February 9, 2000

Aaron: I am Aaron. Good evening and my love to you all. One of the mysteries of human experience for you all is why things happen as they do. You often feel you have one intention and the opposite seems to happen. You have the intention toward good health and you get sick; the intention to be loving and honest and open with a friend and instead an argument and painful feelings develop; the intention to have abundance in your life and instead you struggle with poverty.

I would like to explore intention with you both on the physical, everyday level, and on the level of the energy bodies, and what is really going on. First you must acknowledge that there are often multiple intentions. This is the simplest level of understanding intention. I use this instrument as an example. Many years ago she had the highest intention to move past the illusion of separation, which had been with her for so many lifetimes. She did not have any specific intention to become deaf. There were certain physical conditions in the body which led to the experience of the deafness, so her intention was not to manifest deafness but becoming deaf, she was able to use that deafness to manifest the intention of overcoming the delusion of separate self.

So, why deafness, if there was no intention for deafness? There was not a specific intention for it or against it; she really had never thought about it. One doesn't walk around thinking, "I will not become deaf," when one has no reason to suspect one will.

She had intention to protect herself and her habitual pattern for self-protection was to barricade herself. She had a new baby. When he cried it created tension for her. It does for most new parents. Most new parents don't become deaf. It was not the tension that created the deafness; rather, the tension aggravated certain already-present physical tendencies. Tension can minimalize blood supplies to certain areas of the body. So, the intention to withdraw when the baby is crying, to barricade herself from it at the same time that she took care of the baby, with the feeling of helplessness that she couldn't get the baby to stop crying, created a certain tension, which tension limited the blood supply to certain nerves.

This may happen in millions of people. It normally does not produce deafness, but at the same time there was an allergic reaction. I'm not going to get too specific here. You may well ask, "Well, was the allergic reaction related to any old habitual tendency?" Of course, everything that happens in your body is related in some way to your mind, but I don't want to give the idea that you cause your illness. Your intention is not to get sick; your intention, if there is any conscious intention, is usually a self-protective intention but you may not understand what self-protection means. And for many of you there is an habitual tendency to protect the self by withdrawing or barricading the self, moving into a space of separation. It becomes very subtle and precise. Karma is very precise. There are certain habitual movements of mind-body interrelationship which you have done so many thousands of times.

For example, somebody who has a bit of fear and tries to control, and the movement of control is to clench the jaw. In his sleep that being may grind his teeth. Eventually he wears them down and needs to have them removed and get dentures. Now, his intention was never to get dentures. There may not be any specific old karma related to the mouth and teeth. His intention was to control and he carried that control into the jaws and the teeth.

So in the same way this instrument's intention on one level was to move past separation and on the other was (I want to phrase this carefully) to offer the utmost in safety and well-being for her baby and her husband and self. When the baby cried it pulled her away from a sense of well-being for the baby. Fear came up. Within that fear was tension. For many people that would not have triggered … triggered is not the best word, in a sense it was the straw that broke the camel's back, as you phrase it. For most people it would not have created deafness but because certain ear conditions were already present, it added to those and then an allergy was there.

OK, one of you is asking, "Well, why the allergy?" She had hay fever every year at that time. This year was no different. The hay fever in itself was not sufficient to trigger the deafness. So you've got to understand how intention works on this physical level. Some of you who have difficulty finding the job you would love or the partner who you would love, you ask, "I have the intention toward these things; why are they not manifesting?" Certain old conditions are present. In part, although you have the intention for love, for example, it may be your highest intention to learn how to love and cherish yourself. At some level you recognize you would rest in the love of another and hide there from that which does not cherish the self. So you recognize that although there is a strong intention to be cherished by others, the first step is to learn to cherish the self.

Let's go a level deeper here. Think of iron filings spread very loosely on a piece of paper, going in every direction. I know you can imagine how the paper with filings will look if you take a bar magnet and place it underneath the paper, or if you take two magnets, the positive end of one and the negative end of another at either end of the piece of paper-all those filings will straighten up. They follow the magnetic flow.

The metaphor ends there because of course intention has nothing to do with magnetism, but your energy field, when there is intention, resembles this alignment of magnetic filings. Often there are various intentions. So we have what would seem to be several strands of magnetic filings. I'm just trying to give you an image that will help you experience the energy field when an intention arises.

Let's pick a simple one: the intention to have something to drink. Thirst arises in you. You see a glass of water. The intention arises to reach for it, bring it to your lips and drink it. There is a very clear energy field/form. Can you feel how that might be? You know it's sweet, good water and a clean receptacle. Feel the clarity of the intention to reach for it and bring it to you.

Now let us change the image a bit. Over the holidays you put on ten pounds and have decided not to eat any sweets. You come into the kitchen at a friend's house and there is a plate of candy. Your favorite kind of candy. The intention arises almost immediately, "Oh! I want that," and then a different intention regarding your health, your very firm decision to shed those few pounds. You've already shed five of them and you know your body feels better. So a different intention arises not to take a piece. Two bits of energy, flowing. One intention will be more important to you than the other. In part it depends how mindful you are. Habit will grab at the candy. Your deep desire for well-being will say no to the candy.

Let's add one more step to these images. After some exertion you come to a small building. You've been running through a park and your throat is dry, you're very thirsty. You allow to arise a clear image of good water. You may not specifically visualize a water fountain so much as just clear water bubbling up as if from any source. How it would taste. There's nothing to block this intention. It will really not surprise you when as you come to the building there is a working water fountain. All of you have had that kind of experience. What you want is there.

What about the experience when you come to the building expecting, "Of course there will be water there," and it's not? The fountain has been turned off for the winter. You're thirsty. You think, "I intended for there to be water here." Ah, but at some level there is something else working. It may be a bit of self-judgment, almost a sense, "I don't deserve to get what I want." There may be a sense that since you intend to run farther you should not fill up with water. There could be many kinds of thoughts that would send out different layers of intentionality.

It's really very scientific, not a mystery at all. There are many streams of energy flowing and one of them is predominant. But the other streams are not disregarded because one is predominant. However, if you are aware that there is a self-judgmental stream that says, "Oh, I don't really deserve it," open to that thought with kindness, just noting, "Here is that old self-judging thought again," and are able to see the thought as a product of old conditioning rather than buying into it as truth, in that case the stream loses its energy. So the thought can be there. It depends how you relate to the thought.

(We pause for a moment. This instrument has the intention to find some cool beverage for her throat! We pause.)

I am Aaron. I'm laughing at how sharply her thirst arose! Going one step further, everything has energy, animate and inanimate objects have energy. I know you have all had the experience of entering a room where there was a deeply loving, kind, centered person. You naturally gravitated to that person. There may have been some other people in the room but you came to that person. A number of years ago this instrument had an interesting experience along this line. She had been in California to Spirit Rock meditation center at a Buddhist teachers' conference. The day after the conference ended, a number of the teachers together held a meditation retreat for the larger community. There were about ten vipassana teachers there. There were about 100 or 150 students.

They sat and then different teachers took turns answering the questions from the group at large. Then they had a period of walking meditation and the teachers announced, "We will be outside sitting in different places on the lawn. During this walking period you may have a private meeting with any one of us." A few of the teachers were well-known by the community but many of them had come from other states and people did not know them. They simply had been introduced by name, such as "Barbara Brodsky, Deep Spring Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan." At the end of the day, this group of teachers compared notes. They were all so aware of how perfectly connected they had been to those students who came to seek their guidance. What was at work?

Without any foreknowledge, the practitioner with young children ended up talking with the teacher with young children. The man with a homosexual persuasion ended up talking to the woman teacher of the same persuasion. One who was an artist ended up talking to a teacher who was an artist. One who was dealing with very heavy emotions and depression ended up talking to a teacher who had worked through that in his own life. One who was a scholar ended up connected to a teacher whose path was more scholarly. But nobody knew each other beforehand. What drew them together?

There is an energy in all inanimate and animate beings. "Things" would be a better word, "objects." It draws to it that which seeks it. You literally do draw to you that which you seek. There's an old saying, "You'd better watch out for what you ask because you'll get it!" There really is a kind of magnetism here. It's like an empty bowl calls for something to fill it.

The most important thing I can tell you about intention is that it is not only possible to know your intentions, it is necessary to get to know your intention. You can feel intention as an impulse in yourself, a subtle contraction, a movement of energy.

In one distant lifetime that I experienced, to get from my home in the hills to the village I had to either walk a great distance around a marsh or walk through the marsh. On the surface the marsh looked the same everywhere. At least at first glance. There was standing water. You could not see through the water. There were bits of grass that broke through. The water was muddy-looking. In some places there were clusters of thick matting, of dead grasses. If you stepped on it, it sank. Underneath the surface there was a very clear trail, an area that was raised so that if one walked it the water came only to one's shins. It was perhaps two feet wide. If you stepped off, one step the water might be to your hips, another step to your shoulders.

You could not see this trail yet I and many of my countrymen walked across that marsh, back and forth, several times a week. Nobody had any trouble with it. We never walked around. Even young children would walk across. You could not see the trail. There were no landmarks, no fence posts saying the trail was here. There was a clear beginning of it on one shore and one might look across and see where it came out on the other shore but it wasn't a straight line. There was a deep intention to cross the marsh. There was no intention to drown or get wet and muddy. We simply stepped out and walked. Each footstep settled itself knowingly as if the ground had called out to it, "Here! Here!" There was no uncertainty, lifting the foot and placing it tentative, we just stepped.

My dear ones, you have the capacity for this kind of knowing. The difficulty is that most of you do not trust yourselves and so you step tentatively. If you do that, you're going to misstep occasionally and fall into the mud. Of course, there will occasionally be multiple intention to get across the marsh and go to the village to sell your eggs or buy some vegetables. That's the one very simple and clear intention. To punish oneself (inaudible) the eggs, that could be an intention. To get attention by being the one who almost drowned, that could be an intention. To make so-and-so sorry that they mistreated you by actually drowning in the marsh, that could be an intention.

To me these sound like scratches on an otherwise clear record. When you are present you feel these subtle distortions in your body, in all of the bodies, the physical, emotional, mental. You feel the subtle distortions in the elements, the five elements within the body. The wise being learns to attend to these distortions as he or she goes along. I repeat what I said earlier, the difficulty is not that these thoughts arise, such as to make so-and-so sorry that they picked on you. The difficulty is that we get caught up in them as self. We then think that we have to act them out, thus the clear intention gets lost.

This motley variety of angry, self-centered, confused motivation is going to arise. You have got to know the nature of arising and not get caught in this as self. Not get caught in the stories. This instrument has told a story about going for a walk during a personal retreat and an angry dog that lived down the road ran into the road when she came by, snarling and snapping. She told how as she would set out for the walk, she would visualize walking peacefully in the woods but there was always the fear of the dog. That she knew it was likely he was going to come out and be rather aggressive with her. She was very uncomfortable. She tells how the image would arise of her lying in the road, mauled by the dog, killed by the dog, and how sorry the owners would be. And the image would arise in her of grabbing a stick and beating the dog to death.

The difficulty was not that these images arose, they were just statements of her fear. It was a very uncomfortable situation. The owners were away at work. The dog was left loose on this country road, sleeping on his front porch and able to come out and snarl at passersby. So she began to mindfully observe the arising of these stories, simply to know, "Ah, this story, this is a statement of fear. This is a statement of discomfort." She learned to offer metta to that discomfort right there in the instant of its arising, and not to indulge in the perpetuation of the story. The story of the dog running out into the road arose almost every few seconds as she walked, and she would note, "Fear, seeing the dog. Feeling fear." She would note the contraction. She would offer metta and come back to her breath and so no to the obsessive quality of this thought. Basically she knew she had a choice to walk or not to walk. If she was going to walk, there was going to be a dog. "No. I am not going to indulge in this obsessive thinking." But it's a kind no, knowing that fear is present. The situation is very unpleasant and difficult. There aren't any easy answers. What happened for her was because she refused to get caught up in the stories and instead simply offered metta. She sent out a different and less frightened energy and the dog did not attack her.

Of course, a friend of hers tells about a similar situation of a difficult dog and how each time he walked past the house, the dog would snarl at him and he would say, "May you be free of suffering. May you be happy." Offering these wishes to the dog. But the dog bit him anyway! We can say he did something wrong. And at some level there was some confused intention which brought forth the situation whereby the dog bit him, perhaps some small tension that was sensed as fear or aggression by the dog. That doesn't mean you're never going to get fear. But the more you understand the different motivations going through you, and the more you refuse to get caught up in the obsessive quality of thought but simply note how these mind states arise, observing the tense mind, spacious mind, the hot or cool mind, the confused or clear mind, the restless or quiet mind; the more you notice these different movements of mind and do not get caught up in the stories of them, the more you can come back to the clear intention. It works. How else could an entire village, an entire countryside of farmers, spend their life crossing a marsh going to the village and never anybody drown? Never anybody getting seriously wet? It's very interesting.

What you need to cultivate is this sense of being clear. Do you know how it feels to be clear? For example, somebody is quarreling with you, annoyed with you, critical. Part of you wants to defend yourself. Part of you sees that this person is suffering. They want somebody to lay the blame on. That within you which takes it personally wants to fight back. That within you which is uncomfortable with the situation just wants to tune it out. Clarity knows what to say. "I'm sorry you feel so angry. I'm sorry this is so difficult for you. I hear you hold me to blame. I see it a bit differently but I do feel our pain and I'm willing to help you in whatever way I can to resolve the situation." That is the voice of clarity, of kindness. It's intention is to create harmony. It's aware of the side intentions to protect or to get even, but it doesn't need to indulge those and it doesn't take those movements of mind personally but just sees, "Ah, here's the old habit to protect. Here's the old habit to get rid of." It knows it doesn't have to act them out. You can feel that clear energy. Some of you can taste it or smell it, hear it.

Learn to know this clear energy stream in yourself. What we're talking about in some ways is knowing when you are resting in this clear awareness mind. It's easier to know when you're not than when you are. Many of you think maybe you know, but you don't trust that, it's always a maybe. Begin to pick it up in small ways.

(Tape is turned.)

Find a plant that may need water and ask it, what are its needs. Sit with it for a few minutes offering the intention to serve it in the best way possible, to give it water if that is its need, to withhold water if that is its need, to put it in a different space in the house, a different window, different light. See if you can really hear the plant, feel the plant's energy, and work harmoniously with the plant in service to the plant. See if you can trust yourself rather than saying, "Maybe, maybe not." Try it with something simple. If you think the plant did not need water and the next day it's wilting a bit, then you weren't hearing clearly. Try it again. Try it in places where nothing major will be askew if you try to trust yourself and mishear. Here you will build up confidence in your ability to trust your highest intention, to trust your loving heart, and to walk that path just straight across the water. No problem.

We have talked about intention here many times before. It's a subject that comes up periodically. I would ask here if our friends who are doing work with the archives would like to do a search for various talks about intention. It might be useful for people to find a number of them, not necessarily all drawn together in one place, but all made available in some way. I would be happy to answer your questions after your break.

If it is your intention to do so, please enjoy your tea. That is all.

Barbara: "Could Aaron talk about the self? I get confused about emptiness of self. Who meditates? Who chooses to breathe mindfully or offer metta? Who is Aaron talking to?"

Aaron: I am Aaron. May I respectfully invite each of you to take the back of one hand between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand and pinch yourself? Ouch! Pain. In the hand there are nerves. When you pinch there is a sensation of sharpness, burning. The impulses come to the brain which knows it as pain and knows it as unpleasant. Because you are inherently kind, your next move is to stop pinching and gently soothe the hand, and wish it well. Certainly there is somebody or something experiencing this.

On the relative plane there certainly is somebody. The Buddha's teachings are not nihilistic. The Buddha did not say nothing exists, including this conglomerate of aggregates we call self. He said, "Nothing exists independently. In this conditioned realm, everything is interrelated. This exists because that exists, and that exists because something else exists." Thus when you begin to look and find out who am I separate from anything else on the conditioned realm, you can't find it. There is no separate self. We've just been talking about the energy of intention. When you offer kindness to another, they feel it. When another offers kindness to you, you feel it. The kindness creates certain moods of mind, certain kinds of happiness.

Everything inter-is. There is nothing separate, no separate self or anything else separate in the conditioned realm. The Buddha also taught that there is an Unconditioned, this Unborn, Undying, Unchanging and Uncreated. The Udana sutta. For there to be a conditioned, there has got to be an Unconditioned. The conditioned expresses out of the Unconditioned. But unlike the teachings of some religions, the Buddha did not say that this Unconditioned was self. In other words, he didn't talk about a soul that was unique to this person or that person because if it is Unconditioned, unborn, undying, unchanging, it cannot be unique to you or me.

I see it as the sea filled with waves. The waves express themselves in a specific form, just as the body expresses in a specific form. There may be froth on top. They may be gentle, flat. The nature of the wave is to express itself as form just as the nature of the conditioned realm is to express itself as form, feeling, thought, perception and consciousness. But the essence of the wave is water. The essence of this being you call me is this Unconditioned. Sometimes we talk about it as pure awareness mind. The wave is not the entire ocean. The wave does not contain all the water of the ocean. But the wave is simply water. And it's not my water or your water. When a new wave forms it's not the same water that was in the previous wave.

There is a sutra in which the Buddha talks about the waves having one taste. No matter how many waves you taste, the all have the same taste: salt. They're all of the same substance: water. So there is this Unconditioned essence and there is the wave, the form, feeling, thought, perception, consciousness body. It's constantly changing. Your form is not the same as it was yesterday. Not the same as it will be ten years from now. Your thoughts are not the same as they were five minutes ago. These aggregates of self are not who you are on an ultimate level. And yet, you are here in the world incarnate. Without self-identification to these aggregates one can still recognize that they are the tools which allow you to move through the incarnation. We respect them as such. You're not trying to get rid of form, of feeling, of thought, even of the flow of consciousness. But if there is over-identification with that as self, then you contract. If there's some kind of pain, you get into a war with the pain. If there is an unpleasant emotion, you get into a war with that. And because of this kind of a war, you suffer. The balance is to find the relative being, respect the relative being, learn how the impulses arise in the relative being and that you do not need to be slave to those impulses. But to understand that this relative is your tool, your vehicle, let us say, to expressing the Unconditioned's innate perfection and radiance out into the manifest world.

Who am I talking to here? I am talking to this divine radiance, this pure awareness mind, and I am talking to you! To this delightful person, all of these delightful persons, each with your unique personalities, your unique appearance. Each of you with your own special habits, neuroses, tendencies, joys and sorrows. I'm talking to the wave and I'm talking to the ocean. And they are not dual with one another. Does this sufficiently answer this question or may I hear further question about it? I pause.

Barbara: Is there any further question about this?

J: In the counseling Aaron has provided me around bodywork, we have discussed reflections of the Ever-Perfect onto the expressions of the various bodies. Physical, emotional, mental bodies wherever we are working. What, if any, difference exists between the Ever-Perfect and the Unconditioned? How we have functioned has been to consider the individual Ever-Perfect relative to a given person. My understanding of Divine Essence includes we are each a spark of the Entirety, which comes with its own blueprint of that Ever-Perfect.

Barbara: He's saying, using the image of the wave-I'm paraphrasing Aaron-all of the waves are water but each wave has its own unique shape and movement and current which is caused by certain conditions. The way the wind is blowing, the current, the waves around it. What it was just prior coming into the form as that wave. All of these affect the final wave, they're part of the blueprint. But, on another level the wave is just water. He's saying, is this what you're saying?

J: Yes, and I am hearing something additionally (inaudible), where the Unconditioned simply is …

Aaron: I am Aaron. We have gotten into this several times in past years. It's very difficult to articulate, especially in the English language which is so devoid of specific spiritual terminology. I believe you remember, J, several Project Light sessions in which we talked of what we envisioned as a deep, fresh spring of water, absolutely pure. We used the term "dharmakaya," truth body.

Working with energy, you each were able to feel a kind of film. The physical human could not get into that truth body with the use of the discursive mind and the physical body. The only way to get into that space was through meditation and moving through the discursive mind and into the, let's call it rigpa, pure awareness mind. Resting in that pure awareness mind, you could not so easily direct thought. You found that the moment where that pure spring water emerged into the world, just a small break in this film, there was a kind of surface tension and then there it was. I believe we called this the "light body template" of the Ever-Perfect. It was the first expression of this absolute purity into the world. The first expression of this Unconditioned into the world.

We talked about the fact that this was what was accessible to use as reflection, be it in the physical or the emotional body, that the practitioner could experience with the client the distortion, the broken leg, the difficult emotional space, that the practitioner could hold that moment of emergence of the Ever-Perfect in his or her mind and help make it available to the client, either vocally and consciously to the client or simply through thought and energy without describing what one was doing. If there is true intention to heal, this simply serves as an orientation for the client wherein they can see what this Ever-Perfect leg bone before the break, Ever-Perfect wholeness of the mental and emotional body, what this wholeness feels like. As I said, it can happen on a more conscious and talking level, or the practitioner can simply hold that space with the intention to make it more accessible to the client, trusting that the client will do whatever work with it he or she is ready to do.

Against this background, the Unconditioned is both the dharmakaya, the Ever-Perfect beyond the film which you cannot get to with the discursive mind, and the Unconditioned is within that first expression, and the Unconditioned is within the stream that flows off from that first expression. And it's 100 miles downstream in the river. In that moment of first expression there is still no distortion present. As it moves off into the physical realm there is going to be increasing distortion because it is touched by the conditioned realm.

There are the terms "sambhogakaya" and "nirmanakaya." Kaya here means "body." Nirmanakaya is form-body. That's easy. This is the river, five feet out from the bubbling spring or ten miles out. Sambhogakaya has many translations but my favorite is "transition body." The sambhogakaya is all of the conditions including the dharmakaya. Let us restate that. The dharmakaya itself does not arise because of conditions, it simply is. This is the Unconditioned itself. But out of that Unconditioned, with that Unconditioned serving as condition, the conditioned world expresses, one condition of the conditioned world is the existence of the Unconditioned. Without the Unconditioned, the conditioned world could not exist.

The transition body is everything that leads up to this moment's form. And by form I don't just mean physical form but this thought, this itchiness and readiness to sneeze, this tension of mind seeking to understand. In this moment, this is the nirmanakaya or form body. Everything that leads up to it is the sambhogakaya, the transition body. It is sometimes called "wealth body." You can see a great wealth of input which created this hand, which created this minute sensation of tingling, which created this particular thought or movement of mind. The important thing to see is that 100 miles downstream, this perfect spring is still there. And the accumulated distortions are there. There's no duality.

This pure awareness mind is not the Unconditioned itself, nor is it other than the Unconditioned. The pure awareness mind is the spring at that moment of its breaking through. It's rooted deep down into the earth, the pure spring, but it also has the ability to touch the earth plane. So within this pure awareness mind, there is the ability to direct mind. This is not done by the mental body as is usual with the discursive mind, this is the ability of pure awareness mind to be aware and to be focused. The pure awareness mind is not just spread out in general, it has the ability to focus. But it's a different kind of focus than you get from the discursive mind.

J, I'm not certain if I've answered your question. I've tried to answer several other questions being raised here as I went along. I would be glad to take it further if that would be helpful. I pause.

J: This has been a great review. One of the terms we used was "seed" body from which all possibilities can express. It occurs to me again that the circle of intention continually influences and clarifies the quality of that expression. (Inaudible)

Aaron: I am Aaron. Even when you rest in pure awareness mind, that pure awareness has a kind of intention to it, which intention is to express its utmost purity while resting fully in the Unconditioned. In other words, not to be swerved by any distortion but to remain true. Of course, the human can't do that perfectly. But when you rest in this-the Tibetan term "resting in rigpa" is the easiest way to state it-when you rest in rigpa, rather than getting caught up in the moods and movements of discursive mind, there is a very clear kind of intention which watches irritation or confusion or any other kind of mind or body state arise without taking it to be self, and thus does not get caught up in it even at the same time as it attends to it: saying no to a person who was abusive, drawing off jitsu energy from a place where there's been a scrape or burn and there's body pain. It attends skillfully. It's totally centered. But of course, in the real world, no one can always be that totally centered. The intention is to allow oneself to stay in as much contact with that rigpa as is possible. One must keep oneself grounded in the sea, in the water which is the Unconditioned essence and be with the wave in each expression of the wave. One cannot deny either. I pause.

Barbara: Other questions?

R: My dilemma about intention is that it assumes that we have more power than I am able to acknowledge as having. I wonder how this relates to surrender to a power which is higher than mine, which I find (useful?) and inevitable (inaudible) which is outside of my ability (inaudible).

Aaron: I am Aaron. Your question touches on a number of different threads, R. One is that for many of you there is first some awareness of your unlimited power and simultaneously some fear of that power. You fear it because you are aware of the movements of negative thought within your being, the anger, fear, greed, that these do arise. If you allow yourself to express your unlimited power, might you not get hooked off into expressing this negativity in an unlimited way? And this is terrifying.

As you deepen in non-identity with these negative thoughts but simply understand how they arise from conditions, are able to trust yourself not to enact them in the world but at the same time do not need to fix but simply can offer kindness to it, then the ground out of which these negative thoughts have arisen begins to dissolve, these negatives thoughts dissolve. Eventually the thoughts cease to arise not because self-discipline said, "No, I won't have this thought," but because kindness said, "Ah, here is this thought again. Come sit and have tea. But you are not to say anything. Just sit there. You are not running things. Just fear. Just sadness. Just anger. Just desire. Can I have even more compassion for the human who keeps experiencing such movements of the mind?"

This is how you come to trust yourself and begin to allow an acknowledgement of your ultimate unlimited power. Fortunately most of you do not move into a direct experience of your unlimitedness until you have done the work with sila, to ground yourself in the strong intention to non-harm. And then the power of that intention serves as a balance when in meditation you recognize your true unlimitedness. You see that unlimitedness is not of the personal self. It's not the wave that's unlimited; it's the sea that's unlimited. The moment you understand that you are just an expression of the sea (let's remove the "just," that is a wonderful thing to be and I would not minimize it), the moment you understand you are an expression of the sea, you see how you are both: this beautiful expression which is R, and the sea which is unlimited. All of the thought patterns in R are expressions, little ripples on the wave. Ground deeply in the sea and let go of the identity with these thought patterns and all of the judgments that have been there through this and so many lives about these thought patterns as good or bad. Begin to see them simply as arising of thought prompted by conditions. And so you begin to allow yourself to touch your unlimited power.

You more than many in this room, R, have looked deeply at the shadow in the self and in all beings and been appalled by that shadow. There is such strong determination not to enact that shadow. But I've told you before, your work now is to find compassion for this self and all beings within whom that shadow exists. In simple terms, if there is a wave, there are only going to be rare moments when the sun is directly overhead and one side of the wave is not in shadow. Negative thought will arise. Don't take it so personally but use that arising as aid to develop compassion for the human dilemma that it does experience such negativity.

The clearer you get with this the more you will be able to tune into the primary intention without being pulled off course by these secondary movements. A little bit of irritation, you don't distrust that, you simply say, "Oh, here is irritation. It grows out of conditions. Let it be and come back to my primary intention." Then you can to begin to trust your power and to allow the power of intention to invite what you want for the good of all beings. One thing about such intention for the good of all beings: we often find that we become less and less specific as our spiritual path deepens because you start to understand that, as this instrument would put it, you really don't have a clue what is really going on. You can say, "I would intend to manifest deeply loving relationships in my life if this is for the good of all beings." But that "for the good of all beings …"

(Tape change.)

Barbara: He says that's as good a place to stop as any. Does that answer your question?

R: What I really was asking is, my personal power, when people say, "Let God's will be done," in a way they're surrendering their personal power. (Inaudible) the paradox here (inaudible).

Aaron: I am Aaron. R, what if the wave says, "Let the will of the water be done." But what is the wave but water? How can there be any difference between your will for yourself and God's will? That within you which is of this divine, pure awareness, innate radiance, this is the same divinity that is in anything, not separate. The surrender is not of the divine within the self to an outer divine, the surrender is the surrender of the ego self letting go of its incessant demands to fix this and change that and get this and push away that. Relaxing into a deeper wisdom, which is that wisdom that I told you about that knew how to cross the marsh. I pause.

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing him, he is saying, but the difficulty is to trust that wisdom, he says for you, for all of you, but he's speaking specifically to R here, because you are so on guard against negativity and find it difficult to offer compassion to your own negativity. The ego is that which stays on guard and it's hard for the ego to surrender itself to the pure awareness mind, to the divine center, because it doesn't trust the innate perfection of that divine center. It's aware of negativity and it says, "No, got to stay on guard." So, coming back to what he said to you first, the primary step is to note the arisings of the judging mind and note the difference between this discursive mind and the pure awareness mind and that you can rest in that pure awareness, and that it does make the wisest choices in your life. He pauses.


Q: (Inaudible. About a necessity for remorse and shame.) And I know this is connected to intention. I find I get lost in remorse. It's more like guilt. I'm wondering if Aaron can talk about good remorse vs. guilt or bad remorse. (Laughter)

Aaron: I am Aaron. Skillful remorse is not obsessive nor does it attack. It comes from a deeply clear and loving place. It doesn't feel guilt so much as sadness. If, for example, you are careless and spill a glass of tea of a strong red tint that would stain the carpet, shame might arise based on a sense of fear, "I'm not good enough. See, I always blunder." It's very critical and it's also very centered in ego and need to please, need to be loved. For a different being, spilling that same tea, the being might immediately reflect, "I was not present in my body. I wasn't mindful. This stain is going to remind me forever of that lack of mindfulness." It feels a sense of sadness that it has, in a certain way, offered this distortion out into the world. At the same time it also recognizes how this stain is going to be a teacher to itself and perhaps all beings. It doesn't criticize itself so much as it makes the affirmation to itself, in the future to remember this stain and take it as a teacher for increased mindfulness and presence in its body. There's no guilt or self-criticism. There's no fear, "Others will blame me. Others will be angry. Others won't love me." There's no fear "I am unworthy." It's a very useful tension which helps to remind you to do the work that you need to do. Each time you come into the room you bow to that little stain on the carpet which along the way you have washed as clean as is possible.

When you see the stain, there is a subtle tension but it is a kind and loving tension from a very centered place, almost a tension of gratitude. Thank you teacher. There still may be remorse because you look at the room and see the rest of the carpet spot-free and you feel a sadness that the human seems not to be able to help enact distortions in the world, but you also feel a deep sense of love and of kindness.

The difficulty is not in the definition, the difficulty is in seeing how remorse in the shape of shame and guilt arises and that the reaction to that, the old habitual reaction, "Tea spilled. Remorse, shame, guilt," and buying into the story, that buying into the story, "I am no good. I won't be loved," that this is the habitual pattern that gives rise to the shame and guilt. That it's possible to spill the tea and use it as teacher and not feel shame and guilt. To understand the conditions wherein this habitual tendency to run into the story, "I won't be loved. I'm bad," to understand the conditions whereby those stories become obsessive. One has to look no further than the delusion of separate self and how caught one is in this whole idea of self. One can occasionally find it useful to investigate the origin of the obsessive tendency toward shame or guilt, but more often it's more useful simply to note, "Here is old mind. Here is old conditioning. Maybe instead of indulging in the perpetuation of the obsessive mind, I can at this point just offer a balance to it in the form of metta and make the decision I am not going to indulge the obsessive mind. All that happened was tea spilled and then there was the thought, 'I'm bad' or 'I won't be loved' which are conditioned and ancient. And then mind started to obsess on this. I'm done with it; I don't have to obsess. I'm just going to come back to my breath and offer metta." The intention not to obsess is very powerful. It's a way of saying the old mind patterns are no longer going to be in control here. The awakened mind is going to be in control, the awakened heart, the Buddha is in control. When you say this enough to the old obsessive patterns of fear and guilt and blame, eventually you do shift. You don't dissolve the delusion of self because you said, "Ah, this delusion is false so I'm going to fix it" because that's just another control mechanism. You practice metta and you practice meditation and invite ever more deeply the experience of the enlightened mind. And when that is your highest intention you will experience it. And that will shatter the delusion of self. I pause.

Barbara: He asks does that sufficiently speak to your question? (Yes.) It's ten o'clock, we need to end …

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Brodsky