October 24, 2016 Monday Evening, Oakwood Retreat

(This talk not yet reviewed by Barbara and Aaron)

Working With Our Shadow to Heal the World

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. A delight to see you all here. So much I would like to share with you. It's hard to know where to start.

You are all what I call beings of light, but some of you have forgotten that. You have forgotten what you are, who you are, why you have come to the incarnation, so you come to the retreat to get a dose of remembering. But then you go home and you forget it again. How can we help you truly to remember it, so it sticks?

The challenge is that when it doesn't stick, when you forget who you are and why you have come, then when something pushes at you, you move into what I call fright mode, either fight or flight. You close up. Your energy field contracts. When you remember who you are, you may move into discomfort mode, but not into fright mode.

So why am I against fright mode? We are in a world that is swiftly changing and opening into a different and higher vibration. I am not saying, “It may change if…”, I am saying it IS changing. That's already for certain. We're like a vehicle on top of a hill with wheels, and it's had its push and it's starting to roll and pick up speed. But there are those beings that don't want the vehicle to roll down the hill, they want it to stay put, so they're pushing as hard as they can to keep it from rolling down the hill. Or, more aptly, from taking off.

You have picked up the momentum, most of you through many lifetimes on this earth, through many centuries, that's bringing it over the edge— up, up, up! And starting to pick up momentum to wake up. To come into a place where love, loving-kindness, compassion, deep wisdom, are predominant.

If you are on the downhill side of the car, still pushing it at the back of the car, pushing it, there's still what seems on your horizon to be a slight rise ahead of you. The front of the car has already started going down, but you're still having to push it. You still see the land going up a little bit, so it's hard to believe we're really going to get over the edge. So you push and you push in what I called fright mode: to conquer, to fix. You've forgotten to trust your own light and the natural light of the earth itself and of the universe.

The other part of this challenge is, when you were way down the hill and pushing, in the Middle Ages, yes, there was darkness in the earth, but there was not that much fight behind the darkness because they had a kind of nonchalance. “Ah, no problem. They're all still in the Dark Ages. We're safe.” But now what I call the loyal opposition, those of a more negative and contracted polarity, they see that we're getting almost over a hump, so, “They're really right there! Stop them! Stop them!”

Many people have expressed surprise to me that there are so many people who strongly support the male presidential candidate, with all the negative things that he says. “How can there can be that much negativity around, Aaron?” He's drawing it out, because like with any bully, those who are scared and negative will look for somebody they can follow. As long as there's a bully there for them to latch hold of and walk behind, they're willing to come out. So they've come out.

But on the other hand, their pain, their anger, their confusion, their negativity, has been there in the depths, like a wound that has festered and filled with pus. That negativity has to be drawn out before it can release. So he is doing all of us a service by helping to bring all of this to the fore, so that all of you who are truly aligned with and committed to service to the light and to all beings can offer your service to this candidate and all his followers by working with metta with them, with karuna, with compassion, with them. This doesn't mean you agree with them. It means you see the depth of their pain, which they had buried and you had turned your head away from. Now you're forced to look.

It's very painful to you, not only the idea of having him elected your president but the idea that there is so much negativity in your country, so many people filled with so much hate. But hate is the product of fear and pain.

When we bring up positive energy in ourselves, when we heal the shadow in ourselves, we do it not just for ourselves but for all sentient beings. When we look with kindness at the shadow in ourselves instead of contempt, then we can look with kindness at the shadow in the world. It's not just this candidate and the United States. There is terrorism, there are wars. There are people all over your globe who are filled with so much fear, hatred, prejudice, and would kill for their own views. How do we heal that? Only within our own hearts. We are all part of each other. We are all part of the light and the darkness in the universe. There is no light and darkness at opposite ends of the pole. Just as a magnet must have a positive and negative pole to be a magnet, you each have a positive, deeply loving side to you, and a more contracted and fear-based side, a side that is deeply in service to all beings, and a part that says, will I be safe? Will my needs be met?

So your work, not just here at the retreat but your human work, is to release that duality of light and shadow, the belief, “I am only good when I am loving, when I filled with light. I am bad when I am not loving.” A lot of you hold that kind of belief. I won't ask for a show of hands, but I would suggest that there is nobody in this room that has not felt self-disparagement in the past week when anger arose, and the idea, “No, I shouldn't be angry. I'm a spiritual person. I shouldn't be angry.” If you walk across this floor and there's a thumbtack and the tack penetrates your foot, will you feel pain? Who here would say, “I shouldn't feel pain.”? Why? Why should you feel pain just because a tack entered your foot? Are you human? Of course. To be human is sometimes to feel pain. To be human is to have human emotions. This is the core of being human.

This is why you came into human incarnation, because you could have just stayed on the higher planes without a body, and perhaps at a stage in your development where you were in a heavenly abode, where there was no pain, no negative emotion, no sadness, no fear. How long are you going to hang out there? Eventually you need to come into the incarnation where there is catalyst for pain, sadness, fear, and so forth to arise, because your intention is not to escape it so much as to learn how to be loving with these sensations and feelings when they do arise. How do we bring love, kindness, patience, to the whole human predicament?

When you can do that more deeply for yourselves, only then can you begin to offer that kind of love out into the world. And it is this energy from you that literally will transform the whole world of negative energy. Transmute it, really, because anger is just energy. So we're not choosing to be afraid of anger or to fix anger or to stop anger or hatred or any of these emotions, but to understand this is just energy, and when I offer it spacious love, when I offer it space instead of contracting and fixing it or hating it, gradually this energy is transmuted and becomes high vibrational. It's just energy.

Your world is going through one of its critical periods right now. Not critical so much as the longterm outcome, because that can only be one thing. But the question is, how much suffering will there be before that love and light are developed fully? That's up to you. This is why we have a vipassana practice, because within the practice you can sit there and feel the small itching on your shoulder, which is so tiny, and yet as you sit there in silence it feels intolerable. “I've got to scratch it! What's happened to my shoulder? What bit me? Did I contact poison ivy? What's happening to me? I hate this!” What are you going to do, are you going to tear the skin off? Are you going to run screaming out of the room?

Itching has arisen, unpleasant sensation. Unpleasant, unpleasant. And then strong aversion to the unpleasant sensation. “I've got to get rid of this!” Contracting, contracting. Ah, breathing in, I am aware of the contraction. Breathing out, I hold space for the contraction. Gradually opening, opening. Suddenly the itching is not so bad anymore. You come back to your breath. “What was that all about? What itch? But my big toe hurts.” And on it goes.

These human bodies are a gift. Your human social systems are a gift. The people that bug you most in the world, they are a gift. They are all teachers of compassion.

Trust your vipassana practice and the power of it, and along with vipassana, pure awareness practice. Just resting in spaciousness. Let me explain this a bit, although lightly, as we'll go into this in more depth in the week. I'd say 80% of you have already heard this in depth. The rest of you will start to explore it.

There is a distinction to be made between consciousness and awareness. The eye looks at an object. As soon as the eye contacts the object, seeing consciousness arises. The nose touches on an odor. smelling consciousness arises. Contact, consciousness. Every contact results in consciousness. Every consciousness is either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. When it's pleasant, grasping may arise, wanting to hold onto it. When it's unpleasant, aversion may arise, wanting to get rid of it. If it's neutral, mind wanders looking for a more entertaining object.

So we have this progression of objects. The insect that's crawling on the back of my shoulder. Tickling, tickling. Sensation. Unpleasant. —There's nothing unpleasant about it. If your friend was tickling you lightly with a feather, you might say, “Oh, that's sweet!” But here we have this ladybug crawling up your shoulder. “What is it? What is it? I can't see it!” Unpleasant. Wanting to be free of it. Feeling the move into aversion. It is consciousness that's aware of this chain of objects. One predominant object, first present with your breath or other primary object. I'm using this term specifically, primary object. And then a predominant object like tickling or itching. Aversion, and the aversion to the tickling becomes predominant. Consciousness is picking up one after another after another. Then maybe planning mind jumps in, trying to figure out how to get rid of that object of aversion. You start planning. “I could go get a shirt. Maybe there's some bug spray.” Planning, planning. All of this is happening in the realm of consciousness.

Most of you have heard me say many times: that which is aware of an unpleasant sensation, of fear, of aversion, etc., let's use fear, that which is aware of fear is not afraid. That which is aware of anger is not angry. Well, what is this awareness?

There are two parts to your mind, let's say: the mundane mind that picks up and holds onto and releases mundane objects, mundane consciousness does that, and this awakened mind, which is the essence of what you already are, awareness. The Buddhist scriptures delineate it very clearly using very precise terms. Citta is the word for consciousness in the Pali language. Kuttara citta is mundane citta, the citta or consciousness of the itch, or the growing need to sneeze, or arising of anger. Kuttara citta, that aspect of your mind observes. Lokuttara citta is supramundane citta, supramundane consciousness.

So people find in meditation how they can deeply experience and rest in supramundane consciousness. Or, I use the simple word awareness as a synonym for supramundane consciousness. Then they come to me and say, “Aaron, I did it! I can really rest firmly in awareness. Nothing stirs me anymore. This was an amazing retreat! There's aversion coming up. There's no fear, there's no contraction. It's wonderful!” As they're talking to me, a door slams down the hall and I see their face go (flinches). “Oh, you're free? Are you really free?”

Then that person will say, “I thought I was free.” Well the problem was not that they flinched when they heard the door but that old habit of, “I shouldn't feel this. I'm going to hold onto supramundane consciousness, rest in awareness, and not participate anymore in this mundane world.” Well then how are you going to do what you came to do, which is to help shift this world into a planet of higher light, higher vibration? If you refuse to be a part of it, how will you do that?

That same person may say to me, “I guess I was mistaken. I guess I don't rest in awareness. I'm just a failure. I'll just stay here and do my work day by day, hour by hour, with mundane consciousness and all the painful catalyst.” How do we walk the balanced line? One foot in the mundane and one in the supramundane. You'll notice when you walk, if you're stepping with a foot in the mundane, your weight is on that foot momentarily and then back to the supramundane. You don't wobble back and forth as you walk, though. You step, and a balance comes more and more easily. You learn how to stay firmly in both worlds. And it's only there that you are able to truly offer compassion and loving kindness to the things that bring up negative emotion, pain, fear, and so forth in your lives.

The power of this is immense, when we're able to listen to people of a political persuasion that at first frightens and offends us, and really hear: this person is feeling pain, and their pain is also my pain. I have sometimes felt frightened, powerless, persecuted. I have sometimes been angry at whole groups of people. Do I condemn myself? I offer compassion to myself. I offer compassion to you out there for feeling this. You don't walk up to them and say, “Poor you. You're really suffering. I offer you my compassion.” That's very demeaning. You'll get a punch in the nose. We just do it quietly.

The wonderful part of this though is that each of you is literally energy. And as we practice here today, this week, and broadcast more and more light, it does change the energy in the world. It really can change things. It's a gradual change, but it happens.

But to do this we need to find the shadow in ourselves, and the place where that shadow is non-dual with the light. To find right there with fear that which is not afraid. Right there with anger that which is capable of love. Right there with sadness that which knows joy. When we practice in that way, we release the duality in our own beliefs and start to be able to hold the whole thing together.

There's a practice that many of you have done with me before., and I'm going to toss it out as a support practice, a challenging one, for the retreat. This is one of the stories of Milarepa, the Tibetan saint. In one story about him he simply finds many demons, and he says, “Sit by my fire and have tea.” He doesn't try to chase them away with a stick, he offers them tea. He says, “Shh, no talking. We're not going to get into a dialogue. Just sit here, have tea.” Gradually they cease to seem such demons to him. Mostly they get bored and wander off because he's no longer hating them.

The second practice is the harder one. Milarepa is out gathering wood and comes back to his cave and his fire area and finds it's overrun by demons. They're everywhere. Where did they come from? His first thought is to grab one of the sticks that he's carrying. He drops the firewood, but takes one big stick and starts chasing them. The more he chases them, the more they laugh. “Ah, we're really getting to him now!”

Finally he sits down and he realizes, “I'm not going to get rid of them that way. I'll ignore them. I'll just meditate.” But it's almost impossible because they're making a racket, and they keep coming up and picking up his firewood and hitting him with it. Very hard to meditate with that going on! What is he going to do? He determines to just go about his life. When they become overly violent, pushing him or hitting them, he turns to them and says, “No,” and walks off. But mostly he just ignores them. Most of these demons, when they see that they're not getting to him anymore, they become bored and they wander off.

But there's one big demon with bulging eyes and huge fangs, huge enormous mouth, horrible smell, gore dripping out from his whole body, blood, gore, really hideous-looking creature. He's just following Milarepa night and day, and Milarepa finally has the wisdom to know: this is not separate from me. This is a reflection of some aspect of me of which I have been in denial. So Milarepa looks at this demon, and he realizes there's just one thing to do. He walks up to it, stares in its eyes, and says, “Eat me,” and puts his head into the demon's mouth. A very challenging practice. Do you understand what I'm saying?

By putting his head in the demon's mouth, he's ending the duality. He's acknowledging, we are part of each other. I cannot transform you by standing outside of you and scolding you or hating you. I can only transform you by fully merging with you so that the light and love within me can transform what we are together. So that the light and love in you can transform the hatred in the world, of which you have also been a part. The fear in the world, of which you have also been a part. “Eat me.”

So I will ask you, two parts, here. First, begin to offer the demons that present themselves some tea. Just sit with them until they no longer seem like something from somewhere else, but you begin to really know, this is just part of the light/darkness merging within all sentient beings. You're mammals. There's a natural inclination to contract when something challenges you, threatens you. Fear is a survival emotion, or has been for much of your many incarnations. But maybe fear is no longer a useful tool.

If you think about going into a very dangerous part of your city where many people are murdered, would it be fear that says, “No, maybe we better not do that.”? Or would it be love? Kindness to yourself. Is it kind to let yourself be murdered? Is it kind to the murderer? Why put yourself in that vulnerable situation? Wisdom, love, says, “No, I won't do that. I will take better care of this being of light, that it may continue to broadcast its light in the world.” Fear is no longer a necessity for the mammals that you are. You are growing into the age of light and love, and that is a far better survival mechanism.

So first, when the challenging body sensation or emotion arises, invite it in for tea. But then, gradually, as it keeps coming and coming and coming, and subtle aversion comes, and “I shouldn't have aversion,” and all of these stories, stop. See what it might mean to literally put your head in the demon's mouth. Try it and see where it takes you. It takes a lot of courage to do this. I'm asking you to look deeply at the harshest demons that have come for millennia. How are you going to relate to them?

When we first started today, as Barbara was sitting here, the tiniest spider she had ever seen came dangling down from the lampshade. She looked at it and thought, “Oh, I can live with that one.” (laughter) Not bigger than the head of a pin. “I can watch this little fella. Do metta with him, wish him well.” But then she saw there were a half dozen of them. Now, it's not that she moved into a fear mode with them, she simply realized they would be better off being put outside. So somebody took the lamp and shook it off outdoors. I told her once they brought it in, there are still spiders on there. (laughter) Barbara, for those who don't know this about her, has a true terror of spiders. Whoever made the name tags here, under her name they put a spider. Was that you who made the name tags? Thank you. She got a good laugh at that. Barbara, spider.

So if Barbara saw a spider eight feet across, I asked her, could you just sit with it? Could you put your head in its mouth? What is the spider that's not you, that's separate from you? It's just another sentient being that wants to live and be happy.

We work with our hearts, opening the heart to the human that is feeling fear or discomfort. The human wants things to be other than they are. Sometimes we need something to support us. When I'm finished talking, I have this bowl of stones from the Casa, and I'm going to have you come up and we'll give you each one of these stones. Barbara brought the whole collection of them in and the entity blessed them. So they all carry a blessing and some very loving energy. You might find when you're feeling some kind of fear that you want to just pick this up and hold it. Bring it up to your heart. Feel the love in it. Just hold onto it and know here is love. I am love. Let it help support you.

The Brahamavahara practices, that word means Heavenly Abode practices of loving kindness, of compassion, and others like joy, gratitude, patience, forgiveness, and so forth, we'll be practicing these also this week. Remember I am not asking you to be dauntless superheroes. I am asking you to bring presence to anything negative and contracting that arises.

A word here about contraction. One of the healing entities speaking to Barbara a week or two ago pointed out that unbalanced contraction, long-held contraction, is perhaps the greatest cause of physical ailment in your bodies. It's the greatest cause of mental anguish. You all know that feeling, the story that you just can't get away from, the fear of this or that. So part of our practice this week will be to use contraction of the body to look at the places of unbalanced contraction, given a physical, emotional, or mental catalyst.

Contraction will arise. We hit the leg, it pops up. But she doesn't hold it like that. It hits, it rises, it relaxes. Make your hand into a fist. And what do you think would happen by the end of the week if I told you you must hold this through the whole retreat? You'd be in a lot of pain, yes? Now let it go mindfully. Can you feel how that contraction ran all the way up your arm into your shoulder, maybe even into your neck?

When something touches your hand, the hand held out, open, if I want to catch it, it's got to contract. But if I hold it there forever, there's much pain. If I just let it go, it will fall away. Can I contract, catch it, and then just hold it lightly? This is awareness, present with it. I don't have to clasp onto it. I don't have to throw it away. Just letting it be there. So this is an excellent metaphor for your practice.

Use contraction as a very powerful teacher. Not saying, “No contraction”; just, “Oh, here is contraction.” Ten minutes later, “Here is contraction. Breathing in, I am aware of the contraction. Breathing out, I smile to the contraction.” And interestingly, held contraction is a hallmark of negative polarity, and spaciousness is a hallmark of positively polarized beings. I'm not talking about the movement back and forth, I'm talking about held contraction. But spaciousness is just spaciousness, then it contracts and releases.

What doesn't release in you? What catalyst causes that? How old is that? Again, we'll do some practices like the Seven Branch Prayer and the Four Empowerments during the week that are ways to support the release of old habitual pattern. For now, simply watch it. Bring attention.

I'm coming back to the beginning of my talk. You are all beings of light. You are all radiant, beautiful souls. What blocks you from remembering that? We call the work with the Mother “Remembering Wholeness” because within the darshan she reminds you who you are, and day after day you forget. So let this be a week of remembering. Not so much of enlightenment, because you're already enlightened. Remembering your capacity to live that awakeness in the world, to live that compassion in the world, and through that literally to change your world, as you are able increasingly to offer love and light out to the places of darkness.

I want to leave us time for the giving of these stones, so that's enough words from me tonight. I see people falling asleep, some of you from very distant time zones. I know you're tired.

Thank you very much.

(session ends)