April 30, 2013 Tuesday Afternoon on the Beach, Emerald Isle Retreat

(This talk not yet corrected by Barbara and Aaron)

Aaron: When I open the eyes, everybody greets me! Is it that (inaudible) that gives me away? I enjoyed watching your (inaudible) antics.

So let us come back to the ocean as a metaphor for the akasha (inaudible), but it's a good metaphor because it's neutral in its polarity, not positive or negative. When conditions are present, certain things will happen (inaudible). Wind creates turbulence. Lack of wind and very still situation present quietness.

You can look at the waves and see that there's nothing there but the ocean. I know all of you can see that, nothing there but the ocean. And yet each wave is a wave. It sinks down. Let's follow one in. Bring attention to it. Watch it come forth, white foam on top. Watch it coming in. Watch it break. And then gradually ease itself up on the shore until, what remains of it? Where did it go? Yet the wave did not cease to exist, it simply is ocean.

The elements arise in the same way from the akasha. Certain conditions invite their arising. On the Earth we have the expression of the four mundane elements, which arise on the condition of the Earth itself. Because there is this globe spinning in space held in its orbit and near a sun, and on a planet that includes water and earth. Because there is atmosphere. All of these have been invited to arise out of the akasha as an expression of this planet you call Earth. If there was no fire element, there couldn't be Earth. If there was no earth element, it couldn't be Earth.

The earth, air, fire, and water and the akasha are all neutral in their polarity. They are not attached to a particular kind of polarity. But your intention <greets> them. If you have the intention to use the water in a great river to create hydroelectric power in service to many beings, you would say, “This is positive polarity. It's serving beings.” The water is just water. You are the one who is inviting the water to do that. In a similar way, if you had a negative polarity, you could do something with the water that created terrible flooding and drowned people. You don't then say the water has a negative polarity, the water is just water.

Each of the elements is like this. Your intention for the use of that element is what's most important. The sun warms you gently, but if you held the intention to hold people in 120 degree bright sunshine until they fried to a crisp, you wouldn't say, “Well the sun is killing them.” It's the intention.

I want you today to watch the elements which are easy to watch expressing out of the akasha. At first you may not be able to experience the akasha. You can use an ocean wave as a good metaphor. Just watching a wave arise and fall away, really experiencing the ocean as the akasha. How the water element arises out of it and—the wave arises and falls away, the water element doesn't arise and fall away. But in the same way, the water element is arising out of the akasha.

Feel the breeze on your face. When the breeze seems to stop for a moment, feel it within the akasha, out of sight, and then out it comes again. When the sun goes behind a cloud, feel it disappearing back into the akasha. The sun element is still in the sky but the clouds are blocking it. Then feel it appear again.

So with each of these elements, the important point-- how many of you have not been here in past years and worked with me with the elements themselves? (several) Let's assume at this point that most of you understand the interrelationship of the elements. How many of you were here the year we did the element dance? Just a few of you.

We took groups, 3 or 4 people to a group. This group air, this group earth, this group fire, this group water. On the beach, we asked each group to do a small dance expressing the pure element. Then sit in another group, expressing another element. Then we sent two of you out together. What happens when fire and air inter-meet with each other? And people danced it. What's happening when these elements meet? What happens when you bring wind in? What happens when you bring water in? What happens with water and fire? What happens with water and earth? So we did it with 2, 3, 4 elements, and spaciousness. We also added spaciousness. So what happens when we bring space in and everything is opened up instead of interacting?

What we will do today is based on that. I think all of you at least conceptually understand how these elements are, separately and together. I don't want to spend our time this week repeating what we did then. So, giving that as background, what I want you to experience today and this week is the direct experience of akasha as the ground, neutral earth polarity out of which the whole universe is expressing.

This is not about out there in the universe, it's about within yourself, because akasha is not just out there, it's within you. Here is akasha, and out of it expresses fire. It expresses in the form of anger. Here is akasha and out of it expresses a very heavy earth in the form of lethargy. Here is akasha and out of it expresses and overly heavy water element in the form of wishy-washiness, fluidity. But beyond fluidity, inability to stay on track, stay attentive, present.

It's at this point that we can find, we've talked about the active moment in vipassana practice. Coming into the akasha we find something similar to the active moment in that it's the place where intention can redirect the outflow, and literally change the karma.

First step is simply to get to know the akasha, and then we'll talk more about how to come into this field with pure awareness, not with access concentration but with pure awareness. Resting in the field with pure awareness to see what's there. Not ego-based consciousness but awareness chooses.

In the mundane realm, certain conditions have been present. You were sitting and some trickster came along and kicked some sand and water in your face. Not somebody you knew, just a kid on the beach, or an adult on the beach, I don't want to blame children. Anger comes up. You see this happening to your friend and anger comes up, and you're watching it. Maybe even more for the friend, watching, there's the movement, the impulse, to get up and grab at this person, to say, “Stop that! You can't do that!” You show the person that he's kicking the sand and water on, as, let's use somebody like J sitting peacefully in a chair, and without a lot of stability and ability to move and protect herself. How you would want to move to defend her, and how that movement might come from a place of anger.

In that moment, feeling how that impulse is arising literally from the akasha, from old conditioning as well, but feeling that strong fire energy. If you go into the akasha and find the place where the fire energy is more neutral, balanced, then that fire energy becomes compassion. Compassion knows how to act and speak, to say no to this bully. But it comes from an open heart and not from anger, because your intention is to live your life from this open heart with compassion, not from a place of anger, reactivity, fear, contraction. One of the primary attributes of experience within the akashic field is non-contraction. So this is something you can watch for.

What I'd like you to do is sit by the water for perhaps 20 minutes, with some specific exercise, and then we'll come back and talk about it.

Sit as close to the water as you're comfortable, ideally a place where at least the very highest tide coming in, the highest waves, will just touch at the ends of your feet. You don't have to sit in it, it's cold, but allow yourself at least to get wet. The tide is going out, so no promises, but it's not likely to come higher than it is—not a lot higher; some waves may come higher than other waves. But if you sit just at the end of the wet area, you're not likely to get totally submerged by a big wave. No promises.

First, eyes open. Entering into pure awareness. Sitting eyes open, ahhh… Not seeing any details. Eyes gently blurred. If you've got prescription glasses, take them off so everything's a little bit blurry. Ahhh… Resting in that spaciousness. And then watch a wave arising and falling away. Begin to bring awareness to each of the elements: water, air, the breeze, the sun, the sand beneath you. The interrelationship between them. To ask, where do they come from? Where are they going? And especially with the Where are they going?, watch a wave arise and pass away, and feel it sink into the ocean, as metaphor for akasha.

Feel any of the physical elements coming in against the body, the sun. From where is it arising? Where is it going? Feel any expression of the elements, such as when a wave hits your feet—contracting, not necessarily, but perhaps pleasant, perhaps unpleasant. Watch any contraction. Where did the contraction arise from? Where does it fall away to? Begin to experience that spaciousness. Spaciousness is a predominant expression of akasha. So in effect, when we did that dance, we were bringing in akasha, but we didn't call it akasha at that point because not enough of you were ready to take that next step. Now you are.

So the predominant intention for the exercise is simply to begin to recognize akasha, which is contained in this akashic field. Contained isn't the best word. That implies a limit. Simply, the akashic field contains akasha. The akashic field really is limitless. It contains akasha. Don't try to differentiate between akasha and akashic field, at this point. Just get to know the direct experience of akasha. And I want you to see how you can come down into that space of akasha. Shift what you experience.

I don't remember if Barbara spoke about this at this retreat or not. I know she spoke about it in class. Two days before the Boston bombings, she had a very clear lucid dream. Did she talk about this? In the lucidity of the dream, first there was fear and then it became lucid. Instead of being afraid, the intention just to hold space for all this mayhem. Then she saw that wasn't enough, that she needed to go into the akashic field, the field of possibilities. And within that field, to see the violence, the ripples of disturbance in the energetic fabric of being, where they originated, and hold them with love. A child screaming, and you just gather it on your lap and hold it with love. And that by going into the akasha, she could find the simultaneous place of fear and agitation and the stillness and love.

By the force of her intention, she could shift the energetic expressions pouring out. She asked me, “If I did this right, why did that bombing happen?” And as I told her, thousands of others also were doing this. And I said, “Imagine what might have happened if you had not done this.” You cannot singlehandedly change the world. You cannot violate others' free will, including the free will intention of people to be killed or maimed by the bomb. Their willingness to do this, in some way that they had come into the incarnation with a willingness to serve in this way. All you can do is invite a space of non-contraction, stillness, and loving kindness, and then see what results.

So as you sit here, first this exercise, we'll talk, and then I'm going to send you back to sit again, just doing meditation practice. And when contraction comes up through a memory or a body discomfort, seeing what happens when you bring that into the akasha. The ways you're literally able to shift the energy. Is this clear, what I want you to do?

Okay, go and enjoy. Let's give it 20 minutes.

(new recording file)

Aaron: It seems to me that our file did not record. The exercise was to sit by the water, to watch all of the elements. First to sit with pure awareness, to watch all of the elements. Whichever one becomes predominant, see it as an expression coming out of the akasha. Follow it back into the akasha. One handy way to do this is to watch a wave arising. There's foam, it's breaking, it's big, and then it's gone. As the wave dies out, follow it.

When the sun goes behind a cloud, be aware at first of the warmth of the sun, then that fire energy is gone. Follow it into the akasha, the field of (inaudible—infinite possibilities? intention?). The intention is to help the students understand the direct experience of akasha, and especially of akasha as uncontracted.

I said that afterward we would try an exercise in which people moved into more of a vipassana practice, aware of touching, sensation, thoughts. Knowing it as pleasant/unpleasant, and if there's any contraction, to literally follow that back into the akasha. Not to fix it, but to come to the place where that particular aversion experience, for example, is also held in non-contraction. To see how one can shift what comes forth from that place of non-contraction <by> your intention.

I will talk more about this. I think what we'll do tomorrow is to start the group inside, talk for 20 minutes or half an hour, and then bring them out. Because the digital recorder is not functioning… (inaudible due to wind) I'll add more later today.