April 15, 2017 private session

April 15, 2017 private session (The material from this private session with two people is shared with their permission, and by Aaron's request, to share some of the Clear Light practice.

(personal material; discussing working with difficult objects)

Q: The challenge for me is simply noticing when I am believing the fear and believing the monster under the bed. So I think starting to learn how to hold it with love and get a little bit of space or distance from it will be helpful.

In the old Tibetan story of walking down the street and falling in the hole, I think I still fall in the hole a lot. Does that make sense? I identify with the fear so readily.

Aaron: All humans keep falling in the hole. But the more you can draw together the ultimate and the relative and really see them not as two hands, but as two sides of one hand, and make a conscious choice based on your intention, to live with the highest love for yourself and all beings, and not to perpetuate the energies of fear, negativity, and so on, the stronger is the ground. Then turn to the clear comprehension practice; What is my highest purpose? Is the way I am responding to this situation of fear harmonious with my highest purpose? If not, “Oh, I'm bad.” but, what are my options? Or, where is love in this moment?

We're going to be working with the clear light practice at the retreat along with vipassana. Have either of you read any of Barbara's Casa journal? She had a crystal bath and was feeling herself surrounded by a huge amount of light, a cylinder of light through her body, and then came out to the overlook to sit and meditate for a while. There's more to the story, but that light became so pervasive, so strong, that she has found in the 7 weeks since that experience that, when she feels unstable she can call it back, not as a remembered thing but as a living thing. That essence of light is a cylinder running through her; that is what she is. She can see when she's moving, speaking, acting from the outer self, having lost the light. Intention brings the remembrance: come back to the light. This is my highest intention, to live from that light.

We'll be practicing this in different ways to help you get the experience of that light, although both of you have experienced it in different ways. I would not especially call it light, especially for Q, she finds it more in sound. But you understand the essence of it, that vibration. Come home. It's just a simple, come home, come home.

Q: Can you say more about the way it appears as fear and Unconditioned at the same time?

Aaron: Basically it's about the simultaneity of ultimate and relative. So it's about my oft-quoted statement, that which is aware of fear is not afraid. That which is aware of anger is not angry. It involves the complete opening to the arising of anger, fear, doubt, confusion, body pain, whatever it may be, with huge compassion for the human experiencing this. And still knowing this is just the clothing. This is not ultimate reality. We take it off, drop it away. But if it sticks, then we pay attention to it, without giving it energy. You learn how to find that balance, to give it attention but not energy.

Q: Do you have any feedback for me about my intention for the retreat?

Aaron: (personal remarks) Q, There's a huge difference between expectation and aspiration. Please do not let go of the aspiration, the intention. But the intention is held freely. We simply hold it in the heart and invite. The expectation is filled with much more grasping. For the aspiration, one must know that it is already so. Nothing can happen that is not already so. You cannot suddenly become a great musician if you have never practiced music and have no interest in music. At some level, it's already so that you're a fine musician, that your love for music teaches you which sounds are most harmonious and beautiful. How to recreate those sounds? It's already so.

Your awakened state is already so. This is why there's a distinction between a realization experience, and an awakening experience. Realization is to realize the true nature. Awakening is to fully awaken into that true nature. So perhaps put your energies a little more toward deepening realization, at the retreat, setting aside awakening as the end goal of the realization. But rather, deeper realization that you are radiant, clear, filled with love and light, and have the potential for the full awakening.

Q: What practice is best for that?

Aaron: I would like the whole retreat, to start with vipassana. Begin with the primary object and noting, watching objects become predominant, pass away, perhaps return, until you settle into access concentration. I would also ask you to spend part of the day meditating by the water. Pure awareness. Big sky, waves coming and going. No thoughts about it, no saying, “See this wave arise? It's impermanent.” No thinking, just present with it.

Be the wave. Feel the wave. Sit close enough to the water to let the tips of the wave wash under your feet and back into the ocean. Ahhh… And then go back and sit in the meditation hall and back to access concentration, and just see what develops.

There are at least half of you at the retreat, maybe 2/3, for whom access concentration is relatively stable. The other part of it will be the clear light practices. And as I said, Barbara's going to send out some short transcripts to people.

The practice of clear light. When you begin to sit, I will ask people, to whatever degree is doable and workable for them, to begin to use luminosity as the primary object. You may experience luminosity as energy; that's okay. You may even experience it as sound. It doesn't have to be a direct experience of light. (inaudible) I want you to feel whether it's sound, OM, that clear sound, or energy, or light, to feel that which is constantly present, 24/7. Keep asking, when you feel you've lost touch with it, “Where did it go?” Come back to it.

Think of it as an anchor. Think of yourselves as helium balloons, and without that anchor, you rise and drift away into thoughts, into planning, into likes and dislikes, attachments and aversions, stories. Hold the string hanging down from the balloon. This little anchor of light, hold it. Then the balloon can rise and move around but it's anchored. What is your anchor? We will use light, but as I said it can be sound, it can be energy. It can simply be the love in the heart, but love is a little harder to experience. It's more involved in stories, not as clear.

I will be giving guidance through the week on helping people to find that anchor. This is the joining of relative and ultimate. The ultimate anchor, and because the anchor is stable, you can act in the relative world because you can rest deeply in that anchor. But if you lose that anchor, your energy is dispersed everywhere. So helping to find that anchor.

I find the most accessible place to find it is with the mingling of the light, or nada, or energy practice and access concentration. Within access concentration the attention is centered. Awareness can touch on objects that arise and pass away, free of attachment or aversion, but aware that objects do arise. Access concentration gives you a wonderful place to practice being with what has arisen. For example, in access concentration, and there's a loud sound. You're sitting on the beach with access concentration and suddenly a car rushes by. The body may tense, but there's no going out to that movement or pulling back from it. You do not ask; presence asks, where is the anchor? Breathing in and expanding on that anchor, so that you become more and more stable with access concentration, the more activity that is going on around you.

We will practice to stabilize that anchor. The nature of the anchor will differ a bit for each of you. But I think it will be helpful to learn what the anchor is for you, and to stabilize it. I think you will find, perhaps at the retreat, perhaps later on, perhaps much later on, that as this becomes increasingly stable, you find yourself living more and more from this central core.

This opens the door for the awakening experience. There's a realization, “This is what I really am.” You're much less often pulled off-center from this core. At that point, the door is much more open to the profound awakening experiences. But if nothing else, you can live more fully from that core, instead of your energy being dispersed with fear and emotions and so forth. Do you have questions?

Q: I have much doubt about my ability to do this practice. I don't seem to deepen. So I wonder if I am suited to this practice?

Aaron: You are absolutely suited to this practice. What blocks the way is fear. That which you most deeply seek and aspire to is also that which you are most afraid of. What will happen to you? Who will you be if there is “no self”? Will there still be somebody in control?

Take a little while at the retreat to ask yourself some of these questions. What is the fear about? And remember, I am not suggesting that everybody on this retreat is going to have a full liberation experience in the retreat! Small steps. Take it step by step and see what happens.

In my final human lifetime, I was very ready for an awakening experience. But I was also very caught up in the human realm. I had moved off to live in the forest after the tragic death of a loved one. Though I was practicing there for 10 years, the awakening didn't come until I was pinned down on the ground in the mud by a thorn tree, in the pelting rain, a tiger held at a distance from my feet by the thorns, but sniffing around for an entry. At that point I realized, if I don't die today I'm going to die sometime in the next 20 years, because I'm an old man. And suddenly everything let go.

We don't know what will help each experience awakeneing; all we can do is prepare the way and hold the intention lightly, with an open heart, no grasping, and know that when everything is right, it will come. Meanwhile, nothing is lost by doing the practice. One can live one's life with more kindness, more gentleness.

Q, I'd like you to spend some time this week meditating, eyes open, looking at that picture (of a large wave and rough sea). Put yourself in a very little boat in that sea. Feel the waves lifting you and dropping you. Feel a big wave coming over you, feel fear coming. Feel the fragility of human life. And then as the wave perhaps falls just short of you, pushes your boat on away (inaudible). There are times when there are breaks in the wave and it feels safe; then another wave comes. So, as you look at the picture, begin to ask, where does safety lie? Is there any place you can go on that sea where you'll be absolutely safe? Then invite yourself from your experience to find where is the anchor, the string that holds the balloon. It's moving back and forth but it's grounded. What holds me safe? It does not hold the human safe, it holds safe the essence that can never be destroyed, that is radiant and beautiful. What holds it safe? Will you try that?

(Aaron requests this much of the recording transcribed; I didn't listen past this point)