Dec 11, 2002 Wednesday Night Group

Aaron's Christmas Stories

Barbara: Take a deep breath. Breathing in; (pause) breathing out (pause). Be aware of the soft touch of the breath at the nostrils (pause). Know when you are breathing in; (pause) know when you're breathing out (pause). Know when the breath is fine or coarse (pause), long or short.(pause)

(Pauses continue but will not be noted. There is a longer pause between paragraphs)

Be aware of the body. Some of us have a tendency to be not so much in the body but in the mind. Let yourself come into your body. Feel the touch of the buttocks on the cushion or chair. Let awareness move through the body, touching the face, the jaw, throat, shoulders, chest, back, belly, arms and legs. If awareness notes tension anywhere, just pause and rest there, present, not trying to fix the tension, just noticing. Bringing kind, spacious awareness to these places of tension and inviting them to dissolve. If they don't go, just let them be. Smile into the tension.

Breathing in, know where this body and mind are at this moment. Breathing out, know the presence in this moment. Be aware of any sensations of the body. Be aware of hearing, hearing my voice. Note any tightness or discomfort in the body. Know the touch of warmth or coolness. The different body senses touch objects. Consciousness arises with that touch - hearing, touching, smelling, tasting. There may be pulling, tightness, openness.

Be aware of the texture of the mind, the mind that's tight with tension, or the mind that's open and spacious, the agitated mind, the listless mind. Racing mind. Focused mind. Peaceful mind. Each of these will arise and pass away. Awareness can watch these just as it watches the body, not caught up in identity with them, but aware of how they arise, are present, and pass away.

Some body experiences are pleasant, some are unpleasant, some are neutral. Some of the textures of mind are pleasant, some are unpleasant, some are neutral. Just sit and watch them arise. Sit with them present and as they dissolve, watch them pass away. If nothing new arises, rest in that spaciousness.

Let us sit in silence for about 5 minutes.


Aaron: My blessings and love to you. I am Aaron. I greet you with joy. I want to apologize for not inviting the bell but Barbara is in a trance state, ready to channel, so I just spoke up. I hope the suddenness of my voice did not disturb you.

We have developed a tradition for me to tell an annual story of the lifetime of that being you know as Jesus. These stories are told from the perspective of the shepherd that I was in that time, a shepherd who was graced to know this great master. I was not one of his known disciples; I was a simple shepherd, but I loved him. And in those few years when he was available to me, I followed him as much as I could.

You ask me sometimes, "Aaron, are you ever going to run out of stories?" I will run out of dramatic stories, in fact I think I have done so already. But the simple stories are just as beautiful and convey the truth of him just as well.

I talk to you so often about the importance of mindfulness. This great teacher was a master of mindfulness; he was able to be deeply present with everything and everyone he encountered.

We were walking with him on a hilly pathway. He stopped and all of us stopped, watching him. What did he hear that our ears missed? He stepped confidently off the path. There, under the bushes just a few feet away, was a baby bird that had fallen from its nest. It did not appear to be injured so much as weak and hungry.

He picked it up with such gentleness I don't think his concern would have been deeper if it had been a human infant. To him it was a precious living thing. I will not ever forget the tenderness with which he held this small creature in his hands. He asked for some food, sat down patiently on a rock and began to feed it.

People were expecting us in a town several hours distant and hoped he would talk in that city. He didn't seem to think of that plan or to fret. He had one intention, to nurture this infant bird.

We sat for perhaps half an hour. Appropriate food was handed to him and he fed it. He could have handed it to somebody else and said, "Take care of it." But this tiny being had come into his care, and it was part of his flock no less than any other creature. He gave it his full attention.

After some time, this small creature seemed to relax. He tucked him into his sleeve, tied it in such a way that the bird was secure, held his arm up so the bird was by his chest, and thus satisfied to its welfare he began to walk. When he walked he did not stop constantly to see to the welfare of the bird. He knew if the creature were distressed, he would feel that distress in its energy and its movement, so he did not worry about it. He did not forget about the bird but he gave his full presence, next, to walking. He walked with an intimacy with his surroundings, pausing now and again to examine a stone or other object, eyes taking in the scenery, pausing to lay a hand on a withered branch of a shrub. With each moment, he was fully present.

He was the same with people. So many people followed him, came to hear him talk and spend time with him, but when he spoke to you, you felt that there was no one else existent in the world for him except you. He might have only one minute with you but for that minute you had his fullest attention.

He seemed to know what people needed, sometimes a long talk or some kind of care; sometimes just a smile. When he spoke in a group it had the same quality of personal attention. As he talked, he made eye contact with people in the audience. Many speakers do this, and maintain that contact for a second or two and then move on to another person, and another, and another, so that the listener feels that they're part of this vast audience yet have been recognized. His way went deeper.

When he spoke he made eye contact for perhaps 10 seconds but he held that gaze and it felt like hours. It felt like he made eye contact with you at that point in his speech when he was saying just what you most needed to hear and that sentence or two was offered personally to you. And yet it did not feel less personal when his gaze moved on to speak to another, only that for those moments the two of you had been intimately connected and you knew that he held you in his heart. When his gaze moved on, he had not left you behind but had tucked you into his sleeve as he had tucked in the bird, and forevermore carried you with him.

This was not a manipulative quality for him, not a technique that he learned in order to influence people to like him. He had no concern whatsoever whether people liked him or not. It was a quality that was completely natural and authentic in him. It was a quality born from his intense mindfulness and presence.

I remember one night sitting by a fire. He and others were telling stories. I was feeling sad. It was just after my beloved wife had died, a story I have told you before. I don't think my face betrayed my mood. I was quiet but that was my way amongst these wise men.

I was sitting to the back of the group, as are those of you here in the back of the room. I could see him clearly; no one sat right in front of me, but I was in the shadows. For a few minutes my eyes were cast down but then I felt a gaze on me. Another man was talking, not Jesus. But I felt a gaze on me, looked up and found him looking intently at me. His eyes were so soft with compassion and kindness, and he smiled at me so sweetly. As he did that, the firelight seemed to flare up so that suddenly instead of being in the shadow, the light of the fire was bright upon my face. I could feel its heat.

His smile drew me into himself and I felt fed and loved just as did that small bird. I knew then that I could never lose him and he would never misplace me. He did not speak to me that night. But the next day he took me aside. "I understand how sad you are," he said with a smile.

That night he spoke to me in the midst of the gathered group. He said, " When there is loss there may be sadness. I do not deprive you of your sadness. You have lost a person you loved. You'll not see that one again in this earthly plane. What I ask of you is this. Each time sadness arises, pull up another chair beside it. Bring forth a joyful memory. Sometimes let it be of the one who has passed on. Sometimes let it be of those who remain, such as your children who are alive and beautiful, of your good parents, of your life and the joy and peace you find in your work. Allow your heart to practice at least as much gladness as sorrow."

These words were said to me at a time when there were several dozen people gathered around. But for those moments there was nobody else. I knew that he understood my sadness, that he understood the nature of loss. His compassion invited me to be compassionate for myself and to learn compassion for others.

I could tell you many small stories of his full attention to the things of each moment, but the stories would become repetitive. I see him lifting a small frog out of the path, or a lizard, the respect with which he would pick up even an insect. Sometimes he would hold an injured insect, carrying it with him. Seeing that it was dying and unwilling to let it die unattended, he would just carry it in his hands. I knew he had the ability to bring such a creature back to life. I do not know by what inner rules he might allow some being to die and invite another to live. I know he had his reasons and it was not my place to search them out. But whether the creature would recover its life or pass away, his wholehearted attention and love were given to it, so that if that small creature did eventually die, it died having been held in the heart of love. It died, I am certain, without fear and without pain.

One evening, a small group of us came to a dwelling. We were not expected; we had walked further than we had thought to go that day. We had no food with us, for we rarely carried food, but fasting was not uncommon for us. The man and woman whose dwelling it was had us sit in the comfortable shade of trees while they prepared a meal for us. They would not let him help in any way, just asked him to sit and rest. Food was brought, simple but very nourishing and delicious.

I myself would have thought that this was a home where there was comfort and, if not abundance, at least enough for survival. I realized later that the only clue he had that it was otherwise was the family's children who were somewhat gaunt and their clothes quite shabby.

It was the spring growing season but this small farm looked quite bare. Apparently the soil was not very nutritious. The winter was over, the food that had been stored for the winter was gone, and there was very little to eat. You have heard me say before that while he could work miracles, such was seldom his way because he wanted people to be empowered for themselves, not because he had wrought something for them. Yet at times one can use a bit of assistance.

After the meal I saw him walking through the farmer's fields. Often he bent to touch a spindly plant. He took handfuls of soil and ran it through his fingers. He walked for over an hour and I think he touched most of the gardens as he walked. He was fully absorbed in each plant and its soil.

When we awoke in the morning, I smelled that fresh smell you get in early spring when life is returning to the earth and things begin to grow. Perhaps it was my imagination but the plants he had touched looked greener, stronger. We left there, then, to go to a nearby city for a few days, and he told the man, "I will come back next week."

When we returned, these previously spindly plants stood strong and healthy. Many of the crops were already producing food and there was promise of much more to come. My point here is not only that he had compassion and had brought forth what he could. Of course one would expect that of him. My point is that in an area where many lacked for what they needed, food had been given freely and abundantly to us travelers with no mention from the farmer of his scarcity. Because Jesus was so deeply present, he saw beneath the surface. He saw what was needed and then in his own way he attended to what was needed. He didn't make a big fuss. He certainly didn't say, "Look what I'm doing!" He just quietly did what was needed. And I think he was attending as much to the plants themselves as to the farmer. He saw the farmer and his children's need, but also the plants needs, as living beings. His way of fulfilling the needs of all, human and vegetable, was to attend to the sickly plants and invite them to come forth with health.

The chickens that had been barren in the past were also laying when we came back. A small flock of gaunt sheep looked healthier and two had given birth. The colicky baby of the family was feeling better.

Did Jesus bring this forth alone or was it that he participated in a natural movement toward wholeness and vibrancy? Co-creation was his way. As he passed through the world, his attention invited each being, human or otherwise, to express itself with greater fullness and clarity. You might ask me, "Aaron, why are you telling me this story? We cannot manifest abundance like that no matter how much we pay attention." But that is where you are wrong, my friends. With attention you can manifest abundance. I'm not speaking here of the money to buy a new BMW. I'm speaking of bringing forth joy, health, vibrancy, which are all matters of energy.

You cannot pay attention without opening your energy field. When your energy field is open and you are fully present, you become more in tune with the various motivations that move through you. When you understand the wholesome and unwholesome motivations, you have more choice, not to condemn oneself that the unwholesome thoughts have arisen, but to see that you can let them be, don't have to get caught up in them but can focus more on the wholesome. This is what he was teaching me when he said, "Bring forth gladness as well as sorrow."

He never asked any being to be other than what it was in that moment, but he helped that being learn how to touch its deepest aspects of joy, kindness, generosity and fearlessness, to touch its wholeness. He did that because that which was whole, joyful, passionate, generous and fearless within him would resonate so deeply with those truths that even if you had tried to hide from them you no longer could deny them. That which was wholesome and beautiful was invited to come forth.  

Let me tell you one more story about Jesus' presence. A stranger came into our midst, joined those who were walking and sat with us when we arrived at our destination. Like many in those days he was poor, dressed in simple clothes, gaunt. People noticed this stranger but had not paid too much attention to him. Some men tried to talk to him but he was taciturn. He seemed to prefer to be silent.

We lay down to sleep by a fire at night, each of us on the ground wrapped in our robes. Usually when we slept by night by a fire, Jesus was offered the place closest to the fire and his disciples were closest in around him, and others fell further back. He allowed himself to be given that place of honor by the fire not from greed but because he saw that others wished to give it in respect of him. He understood that he must accept their gift out of respect to them. So he did not take this place of warmth by the fire for self-centered reason but accepted it out of kindness to others.

There were wild animals who might come out at night. There were occasional robbers on the roads in those days. A large group of people was generally enough to keep away any creature with bad intent, but one never knew. Thus, his disciples also slept near him to protect him against any kind of harm from man or animal.

That night as we became ready to lie down and sleep, he motioned to this silent stranger to come up near him. Some grasses had been gathered and offered to the one who was Jesus to make a bed for him self, and he offered half of those to this stranger. "Lie down beside me, my brother."

The man came forth but could not meet Jesus' eye. We lay down. Before he did, Jesus offered the stranger water, asking him, "Have you need to drink?" Again the man shook his head but could not meet Jesus' eye.

We settled down to sleep. I don't know why I was somewhat wakeful; distrusting of this stranger. I was just a bit on edge. It seemed that everyone else had gone to sleep. Usually I would have been a further distance away from Jesus but that night I found myself close.

When it seemed that everyone was asleep, I saw the stranger sit up. I was lying down and did not show that I was awake but I was alert. I saw him draw a knife out of a pouch at his side. Without even rising to a standing position, he simply began to move over toward Jesus, and lifted his knife as if to strike.

It all happened so fast that I did not have time to come to my feet. I had not trusted him fully but had never dreamed that he might attack our teacher. And then I heard Jesus' voice, Jesus who had seemed to be sound asleep. He said in a very calm and non-accusing voice, "Why do you wish to kill me, friend?"

The man was startled and terrified. It's one thing to murder a sleeping man if you have intent to do so, and another to attack a man who is fully awake and surrounded by his companions. There was something else. The question was said in such a non-judgmental way, just seeking comprehension. "Why do you wish to kill me?" Not, "Don't kill me,” said with fear, but  "Why do you wish to kill me?"

The man dropped his knife to his side. Jesus' words had awakened several others who came forth immediately, as I did, but Jesus waved us all back.

The man cried out. "You did not save my son. You're a fraud, a charlatan." Jesus had recognized this man immediately as from amidst a crowd of hundreds that had been in a town some weeks before. This man had brought forth his son who was dying. The son's condition was not only that he was ill and dying but that his illness had led to the loss of most brain function.

Again, I do not know why he saved some and did not save others. He did with his laying on of hands invite revitalization of many beings and bring them forth from severe illness, from the brink of death, from lost eyesight or hearing or use of limbs. He could do that. In the great scheme of things, the human is not able to discern the whole picture. I would imagine that the son's death, which happening brought his father to despair, was the gift that the father needed for his own healing. This is conjecture.

He said to Jesus, "You did not save my son." And Jesus nodded and said, "I know. And you are hurt and angry. And I cannot explain to you why I could not save him." Their eyes met and in that moment this man felt so embraced, so understood by Jesus. He experienced his grief, his rage, his confusion, his fear, all fully held with no judgment. Again I cannot explain it but it was clear to me that in that moment he found his healing, and he found his own divinity.

He dropped the knife. He was able to meet Jesus' eyes. He said, "I am sorry I accused you. Please forgive me." And Jesus simply nodded and spoke compassionately, "You have felt that I failed you and your son. Please forgive me." And the man nodded.

This deep touching of each being's divinity, drawing it forth, this is the nurturing that his presence allowed. Because he was so fully present he saw each situation deeply and such depth brought forth the wisdom to deal with it appropriately.

We may not be able to do it as perfectly as he did but each of you has the capacity to be fully present with another's joy and sorrow, with their anger as well as their love, with their fear as well as with their courage. Each of you has the capacity, by touching that deepest place of truth in yourself without fear, to offer that fearlessness to another. What does it mean to do that in your lives, to be authentic, to be fearlessly present, to offer the best of yourself - your lovingkindness, your compassion, your joy to others? This is the greatest gift you can give to him as you celebrate his birth, and to one another and your world, to bring forth this quality of lovingkindness of metta, in yourselves and shine it forth into the world.

Jesus came to teach many things but forgiveness is chief among them. And yet with compassion there is nothing left to forgive. Forgiveness is only needed when there is something held against another, some kind of blame. And when you see deeply into another, that judgment falls away and there is nothing left to forgive.

Your world today is so filled with people who hate one another, who blame one another, who are filled with fear. You cannot just decide to be compassionate, and say, "From now on I'm going to be compassionate." Compassion is a result. For compassion to arise, the conditions for compassion must be present. The primary condition for compassion is presence or mindfulness, because when you are present, you are able to see deeply. When you see deeply into how things are, the deep seeing no longer allows judgment and blame to be sustained. It no longer allows hatred to be sustained. It no longer allows fear to be sustained. This is the power of wisdom and compassion.

So I invite you my dear ones to bring these forth in your lives by giving your effort to more presence. From that the rest will develop if there is the loving intention for it to develop. Consciously note the intention to deepen in wisdom and compassion, and then begin the process by giving forth the effort to deeper presence in each moment, and just see how it works out.

You have sat for a long time. Let us pause and stretch and you can decide if you would like me to tell you one more story or not. That is all.


Aaron: I am Aaron. This is a different kind of story. When we think of the historical figure who was known as Jesus, of his life and his death, we assume that physical being left the world. Although you know he is accessible to you in some ways, that particular human left his body, left the world.

In what ways does he still live? Where might we find him? Let me just relate a simple story to you and leave the interpretation to you.

Long ago a boy I was lived with his extended family. Large families lived together in a compound, a walled area in with multiple sleeping places, and rooms where food was prepared and stored. Ten or twenty people of several generations might live together in such a compound. The people grew some crops, hunted, and raised animals.

Nearby there would be another such compound. Usually many of the people in neighboring compounds were also relatives, married children, brothers and sisters. There were known family relationships but it was a culture in which all beings were considered brothers and sisters. At the time of my childhood there was good health and abundance. Of course people became ill and died, usually in an accident or of old age. Sometimes in the winter there were colds and other illness but nothing severe. The land was good. People were well fed. The water was good. The sun was warm and the rain was plentiful. It was a paradise of sorts. The nearby sea gave abundantly of its fish. Trees grew fruit. There was abundance.

But one spring the rains did not come in the usual way. Instead of the gentle spring rains to which we were accustomed, there were such heavy rains that the earth could not absorb them, followed by periods of dryness. The hot weather came early; the fields, lacking water, could not produce and crops grew sickly.

People came from a distant village where there was sickness and stopped with us for several days. We had never learned to be afraid of sickness but several weeks later it came to us. People had fever and terrible pain and then they died. None of our healers could do anything to bring even small relief, much less healing or cure.

In their fear, people first pulled back into their compounds refusing to open their gates and doors to others. When it was learned people in a neighboring compound were sick, even one's own sister, brother, father or mother, instead of going there to help, the people stayed within their own compound refusing to unlock the gate for the one who asked for help. Others came saying, "We're all sick. We need food. We need medical care. Help us." The gate remained locked with the intention, "Do not let that sickness in here." But of course it came.

Not everybody died of it. Eventually the worst of the sickness passed leaving a decimated population lacking food and the necessities for life. It was then that the stranger came, a man with a deep compassionate look about his eyes, a look of deep knowing, deep vision.

He knocked at the gate. I was a teenage boy. I remember going with my mother to the gate. My father and many of my siblings were ill. Cousins in the compound had died. A grandparent had died. The stranger said, "I heard there is illness here." My mother simply said, "Yes." He said, "Let me come in, I can help you." She said, "No."

He said, "I have ways to help you heal but I cannot heal you from outside the gate."

We asked him, "Are you sick?"

"No," he answered.

"How do I know you don't carry illness with you?"

"You can't know that," he said. "You will have to trust. I carry what I carry."

People were quite desperate. Food was short. It was necessary to go out and gather food and yet to do that meant to go out of the compound and expose oneself to others, a terrible risk that had brought more illness as result.

They let him in. He went first to each sick person in the compound.

"Aren't you afraid you'll catch this disease?" I asked him.

"No, I'm not afraid." He asked me to help him by bringing water and cloths.

He washed their faces, offered them water, looked at the sores on their bodies and washed them. When he had gone to each, he turned to the elders and said, " I need fish to make a broth."

"But to get the fish we need to go to the compound by the sea where they have the boats. It is a day's walk."

"Yes, you will have to go there. You will have to go out and fish with them, because they too have been sick. But if you fish you will bring ashore enough fish for both compounds and more. I   also need grain to make bread."

"But we do not have enough grain left here. To get grain we will need to go to the prairie, three days' walk to the west, and they also have been sick.."

"Yes, but if you go and help them harvest their first crop of grain there will be enough for both of you."

And in this way he asked us to go out, to touch others. He asked us literally to touch others and be touched again, to release the fear from our hearts.

I understand that to control a deadly illness, isolation can be helpful, but it was far too late for that. We had all been exposed to this plague. Fear was not necessary. The illness  had run its course and people had begun to heal, but the shutting out of our hearts of child, of parent, of sister or brother, this was a far deeper illness.

The elders said to him, "I thought you had a cure." He said, "I am curing your illness but I need these things and you will need to go and get them." And he sent them forth. Somehow he inspired our confidence and we obeyed him.

Having done that he said, "I am now going to the next compound. It will take you a week to gather what you need. I'll be back." He went to every compound and spoke in the same way, touched each sick person, washed their wounds, gave them water. And asked all those who were well enough to go forth to bring what they could by hunting and gathering, finding fresh supplies of water and so forth.

He came back just over a week later. The environment was very different just in that short time. The son who had refused his parents' needs in the next compound was reunited with them. The brother was reunited with his sister. Together they mourned their dead. Together they were caring for the ill. Everything changed after that. It was as if we had been living, as I said, in paradise and needed to lose that paradise in order to come back to it,  value it and to know that while it was available, we needed to participate in that creation. We needed to know that fear could never co-create nor maintain paradise. The stranger awoke in us our own natural goodness and compassion that had become buried by fear, and reminded us of our capacity to enact goodness and compassion, and generosity of heart. That was all.

He came to each compound twice, I believe. That first time and then again, seeing that we were now able to come together without fear, able to co-create the healing that we wished to invite. Of course, some beings still died but many who were sick and expected to die did live. The stranger simply said, "I have fulfilled my work here. I must go," and went on down the road.

We heard ongoing tales of him, of the stranger who came to beings in trouble in other places and helped them to find their own healing. Who was he? I'm not making the statement here that this was the great master returned into human incarnation. All I am saying is that the expression of divinity takes many forms. Each of us has the ability to bring forth divinity in the world, to step beyond our fear, not hating our fear, but ceasing to choose fear and instead enacting love. Help is always available when we choose love's course.

What would it mean if today's nations who have withdrawn into their own compounds were to step forth and seek to serve one another through serving themselves, to co-create a world of abundance and kindness, a world of trust? You believe it is not possible but you too are lost in darkness. You are no further thus lost than we were before the stranger came. Do not wait for a stranger to lead you but take the responsibility unto yourselves to be that leader. Greet each other as he greeted us, offering to show us how to co-create the life that we wanted, to remind us that it was possible.

That is all.