October 22, 1997

Aaron: Good evening and my love to you all. I am Aaron. You have often heard it said that out of the mind springs the products of relative reality. In other words, out of your mind you create your experience. If we had the lights set correctly, with a bright light here on the floor, and if this instrument had the ability to make finger shadows so that there was an illusion of a large creature creeping up the wall and across the ceiling, you would look at it with interest but not one of you would think, “Oh! There's a monster on the wall!” You know that it's illusion.

Sometimes your illusions are trickier. None of you would run from the shadow creature on the wall. It lacks solidity in terms of your relative reality. What happens when the illusion has a more solid form? What if instead of projecting a shadow figure she was able to project a living snake or some other creature? You might say to me, “Oh Aaron, it's different, this one is ‘real.'” What is real? Your answer might be, “This one has the power to actually bite me.” What empowers it to bite you?

I do not deny that the actual living creature crawling up the wall is different in substance from the shadow. I do disagree, however, with the way you differentiate into illusion or solid form because, my dear ones, it is all illusion. The relative reality illusion must be treated with care because it's already a manifest illusion. But as soon as it seems to be solid, your relationship with it changes, and with that shift you empower it to create tremendous suffering for you.

I want to offer an example here. This instrument just returned from some time spent in Mexico, where she was teaching. This is her third trip down there in this past year, so the countryside is no longer new to her at all. On past trips she has walked with no fear through the woods. She has walked barefoot on the grass. She has sat on the lawn to meditate. Her last afternoon there, after all the retreatants had departed, she and the hostess who organized the retreat were sitting on the verandah when some of the servants of the place came running up. A man held his arm and looked very afraid. He had just been bitten by a scorpion. And so the woman took him in the car immediately and into town to the doctor, where he was treated and was fine in a few hours. There was clearly some rush and tension about it though; the bite was not trivial.

After they left for the doctor, Barbara spoke to two of the employees there. When I say spoke with, this instrument speaks no Spanish and she is deaf, so it was at best a guessing game. They used charades and drawings. She received the information that left untreated, this bite would have been fatal. That yes, it's very painful, and that there are many scorpions all over. He had been working in a garden and lifted a rock when it bit him.

The employees went back to their work. Barbara went back out to the verandah, where she had sat for so many days, to meditate. Before she sat down she lifted her cushion. Any scorpions under that? She was told they like to hide in dark places. No, no scorpions. She sat. She arranged her skirt and then she thought to herself, “Is that someplace that a scorpion could hide? Maybe I'd better go put on shorts or a bathing suit.” As soon as these thoughts came up, she was able to laugh at herself. Nevertheless, she sat there with this tension. She sat for an hour and then got up to do walking meditation. She had scarcely had shoes on since she arrived. She walked off onto the grass a few steps, came back and went to her room and got her shoes. She walked for a few minutes and then took her shoes off again and walked in the grass, just noting the tension, noting the awareness, the watchfulness at which she took each step. She was reassured that it was unlikely that one would be on the grass. But she figured, they've got to get from one rock to another rock somehow. Who knows?

The were shadow figures. It was illusion. Was there a scorpion, another scorpion anywhere on the property? Almost certainly, yes. Was there a likelihood that she would encounter it? No!

Can you see that she was creating that likelihood through her fear? For those few minutes her mind was obsessed with this idea of scorpions and being safe from scorpions. She was able to work with her fear skillfully so she did not need to actually encounter a scorpion and to enact the scene of being bitten, but she was playing with the scenario and with fear.

Those of you who are uncomfortable in some situation, perhaps around big dogs, or with spiders, uncomfortable with people who are impatient, uncomfortable with situations in which people do not trust, and so on and so on, do you seem to meet that uncomfortable situation far more often than seems natural? Why does this happen?

You have heard the, shall I call it new age slogan, “You create your own reality.” What I'm saying is subtly different. Not different in manner but different in depth. That statement, “You create your own reality,” can be terribly distorted, so that people ask somebody who has AIDS or a tumor, “Why did you create that?” This is a cruel and fruitless question. Clearly if you knew why you were moving into this experience, you wouldn't do it. But we do move into the experiences which we seek to teach us what we need to know. We do create karma; the repetition of certain circumstances. is the fruit of unpurified karma.

One is stuck; confused. One has intention to learn. One uses what is available in the immediate surroundings. Barbara would have a great deal of difficulty manifesting a scorpion right here in her own home. She would have equal difficulty manifesting North American woods creatures down there in Mexico. Karma does not say it must be a scorpion. Environment, genetics all play a part in your experiences. The scorpion is a symbol here. It's a symbol in this situation of the question, “Am I safe? At some level the vital question was raised, “How do I cease to tense my energy and contract into a separate self, me against that?” This was the karmic situation, this illusion of duality and the move, borne of the illusion, to separate and believe in “me” and “that” and then to contact against “that.” How many thousands of times had she done this?

Now a scorpion has appeared on the scene. It did not come to this instrument but to another, but it then fed this instrument's experiences. Let us look carefully at the process and see if we can understand more clearly how it works. This instrument is sitting on the grass. There is no fear present in her. She is meditating, the breeze blowing in her face. Because she is in a place where scorpions exist, if she sits for enough hours, it's possible that a scorpion is going to walk past her. Maybe it's even going to climb over her. She has sat there for hours and experienced the touch of insects and so forth. She has felt absolutely no need to move to brush them off, knowing that they would come and go. She has not even opened her eyes to look and see what was there, just noted “touching,” and then the cessation of touching.

It would make no difference, then, whether it's an ant or a scorpion? She is not manifesting the scorpion; there is no tension. She is not creating the relationship with the scorpion out of which that scorpion could attack her. When the touch or object of touch is not “other than,” in profound meditation one simply experiences as touching, touching. One knows if it is pleasant or unpleasant or neutral. One observes the touching until it goes, and comes back to the breath. There's no contraction of the energy field around that touching. There is no illusion of “separate” or “defend.”

What happens when you tense? The insect that was climbing over, what was literally experienced as not other than an expression of the divine, is suddenly seen as “other.” As soon as there is the fear thought planted, “something dangerous might be here,” then there is contraction with the touching . Of course, the scorpion will feel that contraction. It is alarmed by the movement that it feels. It might sting. You react; it reacts. How many times must you run through this cycle before you learn that you must respond in a different way?

I am not saying here that it stings only because you react. It stings because it is a scorpion and it is the nature of a scorpion to sting when alarmed. It is your nature to contract when alarmed. You can't ask the scorpion to change; can you change? Can you become increasingly conscious of your reaction and the movements of mind and emotion which give rise to the reaction? Can you learn to observe discomfort or fear with a spaciousness which need not react? Yes, of course you can. That is what this entire drama is about!

There is an even deeper process at work here. This is a merry-go-round that you're on, and you don't know how to get off. There is some addiction to the patterns of fear. At some level, mind wants to encounter the product of a certain fear. In the old pattern, with fear, you move deeper into self, deeper into armoring. When the object of fear arises, then, one can say, “See? I knew it wasn't safe.” and allow oneself reason to withdraw, to further armor oneself. You have a fascinating ambivalence, wanting to experience your innate connection to all things, and simultaneously, wanting to stay armored. How can you experience your interconnection when you sit in a tin suit? The ego wants reasons to maintain the armor. With a great deal of wisdom, the divine self says, “Let it go,” and the ego says, “No.” This was essentially the debate going on as this instrument sat there, wondering if a scorpion would approach her.

The depth of her practice won out. She was able to observe the fear, simply to note the tension of fear. She saw that the thought of the scorpion was simply a substanceless shadow, regardless of how real that creature could be. She was able to come back to her breath, to notice the contractions of fear, and not buy into those contractions as a demand to DO something, but just let them be until they dissolved. .

But if she had not been able to do that, then mind would have obsessed and found one reason after another why it was not wise to sit where she was sitting. Can you envision the scenario where she gets caught in a self-argument, “This is wisdom speaking. One should not sit on the grass in a place where there are scorpions.” Should she move? To where? You might not choose to sit on a pile of rocks, if they are known to be the environment of a scorpion or a snake, but are you going to spend your life checking under every cushion before you sit down? Are you going to live your life in fear or in love?

Yes, it is loving wisdom and self-respect to be cautious in an environment where there are creatures that might harm you, for example, to check one's shoes if that is where such creatures are known to hide. When sleeping in the wilderness, one hangs ones food from a tree when there is bear scat nearby, and does not bring such food into the tent. This is kindness to the self and the bear who will also be harmed and encounter heavy karma if it enters your tent, feels threatened and attacks.

When does such behavior become a bid of fear rather than a movement of love? How can we note that turning point and then know that this has become obsessive. It does not matter whether you are talking about scorpions or the unpleasant person at the next desk at work. When does thought become obsessive? One clue is that you dwell on it when the circumstance itself is not present. For example, this instrument sat and worried about the arrival of a scorpion when none was near. Do you feel tension about what he may say, even while he is sitting silently at his desk, absorbed in his own tasks? Does your tension invite his reaction? Might you not finally say unkind words to that neighbor, or emit negative energy into the atmosphere out of the tension of your discomfort? How does mind's obsession itself invite the continued experience of that being as negative?

I think the deeper question is not only, when does it become obsessive, but what do we do with it when it becomes obsessive. Noting the presence of obsessive mind, can one allow the experience without getting caught in the story of the experience?

I have asked that we try a small experiment here. I want to create a very small tension for you with an object that is utterly harmless. What I would request is that you each take a paper towel and hold it on your lap. I will explain the whole plan now because once we begin, you will each have to work separately at your own pace.

You're going to hold a paper towel in your lap to protect your clothing. I request you to cup your hands. Q will be my assistant. Q, I would ask that you pour just the smallest amount of water in those cupped hands, a tablespoon or so. I ask you to close your eyes and feel the water in your hands and feel any tension. Is there fear of its dripping, fear of its being unpleasant, not wanting to get wet, any of the tensions that may arise? Please just note first the touch and then the tension which is not the touch itself but is tension, contraction of the energy field. Feel the tension wherever it lodges in the body.

We're going to do it twice around. The first time I want you to allow the mindset of not wanting to let the water run out, if that arises. Whatever thoughts may come up around not wanting to get wet, not wanting to get the furniture wet. If there is no such tension, that is fine. The second time around I'm going to ask you to relax and remember this is just an illusion. There's nothing harmful here, this is just water. What happens when you relax? In what way is the experience of the second pouring of water different from the first, with the recognition, “This is just water. I cannot be harmed. I am safe.” I cannot explain the experience to you; I want you each to experience it for yourself. I will be quiet for a few minutes while you go around the room twice with this small amount of water.


Watch very mindfully the stages of contact, unpleasant or pleasant. Note any unpleasant feeling, and any tension, the thought of, “What am I going to do with this water in my hands?” I pause now.


A second time around now. Relax and remind yourself it's only water. It has no sting. So what if I get wet? It's only water. Feel that sense of release. Breathing in, breathing out. Just as if the scorpion had simply walked over your lap and onto the grass on the other side. Nothing to fixate on. Nothing to hold onto. Letting the experience literally and figuratively run through you.


What do you do with your fears? Do you see how you perpetuate your fears by getting caught into the contractions that accompany them and the duality you create? When, instead of obsessing about the object of the fear, you note the experience of contraction, of obsession itself, what then? What happens when you bring your attention to the experience of fear itself? Simply allow it, here is fear in me. Here is a bit of discomfort.

When this object, water, which has been given duality and separate existence ceases to be separate, what are you? A very high percentage of your physical body is water. How could water be separate from you? Have you ever gone out to dance in the rain?

The weather was quite stormy in Mexico, and on several occasions this instrument put on her bathing suit, went down to the water and immersed herself. The rain was so heavy that one could barely distinguish the water in which she sat from the water which fell upon her. This was during the time of the retreat. The students looked with alarm at what they considered their berserk teacher. “What is she doing?” Though she did not make it a compulsory part of the retreat, she did say, “Why don't you come in?” No! No!

My dear ones, may I challenge you, perhaps not in this icy weather, but if you have a break of warmer weather, put on your bathing suit and go and dance in the rain. Let go of your fears.

Please conclude and dry your hands.

I wish to end the formal talk here but I'd like to hear from you before your break: what was your experience of this water being poured into your hands? Can you feel the difference between the mind-state that says, “This is other-than and I must control it, fix it, or do something with it,” and the mind-state saying, “Ahhh. Part of me being poured into me, and then pouring away again.” I pause.

Barbara: Aaron would like to hear from you on your experience with this water exercise or any related thoughts. He says, can you see how this water is a metaphor for the anger for the person at the next desk at work that's being dumped on you, for the leaky roof that is literally coming down and dripping itself on you, for whatever difficulties and unpleasantnesses there are in your life, and how your relationship with them literally invites them to resolve themselves or invites them to stick to you and keep coming back. He pauses.

Q: The point about the tension is well taken. Recently I have had some very clear meditation experiences that have gone away and I have been asking myself as you suggested, what is preventing this experience from being a common or regular experience. And I have been coming up with the fact that I do carry a subtle and not-so-subtle tension most of the time. It's amazing. A lot of it is fear: small fear, big fear, just fear after fear after fear.

Barbara: Aaron asks, is some amount of tension necessary to survive in the world?

Q: It seems so.

Barbara: He says, look at this carefully ...

Q: Maybe not ...

Barbara: I am paraphrasing him, he says please do not simply agree with HIM! Look into your own experience. He is saying the times when you are most deeply centered, unarmored, connected, if something had gone wrong, if suddenly there was a pot boiling over on the stove, and you smelled it or heard it, would you need to armor yourself to attend to the pot, or could “nobody” have simply gotten up and taken the pot off the fire and sat back down again? He pauses.

Q: Exactly. The habit (of self) goes really deep, a survival mechanism.

Aaron: I am Aaron. It is a survival mechanism of the pre-awakened creature, the unconscious creature. A good part of your work as a human, in allowing the spiritual awakening that you seek, is to understand that these old instincts are the instincts, the mechanical instincts, of the form body. At times they may be useful, such as if you pick up something not knowing it is hot, and, feeling the burn, drop it. Certainly there will be less damage. This is not the kind of instinct I'm talking about. Just as one can turn the burner down or lift the pot off the stove without becoming somebody, one can also drop the hot coal without moving into a duality with the coal. Please do not mistake the instinct that tells the body to do this or that for safety, such as dropping the hot coal, with the reaction to the pain, which draws you into a place of separation and armor. You can even run from a tiger without becoming somebody and the tiger being somebody separate. I am not suggesting that running from the tiger is the most skillful thing to do. It would depend on the circumstance. But if you're one step inside the gate, see the tiger 50 yards ahead and know that you need to step outside and slam the gate, self doesn't have to do that. There is a kind of instinct, a physical instinct that reacts. Or more correctly, responds. But it doesn't have to move into contraction and separation. Do you understand? I pause.

Some discussion, not recorded.

Aaron: I am Aaron. The real question is not THAT you can do this but HOW do you do this. You all have so many experiences of feeling threatened during the day, how do you work with those experiences, how do you draw those experiences into the spiritual path and literally let them become the path? Know that there is nothing that has to be fixed or changed. At one level it may need to be fixed, you may need to step outside the gate and slam it to keep the tiger from biting you. It's just the movement of the body. You don't have to come out of the place of non-duality to do it. So the question is, what draws you into this illusion that sees this shadow on the wall and says, “Oh, it's a monster.”? Mind moves into this whole illusion of separation and fear.

I have said to you many times that fear is a habit, and furthermore that you find some enjoyment of this habit. Who or what is it that enjoys the habit of fear? Can you see how fear's primary role is to empower the ego? This is where we get away from the aware and awake being and into the unconscious being. The very, very ancient habit from the unconscious being was that it needed that fear to literally stir up that fight or flight mechanism, to drive adrenaline into the system and so forth. Are you so rooted in these mechanical reactions of the body that you cannot begin to see through them and say, “I don't need this any more”? I wonder what your thoughts are, about your attachments to fear.

Q: I am attached!

Aaron: But in some ways even that attachment exists is almost irrelevant because there will be fear sometimes and there will be attachment to fear sometimes. The question is not whether fear will arise or even attachment to it so much as what you're going to do with whatever has arisen, whether there will be an awake awareness which sees the arising with spaciousness, or a sleepy self which keeps getting caught in the story of what arose. Is whatever arose going to push you back into that small ego self or does it further invite you to stay in that pure awareness mind? Pure awareness can watch the body react with fear, watch the adrenaline which lets you move twice as fast to get out the gate and slam it, without losing itself. You need not become somebody being chased by a tiger, even while you move through the experiences of fear and reaction or centered response. May I hear others' of your thoughts? I pause.

(remainder of session not yet reviewed)