April 26, 2010 Monday Afternoon, Emerald Isle Retreat

Keywords: emptiness, elements meditation, elements, healing

Aaron: We will spend perhaps half an hour indoors here with instructions. I would far prefer to give you an instruction practice for 10 minutes, build on it, but it's too windy to talk out on the beach. So we will talk in here and then we will all go out. I will offer short reminders out there.

Looking out the window, now, you see the waves. The form aggregate. Let your eyes settle on a wave and watch it come in. Rolling in, white foam, and then folding over itself. Where did the wave go?

"Form is emptiness, emptiness is form." Here is the perfect example of emptiness expressing as form. When we say the wave is empty, we mean it has no separate self; it is of the nature of the sea. There's nothing there but ocean. And yet each wave seems to exist. The wave is not the whole ocean but is a direct representative of the ocean. In just the same way, your thoughts and indeed the body itself seem to exist as direct representations of what we may call 'self,' but there's nothing solid there.

We're going to look at this in steps. First, the emptiness of the form aggregate and then the emptiness of all the aggregates. Then to move into a step that sees within that form aggregate of the wave, the mix of all the elements. It's very clear water element is there, but also earth, fire, air, and space, all there. It's easiest to start with the water element; everybody can see the water element in the ocean.

Again, looking out the window at the ocean. There with the water element, can you see the air element? The waves are so filled with air, especially at the point at which they break.

You can't see it as well from here, but as the wave comes up on the beach, it sucks sand back in, and of course if you're standing in the ocean and a waves slaps against you, you feel the sand. Earth element right there within the wave.

Now see air. The air is not necessarily in motion. This is how air and space combine. What is air when it rests still? How does it relate to space?

The fire element is easier to see when you're out there with it. Fire is energy. Air and energy may express as fire. All that energy of the waves as they push toward shore and build up and break, this is the fire element. I don't mean here that you're seeing luminosity at this point, only experiencing that energy thrust, the fire of the ocean. Fire is energy. As the waves roll in, at the point where they're white froth there's a lot of air right there in the water. The wave is composed of sand and water and air, and the forward thrust of it is fire.

Space is a bit harder to see. Watch again one wave building up, rolling in, cresting. Slapping over. See the moment the wave form dissolves, there's just water left. So you can see the simultaneity of wave form and flatness or stillness.

At the very moment, catch one of these white ripples far out before it's built up close to shore. Right there with the beginning of the wave is also the flat sea, a huge flat becalmed sea. It's simultaneous. If the flat sea wasn't there, there couldn't be a wave. If the wave wasn't there, there couldn't be a flat sea.

I want you to see the air element not just in the wind that's blowing on the water but in the water itself. I want you to see the fire element not just in the hot sunshine but in the water as energy.

What I'm going to ask you to do on the beach is to sit as close to the water as you can without getting wet because it's cool today, I will not send you into the water today. But sitting on a chair or towel by the water, eyes open, watch this. Not thinking about the elements but simply experiencing the elements.

To do this you need to become a wave. Feel it as I demonstrated this morning, flat on the water, just moving in. And then building up as the energy builds, growing, growing. Big wave. Feel the elements in you as you do this. The energy moving through, the fire element, the breath, the body.

At first you'll experience it as linear, then I hope you will move past the linear experience of it and begin to feel how all of these stages of the wave are simultaneous. Feel it in your own body, feel it in the ocean.

My rationale behind this; eventually we take it away from the ocean to something like the building up of an experience of anger. The wind blows on the water, the current moves, a wave builds up. Certain winds and currents move within you and anger builds up. All the elements are there but perhaps at that moment of anger, they are out of balance. And yet, within that imbalance is also balance. Everything is simultaneous. It's all there at once.

You cannot go to the place where the anger has dissipated in denial of the anger. You can be the ocean which has no fear at all of the waves and yet does not deny the existence of the waves. You become the ground. When I say ground, ground of being, not in the mundane sense of earth. You become the ground out of which these waves of emotion, of thought, of activity, arise and pass away, fully present with the waves as they come, with kindness.

And yet you are so much that ground of being, so much the ocean as it relates to the waves, that there's no going out into it, there's no contraction around it, as with the push this morning. Just being the ground. Not coming up like that, ah-- fire energy! Just being the ground. (pause) (asking someone to push, then pushing back) Give it back. (laughter)

And if I give it back and the other tenses up with anger or tightness (demonstrating). I'll just keep gently pushing until the tension dissolves. You keep doing this with yourself.

So this is step one for this week. Let's break it down into 4parts: to recognize the emptiness of the aggregates, especially as through the form aggregate of the ocean wave; to recognize the elements in the aggregates as seen through the ocean; and to come to that place of balance, of emptiness, emptiness that transcends the aggregates, emptiness in terms of balance of the elements. Fourth, within your own being, to feel the simultaneity of it.

Most of you have heard Barbara talk about her broken toe of two summers ago. The doctor had said 6-8 weeks to heal. It was the big toe broken right across here, 6-8 weeks to heal. I told her and the Brothers of Light told her it's only molecules. There's nothing solid there so there's nothing that can't simply come back together and in fact it's already together, you're only thinking it's linear and that's why 6-8 weeks. But on a different level it's already healed.

It took 3 days. She was instructed to sing to it and she did, whatever tones drew themselves forth from her, OM and whatever tone the toe wanted. And on the fourth day she woke up in the morning and stood up and there was no pain. And the later x-ray showed no break. It's not miraculous; it's simply going to that place where relative and ultimate are simultaneous. No denial of the break; she had the foot propped up in the air and put ice on it to alleviate swelling and to support healing. She wrapped it in the blessed water of the Casa, the high vibrational water, and soaked it in that. But she also knew that place of the ever-perfect.

One must do both, attend to the distortion and know the place of the ever-perfect. If you only attend to the distortion you perpetuate the distortion. "I will fix it. Maybe later this week or next week or in 2 weeks or 2 months but eventually it's going to heal in a linear fashion." Or, the opposite, the denial, "There's nothing broken. I'll just walk on this painful toe, but it can't be broken." But it is; you have to stay off of it.

It's possible for a break like that to heal faster. Three days is actually quite a long time but it was her first time trying the process so I'm not belittling her effort.

She has worked with the theory of this with some confusion and frustration because in analogy, the ears are also still deaf and yet she already hears. If she already hears, why is she still deaf?

I can only say that this is the path of healing and for some experiences it takes longer than for other experiences. There is not just the healing of the ears but the healing of the karma. There is the rebuilding of a neural network which is already there, the perfect neural network, the perfect ability. Where she is now, everything is set but the brain has not learned to interpret the sounds. So the sounds come but they're meaningless sounds, not really apprehended. That will come.

This is not just about healing the body, though, lovely though that is. It's about healing the heart, healing the emotional pain that so many of you carry, releasing old karma. Shifting your responses so that they more fully reflect the openhearted connected human who knows its interconnection with everything, rather than the human who says, "Is this really going to work?" If you question "Is it going to work?" it probably won't. It takes knowing. The knowing is built in small increments and learning, "Well, it really does work."

It can be learned with a simple thing like pushing, and seeing you don't have to react. That which is openhearted and peaceful is there and so strong and solid that it doesn't react to being pushed; it's just pushing. But if the pushing continues one can simply move aside, one doesn't have to just sit and be pushed. Similarly, one can come inside from the wind.

It's the balance required to live skillfully on the earth plane as spirit. You are spirit. You are here in a human body, but predominantly you are spirit. You cannot deny the human experience; it's your teacher; the body, the mind, the emotions. But if you just get carried away with them and spend your life trying to fix things, you won't learn anything. You'll end up frustrated and coming back into another body, starting all over again trying to fix things, being a somebody trying to do this and that. You are spirit.

So the work is to attend to the distortions of the human experience with kindness and simultaneously to go to the space where the distortion does not exist. With no denial of the distortion, you rest in that space.

Tomorrow we'll take it a step further and talk about the experience of that space and especially the experience of emptiness and luminosity within that space. By luminosity I don't mean the lumens from a light bulb, it's not an external light but everything filled with light.

When you see that everything is filled with light, you know, light is pushing me, how could I react? What's the problem? If it becomes irritating I'll move my chair across the room. Perhaps I'm trying to read a book. (making drumming sounds) Well I can just drum with it and read, nice rhythm. (demonstrating) But if it becomes irritating I can move my chair.

Your habitual tendency is toward emotion. This is the practice for the healing of emotion and karma because we go to the place where the emotion doesn't exist, just as, . . . look out, look way out and find a blank place where there's no wave. No wave in that one spot. And if you watch long enough, a wave will come up. Then you can follow that wave. It will die away and come up again and again and again.

So this is the theory and basis of the practice I want you to do, sitting eyes open, mouth open a bit, ahh... Body relaxed, looking out at the water. Merge with the waves, be the waves. Experience the aggregates and especially the form aggregate. Feel it in your body, feel it in your breath. The breath building up and cresting. And the release of the breath. It's just air. Not my air. (exhales) Where did that air go? (inhales) Where did that air come from?

Here, you take it... pass it on. Whose air is it? Now you breathe it up and pass it to D...

Whose air is it? And seeing as I took a great gulp of it in from the ocean earlier, whose air is it?

(breath is passed around the group)

Empty of self; arising out of conditions. You'll notice that it never gets stale. None of you had trouble taking a full breath. It constantly replenishes itself.

(The breath returns to Aaron) And it's not the same breath I started with; there's the lingering sweetness of all of these people on it.

Empty of a separate self. The aggregates are empty. The elements are constantly expressing through the aggregates, so if the aggregates are empty, the elements are empty. That means whenever the elements are out of balance, the perfect balance is right there with the imbalance. Without denial of the imbalance, go to the perfect balance. That's all.

Are there questions before we go to the beach?

Q: Where does energy fit into this <inaudible>?

Aaron: Energy is in part in the fire element, in part the element that we call space is also chi energy. One aspect of space is that it contains energy, chi. So we distinguish here between the fire element and the chi energy. The chi energy is the Dharmakaya, the form element is more the expression of the Dharmakaya.

Space is also known as akasha. We will go into that late rin the week, but akasha is the ground from which all expresses, the Dharmakaya,

Q: I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the ocean wave example because I keep getting caught up in the physics of a wave, how it moves through water and shapes the water...

Aaron: Let me simplify it... It is all water, and various forces, but all are empty of a separate self.

First, the expression of the wave is as water. There's also an energy expression, there's form. All of these are constantly changing. There are various physics and dynamics that create the wave and those are conditions. And if they change somewhat you'll get a different shaped wave, bigger or smaller, shorter or longer lasting, stronger or weaker. But these are all conditions brought to bear upon the water through which the Dharmakaya expresses itself as a wave.

I take this hat... it changes form. (blowing) The hat doesn't have any inherent form, it changes form depending on the conditions that bear on it. The water has certain qualities like fluidity and adhesion. The water will not simply fly apart into a billion molecules and drift off, it follows the law of gravity. But it's still just water experiencing conditions. Your mind is just mind and the thoughts that come out are the waves experiencing conditions. That's all it is.

Don't think so much about it, Q. This is the difficulty with sitting up here rather than down by the beach.

Q: I am separating out the elements because they seem, I don't know how to say it...

Aaron: Sit on the beach, try it, and tomorrow we'll talk about it.

Q: I have a similar question about the toe. Because of the laws of physics, doesn't it take time for the molecules to rearrange themselves?

Aaron: Only at the normal vibration of matter, but when you open to a higher vibration of matter, they will rearrange themselves much faster.

So in a lifetime in what you would think of as an aborigine community in Australia, if we were running across the countryside and somebody fell into a hole and broke his leg, the whole group would gather around and sing to him, sing to the leg. We did not use any special poultices. If the break was a complex fracture we would have to pull it and reconnect the bone, we would not expect it to drift back into place. But once the bone was connected properly, then simply singing to it was sufficient; within an hour that person could be back up on his feet and running again, if necessary. If it were not necessary we would have him rest it overnight. This still happens there among some of the people.

Q: How do we get the higher vibration?

Aaron: Through all the work you are doing on yourselves: through your meditation, through your deep commitment to service to all beings and to non-harm, through your vipassana practice and the constant work of reminding yourself to bring love to where there is fear and anger. You are releasing the lower vibration and bringing forth a higher vibration. And this is essential because the whole Earth is moving into higher vibration and you are either going to support this move or go against it.

The important thing here is to know that you can move into this higher vibration and that you are doing this, that it's a constant work and it's really what you came into being for. D asked at one point about questioning "what is my purpose?" Your purpose is to live the highest vibration of love that you can, lovingkindness in the world. To release the lower vibrations of fear and negativity and just to keep doing that. And this is the heart of the vipassana practice.

It's 10 after 3 and some of you want to go to yoga at 4 so let us go right now down to the beach so you have time to practice.

Q: Could you review the 3 <inaudible>...

Aaron: Sit as close to the water as is possible in comfort without risking getting soaked. If you want to get soaked, that's fine, but I will not ask you to get soaked. Watch waves. First watch flat water and watch a wave arise in that water. Watch it come in, crest and break, until there is an assurance "It is empty. Form is emptiness, emptiness and form, and understanding. I know what that means."

Now feel yourself to be the ocean; feeling the wave coming in, the wave of the breath, the wave of body energy, be the ocean. Feel the form aggregate or any aggregate building up in yourself and releasing. If a thought comes, watch it come and crest and go. Empty.

Once that is established, and it may not all be established in this next half hour but through your sittings later today and tomorrow, begin to watch the elements. Set aside this first question of the emptiness of the aggregates. Come to the elements and begin to see the elements, all the elements in the ocean. Feel all the elements in yourself and see the emptiness. The elements are simply expressing through the aggregates. If the aggregates are empty of separate self, the elements are. Then begin to see where there is imbalance in the elements and to come to that place where they are already balanced and see how they balance.

This all is more or less review of what we've done in past years. Tomorrow we'll start with a new step, but everybody together (now), just this review.

I'll see you on the beach, or Barbara will...

(session ends)