September 26, 2007

The resolution of violence; power of compassion; evolution; catalysts of the incarnation as the opportunity for learning

Aaron: My blessings and love to you.

All of you at times have been persecuted in some way, abused or oppressed, and all of you have done that to others. This oppression of others creates so much pain in the world. And yet, it is also so much part of the catalyst for your learning. Now, I'm not suggesting that we need to hold on to oppression so that you have a tool for learning, but when there is a violence from one being to another, in order for it to be a step toward insight and healing you must understand first what has brought forth that violence, and second, understand how you can relate to it skillfully. Only when all of you truly understand the nature of violence will you have a world that is peaceful.

Violence from one being to another comes from a place of fear and separation. If you have one small glass of water and 5 terribly thirsty people, it's possible that one is going to push the other out of the way, to grab at the glass. What's happening? Neediness, fear that the needs will not be met, and I would say an irresponsibility, or perhaps a better word would be lack of understanding of the fact that all the beings gathered around that glass are thirsty.

Throughout the history of the world, beings have been violent to other beings. And throughout the history of the world, beings have longed for peace. If you truly want peace, why is it not happening?

I think the primary cause is that you are not seeing deeply enough into the causes of violence and attending to those causes, but instead, tend mostly to address the results. You are becoming skilled at creating welfare programs but not at addressing the causes of poverty. Your doctors can heal terrible wounds, but you do not yet know how to stop the exchange of bullets and bombs. You build wondrous communication devices but have no idea how deeply you are connected energetically and mentally and how to use that innate connection to render the most sophisticated devices unnecessary. As result of this ignorance, the vital communication that could prevent violence is lost.

Aaron pauses to set the clock timer, remarking that he forgot to push the button. I work mostly on an energetic plane. I understand your mechanical instruments and your electronics, and yet I don't think in terms of linear time, so a timer is quite an odd object to me!

Let us put this question on an intimate and personal level, rather than universal. Perhaps there is a person with whom you have hard feelings, with much tension between you. Rarely do you sit down with that person or by yourself and look deeply at the causes of the tension. I don't mean just to say, 'Well it's because he's rude to me'that's not the cause of the tension. His rudeness is just his rudeness. The way you react and personalize his rudeness, the way in which you may take it personally and feel you need to defend yourselfthat causes the tension. If this being continues to be rude, certainly you can make the decision not to spend time in his company. But if you must be with him, perhaps with somebody who works at the next desk, how can you relate in such a way as to bring about harmony and resolve conflict?

It's very difficult when all the mind can think of is, 'Here he is sitting down at his desk. What's he going to say to me now?' Mind is already getting ready for the rudeness. There's already tension about it. And there's blame. 'It's all his fault. If he would just shut up, we could exist peacefully.' But of course, that's not how it is.

In that kind of situation, what would it be like to invite that person to join you for a cup of tea and to say to the personafter your tea, not immediatelya little time for pleasantries and a nibble of the doughnutand then to say to him or her, 'I often feel tension between us. I wonder if you feel it?' If the person denies it, then you need to decide how to proceed, probably just saying, 'I hear that you don't feel it but I do, and I'm wondering how we can ease the tension that I feel.' But more likely, the person is going to say, 'Yes, I feel the tension.' He may say it defensively. It's so important not to put the other person on the defensive, not to say, 'Because of what you are doing, I feel tension.' Just, 'When we're together I often feel tension. Is there something that I am doing that brings up discomfort in you, that I could learn about and try not to do?'

Who knows what it is? He may say, 'You chew your gum loud and it really bothers me.' Or he might say, 'You remind me of my beloved sister who was murdered. So when I'm with you, I immediately feel tension.' Who knows what the cause is. You might not be able to find any specific cause, but at this point you are addressing the tension in an openhearted way with a premise that both of you want a peaceful relationship and will work to help co-create that peaceful relationship.

It's possible when you ask this kind of question that the other will be abusive. He or she may start blaming you for things that you feel are unrealistic and convey a sense of bitterness. You still can go away from the meeting having learned something important, which is that this person is in deep pain. His pain makes him hostile. And you do not need to take his hostility personally.

Then we see where that goes. Sometimes when you understand that about a person, and they do act in a hostile manner, you can offer them loving wishes in your heart, just noting to yourself, 'You are suffering. May you be free of suffering. I see your suffering coming out in your tension and hostility.' This is not a superior attitude. You're not trying to say, 'I'm better than you because I see deeply into your issues.' Just, 'I hold you in my loving heart. I see your pain. Your pain and my pain are one.' But in so doing, you cease to take his hostility personally. No matter who is sitting at this desk next to him, he's probably going to be hostile. It's not about you.

Sometimes when you are able to relax your own negative energy and invite a more openheartedness, I'm using this metaphorically at this point, the person at the next desk may begin to respond to that openheartedness. L, may I share a bit of your story?

L had a very difficult neighbor. The neighbor was intruding on his property in hostile ways, and L was tearing his hair out trying to figure out what to do, how to react kindly. He tried speaking up and it just made the neighbor more hostile. He tried bringing a gift as predecessor to talking, doughnuts or bread…

L: a plant
Aaron: Was it well received?
L: Not especially.

Aaron: He tried playing with the man's sons. The sons enjoyed it but the man did not change his attitude. L was at the point of thinking he might have to move from his house, feeling fear and anger. He saw he needed a new approach. And finally he decided mostly to just ignore it, not take it personally. He could not change the man's behavior, but instead of it getting a rise out of L, it ceased to be a problem.

L: I moved my dock.

Aaron: You moved your dock. It went beyond that. You and the neighbor on the other side shared a dock, a situation of benefit and joy to you both. The houses were on the waterfront. The difficult neighbor had a big waterfront area but put his dock right next to the edge of L's property, not straight out into the lake, but angled in such a way that it cut off L's small piece of waterfront. L simply moved his dock, joined his dock with the other-side neighbor. But what I'm getting at, L, is it stopped creating tension for you. I believe as we talked about this, you also started to feel real compassion for this man. It was so clear how much he was suffering.

So L was not able to change his neighbor's placement of his dock or his attitude, but for L it was no longer a war. There was peace. It was not a problem. Sometimes this is all we can do. We cannot change another person. We do have to try to say no to abuse. But what says no must be love and not fear.

We see the same thing in the world as in our personal relationships. When one people tries to oppress another people, the oppressor almost always is filled with fear, anger, hatred, and misunderstanding, just as L's neighbor was. One cannot always metaphorically move one's dock. One cannot accept theft of food and resign oneself and one's people to starvation. One cannot resign oneself to torture, rape and murder. How does one stand up for what is right, yet do it with non-violence?

What we see in the great non-violent movements of the world can give us much ground for learning that we can take to personal relationships. The people of Burma, or Myanmar, have been oppressed and seeking freedom. I understand that there was to be a new oil tax or raise of oil rate…(someone offers explanation)

It put oil out of the reach of many people financially, creating real hardship. If the people were to protest, they would simply be shot down. The Buddhist monks are avowed to non-violence and also to liberating people from suffering, and they saw that there was real physical suffering being created by, I want to keep this as non-accusatory as I can, not taking a political stance, but it seems to me still to be by the greed of the government. How can one say no with compassion for those who have fear that breeds greed, yet hold to that reply and refuse to allow another's trespass?

The difficulty in a non-violent movement is that everybody who is taking a non-violent stand must remain non-violent or they will become a catalyst inviting the violence of the opposition. As long as they see it as 'us' and 'opposition', there's already some violence. Just thinking in terms of separation is violence.

The monks are a very powerful force here, because they see so clearly into the nature of non-duality and because they're so deeply grounded in compassion. These have been their practice and their learning for so long.. So the monks began to chant and march and protest, chanting the metta sutra, the sutra on loving-kindness.

If it could have been held to this kind of non-violent protest, it could make a very strong statement. The military came in and began to use tear gas and to shoot over the heads of the monks. Here I'm looking in the Akashic records at what I have seen as having happened today, in this past 24 hours. I don't have precise details; we've not watched a newscast. But what I see is that the lay people who had been asked not to march because it was more difficult for them to remain non-violent, sat in a circle around the monks when the military accosted the monks. They sat to show their respect and agreement. They did not disperse when the guns were fired, but sat, surrounding the monks, giving their energy to the situation. The military police continued to arrest the monks, and then some of these lay people picked up rocks and began to throw them at the soldiers. The soldiers did not distinguish who was throwing the rocks. They simply lowered their guns and began to shoot at and also to beat some of the monks.

Karmically, the military, the monks and the lay people are in this together. We can't create an artificial separation. Throughout many lives they have probably played these roles together many times, sometimes as aggressor and sometimes as the one who is trespassed against. Together they are exploring violence, greed and fear and their causes and resolution. To some degree we could say that the military and monks are participating as co-teachers to the larger group of lay people. Each is playing its agreed upon, and karmically created part.

At some level, the monks had to know that they might be fired on, no matter how non-violent they were. The soldiers had said, 'If you're violent, we will shoot,' and the monks were not violent. But somebody was violent. The monks are involved.

When we look at the karmic question here, we see that each had responsibility relating to the violence. The soldiers had responsibility because they held the intention to do harm, or at least to follow their orders and shoot or hit with their clubs or guns or whatever weapon they used. The monks had the responsibility to understand what might happen, knowing that they could not separate themselves from their lay supporters or from the soldiers.

Even before there was violence, it was necessary to forgive whatever violence might occur, knowing that what they were doing could very well be a provocation for violence. The lay supporters had the responsibility to try very hard to practice non-violence, but also to understand that violence might happen, that they could be killed and that they could do harm to others. For those monks who have deeper understanding and are avowed to non-harm, in order not to create unwholesome karma they must ask forgiveness ahead of time for what they do, and must forgive any who transgress against them.

Within this entire field, monks and lay people and soldiers, there is such a profound opportunity for compassion and interconnection. This compassion and learning cannot happen as long as the being that is hurt blames somebody else and says, 'I was marching non-violently and suddenly they shot at me. It's not my fault!' It also cannot happen for the one who says, 'I had to shoot him because he was breaking the law; it is his fault.' Each being is involved. Each being participates. It's so easy to say, 'It is his fault.' When one fails to deeply open one's heart to another's situation and understand that what you are doing may provoke another, even though it seems harmless to you. You cannot live in peace unless you accept that you created the provocation and thus offered a condition that gave rise to the violence, and forgive that violence even while you do not condone it.

The one who acted with violence is always the one responsible for his choice. He could have chosen not to be pushed to violence by your catalyst. He is responsible. But you are responsible for providing the catalyst and must understand that you may provoke him beyond the limits of his ability to release reaction. .

Put this truth on one side, and on the other, the truth that you must still say no to violence, to abuse, to hatred. Right here is the deep place of learning, when each being asks him or her self, 'In what way am I creating separation from another, rather than deeply opening my heart?'

I want to give you an example here that may be helpful. Many years ago, I don't have a sense of your linear time but it was when Barbara was a young woman, she was on a Freedom Ride in the south. The bus was forced off the road. It turned sideways against a utility pole, not completely overturned, but part way. The people on the top seats slid down to the bottom. The people in the cars who had forced the bus off the road threw bricks and stones through the windows. Then the National Guard came and started shooting at the people on the top of the bus.

Barbara was avowed to non-violence. She lay there on the bottom of the bus just a bit bruised and scratched, not seriously hurt. Nobody was seriously hurt. But she sat there on the bus asking her self, 'How am I responsible?' This was before she had conscious connection with me. She understood, thought, that in some way she was responsible.

It wasn't until many years later that she began to understand it, when she asked me about it and we talked about it. She saw that she was asking people to be someplace they were not, not ready to be, which was accepting of this integrated bus, accepting of integration in the community. It was fine to ask for this, because this was her deepest truth, but there was a bit of, let's call it self-righteousness, about it that said, 'My truth is superior to your truth, and therefore I have to force you to accept my truth. And I'm just going to ride on this bus and sit at these lunch counters and march in this picket line until you stop opposing me.' Many people in the deep south were not ready to do that so they reacted.

(starting new file. timer device makes funny beeping sound.)
I do not like this timing device. I suppose it works, though. We'll start it again. (laughing) Very rude machine! I'll take a non-violent stance against this timer!

What she began to understand was that she needed to have accepted ahead of time that there might be a violent reaction, which she did, but also to understand that she was provoking this violent reaction by standing there and saying, 'No, you can't do it the way you've done it before.' When you take some cookies from a toddler who has grabbed two handfuls, you expect an outraged reaction. You don't spank the toddler; you comfort him with kindness borne of compassion. Barbara needed to touch deeply on the fear that created the prejudice, and to feel compassion for that fear, so that she was acting from a place of compassion and not self-righteousness.

What happened to the bus was group karma. Many on the bus were self-righteous, many much more so than Barbara. So they were co-creating a situation of conflict rather than co-creating a situation of communication. I'm not suggesting you can avoid conflict at all times. The question is not whether there will be conflict but what is the nature of that conflict. Seeing the possibility or actuality of conflict, can you hold the whole situation in your heart without self-righteousness, without judgment, with love and with kindness?

In this way, as happened with L also, you become peaceful. What the other does may hurt you, step on your toes or whatever, but it doesn't bring up hatred.

Nelson Mandela speaks so eloquently of how he was tortured and that they could not take away his love. The Dalai Lama talks of the same thing. He lost his home, his country. So many monks were murdered. And yet he speaks compassionately of the Chinese. He says they misunderstand, but there's no hatred. Numerous people who lived through concentration camp and terrible imprisonment have stated that they survived because they refused to hate.

There's so much to be learned from people like this. Most of you think, 'It's okay for the Dalai Lama, but I'm not capable of that.' But you are! This is where you underestimate yourselves. You are divine; you are radiant. You are born in love and have the capacity to live that love in your lives. It's only your fear and doubt that keep you recreating conflict. If you doubt that you can live with love, then you're going to keep recreating conflict to practice with conflict until you find a way to live lovingly with the opposition.

Once you know that you can live lovingly, there's no longer an opposition, there's just that quite upset neighbor who keeps sticking his dock in the odd place. This poor man, he was out there …Barbara was at L's cabin in retreat. She watched the ice break up on the lake. The next day, there were still big chunks of ice floating in the lake, and here came this man with wading boots with his children to help him. They plunged into the frigid water to get the dock up, out of fear, I suppose, that L might beat him to it and put his dock up so that he wouldn't be able to put his across L's waterfront area. What suffering! How can one not have compassion for a man who is suffering such fear?

So the opponent disappears. There is just a person who is offered our compassion. And yet we still must say no to him. L did not need to continue to say no about the dock since the situation led him to a very wholesome alternative. But let's use Burma for example. Somebody is depriving people of the opportunity to live, literally, to have enough food and to live their lives. How do we say no to that kind of oppression?

Non-violence is enormously powerful when it comes from the heart. Each of you has lived so many times. I know this life is precious to you. I have no argument with that. And yet, sometimes it might be necessary to say, 'I'm willing to let myself be killed rather than to involve myself in violence.'

Probably none of you in this room are going to face that kind of situation. But you might be in a situation where, coming back to the neighbor in the office, a very angry figure. He talks too loud on his telephone, he's… I've never worked in an office; it's hard for me to imagine what kind of abuse a neighboring desk worker might place upon you! Simply, speaks very rudely to you. He helps himself to your personal belongings. He whistles all day or passes gas frequently. Perhaps if you're a woman, he makes sexual innuendos.

Sometimes, compassion simply knows how much this being is suffering and holds a loving space, and sometimes compassion must speak up and say, 'No, you may not do this.' We come back to how you say no, what says no. When fear says no, it co-creates more conflict. When compassion says no, it serves as a starting point of communication.

In a lifetime long ago, I was taken prisoner for something I did not do. The prison I was put in was literally a hole in the ground. When jailers brought me what might pass for food and water, they lowered it through a rope. I had a little piece of wood and material that served as a very small shelter from sun and rain. It was a temperate climate.

I was so angry, I was very hostile to those around me. When they gave me water, I didn't say thank-you. When they took up the bucket that contained my waste material, I didn't say thank-you. When they allowed me out once a week and doused me with water to cleanse myself, I didn't say thank-you. I was hostile and angry.

Eventually, it dawned on me, 'I'm going to live in this hole for now. It's up to me how I live here. I can live here with hatred, feeling angry because I was innocent, or I can accept this is how it is. But I set the tone for the way I live here; no one else does. If this is going to be my home, let it be a peaceful home.'

So my attitude changed gradually. I began to say thank-you. I began to talk a bit to the jailer who came once a day. I found that this jailer was a poor man who was able to feed his family by feeding those who were jailed here. He didn't like his job but he needed some way to feed his family. He had nothing personal against me. So we began to talk.

As I became more peaceful and friendly, when they brought me up to bathe myself, they would often let me go and sit under a tree for awhile, even spend most of the day there before climbing back down into my hole. They began to bring better food, to sit and talk to me, to bring me some clothing and a blanket, to make me more comfortable.

Physically I was in a prison. I did not have to be in a prison mentally, that was my choice. So I was able to forgive those who had accused me, those who had judged me and put me in this jail, and those who kept me there.

Some years into this, this had simply become my way of life. I spent my days in meditation. It really was an ideal situation. I was given food, water, shelter, and even medicines when needed. Nobody disturbed me. I had time to meditate. What more could I ask? I had been planning to become a monk. Well, here I was!

After years had passed, somebody confessed to the crime and they pulled me out of the hole. They apologized, more or less, perhaps more less than more. Just, you're free. Go.

It was harder to go than it had been to be placed in the hole. Where would I go? How would I feed myself? How would I live? But this fear didn't last long because the lesson I had learned was so profound. Wherever I am, whatever circumstance I find myself in, where there is love there is freedom and joy and I am able to co-exist peacefully with the world. Where there is fear and blame, there will be conflict.

We cannot just turn off fear. Fear arises out of conditions. I began this talk with the statement, you must not address the results but the causes. In order to be able to address the world around you with kindness, you must have insight into and address the causes of fear and separation for yourself and in the world. In your meditation, you begin to see how everything arises out of a variety of conditions and then passes away. When there are certain atmospheric conditions, it rains, and no amount of going out there and saying, 'But I'm going on a picnic!' and stomping your feet is going to stop the rain. But when the atmospheric conditions change, the rain will stop.

When anger arises, no amount of stomping your feet and saying, 'No, I won't be angry,' is going to stop the anger. The inner weather is stormy at the moment. In the rainstorm, it's a kindness to your self to acknowledge the rain and carry an umbrella. When the inner weather is stormy, it's a kindness to the self to acknowledge, 'Right here is a rainstorm. Right here it's dark and heavy. I offer kindness to this human being that's experiencing anger from many different causes.' Just that little pause, noting, 'Breathing in, I am aware of anger. Breathing out, I smile to the anger. I hold a space for the anger.' Just that, is kindness.

This is what we teach in all our meditation classes. Those of you who are new to Deep Spring, if you have ever wondered to yourself, 'What do I do with anger?' there is a path. We don't dismiss anger, we don't bury anger, and we don't act out anger, we hold space for it and know it's impermanent; it will pass.

Slowly you begin to trust your ability to hold that compassionate space and not have to act out your anger. Once you have developed this level of compassion for the self, then you are able to see deeply into others' being, and to find compassion for them. You cannot force compassion. And yet interestingly, it's already there and it has always been there. It's the gold at the end of the rainbow, but a real pot of gold, not an illusory one. It's there. You open to it. It's like the stars on a rainy night; have the stars disappeared? Of course not, they're there, you just can't see them because of the clouds. The compassionate heart is there and your human work is to uncover this compassionate heart and learn to live from it.

This seems like a good place to pause, give you a chance to stretch. When we come back, I will be happy to speak to your questions. I'd like to end tonight's talk with a period of guided and silent meditation and prayer for all the oppressed beings in the world. How do we open our hearts to the immensity of pain and oppression in the world, and understand the real power of our prayer and our loving? Let us pause now. I'm going to return the body to Barbara, and we'll come back together in about 10 minutes. Thank you for your attention.


I will begin again, now with your questions. Let me preface this by the statement that I could have talked for another hour and not made a dent in the topic we were discussing. So what I've said has just scratched the surface.

Q: The question is karma. My concern, my worry, my fear is that if everything is viewed as having a karmic origin, it seems like it gives humans an excuse to not take action to remedy injustice.

Aaron: And to not act also creates an unwholesome karma! Karma is very specific. Let's use a simple situation. You may see a parent who has slapped the toddler in the supermarket cart. The toddler is screaming, 'I want the candy!' If you act from a place that says, 'That's wrong, I won't let her do that,' then the mother or father who has slapped the toddler is likely to take strong offense. 'That's my child! I'll do what I want!' You hit the father and the next thing you know, he's punching you. And then you can go home and say, 'Look what happened. It's all his fault. I shouldn't have done anything.' Here is one area of karma.

On the other hand, you can back up and say, 'Well, the father's slapping the child but I'm not going to get involved.' Then there's specific karma of inaction. The question here is not about whether you act or don't act but whether action or inaction is chosen from a place of love, or from a place of negativity. The karma is very specific. If you act from a place of fear and bring back results that create more pain and hostility, then you're perpetuating that specific karmic stream. When you deny, that is another karmic stream. When you respond from a place that has compassion for the father and is able to say, 'I remember the days when my kids did that. Why don't you let me push the cart with your baby just a few feet ahead and let me play with him a few minutes while you pay for your groceries?' Then you're intervening but you're doing it from a place of compassion, not self-righteousness. If you do not act, you create the ongoing karma of being one who doesn't get involved, which is coming from a place of fear.

If someone falls out of a boat, you can't say, 'It is his karma to drown.' Perhaps it is your karma to save him! Do you understand? Do you have a question?

Q: Yes. How do you avoid feelings of guilt for one's prosperity compared to the suffering of the poor in the world? Guilt for not doing more.

Aaron: You use this catalyst of guilt as a teacher. First you observe that there's guilt. The fact that there's guilt means that there's some grasping or selfishness. If there was literally no selfishness or attachment, if you had wealth you would not feel guilt to have it. So the fact that there's guilt shows some selfishness. You do not criticize yourself that there's greed or selfishness, but you begin to look deeply at it. You ask yourself to give in different ways, to see how it feels to give, both to see the fear, 'My needs won't be met,' and the joy of giving. You start to deeply honor the joy of giving.

At a certain point, you find that the guilt has dissipated and that probably you are living your life in a more generous way. It is not asked of you, brother, to give until you are penniless and living in the homeless shelter. You have created a wholesome life for yourself. Regardless of the scaleof simple-wholesome or elaborate and wealthy wholesomecan there be joy in sharing what you have and joy also in appreciating what you have?

One who is very wealthy and afraid does not enjoy what he has because he's so afraid he'll lose it. The human, whether wealthy or poor, who has great joy in what he has finds it enjoyable to share it with others, and begins to understand, 'My needs will be met. Everything is flowing. Everything is cycling.' Truly the more you give, the more comes back to you. It's very hard to live your life giving away everything, and not necessary. But watch for those places of holding and fear. Right there is the right place to practice.

There will always be those in the world who have less than you. There will always be those in the world who have more than you. In another life, you may have had more or less. The question is not so much about whether you have more or less in this lifetime, but whether you are able to trust this whole flow of giving and receiving, whether you are wealthy or poor. Is there another question?

Q: Can you ask Aaron to talk about the power of prayer? And the form of it, the form and the power.

Aaron: You are all connected energetically. Imagine if I had a braided rope with 20 strands. You are holding just one strand of that rope and the other strands are all splayed out around the room. You are pulling on your one strand; I'm pulling on the entire braided rope at the other end, pulling you. Now if everybody around you grabbed one of those strands and pulled with you, think of the energy you'd have.

In prayer, there's not so much somebody pulling on the other end, me against you, but there is, perhaps, let's say a karmic movement, an energetic movement, toward illness or misfortune of some sort. The person at your end is holding tight saying, 'I want to be healthy. I want to heal from this cancer,' for example.

Begin with the clarity to focus on that which is already whole in the self, rather than to grasp through fear and try to push away the illness. See that which is whole. Then others come along and say, 'I see what you're doing. I will pray with you.' That means they hold the intention with you. It's like taking a strand of the rope. All of this energy, then, goes into your creation, your co-creation, inviting wholeness.

You might ask, 'Why am I leaving God out of this?' My experience of God is not that there's some puppet master deity who, if enough prayers come, he or she will take away your cancer. My experience of God is that that which we call God transcends the energy of everything, and yet it includes the energy of everything.

We cannot say what God is, it's simply that Unborn, Undying, the Infinite, infinite love and intelligence. God does not cure you; your love cures you. If you have this view of God, what you are praying to is what's most loving in yourself. Such prayer helps you to move beyond the place of fear, which continues to re-manifest the trauma, and takes you to the place of love that's able to speak from a loving center in yourself and from a knowing of your wholeness. And in knowing your wholeness, to move into the wholeness, letting go of that which is distorted.

The distortion is an illusion, really, and yet it's manifest. But beyond the distortion is that which is undistorted, it's always there. I use the example sometimes of a spring of absolutely pure water. It flows out of the ground. It runs down the hill and picks up some sediment and other kinds of pollution. But the pure water is there. It hasn't gone anywhere, it's just got some distortion mixed in with it.

In just the same way, whatever it is that you're praying for, be it health or well-being of yourself or for a loved one, or whatever the prayer-intention may be, that innate perfection is always there. If you approach it from a place of fear, you keep manifesting the distortion. When you come back to the place of love, with or without God, you center yourself in love and invite others to take hold of the strands with you and pray with you from that same place of love. Energetically they're weaving together with you, weaving together a tapestry of healing with you, of growth, of love, of joy. So this is the power of prayer.

Let us take one more question.

Q: It's a personal question. When I grew up, my mother was very harsh to me, and I am very hurt from my mother and child relationship. Sometimes it causes me a depression. How can I overcome it right now, because my mother already passed away? I want to know how to heal.

Aaron: Do you meditate, my sister?

Q: I do, sometimes.

Aaron: There are many ways to resolve this, such as through prayer or through psychiatry. But to me, the most direct route is through meditation. I'm speaking here specifically of the insight or vipassana meditation we teach. This practice gives you a tool whereby you can watch pained feelings, fear, anger, feelings of not being loved. You can watch these feelings arise and begin to see that they are all based on conditions. It releases the self-identification with the thoughts.

Physical sensations arise. An itch might arise, but you don't say, 'Oh, I am an itch.' But if sadness arises, then you say, 'Oh, I am sad, I am depressed.' And there's so much self-identification with it.

When you practice in this form of meditation, you begin to see deeply into how physical and mental states and emotions arise out of conditions and pass away. It lessens the self-identity with them. If I am not my sensations, if I am not my thoughts or my emotions, what am I? You break through. You begin to see who you are beyond all these aspects of the self. It's not to deny the emotions or sensations, but you find that you're something more than that, and that what you are is beautiful, whole, and radiant.

So this is the path I would suggest. There is no denial here that these feelings have arisen nor that they are painful and difficult to experience. But instead of trying to make them go away, one opens the heart to them with compassion, and ceases to judge the self in whom they have arisen, or the mother who participated in the pain out of which they arose.

It may be helpful with the mother to work with a loving-kindness meditation. There is one in the appendix to Presence, Kindness and Freedom [by Aaron and Barbara Brodsky, available on Amazon or through DSC web site]. I believe that there are some also on the Deep Spring website that can be downloaded.

In this practice, first you address a loved person and see that they're suffering, and wish them well, offering whatever wishes the heart prompts, 'May you have well-being. May you have peace.' Then you work with the self, seeing that you are suffering and wishing yourself well. Then you come to the difficult person, the mother, in this case. In the practice, you look deeply and see also the mother has sufferednot right now, she's left the body, but how much she had suffered.

You begin to find the capacity in the heart to, not to forgive her, that's another step that will come later, simply to wish her well. 'May you be free from suffering,' right now, whatever plane she's on, wherever she is. How would it feel simply to wish her well? Because at some level, what you want from her is her love, and what she wants from you is your love. But she was never able to ask for your love when you were young, or to give you her love. You don't need her to heal it; the healing is very possible within the self.

I'd be very happy to talk to you about this further, if that would be helpful. But for now we must end, we're coming to the end of our time. Please have courage and know that it can be done.

Let us simply meditate here for 5 minutes, and I'm going to lead you in a bit of a guided meditation.

Let us do a bit of this compassion meditation together. (pauses are not noted)

Bring into your heart and mind a loved person, and speak to this person.

You have suffered.
You have known loneliness, fear, and confusion.
You have not been able to hold on to what you loved, and to keep yourself safe from that which seems to threaten you.
You have known pain in your body and in your mind.
You have suffered.
May you be free from suffering.
May your heart open and flower.
May you find the healing that you seek.
May you love and be loved.
May you be happy and find peace.

Picture this cherished one receiving your wishes, blossoming in your love.

Then we turn the attention to the self. Holding yourself tenderly in your own heart:

I have suffered.
I have known loneliness, fear, and confusion.
I have known pain in the body and in the mind.
I have not been able to hold on to what I love, or to keep myself free from that which seems to threaten me.
I have suffered.
May I be free from suffering.
May my heart open and flower.
May I find the healing that I seek.
May I love and be loved.
May I be happy and find peace.

Allow yourself to feel how much you yearn for these things: love, peace, happiness, and safety.

Turning your attention to all of those throughout your world who are oppressed, who live in fear, in poverty, in pain, you acknowledge:

You are suffering.
I see all the ways that you are suffering.
May you be free from suffering.
May your heart open and flower.
May you find the healing that you seek.
May you love and be loved.
May you find safety in body and in soul.
May you be happy and find peace.

We turn our attention to those who perpetrate violence in the world, those who oppress others through their own fear and confusion.

You are suffering.
I see the ways that you are suffering.
It angers me that you inflict your fear on others, but I see that it comes from your own fear and suffering.
May you be free from suffering.

Watch for any reluctance to offer the wish. Try to let the heart soften around that resistance, to come back to the truth that this being is suffering or has suffered.

May your heart open and flower.
May you find the healing that you seek.
May you, even you, love and be loved.
May you be happy and find peace.

No more oppressed or oppressor.

May all beings come to know their deepest connection with each other and all that is.
May all beings find the loving heart that is their birthright and learn to live from that space.
May we all learn to regard fear not as an enemy but simply as an object arisen from conditions, impermanent, an object to which we can relate with compassion. Then we will truly have peace.

I thank you for sharing yourselves with me this evening and permitting me the opportunity to share with you. My blessings to you as you walk this human path, searching the way to true peace and love. I wish you good night.

(recording ends)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Additional material from Barbara

As I read Aaron's words about karma and the Freedom Ride, they took me back 17 years, to Aaron's direct teaching to me on this issue. In April 1990 I was looking at the issue of responsibility and karma, as regarded my own daily life. Are we ever responsible for another person's actions? When there are angry feelings with another person, and angry words follow that hurt one or another, where is the responsibility? If I spoke to one of my sons, asking him to turn off the TV for example, and he became angry, I could just let him express that anger within the limits that he did no verbal or physical harm with it, and help to hold space for the anger until it dissipated. With my husband, I became more caught up emotionally, and reacted. Then the anger escalated. I could see that when I was emotionally involved, my ego was participating, my response was unclear, and I was responsible for the escalating anger. Then there was an extension of the unwholesome karma around anger for us both. This journal begins at that point. I share it excerpts of the journals with you, dear readers, in hopes it will further clarify what Aaron said on Wednesday night.

Personal journal, April 11, 1990:
When I was talking to (a dharma friend) I saw something important I hadn't seen before. I don't remember clearly what I was saying just before. I was putting on my shoes. She touched my head and back in a very loving way, and something between what she'd said the violence of this memory connected. That loving gesture allowed the power of that memory through, which I see I've really pushed away all of these years. I suddenly had a glimpse of how unloving and judgmental I was being to myself in feeling all these years that I was partly responsible for that situation. I saw how angry I was at the men with pipes and rocks. I didn't think there was still anger about it, but there is a lot and I've been turning it on myself.

There were so many other situations where I could have been hurt or killed. I know I wasn't angry in those situations, and I had no attachment to making anything special happen. I was there just because my conscience said I needed to be there.

This freedom ride was the same, but I'm not the one who got hurt. The painful part was standing there watching and feeling so totally powerless, and, yes, feeling rage at those people with pipes. Why? If they were aimed at me I wouldn't have felt rage. I've been through that. Aaron, I'm feeling stuck with this, and a lot of pain. I just don't know what to do with the full force of this memory and feelings.

Aaron: You need to do nothing with it; just allow it in and see how much anger there was. Why are you so afraid of that anger?

B: I don't think I'm afraid of it so much as surprised by it.

A: You're not being honest here. Do you see how strongly you're rejecting the whole idea that you were that angry. Look at the anger at yourself. As soon as you felt rage at them you felt like a failure. You couldn't allow the rage, so you turned it against yourself and internalized it, feeling that their violence was your fault. You felt if you weren't angry you could have done something to prevent the violence. You had experienced that power of love enough times to know that was, indeed, possible. But your anger did NOT preceed their violence, but followed it. Thus your anger coud not have caused it. . You CANNOT make another's choices for them, nor are you responsible for those choices. Do you see this more clearly now, child?

B: A little; will you say more?

A: These men that forced the bus off the road and attacked were in a violent rage when they began this attack. They were driven by their prejudice and fear and were reacting as a cornered and frightened animal might, by turning against what they saw as the cause of pain. What that bus caused was their need to confront themselves, their own fear and prejudice. They were not ready to do so. If you have any responsibility here, it's in not recognizing that what you were asking, that they accept this bus, was impossible for them.

B: But that is where I feel the responsibility Aaron. If we weren't on that bus, obviously this wouldn't have happened.

A: If you weren't on the bus someone else would have been. You would have been just as responsible since you suported the ride. This is group karma and differs from individual karma. Consider all the situations where your love and courage was the necessary ingredient to prompt people to confront their prejudice and fear and move beyond it, or at least find a small amount of growth. You were not forcing this integrated bus on them. They were free to reject it without violence.

B: Were they, Aaron? If a mother animal attacks protecting her young when someone comes near her den, did she really have a choice or was the coming near her den an act of violence?

A: There are two differences here, child. These are human, not animal, and therefore have other than instinct to guide their choices. The second difference is intention. You did not board that bus to deliberately provoke another but because it was a statement your conscience demanded you make, that you and others of various races had a right to sit side by side there. You were not endangering their 'den.'

B: But I was, Aaron. I was threatening them, or at least their lifestyle. A: No, child. You were asking them to look at their misunderstandings. You were not dictating that they open their homes to those of other races, just stating that the bus is a public place; you and your black sister have the right to meet there side by side. Do you remember Gandhi's definition of satyagraha?

B: yes.
A: Please tell me.

B: To have a different viewpoint than another and feel so strongly that their misunderstanding is causing harm that you must ask them to look at your viewpoint. To force your view on them is violence, so you simply approach them, in love, being willing to suffer their anger, and if necessary their violence, with love and forgiveness, while you ask them to consider your view.

A: Notice that you have said 'to consider,' not 'to accept.' Do you see why this is important?

B: Because to ask them to accept it is a form of violence. To ask them to consider it is simply opening a door, not forcing them through, as you so often put it.

A: Exactly! You sit in front of them. What comes next is their choice. They are NOT a frightened animal. If they choose to respond as one, that is their choice. You do NOT create their choices or their karma.

April 12, 1990:
… on to this question of karma. I'm starting to understand it better. Aaron, I'm still stuck on these two questions, can any act of mine create negative karma for someone else and how can we talk about bad karma/ good karma when there is no good or evil, no duality, but just karma?

Aaron: Let's review here, child, and see what you understand from the beginning. Every act creates new karma. It is not good or bad, as you've just noted. It simply is. Those situations where there is misunderstanding, where harm is done to another, where you feel anger or hatred or some other intense emotion that leads you to act in less than skillful ways, lead to the creation of a karmic residue, shall we say, which sticks and is carried with you. The karma that creates no such residue is simply released. It leaves no imprint, no seed to take root in a future being.

In looking at past lives together, we have been looking at habitual actions which produced a karmic residue that was passed from that being to this present being. There were areas where that being, shall we use this 1500s monk as an example, where his unskillful actions led to harm for others. His refusal to his father created the conditions for his father's anger. He harmed his father by his refusal to give when it was requested, by his selfishness and lack of compassion. He is responsible to the father for that. He is NOT responsible for the father's subsequent violence. We have been through this and I believe you understand it.

In your present relationship to that being who was your father, you are given the opportunity to repay that debt, to give compassion and responsible action this time around. You are also asked to forgive the anger of that past lifetime as you practice with forgiveness in this lifetime, and to ask for forgiveness. You do not need to ask this present being for forgiveness for that lifetime, but the past being. He can find no freedom until he has forgiven you. But choices and actions in this lifetime are HIS problem, not yours.

Let us look at the rest of the karma of this monk. Karma is action. Your action in intercepting his weapon saved the life of the being that I was at the cost of your own. This was an act of totally unselfish love and you reap the rewards of that action through the guidance I have given you in these 4 lifetimes since, which is given both from my love and as my karmic gift to you. I did not create your action. Through being there to be attacked, I contributed to the conditions that enabled your action, but it was entirely your choice.

We have been through all of this several times, in varying degrees of depth. I just want to review it before we go into a new concept. Is there anything thus far you do not understand?

B: no, Aaron.

A: You must understand two things, the difference between group and individual karma, and that there is overlapping karma. You are always responsible for everything that comes through you, every thought and word and deed. You are not responsible for the choices of another. Even in an extreme situation, such as where one being attacks another and the other strikes back and kills the first in self protection, the first is responsible only for his own actions, for his own anger and violent attack. No matter what the provocation, the second is responsible for his own choices. Thus, in that lifetime, your selfishness did not make you responsible for your father's attack. In this lifetime, your presence did not make you responsible for these mens' attack on the freedom ride.

The obvious question is why you had so much trouble with this idea, why you insisted that it was your responsibility. I believe you see it now as an issue of anger and not just responsibility. Your feeling of helplessness led to your rage, and your strong judgment against this rage led you to supress even the possibility of it. Thus you turned it inward by claiming responsibility for their acts.

It is your fear of this anger that has paralyzed you. There was no fear of harm to yourself in the situation. You understood that while you could be killed, as long as there was love you could not be harmed. But it was this depth of understanding that made it so hard to accept the anger.

Do you see now that this is what that monk did also. There was love for the father and love for the being that I was. But after the attack, as he whom you were lay dying and in pain, that love turned to rage. You blamed him but could not accept your own responsibility. He was responsible for throwing the weapon. You were responsible for intercepting it. That you did so to save me is irrelevent. Your intention was good, yet you are always responsible for EVERYTHING that you do. If you step in the way of a projectile aimed at another, that is your choice. If you are attacked and it is thrown at you, rather than your stepping in to intercept it, then it is not your choice. In either case your violence of thought toward the being hurling it would create negative karma, that is, karma which must be transformed.

That time you moved to create the situation. This time you were just in the situation, merely present, and it was your karma to be present. In both situations, one where you were mortally wounded and another where you watched others be wounded, though not seriously so, you felt anger at the one who was violent. In this 1500's lifetime, that turned to a rage that you died with. That lifetime was followed by the one we have not yet looked at, and it is essential that we do so now, this week. Next was this Yorkshire lifetime. You understood a responsibility here for the death of your family. It was not by intention, but by irresponsibility you co-created it. You did not light the fire but you knew the one who did was not reliable and that the fire would need to be watched, yet this man you were chose not to return home promptly. Here is the karma. You felt intense rage at yourself for this; you understood your responsibility, but again there was no forgiveness or compassion for yourself or for the one who did not watch the fire. Do you see that there are two different areas of learning here. The first is responsibility, accepting full responsibility for your own choices. The second is forgiveness and acceptance, both of yourself and of others.

Do you begin to see the pattern. On that freedom ride you are again given the opportunity to learn this. But you move so far in the other direction that you don't allow your anger. You will see this in the lifetime we must still examine, the issue of forgiveness. You have worked intensively with these past beings and forgiveness for all of this. But you must begin to also forgive yourself and accept your imperfections.

You have just asked 'why do I have to be everything for everybody?' May I suggest that the answer is guilt. You must begin to look through this and let go of it, to allow the same compassion for yourself, both this present being and those who preceeded this one, that you would have for another.

(Dharma friend's) action allowed you a glimpse into the anger. It's now up to you to deal with it honestly and wisely.

Now let us go a step further. You asked on Tuesday, how can you act without knowing. Do you see that there is nothing that can be known in that way? Let us look for a moment at this definition of the Unconditioned you're so fond of, from the Udana scripture. It is 'unborn, undying, unchanging ….' It is beyond knowing. It is everything; it is emptiness. You cannot limit it by demanding it be knowable. You can't possess or control the Absolute. Everything is part of this Absolute, Eternal, or Emptiness. There is nothing that can be owned, or possessed, or known within defined limits.

Yet not knowing is simply a denial. There is no paradox here. Nothing is certain, yet you must act and speak from your deepest truth. You must be aware of your body and mind and also of the tendencies of others.

So you cannot try to define your life within such rigid rules. You can follow the precepts, but even there as you have seen, there are times when to follow them means not to follow them, that this hurts another less. You can follow the greater injunction to do no harm but do only good, but you CANNOT know. Ultimately, all you can do is to be, to board a bus not to make anything happen but because you must be on that bus. You practice, not to make anything happen, but simply because it is the only thing to do.

You must keep in mind here that nothing is fixed; all is in the act of becoming. When you are knowing, you have a viewpoint, but that will change, is changing. Thus, your practice is to notice these viewpoints, these opinions, this attachment, and let it move past. But, and here is where it gets more complicated, you are also a being with responsibilities to other beings. When you notice one hurt another, through flinging a projectile, or through prejudice, you must act on it if you are to follow the injunction 'do no harm but do only good.' It is harm to allow another to suffer when you can prevent their suffering. To not act is also a choice for which you are responsible. So you must act. But that action must be done without attachment or ego. You don't catch the arm of the man with a stick about to hit another to punish him, nor even to correct him, but because, like your practice, there is nothing else to be done.

Understanding that there's nothing solid, even no solid 'I' behind the opinion, you must also understand that as a physical being you do have, and will have opinions. When you suppress the opinion, supress the anger, then you cause blind reaction. The only freedom is in recognizing the opinion and the anger and moving through it so that when you do act, it can be an action free of attachment and offered in love.

Let me relate this back to satyagraha. Seeing prejudice, you have no choice but to act in a way to ask others to look at their prejudice. You do so with love and acceptance for that being, and compassion for his pain. You do NOT ask him to change, merely to consider your viewpoint that he is causing harm to another through his prejudice. You know in this situation that on one level you must choose an effective action if your act is to be meaningful and create changes that will alleviate suffering, and at the same time that you must act even if there is no result at all, just because that is what you must do.

You and D spoke of this last night. You chose to block the launching of a nuclear submarine in the river so others would be asked to examine their own consciences. But in answer to her question, you said you had to do this and would have done it if it had just been you and the submarine, and no other being to witness. You had to do it because there was nothing else to do, just to sit in its path. You knew you could not stop the launching so the protest was symbolic. Do you see that to do this honestly there could be no attachment?

B: yes.

A: I believe you understand now that your problem on this freedom ride was not one of responsibility or karma but attachment. You will notice that you are not responsible for their karma nor their violence just through having been there, but you are responsible for your attachment to a result, which moved you beyond asking them to consider, to asking them to accept. Do you see this?

B: yes, Aaron. I am responsible, but for something different than I thought I was.

A: This is the only violence you have done here, and it is not the cause of their actions. They are responsible for their actions. We have talked long enough. I suggest you continue to work with the forgiveness meditation. Let go of thinking about it and allow yourself to experience the depth of the pain and anger, and how it relates to the anger of that monk. Tomorrow I would like to work with you on that last lifetime that still needs to be examined. It is directly applicable to what you are learning and it is time to uncover it. There is nothing more that needs to be said. I suggest you turn off this machine and go and meditate. That is all.

Journal, April 13, 1990
It's 3 P.M. now, and has been an intense day. I don't know where to start with this. After this morning's meditation, Aaron suggested I not eat but take a walk for a while and then come back to work on that last lifetime. I know there were 4 lifetimes between the 1500's monk and this one. I've looked deeply at the third one. He tells me I died very young in the first, and the fourth, the lifetime just before this, is not concerned with these issues. For now, there is nothing there I need to examine.

I sat down about 7: 45. He asked me to get deeply concentrated and work with breath and chakras, just bringing in light and feeling the opening and energy of each. Eventually I was aware that I was completely still and my breath was very deep and quiet. I began to tell him that I couldn't see anything. We've been through this before. I always have a sense of doubt about thiseither a 'there's nothing there' or 'is it real?' feeling. I know by now that it's fear. So I noticed myself going through that and managed to just let it pass through.

Slowly I began to see that indian youth, the one I saw in that strong release last winter. At that time Aaron had not told me anything about this lifetime in terms of when. I only saw him taking scalps, felt the horror of that violence from this past being and that trembling of my arm. (journal, 1/4/90). I'm going to copy the page from that journal.

Part from journal, Jan 4, 1990
 … This morning I was sitting and very quiet, and suddenly my right arm started to tremble. It wasn't so much a shaking as what felt almost like an electric current running through. It startled me and I pulled back in fear. 'It's okay,' said Aaron. 'Go deeper.' I started to breath deeper (this is not a conscious decision to do so, just an observation on my part that this was what my body was doing. I don't know where the intention originates). I had a very brief vision of a small animal, perhaps a dog, with a smaller animal in its mouth and it stopped and let it go. I could sense from it that it simply wasn't hungry and refrained from killing. Then an apparition which I knew was me appeared, on horseback, arms triumphantly clutching not one but 3 or 4 deer (heads and skin I guess) and holding them up high. My body was painted with blood. I had a thought of revulsion, that even the dog could let it's victim go, but I had claimed all these lives merely for the skins or the glory of it.

Again, Aaron said 'go deeper.' This 'current ' started fiercely in my arm again. And then I was a Native American youth, that same one or another. I don't know and it doesn't matter. I was killing in battle, not just men but women and children, that trembling right arm wielding a weapon, leaping off my horse and cutting scalps off still living bodies, and my collection this time wasn't deer but human scalps.

About here the arm trembling stopped, as did the vision, but I was sitting there with tears streaming down my face, overcome with hatred for myself.

Aaron began to do a forgiveness meditation with me, similar to the one he'd led last night at the channeling session. Last night he had us all holding hands in a circle. He'd asked us to each find the one most unforgivable thing we could think of that we'd ever done or said, to forgive ourselves and ask forgiveness from those whose hands we held, as representatives of all mankind. He asked us to think of the thing done or said to us that had most hurt us and to hold that person in our minds and forgive them, extending that forgiveness to those whose hands we held.

He'd reminded us that we had each done all the most terrible and seemingly unforgivable deeds imaginable at some time in our lives, and had them done to us, and also done the most loving and noble deeds imaginable. We are the total of all the negativity and all the positivity and when we can't accept the negativity it fragments us and there is no wholeness.

Holding each other's hands, he reminded us that we are not (in his words) our brothers' keepers; we are our brothers. As one being, he asked us to allow ourselves to forgive and to be forgiven. He reminded us that forgiveness is a process not an event. It doesn't have to be plunged into, but can be waded into, one step at a time, opening our hearts a bit more with each step. He asked us not to forgive so much as to simply open our hearts to the possibility of forgiveness.

There was a lot more. It was almost 1/2 hour. That was the essence of it. It was very powerful.

So this morning we began to go through this meditation again, although of course with no physical hands to hold. He asked me to face the negativity and come to peace with it, to stop fighting it, to forgive myself for it. I sat there for perhaps another 1/2 hour, looking at the revulsion and finding some peace and healing and acceptance of myself.

Back to 4/13. Again I had a strong sense of fear, that this was going to be hard to watch. I felt the reassurance of Aaron's presence and love. He said that it was not what I expected, to let go of my expectations and just be with whatever was there.

This same youth, but a little older. I understand he has returned from some time of living alone in the wilderness. He has scars from close combat with some large wild animal. There is a ceremony and he is to be aclaimed as a warrior, to take his place as a warrior in the tribe. There is a captive from another tribe, another young man. I/he am given a lance of some sort, with a sharp point (not too different from what I was killed with a lifetime earlier). I/he am asked to look in this being's eyes, offer thanks to something, and kill him as I look in his eyes. This is the final step of a series of arduous tests I/he has had to pass.

I/he look in this other's eyes … There was total trust in his eyes and no fear… with the trust in his eyes, all the bravado and hatred for an enemy vanished.

This indian who I was suddenly knew that he could not take this life for no reason beside his own glory. He let the lance fall. There were jeers and hits from those gathered round. He did not try to flee or escape. He just calmly walked away. He was no longer part of the tribe. He was stripped of all his status, but allowed to live, to pack up and leave. I see many years living alone in the wilderness. As the years passed, I/he became a 'medicine man,' knowledgable about and speaking to spirits. I suppose this was Aaron…

B: Back to this past life and what I saw. When I again saw this being whom I was he was far older. Why was I shown so little of these years of learning, Aaron?

A: You tell me.

B: 'I don't need to know!' Okay, let's go on. White men and indians were at war. There was much killing. I/he is widely accepted as a teacher and many indians stop their killing and begin to live on more peaceful terms with their white neighbors, following his guidance. His own tribe will not listen, and still calls him 'he who ran from the lance.'Many white and indian leaders ask him to go with them to try to talk with this tribe once more, to prevent the needless slaughter.

There is a peace conference of some sort. They have agreed to talk. They murder those who have come, except for the being I was who is allowed to live because he was born of that tribe. There are soldiers very near and when word of the killing is out (almost instantly, it seems) there is a massacre and soldiers slaughter the whole tribe, even the children, with great brutality. I/he sits on the hillside, untouched by either side, wishing only for death but not permitted that escape to his anguish of watching first his friends slaughtered by his tribe and then his tribe, his family, his brothers and sisters, slaughtered by the soldiers. The sense of helplessness and the rage are overwhelming. Feeling the responsibility for all this death, he does not know where to turn. That's as far as I saw. I don't know what became of him.

Sitting there this morning, I began to feel a deep sense of peace and share it with this being I had been. He was NOT responsible. He did all he could and the choices for killing were made by others. I sat there for over an hour, with the deepest sense of peace and, in a strange way, joy, that I've ever known.

Is it possible for me, in this lifetime, to teach myself in another lifetime? What was happening, Aaron. How did he feel this peace?

Aaron: First of all, child. He is not you. You share a certain karmic imprint and an essence, an awareness in which there is no self. You understand this?

B: yes, I understand that much.

A: There is no past and future but only now. All that you have ever been is part of this now. The learning flows in all directions. You are trying to force it onto a conventional time line but it doesn't work that way. We have explored this non-linear flow of time and I believe you understand it. It is in this way that you can have a 'memory' of the future.

All that you have ever been thus exists simultaneously in any moment. When you can open to the learning of other lifetimes, not only this present being can learn and find healing, but all aspects can do so. We have spoken of the need to forgive those who have done harm to you in past lives so those beings can find freedom. Do you see that this is part of the same thing.

B: I think so, Aaron. I couldn't explain it, but I have a feeling for what you mean. This is part of what we talked about last year when you first said I needed to forgive all who had hurt me in any lifetime or my withholding forgiveness would create new negative karma for the being I am now, for Barbara.

A: Yes. This is only true if you recognize he who has harmed you in a past life. Of course no new karma is created by not forgiving unless there is an awareness of something to forgive.

B: Yes. I understand that much.

A: Can you understand that this man has been able to learn what you, Barbara, have learned this week?

B: Yes. I feel such peace, and such joy in his freedom from suffering. So I am only responsible for my own choices, my own words and thoughts and acts.?

A: You are also responsible for the ommission of these. To see another suffering and willfully choose not to act, not to get involved, is a different kind of responsibility. It is in this sense that you are all responsible for each other. Here is where I say you are not your brother's keeper; you are your brother.

B: That's easier, Aaron. I do see the direct connection. To act or not act are just opposite sides of the same thing.

A: Yes, but the connection is not always as clear. You are not responsible for another's violent actions but you are always responsible for your response to them. Think of these words, 'response' and 'responsibility.' Do you understand the connection?

B: yes.

A: Do you see that in all these situations it is less responsibility than compassion and forgiveness you are being asked to learn, starting with that monk who died with such rage. In that lifetime there was the question of accepting responsibility for your own choices, but beyond that was having some compassion for your own situation. You can't really know compassion for another until you know it for yourself. If you take away the details of these 4 lifetimes, just substituting general concepts, you'll see that it has been a repeat of the same general situation. In this present lifetime you were able to learn without the suffering of those prior lifetimes because you opened your heart to the lesson.

B: I see that, Aaron. There's something I don't understand. …

A: his compassion toward others was marred. Do you see that this is what you have been learning since that time?

B: yes, I do now. So where do I go from here?

A: I believe we had this discussion once before. Why must you always be longing to 'go' somewhere. You are already everywhere. Just be here, in this moment, with an open heart and as much acceptance, love and compassion as can be found. Be open to whatever comes next with this love. That is all you need to do. There is no 'doing,' only 'being.' Why don't you go out and plant your trees? Do this with mindfulness for the life that you allow to flourish with each spade of soilnot just the trees, but all beings who will shelter and feed from them in the years to come. Find joy in this. It is all the 'doing' that is needed.

Copyright © 2007 by Barbara Brodsky