November 28, 2001

Barbara: (addressing many new guests in reply to "who is Aaron?" ) We move into and out of a physical condition. In this room we're all incarnate.. Some beings exist on a non-material plane, no body. They may be beings that have never had a body. They may be beings who have evolved through many incarnations and moved beyond the need to materialize in a physical form. Traditionally in our world we think of such beings as enlightened beings that have moved past the karmic need for rebirth. Aaron tells us that he is such a being, that in the 1500s he was a meditation master in Thailand and experienced enlightenment in that lifetime. He retains access to his mental body, with no identification as a self, but he keeps it handy as a tool so that he may talk, teach us.

He has told us that he comes as my personal spirit guide but he's very happy to teach others who would like to hear him. He emphasizes that we all have an enormous amount of wisdom, that he's not an authority on our lives and experience; he simply offers what he sees.

He says it's as if you and others were climbing up a mountain trail; you were still in the woods with few breaks in the trees so you could barely glimpse out. Somebody who had climbed higher could see the whole landscape and could shout down to you, "Well if you go a couple hundred yards and then turn right and take that path up, you'll come up above the tree line." Aaron can see clearly because he's above the tree line, he says, but if we ascend and we don't find what he sees, that doesn't mean we're wrong, we're just following a different path. So he emphasizes that each being must follow his or her own path, that what he offers us is truth as he sees it but if it's not helpful toss it out.

I think Aaron has been my guide through this whole lifetime but I became conscious of him about 13 years ago and have been channeling him ever since. People began to ask me, "Can I ask him questions?" and I said, "I suppose so." I didn't know what channeling was but people asked to talk to him and I just listened and repeated. It seems to be helpful to people so I continue to do it.

This is who Aaron is, in a nutshell. My experience of him is, I feel his energy, I feel his thoughts and put words around those thoughts and say them out. I'm in a semi-trance state. I'm not in a deep trance but I don't get the content of what I'm saying, it's more like the experience of someone who is an interpreter for a foreign language, who gets thoughts coming very quickly and tries to put them in words but doesn't follow the chain of thought. So I simply put Aaron's thoughts in words. If he's not satisfied with my words he says, "Please rephrase."

Now I'm going to get quiet and Aaron will talk. He'll talk for about 45 minutes. We'll take a break for tea and time to visit amongst each other, and then open the floor to questions and answers.

We have been doing these Wednesday night meetings when I'm in town, for 12 years. Two weeks ago we had a Wednesday night meeting in Seattle, about 20-25 people, and there were a few people from the Deep Spring sangha who were out there, people who have moved to Seattle and people who were visiting in Seattle. It's very interesting, it starts to feel like it's just an extended sangha flowing out. People everywhere are asking the same questions, sharing the same concerns. It's very beautiful to see this.

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. As always it is a joy to feel your presence and to see the radiance that pours from you. It fills me with joy and gratitude, gratitude for so many deeply loving and committed beings on Earth, seeking path to wisdom and compassion, seeking a path to truth. It is an honor to walk this path with you.

A recurrent theme of our discussions since September 11 has been, what does it mean to live your life with compassion? We've defined compassion in past weeks, talking about compassion as a strong, clear movement of the heart, not weak. Compassion is not sentimentality. Compassion is based in loving truth and wisdom, and not in judgment or fear.

The repeated question for so many of you is that you become confused because when you truly do feel compassion for another and see deeply into the motivations for their actions, you do see clearly that nobody is really to blame for a difficult situation. Then you become confused and don't know how to say no. But it's really very clear. You do not say no to human beings, you say no to the movements of fear that sometimes govern human beings and make them act in ways based on greed and hatred. You can do this in a very non-political, non-partisan way. You say no equally to any being that would abuse another, through its body, its mind or its voice. And you say no to those who would catalyze such fear-based movement.

I think the greatest difficulty for you is that you experience an inner reaction to any catalyst and that unbalances you. So you are not so much in a quandary about how to respond to the catalyst as about your own reaction to that catalyst and your discomfort with that reaction. This pattern of self judgment keeps feeding energy into the confusion, and into the whole delusion of separate self , of someone to act and fix a situation.

I think of a ball rolled down a narrow alley in a haphazard way so that it strikes one wall, bounces off, strikes the other wall, bounces off, back to the first wall. Because it also has forward momentum, it will advance down the alley as well as move from side to side. Each time it rebounds it doesn't bounce quite as far or as hard. it will eventually come to a centered space I have a helpful image here. When Barbara's children were young, sometimes they were invited to birthday parties at bowling alleys. Because they were little children, a long cylindrical balloon was placed in each gutter. The ball rolled down the alley would inevitably strike one of these cushions and rebound out, roll across the alley to the other cushion and rebound, but if the child had thrown it with adequate forward momentum it would also keep rolling toward the pins. If each time it hit a side cushion there was a force in that cushion that pushed rather than absorbed the impact, it would simply have started to roll back and forth, back and forth, and cease its forward motion. It would roll back and forth and go nowhere. But instead these gutter balloons absorbed the energy of the contact, yielded gently.

The catalysts in your life are the force which push the ball, and your own mind is the ball itself. Awareness is the container in which all this movement happens. You need to understand what creates or nurtures that forward momentum and to understand what softens the rebound effect as energy bounces back and forth. When you contract around an experience, and further contract around the contraction, you keep the ball of fear, of confusion and delusion, bouncing back and forth. There is no clarity and skillful action becomes difficult.

The cushioning of difficult energy through presence is exactly how you need to respond when something pushes against you. I see it as a matter of observing contraction in the mind and body. First there is acknowledgment of the experience of being pushed. Next comes acknowledgement of the contraction with that uncomfortable touch. If any wanting to push back that arises, one just notes "grasping.". And then the ball stops jerking back and forth and rolls down the alley. The mind stops grasping at the catalyst and trying to fix it, lets it be.

There may be a contraction as that catalyst of action or voice touches you. There may be grasping. These are simply conditioned contractions. It doesn't matter, They are knee-jerk kind of responses. Eventually they'll fade away. Don't worry about them. A contraction of the body and mind is just a contraction.

When you know it in that way, you don't contract your energy around the contraction with negative judgment, "I should not be contracting," or "She should not have made me contract." There's no judgment. The heart opens with mercy to the human being who is feeling pushed and experiencing a conditioned response of contraction. There's nothing to push the ball back; it bounces a bit and slowly it comes to center.

You can get to know this experience intimately in your everyday life. This non-reactivity to contraction is the ground out of which true compassion may come. I see reactivity as waves on the surface of the sea, and the non-reactivity as the still depths. Both exist at the same time. When the reactivity is there, instead of getting caught in it and believing there's something to fix or conquer, your practice is to remember the still depths and invite entry to those depths. Remember that the waves and depths are non-dual. Both exist at once.

Lacking presence with contraction, each time something pushes at you and you contract, you move into a fear-based mode and in that mode you lose trust of your own ability to discern truth. This is the moment when doubt arises. Not only doubt of "what should I do or say" but doubt of, "should I do or say anything". The discursive mind rushes off looking for something to blame, some way to fix the situation. You are battling the waves on the surface, forgetting the natural buoyancy of the sea.

We've talked of this before. I want to explore a related but different pattern here. Because of the depth of your spiritual practice, you may move into a place of deep insight: "There's nobody to blame. He reacted that way because he's feeling sick, or because of his old conditioning. Hearing his anger I reacted out of my old conditioning. I can't blame anyone or anything; there's just anger here." The difficulty is, having come to that place of deep wisdom, you may then shift into a mode of helplessness. Since compassion sees no reason for anger, judging mind denies the anger, and yet it is there.

This is the specific place we have not yet explored together. It's useful here to see how anger has been used habitually to empower you and how as soon as the wisdom mind understands that all of these different emotions, voices, actions, have simply arisen out of conditions, as soon as the mind comes to the understand there is no specific place to blame, instead of feeling a sense of relief and release, many of you feel fear or helplessness. "If there's no one to blame, what am I going to do?"

Ah, why do you have to do anything? And yet, something has to be done. I'm not speaking paradoxically here. The difference is that as long as you feel that you must be empowered, there's a self and others and a sense of separation. When you come to that place where wisdom discerns "No one to blame," anger really does fall away. There's nothing to nurture the anger any more. But if the next moment's experience is one of helplessness and befuddlement, asking. "What do I do with this person still raging at me?" confusion arises. Then, instead of noting the confusion as just another conditioned object, you get caught in its story, caught back with "what will I do?" Separation returns. Here again are the surface waves and a self doing battle rather than remembering the natural buoyancy of the water and the stillness below the surface.

The small self cannot take the next step. Only a very grounded clarity and love can take the next step. And here you freeze up because to enter that space of clarity and love means 1) to step aside from the personality self a bit, and 2) to acknowledge your unlimitedness and infinite power on the ultimate plane. These movements both run against habit. But in the small self, denying your unlimitedness, clarity and wisdom are denied, and clarity and wisdom are the grounds for compassion. Compassion simply says, "No, you may not do this." But it says it from a place where there's no blame, no judgment of the other or the self. Compassion is really speaking not to another being but to anger itself, to fear, to hatred. It says, "You may not control this situation."

I'd like to look with you a bit at what allows you to move into that centered space of wisdom and compassion. First, of course, it is the fruit of your spiritual practice. It goes without saying that the more conscious that practice is, the more you will be in touch with this infinitely wise and compassionate aspect of being and be able to live from that space.

Mindfulness is the primary ingredient of this conscious spiritual practice. But equally important is the deep determination in the self toward purification. Let's explore what that means.

Envision yourself as a rock resting in a dried streambed encrusted with centuries of old dirt, sand, fungus, and other such material. At the center is a pure, luminous crystal. The rock has sat in this streambed for eons, and as one layer of debris piled on another, the core has been forgotten. The rock seems to have grown bigger as one layer covers the other and the rock gains mass. As each new layer is piled up, a self-identity builds up about that layer: sand, dust, moss. The crystal becomes more hidden.

I ask you to join me here; breathing in and out; close your eyes; breathe; be this rock. (pauses) Above you in the mountains, a great spring has bubbled forth pouring its cleansing waters down the mountain where it is diverted by an ancient dam. As you sat in this old streambed for eons this cleansing force has not touched you.

Be the crystal with so many layers. (pause) Look up the mountain and watch the dam wall crack and break open. (pause) First a trickle runs over you and then more current, more power, and finally a wall of water moves toward you. (pause) Feel it wash away the centuries of embedded debris. Feel all of this cover sloughing off, cracking away. (pause) Be aware of any tendency of this crystal to want to hold its armored coating around itself, not to be revealed, not to be naked. (pause ) Feel also the joy and liberation, or the potential of these, as layer after layer of old holding washes away. (pause)

Can you feel that, the fear and the glory of it? (pause ) Let go. Open yourself fully to this current and allow it to wash everything away so that the true ground of being is revealed, this radiant crystal, ever pure, ever perfect. (pause) In all the eons through which the outer layers built up, the nature of the crystal never changed.

Can you begin to experience yourself in this way? ) Feel your radiance. (pause ) The great force of water is past. The water level subsides and here in this streambed are these brilliant, clear crystals. You are that! (pause ) What keeps you from your knowledge of it?

I have said that for true compassion to express itself, there must first be conscious awareness of what draws you into this illusion of self and separation. What distorts the clear knowing of your true nature? You must understand the lure of the small self. And there must be the ongoing aspiration toward purity, and opening to it. This is not an attainment of purity but simply the release of all that has been mistakenly held as self so the true self, inherently pure, is revealed. Aspiration toward purity means a willingness to let go of all that hid the ever-pure.

It is not so much a denial of that which has been held as self as the release of ownership of that aspect of being. The tools remain. There is a mental body here. I couldn't talk to you if there were not. I don't phrase it, "I have" a mental body, only, there is this tool, the mental body, that this awareness has access to. This awareness has greater access to this tool the less I am identified with it. It's hard to speak about it in your language because of all the common phrasings of "I am" and "I have". Awareness is. Nothing has or has not. Everything simply is. In this moment, awareness is. Awareness is aware of awareness. Awareness is aware of the innate purity of that which is. And from that centered space, true compassion can express itself..

Where does this leave us? When something pushes and there is contraction, there's just contraction Then there can be mindfulness of contraction. Second, the deep aspiration arises toward purification or, rephrased, knowing the already existent, Ever-Pure. Remember the waves and the still depths. Third, the deep intention toward enacting or expressing that Ever-Pure into the world. What does this crystal do once the waters subside? It radiates. It shines. It does not serve anyone if it pulls a cloak of sand over itself to hide its radiance. It shines.

Why are you so afraid to shine? Some of you, I think, have more shame about the potential for shining than you do about the shadow that masks that potential. Why? I think it is partially because once you acknowledge that your true being is this brilliant purity and break some of the identification with the shadow, there is a fear that you might not be able to live that truth, that the human will feel overwhelmed and revert to old habit. Once truth is seen, one feels one must live it.. If you have acknowledged the truth of your being and then fear comes up and the old habitual tendencies take over, then there's a sense of failure. Also, I think fear loves the power and you are ashamed of that love, ashamed because the ego claims the power that belongs to the all-that-is. You're battling the waves, not resting in the deep stillness, thinking surface and depths as dual.

The important thing is just to see how this process works and that hiding in the identification of the shadowed self is another part of the old habitual tendencies that the self has maintained through eons to try to stay safe and in control.

One of the questions we must raise here is about the nature of, a word I usually prefer not to use because there's so much confusion over it, "surrender". Most of you have heard that beautiful quote from Ajahn Chah, a great Thai meditation master: "Do everything with a mind that let's go. If you let go a little, you will have little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely you will have complete peace and freedom and your troubles with the world will come to an end." This quote speaks to me of surrender. As I envision it, surrender is a letting go. It's the experience of that pure crystal as it opened to the power of the water rushing past and allowed all of these layers of old self-concept to wash away.

This process of surrender can be practiced in a very simple way. Sitting silently on your meditation cushion, watch an unpleasant or irritating physical sensation arise and then watch the next movement, the contraction around that sensation or thought. It may simply be the thought, "This is unpleasant. I don't like this." There may be anger or fear. "I won't be safe. I'll be hurt. My needs won't be met." The flow of experience is like this: sensation / feeling of that sensation as unpleasant / mental formation related to the thought / judgment of and contraction around the mental formation.

First, note the body sensation. Then see the reaction. The experience was unpleasant. Contracting. Wanting to control. Then "I shouldn't be caught" or some similar judgment arises, and another contraction. The more push you feel, the more you push back. Those contractions are the layers of sediment over the crystal. Habit attacks them, thinks they must be stripped away. The more push, and the harder you fight back, the more "self" solidifies. The wonderful thing is, to find the crystal you don't need a stream to wash away dirt because the pure crystal has always been there. Like the thick shell of a nut that falls away at one tap when it's ripe, as soon as awareness notes, "contracting" with no judgment, just a sense of kindness, all of the layers of old conditioning crack open and this radiant light shines out again.

I know I'm repeating myself but the important thing at this moment is to ask your self, "What is my purpose here? Is my highest purpose to stay safe, to maintain this illusion of a separate self that feels as if it's in control? Or is my highest purpose to touch this pure crystal and rest in it, to express it out into the world, to allow beingness to express its innate compassion and wisdom into the world?"

I don't know all of you so I can't make a blanket statement here, but those of you who I do know, there is not one of you here tonight that is not capable in that moment of saying from a loving place, "This is my highest intention." Noting that highest intention, note also the experience of contraction and that it conflicts with the enactment of the highest intention. Then, facing the fear, let it go. Let it be like a balloon released into the wind. Just let it go.

Let's use a simpler image. Imagine yourself facing a large dog who snarls as you pass. At the snarl, you pick up a stick. When you pick up the stick he bares his fangs and pins his ears back. Because he threatens, you lift the stick above your head, at which point he sinks down into a crouch, ready to spring. What are you going to do? Can you put down the stick? Can you take the first step and lower the stick? There's no promise of immediate safety, but how long can you stay guarded? How much will you let the war escalate before you move to lower the sword?

This is all you are asking of yourself. This letting go is really lowering the stick, beginning to see how conditioned this armoring is, that it's old habit, and that you don't have to do it. It takes courage. To some degree there must be a willingness to allow that snarling dog to attack. But you will never tame the dog by holding the stick because you'll never be able to turn your back to her. When the emotional body contracts with fear and becomes the equivalent of this snarling dog, this pure crystal of lovingkindness and deep intention toward wholeness, healing and unity can bring forth the decision to put down the stick.

You will be able to discern this pure crystal within, I promise you that. At first it will seem very fragile, very uncertain, but you will become increasingly confident and able to rest in this place of pure awareness.

Once you are there and able to rest in it, you'll still see times when you want to pick up the stick, you want to barricade, and know that these are just the habitual movements of fear. Just because the thought comes does not mean you have to believe that thought. As you gain confidence you will find that the innate compassionate wisdom within you finds the ability to speak. What will you say? I have no idea what you'll say, only you will speak with truth and clarity and love. And the great healing for which you came into being will move forward. Indeed, it is already moving forward but now your world is at a time you must move faster, where it will demand of you all the love that your heart can give.

I thank you for your attention. I would be happy to answer your questions after you have a chance to stretch. That is all.

Barbara: I have a written question but the questioner vocally elaborated on his question so rather than reading this, I'm going to try to rephrase what he just asked me.

"If we move toward a place of non-attachment, including non-attachment toward enlightenment, so that there's no grasping at enlightenment, no grasping at anything, what keeps us moving toward it? What creates the momentum if it's not grasping? Because when we grasp we just pull ourselves further from that enlightened experience."

This is really a question about effort and the nature of effort. I'm going to let Aaron talk.

Aaron: I am Aaron. One might identify 2 basic human experiences: fear and love. Love is a very open uncontracted state. Fear is contracted. There is a misunderstanding based on centuries of old habit that effort must be fueled by fear.

Try to envision this experience. You live in a place where food is abundant. A great variety of fruit hangs from the trees Fish practically flop themselves up on rocks at your feet. Berries, nuts, many different kinds of roots, grow in abundance. You do not need to harvest food and store it for a winter season; it's always abundant.

Now, you wake up in the morning, wash yourself, take a little walk, and notice that the belly is growling. There's never been an experience of starvation. There is no fear, "I won't be fed," no grasping, that leads you to seek food. But there is a kindness that notices, "feeling hunger." What motivates you to walk across the meadow to pick an orange or banana from the tree, to gather some nuts from the ground? Can you feel that it would not be fear? It's kindness. "This body needs food now. I know where to go to get it." It's very simple.

This is very different then the grasping one might experience if one were starving, spotted a rotting apple on the ground at the same time 2 others saw that apple, and began to run for it, prepared to do battle for it. Fear, grasping.

It's easy to open to this space of non-grasping and motivation through lovingkindness when there is not severe pain or deprivation. Your human experience is such that enlightenment seems to you like that apple to the starving man, and the old patterns of grasping are stirred. This is perfect because you are here to learn lovingkindness and unconditional love, and the fear created by your human condition and the experiences of pain and loss, that fear becomes the catalyst you need to practice lovingkindness.

I read a very beautiful quote from the Dalai Lama last week. I cannot quote it to you exactly, but someone was speaking to him about the Chinese. He said that he did not regard them as enemies but as teachers, and felt a deep respect and even reverence for them because of the gift of patience and compassion that they were teaching him, not through their modeling it but through the work that he must do because of the catalyst they offer.

So you want enlightenment the way the starving man wants the apple. Fear comes up, grasping comes up, and right there is the most vital lesson, there in the ability to note, "Here is fear, here is grasping." Non-attachment does not mean there will not be an experience of fear or grasping, only that when these are experienced they are acknowledged with clarity, noted with kindness, that any movement to contract around them is noted. Then one brings oneself back into the place of clarity that sees how this pain is the ground for longing, the ground for grasping, and that it's all conditioned and not self. That which is aware of this whole process is not caught in it.

As soon as you rest in that which is aware it breaks the whole cycle open. At that moment of awareness, the already enlightened aspect of being is present. You touch it. Perhaps not enter it deeply but touch it. At that moment, even with the experience of fear, sadness, futility, frustration, impatience with the human condition, there is a sense of gratitude for the human experience, faith in the potential of realizing the enlightened state, and you relax. Then, just like the one who wakes in the morning, feels hunger in the belly and very gently moves across the meadow to pick the fruit, kindness motivates the move toward enlightenment, toward the fuller realization of this already existent enlightened state.

This is about right effort that is always motivated by clarity and kindness. Is this sufficient answer? It's a subject about which we could talk in great depth but perhaps this is enough. I pause.

Q: My question was a little bit also about fear, about the hunger. If you cease to be attached to eating, will there be hunger still that drives you...?

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron, he says it's no longer craving. Hunger is just a sensation in the body and it's a reminder, "This body needs to be nourished. Because I respect and revere this body, I will take care of the body." Therefore it's not hunger that drives you to feed the body but kindness.

(question by another. Couldn't hear all of it.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. In response to C's question, as the body evolves and there is much more clarity in all of the energy meridians, a much higher frequency vibration in the 3 lower bodies, you become increasingly able to feed energetically. I think in a 4th density Earth, food will eventually have a very different meaning. Carrots, for example, may grow and radiate enormous energy. This will be their fulfillment of being. Those who seek that particular vibration will go and sit or pass through a carrot patch and absorb that energy. Greens will give a different energy. Water will give an energy. Air will give an energy, as indeed they do now. In the beginning you may need to sit in the carrot patch or kale patch. Eventually you will simply notice these energy vibrations passing by you as you walk, as you go about your daily life, and smile in appreciation and take in what you need, and of course release any excess. But for now, your body does need nourishment. And such nourishment can be taken without grasping. You can practice with each meal.

There's a potato chip ad that I've seen, betting that you cannot eat just one. Take that one, be it a potato chip or a segment of an orange, and then watch any grasping energy that comes up. Don't try to fix the grasping energy, simply note its presence. Offer kindness to the physical body, the energetic body, when grasping for food begins. Just note it. And then find that which is able to take the next bite of food without any grasping energy but just from this place of kindness. In practicing in this way with your meals and your snacks, you will become more familiar with this motivation of kindness and start to make choices based more on this open heart than on the fear contractions. The practice is readily available while you are here in a body. You might as well take advantage of it. I pause.

Barbara: He's saying that on a non-material plane of course we don't take in material food because there's no physical body. But these physical bodies can really learn to be nurtured energetically much more than they are, and then our need for food will diminish.

Q: I think that the whole movement of flower essences is a forerunner of this.

Barbara: Aaron says he agrees.. He says, when people fast they also may come to experience how the body can be nurtured energetically. He says, after 2 or 3 days of fasting we start to gain energy again because instead of grasping at a need for food we come back to a place that's just aware that it can take in all of this energy, how nourished it is.

Q: "I feel that you have spoken with deep wisdom on contraction and conditioning and non-judgment. Do you have any advice or suggestion for me on my spiritual path?"

Aaron: I am Aaron. I'm happy to hear that my words have been of value to you. Since I do not know you in this body, as we have not personally spoken to one another, and I will not violate your privacy by looking into your thoughts, my words will be more general.

One piece of guidance: practice love. It begins with oneself. Watch the old patterns of judgment and self-judgment. Begin to note each time a judging thought arises how mind moves into belief in that thought. I keep quoting this T-shirt Barbara was given as a gift several months ago. It has a picture of the Buddha and the quotation below says, "Don't believe everything you think."

If something tickles your leg, itching may arise. It doesn't mean some thing is wrong, is bad. There are just these conditions come together to give rise to itching. If a judgmental thought arises, it also doesn't mean anything is bad. Certain conditions have come together, certain old habitual tendencies, and given rise to judgment. Maybe there's an experience of greed or anger, and then the judgment, "I shouldn't be angry." You can say, "I prefer not to experience anger. It's an unpleasant feeling." That is just the statement of a preference, not a judgment of good/ bad. As soon as you say, "I shouldn't be angry," judgment is indicated. Instead of believing this story, simply note, "judging." Here is a judgment. And watch the tendency to get caught up in the story line rather than stay outside the content, watching the stories arise and pass away, watching the processes of mind.

In this way begin to see how deeply invested you have become in your stories, and begin to find some space from those stories. It is in that space that you will find this jewel I've spoken of, this pure Heart. I hope that is of help to you.

Q: This may be a foolish question or too elementary . Because I've never experience this, I wondered how you could be in touch with Aaron at any time.

Barbara: This is me speaking, not Aaron. I find I've come deeply to trust the group energy and that the questions that come forth do so because they are things that many people need to know. There are no bad questions.

We all have spirit guides. Aaron says there is no wall between the planes on their side; we create the wall. We close ourselves into this everyday reality and forget the broader base of our being. There are certain processes that people can learn to open more fully to their guides. My own experience is that the opening to the guide itself is not so hard. What's hard is coming to the point where we really want to open, because what if this guide does start to talk to us and tell us things that we've really not wanted to hear? It's the same question, are we ready to be responsible for what we learn? Once we know it we have to be responsible for it.

I spent years in a rage around my deafness, wanting something to blame. It was a way of escaping the pain of my deafness by holding to the idea, if I knew who to blame I could fix it. Focus on blame and fixing spared me having to be close to the experience of loss of hearing and body function and the fear, sadness, and loneliness that it brought it. When Aaron came along, the first thing that he began to teach me was that the deafness was not the problem but my anger at the deafness and my not wanting to look at all the feelings of isolation and so forth. I was in denial. I said of course I want to learn, but I didn't. I wanted to be safe! At first I didn't want to hear Aaron because I wanted to hold onto my anger. As painful as it was it sheltered me from other feelings that were even harder. This is an example of not wanting to hear.

So I think the difficulty is not in the actual learning to hear our guides but in really knowing, "I'm ready to do this." For me what happened was the alternative became unbearable, because the world was closing in on me more and more. Whatever he was going to say and ask me to look at couldn't be harder than the place where I had put myself already. Once you get to that point then the guidance is there. Fortunately we don't have to get to that point of desperation before we open to our guides. We can become more aware, "I'm not here primarily to be safe and comfortable, I'm here to learn. I'm willing to take a risk, even if just a little risk, to open to the guidance and say, 'OK, what do you have to teach me? Keep it small; keep it gentle. I'm not ready for a tidal wave, here! Just a little stream.'"

Aaron is saying it's like the image he used in the beginning, this huge wave washing through; that can be overwhelming. But he's saying, what if there's this pure crystal embedded by layers and layers of crust, and there's just a stream, a little trickle of water that starts washing it away, washing it a little deeper, and a little deeper, and a little deeper. And each time it washes it away we see yes, this is OK. A little more water, it's OK. And slowly it cuts a channel and the crust falls open. So we don't have to invite a tidal wave.

Q: What you describing right now with the tidal wave and the fear, that probably is a factor in my life (transcriber can't hear question )<several years ago?> because at that time I think I was <> turned my life upside down. Making enormous <>. Struggling for about a year with it, I think I pushed myself too hard and had great pain. Now I am still gun-shy <>.

Aaron: I am Aaron. You know, you come into the incarnation, many of you, as old souls. You don't remember the prior lifetimes but you've been doing this spiritual work for so many lifetimes. And some of you come into this incarnation with the determination, "Enough! Whatever it takes, I'm going there." You push yourselves very hard.

There's got to be balance and part of that balance is kindness to this human. If you push yourself too hard, it backfires. Then as B just said, you become gun-shy. The whole process is one of constant balancing and rebalancing. I liken it to a person learning to swim in a river where there's a current. Maybe there's a log that stretches out from shore, 20, 30 feet into the middle of the stream. The novice swimmer does not need to walk to the end of the log and jump, with the idea, "I will conquer this water." How much kinder to get in waist deep, practice close to shore in a sheltered cove where the current is not fast. But at a certain point you need to go out a bit deeper.

It's intuitive. It comes again from the nurturing of right effort. It must not be fear, judgment or an "I should" voice that sends you out into the mid-stream but a deep intuitive sense, "I'm ready to go further." Your growth consists of stepping one step beyond your prior limits, letting go, noting your expanding capacity; "Yes, I can swim in this current too," and then another step into the current. It's all about right effort. I pause.

Barbara: He asks, how was this brief guided meditation with the rock and the water? Could you feel that? He says, was it joyful? Was it scary? He says, practice with this. When you meditate each day, take a few minutes with this visualization. Whatever pressure of water you want, it doesn't have to cut all the way through to the crystal, he's saying. It can just be washing a few layers of debris away, or if it feels good to let it all wash away, let it wash away and just be that radiant crystal for a few minutes. Know that you can pick up the sediment and put it back around you before you get up from your cushion, he's saying.

Q: And know that it will come back, whether you want it to or not!

Barbara: He says, true! He's laughing. K, you asked do I hear him all the time? Yes. But it's more like the experience if two  people are sitting in a room reading their own books, writing letters, they're not talking to each other. They may be aware of each other's energy but there's not always a dialogue between them. I don't hear him talking all the time. But if I ask, he's there, like speaking to another person in the room, saying, "This is interesting, listen to this." Or, "What do you think about this?" Then he's there.

Q: I wondered, he said he read something from the Dalai Lama...

Barbara: Either I read it or somebody, one of the sangha who hangs out with him a lot and to whom he's very attuned, read it. I think in this case somebody else because I don't remember reading it.

Q: I have a question about guides. Sometimes in my writings I wonder if I'm breaking through to a guide or that it's just my higher consciousness, a higher self, an intuitive self?

Barbara: Does it matter? (laughter)

Q: No! Basically no.

Barbara: At some point it's fine to ask, "who is this," just a very straightforward question. You feel the guide, you feel the energy, and you can feel that energy. Then you can stop and say, "Fine. I feel this energy and I want to honor it. Is this my higher self or is this a guide?" See what kind of answer you get. You might get an answer, "It doesn't matter!" But you may get a very specific answer too, something that's been tapping you on the shoulder and is happy to have you turn around and say, "Hello, who are you?"

Q: When Aaron was first introducing us to that idea of opening to our guides, he made the point of challenging that energy. I find it's pretty important when I am feeling that kind of presence to state my intention and to ask, to challenge it.

Barbara: Thank you. I agree fully with what C is saying, and this is very important. By challenging it, one first says, even before the introductions, "This is my own highest truth; I'm willing to dialogue with an energy, my own highest self or an external energy if you come in harmony with my own highest truth; if you don't, you're welcome to stay here and listen but not to participate." And then if you continue to feel that energy you can say, "Who are you?" You will get an answer to the challenge. To challenge this way, you must know, with certainty, your own deepest values.

Your own higher self is not lesser than a guide. The highest self is basically the 6th density aspect of your being, which is the mental body and spirit body. And that's basically what Aaron is. So we all have that wisdom from our own highest self.

<tape ends, next tape>

Barbara: I met Aaron before I consciously became aware of my higher self. I felt very comfortable with Aaron's energy, very appreciative of him as a guide. I was sitting and reading something in my bedroom early one morning and it was talking about a higher self, which idea was puzzling to me. As I was reading I felt this huge opening of energy. There was a sense of music, symphonies playing, bliss, a tremendous feeling of joy. I could see a being much in the same way I see Aaron. I thought at first it was another guide and then almost immediately realized this was my higher self. It was such a feeling of wonder because I still see Aaron as someone separate from myself. At some level we're all one, but at another level Aaron is not me. We have different karmic memories, we're different beings. But there was such a sense of wonder and freedom. It really was the opening to this pure crystal that he was talking about tonight. Just seeing, this is the essence of me. And from that time of knowing I could not deny that, nor could I get caught in taking the lesser bodies, the physical body, thoughts, impulses as self.

I personally tend to rely on Aaron for guidance more than my higher self, although both are available to me. I don't know why I don't rely on my higher self more. I think because Aaron is so wise and he's there. But it's a very different experience because one sees, this is the truth of what I am, and it's different than seeing this is the truth of what Aaron is. This is the truth of what I am. Very powerful. But to come to that truth one has to be willing to cut the identity with the relative aspects of the self, including negative thought and self image.. This is what did it for me.

Q: (can't hear; she worked with <> and had many great experiences, one of which was dying. We have died so many times, we know how to die. Recently with all this war and everything, I watch television and they talk about thousands of people dying. The dying don't suffer any more, they're dead, and I'm wondering what happens to them. Something about a great wave of death?)

Aaron: I am Aaron. There is not really a great deal more death in the world than there was a year ago or 10 years ago, only it has been brought more to your awareness. Twenty or 30 years ago you did not see planes crashing into buildings and people falling out, jumping out. You did not see people literally shooting one another. So the mass media has made it more a direct experience than a hearsay experience.

I think one of the fruits of this is that it does acquaint you with the experience of death and makes you confront the illusion, "It won't happen to me." That either will terrify people or will bring them a sense of freedom. "It will happen to me. What am I doing to prepare for it? Am I ready in this moment to die?"

The first flight that Barbara took just after September 11 there was not real fear but some discomfort when the plane doors were closed and the plane began to taxi, and I asked her just to meditate and breathe and come to that already existent place that knew, "If I die in the next 5 minutes, that's OK." Not a preference but, as you just said, you've all died many times. It's safe. It will mean the loss of this body. If necessary there will be another body. It's okay.

So there are not more deaths but more publicly accessible deaths and I think they're teaching you a lot. Unfortunately they also teach fear for those who are not yet so ready to investigate the attachment to the body and incarnation. I pause.

Q: I feel like part of me has already died. When I discover I have no control, I can't change circumstances, I can only learn from my experiences, that gave me a <> lightness.

Aaron: I am Aaron. A deep awareness of the movements of the ego that wants to perpetuate itself, grasps and strains, this can lead to a profound letting go. You can experience this in meditation with body pain, making the skillful decision, "For right now I'm just going to sit with this pain and watch the experience of it, watch the aversion to it, the fear of it, the fear of loss of control." You break through into a place that is not caught up in ego's story. You may then even decide to move the limb that's painful, kindness moving it, not fear. But once you do this a number of times, sit with body pain, with agitation, fear, restlessness, grief, and such, and break through to that which is aware of that state, physical or mental, without being caught up in its story, you'll find a tremendous shift. You're no longer identified with the ego. Then the whole physical continuity of the body becomes, I would not say less urgent on the relative plane, rather I would say the concept of discontinuity of the body is no longer so fearful. I pause.

Barbara: He's saying we all experience little deaths every night when we fall asleep and we let go of conscious control of the body to some extent. He's saying we do it in each moment, literally dying into the moment, into the direct experience of this moment, this moment's joy or sadness, pain or pleasure. When we see that each of these moments is just that-this moment experiencing pleasure, that moment experiencing pain, this moment experiencing love, that moment experiencing fear - let Aaron say this.

Aaron: I am Aaron. This dying into the moment is a very powerful practice. You can practice it with your breath. Breathing in, and then as you exhale, letting go. You do not know if there's going to be a new inhale. Think about that. How does that feel? Breathing in, consciously letting go of the breath that sustains the body. Breathing in. As you exhale, literally take your hands and give, a giving gesture out. Letting go. Bringing the breath in, and again giving the breath. Try it.

Giving the breath. Watch the moment when the body wants a new breath. See how you can draw in that inhale without fear, like plucking the apple off the richly fruited tree. Kindness drawing in the breath. Complete non-attachment, letting it go. In that moment, in that aperture between the breath, nothing. Space. (Clap!) Breathing it in, giving it away. (Clap!) Space. Breathing it in, letting go, resting in that space. Can you feel that? I pause.

Barbara: So he's saying there are many ways to practice letting go, which is the basis of dying.

Q: I have a somewhat large question about the relationship between awareness and energy. One seems more an active principle and one more, passive isn't quite the word, but they seem like 2 different qualities. Can Aaron say a word about their relationship?

Aaron: I am Aaron. Awareness is supported by energy. Energy is a fruit, really, of the elemental level of being. It doesn't have a polarity, it doesn't have a density. Energy may be nurtured in skillful or unskillful ways. We get into the overlap of energy and effort, how energy supports effort. How energy derives from tension, pours itself out in a more unskillful kind of effort. Energy derived from a clearer place is more easily focused into skillful effort. Attention, awareness, having come into being through various conditions, and energy is one of the conditions which can give rise to awareness just as it gives rise to effort. Unskillful motivation of energy can create a distorted awareness. A very skillful arousing of energy is more likely to bring one into a pure awareness. This is a very capsule form of answer. I would be glad to speak further of it when we have more time. I pause.

Barbara: He says, does that leave you with any specific question?

Q: Because I spent time on <>-oriented path, where there was the notion of "God is Energy," and on the more Buddhist-oriented path there is the notion, "God is pure awareness," I guess I wonder if the Unconditioned or pure awareness has any sort of active or creative nature.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Yes, always. Pure awareness is neither active nor passive, it simply is. But in its pure being, it participates in the constant co-creation of all that is. That is, in the constant expression of the Unconditioned out into the conditioned. And for that to happen energy is needed. So pure awareness cannot express the conditioned out of the Unconditioned unless there is energy. And yet, there is always energy. When one is resting in pure awareness, one does not get energy so much as liberates energy. I would like to speak further to this question when more time is available. I pause.

Barbara: It's 10 o'clock so we need to stop.

 (Tape ends.)

Copyright © 2001 by Barbara Brodsky