November 13, 2002 Wednesday Night Group

Barbara: (With pauses between statements) Take a deep breath. Come into the body. Let yourself feel yourself in your body, touching the chair or cushion. Feel your feet. Wiggle the toes. Breathe in all the way down to the feet, and out. All the way down to the fingertips. Stretch the fingers a bit. Move your fingers. Breathe in all the way down to the fingertips, and out.

Breathe in to the base of the spine, the base chakra. Feel the energy in your body, and exhale. I'd like you to try something with me. Tighten your fists; tighten your belly. Tense your whole body tight. Clench your jaw. Hold it; intensify it. And then relax. Release it, all tension going. We have a choice with tension. We can hold onto it, which we habitually do in different parts of our body, or we can soften, release it.

This is not a statement that tension is bad, but it's uncomfortable. Tension in the body is a teacher. When we see tension, it's a reminder: soften, open. Touch even this spot of tension with gentleness, with the breath, with kindness.

I'm going to be quiet for a minute and let you just sit and scan the body. If you see tension, offer it release. When we release tension, it's like holding a bird in our hand, opening the fingers so the bird can fly free. It will fly when it's ready; don't force it. So when I say to release tension, it's really to offer to tension the possibility of release.

Aaron: Good evening and my love to you all. I am Aaron.

Spiritual practitioners, those drawn to a conscious spiritual path, often have a strong aspiration to clarify their energy, to purify it. People always say to me, "Aaron, I am imperfect. I get angry. I am greedy. I am impatient. What do I do about these things?"

Of course you are imperfect in this outer aspect; you are human. When certain conditions are present, difficult mind states will arise just as they will arise in the body when conditions are present. If you are out in damp cold weather without adequate clothing protection, the body will become cold. You don't ask why is it cold, or think it shouldn't be cold; this is the nature of the body.

Similarly, if the conditions are present for anger, ill will, irritation, impatience, grasping, fear, and more, to arise, they will arise. When such an emotion arises and you can note, "This has arisen. I will watch it and be careful with it."

Often it comes and takes you by surprise; it grabs and shakes you so that you react by striking out at others. To purify the negative emotions does not mean to control so much as to bring kind awareness to them so there is less reactivity when they arise. This is the purification, to cease to respond to negativity with more negativity.

Wisdom develops about the nature of arising of any object. Arising is the result of conditions. If your toilet is overflowing, will you run around gathering all the towels in the house to mop up the mess until none are left, the toilet still flowing? Or will you get out a plunger and fix the condition so that the flood ceases? Anger is no different than that overflowing toilet. Something is stopped up. When you attend to it, it will open. And then the anger will diminish and cease. Then you may wish to clean up the mess by offering apology and looking deeply to understand the conditions so they will be less likely to repeat themselves.

The most common condition that serves as ground for anger is fear, and, as ground for fear, the predominant condition is the whole delusion of a permanent separate self. When I say "delusion of a separate self," I am in no way denying any of your existence. You are real indeed, very real, and to be cherished. My emphasis is on separate. Your fingers are “real.” Are they separate in any way from the hand? You identify yourself with the physical, emotional and mental bodies and think that's what you are. Of course you're afraid then because you recognize the nature of this body is to cease. If this is what you are, it would mean you would cease to exist. But you are not your mind or body.

What happens to the mind or to consciousness itself, as time passes? What continues? Two predominant religious traditions speak of this as Christ Consciousness or Buddha Nature. These are part of what continues, the Ground of Being. Both of these religions also emphasize transcendence of the small ego self and that one cannot come to this Ground until one has let go of the identity of self as only this small self, as everyday consciousness, body, thoughts, and so forth.

When I say "no independent separate self" it is a very positive statement, a statement of guidance, I hope, that when you move beyond identity with the form, the feelings, the thoughts, and even with consciousness, you will come to this Christ Consciousness or Buddha Nature. But this is not self. Rather, when you rest there, you are totally interconnected with all that is, much as a drop of water, a raindrop, falling into the sea, becomes part of the sea. Of course, there's still a molecule of water, but it is no longer just that molecule, it is a part of the sea. You are part of all that is, expressions of the Divine.

When you hold tight to the ego belief that you are the small self, this conditions fear, and fear conditions anger. When you begin to regard the possibility that you are not only the small aspects of your being, you begin to attend to the conditions that create anger. I'm using anger in my example but greed and grasping carry the same kind of energy born of fear and the delusion of separation.

The path to purification, then, is not to take a stick and try to beat away any negative thought, but to open your heart to it with awareness, see its roots in delusion, and resolve that delusion. Here is fear, here is anger, here is grasping, here is jealousy or impatience, here is pride; see them and know from your direct experience, "This has arisen out of conditions. The more I fight with it, the more I add hostility and negative energy to feed those conditions. The more I relax and attend to it appropriately, the more I bring in a shift to the conditions, bring in conscious kindness.

Of course, you must be responsible for what arises in you. Deeper practice can only be done when you are willing to take such responsibility, not to enact your anger or greed in the world, not to enact your confusion. Here the practice of mindfulness is so important because through mindfulness we see the habitual pattern. It may be experienced as simply as knowing the tickle on the arm and the following slap to the mosquito, the car cutting in front of you, and the thumb on the horn. The movement is just reactivity to unpleasant sensation. With mindfulness you can begin the practice of seeing impatience or irritation as a direct experience, followed by the impulse to honk the horn or slap the bug. You will see that an impulse is not an imperative command; it's just an habitual thought.

No matter how deeply rooted you are in negative thought, your deep aspiration to growth, your work toward deepened mindfulness, and your frequent self-reminders to pay attention will bring forth the purification you seek. As part of this purification we must also pay attention to the already existent purity, the perfection and beauty that exists and is so often overlooked. It is so easy to focus on the negative in the self and in others. So often we do not pay attention to the positive. Often on your holiday of Thanksgiving I talk about gratitude. We are 2 weeks from that holiday but I know I shall not have the opportunity to speak with you closer to that day. I want to tell you a story about a being that I was thousands of years ago.

He tried to be good, to be kind, in the world. He was a bit self-righteous and judgmental of others. He was very careful to obey the letter of the law but often he did not act from his heart. One day something was stolen from the house of a wealthy man. This one that I was, was a monk. He was seen nearby and so a cry came up, "He must have stolen it!" They could not find it among my possessions, which were very few, nor on my person, but that did not deter them from deciding that I was the culprit. When I say "I", I don't mean Aaron but this man that I was.

The prison of that time and place was quite interesting. Basically it was a hole dug in the ground. It was perhaps 10 feet deep and 10 feet square. The imprisoned person was lowered into that hole by rope. Some branches were placed over one upper corner of the hole to provide a bit of shelter from the sun, from rain. Most of the year the climate was dry. Food was lowered into the hole and water and there was a small container offered for toileting oneself. That was it.

People spent years in such a hole. Sometimes the guard, who was also the one who cared for their food needs, would speak with them, sometimes not. Many people lost their sanity in that kind of living condition, so severe was the isolation, living in such isolation.

I pleaded my innocence to no avail. A rope was put around my chest and I was lowered into the hole. I was told to untie the rope. It was my choice. If I untied the rope they would pull it up and use it to lower my food and water. If I did not untie it, I would not receive food and water. So I untied it.

I had been permitted to take some clothing. All I had, really, was my monk's robe. It was not a heavy robe, just a thin piece of fabric. So I had no real protection from the damp ground. But my jailor cut some limbs from an evergreen type of tree, tossed them down to me so that I might make some kind of softer, dryer bed.

Weeks and then months passed. I was filled with rage. I was innocent. Why had this befallen me? I was angry at the gods in whom I believed. I was angry at those in the town who had accused me. I was angry at the system of justice. I was simply angry.

This jailor, it was just his job to serve thus, and he wasn't a bad sort. I told you how he offered me tree boughs for a bed. And yet every time he came with my food and water I screamed at him. No wonder, then, that he ceased to visit me except to deliver food. His abandonment only made me angrier.

The months turned into a year, a year of living in the bottom of this hole. The rainy season came. I was given more limbs to elevate myself off the damp earth. The shelter above my head was made a little thicker, but still I got soaked. Then the hot season came. The boughs above my head gave some shelter, yet I still baked in this in-ground oven.

Once a month a rope was lowered which I might wrap around myself, and I was hoisted out, dowsed with water, given the opportunity to bathe myself, to wash out my clothes, and then I was lowered again. This few hours was the only change in the pattern of these endless days. The prisoners were taken out one at a time on different days so there was no interaction between us.

I can't really tell you how the change began, only that I woke up one morning pre-dawn, which was my habit, and felt as I habitually did my bitterness and anger, and the thought came to me, "I could spend the rest of my life here, however long that will be. If I cannot get out of the hole, I can determine how I spend my time in this hole. Do I wish to spend it filled with rage and bitterness? Is that helping me? Is it helping anybody?"

I sat there that night. I remember that the stars were especially bright and clear and there was a small sliver of moon visible. I made the decision to abandon bitterness. I didn't really know what that meant, only that I was killing myself with my bitterness. My religion taught karma and I understood that I was deepening that negative karma by holding on to my bitterness.

The day I made that decision, it chanced to be my bath day. The jailor whom I had abused tossed me the rope. Several men hauled me out. As I came to rest on the ground, my habit was to fight with them. Instead, I fell to my knees. I said, "Thank you, friends." It was very hard to say it. There was still anger. And yet, something in me saw that these men did not wish me harm, they were just doing their job. They had not condemned and imprisoned me. Despite my constant abuse, they had continued to care for me. So I knelt and bowed and said, "Thank you friends. I am happy to have this bath today."

That little bit of softness from me changed something. There was a bit more water. One of them noticed how ragged my clothing had become and offered me fresh new clothing. They gave me something cool to drink and lowered me back into my hole. I spent that day in meditation, the meditation that had been my practice for many years before my imprisonment, but which I had cast aside completely for this year of dwelling in the hole.

At the heat of the day, one of the jailors came to the edge of the hole with some fresh cold drink. Then as the sun passed, the evening grew cool and the stars came out again. I sat and I walked. I reflected to myself how in my prior life all I had wanted was to be left alone to pursue my spiritual practice. My wish had been to have the nourishment my body needed to survive and a place to live. I realized then that I had been given this for a whole year. Because my ego was so defiant, angry, really, at being blamed, I had not appreciated in any way what I received.

The change was subtle. I can't tell you I transformed overnight. Certainly bitterness came. Strong desire came again to walk in the woods and on the beach, to see growing things, to have human companionship. Each time that strong yearning arose, I learned to touch it with kindness, to touch my entire suffering with kindness, and also to remind myself, "I am safe. I am well cared for. And I have the opportunity for solitude and practice. It is okay that grasping comes. I don't have to be afraid of the grasping. But right there with the grasping I can see appreciation for what I have."

I think you can foresee what's coming. As I softened and became kinder, my various jailors whose life must have been quite boring, who worked in shifts, became kinder also. One or another would come and sit on the edge of the hole, talk to me for awhile. They referred to me as the monk. They would sit down and say, "Do you want to talk?" They were respectful. "Are you meditating?" "Pray for me," they would say.

My food improved until one day I asked them, "Are you giving me the best and giving others less?" And they said yes. And I said, "No, you cannot do that. You cannot deprive another to serve me." And they did something quite interesting. My unused alms bowl was in the hole with me. They asked for it. They put it out each day, alms for the monk in the hole. Word had gotten around that I was really a loving fellow. People came and offered me food and no one else was deprived. I asked them to give any extra to other prisoners.

My periods out of the hole became longer. They began to pull me up more often for a bath, and even permit me to sit some hours in the shade of a tree until dusk arrived, and then would lower me back into my hole.

I lived in that hole for 10 years. Even with more frequent visits to the surface most of my time was spent in isolation. My heart opened, my gratitude grew. I was being given exactly what I had asked for.

I was fed and sheltered; my simple medical needs were met. There was such a beauty to each day. I was not able to see that beauty until I understood the habit of grasping at what I lacked and instead turned my attention to what I had. There was no denial of what I lacked. I could not go where I wished,  into the woods, down to the sea. I could not spend the evening in conversation by a fire. There was sadness. But fear dissolved. In its place came gratitude that even this very sterile, isolated existence had deep joy and meaning.

As the years passed, people began to come and sit at the top of my hole, ask for guidance, ask me to teach them. I taught them what I knew, which is that one has a choice. One may not have a choice with what one is given in life, but one has a choice with what one does with it. One has a choice between bitterness and joy, between hatred and kindness. One can cultivate these loving emotions, I would not say, even in the most difficult circumstances, but often aided by difficult circumstances.

At the end of about 10 years, they caught a man who was wearing a very specific necklace. Somebody recognized it and asked the rich man who still lived in the village, "Is this yours?"


"Where did you get it?" they asked the one who wore it and he confessed that he had stolen it.

Just like that they pulled me out of the hole and said, "We're sorry. You're free to go." By then I was known somewhat as a holy man. The rich man whose necklace it was, was afraid I would in some way bring the gods' wrath upon him for having held me in prison for so long. He offered me riches..

"I don't want any of it," I said. But he had a large plot of land, much of it wooded. I said, "Just give me a place to live, a small area where I may make a rough shelter for myself."

My friends, my jailors, continued to bring me food every day, no longer the prison food, but they came and filled my alms bowl. And so I went on with my life. In the ground, on the ground, are not so different, because I had learned to love. I had learned gratitude and joy. I had learned that attachment to bitterness only creates more bitterness and pain. I understood that seeing attachment and self-centeredness, right there one can find that which was openhearted and can make a choice to dwell in that open heart and not in the heart of hatred and fear.

None of you live in holes in the ground. Each of you do live in your own special sort of prison. Every being does. My wish for you is that you allow whatever your prison is to become your monastery. That you allow whatever difficulties your life brings, through body illness, through relationships, through loss, to teach you kindness and love. You are free to make the choice not to allow the mind to obsess and become lost in bitterness, hatred and fear. You can do it. Then whatever life brings you is richness and you are wealthy beyond measure.

I thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts. I will be happy to hear your questions after your break. That is all.


Barbara: May we hear your questions?

Q: I saw a program on television on the holocaust. This man was talking about his family and how they went into the pogroms and all that. And I was wondering what Aaron would say about treating that with the kind of grace you were talking about. Is it possible to suffer such terrible agony and still not to hate?

Aaron: I am Aaron. It is always possible. It's very difficult. I would say that it's easier to find joy, gratitude and peace for one's own difficult situation than in seeing one's family murdered. There's so much pain and anger that one must be very skillful not to condemn oneself for the anger. As soon as you condemn yourself for your own anger, it's easier to condemn those that hurt you. The mind says, “It should be this way, it shouldn't be that way,” and gets stuck in these judgments in an obsessive way. But when one develops compassion for one's own anger, one starts to see how the abusers have also suffered. They have experienced their own fear, pain and confusion, just as my jailors did in the lifetime I described. Then one doesn't condemn so much any more. The heart has an opportunity to open.

I have been told of survivors of the concentration camps, only a few, but thousands of people remember those few because of their kindness. These are not just survivors, also those who perished, beings who were interred there and experienced pain, starvation, cold, the death of those they loved, and yet did not give way to despair. Their lovingkindness touched thousands and thousands of lives. Those who survived, some of them tells stories about their experience and how they made just the choice I described to you, seeing that they had a choice to either live or die with despair and hatred, or to live and die with kindness. This is the basic choice. You can make it wherever you are. I pause.

Barbara: Other questions?

Q: I'm going through a divorce and I'm wondering, I think my husband and I, I love him and I think he still loves me. And I'm wondering how to handle this process as far as, we're finding peace and yet I still have hope that we can still make it through someday when he is able to face some of his feelings. How to handle my feelings, to give any hope to us...

Barbara: Aaron asks, was the divorce mutually decided upon? (Q: Yes, it hasn't happened yet, it's happening now... he asked for it.) Yes, but the decision for the divorce, there is not a decision yet? (Q: Well, we're going through the process [to do it].) He wants the divorce? Aaron asks have you had marriage counseling together? (Q: A little bit.) He's asking do YOU feel a possibility that the love is still there that can save this marriage?

Q: I think love is there but he's in a lot of denial.

Barbara: Is he involved in another relationship?

Q: I don't think so. He has a friend but I don't think it's another relationship.

Barbara: Aaron asks, is your highest wish here to try to preserve the marriage or to try to preserve a level of mutual respect and kindness, regardless of what happens in marriage?

Q: That's a really hard question. My highest wish is to preserve the marriage but only if the love is there.

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron here. You said that your husband is in a lot of denial. He has growing to do; he doesn't seem ready to do that.

Q: He's afraid I believe.

Barbara: So it seems there is some kind of stalemate. That you want him to be other than he is, and he's not ready to be other than he is. And it sounds to Aaron as if he wants to get out of the marriage because he doesn't feel ready to make the changes that you want him to make. Can you continue to love him and be married to him if he doesn't make these changes? Let Aaron speak directly.

Aaron: I am Aaron. We will speak about this in more depth privately. For now let me offer a more universal answer. Sometimes there are differences of opinion, differences in way of lifestyle, differences in values, and one is not either right or wrong, just different. At other times there is clearly enough distortion in one or both people that the differences in values are not just harmless differences but truly create harm for the one who holds those distortions and for the other.

As a simple and hypothetical example not related to your situation, one person in a marriage may feel they have the right to physically or emotionally attack the other person. Not only the right but the duty. The other may find this abusive, or at least disrespectful and feel that they cannot live with this kind of abuse. This is not just a difference of opinion because we understand that nobody has the right to abuse another person. Thus we might say that there is a distortion here.

If the one who is abusive refuses to consider the possibility of another way of being, or refuses to hear the pain of the other and that this course of action is intolerable, then there's really no choice. One must say no, even if it means the end of the marriage. But “no” can be said in a loving and compassionate way. Seeing that the other is stuck in certain ideas as a result of their conditioning, and that one cannot live with that situation; one says no.

This is a similar situation to if one in the couple is alcoholic, and asks the other to cover up for missed work and so forth, is not able to be responsible for his or her actions. The other must say no. The first may not be ready to make the changes in themselves. To support the lies will harm the loved one. You must say “no”. It may be the loving power of compassion in the  “no” that helps to open the door for eventual change.

On the other hand, in many relationships there is simply some degree of immaturity on both people's parts. One person says, "I like it this way. I always want the cars in the garage." The other says, "I don't like to always put my car in the garage. It's too tight." So they start to fight and blame each other. One wants to spend spare money on travel and the other wants to spend it on enhancing the home. They can't hear each other; there is too much fear, too much attachment to views. Here is a situation where if both people feel some commitment because of their love, then counseling can be very helpful. There's a deep richness because with love as catalyst, there is the ability to learn how to hear another person, how to look beyond one's own personal fears and delusion of limitation. It is because you love the other that you are able to hear their pain and look deeply into your own distortions and habitual tendencies that invite their pain, to make changes in yourself.

And as I said, it is also because of the power of that love that one learns it's imperative to say no to another when necessary, no from a place that has heard deeply, that does not convict the other, and yet understands that “no” is the only appropriate response in respect for both of you.

I would ask you, Q, to look at your relationship and see where it fits in this scheme. For there to be true communication, both people in the relationship must be willing to empty themselves in order to hear the other, because when you are full of yourself there's not room for anything else to come in. Are you willing to empty yourself in that way? Is your husband? Is he ready to see that he does have a choice?

The other question that occurs to me, Q, is that I feel from you that there may be some, not only sadness about the possibility of an end to the relationship, but some fear. Will I be safe? What will happen to me? I will be lonely? Where will I live? How will I take care of myself? Who will my friends be? What will this change mean to me? It's very important that you address this fear with kindness. It's not wrong to feel thus afraid but it's important to understand the nature of fear and that such fears are never based on what is happening now in this moment, which may be uncomfortable, but are based on concepts and leaps into a presumed future. One must ask oneself to be mindful with this obsessive leap into the future and into fear, and to keep coming back into this moment, which may be painful and difficult but in which you really know you are safe, safe whether your marriage flourishes or ends. I pause.

Q: In the past year and a half, I think, I've got this feeling of just drifting, and cloudiness. And I was wondering how I could pull out of it, what caused it. I feel that it came about 2 summers ago.

Barbara: Aaron asks if you have felt depressed. He asks if there are areas of anger in your life that you have not allowed yourself to open to? (Transcriber could not hear answers.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. I hear your question. When one hits this kind of a wall, it's sometimes valuable to remember that one is creating the wall by armoring oneself. If an army of fiends with sharp swords were after you, it would be very skillful to armor yourself. One wants to be safe. It's skillful to allow oneself to be safe and to disallow others to harm you. Many beings create this pattern through many lifetimes. The habit of armoring and withdrawal becomes so deep so that it's not only that army of fiends that raises the armor but also just the smallest "boo!" Including the internal “boo” of one's own negative emotions.

I said this earlier tonight, that the spiritual practitioner, the being who consciously wants to live their life with love, may more easily get caught up in self-anger at the arising of negativity, and bring forth the thought, "I shouldn't be angry. I shouldn't feel hostile. I shouldn't judge." Because these feelings come up and one has not learned clarity and compassion with these feelings, the old habit is that the armor comes up. It's a way of protecting the self. It's a way of protecting others, or at least that was the myth behind it. And at one time it did fulfill that function.

There's a metaphor that many people have found helpful about letting go of armor. Pretend you did not know how to swim and came to a lake on a hot summer day, saw all your friends out in the water. You'd really like to go out and be with them but you can't swim. I hand you a life jacket. I help you to fasten it and invite you to climb down the ladder and see how it supports you, and it does support you.

As you gain confidence, you begin to paddle with your hands and feet.  Very soon you're out there with your friends. Each day you come and put on that life jacket and you swim. One could say it was a skillful choice. It allowed you to cool off, to enjoy your friends' company. One recognizes you could have learned to swim but that would have taken all summer. This gave you instant access to the water.

Ten summers go by and every summer you fasten on your life jacket and you swim. One hot day I come back and I see you fastening on this waterlogged, ragged, mildewed, soggy life jacket. I approach you and say, "Hey B, what are you doing? Take that off." You can see you'd pull it close. "I need it. It keeps me afloat."

If I had a different approach, said, "You know, I don't believe that really keeps you afloat any more. I think you've learned how to swim because this is soggy and waterlogged. It doesn't float."

"No, I think it floats," you reply.

"Well let's just try an experiment. Climb down the ladder. Do you remember how it supported it 10 years ago? Don't move your hands or feet. Just see what happens."

Of course when you don't move your hands and feet, you sink, because it is waterlogged. You kick your way to the surface and nobody has to tell you to take it off. You have seen, "I don't need this any more."

I do not know you, I don't know why you've created this armor, only that you seem to be driving yourself further and further into it. That's something you need to investigate. I suggest meditation as the most helpful means of pursuing that investigation. One can begin with the small reflection, not yearning for the armor to come off so much as asking yourself, "What does this armor protect me from?" Begin your meditation sitting by expressing your intention to use this period of confusion and difficulty as a means of growth and healing for yourself and for all beings. Remind yourself that the choices that you make here serve not only you but all beings. Then return to this feeling of closeness, confusion, limitation, and ask yourself, "What would I experience if this armoring were not here? What does it protect me from?"

Don't try to think your way through it, just raise the question and let it go. Sit there with your breath, present in the body. Be quiet and allow insight and clarity to arise. This is a very brief introduction to meditation. There are a number of ways to further learn meditation and we can advise you on that if you wish. That is all.

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron. He's saying, remember that this feeling you have now is not something bad, it's a teacher, and it's important not to say, "What's wrong with me, I have to fix this," so much as "What's going on here? I'm pulling back, I don't feel any purpose in my life. I'm depressed. I don't have any clarity of where I'm going. What am I not allowing myself to experience? Why am I staying in this place?"

He says to be careful with, "Why am I staying in this place?" It can give an assumption it's bad to stay there. It's not “bad” but it hurts. Why is this choice being made? Become aware that you ARE making a choice. Somehow you're continuing to be where you are because it feels safe and because something out there feels threatening. It may be your own inner feelings that feel threatening. He doesn't know. He says, it's time to explore, what is it? He says that's all.

We have time for one more question.

Q: Along the same lines about feeling safe as an individual, I just wondered, as a country, as a world, there are things happening, so it seems now, that are threatening, there's a sense of threat to our safety. Just wondering if he has any words to share on how we might stay openhearted and centered and not fearful through these times.

Aaron: I am Aaron. First, it's important to recognize that there is real violence born of greed and hatred and misunderstanding in the world, and that this violence affects individuals and countries and the whole earth. One must not be in denial about that. It's very hard not to be attached to healing the earth, to healing your communities, and yet as soon as you are attached to results, there's grasping and a conflict created. Confrontation arises, us against them. So the most important starting place is to look deeply at the whole nature of attachment.

To be non-attached does not mean to cease to act in the world; action from a place of clarity, lovingkindness and non-attachment is usually far more skillful and appropriate. Then the question becomes, “How can I act in the world in ways that bring forth clarity and do not create the polarity of right and wrong, good and evil? How can I still say no to negativity but without so much fear of that negativity?” Compassion is strong. Compassion knows how to say no with lovingkindness.

When groups get together to make a statement such as about the war, it's easy for the fear elements of the group to become the most loudly heard. Thus in your present world it is all the more important that those of you who have some clarity and know how to be present with your fear with spaciousness step forth and become an active voice for a force of change a true soul force, or satyagraha. You must be willing to actively involve yourself with the world rather than withdrawing from the world, for it is only by the modeling of you who are clearer that others can learn such clarity. Be aware even if you participate with a group of people in some kind of rally for peace, that it is not you for peace against those for war. Almost nobody is for war. It is you who choose this means for peace speaking against those who choose a different route for peace. They are choosing that route because they haven't yet learned how to take off the life jacket. They're caught in their own belief that force is the only way.

Look around you too at those who say no, that force is not the only way, and see that many of those spokespersons are using force to try to make their point. Not force of violence but a force of confrontation that cannot compassionately hear others. Here is where you have special power, the power to speak to those whose view is close to yours but have not yet learned to overcome their fear and attachment to opinions.

When you can bring your own energy forth to truly hear others in a compassionate way and create compassionate dialogue, then you give them a model to bring forth to others who have a more opposite view. It is this steady expansion of the loving heart we all share that is the greatest hope towards peace. But even if peace does not come at this time, still that loving heart is expanding. When it expands far enough, there will be peace. Yes, there may be a lot of death and destruction before. But hatred will never lead to peace. Fear will never lead to peace. Fear of fear will never lead to peace, and hatred of hatred will never lead to peace. Do you understand?

It is time to end. I thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts. Please leave behind you anything that is not helpful. That is all.