you feel that tension of resistance, stop and note: resistance, resistance. What does this resistance protect me from? If I wasn't feeling resistance right now, what might be asked of me? To some degree it's letting go of the log and reaching out for something new, something unknown. The log may be pulling me toward my death, but still I'm afloat. What if I let go of it, what will happen to me? My old habits, such as unworthiness or agitation, impatience, judging mind, what do they protect me from? Just begin to gently and kindly investigate. You're not trying to get rid of the old habits, just noting, “This is pulling me down.”

You've all heard my lifejacket metaphor, have you not? Is there anyone here who has not heard this? So here you are, strapping that old lifejacket on. You've been swimming with that for 10 years, when I took you out to the lake to swim with your friends. You only thought it was supporting you. It's mildewed, it's waterlogged, it's drowning you. You must swim twice as hard to keep on the surface because its moldy weight is pulling you down. It's still not easy to let go of it. It's an old habit, and it must be done with compassion, with gentleness and patience.

Q: I had that same resistance-to-the-good syndrome.

Aaron: Let's hear more about that from all of you. Anybody else? Tell us about it.

Q: It is not constant.

Aaron: When you bring it to consciousness, though, what do you uncover?

Q: I hide it. I go to another subject or thought.

Aaron: Watch yourself doing that. Just note avoidance, avoidance. I invite myself to come back because there's something important to be learned here. Clear comprehension: what is my highest purpose? Is it to turn my gaze and avoid, or is it really to open and grow and learn? And if it is the latter, am I willing to just stay present even a little bit longer with what I'm avoiding? If it becomes too hard, move to metta (lovingkindness) practice.

For a lot of you this is rooted in old feelings of unworthiness. The unworthiness, for many of you, not all of you, it will be different for each person, but many people move into the idea of unworthiness based on early childhood anger. It doesn't feel safe to express your anger to the person who is belittling you, ridiculing you, hurting you, so you move into the idea, “It must be about me. It must be my fault. He/ she must be right that I'm bad.” It's much safer to be angry at yourself than to be angry at the adult, whoever it was, parent, grandparent, whatever. Then you're so hooked into the idea of unworthiness that when anger comes up, it feels so unsafe to allow yourself to experience that anger that you immediately move into either the deep experience of unworthiness or you go someplace else.

Inviting all of you here to join me…(chanting together in support of someone experiencing pain) Metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha… (means lovingkindess, compassion, joy for others, equanimity)

(personal remarks)

This feels like a good place to pause. Some of you have desire to get home early to hear President Obama's talk at 9 o'clock. I found it very interesting that for 8 years many people loved President Obama, but many people were also critical of this and that. And now suddenly everybody loves him! Why couldn't people have loved him for 8 years? Barbara was thinking of the song, earlier today, “They paved paradise, put in a parking lot; with a pink lagoon and shiny bright hot neon spot” (laughter) So you're about to get the pink lagoon and shiny bright neon hot spot.

May all beings everywhere be free from suffering.

May this whole world and the universe that it lies within wake up into the highest and most radiant consciousness where all beings are happy and at peace.

May each of you know and trust that the work that you each do is vital to the whole. No effort is unnecessary or unnoticed by all the angels of love, and by your own heart.

For those not here tonight, we are in a circle here holding hands, and we bring you into our circle with love, and look forward to having you with us in the next class.

I will release the body to Barbara…

(session ends)