May 2, 2012 Wednesday Morning, Emerald Isle Retreat

May 2, 2012 Wednesday Morning Instruction Emerald Isle Retreat

Relationship with spirit in akashic field; akashic field opened to from pure awareness; citta; opening to spirit and challenging negativity; head in demon's mouth & non-duality

Q&A in lieu of formal morning instructions

Q: I wonder about our relationship with spirit, as it relates to the akashic field.

Barbara: Let's ask Aaron that one. Aaron says no, I should answer it. We're getting my perspective and then perhaps we'll get Aaron's perspective.

The way I experience this is that we humans, entities, frogs, trees, fish, algae, thoughts are all objects within the akashic field. Our higher selves, our mundane bodies, our karma, are all within the akashic field. Spirit is one high vibrational aspect of being, just as the aggregates are mundane aspects of a lower vibration. It all exists in the akashic field. It can all be experienced on an energetic level. Our relationship with what I perceive as spirit is simply that it is there and can be experienced, though it is invisible, just as the sun's heat can be experienced even though we cannot see it.

Everything is energy. When you were walking backwards on the beach yesterday, you could feel what was behind you, or when you were walking in pairs across the circle and you could begin to feel when others we coming toward you, this is energy and we can feel and experience any energy. In the same way, we can experience the expression of spirit as energy. It may come specifically as visual or auditory information too. We can feel the energetic movement of spirit within the akashic field.

I spoke some time in the past week, or Aaron spoke, about a book, a story of a blind man who was part of the French Resistance. He was accessing the akashic field. When he had somebody who was a traitor, who was trying to deceive and get into the resistance, in front of him, he could feel those ripples of disturbed energy, very different than the energy of the true person who was really eager to serve the resistance.

We can attune ourselves that carefully. Think of ants bringing food up to the anthill, or bees and how they broadcast aloud to the other bees where there's a flower or garden where there's good pollen. They're sending out energetic signals. We're all sending this out.

So if our intention is to open to spirit and hear spirit, or experience spirit in whatever way, that intention is part of the akashic field, and that draws the energy of spirit to us. If our intention is, “No, I don't want spirit as part of this,” then spirit energy will veer away. We have free will. Nothing is forced on us. Everything is part of the akashic field at all different levels, mundane and supramundane. Spirit is simply there as part of it.

Aaron, is there anything you would add to that?

Aaron just told me a joke and I asked him, should I repeat it? He just said to me, “Simply remember we (spirit) are here. May the Force be with you.”

Other questions?

John: I would like to share something about this. What we have been talking about in relationship to dependent origination is the arising of self; the becoming of self which is bhava and the birth self. The more present we are, we are able to see the enfolding of dependent origination to the place of the arising of ego; in the akashic field we see the arising of ego like any other object, because the ego, the arising of self, is just another object. So, while in the akashic field and seeing the arising of the ego, and seeing the dissolution of the ego, which is also happening within the akashic field, I find that I have much more direct contact with spirit in the akashic field because the dissolution of the ego while resting in the akashic field makes spirit more accessible to me. There is a clearer connection to it.

And I believe that for me, that is because I experience the akashic field very much energetically. When the ego self is not there then I feel more of an energetic connection with the spirit plane and whatever I might experience there.

Q: So it makes you more accessible to spirit, not spirit more accessible to you.

John: Both ways, I believe. Because it's like a two-way connection: it makes the spirit plane more accessible to me, and I to them as well, in terms of any kind of communication or energetic connection. For me, it's not necessarily a connection of communication, of words, as much as presence and energy, essentially. So that's my experience with the akashic field and the spirit plane.

Q: This is kind of a practical question, but I find that when I do something different, like the walking backwards or when I paint, I access a different part of my brain. It's like I'm on a different plane, and then all of a sudden, even when I write, if I write with my left hand, it opens up... (repeating for signer) I find when I do something different, like paint or write with my left hand, or walking backwards, it puts me into a more open space to receive. Yoga does the same thing for me. I don't know if it's because there's a shift of that practical thinking to the non-thinking.

John: You're accessing more the right side of your brain, which governs the left side. The intuitive side of yourself. So that may be why you feel a deeper intuitive connection as a result of that.

I notice there are quite a few people here who are left-handed, including the person sitting next to you!

Q: There's an amazing TED talk. I'll find the link and send it to you all. It's a brain researcher who woke up one morning and basically her left brain had shut off. There was a blood clot and it shut off. She describes it both as a researcher examining her own mind and her own self, but also it just completely opened up spirit to her. Amazing. I'll send a link. It's just an amazing story.

Q: Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight...

Barbara: I want to say something about the previous question, first.

We talked on the beach yesterday, the day before, about the fact the akashic field, it's not a thing but it is in some way an object. And consciousness takes that object as object. Just as with mundane consciousness, eye contact to the rug, seeing consciousness arises. But for the akashic field, it's a supramundane object in part. Mundane mind can see segments of the akashic field. It can see the mundane segments, but it can't see that which extends into the supramundane.

To see the entire akashic field, we need to be resting in awareness. When we are resting in awareness, in rigpa, the mundane consciousnesses are not closed off. There's still seeing of mundane objects, but the whole supramundane field of awareness is open. So, the mundane citta take mundane objects, the supramundane citta take supramundane objects.

When we make that shift into a spacious place where we're resting more firmly in awareness, with all that spaciousness open, we begin to experience deeper and deeper levels of spirit, and so forth. We don't hear spirit from the mundane consciousness, we hear it only from the supramundane consciousness.

So it's not specifically resting in the akashic field that allows you to hear spirit. It's the fact that the supramundane citta are open or you could not be resting deeply in the akashic field. And when the supramundane citta are open, then you can hear spirit. But it's the fact that the citta are open that's important in the access to spirit, not the akashic field. That's just a follow up.


Q: I just wanted to comment about what John said. And this is also probably a simpler way of what Barbara has just said. But I've heard our experience described in terms of a closed system, in terms of energy. And if you take energy from the thought or the mundane, the only place it can go is into awareness. So, moving into the right brain, I can see it in terms of this. It's just a simple way, you take it from one place, and the only place it can go is awareness. It's a process of quiet, a continuum of quiet. That was helpful for me.

Barbara: That makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you. I think that's accurate.

Q: In Milarepa's story, putting his head in the mouth of the demon, how does that relate to, in the akashic field the experience of transformation or absorption of the demon or the habit energy?

(Aaron incorporates)

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. When he puts his head in the demon's mouth, he's letting go of duality. He's accepting the deeper truth: this demon is me and I am him. And my own innate perfection is also there in the demon. There's no duality.

He's releasing any sense of separation from the “angelic” versus “demonic” sides of himself, and recognizing, “This is all within this field and I have a choice.” You come to a banquet table with 100 delicious items of food and a small plate, wonderful aromas arising and some putrid aromas arising. It's feeding many kinds of beings, and some foods do not appeal to you. You walk up and down the table, though, and choose. Something draws you to this or that food. Sometimes it's taste, image or scent but often it's energy. You're drawn to the specific energy of that food, of the ingredients of that food. Sometimes you have a kale day. Sometimes you have a cheese day. Sometimes you have a fruit day. Certain things that you're drawn to that day, not just based on taste but because your whole body is seeking that energy.

So when he puts his head in the demon's mouth, he's acknowledging the non-duality of the energy fields. With that acknowledgement, the “demonic energy” no longer has any hold on him because there's nothing separate. It really ceases to exist. He just dissolves into it and it into him, and that which is strong and positive and loving in him flourishes.

If a very negative being, one filled with spite and hatred and anchored to service to self, put his head in the demon's mouth, he would probably find himself empowering his hatred. But, for the more loving being with a positive intent, putting your head in the demon's mouth means releasing the duality. If the negative being put his head in the angel's mouth, if he dared to do that, then he would transform himself.

Q: If our intention is to close the gap between us and others, to recognize our oneness, what is the rationale for abstaining from eye contact and friendliness and loving energies, friendly greeting with fellow retreatants?

Aaron: We are here on a vipassana retreat. There are two objects. One is the path for this week of breaking through duality through the vipassana experience, which deepens best when there is more isolation. It takes a much deeper level of grounding and practice to maintain stillness within while hugging and greeting other people and laughing with them. The silence gives you the opportunity to go deeper, whether it's verbal silence or body silence.

Q: I'm not talking about laughing or talking, just acknowledging each other's presence.

Aaron: At my retreats, I have never specifically given the instructions that people may not make eye contact. I have given the instruction that if you seek eye contact with another and they avert their gaze, to please respect that. That person wants the isolation of not making eye contact so you let it go. You look, and I avert my gaze; you look away. You don't keep going after them, because that's intrusive. It's really a policy of non-intrusion, not intruding your voice, not intruding your body energy, not intruding your gaze.

But if you walk by somebody and they look up at you and smile, it's okay to look at them and smile back. It's even okay just to lay your hand on their shoulder for a moment, expressing kindness. Non-intrusion. If they look up at you and that's intrusive, you look away. So we trust you in this rather than making a set policy, “No eye contact.” However, sometimes a person may be grasping at contact, and the one who is smiled upon feels the grasping and feels pushed to respond although they would rather not be involved. These exchanges are subtle. Thus we encourage each to remain in the silence in every way.

Other questions.

John: I just wanted to comment about this. Regarding the silence and the form of the retreat that we use here, which is, it's very difficult to know what somebody else is experiencing during a retreat. Part of the reason that it's difficult to know is because the retreat is being held in silence. Unless you're in a small group with someone and hearing what they are experiencing during the retreat, it's very difficult to know.

So out of respect for other people and what they are experiencing, it's most effective to just leave them alone and let them experience whatever it is they're experiencing, trusting that the ambience of the silence is effective in helping that person work deeply within themselves with whatever it is that they may be experiencing.

Sometimes energetically, through talk or whatever, kind of a reaching out to somebody may not be what they most need in that moment. Do you see? And so, like Aaron is saying, if you make eye contact with someone and then energetically you feel like they want to meet your gaze, they want to meet you energetically in that moment, then it's fine for that to happen.

But if you have any sense that the person really just wants to be more with what they're experiencing rather than coming out of that space of deeper internal awareness, then it's best to use restraint on your part not to interfere with that. To honor the silence, the process, and what that person may be experiencing.

Aaron: There's a deeper level of connection that forms through the whole retreat, within the silence. You all have experienced this. So you are respecting each other, to maintain the silence.

Interestingly, as you go deeper into the akashic field, you find you can feel energetic ripples from people, can get a sense of what they're experiencing, if you seek to do so. The ability to enter the akashic field, we do not teach this until sila is very well grounded, with a deep intention to do no harm to any being. That is, to respect another's privacy and also to work with your own personal tendencies to want to be the caretaker, the fixer, to take care of anybody else's sadness or discomfort, or simply your own discomfort with anybody else's discomfort. You do not need to intervene. That's why the teachers are here.

I'm not speaking specifically to you, Q; I'm speaking to the whole group. The importance once you learn how to more deeply access the energy within the akashic field, you must not violate that ability by acting upon it to eavesdrop, in a sense, out of your own personal karmic tendency to want to fix or be the caretaker, or even if it seems to be for good reasons, but to trust other people with their own experience. And that they know they can come to the teachers if they need to talk.


Q: Suffering is one of the three characteristics, and we're instructed to look at it. But you've said in the past on several different occasions that suffering is optional. Can you speak to that?

Aaron: As long as you are in a human body and not yet fully realized, there is going to be suffering because the habitual tendencies that lead to suffering are not fully purified. Yet, it IS optional in that when you see what leads to suffering you can step away.

Let's use a simple example. You love the taste of strawberries but you're allergic to strawberries and get an itchy rash. Each time you see a plate of strawberries you say, “I'll try one. Maybe it's finally gone. Maybe I'm not allergic anymore.” And then there's that huge itchy rash. At a certain point you observe the habitual tendency, “I think I need this. There are going to be consequences. I don't choose to go that way. I'll bypass the plate of strawberries.” And then you don't experience the rash.

I find this a clear metaphor for the enactment or release of karmic tendencies. Certain karmic tendencies lead to repeated suffering, over and over. - That's redundant. (laughter) Certain karmic tendencies lead to repeated suffering. Mindfulness observes and sees the cause for the suffering, and that you have a choice. You release that karmic stream and increasingly there's less suffering. In that way, the suffering is optional. Others do not force it on you; it's only the product of your own karma.

Q: If what's manifest out of the akashic field matches the vibration of our intentions, and our intentions are for the highest good, does that mean negativity does not come through? You don't have to challenge what comes through?

Aaron: You still must challenge. You challenge because, unless you are an arahant, there are still some hidden or suppressed karmic stream that might come in at that moment. Some influence from a distant past life or from this lifetime, something that pursues you, perhaps.

Let's use this as an example, Barbara's famous or infamous dislike of spiders. She has a deep intention not to harm any being, and she doesn't swat spiders anymore. She's increasingly able to catch them in a container and put them outdoors, or simply to leave the room, if she must, if it's too big for her to handle. But she doesn't hate the spider.

So she is sitting in meditation. She's in a deep place. Suddenly she feels a tickling on her arm, and the old habitual tendency is not fully purified. (sound effect, swatting spider), or even (sound effect, brushing). But brushing it off, she harms the spider because she uses too much force.

The negative stream is being explored but it's not fully purified. Now, I know you're talking about challenging some entity, but it's the same thing. Whether it's your negativity or a different being's negativity, it's still negativity. Something in you that's not fully purified can still invite that no matter how strong your intention for the highest good and for non-harm. So if something comes to you saying, “Yes, I serve this highest good and non-harm,” you still challenge it just in case something's seeping through from you, some subtle negative tendency that's not yet purified.

This gives you the opportunity, if you see that this is negative that's trying to come through, to ask yourself, “What am I doing that's drawing this to me? This is a teacher for me pointing out something within me that needs my attention, that is asking to be purified.” So it's a wonderful opportunity.

Q: Can you describe in general what phenomenon it is that you challenge?

Aaron: For me, what I am challenging is any being to present itself as fully as possible, in service to all beings and not only in service to self.

Q: So today in my meditation, I was somewhat agitated throughout the entirety of it. Towards the end, something came up which was very comforting. And I immediately identified it as my higher self. Was that necessarily <to have been> challenged?

Aaron: Once you have met your higher self and really resonate with and know the energy of your higher self, you do not need to challenge your higher self. However, for example, Barbara does not challenge her higher self. She does still challenge me, as deeply as she knows my energy, because something of my energy wavelength could come along, my vibration, that's negative. That has happened to her. Not often, and not in the last decade, but it's happened to her. I she be very careful.

Q: So I would have to become acquainted with my higher self to know the difference.

Aaron: For those of you who comfortably, clearly feel the presence of your higher self, you do not need to challenge it. For those of you who are not yet certain, “Is this my higher self? What is it?”—challenge it. There's no harm in challenging. It may be a minor inconvenience. It's a much greater inconvenience to find yourself face to face with negativity, and having opened the door for it.

This is true in every aspect of your life. It's not just about work with spirit. If you go to a human meeting with others, make sure you know what people really stand for, what their values are, before you agree to work with them. Once you've started working with them, and their deeper greed or self-centeredness emerges, it's much harder to extract yourself. Make sure you're clear first. Is this person, this situation, this spirit, this leading from spirit, really harmonious with my highest values,? Just keep asking. This helps to clarify your values and your intentions, and helps you to stay aware, moment by moment, of when something comes through that's not consistent with those values. Helps you then to say no and to see any place that makes it hard to say no, which gives you the opportunity to release and balance that old karma. It's all part of the path.

We will have more time for questions, perhaps tonight. Perhaps I will give a shorter dharma talk and we'll open the floor more to questions. Thank you and enjoy your day. I will release the body to Barbara.

(session ends)