Aaron on Dzogchen, Day 4
May 4, 2006, Emerald Isle, NC

Aaron: We're sitting on a beautiful beach. Ten humans, one human telephone, and myself. The waves are playing, the breeze is blowing, kites and pelicans are flying. Light is everywhere. It is the greatest joy to sit here in this circle with you and share the dhamma.

Conditioned reality… Sand, water, kites, pelicans, suntan lotion. Conditioned reality. And space and light as the expressions of the Unconditioned, and the Unconditioned itself. They are not dual in any way. Relative and Ultimate are simultaneous.

If I were to put around me an inner-tubes--yes, I am in the inner tube. Sitting on the beach, I am in the inner tube. Then I go into the ocean. I am in the inner tube in the ocean. I remain in the inner tube. I come onto the beach, I go into the ocean, but I remain in the inner tube. Sometimes I'm on the beach, sometimes I'm in the ocean. I'm always in the inner-tube. The outer conditions change; the inner condition of inner-tube remains constant.

You are always in ultimate reality. Sometimes you are in relative reality and have lost touch with the fact of ultimate reality. Sometimes you are connected to both. Ultimate reality has a special kind of vibration, a very high vibration and energy. Relative realities have different, often lower, vibrations. Some expressions of relative reality have higher vibrations, some have lower. Anger has a very low vibration. Grasping has a very low vibration. Joy and laughter have higher vibration.

Never do any of these leave ultimate reality. You may not fully appreciate the presence of ultimate reality but it's always there. When you rest in awareness, you are resting at the doorway of ultimate reality. The self, which has a lower vibration, dissolves. There's no sense of me, no sense of separation from anyone. You're at a place that has a higher vibration. Resting in that spaciousness, you're aware of the quality of light, aware of the Unconditioned all around you.

Then perhaps as you sit there by the water, let's use our big sloppy wet dog as example again, the dog comes running along and jumps across your lap. You're wet, you're covered with sand. You have a scratch where his claws dug into the flesh. He's licking your feet and it's a sloppy feeling. Ultimate reality has not gone anywhere, pure awareness hasn't gone anywhere, but for the moment you can't access it. Your mind and body come back to a lower vibration.

You breathe a few times. A friend comes over and dries you off with a towel. You open up, see the dog frolicking so happy, catch his joy a bit, and you open back up into pure awareness.

We make the distinction between mundane consciousness and awareness. Sometimes it's called supramundane consciousness, that confuses people more so I like to separate it and call it consciousness or awareness. Consciousness relates to the five senses: four body senses and mind. There can be higher levels of consciousness but it's still consciousness, conditioned, and relating to a conditioned object.

When you rest in awareness, you transcend that conditioned level of consciousness and move into awareness but awareness is still aware of mundane objects. You're still looking at the sea and the sky. But you're out of personal, lower vibration consciousness and into awareness. At its highest level, awareness holds the Unconditioned itself as object.

Mundane consciousness cannot hold the Unconditioned as object, only supramundane consciousness, or what I call awareness, can hold it as object. Consciousness cannot reach a vibrational level that's capable of holding the Unconditioned as object.

We use the Pali word citta. There are over 120 citta defined in the standard Buddhist Pali texts about consciousness. They are various levels of mundane consciousness and higher consciousnesses moving up into supramundane consciousness. The citta, the consciousness opens to receive an object, and the texts explain what kind of objects are capable of being received at what levels of consciousness.

To put this in a very simple, everyday way, imagine you're feeling very grumpy, tired, angry, and little children are playing outside your window, you're trying to finish your taxes, mid-April, you're feeling grumpy. You didn't get much sleep last night. You have a headache. The children's energy is high, there's a high vibration to their joy and their play, can you hear it? You hear the children, but consciousness cannot perceive that high energy of the children, can it?

Instead, you hear noise. The lower vibration of your consciousness is only capable of hearing noise. You finish the taxes, you mail them out, you get a good night's sleep. It turns out that they owe you money back. You wake up the next morning. You're lying in bed and you hear the same children out in the yard, your neighbor's children playing. And "Ah! I hear the melody of their voices." There's a joy. You know the difference between that low level and higher levels of consciousness. I'm talking here about lower and higher levels of mundane consciousness.

You have worked enough with dzogchen to understand the experience of resting in awareness. You may be aware of the transition into awareness. First there's a someone doing the practice, a fairly high level of mundane consciousness. And then there's a shift like a giant window opening. The mundane consciousness falls away and there's just awareness. There's no sense of a self. The judging mind falls away. You can't bring judging mind into pure awareness. Discriminating mind doesn't completely fall away. You can rest in awareness, be aware of the chill and wrap yourself in a shawl while continuing to rest in awareness. So that discriminate facility can be maintained while resting in awareness.

But the mind can't move into the thought, "Why is it getting so cold? Is somebody blocking the sun? Did somebody put an umbrella up? What's blocking? What's going on?" That's the factor of thought, mental consciousness. So love can wrap itself in the shawl but aversion thought can't come up and still rest in awareness.

When you rest in awareness, you're still present with mundane objects but you start to see the supramundane pouring through. You feel the light and vibration. You hear the sound of nada, perhaps. You see the radiance everywhere. You see space, and everything breaking up into space. There's a lot of joyful energy. You're not fully resting in the Unconditioned but awareness is open to the Unconditioned and feels the presence of it permeating through all the conditioned realm.

Barbara talks of a personal experience of it as of a cornucopia, something shaped like a giant cone. When she rests in awareness, she says it's like the experience of sitting on the edge and watching the entire conditioned realm pouring out from a space she can't see at the bottom. It's clear that the Unconditioned is at the bottom and that this is all just expressing out. There's no doubt for her at that point that the Unconditioned is there, and everything that she sees is an expression of the Unconditioned.

For Barbara, when she is in a very deep space in vipassana practice, it's a different experience. She is not opening to awareness so much as observing consciousness arising and falling away. Objects coming and dissolving. She's not going so much into the space they dissolve into, although she is aware of the space. At times she becomes aware of every object arising and passing away and consciousness itself seems to dissolve and pass away. The sense organs dissolve, the mind dissolves, the whole sense of ego dissolves, the body dissolves. So there's an experience of everything having arisen and dissolved: nothing arising, nothing dissolving. In that stopping, enormous peace. But there is still no sense of the relationship of conditioned and unconditioned.

Moving into that space of no arising and dissolution. Coming to a direct experience of the Unconditioned, there's no way to bring that Unconditioned experience into the present because she's at a different level of being. In the chart I'm going to show you in a minute, consciousness can't go to the cosmic template level, the pure Unconditioned level.

The Unconditioned, we can't call it an object and we can't call it a non-object. It is perhaps the supreme object. It's the object out of which everything expresses. But the direct experience of the Unconditioned is not the experience of the conditioned objects that express out of it. It's what lies beyond all of those objects, diving into the bottom of the cornucopia. A place of, at first it might seem darkness but really it's infinite light. Going through. I think of the birth canal, going through the darkness into the light.

I'm stepping into something related but new. I used an image the other day of a pure underground spring. The water is absolutely pure. Of course, this is a conditioned object, but let's use it as a metaphor for the Unconditioned. You want some water. You know the spring is under there, you can hear gurgling underground. There's no outlet for it near you. You could dig a hole. If you dig a hole and bring this conditioned reality down into the perfect pure underground spring, you're going to contaminate it. In other words, you're going to bring relative reality down into the ultimate reality. You can't do it that way!

Eventually the spring will seep out of the ground somewhere, but as soon as it touches the air, pollutants can touch it. It's no longer the 100% pure spring water, is it?

In the practice with which we're working, first we are just doing dzogchen, resting in awareness, inviting that level of being, pure awareness, that is capable of perceiving the Unconditioned mingled with the conditioned. Mingling the elements, seeing the space and light in the elements, seeing the elements within the body, finding the space and light within those, this is related to the dzogchen practice, resting in awareness. You can see the separate elements but your consciousness cannot fully mingle the elements, only awareness can. Consciousness cannot find the space and light within the elements, only awareness can. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about external or internal elements.

So having done this practice, you have stabilized the ability to rest in awareness. Lay this all lightly aside for a moment. A new area of consideration and then we'll blend them.

There is what we call the Ever-Perfect, the pure spring. There are step-down experiences of that pure spring until we come to relative reality, and each of those downward steps has a slightly lower vibration.

Let me use another of Barbara's examples here. When she was in art school in college, sometimes the students were asked to go to the museum and copy a painting by a great master. She could not create the great master's painting, she could only create her rendition of it. The more present she could be with bare perception, the more accurate the rendition she would create. But when her own biases and opinions, old conditioning, and so forth, got into the way then she created a less accurate rendition. If she wanted to bring forth as accurate a copy of that great master's work as possible, she needed to rest in bare awareness, bare perception.

She also needed to be right there and looking at the work she wanted to copy. If there were 10 students and the first was in the room with the master work, the next was sitting and looking over her shoulder at the first drawing, the third looking at the second's drawing, and Barbara was the 10th looking at the 9th drawing, how accurate a copy could she get? And yet this is what most of you do in your daily lives.

Much experience comes to you overlaid with old conditioning, old habit energy, karmic knots and so forth, and you react not to the bare experience but to all of that old conditioning. Resting in awareness you begin to see the true experience. You also begin to see the subtle distortions that we would call biases, old karma, that create an inaccurate picture of what's happening. Awareness is able to watch consciousness moving into an inaccuracy and say, "Ah, here's what consciousness is doing, this old biased consciousness." It's not said with judgment, it's said with a loving smile.

Then it's like being the 10th person and saying, "Ah! I'm not getting the master's work." Pick up your drawing and go into the first room and stand in front of the master's painting for your copying. Awareness returns with direct perception, present with what is. It's able to look at all the drawings that are lined up, see the increasing distortions, and coming back to the original.

Can you understand then how consciousness and awareness work together? We need consciousness in the purest form that it's accessible in order to shift the old karma, in order to shift old conditioning and so forth. Awareness can only look at it but it can't transform it. It can transform the belief that the consciousness is accurate because you look at the copy of the copy of the copy and you see it's not accurate. Awareness looks and says, "No, not this one. Come back and look at the master's work itself."

The practice then is a mingling of as clear consciousnesses as possible and awareness. We replace the master's work as object with whatever is predominant, including the karmic knots.

You had been sitting there on the beach very happy. This big shaggy dog came along, wet, sandy. Anger came up. The dog is gone now but the mind is playing with, "Why don't they keep that dog tied up? They should only let small well-trained dogs on the beach. What a mess! I don't like this." Mind is filled with judgment, irritation, grumblings. Awareness comes along and says, "Aha! Look at all this seething." It feels an imbalance of the elements.

For the first step, you can't do anything until you come back into balance. So the first step is to invite, I would use the compassionate regret from the Seven Branch Prayer. "Look where all the seething is getting me; is this what I want?" The arisen anger and mind stories are not the fault of anyone. No blame, just compassionate regret and the intention to transform it. Bringing in balance.

This is not about a big shaggy dog. Let's say a gull landed right by me and he was irritating me, begging my snack. The wind blew sand in my face and that was irritating me. There is some kind of a karmic knot here, some kind of a habit energy that doesn't want to be bothered and takes anything pushing at me as bother. Something perhaps around transgression of boundaries, feeling unsafe.

You don't really have to be able to name the karmic knot; rather, you turn your attention within and begin to feel that energy. You feel it as a lower vibration, it's a part of a lower level of consciousness, part of the anger energy, the self-centered and grasping energy. It may or may not seem to have a location. It doesn't have to have a location. When I say you see it, I don't necessarily mean with your eyes; you feel it. There's a direct sense of it. Some people will perceive it, if they look within they perceive it as a gray or heavier colored area, a lower vibration area. Others may not see it in that way. Some may hear it, something that's out of tune within.

Seeing that area of heaviness and acknowledging, "This is old, this is related to old karma, old conditioning, and the intention is not to continue to carry this." Begin to look at the element structure within that knot. Not at the emotion that just passed, but at the knot itself.

We turn to the knot itself and invite awareness to look at the element imbalance, to first invite balance and then go beyond balance to the full integration of the elements. On the mundane level we balance the elements but how can we balance the elements when everything inter-is? From the mundane level we look out and see the sky and the sea and sand and feel the sun and we mingle them. But on a deeper level there's nothing to balance because it's all one. There's nothing separate there. On the relative level it's separate and on the supramundane level it's not separate but both are simultaneous.

The separateness of the elements held in balance on the mundane level and the full non-separation of the elements on the supramundane level, are simultaneous. They happen together. So this practice asks of you to make that shift, first balancing the elements, then seeing the full integration of them. And as you move into awareness with the knot itself, open to the space and light within it and just let it dissolve into space and light.

The karma of a thousand years is freed like that (snapping fingers) with this practice. Of course, you're not going to be able to do that this afternoon. It takes some practice. But once you understand the practice it not only gradually transforms karma but instantly transforms karma.

There must be the willingness to watch once you've done this and you're sitting and saying, "Ah, isn't that lovely," and the wet, sloppy dog comes along again and anger comes up, because the mind is still so caught in this habit energy. It's not so much of a karmic knot anymore, it's just knee-jerk kind of reaction. And you can create new karma with it. So while the old karma is liberated, you still can create new karma. You've got to be very careful, very present.

Q: I have a question. I would have thought that the elements don't… I want to say don't exist in pure awareness, but I know that that is not the correct way of saying it. At the same time, you talk about how they blend in pure awareness.

Aaron: Resting in pure awareness, you still see the conditioned realm so you see the elements. You also see the non-separation of the elements, so you see both the mundane and the supramundane level of the elements. In the supramundane, the separate elements no longer exist but the elements as expression of the Unconditioned. In Awareness we see the whole expression of the supramundane into the conditioned realm. And the elements are among the basic expressions. We don't see them as separate. We see that place where the elements are about to burst into an expression of uniqueness. Does that answer the question?

Q: Yes.

(Passing out copies of the consciousness chart that was in the spring DSC newsletter)

Aaron: We start with the body, the physical body. Then there is the energetic level of the physical body, the physical etheric body. The emotional and mental bodies and the higher etheric body, and the etheric template. Let's say that the physical, emotional, and mental bodies are like the, I don't know how many artists down the line. And the etheric template is the artist next to her. She is receiving the information from the one next to her. The astral body and astral template. He's receiving the information through the transpersonal body up to the cosmic template of the Master's painting. It's stepped down.

Q: Is there another word for template?

Aaron: There are many other words for template. What word would you like? (laughter)

Q: Any one. Any other word to define.

Aaron: Blueprint. So the cosmic template is like that pure spring. The physical body is like the water we see that has poured out from the spring, through a hole in the ground, and run a half a mile down the hill. However, right there half a mile down the hill, where cattle are walking in the water, a little boy is fishing, children are swimming, farm fertilizer is pouring off into the river, right there is the pure spring. You've heard me say this before. Do you understand what I mean when I say the pure spring is right there? You're not going to drink it until you filter it. It's not only the pure spring. It's got pollutants added to it so you need to filter the pollutants out so you get the pure spring.

Barbara occasionally when traveling in the wilderness has purified water by running it through a fine filter so it's potable. In other words, she has transformed the water back to its natural state.

What you're doing with this practice, to find the karmic knot and release it back into its natural state. Bring in light. When I say light, I don't mean mundane light but that radiance that infiltrates everything. See the space into which it all breaks up. You see the heaviness of the karmic knot and you see that it's not solid at all. Just like any mundane object it breaks up into light and space and has no solidity. You see the karmic knot has no solidity. It falls apart. There's a willingness to let it fall apart, not pushing it apart but releasing it. And then you re-enter into the pure spring, so to speak, into the place where there was no karmic knot. The karmic knot is there and it's not there. Resting in pure awareness, there's no karma, but in awareness you can't come back and transform the karmic knot because you're resting in a place where there's no karma. The consciousness that pulls you out of pure awareness and into an area of distortion and lower vibration experiences that as a contraction. Within that contraction, aware of the low vibration, perhaps needing to deal with the emotion itself first, perhaps not, perhaps just coming to the karmic knot. You find it within the contraction and it's a coming together of consciousness and awareness, consciousness and awareness working together in that way.

This is a bare outline of the practice. I told you on Tuesday we would need a month to take it as deep as I would like to take it. Tomorrow, no new instruction, just a chance to ask questions and to practice together.

I want to say one more thing here. In doing this work, you not only find your own liberation, find more ease and comfort, releasing the old karma. You have not come into incarnation merely for yourself to release old karma. You and the whole earth are involved in a transition of consciousness. The lower levels of consciousness, the heavier levels, are very self-centered, very low vibration. Hatred and fear are low vibrational levels of consciousness. You're born into a fairly low vibration consciousness in body, yet carry a high vibration from before birth. The young child experiences magical and mythical consciousness and eventually evolves into rational consciousness. That rational consciousness is centered in the solar plexus chakra. Most humans have moments of opening into the heart chakra but it's not a stable level of consciousness for many humans.

Beyond the subtle consciousness of the heart center, we move into the higher consciousnesses, coming up to the non-dual consciousness centered in the crown chakra. Each has its own vibrational frequency. You and the whole earth are moving, evolving into a higher consciousness. Right now in the earth is a time of importance in that evolution. The earth is moving from basing itself in third density, rational third chakra consciousness, shifting up into 4th density, heart-centered consciousness.

As the earth itself moves into a 4th density, eventually higher consciousness, many of you are moving up into still higher: the third eye, Christ- and Buddha-consciousness, which still sees tinges of duality, and the highest chakra, non-dual consciousness. You can have occasional experiences of higher consciousness from a lower vibration, but you cannot fully move into that consciousness and hold it stable. The karmic knots hold you into a lower level of consciousness.

You are doing this work in service to all beings. As you transform the karmic knots in yourself and allow the whole movement of this mind-body-spirit substance that you are to move into a higher vibration and a higher consciousness, you are better able to hold and live from the heart, from the third eye, from the crown, to live non-dual consciousness. It's a great gift.

You are spending a week in great service to humanity, to the earth and to the cosmos, because what happens here on Earth is of importance to other galaxies as well. So I applaud you for your work.

Are there any immediate questions with a strong need to answer that can't wait until tomorrow? Does what I have said today generally make sense to you? Okay. Go and enjoy the sea and enjoy your practice. Thank you. I return the body to Barbara.

(taping ends)

Copyright © 2006