March 23, 1994

March 23, 1994

Wednesday Night Group, Corrected

Two Opening Questions

1) I just don't seem to be getting it as it relates to forgiveness. Maybe I'm forgiving and I just don't know it. I feel like I can understand from a cultural and emotional standpoint why people and myself do what we do. I can feel compassion towards other people and myself. The dilemma seems to be that I can feel compassion and anger simultaneously. Is this being truly forgiving?

2) Last week Aaron spoke at length about the forgiveness process, from both the relative and ultimate perspectives. There was the suggestion in the way he presented this material that this work is sequential, i.e. that we first work with our focus in relative reality, until the work is completed at that level, and then we shift our focus to ultimate reality for the final stages of our work. Is it useful, once one has reached an understanding of the importance of allowing our relative experience, i.e. not clinging to or trying to get rid of what is arising, to move ones focus to an ultimate perspective of allowing the self to see the reality of the situation while simultaneously working with the relative pain and misunderstandings?

An example: when waking from a frightening or disturbing dream, while acknowledging the feelings arising in and from the dream, we also acknowledge that the dream was a dream and did not really happen, and thus has no real effects in waking reality. Although the resulting emotion needs to be allowed and attended to, some of its charge is removed by realizing what is real and what is not real. Another example: at times when I have been working with the forgiveness process, I have been lifted to an ultimate perspective in which I am filled with such an unbounded love for the person with whom I am in conflict on the relative plane that my relative perspective dissolves completely and I am one with the other. When I return to a relative focus there's still pain and conflict in the relationship, but it is much diminished and seems more easily embraced.

So again, can it be useful at times to consciously move to an ultimate awareness of the situation, perhaps using a modified form of the four step process Aaron has shared with us, while continuing to work within the relative process? Can this help us gain a deeper perspective on what has arisen within us? In other words, is it useful to bring in ultimate processes at certain points within the relative process?

A follow-up. After I had written these thoughts to Aaron I was reading a poem I have written that reflects some of the pain in the relationship with my mother in this life. I noticed that even though we have resolved many of the issues between us, reading this poem brought up the emotion associated with our conflicts with each other. I began to explore this pain that has been part of my human relationship with her, pain that is not part of our present relationship, but can be re-entered, as one can re-enter a room and re-experience its energy. At the same time I was able to feel deep love for her; more a present experience.

At first I found myself shifting back and forth between the two. First, exploring the pain of our past encounters with each other, then shifting to a deep love for her as an expression of God, not separate from me. As I continued to explore this, there began to be less space/time between these two feelings/experiences, until they finally occupied the same space/time. I was only able to stay in this place of simultaneous experience of relative and ultimate planes for a short time. It really stretched my heart to embrace both perspectives at once, as they seemed so diametrically opposed to each other. But it was enough to show me the distinct difference between authentic experience of what Aaron has described as standing with one foot in relative and one foot in the ultimate and my more familiar experience of merging my experience of the relative with my conceptual understanding of the ultimate, or my experience of the ultimate with my conceptual understanding of the relative. There is a dramatic difference between merging experience with experience and merging experience with concept. One stretches the heart, the other the mind.

Aaron's Talk

Aaron: I am Aaron. Good evening and my love to you all. I'm going to spend just four or five minutes reviewing a bit, summing up, some of these ideas of relative and ultimate reality for those friends who are newly with us tonight. And I also want to review some of the ideas of the light body template we've introduced through these past months, of how it manifests into the physical body. I do this both so that you may all understand the remainder of the talk, and also because there is some confusion about it, as was voiced last week. Perhaps in saying it again it will come clearer. I will be brief, though. For those who have not heard this before, there are, or will be, more complete transcripts available.

You are actors on a stage, here in incarnation to learn. This play is your present relative reality. If you're going to make it worthwhile to the audience and the actors it must be played honestly and convincingly. In other words, you've got to believe it. If you just shrug off the issues of the incarnation and say, “Well, I'm just here in this body for awhile and none of it matters,” why did you bother to come? On the other hand, it is an illusion, it is a play. If the actor forgets that he or she is in a play, their back will be turned to the audience, their lines may be mumbled. You must always remember who you really are and why you are here. We may call one relative and one ultimate reality. You can not say relative reality does not matter. Relative reality is the gift of incarnation. It is your opportunity to learn. What happens on the relative plane matters very much, especially in the ways that you form adhering karma. There was a question given that relates very much to karma. I'm going to touch on it lightly now and save the question for after the break. In fact, one of these next weeks I want to spend a whole session on questions about karma.

Perhaps you've yelled at another and then said, “Sorry, but I felt sick,” or simply, “You provoked me,” If you hurt another, you are always responsible. Part of what you're learning here is that you are always responsible. It's part of your learning to embrace the incarnation - not to deny the various emotions, thoughts and physical sensations that move through you, but to fully embrace them so that your heart may be opened in compassion. It is through this stretching of the heart that you truly learn to live with lovingkindness and non-judgment, and that you learn equanimity with what arises. Then there is no hating this and grasping at that, but space for it all. The dilemma in the human framework is that one can expend all of one's energy becoming one who embraces everything, constantly working to be kinder, more skillful in one's affairs, and get so caught up in that one forgets that this is a play, that this is an illusion.

Everything that you practice in terms of becoming more kind, more loving, more patient, more generous, is part of your growth. It's never wasted, but you can get stuck there. By becoming the one who is kind, loving and patient, self solidifies instead of dissolves, so that you start to think, “I am the patient one, I am the kind one”; it is someplace where you can get stuck. Forgetting that this is illusion and only relative reality which is lived as lovingly as is possible is much easier to correct than making the opposite move of getting caught in ultimate reality as an escape from the pain of relative reality. Ideally, neither is escape nor place of fixated identity. So, we speak of this balance of ultimate and relative; one foot in each. But there is only the illusion of a wall between them. The wall doesn't exist; relative reality resides in ultimate reality.

The physical body and, within that physical body, the emotional body are part of the relative reality. We have been speaking here for several months of the light bodies. I am not going to go into the details of this now, except that I want to correct several areas of confusion. We begin with a metaphor. Visualize the sun, a brilliant orb. Visualize it as if it were infinite, unlimited. Infinite not only in space, but in time. Within the metaphor let us call this God. Visualize the way you see a sunbeam; imagine the spikes that stick out from the sun in your children's drawings. Or, when the sun is at a certain angle and behind a cloud, you may see a sunbeam reaching out. Again, this is metaphor. From God to each of you there is just such a column of light. Let us call that the perfect light body template. It's perfect; there is nothing to amend, nothing to be changed on it. How could there be? It is absolutely no different in its composition from that which we call God?

We are still working within a metaphor; I am trying to offer terminology as correctly as it can be given. It is not absolutely precise to call this sunbeam the soul., but it will do. The incarnation can not hold all the energy of the soul. It must be stepped down, like a transformer steps down high voltage electricity to make it usable by the consumer. We have the light body, which is that sunbeam itself, the perfect light body template. We take a snip of that perfect light body template; this is the aspect of the light body which will eventually energize the manifestation, just as the light body energizes that piece of itself.

It you looked at the sunbeam coming from behind a cloud, you will see a strand of light. Think of that snip of light body and the brilliant sunlight pouring through it, so that you have that same kind of “sunbeam..” The light comes to rest on the ground, the physical manifestation. If the light source is perfect, it's physical manifestation will appear perfect, but if clouds drifted through, the physical manifestation might appear mottled, shadowed. But the light is still perfect!

For clarity you might also use the visualization of a flashlight shining through a perfect piece of transparent paper. You see the light stream from the flashlight, and then it settles on another piece of paper on the ground, the physical manifestation. If the transparent paper is perfect and clear, the light will shine through it and hit the paper on the ground, forming the physical manifestation, and the manifestation would also be perfect. What if we take that paper and wrinkle it? Barbara is holding here a perfect, smooth piece of paper. I'm going to ask her to wrinkle it up and unfold it again. (A smile of appreciation to those who of you who were saying, “Oh, not this again!” Thank you for your patience. Laughter) Within this wrinkled piece of paper is the perfect white sheet of paper. Can you see it? It's still there; it hasn't gone anywhere. But, it this were transparent and you were to shine a flashlight through it, what would come out on the piece of paper on the ground, on the physical manifestation, would be the illusion of all of these wrinkles.

Please keep in mind these five ingredients. We have the source, the light body which is the projection of the source, the sub-light body which is the snip of the projection, the stream-energy which flows from the sub-light body to the manifestation, and finally, the manifestation. This is oversimplified. It will do.

Now, I'm going to take this one step further, to something that we haven't talked about before. See three distinct areas: The physical body, which contains both the material body and the energy body, the chakras; this is part one. Part two is the energy stream comprised of aura and, let us call it, the stream-energy which is this beam of light nourished by the source and the light and sub-light bodies. Part three is the source, light body and sub-light body. {See J's question at the end of Aaron's talk for further clarification.} This energy-stream does manifest distortion when there is the illusion of distortion in the sub-light body. To the best of your ability, visualize a wrinkled piece of cellophane. Brilliant light is shining through it. In the places where the cellophane has no wrinkles the light will appear less dense. In the places where there are wrinkles the light will appear denser. When it reaches and becomes manifest as the physical body, those densities, or areas of cloudiness, will manifest as distortions within the physical body.

At times in the past I have spoken of distortion of the soul and said that it was too complex at that time for me to explain it, that you didn't have the foundation for it. I want to clarify those old teachings here a bit. The soul in itself is not ever distorted. But as those snips emerge from the soul to express as the energy feeding the manifestations, because of past karma the mind's distortions reach up and wrinkle them. That's the best way I can describe it; it's all in your mind! Here we have the perfect sheet of paper within the wrinkled sheet. How could this sub-light body ever have any real wrinkles in it, the material in it is nothing different than the material of the soul, which is nothing different from that of God? But the mind has created these distortions, held onto these distortions, and part of your work with your karma is to cut through the illusion of the distortions.

So we have three parts: the physical manifestation, including the energy body, the light stream manifestation, and the light and sub-light bodies.

How does this manifest on the physical plane? As an example let us use anger that isn't resolved. There is an accompanying desire to blame the other, an unwillingness to become undefended and to see the other's pain because of the extent of one's own pain. We will not get into an “original cause” discussion. We can start anywhere.

A sign of that anger's distortion comes from the energy body within the physical body, there is a contraction. It is not only that the source light shines out through this seemingly wrinkled paper, but you also send energy the other way. What's wrinkling the paper? How did it get wrinkled in the first place, especially since it never was really wrinkled? The contraction of the energy body feeds both ways, out to create distortions into the physical body and, in a sense, up this shaft of light. It's as if each time there is anger that was not resolved, your hand reached up and wrinkled the paper. The perfect light is still shining through. The wrinkles keep reinforcing themselves. How do we cut through that illusory distortion and refocus on the perfection, but without any aversion to the distortion? Where is forgiveness to be found?

You can start at either end. Begin with the relative reality and the experience of this anger, with an exploration of how the anger arose, and solidified a sense of self, an exploration of how anger has contracted the physical and energy bodies in the relative reality. Or begin with the understanding that the contraction on the ultimate plane never happened; your soul isn't angry. You can reconnect with that pure energy, pure mind, and find through that energy your connection with this one with whom you are angry. And it can all be released. It's just old baggage. We've spoken about this process for many, many months, with the emotional and physical bodies.

The question that Barbara read said that last week, in speaking about forgiveness, I seemed to give the idea that it was better to do the work in relative reality first and then in ultimate reality. Yes. The reason, as I said earlier, is that you can never do too much opening and letting go on the relative plane. If you move to the ultimate plane to try to get rid of an unpleasant physical sensation or emotion, if you reach up and try to reconnect with the perfect light body template and say “that's how it really is,” if there is any element of denial at all of the pain that is being experienced on the relative plane, it further solidifies the sense of self. Move to ultimate reality becomes a place to find the illusion of escape. But what you are really doing is moving deeper into a different kind of distortion, one that denies what is happening on the relative plane.

The optimum practice is the balance of both. One must first create a foundation of awareness. You can not work with any of this if you're not aware of what you're experiencing. For most of you, so much within you has been denied and buried. You must first reach a level of awareness, and of readiness to find compassion for yourself and not judge yourself, so that you can let some of this rise to the surface. Otherwise you have no access to it. All of the opinions, the prejudices, the fears, the need to control, to feel safe, the manipulativeness, all of that which is in all of you is simply part of being human. You begin with that. At an appropriate point where you have opened your heart to yourself, you begin to explore the experience of ultimate reality through many of the meditations we have been introducing through the winter. You stabilize the ability to rest in that pure mind or “rigpa,” that ultimate reality space. You begin to really know who you are. You come back again to the pains of the relative, and then back to the ultimate.

I deeply appreciate the questioner's description of its experience, the moving to a simultaneous experience of relative and ultimate. That, my dear ones, is what you are after. It is very important to see where it's concept and where it's experience. When you can merge the experience of the relative and the experience of the ultimate, it cuts through so much fog. But you can't will it to happen. All you can do is to keep practicing, with the inspiration of such as was shared above and the assurance that if you keep practicing it's going to come together. You're going to experience it in just that way.

A person who has had that experience is never going to see in quite the same way again, because when they move into the concept of one or the other, they are going to know that it's concept. It's like reading a topographic map. You get a firm sense of where the roads twist and turn around the mountains. The map shows elevations and so on. You see how to get from point A to point B, and locate the rivers, hills and so on that you'll pass. Then you get out there and you walk from point A to point B. When you come back and read the map again, the map is very different. The circular lines are no longer the concept of a hill, they are that hill, you saw where the road twisted around and became rocky. You see where there was flooding because the river was high; it's your experience.

From this experience you start to understand that the relative being may feel anger, that it's fine for the relative being to feel anger if that's what it's feeling, and that the ultimate being simultaneously feels infinite compassion . If you move to the perspective, “I shouldn't feel anger anymore because I really do feel compassion for this being,” then you are escaping into the ultimate and denying the relative. If you stay in the relative and say, “I feel anger, so this must be a sham kind of compassion. I'm not really feeling it or I wouldn't feel anger,” you're denying that the perfect piece of paper exists within the wrinkled sheet. It's all there together.

When we speak of forgiveness, what we really mean is coming to a place of such deep empathy and compassion that there is absolutely no judgment of the other, so there is nothing left to forgive. The aspect of you that can experience that degree of compassion is entirely empty of self and knows its total interbeing with all that is. But the aspect of you that felt anger still experiences from a place of self. When a child has had a nightmare and cries for you and you go to comfort it, you tell that child, “It was only a nightmare, you're safe. It was only a dream, none of those monsters are here in your room now.” But you must also not deny the child's fear. You don't say, “None of the monsters are here in your room, it was a dream. Don't be foolish, go back to sleep.” You say, “You are safe. The monsters are not here, but I know you're afraid. Your body still shakes from that fear. Let me give you a hug. Let me sit down here on your bed.” You attend to both the ultimate and the relative. When another has caused you deep pain, you allow yourself the experience of total selfless compassion and interconnection with that one. But you also don't deny the pain. It will go when it's ready. Much of what you still are thinking of as anger at that point is just the old reverberations of anger within the body. The physical and emotional bodies are denser and will take much more time to release that energy. Just let it be.

Here is where it becomes useful to work with this four step process. For those of you who are not familiar with it, I'm not going to review it in depth tonight; it is available in transcript. Briefly, seeing the anger that you are still feeling, feeling the experience of that anger, you make the decision, “I don't need to carry this anymore. I really do feel compassion for that person. I understand why that person spoke or acted as her or she did. I see their fear and I feel deep compassion for them. This anger that I'm carrying, it's just a habit. I'm practicing the wrinkle. I don't need to do that anymore.” Then, in the ways we have described in this four step process, you make the decision to simply release it. Remember, you're not releasing the whole mass of anger, just a little bit. How many times have you practiced this habit of anger? You're not getting rid of it, you're just seeing that you don't need it anymore, that you can release it, then offering the intention to do so, and to focus awareness on the perfection instead of the wrinkle. .

I've offered many ideas tonight. There are a number that I want to follow up on in much more depth in coming weeks. It would be my hope that this specific tape, at least the opening talk part of it, could be transcribed as quickly as is possible, as it will be helpful with my planning with Barbara what we will do in the coming weeks. One area is working further with this four step process of releasing. One area is deeper understanding of karma. One very important area is that which was new tonight, working with this human energy field and its distortions, coming to understand the interplay between the physical and energy body manifestations of distortions and how that's sent back up into the sub-light body. So those are three areas to which I want to pay special attention. And I also do continue to welcome your questions about forgiveness. I think we will use forgiveness as a connector. As the questioner noted last week, it's a wonderful place to explore the interrelationships between the relative and ultimate planes. I thank you for allowing me to share with you tonight. After your break I will welcome your questions. That is all.

Q: Where does the cellophane come from?

Barbara: In Aaron's metaphor, the soul is like the sunbeam coming out. We can't take the whole energy of the soul, but through karma and the decisions of what issues we will work on in this incarnation we take a small piece of that, which is the sub-light body. He is using the cellophane metaphor for that because while it's a piece of the whole light body and is perfect just as the light body is perfect, we send our energy back, our distortions go back up to it and distort it.

Q: So the cellophane is the sub-light body?

Barbara: Yes.

(Q&A not yet reviewed)