September 29, 1999

Barbara: This is the first group meeting of this season … After ten years of meeting in the living room it feels strange to be out here! (We are in the new meditation hall.) It feels kind of wonderful. But it's also strange. The room is not finished. Once we have the lights working that will be an improvement. Beams are going to go over these old joists and hide the joists and wiring. The fireplace will be hooked up so we'll have a gas log fire burning, heat and pretty flames.

I want to announce that we're going to start having open meditation here on Monday through Thursday mornings at 6:45AM, so that people can come and meditate before they go to work if they want. I may or may not be in here. I don't promise to be in here every morning, but the door will be open about 6:30. We'll give a few people who are coming regularly keys so that everyone can come and sit together here, whoever is so moved to do that. We'll see how it goes.

I was going to start Monday morning but in kindness to myself, since I'm having knee surgery tomorrow morning, I'm going to give myself a couple of extra days and we'll start next Wednesday. Wednesday morning of next week will be the first day we do this, then regularly every Monday through Thursday morning.

OK. I'm going to get quiet. Let's get Aaron in here and get going.

Aaron: Good evening and my love to you all. I am Aaron. If I had eyes you would see the tears of joy in them, to meet together again with this beloved group, to feel your energy and your deep commitment to your spiritual work, which serves all beings and brings light where there has been darkness, and love where there has been fear.

When I see you I see the human, but even more I see the angel. I see that essence of your being, your clarity and innate radiance. I see the human fears which breed greed and anger and fear, and I see the fearless, that which knows that the catalysts of this human realm are illusion, and yet is willing to take those catalysts as real, as a tool for learning.

Yet so many of you cry out to me that you do not so much take these catalysts as real-as a tool for learning-by choice, but fall into entrapment in the illusion. Of course, if you're trapped, fear closes in and then the learning becomes more difficult. But if you always had perfect clarity and awareness, and were free of this whole veil of forgetting who you are, then you would lose the primary tool for learning which the incarnation gives you.

This summer, this instrument began to ponder this question. She is teaching people to become more awake in their lives, to penetrate the veil, and I am also. And yet she does understand that the veil is necessary to be part of the learning process. Discussing this with her friend C3, she was trying to find a way to word the question, and C3 wrote her back, 'Perhaps the question is simply, can one get too smart too fast? Not that that's likely to happen."

Let us look at some of the aspects of this question. What is the purpose of the veil? Is total clarity possible? Conversely, what happens if you get stuck into the belief that you are simply this body and mind and emotions and do not penetrate through to a deeper being at all? This question first came up at a retreat this instrument led this summer in North Carolina. She was talking to the meditators about not being satisfied with increasing space and comfort in their lives, but reaching for nothing short of total liberation. And yet we think of that totally liberated being as having transcended this veil. Can one transcend it thus before one is ready? If so, what are the consequences? And what does 'not ready" mean?

Let me begin with the veil itself. You come into incarnation with an intention to learn. You come into incarnation with an intention to heighten your polarity whether it be negative or positive. Of course for this group it is positive, but the negatively polarized being also comes into incarnation with the intention to heighten its polarity.

Here it is useful to step aside briefly and look at the question of polarity. As you know, beings are negative, neutral or positive in their relative world expression. But on the deepest level, there is only positive polarity, and negative polarity is an expression of positive polarity. Fear is an expression of love. This does not mean that negative polarity is an illusion. It does certainly exist but not as separate from positive polarity. We might call it an expression of positive polarity. We have sometimes spoken of positive polarity expressed as service to others and negative polarity expressed as service to self. This is too limited a statement. Service to self or to other is a superficial expression of polarity.

The being who serves only itself and willingly harms others in order to serve the self, has not yet seen into the nature of being and understood that there is no separate self or other on the ultimate level. It has not yet understood that to harm another means to harm the self, and so it proceeds with the illusion that it can harm others to advance the self. Eventually it gets caught in its myth when it reaches the end of sixth density and begins the final process of release of all of the bodies-physical, mental and emotional-so that only the pure spirit body, empty of self, is left. Within that process it is necessarily led to the complete dissolution of ego and the self, and then the whole concept of serving the self at the cost of others disintegrates. It awakens, often very painfully, to the error in its understanding. At this point it must reverse itself and come through the whole track again, willing to face its fears that it will be hurt and its needs not be met. Willing to make space for those fears and not use those fears as a reason for harm to others.

Here we're talking of the less negative entity. Unfortunately some very negative energy has learned literally to rejoice in the pain of others. This is a conditioned response. It has understood that if there is a lack and it takes and hoards, when others are suffering that means it has more. So it has moved deeply into such a distorted place that it feeds on the fear of others, feeds on the pain of others. For this being the shift will be extremely difficult.

The neutral being and then the positively polarized being may not yet have deeply understood the true essence of their being as empty of any separate self, may not have yet directly experienced that divine essence, but they have at least experienced places where the ego and even the physical body have diminished. And in those places they have found enormous joy in the sharing of beingness.

What is neutral polarity? It hardly exists among humans. Humans tend to either positive or negative and neutral is just a brief moment in the balance. We can look at animals, animals who kill in order to eat or kill when they are threatened. Their intention is not to harm. They do not delight in killing. An animal who has fed and is not hungry can watch what would be an easy victim walk past without chasing it. Is such a being positively polarized? I would say so because it does not take delight in the pain or fear of others. Its taking of food is not an act of destruction rather than an act of creation because it also is an other, it is a self and all beings are a self, it is an other and all beings are other. It is part of that essence of being. It chooses to feed that essence of being so that it may survive, to honor the form in which that essence dwells by taking care of it in skillful ways such as seeing that it is fed and that which threatens it is avoided or destroyed. As such an animal evolves into human form, it finds more skillful ways of feeding itself and avoiding threat, and it moves further into positive polarity. The animal then moves from second to third density and becomes the young human, ready to explore this deeper connection with being and to carry it further.

Now, what about the catalyst of the veil? Because of the extensiveness of this topic … (We pause for a moment. I am gently telling this instrument that she is paying the price for a relaxed summer, that she is a bit out of practice, and that I would request her to channel my thoughts a bit more slowly and be more precise in her choice of words, so that I do not continually need to correct.) Because of the extensive scope of this topic, we will not discuss the meaning of the veil for negative polarity tonight.

On the astral plane between lives, all of you have clarity. There is no veil, there is complete telepathic connection. Sometimes it's very uncomfortable, but it's there. Uncomfortable when you see something that you judge, and that which you have judged knows that it's being judged. Uncomfortable when heavy emotion arises. For the younger being on the astral plane, there is a guardedness of thought. You do not transmit everything that you think but only that which you intentionally choose to transmit, so that if there's judgment or anger, you may choose not to transmit it. But there's still the questioning, 'Did I send out any of it? Did somebody pick it up?"

There is the ability to know the true self. There is still identification with the various emotional and mental bodies. But one sees right through that identification even as it's happening. There is no experience of loss, for example, for what could be truly lost? Thus, there is no loneliness, no sense of abandonment or separation. Of course, learning is possible on non-material planes and many beings do choose to evolve that way. I have talked before of the value of learning on a material plane and specifically on this Earth plane, where you have the four bodies brought together and you have that catalyst of this veil of unknowing.

You come into this material plane with full awareness that the veil will descend, that you will forget who you are. I liken this situation to that of actors in a play. If John Smith and Mary Smith are a very happily married couple who are both actors, if they are in a play together in which they are in an oppositional situation, they must do more than pretend or it will come through as pretense and not authentic. They must acknowledge the possibility of real anger, of one at the other. They must express that anger in genuine ways in their roles in the play. And yet, when the curtain falls, they have to go home together, they can't carry the anger with them. They must know this was just a play. So both are necessary: to be willing to rest in the illusion for the sake of learning, and to penetrate the illusion.

Your spiritual practice is your tool to penetrating the illusion. In the deepest levels of practice all sense of self falls away, the body dissolves, there's nothing there but light, radiance, this essence of divinity, whatever name you choose to give it. You do not see the self as an expression of that divinity, that is, as separate from it in any way, but see this Self with a capital 'S" literally as part of that divinity. You're not expressions of the divine, you are divine. The bodies are expressions of this innate divinity. Even the spirit body: what we call spirit body is the form expression of the Unconditioned, of God. It's the closest you can come with conscious mind to knowing that divine. But when all the bodies seem to dissolve, when you perhaps more accurately sink through the many layers of physical, mental, emotional and even spirit body to pure being, what you find there is simply this innate luminosity and love. And the luminosity and love is the most primary expression of the divinity which you cannot know except by its expressions. When you take that luminosity and sense of love, either or both, as your primary object, and go one step deeper, even the luminosity and sense of love seem to explode and there's just stillness. Center, an experience which cannot be labeled, is totally beyond labeling, but when you rest there this pure awareness mind knows that everything in the conditioned universe has exploded out of this, that everything is God, in all its myriad forms.

Experiencing this deeply gives you a very firm foundation to which you may return as a touchstone when you experience from the position of the conditioned, relative world.

You do not get lost quite so often in identification with the conditioned experience, but you cannot hold that unconditioned experience as you walk through your entire daily life, no matter how mindful, how present you are. Occasionally you lose track of it. Then the catalyst of the illusion of separation returns, reminding you to allow spaciousness, compassion and love. You are not attempting to be perfectly clear but seeking to learn this compassion and wisdom, sparked by the catalyst.

So we come to the question, can one get too smart too fast? And my answer is no, but there is a caution which comes with that no. There are two motivations for penetrating the veil, as there are for most anything in your lives. One is fear and one is love. Fear wishes to become enlightened so as to escape the routine of suffering, of confusion, of heavy emotion and pain. Fear wants to be in control and so it grasps at enlightenment as a way of escaping the very catalyst that it chose to experience as learning tool. Love is willing to experience the catalyst but makes a very merciful choice not to prolong the catalyst unnecessarily.

Many of you have worked with this instrument with the practice of clear comprehension and its first two parts: clear comprehension of purpose, and clear comprehension of suitability. When you know your purpose it's much easier to decide whether the course of action or speech is suitable to that purpose. If the highest purpose is learning then it is not suitable to destroy the catalyst before the learning has taken place. If the highest purpose equally is the diminishing of human suffering, then it is not suitable to prolong the catalyst out of some fear of living free of catalyst.

To give a concrete example, if one is in a painful situation with another human being where one feels unheard by that being or abused in some ways by that being, if fear and anger arise and lead you to judge and condemn and argue with that being, the clarity that the other being is also suffering may well lead to a diminishing of your own anger, judgment and pain. From that clarity you can say no in a skillful way to that being. But first you had to experience the judgment and pain, fear or anger, even if only briefly, because these are the reminders to compassion. Yes, eventually you may reach a place where you no longer need a reminder to compassion, where you see so deeply that another's anger simply reminds you of our pain, our fear, and natural compassion arises spontaneously, along with clear skillful response. Emotions will still arise but something has been learned about the relationship to those emotions. You understand that if the fear, judgment, anger or pain do arise, you don't have to get caught in the stories of it. You just remember, each time there is fear or anger or pain, 'Ah, here is a learning opportunity." You can soften at that point and permit the possibility of learning.

Of course, you don't want to get lost in the veil, lost in the illusion and the anger and the fear. When you do that you simply compound the karma around the situation. But you also do not have to be rid of these catalysts, only to be so present with them that you see each one just for what it is and say 'no" to getting caught in the story of it.

A slight example here. Your children have unfortunately grown up in a society where if somebody beckons to them, a stranger, and says, 'Would you like candy?" no matter how good that candy looks, you've trained them to say no. You've trained them when somebody says, 'Come here! I've got candy for you," and shows them a wonderful box of chocolates, that they must withdraw. Anger and judgment can be enticing. They give you a sense of power and control. They solidify the ego self. There must be that voice of caution that says, 'Ah, no. I'm not going to get hooked by this one. No." Just as the child remembers its mother's voice, 'No, don't go to that stranger. Come home to me and I'll give you a hug." In the same way you must remind yourself, 'No, I will not get hooked into this enticing voice of fear and negativity, but I will come home to love." What is my highest priority and what is suitable to that priority?

So the question is not really can one become too clear too soon, so much as what is the motivation for that clarity? Am I seeking clarity as an escape from pain, or am I seeking clarity as a continuation of the pathway to unconditional love, to faith, to kindness? In this way clarity becomes a doorway to greater growth and one is not afraid of the moments of the veil, but simply knows them as places where there is still unresolved distortion, and turns one's heart and attention to those places with great kindness, much as you would to a small wound on your body, allowing healing. Then increasing clarity does not become an escape but a doorway, a gift. The fruit of your work is through the doorway.

I thank you all for your attention. For the first weeks of this fall I have no specific plan in mind. I would like to hear from you tonight some of the questions that have arisen for you over the summer, any special direction of questions into which you would like to look more deeply. Later on this year, perhaps in December or even in January, I would like to start us off into a new series of talks which I will not elaborate on now. I would return to answer your questions. That is all.

(Tape is turned.)

C1: It is a veil question. As you know, I spent some time with C2 very close to his death. Some of that time was in the middle of the night and we were alone. I was basically meditating, doing a very little bit of off-body work. And then just sitting with C2 and doing tonglen, breathing in love, sending it to C2; breathing in pain, fear, suffering, anything … and I did that for a long period of time, half an hour, then a little break, then another half hour, for several hours.

It felt very connected and very appropriate and I didn't doubt its validity at that time. I felt very connected to C2. Later that morning, after he had died, I had lots of energetic confusion. I felt very spacey, like my own energy was … I lay on the earth for half an hour and cried a little but mostly I was challenged to come back into my own body. I'm relating facts because I don't have a clear question. For several years, I have done long-distance energy work with friends who have had various problems, cancer or emotional distress. At this very moment my very dear friend M is in the hospital … I have been doing tonglen with M and feel very comfortable again with the practice. I am not trying to hold onto her. I am not trying to push her away but just to connect lovingly with her energy. This is a woman who is eighty years old, a very close dear friend.

My question is, how to most skillfully work with people on the edge of this earthly plane and how to … there is no separation. In this work, our energy fields are one. But that is hard on the physical body, on my physical body at times. I was aware after sitting with C2 that my physical body had been struggling with things like pain of breathing, C2 was in significant physical pain. He was peaceful spiritually and my own body was resonating at both levels. I would love it and I think it's a general enough question, if Aaron wants to speak to me privately, we will have a chance, but I think how to work with people who are dying is a general enough question, could Aaron please answer in that vein as he sees fit. He's welcome to speak to me also, I'm not afraid of that. But I hope this is a question of general interest! (A lot of nods.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. This instrument grieves for her friend whom she had not known was so ill. May we first request a moment of silence and a prayer for this woman M, that she may find whatever it is that she most seeks.

(Long pause.)

I am Aaron. Your question, C1, relates not only to those who are dying but to those who are experiencing any severe trauma and whom you may accompany during that time of trauma. For one who is dying there is special direction but not too different than other trauma.

Being with one who is very close to the approach of death, as opposed to several weeks away, you are very aware of the transition of the body, the letting go of the body. It's almost as if this spirit has been snapped and Velcroed into a body, and it's struggling to unsnap the snaps, to wiggle its way out. But the body is deeply conditioned to continue itself. The body does not let go easily. So dying is very hard work.

I think of the caretaker extricating itself from a group of children who have attached themselves during playtime. The caretaker puts the children in bed for a nap but they don't want her to leave the room. And every time she inches toward the door, the nature of the children is to get up and grab at her. One wants to continue the present experience. This is the nature of dying. For one who is dying consciously, it's a bit easier because one can say 'no" skillfully to the fears and other demands of the body, such as the difficulty of breathing that C2 experienced. For one who is not conscious in this dying process, it's even more difficult because the fear is so intense. One knows one is moving into this transition. The body is ready to fall away. And yet one panics at the fact, 'I can't breathe!" For C2, there was not a sense of panic and so he was peaceful.

When you are with such a one who is on the edge of this transition, there is such a clear movement of the spirit returning home. It provides such a striking mirror for you. You feel so strongly the spirit body and the other bodies and the distinctions between them. You can accompany his spirit only so far. You are still within your own body. Perhaps this, beyond any other, is a place where the veil must fall away from the head and heart and the feet are still rooted in relative reality-not in a relative reality hidden by obscurations but aware of the nature of relative reality.

One of the most useful practices I know is a two-part breathing practice which I taught this instrument that night while she was sitting alone with C2 until the early morning hours when C1 came. The two-part breathing practice: first, drawing in the inhale, aware of the body, breathing in, 'I am aware of my body, resting in my body; breathing out, I feel the breath escape, and release the breath." One does that a number of times, feeling the presence of your own spirit and mental bodies within the physical body and how it's very securely snapped and Velcroed there. Awareness is centered in the body. Bring yourself very deeply into your body but without identification of the body as self. Focus especially on the inhale, coming into the body with each inhale. And the exhale, letting go. Once you are centered in the body, breathing in, 'I am centered in my body" (the 'I" being the pure awareness which is resting in this body), add 'breathing out, I am free." In that moment of breathing out there's a little death, letting go of the body for a moment, 'Ahhhh!" Coming out of the body, resting in pure awareness, no body, and then breathing back into the body. Breathing out, 'Ahhhh!" Letting go of the body. Feeling awareness soar out of the body and release. Only pure awareness resting in infinite space. Breathing in, centered in my body, and again, 'Ahhhh!"

Only after you are firmly centered, able to come into your body and then offer this 'Ahhhh!" really dying into the breath as if it were your last, only then do you turn your attention to the one with you who is literally in transition. Then you begin the practice with this one. 'Breathing in, I am aware of your spirit within the body. Breathing out we let go, moving into the light. Ahhhh! Breathing in I am aware of pure awareness, not self-not yours or mine-within these bodies. Breathing out and letting go."

And so you retain your own groundedness in the body and also acknowledge the difficulty the other is having because he is a bit stuck in the body and the body is so conditioned to hold on. And then with the outbreath, you acknowledge for both of you the immense possibility of letting go, whether it's only for that one breath or whether it's the greater letting go of the dissolution of this particular body. This practice can be combined with the Ahh breath exercise that many of you have done, so that soft Ahh becomes audible to your friend.

This is best combined with a light practice around the crown chakra, which I have also taught this instrument, and the reminder to the friend, at intervals, not to attach to anything that arises, to follow the practice he knows, simply being with arising and dissolution, knowing it is all the play of mind. Nothing to which to attach; nothing to fear. These words in simple format can be repeated frequently.

So this is a very specific answer, a very specific helpful practice to do with one who is literally moving into that transition. The same practice can be helpful working with anybody in a state of trauma-a friend who is experiencing strong physical or emotional pain, a friend who is experiencing grief or has a badly broken bone. Breathing in and centering first in your body and then releasing. And then after that is established, breathing in for both of you, helping your friend be centered in the body, aware of the body as home for the spirit but a temporary home, but centered there. And then breathing out and letting go. For the one who is suffering trauma and not death, that letting go is as your letting go; not a letting go into transition so much as a letting go into the spaciousness of clarity, the spaciousness of penetration of the veil and of knowing the ultimate. It's often useful to hold in your mind with that 'Ahhhh" a very clear sense of the brilliance, the innate radiance of the ultimate, and offer the thought of moving toward the light.

This is a brief form of my answer. I believe it's adequate to the question. C1, I would be very happy to talk further about specifics with you in private unless there are other questions here in this group now. I pause.

L: At one point in the emails regarding C2, it was mentioned that he was aware of other beings in the room. Could you talk about that?

Barbara: My experience was that from about 9:00 at night, when I came, until 2:00, he was moving between two experiences, sometimes with his eyes sometimes rolled up and seeming to be totally out of contact with everyday reality and then suddenly he would look directly at me. A couple of times he actually tried to sit up and said, 'Where am I?" and I could lip-read, 'Where am I? What's happening?" I was able just to say, 'C2, you're at the hospice. Everything is OK. You are safe. Loving people are with you here. Loving beings are with you on the other side. You're safe. Just relax and do what you need to do." Maybe every fifteen or twenty minutes there would be a chance just to say a few words like this during a very strong eye contact. Sometimes it came at the time when the nurse came in to give him the morphine and had to get him to swallow it, so had to put a dropper in his mouth. Through the night I said to him alternately things like, 'It's very hard work to die. The body is conditioned to hold on. You can let go. It's safe to let go. It's OK to let go." Each time I said something like this he seemed to hear me. His eyes met mine. Once I asked him, 'C2, are you hearing me? If you are, can you nod?" And he gave a little nod. So it gave me a sense that he really was hearing me.

Then about 2:00 in the morning, the whole nature of his being changed. His gasping for breath quieted considerably. He was still gasping but there was much less tension in it. His eyes were open. They stopped being rolled back more of the time. His head was turning back and forth like this, and I also felt a strong sense of spiritual presence in the room, much more markedly. It was there all the time but much more markedly now. He started talking and I called the nurse in. The nurse said she couldn't hear him. His mouth was moving and he was certainly talking. And there was no fear on his face, he was just looking from side to side and addressing this side, and addressing that side, and then his eyes would roll back and he would get quiet. And two or three minutes later he would start to talk again, turning his head. This was mostly the hours from 2:00 to 4:00 and by 4:00 it was fading when C1 came. My sense was that he was very aware of the presence of beings, and Aaron confirmed there were beings there. During that time, several times, I said to him, 'There are guides here to be with you. You'll never be alone. People are here on this side and beings will be with you on the other side." But he wasn't looking at me when I said it. He was in another space.

And then I sensed just about the time C1 came at 4:00, he moved into another space of really moving out of the body, moving on to this last phase of dying. Aaron says that he has nothing special to add here unless you have a special question, that this is an accurate statement of my experience and also portrays his experience of it. He says that these are the general phases of dying when one is dying with some consciousness. He says when one dies either abruptly in a quick accident or with a lot of fear, then one does not move through these natural phases as easily.

C1: One specific question. How does morphine affect conscious dying?

Aaron: I am Aaron. There's a positive and a negative to this, C1. The question is, how does morphine affect conscious dying. If one has deep training to mindfulness, being present with what arises, very little will disrupt that mindfulness. I think you recall the story of a friend of yours and of this instrument's, of a near-death experience in the hospital and how he was anesthetized, not awake, but was able to be mindful through that experience. This instrument has relayed a friend's story. That friend had a friend with advanced Alzheimer's, but this friend of the friend was so conditioned to openheartedness and kindness that when she and her husband came to the door and rang the bell, having been invited for dinner, he opened the door, looked at them blankly and then said, 'I apologize. I know you but I do not remember who you are, do not remember your names or faces. But seeing you here on my doorstep, I know you have been invited here for dinner. Please come in."

So he had memory loss but the essence of kindness in himself was not in any way changed. When one has done one's practice in a committed way through the lifetime, one develops these patterns. No matter what arises in the dying process, one does not get caught in it. This is another part of the instruction which this instrument offered to C2 through the night. 'Whatever comes up, just note it. Don't get caught. Follow the light. Don't get caught up in bliss; don't get caught up in terror. Nothing that arises is solid. It's all of the mind. Don't get caught." One has done this thousands of times in practice. One has done it in dream states. One does it in the dying process.

The morphine dilutes the clarity. One is not quite so present with arising and dissolution. One may move a bit more into the story of what arises before mindfulness catches it. On the other hand, the morphine prevents intense pain which might be so unworkable that the being would create a tremendous fear and aversion and would die with that contraction of fear and aversion. All in all, I feel that the morphine is a very great help. And the slight lack of clarity is not a serious issue. I pause.

Barbara: Are there any other questions on this topic?

Q: Related to this, is it common that people on drugs or medications experience a thinner veil but it can be a distorted thinner veil?

Barbara: You don't mean people like on morphine who are dying, you mean people taking drugs in general? Do they experience a thinning of the veil, but a distorted thinning of the veil?

Aaron: I am Aaron. It depends on the drug. There are some drugs which literally wipe away the veil. This can be a profound experience for the being with a strong practice foundation. It can be an immensely destructive experience for the being with no practice foundation because one suddenly finds oneself in this place of no self with such startling clarity. But one is not ready to be that vulnerable, to be that connected. And so it can become a foundation for many psychotic experiences. This is the danger of it. For one with the ground of practice experience, the drug isn't necessary. One can find that clarity without the drug. Why use artificial means? But in the framework of a spiritual tradition, the use of such drugs skillfully guided by elders and offered only to those who are prepared for the experience, can be helpful in that they do offer a penetration of the veil as part of one's entire spiritual tradition and practice. I pause.

Barbara: Let's hear from some of the other people here, other kinds of questions.

R: It seems to me that when you live, when I live without resistance to my experiences, no matter how painful, would that make death easier, in the sense of not trying to resist what comes up? In other words, does life experience teach you how to die?

Aaron: I am Aaron. Precisely. Whatever you have practiced in the moments of life is what you bring into the transition experience. If you have practiced fear, holding, using stories, letting the mind run into stories to escape experience or to try to control it, these are the habitual tendencies which you will bring to the death experience. The practice of resistance is primarily the practice of fear. Letting go is a movement of love, of faith. When one has established a habitual tendency to notice the arising of fear and soften around it, to offer metta to oneself, kindness to oneself in the face of fear, rather than to condemn the fear, but not to be ruled by the fear, to know it as an illusion and not get caught into an identity with it, then the same thing follows in death. The mind creates heaven and hell, both in life and in the dying process. Blissful states may appear and hellish things may appear. Visions and so forth. When you're able to remind yourself, 'This also is conditioned, don't get caught," but within the self literally to bow to what has arisen and to let it go past, then resistance softens.

When I say the mind creates blissful and hell realms, an experience of the presence of guardian angels will be seen by a loving and open person as a very gentle and loving experience. Whereas for the person who is bound by his fear, the arising of these forms will breed more fear. 'What are these creatures? I'm hallucinating." The guides themselves are loving but if your experience of them is one of fear, you can't experience their love. For that individual they can even seem to assume the form of demonic-looking faces, bred entirely from the mind. But as soon as you relax and let go, you come into the presence of what's there.

I would use an example. If one were rafting in a river that had some gentle white water but no immense rapids, no huge boulders, just a swift current, if one fell off of one's raft and found oneself in the water, one might panic, 'Oh! I'm in the water! I'll drown!" and begin to thrash, swallow water, tense up, sink beneath the surface, and literally bring on that drowning. If one notes the sense of fear, 'Oh! I'm in the water! Will I be OK? Feeling fear. Feeling fear. May I be safe. May I be happy," offering kindness to the self and the fear, touching the fear with love, then one may begin to notice that the current is carrying one swiftly but safely. One may even begin to appreciate the coolness of the water, the freshness of it and the warmth of the sun. To know that one doesn't need the boat. Eventually one will be swept into a shallow place where one can stand. Just relax and be with the current.

So in answer to your question, R: yes, precisely. That is all.

Barbara: It's five of 10:00. I think we best end here.

(Tape ends.)

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Brodsky