April 29, 2013 Monday Afternoon, Emerald Isle Retreat

(This talk not yet corrected by Barbara and Aaron)

Barbara: Aaron wants me to read something before he incorporates. (pauses to see how Aaron wants to proceed)

Aaron: I will speak through Barbara, but I am not incorporated. My blessings and love to you. We'll let Barbara start this, then I'll come in.

Barbara: Okay. So we have the various elements. We've talked about these from year to year. I have some wonderful photographs on my computer of us doing an element dance on the beach. I know a number of you were here for that. Each small group enacting one of the elements, and how they intermingle with each other. Really feeling the elements.

For now, for the start of this year, we'd like to focus on direct experience of akasha. What is this akasha or ether? How do we get to know it? And why should we bother to get to know it? What difference does it make?

We spoke about this in the class, and those few who were here will forgive the repetition…(passing around a handout?) We will not dwell on this too deeply but use it as a base from which to move. Aaron had me read this to the class to help him explain akasha. And I'm going to read the same thing that he had chosen out for me to read to the class, about two pages, and then add to that.

This comes from a book that is in the process of getting put together, a book that is very dear to my heart. It's a book that I started more than 20 years ago with Aaron when he was talking about non-duality. I worked with someone on it, Aaron speaking, giving dictation, or this woman Karen transcribing what we taped. Then Karen became quite ill after a few years with cancer and eventually died, and the whole book got put aside. Then somebody else got excited about the material with me and started to work on it with me. And we worked for a couple of years, until she moved away from Michigan to Texas.

Because of the way we were working, the original name of it was Teachings on the Non-Dual Nature of Ultimate and Relative Reality, which is quite a mouthful. But Kate and I, as we worked on this more recently, within the last 10 years, she was coming out to my cabin a few times a week during the summer. Aaron would dictate, Kate would type. I was out of the body so I didn't really know what was coming through. Aaron would simply dictate, then he would ask to read what Kate had typed, make very few changes, and hand it to us. We printed it out and put each sheet, 4 or 5 sheets a day, in a zip-lock bag. We took it down to my boat, which is just a flat, like a sunfish but flat board, no cockpit, just a little flat board, and we would drift without the sail. Paddle out into the middle of the lake, and alternately swim and read the material to each other, discussing it and seeing what questions it raised. And of course the pages would blow off the boat! So we started to call it Floating Non-Duality in a Zip-Lock Bag. (laughter, inaudible sentence) When we finally publish this, that needs to be the title, with a picture of the boat and a couple of pages on it blowing into the water! That's the cover.

So this original goes back 23, 24 years, the first material. What Kate and I did was not to generate new material but to reread the material that Aaron had dictated to Kate, to raise our questions about it.

I'm just going to read this to you now, two pages. (not recorded—Barbara, it didn't sound like you wanted the document pasted in, so I didn't, assuming that's easy for you to do. Also, you were only reading 2 of the 4 pages and I didn't know which. Thank you for sharing a copy with me, however!)

Aaron: My love to you all. So our work here at the retreat is deeply experiential, not mental or conceptual. We talk about the element of akasha. Element is perhaps not the best word for it. We talk about entering into the akasha, or another term we've used I think here last year is All Ground. To rest in that All Ground in which there are myriad possibilities, and to choose those possibilities that are among the most wholesome and release those that are contracted, fear-based, and with a negative slant.

The nature of the akasha is very similar to the All Ground. It's not really an element but is that from which the elements and everything else are expressing. The elements are the building blocks of your physical universe, and your energetic universe also. The elements within themselves are not positively or negatively polarized. This depends on what you do with them, so that any element can be used in a wholesome or an unwholesome way.

We see certain experiences arising, such as fear or the whole sense of a separate self, loneliness, physical body discomfort, the racing tumultuous mind. We see the element imbalance, and through the past few years we've worked with that element imbalance. When there's a lot of excess fire energy, how to tame it, for example. Not as a doer, but because of the intention not to express that fire energy by exploding in the world. How to bring it back into balance.

It really relates directly to your vipassana practice. Just sitting. Feeling restlessness, agitation. One of the tools we have is to ask which elements are out of balance. You feel the excess of fire energy, in that case, or if you're feeling extreme lethargy, you feel the excess, the imbalance, in the earth element. I remind you that we've covered in past years that each element contains all the other elements. It's not just whether the earth, fire, air, water are stable, but what mix of each is within it.

So if we go to, let's use fire energy. Feel fire energy within yourself, here in your belly, the solar plexus, the. The “I am,” will, being. The place where you express into the world, from this place, the seat of power. Think how it might feel if that fire element was very out of balance, just fire burning there, not much air, not much earth, not much water. Can you feel how agitated and unbalanced it would become? But the fire element, if we invite the skillful balance so that there's a balance of each of these four elements within the fire, then the fire becomes a useful tool in the world, not a volcano burning up the world.

Most of you have worked with me on this out on the beach and you understand what I'm saying. You've sat at the water's edge with the sun burning on your back and the breeze in your face, felt the waves lapping over your body. That's where I hoped to put us today (group is indoors because of the weather) so that we could experience this balance of the elements within each element. But our weather was prohibitive of that, so we'll just have to talk about it rather than experience it.

But if the weather is pleasant tomorrow I ask you to sit by the water and remember, or if you have not done this with me before, to do this exercise and feel how each element contains all the other elements. And how they may be invited into balance so that there's not too much earth, but the earth is light, loam light, filled with air and movement and space. How the fire is not just a wild conflagration burning everything, but is kept in balance so it's power and energy.

Moving forward a step, I want you to visualize that these elements are conditioned objects. That means they arose out of conditions, and when conditions cease to be present they will cease. Where do the elements come from? Where does lethargy come from? Where does anger come from? Where does impatience or drowsiness or grasping, where do any of these come from?

We see that they arise out of conditions. We do not work to try to fix the object that has arisen but to become aware of the conditions out of which it has arisen. So that if there's a lot of aversion, we don't say, “I'm going to get rid of this aversion,” which is just more aversion, but “Ah, aversion is present.” You might ask, “If this aversion were not here, what might I be feeling? Is this aversion protecting me from something?” It has arisen from conditions. Mostly as you deepen with this, you will find that it arises from the whole notion of the separate self. Who is this self? Why are we maintaining the separate self? Is it just habit? What need have you of it, at this point?

At this point in your practice it becomes useful to turn to the final element of ether, or akasha. People have asked me about spaciousness. Spaciousness is not correctly an element but an expression of each of the elements. Each element has spaciousness within it. Each has luminosity in it. Each has a certain amount of energy within it. These are expressions of the elements.

So I'd like you to imagine…. Here we have 4 apples in a basket: earth, air, fire, and water. Imagine it covered with a cloth. They're all within there. Certain conditions are present that invite the arising of the earth element. Here it is, earth element coming out. And with it comes fire, and you've got a volcano coming up. But rain is also present, and flowing mountain streams, and they balance they earth element in the volcano. And the wind blows on it all. They're all arising out of this basket.

Now it becomes useful to get to know not the basket, which we call the akashic field, but the akasha itself. What is this that we call akasha? How can we get to know it from our direct experience? The reason I had Barbara read this particular segment of the book is, to me, it comes closest to defining akasha as anything I have ever attempted to express. It is simply the All Ground. It's neither positive nor negative in its origin. It's neutral.

(One moment please… Barbara is attempting to listen in a bit and I'm shooing her away so it does not affect my words, my speech. She can read the transcript later!)

If it were positive or negative, it would create a duality and you live in a non-dual universe. This is the essence that chooses to express itself as positivity because it sees the harmful effects of negativity and it holds the intention to do no harm. We reach into that basket and find the elements expressing out in a balanced and beautiful state, as opposed to an unbalanced state. Once they've emerged, they may become unbalanced. But if you go into the akasha, you always find the pure element that's not imbalanced.

So the next step here is to invite you yourselves to move into the akasha. And when there is some agitation, fear, grasping, confusion, to find the settled clear space within the akasha as well as the distortion. We're not denying the distortion. Simply, what do you choose to invite out of the akasha? What do you choose to manifest in the world from this clear space?

The ego cannot go into the akasha. Barbara and I have been discussing, and I don't think she's fully satisfied with my answer, but she's asked me, can access concentration enter the akasha or only pure awareness? And I've said, pure awareness. So she's been experimenting, when she is meditating and experiencing access concentration, to see if she can direct attention into the akasha. It takes a force, a kind of subtle twist. <It's easier open to> just resting in the space of spacious awareness.

So then if you're here on a vipassana retreat and you're not doing pure awareness practice, how do you access the akasha? We've talked enough through the years that I know all of you have the ability within the vipassana practice, when certain mind and body experiences, nama and rupa, are arising, and there's mindfulness of them, mindfulness notes the distortion. I ask you to go—that which is aware of fear is not afraid. That which is aware of contraction is not contracted. Because your practice is grounded in sila, to go into the place of that uncontracted.

This is subtly different from access concentration. It's subtly different from pure awareness. It's really part of the vipassana path, where the mind is directed on an object. Here the mind is directed on the subtle distortion that's emerging with anger, for example. The intention not to release that anger in the world. The various skillful conditioned realm practices you have to breathe with the anger, not manifest it out. But then to take it a step deeper. The intention to go to the place that's not angry.

Here you become able to literally see, feel, experience, the direct experience of the akasha. It's an energy. The field is a container for this energy. It's what everything is before it expresses into the elements. It's in a sense what scientists are able to do, I don't know if I've got the correct terminology here so excuse me if my wording is not exact, but if they find that a fetus has a certain distortion, or that the… I'm not sure, the building blocks for the fetus have a subtle distortion, just after conception or even pre-conception, they can go into it and make subtle shifts so that the fetus that develops is wholesome instead of carrying the unwholesome traits that it was picking up at that beginning state. Does that make sense to you? Excuse my lack of specific terminology, but you're all familiar with this, not just research but actual doing. And the way they can do literal fetal surgery on the very new fetus, to shift something so that certain unwholesome, say, fetal characteristics are removed, and the fetus can develop naturally.

It's the same thing, really. You're going into the akasha and finding the ground for the distortion, and the pre-distorted, because akasha is never distorted. Seeing how it moves. And you really can follow this in your vipassana practice. Taking the anger. Feeling the fire. Then the intention not to manifest that fire, but further intention not to even give rise to that unbalanced fire. Taking that fire element down into the akasha and finding the place where it really is neutral and balanced, and inviting the balanced fire energy to come up, rather than the unbalanced fire energy.

And seeing that you have a choice. As I spoke of in the transcript, you have the responsibility as you mature to know what you are capable of and to choose this. So that you can no longer just say, “Well this happened and I became angry. Sorry I exploded. Sorry I hurt your feelings, or punched you in the nose.” You have the ability not to enact this.

The most potent tool I know for the deeply mindful and proficient vipassana practitioner, which all of you are, is to move into the akasha and see both the place of the fire about to express out that's imbalanced, and the balanced fire element and all the other elements, and “I choose.” It's not really from a place of self. “I choose” sounds like there's a strong ego choosing. It's love choosing, not ego. It's the pure awareness that is devoted to, dedicated to expressing loving kindness in the world, and not expressing, not doing harm. This is what chooses.

So this is why, if you're willing, we will explore akasha this week, hopefully with more experiential exercises out on the beach. What I've envisioned is your being able to sit there by the water, not necessarily soaking wet but sitting in a bathing suit so your feet can get wet, right by the surf line. Breathing, pure awareness practice, open, spacious, present. And then perhaps I'll come up behind you and make a loud shout, and you contract. Then feel the subtle imbalance that came up with that shout. And your intention, it's not just your imbalance but your imbalance feeding that imbalance out into the universe. “No. Love does not choose to feed that imbalance into the universe. Love chooses to balance it.” And then in that moment, what balances it? Feel what's out of balance, move into the akasha, and find a direct experience, a direct place where it's balanced. And watch what happens. “Ah, that was nothing, just a shout.”

We'll work then with some more challenging catalysts, perhaps a very slow motion dance with the pushing arms exercise. Watching what happens if the other person is pushing hard against you. What happens to the balance? But in a situation where at any time you can just say “Stop.” Both people in the team will stop and move into the akasha and find balance, so that the flow of elements out of the akasha is balanced and even. And the dance continues.

If weather permits, we'll sit up to our waist in the ocean, feel the waves come in, and feel what happens when you tense up with that water coming at you. Many different ways that we can practice. Nobody will be forced into the ocean, I promise you. You will be invited if you wish, and if you don't wish, we'll find other suitable practices. Perhaps we can do it in the hot tub.

So that is the basis of what I want to present this week. I know at this point it's purely theoretical, and there are not a lot of exercises I can think of to do in here. Maybe the pushing arms exercise. We're limited by space and the lack of the external elements to work with. But I would like to hear your questions. Can you theoretically get a sense of what I mean by akasha?

Q: If we are experiencing anger, that is in our emotional body. So our minds are accessing our emotional body and the akasha creates our emotional body?

Aaron: Not quite. When certain conditions are present, anger will arise. There are many ways in which you can be responsible to the anger. The first way is simply to note, “Here is anger,” and hold space for it until it dissolves, with the sila-based affirmation not to enact the anger.

The next step, as you explore your relationship with the anger and whether there's anything unpleasant, any aversion to the anger, you're present with that whole container of the original anger and the aversion to the anger, and compassion deepens. There's no longer a need to enact that in the world. But for, whether it's 30 seconds or 30 minutes, you're still sitting there broadcasting angry energy. You're not acting it out, but it's still arising or still present.

At that point we've worked with several different kinds of practices. Working with the elements to balance that anger energy, excess fire energy in each of the elements. Working with the Four Empowerments. Seeing how you tend to hold onto anger when it arises. How it's stored in the body, and the intention not to store it. So we work with those different practices.

Now this is one more deeper practice. We don't say, “No anger,” we just say, “Ah, here is anger.” The intention not to manifest it out in the world. The intention to be with the self with kindness. But still the whole body is shaking with anger. You've heard me say countless times, that which is aware of anger is not angry. One can shift into that pure awareness, but that can also be a denial of the present experience of anger. They're simultaneous. Right there with anger is non-anger, and if you move into the non-anger, you're not present with the anger, but it's still there. Probably by the time you come out of that sitting with non-anger, the anger will have dissolved. Maybe.

But here, instead of knowing them as simultaneous and taking one or the other, going with the anger or going with the non-anger, we simply rest in the place where they come together, which is in the akasha. We go deeply into that place so that we can experience the simultaneity of the anger and non-anger. And that spacious field embraces the anger, the distortions within the angry energy. They release almost instantaneously.

So you're no longer broadcasting anger out into the world energetically. You may not be saying anything angry. You may not be punching anyone in the nose. But there was still that excess of fire energy. So here you simply attend to it within the akasha.

Q: So where is the mind being, when it is doing this?

Aaron: Ideally just resting in awareness, holding the spacious awareness of volatility and spaciousness and stillness. The non-duality of motion and stillness.

Q: Is this bringing access concentration together with pure awareness?

Aaron: Daughter, you ask hard questions! Barbara and I have been discussing just that. She's asked the same question and she's not convinced of my answer, from her own experience. I can only tell you my experience, that at the point where there's no you doing it, there is simply intention and love. You temporarily drop access concentration, rest in awareness.

If you're doing vipassana sitting and experiencing access concentration, anger is probably not going to arise. The distortions don't arise very much in access concentration. So this is more a practice done in daily life. But it reflects back into the sitting, because the access concentration becomes that much more stable. You don't have to set any boundaries on what is experienced in access concentration.

I want to use an example here, this going back perhaps 10 or 15 years. Barbara was on a self-retreat for several weeks at a friend's cabin on a lake. It was March or April. The area was quite deserted, only one or two neighbors along the shoreline present. She was meditating by the shore of the lake and in a deep state of access concentration when a neighboring dog, who she had met on a few occasions and who she knew was harmless, came up and sniffed at her. Noting was strong. There was awareness of the presence of the dog, but not creating separation of self and dog. There was no contraction around the dog's presence. So the dog sniffed at her a few times and then he lifted his leg and peed on her! So suddenly the access concentration broke apart. She couldn't sustain the access concentration with the dog urinating on her legs. No surprise! I'm not criticizing her for that. But I remember asking her then, where did your access concentration go?

Here is a practice wherein when the dog comes up and urinates and you're in access concentration, and you suddenly come out of it with this contraction, instead of holding that contracted energy even for a few moments, you see the whole flow of conditions: dog, urine, wet, smell, uncomfortable. The thoughts—no laundry, what will I do? I don't have that many clean clothes. Mind thinking, churning. Ahh… coming back into the spacious awareness. Coming back into the akasha.

It's almost like seeing the whole flow of conditions, this popping into that, into that, there it all is, and the place that is pure and balanced right there. The loving heart of compassion, compassion for the self, for the dog, the humor in the situation. And all the contraction simply dissolves, out of that moment of coming back into the akasha, resting there lightly. And choosing, literally, and it's not self choosing, it's love choosing: what do I want to express out of here? Do I want to pick up a stick and beat the dog? Do I want to scream? Do I want to go angry to the dog owner and tell him what the dog did and tell him, “Now you have to wash my clothes?” What do I want to do, here? Can I just sit here with spaciousness?

Eventually, after sitting for another minute or two, she picked herself up, went into her cabin, took off her clothes, took a shower, put on clean clothes. There was no laundry equipment—put the clothes in the bathroom sink to soak. Washed them. That's all. No stories about any of it.

Q: So when Barbara came out of access concentration and then was still holding the energy, did she go into pure awareness and then the akashic field?

Aaron: Not immediately, because she was not thusly trained at this point. This was 15 years ago. So first she came into the agitation and ego, anger, and then, this was 2 or 3 weeks into a month-long retreat, feeling the strong intention not to enact anger in the world. But also to act in an appropriate way. So later she went over to the dog owner and explained, “If you see me sitting out here,” it was just two houses down, “I know you give your dog free run, but if you see me sitting on the beach, please could you restrain your dog? He came over and urinated on me. It's okay. I'm not upset about it. But I need to know that won't happen again. So please take care of your dog.”

But in that moment, to answer your question, she saw the agitation. She saw the strong intention to do no harm, and that moving back into, she didn't know the term akashic field then, moving back into pure awareness, she could literally see the whole flow of conditions that were giving rise to the agitation and the ground wherein there was no agitation. And that she could best access that ground through pure awareness. So she moved into pure awareness practice, just for a few minutes. Ahh… spacious, open.

Now you'll be able to do it in a more skillful way, because you have more training than she did 15 years ago.

Q: This week I had communication with a lady who I have never met, but one of my chefs cooked a fancy dinner for her. On Tuesday, email communication, she began to suggest she was not going to pay the bill. Communication went on for two days. I can feel it now! My question is, if I have the ability on Tuesday to go to akasha and reconfigure the energy, would it not have gone on for two days? Would I have been able to stop this flow with this lady?

Aaron: Possibly, but not certainly. You would have been able to stop your flow of agitated energy. That might or might not affect her. It's like the question Barbara asked me. If she was able to go into the akashic field in that dream, I don't know if you were there when we talked about this, seeing the violence going on, bombings, brutality, and to hold it all in a spacious place, and if thousands of other people were doing that, then why did these bombings happen? And I said to her perhaps it would have been 100 times worse without that holding it in the akasha, without that loving energy.

So if you had lost it completely and yelled back at her, that would have made it worse. You were able to do what you were able to do. As you practice with it you become increasingly able to do it more skillfully. We need to be honest with ourselves and what's happening. Sometimes somebody pushes you just too hard and anger erupts. Then there will be a karmic price for it. Sometimes the anger doesn't erupt but it's deeply felt, and it's bristling in you for days and sending off its own energy back to the perpetrator of the event. Sometimes there's an immediate move to kindness, to compassion.

I believe I related the story of Barbara's experience when the child slapped her in the face. She was in a deep meditation, and because of the sitting and the loving energy around her, in that moment she was startled but anger did not arise. And immediately seeing the child being confined by adults, and his extreme fear and pain and agitation, there was nothing but compassion. So that helped to settle him. It's not the only thing that settled him; it helped.

So this is an important question from Q because it gives you an idea how, moving into the akasha, you literally are co-creating different circumstances, eliciting different kinds of experiences from the world around you. When enough of you have deeply mastered these practices, you'll find it does affect the nature of the world.

It's like prayer when somebody is very ill. If a lot of people pray for that person, they're sending certain energy out. Now if it's fearful, “Don't let her die! Get her better!” that sends certain energy out. If it's just holding them deeply in love, wishing for their well-being, that's very supportive energetically to the person who is ill. And it does change the energy and patterns around them.

There is a worldwide group for whom Barbara is a member that sends out announcements, not often, maybe once or twice a month, of critical situations, usually environmental situations on the earth, that need loving attention. It asks hundreds of members worldwide to hold that particular place in the light and to envision the situation resolving in a way in which the earth and all the people involved, in which nobody is harmed. There's no way to tell if that's effective factually. We can't measure, let's do it here and not do it there, to see what happens in one place or another. And even so, they would not be equivalent. But my experience is that the energy is received in these places literally within the earth and within the people and it does have a settling and stabilizing, uncontracting effect.

Other questions?

Q: When we talk about akasha, I have an image of a doorway in my heart that leads to akasha. It is the same place when I do tonglen practice, where I breathe in the pain or suffering energy and it magically transforms to light. When I do that practice, I try to get out of the way and let the heart transform.

Aaron: Perfect. Exactly. The akasha literally is the open heart. The open heart is within the akasha, it's not the field, it's the energy. It's as if you put a liner in the basket. The akashic field, and the liner of the open heart. And the akasha contained within it. The open heart supports that energy.

Barbara has had an interesting experience the past few days. A very dear friend had major back surgery on Friday. This is Carla, who co-channeled The Aaron/Q'uo Dialogues with Barbara. She had similar back surgery two years ago and has been in pain and largely unable to walk for these two years. The wound did not heal. It became infected. They had what they call a wound <vac> on it. She's been in terrible pain for two years. A second vertebra also needed to be corrected and they were going to do it immediately after the first. But two years had gone by because of the infection in the wound.

So they did the operation on Friday and she came through well, it went well. But she was in terrible pain. So Barbara was doing a lot of tonglen with her. Breathing in the pain and releasing it. Breathing in light and sending it out to her. And then she asked herself, “Am I doing this authentically? Am I really allowing that terrible degree of pain she's experiencing into me, or am I keeping a subtle barrier and assuming it will run through me and release? That it won't really touch me?” Now Barbara loves Carla, and she said to herself, “If I had the capacity to share her pain, to take half of her pain and literally take that into myself, so that she only had half the pain, could I do that?” And she felt the fear come up. From the place of Barbara-ego, she couldn't do it.

So I asked her to go into the akashic field. To rest in awareness, to open to the akasha. To feel the place of pain and how that pain, while seeming to be solid, is just moments of pain. And I asked her, could you be with this moment of pain? And with this one? With mudita can you watch Carla's ease as she feels less pain? So from the ego she couldn't do it. But from this place that you're talking about, from the open heart, she was able to begin. She couldn't fully do it, but she was able to begin. And nobody's asking you to do it, to fully do it, to fully take on another's pain. You presently, as humans, are not up to that degree of mastery, as we think of Jeshua, for example, as being, or other teachers, great masters.

You have to be honest with yourselves and not push yourself into something you're not yet capable of. That's just creating more pain, more burden for the other. Carla would feel terrible if Barbara collapsed because of extraordinary pain, and Carla felt better <but saw Barbara die>. How can we be honest with ourselves about our present capacity, so that the ego is not what's choosing, but what you just said is, that open heart that knows both its capacity to hold the pain and its limits of its capacity, as it sees it now. Ultimately there are no limits. And yet one does experience certain limits. And that's okay.

Q: This may just be wording but I don't feel it is necessary for me to take on the pain, but rather to open the door to let that space in me connect with the pain.

Aaron: <> Release the pain. Exactly. And this is what you can do in the akasha that you cannot do out of the akasha.

Q: Yes. So that's why ego can't go to the akasha.

Aaron: Yes. Other questions?

Q: When you talked about bringing the fire up, in balance, I was remembering about Barbara in the `60s on the Freedom Ride, the way that you talked about the unskillfulness of that anger in an attempt to change injustice. So if the anger is brought up in balance, then it changes the injustice without creating more negativity.

Aaron: The anger becomes compassion. Otherwise it's resentment and it's felt as me against you. And the challenge with these kinds of big demonstrations, you've got 30 people on a bus and not all of them have done their inner work. So if the bus is forced off the road, if there are violent attackers, some of the energy that explodes from the bus is not necessarily violent, outer manifestation, but is violent in inner manifestation, and that just brings up more violence from the attackers.

In a very small demonstration it's easier. Some of you have heard Barbara talk about the situation in which, it was a sit-in in a small southern town. People had been beaten at this restaurant. The four of them really knew the danger and that they could be killed. They were experienced. They all had done their inner work. They sat together in the restaurant with an angry crowd gathering outside, with clubs and bricks. Together they came, not the ego but the heart, to a readiness. After half an hour of meditation, hearing the sound (she could hear then), they came to a readiness. Met eyes, simply stood up and walked out the door. And there was such a powerful field of love there, the people just fell back. They dropped their bricks; they put their clubs down at their sides. They just fell back and let them pass through.

Had any one of them met the gazes of hatred that were upon them with hatred, it would have energetically inspired violence. But each of them was able to meet those gazes of hatred with compassion. It changes everything. Now Barbara did not know of akashic field then. All she knew was the answer to violence was compassion. And she was able to hold that space of compassion in her heart even when severely threatened, even today.

Q: So compassion has fire.

Aaron: Compassion has a lot of fire. Compassion is the balanced fire element. Any other questions?

What I would like you to do between today and tomorrow, first of all you're doing a vipassana retreat, so I want you to stay with your practice. Present with what is arising and passing away in your practice. Bringing special attention to the arising and dissolution of objects, and to the space into which the objects dissolve. This space is one of the keys to getting to know akasha. It doesn't matter whether it's a strong object like anger or simply a little itch or a twinge in your knee. Present with it with the open heart. Watching the tension around it. If there's access concentration, there won't be any stories about it, or even strong aversion, just unpleasant experience. If there's not access concentration, there may be aversion. There may be the start of a story that you note as a story. And that also becomes the predominant object in its turn.

And as it dissolves, instead of moving immediately back to your primary object, rest into the space into which it dissolved. This is the entry into akasha, this space. Start to feel this space in your practice, and feel how stable you can be in resting in that space. Don't hold onto the space. If you're in there for 5 seconds and then you hear birds flying by, hearing, hearing, simply go to it. Don't force anything away. But become increasingly aware of the space that's there immediately after dissolution, and also the space, the same space, out of which objects are arising.

When you feel an impulse, before it really manifests there's just this little bip, bip. See if you can go down into the place from which it's arising, which is spaciousness, and which is also akasha. Just get a feeling for it, and we'll work more with it tomorrow, hopefully out on the beach.

Q: What is an example of doing that when I'm cooking or driving my car? Just looking where the thought that has arisen dissolves?

Aaron: When you're cooking or driving your car, we need more mindfulness. It doesn't have to be a strong sense of self, but you cannot simply rest in pure awareness and safely drive your car. You can't simply rest in pure awareness and cook over a hot stove. So there needs to be some combination, the spaciousness of awareness plus the mundane mind and body. Mundane consciousness arising. However, when something burns on the stove or doesn't come out quite the texture you wanted and there's this “Oh, darn,” just note contraction. Breathe with the contraction, and as the contraction dissolves, rest in the space. Just pull up a stool and sit there for three minutes, processing this and finding the space.

Harder to do when you're driving, but you can pull off the road. Just pull into the lane off the road and breathe for a moment, and watch how the contraction of “This driver cut me off”, tension—Ahh… find the stillness that's there. Then get back on the road again. But don't try to do it while staying in pure awareness.

We have the wonderful story of a person who left a week-long meditation retreat. Driving home, thought he was driving carefully. Had entered the highway, when he saw a police car behind him, who pulled him over. The officer stalked up to him and said, “Do you know what speed you were driving?”

“I didn't think I was going over the speed limit.”

“What speed were you driving?”

“The speed limit is 65. I thought less than that, but maybe 65, 70?”


“75? 80?”

“You were driving 20 mph!”

There's got to be some degree of personal consciousness present when you drive!

I'll release the body to Barbara.

(session ends)