October 7, 2012 Sunday Afternoon, Seattle Retreat

October 7, 2012 Sunday Afternoon, Seattle non-residential Retreat

Releasing habitual patterns with our practice; guides;  release of control; opening the heart's armor

Aaron: (After commenting off-tape on tech gadgets—Barbara is recording both on her regular recorder and a new iPad) You have a fascinating world in which to play. You think you are powerless, but you have so much power, so much more control of your world than people 1,000 or even 100 years ago. Your responsibility is to develop the maturity to control that power, from atomic weaponry to miniature electronic gadgets, and to work to insure that all this gadgetry is used for the highest good. That doesn't mean you can't have fun with it.

I see areas, like with Facebook and other kinds of social networking, where people are losing the ability to talk face to face. People send emails to somebody at the next desk rather than get up and walk down the hall or make that face to face encounter. This is not wholesome. So your responsibility is to make sure that you use the gadgetry, rather than it using you, and to remind others of that.

So, back to vipassana.

I'm not considering this retreat closing, only taking a time out (the group added Monday to the retreat since Barbara will be in Seattle, but tonight Barbara's sons will be over for a cookout), but I hope you will all do your practice through the evening. Barbara, D, N, J, surrounded by little children, and big children. Even if they're 35 years old, they're still children! Watching how you go out to them, how you respond. How you respond to the, “Oh no-- one more chore. This is spilled. That's broken;” and to wanting to hold on to their presence. All of that contracted energy that comes. (To others) You, going back to your work. You, going, you said you have to take care of a young child. Just watching any of the “I” that comes into it. I have to do this. I have to do that.

One of my favorite quotations for myself is, “Do it with love or not at all.” That means when you feel yourself about to do it without love, it's your responsibility to ask, “Where is love in this moment?” It doesn't mean don't do it, but, where is love?

D reminded me of a quote the other day from the Buddha's Metta Sutra. He's talking about the nature of the more enlightened beings, “This is what should be done...,” these beautiful qualities. “Unburdened with duties.” That doesn't mean there will be no duties. There is always duty. But duty has a negative implication: something I must do, and when I'm finally finished, then I can relax. Unburdened with responsibilities. It's a little less onerous term than duty. But also, the joy of giving, the joy of doing.

You have to keep yourself centered in your own heart, but sometimes you are tired, you are pressured. There just doesn't seem to be enough energy. Instead of peeling yourself out from the inside, scraping the last remaining bits of energy, stop and remember: “Re-center myself. Breathe, draw in energy. Touch the heart.” Offer thanks, (speaking to individuals in the group) for these dear friends for whom I'm preparing the meal. For these beloved children that I'm taking care of. For the flowers and work that bring joy to so many people. To your constant doing, daughter! But it does serve people. Remembering what you're doing. The homes you're providing for people. The transcripts you're providing for people. (To one) I don't really know what your work is. (Q: Massage therapy.) Okay, so that certainly is giving a real gift to people.

And yet any of this can become onerous when it becomes a duty. And here's where your practice comes in. This is the balance that I was speaking of, and with Mother last night, to watch contraction, which is a primary signal that you're closing up. Whether it's contraction of exhaustion, of fear...

Q: I didn't want to interrupt right away, but I notice when I had clients who had a lot of contraction around their work, desk work, they were the ones who got the carpal tunnel syndrome. And other people who loved their work never got it...

Aaron: Because if the body is held in that contracted state, the whole body feels it. But one can love one's work and still approach it with an unbalanced sense of responsibility. Needing to fix others. Seeing the enormity of suffering in the world and taking it all onto your shoulders. And on the one hand, you love what you're doing, and on the other hand, the body becomes weighed down and contracted.

It can happen. I'm using Barbara as an example. The osteoarthritis in Barbara's shoulders caused pain. She could not love her shoulders. In closing down her heart to her shoulders, she invited the tendonitis. The tendonitis was not a necessary result of the osteoarthritis. It was about how Barbara was relating to the osteoarthritis, and the ongoing contraction. And not just the osteoarthritis; how she was relating to the pain. Trying to be a bit stoic with the pain and keep going and not mind the pain, but many sleepless nights, and over years. So eventually there was the tendonitis in the arms. And the tendonitis in the arms did not relieve until she began to bring real kindness into her shoulders. The shoulders are still arthritic, but the tendonitis in the arms is gone.

It's the same thing as the carpal tunnel syndrome: learning to bring love to that which is pushing you, which is uncomfortable and unpleasant and painful. Some of it is just there in the body, like body pain, and some of it is in the way you relate to you work. For example, no matter how much you love it, one may love one's children dearly and yet not have much mercy for oneself for the exhaustion and frustration and the constancy of caring for small children.

So the practice I want to keep you directed to is this balance of wisdom and compassion. The wisdom that really understands from the sitting, from access concentration that watches objects arise and pass away without any ownership of them, empty of self. Seeing how the whole conditioned realm is arising and passing away, and knowing that beyond any possible doubt. And of course you'll forget. But nevertheless, coming back to that truth again and again and again. And compassion for the human that forgets. Instead of self-judgment, can there be compassion? “Whoops, there she goes again. Okay, compassion for this human. Here it is again.”

Q: I like your or Barbara's metaphor of training the puppy.

Aaron: Yes, it's a common metaphor in vipassana circles. You ask the mind as you ask the puppy, “Sit.” You push its rump down. It sits. It's back up. “Sit. Stay.” You don't take a stick and beat the puppy when it jumps up; you just push it down again and say, “Sit. Stay. Good.” “Good mind. You're back to remembering.” This is the nature of conditioned experience. You just keep at it. Eventually the puppy gets quite good at staying put. Or in this instance, gets quite skillful at remembering how things really are, and watching itself jump into some misunderstanding and cling to that story instead of saying, “No, not that one. Let's let it be.”

I'm reminded here of a cat Barbara had 20 years ago, this cat who lived with her. The cat was an incorrigible thief. If any food was left on the kitchen counter... (Q: Meander?) No, Whisper, the cat before Meander. Her first cat. She adopted this cat as a 2 day old kitten because the mother died. Barbara went to the Humane Society with her housemates to get a cat. And they looked at three young girls and said, “We've got just the cat for you!” The rest of the litter had died. There was this 3 day old kitten. “Are you willing to take turns getting up at night and feeding it?” And they said, “Yes, there are 3 of us. We can do that.” The others moved on and Whisper remained with Barbara, and eventually with Hal.

So Whisper was an incorrigible thief. No food was safe. Even if it was put in a sealed plastic container, she knew how to pull the lid off! Especially - she wouldn't go after chocolate candy - she went after fresh meat, cheese, other things she liked.

They put hot pepper into a meatball, left it on a plate on the counter, walked out of the room, peeked around the corner. Whisper jumped up on the counter. Bit into the meatball. Spit it out and hissed at it! Batted it with her paw! Hissed at it again and again, and finally after pacing around the room two or three times, she just climbed up on the counter and ate it. So they did it again with much hotter, additional pepper. No matter how hot the hot pepper got, each time they increased the dose of hot pepper she became angrier at it, but she still ate it!

Do you see the metaphor I'm trying for, here? You go back to the things that cause you suffering, and you're so set in, “I've got to eat this, or do this, or get it right,” that you stop paying attention to the fact that this is causing much more suffering than pleasure. Maybe it's time to let it go. Your old habitual patterns are like Whisper's meatball fixation.

When it burns, stop and note that it's burning and ask yourself, “How can I best let this go?” Watch this strong impulse energy that says, “Oh, but I've got to eat it,” figuratively speaking. Let it go. You can't let it go from a place of willpower. You can only let it go from the loving heart, the open heart. The wisdom mind that sees this impulse, this grasping, is all arising from conditions. The deeper awareness doesn't have to eat the meatball. There's this little ego inside that says, “Eat it! Eat it!” Let it go.

So it's this mixture, the wisdom mind that sees how it's arising, and the open heart that supports the intention not to go with the flow of habitual conditioning, but to see the spaciousness and possibility for a whole new pathway. For each of you, what that pathway will look like will be different. But for all of you, it means doing it with love, and noting when you're not doing it with love.

I'd be happy to hear some questions. That's the essence of my message.

Q: This is not about vipassana. It's about channeling. Is there communication between the different entities that channel (in the world) today? Barbara channels Aaron. I know another group of entities called Abraham, and then there are other channels. Are they talking to each other?

Aaron: Those of us who are of positive polarity are talking to each other. Those who are negative would not have anything to do with us. There are negatively polarized entities that come through and people look up to them as teachers, mostly teachers of fear. Those who come through channeling and say, “Go out to the country,  find a cave and arm yourself, because there's going to be disaster,” this kind of thing, building fear in people. Many people look to that and say, “Oh, that's what to do. This is how to take care of myself.” But it's not how to take care of all beings. It's service to the self and not to all beings.

There are many loving entities of varying densities. Some higher densities, 6th density like myself, and some at lower density. But yes, we're in contact with each other, and part of what we call the brother/sisterhood of light. And you are all part of the brother/sisterhood of light, but you have not been conscious of that, for the most part. Some of you to some degree, yes.

Q: So I guess the point of my question is, is it just the degree of understanding for each person, to tap into those entities that are there to help them?

Aaron: Some people will tap into it; some people will not, that's not their path. That doesn't mean that they must, just that we are here. We can hear you, but you cannot hear us through closed doors. As you attend to the closed doors of fear, of wanting to keep things as they are and avoid change, whatever doors are closed, you'll find you're able more and more to hear your guidance. Not necessarily to channel it in this way. You don't have to incorporate your guides. You just sit back quietly and listen to them. And you may not hear them in terms of words. You may get the message in other ways.

An example I used recently. Somebody who was trying to decide if the water in his home was safe and pure, or not. He had it tested and it seemed pure, but he was in a bit of doubt. So he asked his guidance: is my water good or should I be reverting to purified or spring water? No voice came shouting out, “Spring water!” Just, he left the question hanging in the air. He went out for an errand, and at the first corner, as he pulled up to a Stop sign, a truck went by that said, “Spring Water”, delivering spring water. “It's a coincidence.” He drove another block or two. There was a billboard, “Spring Water”. “Spring Water”. “Okay! I get it! I should revert to spring water.”

Q: I often get these kinds of messages. And I trust them.

Aaron: Before Barbara met me, she was moving into a deeper spiritual path, but she had no formal consciousness of this entity that we call Aaron. She went to a bookstore looking for a book about something related to spirit, and I think,  to Buddhism. It was a small bookstore and pretty empty, a clerk behind the desk. She was just browsing; she didn't know what she was looking for. A man stepped out from an adjacent aisle with a book and handed it to her, and said, “I think this is the book you're looking for.”

She asked herself, “Who is this man? I have no idea. I've never seen him before.” She looked at the book. And yes, it was perfect. It was a book about basic dharma, the Four Noble Truths, and basic introduction to dharma. She leafed through it for less than a minute, looked around to find the man and thank him, and nobody was there! She said to the clerk, “Do you know who the man was who must have just left the store?” The clerk said, “There's not been anybody here but you.” (Q: Who was it?) (smiling, finger in front of lips) Shh! I won't give away all our secrets! (Q: Baba?) Yes, Neem Karoli Baba. And he's still taking care of her.

Your guides are there. They'll help you if you let them help, and they'll come in some mysterious ways. I think you've heard this story, maybe not. When Barbara first met me, she knew nothing about channeling, so she went into a bookstore to ask for a book, not a channeled book but a book that told about channeling. Actually it was the same bookstore, interesting. This was two or three years later and it had moved to a new site, but it was the same bookstore. The store was pretty empty. The clerk behind the desk showed her some books, like by Emmanuel. And she said, “No, I don't want a channeled book, I want a book about channeling.” “We don't have any such book.”

She wandered around the store. There were 3 or 4 people in the store. She looked on the shelves at channeled literature. She came back up to the desk and there was a book that said, Channeling Handbook, by Carla Rueckart. So she picked it up. It was exactly what she needed. She said to the clerk, “Ah, you found the kind of book I wanted!” He looked at it and said, “I've never seen this book before in my life!” She said, “Well I want to buy it.” He said, “I can't sell it to you. It's not ours.” He held it up. “Does it belong to anybody?” No reply. “Take it.” And of course, Carla became a very close friend. You've probably seen the Aaron/Q'uo bookl. They've done a lot of workshops together.

You have to stay open, that's it.

(To parents; small daughter has joined group) Does S understand that I am not Barbara? (Q: Yes.) S, I know I look like Barbara, but they call me Aaron. And I'm temporarily using Barbara's body. And she'll be back. But I love you, too!

Are there any other questions?

Q: In meditation I saw that I have been doing, doing, doing, doing, since I was 2 or 3 years old. I realized I don't know how to do things without the sense of obligation, “I must do!” Spirit showed me times in my life when I have allowed love to flow. So I would love some coaching on how to do with love, not obligation. Not the contraction. How to do without doing.

Aaron: Do you have any kind of flower garden at home? (Q: No.) Okay. Go to the store sometime this week. Go to a florist (smiling; one participant is a florist) and buy a bouquet of flowers. Not arranged flowers, just go in and note, “This color appeals to me, and that shape, and that form, and that energy.” Just gather the flowers. Take them home. Obviously you could just pick them up and put them in water. Done! But sit with them. Spend time with the joyful energy of each flower. Know that no matter how you arrange them, they will be happy. You can't get it wrong. Some arrangements will be more pleasing to some eyes than others, feel more balanced or whatever. But you can't get it wrong. The flowers won't mind what you do with them as long as you cherish them and put them in water.

So try this. See how it feels just to allow the flowers to tell you where they want to go, to engage your heart with the flowers and work with them in that way. I can tell that's how V arranged these (colorful bouquet on table). They're exactly where they want to be, not where you told them to be. Okay? That's a starting point.

Q: The pattern seems very deep, of doing.

Aaron: It is ancient in you. There is a lifetime in which you were perhaps a 4 year old child with a younger sibling, and a mother who was very sick, and a father who was not home most of the time. Your mother's and baby sister's lives depended on you. There was such a constant feeling of threat, “If I don't get it right...” You had to find food, bring it home, cook it. You were younger than S. You had to take care of them. The mother was not sick with a fever but sick with a body that was in much pain from an injury, and she simply could not handle anything. So you picked up the pattern at that point, in part because of your love and wanting to support them, and in part because everybody said, “Oh, isn't she wonderful!” And a little voice in you that said, “I'm exhausted and I don't want to do this anymore” didn't dare to speak up. There would have been neighbors who would have helped, and family who would have helped. But you had an “I Can Do It!” attitude. And everybody stepped back and let you do it.

One more question before we conclude...

Q: I just wanted to comment on this last sitting. For my primary object, I had been using my heart center. And it's been very panicky, like I had described. And today as I touched that area with my awareness, I found that it was just very, very contracted with worry. I actually have physical pain in my heart area, in my back, at that area on the left, and in my left arm all the way down. It just feels very unhealthy.

Aaron: I think in part you're having a reaction to the heart opening you felt last night (with the Mother), which felt both wonderful and threatening. And then the immediate response was to shut it down even further—what if something touches that tender space of the true heart? It's what you want, and it's also your worst fear. What if you lose the armoring around the heart, because you feel perhaps you are not strong enough to bear the pain that would touch the inner heart? And because you're afraid you're not strong enough, you don't permit yourself the radiance and light, which are truly what sustain you.

I'm not saying that you never experience that radiance and light. You look at your daughter and your heart opens. Each time you look at her, I've noticed how your heart opens. But then there's the closure that comes with the idea, “Can I sustain it? Can I raise her to be a healthy and happy young woman? Can I do everything that I need to do in my life, to take care of all the loved ones in my life?” The mother, the children, the husband, the friends. So as soon as you feel overwhelmed in that way, your habit is to move-- I would never say the heart closes, the armoring around the heart closes. And when the armoring closes, you lose contact with that radiant, soft and open inner heart. It's always there.

So instead of trying to fix something and make that radiant heart come back, remind yourself, this is just old habitual armoring. The inner heart is there. Can I touch this armoring in itself with kindness and gentleness? Heat touching ice until it melts.

What do you think?

Q: I think there are some layers of sadness under this worry, worry, worry stuff.

Aaron: There are many layers of sadness, and pain and fear and emotion. Just letting them fall off, one at a time. Greet it. Say, “Ah, here's one more.” Let it go. That peeling the onion metaphor. Don't be surprised when there's a new layer. But trust the innate radiance and beauty of the inner heart, and that it has not gone anywhere. It's there.

Let us end here... If you're going home and will be around other people, it's okay to talk with the other people, but try to bring mindfulness into the whole evening. Don't drive with your radio playing. Stay centered. Try to sit, even for 15 minutes, before you go to bed tonight. And I'll see you all in the morning.

(session ends)