September 20, 2006

Aaron: Good evening. Some of you saw the body shake as I came in and wondered why that happened. I have a big energy field. She has a smaller energy field. It's like putting on a tight girdle….

I am Aaron. My blessings and love to you all. It is good to be with you tonight to share some reflections. I want to begin with a very clear statement: I am spirit. You are spirit. We are not so different; you simply have a body and I do not. But in your spirit essence, you have the same wisdom that I do. As you listen to my words, if they resonate with your own deepest truth, let it come forth so that you know that truth more deeply. And if my words do not sound correct to you, just let them go.

(pause for seating adjustment and greetings)

Old friends and new, but there are really no new friends, only those that we have not met before in this lifetime.

Many of you are worried about the state of your world and all the wars going on, terrorism and violence. Many of you are worried about the state of yourselves and the wars within yourself, the inner terrorism, if I may call your self-judgment by that name, the inner violence that you do to yourself when you treat yourself with harshness and without love.

Habit energies are very easy to come by and violence is a habit. Judgment is a habit. Fear is a habit, and habits develop easily. It has been proven if you are walking from point A to point B in the woods with no path and you walk the same way twice, just twice is all it takes, you create a habit. The third time it's going to be very difficult not to walk on that same path. That's how quickly habit energy forms.

Then seeing that you're wearing a path through the words, breaking off the growing things, you really have to stop yourself and choose very consciously to go a different way so as not to violate the greenery. This is assuming you don't want a path there. If it's a wholesome path, that's fine, but not so good when it's an unwholesome path.

The delusion of separation is the first habit, and then comes fear. How could you be separate? Look at the fingers on your hand. Look at them in this way (holding a paper over the hand so only the separate fingers show). Are they separate? They seem to be. Are they part of one hand? (showing the whole hand now) But each finger, regarding the other fingers, doesn't see its connection (showing just the fingers again). And so just like this, you don't see how deeply you are connected. You and every sentient being, not just humans, but every sentient being on the earth, you are all connected. And you are all connected through your divinity. In other words, that of the divine is within each of you and is the core essence that connects you.

When you look at another being, you look at God. Many of you find it easier to see the Divine in the other than in yourself. So you judge yourself. I'm not good enough. You judge others. They are not good enough. THEY are destroying the world. THEY are causing wars. Who is they? How can any one part of an organism cause something that other parts of the organism do not participate in?

What have you done today, each of you, to shape peace in the world? I don't mean have you gone out and marched in a picket line. What did you do with the person who cut you off in traffic? Did you curse or did you take a brief deep breath and know that person was tense and angry, this person was afraid, and perhaps even wish them well? Could you say, "May you have peace, brother or sister," as they cut you off?

This is a choice that each being can make. It's a choice that each being MUST make if you are to evolve into the place that you are capable of co-creating the promised Eden that the world truly can be. It's not THEIR responsibility, nor is violence only your government's fault; peace is each of your responsibility. Your government is simply a reflection of each of your fears. I know many of you may speak against the policies of that government, but nonetheless, the government still reflects you. And until you learn to open completely to your fear, be present and loving with it, and not judgmental and hateful to it, your government will continue to reflect your fear.

Your earth is your schoolroom, so you've been given the wonderful opportunity to learn how to respond to negativity with love. That's what the incarnation is about, really. It's just one opportunity after another to respond lovingly to insult and injury. By "lovingly," I do not mean to allow yourself to be run over by a steamroller. To respond lovingly is not to allow another to abuse you. That is not love. Compassion knows how to say know to abuse but it says it from a place of lovingkindness, not a place of fear.

So each of you have this opportunity perhaps a hundred times a day. You learn habits so quickly. It takes great consciousness to shift those habits. Habits harden into karma. Is there anybody here who is not familiar with the meaning of the word "karma"? Karma is result; you reap what you sow. Every action and thought carries karma. You carry karma literally in the cells of your body. You carry the karma of this and past lifetimes, and unless there is consciousness, you continue to enact the karma. Karma has been likened to a herd of cattle waiting to enter the barn for their food. They're milling around the gate. When the gate is opened, the boss cow goes first because that's the way they've always done it. Then the others follow. If the boss cow isn't present, the one closest to the gate goes first. The boss cow is your habit energy. The one closest to the gate is the one you've practiced most.

Negative karma, the unwholesome karma, has a toxic effect on your body. Barbara has been working this summer with an herbal supplement that helps to cleanse the body of toxins such as chemical residual from food and other such residues. I said to her recently that this supplement was not just removing the residue from food, heavy metals from fish, toxins from the air, but also it was shifting at a cellular level, chemicals created in the body through heavy emotion.

This is difficult to express because those who know me have heard me say countless times, anger is not bad, it's just energy. Nevertheless, it does carry a result in the body. You can imagine that if you clenched your fist and walked around all day with your fist firmly clenched, you'd develop a pain in your arm. Yes? It's not just superficial muscle pain, but the tension creates chemical changes in the cells of the muscle tissue. Unbalanced tension of any sort creates cellular changes in the body.

So much of the body's content is water. At its best it is a clear, radiant water crystal. Both the toxins that you ingest and inhale and so forth and the toxins that come through holding tension and negative emotion affect the water in the body. It's no longer a clear and beautiful crystal. It becomes dull, lifeless. It's still crystalline in its essence, water is a crystal. But it's not clear and radiant. There's a beautiful book by a man named Dr Emoto who took photographs through a microscope of water molecules in different conditions. He found that the water molecules that were surrounded by loving energy had a very different appearance than the water molecules that were surrounded by angry energy. It's fascinating to look at these pictures. He describes the situation in which each picture was taken. This is what you do to yourselves when you hold on to negative emotion.

It's not hopeless once cell's water is thusly dulled because the body replenishes itself. You're always releasing water and taking in pure water. But no matter how much pure water you take in, it cannot undo the damage of the toxins in the body if you hold onto toxic emotion. So there has to be a willingness to release. I'm not saying here, "Don't be angry. Don't have desire. Don't be jealous or proud." Simply, when these kinds of emotions arise, there must be consciousness, "Certain conditions were present out of which this emotion arose. This emotion is present in me now. Do I want to continue to carry it or not?"

Does anybody in this room smoke? A few. I speak here not to the smokers but to everyone else. Would any of the rest of you walk in willingly to a room dense with cigarette smoke and spend a day there? Would you want to do that to your body? No! But this is what you do to the body when you hold on to negativity, and such holding is a habit based on fear and the holding, also, to the idea of separation.

At that point when anger has arisen, first know, "Here is anger, here is fear, here is grasping." And then ask yourself, "Do I want to carry this with me? This is having a negative effect on my body. Do I wish to do that to myself? When it has a negative effect on one body, it has a negative effect on the whole world. Do I wish to do that to the world?"

So I'm not suggesting that you say, "I won't be angry." Can you hear the judgment in that? "No anger, no desire." If anger comes, it comes. Certain conditions are present and it comes.

Rather, be conscious of the arising of heavy emotion and ask yourself, "Do I wish to hold on to this?" Let me tell you a story. There was a day quite a long time ago. Barbara was expecting the delivery of a new refrigerator from Sears. They were supposed to come at 9 in the morning. She's deaf. In those days she had no telephone. Now it's different, she has a special phone for the deaf. There is a national service with operators that type so deaf people can use the telephone. But in those days she had to go and find a neighbor. So by 11 she went down to a neighbor and called Sears. "Oh, the truck is on its way."

One o'clock. Off to find another neighbor. This meant finding somebody who's at home at that hour, maybe knocking on a dozen doors until she found somebody at home. "The truck is on its way." Finally she had to pick a child up at school and take him to a music lesson. No truck. So much anger was coming up in her. "Why are they so irresponsible? It's not fair." Anger!

She got to her car and started down the street, and just as she got to the corner she saw the Sears truck. She had a choice; she could have waved to them and said, "Sorry, you're too late and I must go. Make the delivery tomorrow." She had a family, with 3 children, and had no refrigerator for several days because the old one had broken. But she still had a choice. She could have been there in time to pick her son up in time for his music lesson. She stopped and said, "How long will it take you to bring it in?" They said just 10 minutes. She followed them home.

Of course, the 10 minutes was 40 minutes by the time they unloaded the truck, moved the old refrigerator out, set the new one up, leveled it and so forth. Anger, anger, anger! So she drove off, by now far too late for the music lesson and this 10-year-old was simply standing outside the school wondering, "What happened to my mom?"

The anger was building and the driving was not careful. Part way there I said, "Are you enjoying your anger?" It stopped her short. She just pulled over the car and thought about it for a moment, and she realized, yes, she WAS enjoying her anger. She was choosing to hold on to it.

In that moment of insight, it cleared. So I asked her, "Where is it? Where did it go? It seemed so solid 2 minutes ago? Where did it go?" It's all in the mind. We can choose to hold on to it, and if one does, one must be honest with oneself: "At some level I'm enjoying this. I'm holding on to it for some reason." When I say enjoying, not that it's fun but that there's some sense of power gained through holding on to it.

Who needs to be powerful? The fearless one doesn't need to be powerful, does he or she? The fearful one needs to be powerful. When you recognize that you are holding on to anger, you have to realize, "I'm holding on to it to make myself feel powerful because of my fear." Ah, so there's fear here, too. Anger and fear.

"How am I going to relate to my fear?" is your next question. For many of you the first response to, "Ah, there's fear here," is "I shouldn't be afraid." Does that sound familiar?

Today, this morning started out beautiful with a clear blue sky. Then the atmospheric conditions changed. Clouds came in, and suddenly there were raindrops. You might say, "I wish it were not raining, I prefer the sunshine," but can you say, "It shouldn't be raining"? It rains because atmospheric conditions are present. And then it changed again and the sun came again. Then it changed again and it rained. Then it changed again and the sun came out.

Fear, anger, and other emotions are just the internal weather. Certain conditions are present and these emotions arise. They WILL eventually cease to arise; I don't want to say they'll never cease. Let me phrase that a bit differently. Throughout your life it's possible that some emotion or other will arise but they will arise far less frequently and less forcefully when you learn to attend to emotions with presence and kindness. As soon as you judge anger and bring negative stories to yourself about the anger, it's simply more anger. Anger can never resolve anger. Only kindness can resolve anger.

But you have a choice. Take a deep breath and say, "Breathing in, I am aware of anger. Breathing out, I smile to the anger. I'll hold the anger with kindness. I resolve not to enact that anger to harm another." It's not a problem. It's just anger. When you hold space around any negative emotion in that way, then you do not chemically change the body and create toxins that remain in the body.

There's a beautiful story about a Tibetan saint, Milarepa. He was meditating at the doorway to his cave when the demons of greed, fear and anger appeared. They were hideous. The flesh hung from the bones. They had bloody knives and swords. They had a foul stench. Milarepa looked at them and said, "Ah, I've been expecting you. Come, sit by my fire. Have tea."

They asked, "Aren't you afraid of us?" He said, "No, your hideous appearance only reminds me to be aware, to have mercy. Sit by my fire, have tea."

So you are not trying to stop these emotions or chase them away with a stick but to literally invite them to sit by the fire and have tea, but with one important stipulation. He does not get into a dialogue with them. He doesn't talk to fear and say, "Tell me your story," and let himself be scared by the story. He just notes, "Here is fear." Or "Here is anger," or greed, or shame, or whatever visitor has come.

Do you understand what I mean by "not get into a dialogue with it"? It's so easy to get caught up, for instance, with the experience of shame. "Am I really bad? Well, I suppose so. I said this or that. I must be bad." Then shame comes and you feel you have to carry it. You punish the self with it. Or fear may come, and the judgment, I shouldn't be afraid; I'm bad to be afraid." Or, "The one who made we scared is bad." This is all dialogue, stories.

What is the direct experience of shame, without any stories? What is the direct experience of fear, before the stories start, or the direct experience of anger, without story? You can feel it in the body, it's just energy. It moves through you like a fast cloud moving across the sky, dropping raindrops and then it's gone. You resolve not to enact that emotion in ways that do harm. You take care of it. You let it move through you and go. And you do not store it in your body.

When you HAVE stored it in your body, you need to work to release it literally from the body. There are many ways to release but perhaps the most important is to find that which is whole in the self, that which is clear, and focus on that and build on that. As soon as you stop giving energy to any kind of toxin stored in the body, it will release itself naturally. There are ways to assist that release, but the most important step is the first, to make the decision not to hold it.

I said a few minutes ago that habit hardens into karma. By that I mean that the casual attitude of acquiescence to negativity soon becomes a habit. So within the same situation you always respond in the same way. And then karma develops. Karma is the planting of a seed. If you want sweet apple fruit, you must plant the seed for that sweet fruit. No matter how much you want that sweet apple, if you plant the lemon seed you're going to get a lemon tree.

So you look deeply and see what kind of karmic seeds you are planting. There are 11 basic areas where karma is often held and can be released. (Opening paper…) I wrote them out so I would not forget to mention any of them as I speak. Even I do not have an infallible memory!

These do not come in any special order. For one or another of you, one will be predominant or a different one will be predominant.

Ego or self-centered thought is a predominant one for most people. Ego is not bad. It's a tool. But when you allow its stories to resonate constantly through your mind and body, it becomes a slave-driver and it limits your freedom.

To be self-aware is a great gift. To be aware of the self and believe that self as constantly separate from all else is an enormous burden. So the first place to look is ego's stories. Out of ego's stories grow all of those myths, such as entitlement and unworthiness. I emphasize the word myth. I doubt that there's anyone in this room who has not at some time felt unworthy. How could a human being be unworthy? You might be unskillful at times, but unworthy? Never. You are divine. You are beautiful. You are radiant. I'm not saying you're worthy. If there's no unworthy, there's no worthy. Stop being worthy or unworthy, just be! But when this myth "I'm unworthy," comes up, and feelings of shame and sadness that come with it, know, "Ah, here is the story of unworthy. It comes from this separation of the self."

One tool I find very powerful, then, is to look at the others in this situation> Perhaps it is a situation where somebody knows something that you feel you should have known. Or perhaps several people are talking and you feel excluded and thus unworthy, abandoned by the others. Look at them and simply know, "These are the other fingers. We're part of the same hand. This story is just my old conditioning." What is the experience of feeling unworthy without any stories? There may be heat in the face, faster breath, tension in the belly or throat. "Ah, this is a habit energy." Watch and see what sensations bring it up. The flip side of unworthy is the need to be worthy, to be somebody, to be powerful, to be right.

Watch what situations bring that up. Begin to address the issue with kindness, to remind yourself, it's okay to feel fear. It's okay for the ego to scream out saying, "What about me?" "Sit by my fire, have tea." Treat it with kindness. The ego is like a 2-year-old. "Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!" Don't yell at the 2-year-old, treat it with kindness. It will mature.

So ego and self-centered thought is the first of these karmic spaces where we get trapped. One expression of ego and self-centered thought is attachment. If there's an "I," that I thinks, "I need this. I need that. I need it to be this way. I need it to be that way." Attachment. If attachment arises, that attachment is not bad, you are just standing under a rain cloud. Atmospheric conditions have developed. Here is grasping. Behind the grasping there's fear. Look and see how you relate to that grasping. Do you buy into the story, "I must have this. I must have that. I must have my way. I must have this possession"? Do you scold yourself for having the thought, "I want this. I want that."? Neither extreme works. Don't scold yourself and don't believe in the story. Be present with the experience. What is the experience of attachment, grasping, and desire? Is there really anybody behind it or has it simply arisen out of conditions, like the rain?

Another frequent visitor with self-centered thought is jealousy. That's part of attachment, wanting one's own way. Jealousy arises because somebody else has something that you don't have and believe you need, for safety if nothing else. It's related to desire. There are many ways to work with jealousy, but a primary one is simply to ask yourself, "In this moment am I feeling fear? Am I feeling unsafe?" Nobody else can make you feel unsafe, it comes from within you. If you can relate to yourself with kindness in that moment, you begin to feel safe and jealousy will go.

I'm giving some brief practices to work with these energies. Of course, we could talk for weeks in-depth about different kinds of practices. In one of my books, I believe it's Awakened Heart, we have a practice called the Seven Branch Prayer, which is a very powerful way or working with habit energy. So if you want to take it deeper, you might want to read that book. But these are just some brief ways of working.

Anger arises as the wind on a lake, blowing the lake up into waves. And then the wind stops and the waves stop. But if you reach your hand out to quiet the waves, you just make more waves. How are you relating to anger? Are you stirring it up and making it more ferocious, by judging it? By judging yourself that it came? By judging another that he catalyzed it? Can you simply know anger as anger?

Pride is really very similar to anger. Pride is a very intense emotion that comes feeling "I am better than other people." I'm not talking about feeling good about yourself, feeling joyful, singing a song, painting a picture, looking at it and saying, "That's nice," or treating somebody else with kindness and thinking afterward, "I'm glad I did that. That's nice." This is not pride, this is joyful presence with your experience. Pride is hard; that kind of joy is soft and open. That kind of joy doesn't say, "I'm better," just "I am happy to be me."

Pride says, "I'm better." Pride is afraid. So when you're feeling that kind of pride that's comparing and saying, "Look, I have the bigger car, the better car," "I'm smarter," or "Aren't I good to be so kind to that person who I don't really like," stop and look. Have you moved into the separate ego self? Is there fear? Is there fear, "I won't get it right. I won't be good enough." This is what stimulates pride.

Worldly desires. This goes with attachment but it's something different. Attachment can be an attachment to being right, to keeping things just the way they are, to getting your own way, where worldly desire is more material, although it does not necessarily relate just to worldly possessions. Worldly desire is also, relates to power, to be powerful in the world. Again, it's a voice of fear. When you can see it as such and relate to it with kindness, you come back to a clear space in yourself that says, "I don't have to keep this energy going. Am I enjoying it? Do I really want to do that? Do I want to carry the toxin of this energy and keep it going?" If you do, do it but by all means do it mindfully, and see what happens. If you don't, then let it go.

We use the image of the hot coal. Let's use a hot potato instead, not quite as hot as the red hot coal. "The potatoes are ready, would you like one?" You grab one. "Ah! Hot!" You let it go. "But I'm hungry." You pick it up again. You keep burning yourself. How many times are you going to pick it up before you say, "I can wait until it cools. I don't have to go with my hunger right now."

These are all hot potatoes. Put them down.

Indifference. To be indifferent, is really what we would call resignation. This is not equanimity but what we call the near enemy of equanimity because it poses as that and can fool you. Can you see how indifference comes from fear? Indifference is a very direct voice of fear. Very rarely are you truly indifferent, but you convince yourself that to have a view is going to be painful because you may not get your way. Others may mock you or overwhelm you. To have a view also means that you must be willing to hear others' views and that can be painful. To not be indifferent does not mean to be firmly rooted and attached, it means to be willing to give and take. To hold a view, be willing to investigate that view, and be willing to hear others deeply, all of which asks you to open yourselves. That opening yourself can be scary.

Lack of awareness. This is a big one. Lack of awareness is a strongly cultivated habit energy. It's the hiding into the self. With lack of awareness, one pulls into an armored place in oneself and doesn't want to stick one's face out and see what's going on because it might not be pleasant. That's all lack of awareness is. You always have a choice. If you are hiding in that armored place, know you're hiding. When you know you're hiding, you've got to acknowledge there's either some kind of fear or it's just habit. If it's fear, then work consciously and lovingly with the fear. If it's just habit and you see yourself in the armored place, you come out.

When you come out a few times, you create a new, much more open habit of being present. This connects to the next one, abuse of power. To move into that armored place is as much of an abuse of power as to come in screaming with abuse of power. Can you see that?

Barbara used to have an interesting experience sometimes with her husband when they disagreed on something and he became angry. It's harder for her to lip-read when his face is angry and there's distortion. So he'd be angry, and she'd look at him but without trying to lip-read his words any more. He would go on for a minute or two and then she would say, "I didn't get that. I couldn't lip-read that. Please repeat." Can you see how much that is an abuse of power?

With the first word she could have stopped him and said, "When you're angry, I can't lip-read well. I know you're angry but you've got to slow down so I can hear what you're saying." When she would not say that, she was withdrawing. Here is lack of awareness, lack of presence, and abuse of power. Just watch when it happens.

The desire to be right. Anybody who hasn't experienced that? Maybe we don't need to talk about that one. It's from fear. The separate ego self feeling unloved, feeling unsafe. It's very useful when you experience that strong desire to be right to acknowledge that the ones with whom you are talking also want to be right, and that you are both right and neither of you are right. You can stop the other person and say, "We're both trying to convince the other and not hearing each other. Instead of trying to be right, can we simply try to hear?" When you offer that to another and to yourself, it shifts everything. As soon as you feel heard, the urgent need to be right dissolves. And as soon as the other person feels heard, it dissolves.

This is the major dilemma in the world today. Everybody is feeling unsafe. Everybody wants to be right. And nobody can hear each other. Your best place of practice is with those personal relationships where it is most difficult to hear, because as you learn to hear those difficult people in your lives, you learn also to hear the terrorists. I am not saying that anybody is right to blow up other people, to harm other people, and justify that. But the terrorists are speaking out of a place of deep pain and helplessness, and if you can hear their pain and helplessness, you may help to bring forth a whole new consciousness, a whole new world of possibilities that may gradually help to resolve their pain and helplessness so they no longer feel a need to kill to be heard.

Clearly some terrorists and others who are violent are simply speaking out of their place of anger and abuse of power. I said earlier, compassion is strong and knows how to say no, but it doesn't say no by simply dropping bombs back on other people. That just keeps the difference of opinion going. It learns how to say no by hearing other people and investigating mutual solutions together. As you allow other people to be heard, they come out of this armored place. They become more willing to hear you and dialogue can develop. To do this takes attending to your own deepest fear and your own strongest habit energies.

The 11th and final one on my list is unclear intention. As you can see, when you're feuding with another person, "Is so!" "Is not!" truly at odds, there are two intentions. The intention to be right is the strongest one there. There may truly be an intention to create a solution, to be peaceful, but you're not clear about that intention because the need to protect yourself is so strong. So you've got to sit back and look deeply at your intentions. What is my purpose here?

Many years ago when Barbara first began to teach the dharma, she was invited to lead a retreat and she didn't feel ready to do it. She said to me, "Aaron, do you think I'm ready?" And I said, "Well, you understand the practice well. You can articulate the practice. But you probably will make some mistakes. So if your highest intention is to share the dharma, then you're ready. If your highest intention is never to make a fool of yourself, then you're probably not ready."

So she went and led some retreats and yes, she made a fool of herself sometimes. And it was okay. She was able to laugh and go on. She was able to say, "I don't know."

Clarifying the intention: what is my highest purpose, and is what I am choosing here resonant with that highest purpose? Is my highest purpose peace in the world or is it to protect myself at all costs? Is my highest purpose peace with my neighbor, with my boss, with my parent or child? Or is it to be right?

So these are a traditional list of 11 areas where people most frequently get caught, trapped in the karma they created through the recurrence of habit energy. And in each of these areas, the toxins of holding the tension of those habit energies does create distortion in the body.

The body is a wonderful implement. It will heal itself naturally if you give it the chance. You cannot clean up a river by simply sweeping it out with a netted screen, pulling the debris out, while 50 yards upstream a factory is pouring toxic waste into it. No matter how much you clean the water will never purify itself. For it to purify itself you have to stop dumping the toxic wastes into the river, and you have to clean it up. You stop dumping the toxic wastes by beginning to attend to this list I just read to you. You don't have to take the whole list. Choose those 2 or 3 areas that are most relevant for you, even one that's most relevant, and watch it deeply because they're all interconnected. If you watch one, eventually you will see them all. Just choose one and work with it.

Clean up that dumping of toxic waste into your system, and into the world. Then when the toxic waste is no longer flowing into the river of the body, observe the various ways you can release what has been held in the body, simply by eating pure foods, drinking good water, meditation, and offering forgiveness and the intention to release negativity, not to let the body to continue to hold it. If the body is holding it, it's because the body, which thinks at a certain level , I don't want to call it conscious thought, but the body has its own kind of mentality, and it stores these toxins as a way of armoring itself , at some level the body thinks the holding is helpful. If somebody was throwing rocks at you, you might pick up something to shield yourself. The rocks are bouncing off but some are getting in so you pick up something else, and then a third shield, and a fifth, and a tenth. Pretty soon you are holding one hundred shields. Nothing can touch you. Nothing can get in. But you've cut yourself off. You can't get out either.

The body on a cellular level does the same thing. It picks up certain chemicals, literally, of tension, of fear and anger, creates distortion in the cells, and then the body holds on to it because the body at some level believes that this is necessary for its safety. This is literally true with almost any kind of illness.

I am not suggesting that you can always open and heal the body. If you lose a limb, you can't re-grow it. The body distortion may be at a point where it cannot fully clarify in the time left in this life, just as the river perhaps could not clarify unless it had a thousand years. The body doesn't live a thousand years; there might not be time. But usually a great deal more healing is possible than you tend to believe is possible. If you will allow yourself to deeply enter that healing stream, looking deeply at the toxins that the body is still holding, even if most are released, to look deeply at them and ask, "What other habit energies are there that are still bringing new toxins in? How can I open more fully to life and to love?"

When you do this, you are not only healing your own body, you are healing this body we all share, the human body, the body of all sentient life, and the earth itself. It's a very beautiful path.

I've talked a long time here, a longer talk than usual. I'm going to stop and give you a chance to stretch and then I'd be happy to answer your personal questions ,which need not be about my talk, although I welcome questions about my talk.


So I would welcome any questions you might have…

Q: I was wondering if when we reincarnate, we are drawn energetically to our parents or is it a conscious choice.

Aaron: It depends how conscious a soul you are. The less mature soul is simply karmically drawn like a steel filing is drawn to a magnet, drawn to whatever is predominant in this habit energy. For example, a less-mature and less-conscious soul who has been very violent in past lives will be drawn toward violence and will be drawn towards parents who are violent in their nature.

A more conscious being, a more mature being, who has investigated its own tendency to violence and said, "I do not intend to carry this any further," will view that pull and say no. This consciousness breaks the karma, and then the soul will consciously choose a more loving parental home, more loving relationship.

Q: Thank you.

Aaron: Whatever you learn in this lifetime is carried on. Just because you cross that threshold you call death doesn't mean you forget what you've learned. You take it with you and it deepens. The same choices you have here, you have on the other side.

This is where there's the opportunity to break the karma. What you shift here, you carry with you. But also if you have not fully shifted it here but you have learned to pay more attention and to be more clear about what you do and don't want, then because there's more clarity, once you pass this heavy density earth experience, you can see more clearly.

Right now, you're in the position of beings who are underwater. You're walking around, you can see there's light up there but it's quite fuzzy. You can't really see anything. When you move into death, there's no more forgetting of your true nature. There can be denial but that's quite different than the forgetfulness that comes with the human experience.

So you recognize certain predispositions, habit energy that has not been fully resolved, and because there is more clarity, there's more opportunity to shift that habit energy.

Q: Thank you.

Q: I have a personal question. I'm at an age where I might retire. I'm wondering if I should retire, and if I retire, how I might best use my time.

Aaron: First, my brother, please take the word "should" and drop it in the nearest trashcan. Where is your heart? Do you want to retire? When you make a choice, let it come from love, not from fear. Move toward something with passion, with joy, not away from something. Not, "Well, I'm getting old and I'm a little bit tired. Maybe I should retire." Perhaps you love your work. I would guess that Barbara is about the same age as you, and when people ask her, "Are you going to retire," she says, "What would I retire to? Why would I retire? I love what I do"

But if you are somewhat weary of the work you've been doing and want some spice in your life, want something new, then invite in what you most want. I cannot tell you what you might do. What are you passionate about? Don't think in terms of, "I don't have the skill or training to do that," just do it.

Barbara's husband who retired last year, and who knew nothing about video-making, has a film series coming up on the Ann Arbor cable television network that he made this year, in his first year of retirement. He took a class to learn how to run the equipment, interviewed people, and created a television series that will be shown each week. People said to him, a retired engineer and manager, "You're going to do what?!" He said, "This is what I want to do." Fine, do it. Build a house, read a book, travel around the world. Paint a picture. Write a work of music. Read all the books you never got to read. Go and work as a volunteer in some place that calls to you. The skill and quality will develop if you love what you are doing.

Q: It's clear that time is relative, sometimes passing faster, sometimes passing more slowly. What is the nature of time? Is it simply an illusion in that on a deep level there is no time and the past and future are included/contained in the present?

Aaron: I am laughing, my friend, because this has been asked many times before! It's a question we keep coming back to and I apparently have not yet given a satisfactory answer! (Laughter)

Is time an illusion? Yes and no. Are you separate individuals? On the relative plane, yes, yet on the ultimate plane nothing is separate. If you ask me, "Am I separate?" Yes, you are a unique, separate human being on the relative plane, and no, on the ultimate plane you are connected to all that is. Nothing is separate.

In just the same way, time is an illusion on the ultimate level, and yet you use the relative scheme of linear time as a helpful tool. You speak of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You need some way to talk about your human experience, and as humans on a relative plane, you do run through it on a linear track.

However, simultaneously, different levels of you are having other experiences. There is a physical body, a relative everyday mind, they're right here running through this linear track. There is the etheric body that doesn't know time at all. There is beyond that, the astral body. You can be lying in bed, sound asleep, the physical body is there, the mind moves out of the body and astrally projects. Some dreams are astral projection and you literally move out of your body. Then you are timeless.

You might have, a friend just speaking to me about his mother who had died some months ago. He had a vivid dream of conversing quite meaningfully with her. There was a very deep and loving dialogue. He asked was it a dream or was it real? Of course it was real. But the physical body was lying in bed. How can you be two places at once? Because there's only one time: now. Now is all there is. It's always now. And different aspects of your being touch in different places.

Think of a river. You put one foot in here. You are touching this river right here. Then you put your other foot in there. You're touching the river there. If you put a stick in and it's floating downstream, it will pass by that left toe and then by that right toe. And yet the water of the river is one, it's one river. Your friend is sitting half a mile downstream and puts his foot in the river at the same time. Are you putting your foot in the same river or different rivers?

Use that metaphor of the river to understand both the linearity and the simultaneity of time. Does that help a little bit?

Q: Yes. Thank you.

Aaron: I know I have not given you a satisfying answer. There are no words, my friend, to express it clearly. Simply, it is an illusion that you choose to live with. Your past lives do not necessarily come in the past. This is part of the illusion of time. At one moment you are here and you are also in another lifetime. This is why you can heal the here and now as you attend to some karmic memory from a past lifetime. Attending to that memory changes your experience of the present.

Barbara had a very powerful experience many years ago. She was camping by herself in a state park in Ohio, certainly not a wilderness park. For some reason, throughout this lifetime she has had some fear of being attacked by wild animals. She grew up in suburban Philadelphia, not many tigers or bears there. But when she would walk at night, she often would have a fear of wild animals being out and attacking her.

So in this campground, it was a beautiful clear, night. She got a lot of wood for a fire. It was late fall and she was the only camper in the whole park. She wasn't afraid of the human predators, only animal predators. One big rain cloud came. Beyond it she could still see the stars. It rained and put out the fire. She went into her tent to get her flashlight. There were new batteries but it would not light. She came back out, started the fire again, tried to light her lantern, which had gone out. She got everything running: light, fire. Another cloud came alongstars everywhere, one cloud. Rain.

The second time she had the sense to not try to light the fire. She moved into meditation and saw a very strong image of a karmic ancestor, just a fleeting image of a young woman in some kind of a wilderness culture, holding an infant in her arms near a fire, and rain came and put out the fire. There were wolves, and the wolves attacked as the fire died. They took the infant and then her. She came out of the meditation crying yet able to offer forgiveness to the wolves, and to offer love to that past aspect of herself. Then she looked around and there was no more fear in that dark night.

Did that happen in the past or could we say it happened simultaneously? Do you understand what I'm driving at? (Q:Yes.) It's all happening simultaneously. I'm not saying in some other universe that woman was being attacked at that moment by some wolves. Only, this dying woman is here in the river and she is here in the river and it's one river.

I think we have time for one more question.

Q: Was I ever an artist in a past life?

Aaron: (pause) In many lifetimes, yes. An artist with the paint and with words. Do you follow these arts now?

Q: I do, but I find a block.

Aaron: You might want to look in the direction of asking yourself, "What if I succeed?" I think the fear is not of failing but of succeeding. And this has karmic roots. So I think if you look at this and let yourself know it is safe to succeed, without seeing the past life, just to know that whatever happened then does not need to happen again, that you do not need to re-create old circumstances, then you can let go of that fear, step past it.

Q: Thank you.

Aaron: It is closing time. I thank you all for sharing this night with me. We'll meet again next month. I will try to keep my talk shorter. I do like to get around and hear from more of you. I'm sorry we have not had more personal time tonight. We'll plan that for next month.

My deepest blessings and love to you all.

Copyright © 2006 by Barbara Brodsky