December 16, 1998 Wednesday Night, Aaron's Christmas Stories

Barbara: We have a Hanukkah menorah here and I've just been telling the Hanukkah story and a little bit about what Aaron has taught me about it. The “eternal light" (ner tamid) is the light that is (meant to be) ever-present in front of the holy ark which houses the Torah scrolls. It was urgent that the Jews, in rededicating the temple, keep this light going.

Aaron says the everlasting light in the temple symbolized the desire to hold the light of God in people's hearts. Because of the symbolism, and the command to keep the light burning, the idea that it would go out was terrible. There was just this little bit of oil, and fear, “What if the light goes out?" The fact that it lasted for those eight days until more oil could be gotten, Aaron says, might be felt as a statement that the divine light will never go out, that it is inherent to us. Trust. So, this to me is the symbolism of Hanukkah, holding the divine light and knowing that it can't be extinguished.

There are candles for each day, and each has a special symbolism or meaning. The shammas or servant candle, lights the others. Just as the light of God reaches out to the world and spreads light, so we light this candle (pause), then a prayer (Prayer recited in Hebrew, then English.), “Praise be thou, O Lord our God, Ruler of the world, who has sanctified us by Thy commandments and bidden us kindle the Hanukkah lights."

I'm not sure I know the second one perfectly. (Prayer recited in Hebrew.) “Blessed art thou O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has performed miracles for our fathers in days of yore this season."

These are all actually “blessings" or “brachot" rather than prayers. They are praises of God.

Before we get into the Christmas stories, you probably have heard on the news that the US bombed Iraq this evening. Apparently the target was military bases. I'm not making any political comment here about whether this was wise or unwise, only aware of the pain that people experienced, regardless of whether they're military people or civilians. Let us spend a few minutes in silence offering whatever loving prayers you feel to be appropriate.


Aaron: I am Aaron. Having heard the news, it feels appropriate to follow up with a further prayer from the Jewish scriptures, translated into English, and a bit of Buddhist prayer from the Metta Sutra. “Grant us peace, Thy most precious gift, O thou eternal source of peace. May our nation always be a stronghold of peace and its advocate in the council of nations." Throughout this world, beings are suffering. All beings, be they great or small, seen or unseen, born or not yet born, may all beings find peace.

I pause briefly while you sit with your reflections; then will begin my talk.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I know I do not have to introduce you to my tradition of sharing Christmas stories. I want to emphasize that while the being that I was in that lifetime lived at the time and in the vicinity of the one who was known as Jesus, and greatly loved this man, I was a poor ignorant shepherd, by no means a teacher or a senior disciple of him, but I loved him no less. The gift of those times given to me to spend near him, I hold as amongst the greatest gifts. Just to be in his presence, even in silence, was a profound teaching. To observe him or the way he was with people, the way he bore himself, his actions and speech, was profound teaching. A being who aspired to lovingkindness could not come into his presence without feeling his light, and opening his or her heart to him.

I was a shepherd with responsibility to my flock, to my family, and it was clear that even had I wished to I could not ignore that responsibility and simply leave and follow him. Since he traveled, and word of his travels spread before him, when he came near to where I was, I always laid aside my work to spend a few days in his presence. Occasionally the gift was given to me by such as a brother who said, “I will care for your flocks for a few weeks. I know how important this is to you." And instead of a few days I would have a few weeks with him.

Each year in the telling of these stories, I have tried to highlight a certain quality which I observed in him and which I learned from him. Many of you in this group have worked with the difficulty of letting go of self will. There is a common phrase in today's world, “Let go and let God." What does that mean?

A cherished friend tells a simple poem taught by her grandmother.

I am the place that God shines through
for God and I are One, not two.
I need not fret, nor will, nor plan
God wants me where and as I am.
If I'll just be relaxed and free
He'll carry out his will through me.

Many of you struggle with this. What does it mean to put ego self aside and allow oneself to be a clear channel for divine wisdom, for the divine heart? The one known as Jesus was expert on this. Never have I known another who was so able to be a channel with such grace and clarity. You might argue, “Ah, but he knew who he was. He was not born with that veil of forgetting." Yes, he knew who he was, but then what was asked of him was enormous and still he was able to do it. I do not speak here only of his final days.

He taught me faith. This in some ways was his greatest gift to me because when I first came to him I was impatient and had little faith. I was one who tried to plan and control, as if I could make the world come out the way I wanted it to be.

On a very early occasion in which I had the opportunity to travel with him, simply moving from one village to another across some hills, there was a wilderness between these two cities. I was the only one familiar with that wilderness and so I was asked to accept a place of leadership in terms of pointing out the path. I knew the danger of those hills. There were wild animals which could harm a man. High in the highest reaches of the hills the wind blew cold and rain could turn to sleet. Parts of the way were rocky and steep, dangerous unless it was daylight.

We left the first village early in the morning and if we had walked at a reasonable pace, pausing to rest several times, we still should have crossed the mountains and reached our destination before dark. But he would not be hurried. Early in the walk we came to an old woman carrying a load. She was struggling with the load, walking slowly, going to her home up in the hills. He lifted her burden from her, carried it himself, and slowed his pace to hers for perhaps an hour until we saw her safely home. We paused to rest and have lunch and I urged him, “We must move on. We are not yet across the mountains." We were high up. It was a beautiful view. He said to me, “Relax. We will get there when we get there." That within me which wanted to be safe, wanted all of us to be safe, chafed at his relaxation.

“We must move, we must go!"


We came up to the highest of the hills, a pathway between two peaks where one had to climb up on high rocks. This was the most dangerous part of the walk. We had just moved through the pass and as we came through this opening in the rocks, a bitter wind assaulted us.

“We must hurry!" I said.


We started down, a climb down steep rocks, when we heard a cry, something in distress. Of course, he would not let it be. The rest of the group, there were eight of us, stayed there on the path. He asked me who knew these hills to accompany him off the path. Climbing, we came to a mountain sheep giving birth, but having difficulty with that birth, crying, struggling. He did not even say “Clearly, we must help," he simply went to it. Now, he was not a shepherd, he didn't know how to help.

I said to him, “Creatures live and die in these mountains. You must leave it or we will die. We cannot be up here after sunset or we will die."

He regarded me peacefully and said, “Go if you need to, and take any with you that need to go. I will be safe."

Of course I could not leave him. But I was angry. I argued with him, I said, “We must go!"

“How can we go? You cannot pick up a sheep that's giving birth and carry it along with you. You cannot rush the birth process. Relax."

And so we sat there. He himself went back to tell the others and some of them climbed up that short, steep slope while the rest found some shelter. Because of the knowledge as a shepherd, I knew how to help this creature whose infant-to-be-born did not lie quite correctly in the birth canal. But I still was angry.

For perhaps an hour we sat there, as I offered the help that was needed to this creature. As we sat, the evening grew colder, the wind blew harder, and sleet began to fall, making the rocks icy.

“Why do you do this?" I said. “We will die."

“The sheep needs you. If we leave, she will die."

He was so clear. There was no ego in his desire to stay. Some people think of him as savior but he did not think of himself as savior. He played no role. He did not need to save anybody for his own ego need. He had one role and that was to be a vehicle for the light, a vehicle for love and purity. He understood that he could not be such a vehicle as long as the ego blocked the way.

As we sat there and the stormy evening gathered around us, I truly believe he did not know what would happen. There was not a control of the future, there was simply faith; whatever happens will be okay. One cannot turn one's back on suffering and if one lives one's life true to that path, whatever comes, be it life or death, joy or sorrow, it will be okay.

We did not have much food or warm clothing with us. We had planned this as a day's walk. We did not have shelter with us. This creature gave birth. We had seen its leg was injured and it probably had lost its way from its companions, been unable to follow because it could not walk well. So after the birth, he wrapped the lamb and the mother and carried them down to a more sheltered area where our comrades had built a fire. We warmed up a bit by the fire but there was very little wood; clearly we could not keep the fire going all evening, all night. I was frightened, perhaps more so than any of the others, and I reasoned that my fright was because only I knew the real danger, only I knew these mountains. Without light, the way down was impossible. Up where we were the night would become very cold and we could not survive it. And without fire, animals would attack, especially drawn by the blood scent of the birth.

What happens next reminds me of this story of Hanukkah. As the last of the fire died, the wind broke up the clouds and the full moon began to shine, brilliantly lighting our path. As the last embers faded, he simply stood up and said to me, “Are you ready to continue?" There was no difficulty at all, much to my wonder. The night was as light as day. Different men took turns carrying the sheep, who was quite heavy. He himself carried the lamb. We came down the hills into a valley where a shepherd welcomed us to his home, gave us shelter and food. I believe Jesus didn't know the moon was going to come out, he simply trusted, “What happens will happen. I have done what I need to do. I could do nothing else. And so I give myself in trust. What happens will happen. Thy will be done." Less than any other man I have ever met, he had no self-will. And yet he was strong, for the light of the divine shined through. He was not what you would call a pushover. He knew when to give and he knew when to say no, and both the giving and the firm statement “No" came from a place of deep love and wisdom and deep clarity within him and not from a place of fear.

I will tell you two related stories here. This is another occasion, another location, another year. Again I was walking with him with a small group, traveling from one place to another. We had been warned that there were robbers. He simply nodded, hearing that news. He did not express any real concern. Just an hour into our journey, we were accosted by a large man. We had no valuables with us but we had our cloaks and food and he took them. We walked on through an area which was sparsely inhabited; there was none to feed us and we went hungry that day and slept chilly that night. Early the next day we came to a small village where we were given some food and rags we could wrap around ourselves for warmth because the people had nothing else to give us. Again, an hour into our journey, the same man appeared. The one known as Jesus showed no fear or alarm at all but said to him in a kindly way, “My brother, how may we serve you today?" He pointed to our feet. “Your shoes, your sandals." And so we all took off our sandals and gave them to him.

Again we walked on, experiencing considerable discomfort as the ground was rocky. By late in the day we again came to a small village, very small village, and out of the skins of an animal we were able to make some kind of footwear. We were given more food and a place to sleep.

Mid-day on the third day, we were just about to eat the food the villagers had kindly collected for our journey, when the large man appeared yet again. “Your food," he said, “Give it to me."

“Of course," said Jesus, “Take what you need."

This robber did not know who Jesus was, but as I said at the beginning of tonight's talk, one could not help but see the light shining out of him. For some, that light was a nightmare, for those who were too much in darkness to tolerate it. But for others who could see it, it had tremendous power of healing. It was a potent invitation to remember their own divinity. This man gathered our food and began to leave, then he stopped and turned back. He said, “There are six of you and one of me. Why have you simply given me what I asked for day after day? Why have you not beaten me or killed me here?"

Jesus simply said to him, “You asked because you had need. Not understanding the nature of your need, you thought you needed our possessions. Now do you understand what it is you really need?" And the man began to weep.

He said, “I have lived my life for so long stealing from others. I want to start anew but I don't know how. I can never be forgiven for the harm I have done. What I need is forgiveness."

Jesus looked at him and asked, “Can you forgive yourself?"

The man wept, “No, I cannot."

Jesus took his hands and said, “I forgive you. Will you walk with us?"

“You really want me to walk with you? I who have stolen from you and abused you?"

“Yes. Will you walk with us?"

And he did. And this man later became a disciple of the master and a teacher of forgiveness to others, able to touch the hearts of those who had withdrawn into their own fear because of the deep insights granted by his own experience.

Each day as we had walked and this man had assaulted us verbally and said, “Give to me," I had wondered why didn't Jesus say no? I understand now that in his wisdom he saw the light in this being and that it was accessible. There was no ego need to save him. There was no fear. He understood this man's soul, and that the material goods he asked for was symbol for what he really needed.

And yet in a very similar situation, Jesus' response was quite different. Another place, another year, another road. We had come to a village. Two there had laid out a meal for us. They were his disciples, who knew him and loved him, and so they offered the best that they could. As we sat to eat, a man approached on a donkey and bearing weapons. And he said, “You will give me that food!"

“No," replied Jesus.

“Do you know that I could kill you?" said the robber.

“Of course you could kill me. Will that resolve your dilemma? How many of us would you kill? And do you wish to kill?"

Jesus stood up, between us and this man. There was no fear-based anger, but there was anger in his words. There was firmness which said, “No, you may not do this." He was not afraid to say no. The two of them looked at each other in silence for over a minute and then the robber turned and left. I heard later that he had reformed, but I don't know the whole story and cannot tell it. This is not about the results, this is about his ability to trust deeply what lay before him, not to have his ego get in the way but to act on the whisperings in his heart, be the instruction to give or say no.

It seems to me that his faith came from a lack of fear, a lack of fear that is difficult for those of you who are human and attached to your bodies. There was a deep clarity in him, “Whatever happens is okay. I do not need to cling to anything. I as ego self do not need to fix anything." And out of that clarity he had the ability to attend to suffering in the most skillful ways, which was simply to be instrument of his Father's will.

You know he had the ability to heal. Very rarely I saw him bring that ability into enactment, but only very rarely. His choice was always to follow the simplest way. “Never use miracles," he said, “when simple human intervention will do." The human heart acting in a loving way, that is the miracle. Extra power is not necessary.

I was with him in a village where a child was very sick. The father of the child asked him to heal the child, asked him to come to his hut where the sick child lay and heal the child. He came and sat with the child, and the father and the mother, sat all through a long night while the child's fever burned. It seemed to me he took away the child's pain because in the first moments of his presence, the child ceased to cry in pain but seemed to relax. How did he know whether to use his power to heal this child or to simply sit there? The night passed and by morning the child had died. The parents not only grieved, they were angry. “Why did you not save him?" He would not answer them.

Later it was told to us that this man and woman, these parents, fought about everything. They were known in their community for their vicious fighting with one another. They could not hear one another. The man sometimes beat the woman. I watched them as the child died. Their anger first was placed on to Jesus, “Why did you not save him?" and then in their grief they turned to one another, wept on each other's shoulders, supported one another. Together they arranged for the funeral that was necessary to bury the child. Somehow in their grief they rediscovered their love for one another. Did he know this would happen?

I don't think it matters. If he had saved the child, a different path would have been taken. That he did not save the child led to this healing between the parents. One route or another route. I don't think he tried to figure it out. It seemed to me more that he followed his heart. I asked him later, “Did you know what would happen?" and he said, “No, one can never know what will happen." I asked him, “Why did you not save the child?" He said, “What does it mean to save the child? Where would the child go? He's alive, the spirit will simply move on, will go where it will go. When it is ready to return, it will return."

These stories I am telling here are not about how he knew what to do, which knowing was born of his own clarity and open heart. These stories are about faith. Watching the parents weep and the child move into release of his pain and eventually die, there was fostered in me a deep faith that things happen as they need to happen. When we follow the “Thy will be done" and move by our own innate wisdom and compassion, things move as they need to. The wind blows the leaf; the leaf can but ride with the wind. It is not the leaf's work to figure out where the wind takes it, but only to be the best leaf it can, to do its work on the tree and then to fall, to decay and enrich the soil where the wind takes it.

Many of you have heard me make the statement that we cannot be fatalistic. If the child that can't swim falls off a boat, we can't say that he be left to drown. Perhaps you are meant to save him. I think that for Jesus, his heart was so clear and loving, so free of the dictates of ego and the need to save another to receive praise or adulation, free of the need to fix to alleviate his own pain, that he simply knew what to do. You as humans, can only attempt to follow that path, but you can attempt it with faith, with an open-heartedness that says, “I am the instrument. The divine works through me. Thy will be done."

We stayed in that village for several weeks. He talked there to many people including this man and woman who had lost their son. For many days they came to him with anger, and each time he returned their anger with kindness, simply acknowledging the depth of their grief. Toward the end of his stay they came to him and said, “You have given us a gift. Through all the years of our son's life he was sick, and we blamed one another." The man said, “I blamed my wife that she didn't take care of him," and she said, “I blamed my husband that he did not provide well enough to let us buy medicines and pay for prayers." Each said “I blamed the other. And you have given us a gift, you have given us each other back. You have given us again the opportunity to love one another." I do not know what happened to these people. I suspect that they lived relatively happily together, of course with the dark moments that a couple will always have with one another, with a deeper trust and less fear and need to blame. I suspect that they had other children.

He did not believe that the child should be sacrificed to lead the parents to this healing. He did not look at the child's soul plan and see if the child came to give the parents this healing. He did not try to figure it out. He simply was as present as he could be with pain, as loving and non-judgmental as he could be. He let his heart guide him. Perhaps sometimes his heart led him astray, I don't know. I never saw it happen but it would not surprise me. He was human. But he let his heart guide him and understood himself to be a vehicle for divine love and wisdom. Thy will be done. At this, he was the master. I cannot adequately express my gratitude to him for the ways he taught me these lessons of faith.

I know this talk leads you all as humans into the question, “How do we know? How do we know when to reach out the hand and when not to? When to stay with the sheep and when not to?" You know what to do. Your heart knows what to do. If you always follow the most loving movements of the heart, you know what to do. When you come to know the arisings of fear and the sensations of that fear in the body, you become adept at recognizing fear and not acting on that fear. He did not save that sheep and its newborn out of fear. He did not let the child die out of fear. In each case he followed the deepest movements of love in his heart. That is all any of us can do. That is all.

Barbara: Let's have just a very few questions, ten minutes or so, and then shift into holiday party time ... Are there any questions?

C: When Jesus was sitting beside the bed of the sick child ... Aaron talked about Jesus following his heart. The child died. It feels to me as if in a case like that Jesus must have tuned in to the soul of the child and part of the choice must have come from the child.

Barbara:Aaron says, absolutely, just as the choice to stay there with the sheep came from the soul-level connection to the sheep. He says, but we must all know that we're capable of that deep connection when we trust ourselves to be.

C: Aaron was not talking about that.

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron. He says our fear leads us to doubt ourselves, which doubt leads us further into “self" and away from the clarity of the pure instrument of divine will. When we relax that fear, we do know what to do, we don't have to know about healing connected to the soul level of the other being as a conscious thing, we simply have to trust the deep loving movement of our heart, which we experience in a place free of slavery to the contractions of fear. We may intuitively connect with others; we may not have that capacity. Either way, it must be a movement of love.

He says, if the contractions of fear are there, that's okay. You can know that fear is present and still act from this clear place. You don't have to get rid of the fear to act from the clear place. He pauses.

He says this is such an issue for so many of us because we think we have to get rid of the fear in order to have clarity instead of realizing that the fear is simply part of the human clothing, and we don't have to get caught up and identified with the fear. We don't have get rid of it, we don't have to enact it. The clarity is always there. Sometimes there's fear.


Q: Is it OK that this question is not related to Aaron's story tonight? Did Jesus in that lifetime come into contact with disciples of the Buddha? (Barbara: Aaron says yes, absolutely.) Could Aaron speak to that and how it impacted Jesus?

Aaron: I am Aaron. When you say, “Did he come into contact with disciples or followers of the Buddha" and I said, “Absolutely," but let us give space to this. He did not come into contact with Buddhist monks who identified themselves by this term “Buddhist." He came into contact with beings who were holy men but not specifically monks, beings who had been exposed to the teachings of the dharma. He did practice meditation. Unlike the Buddha who was born as a third density being, ripe for enlightenment but needing to find that realization within the incarnation, the one known as Jesus we would call a Bodhisattva, a being who is already fully realized, and did not really forget who he was.

He still needed a way to marry heaven and earth. He brought the teachings of heaven with him but he needed the tool to bring those teachings into the earth plane. It would have been very easy to fall into the trap of preaching rather than living his truth. And of course, had he not lived it 100 per cent, it would have lost its authority.

I think this ability to connect the ultimate and the relative is the greatest lesson he learned from the Buddha. He did not really have to learn it so much as to be reminded of it. The Buddha taught a dharma of liberation and of compassion. But Jesus came into the world specifically because so many beings could not grasp that message of compassion. Many could. There was a great wave of enlightenment at the time of the Buddha, but of those who were left, many were caught up in their own fear and shadow, were still trapped in the teachings of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, the ancient teachings of fear. These are beings who could not hear the Buddha's teachings. Perhaps they were trapped in the darkness of their own making, and like that robber who I described, they needed a door opened to forgiveness. I emphasize here the need to combine the heart teachings and the wisdom teachings, that neither is sufficient unto itself. The open heart untempered by wisdom can lead one into maudlin sentimentality. Wisdom that is not connected to the heart can lead one into a sterility and escape from the suffering of the world, an escape into ultimate reality that denies relative reality.

When you ask, “Did he encounter the teachings of the Buddha?" yes, both before his incarnation, and also during his incarnation. I think they helped him to see where beings were trapped, how many were trapped in their own self-judgment, and to understand their entrapment was result of all of the fear voices that prior religious experience had dictated to them. And so his prime teaching was one of forgiveness, non-judgment and unconditional love. He did not emphasize the wisdom teachings, he saw that what people needed then in the world of that time were the heart teachings. To open one's heart and truly begin to love the self and one another and to see the divine in it all.

I know he understood the wisdom teachings and at times he shared those with those of his disciples who were ready for such teachings, but his focus was much more on centering of the heart, opening of the heart, dispelling the shadow with the light of love. I pause.

Q: Other than this incarnation, did Jesus live on Earth for his own learning?

Barbara: Yes.

Q: A very long time ago?

Barbara: A very long time ago.

Q: I would imagine the nature of that life was much different than what we as humans experience. (Yes.) I would be interested in hearing more about that.

Barbara:About Jesus' earlier incarnations? Aaron says that this can only be talked about a very little, that there is some cloak of privacy about this.