September 19, 2011 Cosmic Healing Monday Class, Aaron's talk

This talk was preceded by a go-around in which all the class members shared their stories and path.

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. I'm very enthused about this class and the opportunity to share your path with you and offer you ways of progressing, ways of deepening your evolution and your aspirations.

The talk “Trainings” - I offered this talk to Barbara in Brazil 7 or 8 years ago, privately, and she took notes as I talked. She was reading the book Anna, Grandmother of Jesus, and the book spoke about different stages of learning. She asked me to explain it.

I see your path as a spiral, each level covering the same territory. Actually it's a descending rather than ascending spiral. You keep going deeper and deeper. So, it starts more on the surface and then it goes down, deeper, and deeper still. In the talk, we only made four revolutions, but it keeps going.

There are many factors that bring you to the start of the path, as many of you shared today-- pain and trauma, loneliness, confusion. Feeling, “What is this life about? Why am I here?” Feeling different from others who seem very comfortable in their everyday lives but seem to live superficially. For some of you, it's a deep spiritual experience that launches you into an investigation; “What was that? What happened to me?”

People then set off on different tracks depending on their karma and their life circumstance. Some may go deeply into one or another religious path, and eventually may find it too narrow, too binding. Some of you will go into a far less traditional spiritual path-- shamanism, or other areas. It takes awhile before you learn that what you really need is just to be present in this moment. When you're present in this moment, the rest of it starts to come together.

For most of you, the earlier part of the path led you into some intellectual or quasi-spiritual pursuits. I don't mean to minimize these pursuits, but they may offer ways of avoiding this moment and trying to find some magical answer. That magical answer does not exist. It takes hard work.

Finally you are ready to do that work. Basically, it's like having a deep splinter in your foot, and you've been walking around on it for years. It becomes inflamed. It hurts every time you take a step. But the idea of digging into it with a needle and tweezers to remove it, this thorn is unbearable. So, you keep putting more and more bandages on it. You say holy words over it. You do magical kinds of practices to draw it out. Finally you realize the only way to get it out is to go into it and see what's festering in there. You can't even see it anymore; you only know that years ago you stepped on the thorn.

Gradually you find out what's been festering, and now you're so attached to walking on it, it's a little scary to think of living without it. Who will I be without this thorn in my foot, without this subtle limp? But finally you find the courage to remove it.

This is really what you've been talking about today, the various pain and confusion and yearning that led you into a spiritual path, and for each of you, the willingness and readiness, finally - not necessarily now; for many of you the readiness was years ago, but for all of you at this point - the willingness to go into the woundedness and explore it.

The first cycle around is often with a premise, “There is a woundedness and I have to fix it.” We start with that, willing to pay attention and see what the wound is about, and also to investigate the aversion to it and desire to fix it. You start with mindfulness of the body, of the mind, of the emotions, until you begin truly to know that objects arise out of conditions and will pass away when the conditions change. There's still a fix-it energy to it, but there is at least the willingness to explore, to pay attention and see how things are.

Almost all of you in this room have passed that first cycle. You've come to the point of seeing that right there with the woundedness is that which is not wounded, and embracing the wholeness of yourself. For some of you, there's still confusion. “If I am whole, then why do I still experience the wounds?” For some of you there is an attachment to the light and spaciousness and still wanting to push the painful areas away. So, there's still duality for many of you. But there is more readiness to open to the non-dual.

Most of you are in this second cycle, some of you emerging out of the far end of the second cycle and moving into the third cycle. I want to caution you: you are where you are, and it's very important not to compare yourself or try to be someplace else, but simply to do the work where you are.

If we were all mountain climbers, setting out here together on a climbing expedition, first you need to know how to tie your hiking boots. You need to know how to read your compass to find the trails through the dense woods that lead to the base of the mountain. Then you need to develop your climbing muscles, and find that you can climb up the mountain, perhaps at times needing to climb on rock, to ascend steeper slopes. And finally, as we get high above the timberline, you need to understand how to walk on a glacier safely. They're different skills.

If you say, “I can't start to walk until I've mastered the glacier skills,” you're just going to stay at the edge of the woods and never enter them. If you believe, “I don't need any skills at all, I'm just going to forge ahead,” you're probably going to end up quite banged up and in a lot of pain.

As each level approaches, the skills that need to be mastered will be shown you through your own guidance, through the teacher's guidance, and through spirit, and the mastery will come. So don't get ahead of yourselves, and don't lag behind, but just be content where you are. But always keep in mind the aspiration to attain the summit, which is true liberation and the full opening of the compassionate heart.

So, on this second cycle of the spiral, we start to experience deep moments of spaciousness, even hours or days of spaciousness. And then, POW! Something comes up and it's painful, and it knocks you back. We come back to the basic practice, presence with what has arisen; seeing how it has arisen from conditions, that it's impermanent and not self. And yet, and here is the crucial point, there is still a human in whom this experience is happening, who is experiencing this pain. There is the desire that one sees to get away from pain; that's normal. That's very normal for the human, not to want to experience pain. There is also, at times, the feeling, “I should be stoic with this pain,” which is part of your conditioned learning. “I'll just bear with it.”

The question, then, is how to find the balance in which you know the wholeness of your being and are happily, cheerfully inviting the knowing of that wholeness, and yet not afraid to investigate when you get stuck. Here we are walking through the woods together. Coming to the base of the mountain, starting to climb up the mountain, and suddenly one foot goes into a mud hole up to your knee. What are you going to do? You're going to have to stop and investigate the mud hole. You can't keep walking with one foot! You also don't put the other foot in the mud hole and say, “I guess I'm just going to have to sink in up to my neck.” Can love, not fear, investigate the places where you do get stuck and help you shake the foot loose and move on?

So the heart of your present practice, for most of you, is in this second spiral. We do not lose the teachings of the first spiral: mindfulness, present with things as they are, watching the arising of pleasant and unpleasant experience, aversion to the unpleasant, attachment to the pleasant, and that effort is still coming from a place of self. But there's more and more spaciousness. The observations come increasingly from a place of openhearted awareness that is not so self-identified with what arose. There's more room for wisdom, more room for compassion.

As you shake off that self-identity with the objects that are present, there's the ability to turn with compassion toward the human that's experiencing this physical or emotional pain, this confusion, this fear, without self-identity, without saying “I have this experience and I must fix it,” but instead, “This experience has arisen from conditions, and compassion will respond;” there is growing willingness to investigate and gain in wisdom until there is understanding of how this has arisen.” At this stage there is increasing knowing of both the catalyst and that space of wholeness where that particular catalyst is not there - that particular illness, that particular emotion. That which is aware of fear is not afraid. That which is aware of grief is not grieving. That which is aware of deafness is not deaf.

This is the place of balance, where most of you are. Some of you have worked for a long time within this particular spiral and you're coming to the next round, which is where you begin to see how often these notions of duality still arise, and simply to note “dualistic thinking” and not to get caught.

So, there's a point for compassion for the human that's experiencing, and there's a point where you start to note, “I keep getting stuck in the same place. I keep having to be the compassionate one instead of saying ‘let's just let this go'. Enough! I don't have to repeat this story. I understand what happened. I have the wisdom; the compassion is solid. There's nothing I have to learn from this, it's just old stories. I let it go and literally step into the place where it does not exist.” That stepping into space can never happen by aversion to the story and grasping to get out of it; it can only happen with true wisdom and compassion, and these are the result of your practice.

What I'd like you to do, then--when I say “I,” I'm including Barbara and Anna Marie-- what we'd like you to do is to look at a predominant story that keeps coming, in your life. It might be a story of unworthiness, where if somebody comments on something you said or did in a negative way, shame comes up. It may be a story of needing to be the good one, taking care of everybody, the one who's always upright, dependable, perfect-- that's another kind of story. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with wanting to serve other people, that's lovely. But when it's driven by fear, it causes pain. Then there's no freedom.

It may be a physical story, “I am the one who has low body energy,” or something actual like high blood pressure or constant back pain. What does this story protect you from? There's a reality to it; I'm not suggesting it's just illusion. There is a back pain or high blood pressure. Ask, “If I were not experiencing this particular catalyst right now, what might I be experiencing? What does it protect me from?” You note in Chapter Two, this is the constant question I asked Barbara about her deafness: what does it protect you from?

At the Casa, the Entity said to her, “Why do you want to hear?” She said, “To hear all the beautiful things. To hear birds singing, children laughing, water flowing over rocks.” The Entity smiled at her very compassionately, and he said, “Please meditate further. Sit in my Current. Come back in a few days.”

She thought she had got it. She came up to the Entity expecting the question, “Why do you want to hear?” and when it came, she said, “I'm willing to hear the sad things as well. I want to hear all the beautiful things, and I'm willing to hear the cries of the world.” And he looked at her compassionately, those deeply compassionate eyes, and just smiled at her and nodded. “Sit in the Current.”

A few days later, finally she got it. “Why do you want to hear?” “I choose to hear everything. I choose to hear all of the joys and all of the sorrows.” It took her almost a week-- it was Friday, and then it was the next Wednesday, a weekend of meditation, to get to that place where she saw how much resistance there was to hearing that pain; how her deafness protected her from hearing that pain. She could simply move into a quiet, peaceful, bliss-filled place and not have to pay attention to the pain. “I choose to hear everything.” At that point he finally said to her, “You will hear,” and sent her to surgery.

What is it your heart wants to block from your experience? We're asking you to choose one primary story. I don't want you to work with too many different areas. This is not a self-fix-it program; just to deepen in wisdom and compassion. Choose one area that's difficult for you. Maybe you're always impatient, saying, “Everybody's always doing things so slow!” Okay, here is impatience. That's something that's a constant self-identification for you. “I'm the impatient one.” Or, “I'm the one that gets everything done fast, and everyone else is always slow.” Judgment of the self, judgment of the other.

Pick one area that's a very frequent visitor. Hold in your heart the intention to move past this particular box that you've been living in. Yesterday afternoon there was a three or four hour workshop on just this topic. I imagine in several weeks we'll have a transcript for it and I think reading the transcript will help give you a bit more information. I'm trying to squeeze this into half an hour, here.

The talk yesterday was one workshop, just four hours, but here we have an ongoing class so you don't have to do it all at once. The primary point, here, for now, is, what is the box in which I've put myself? Do you understand what I mean by that? What is that box? Find the place in your heart that truly wants to release that particular limitation, that limiting belief. As we progress through the class, we'll talk about working with spirit guidance, working with the Brahma Viharas-- the practices of the heart, working deeper with wisdom, and so forth.

For now, just find the box, find the intention for release for the highest good of all beings. Start to know not only the experience of that limiting box, but also that which is free from the box, coming around into the second cycle of the trainings. Don't stay stuck in the first cycle. There's always a temptation to do that. It's part of the voice of control. If I can see what's coming up and note it, I can control it. But we want to step out of this “I”-- “I am doing this, I am doing that,” and into a spaciousness that knows on one hand I attend to it, and on the other hand, there's nothing to attend. Right there with this limiting belief is that which isn't caught in the belief.

What if I really open myself to that which is not caught in the belief? What fear is there? This takes me back to the lifejacket metaphor, and I'll end with that. You've probably all either heard this from me or read it in the book.

You want to swim in the lake on a warm summer day. Your friends are all swimming, but you don't know how to swim. So, I give you a lifejacket. You're a bit timid, but your friends are all out there in the middle of the lake swimming. I ask you to climb down the ladder, see how the lifejacket supports you, and then let go of the ladder. There's fear, but you do let go, and it buoys you up. And then you start to move your hands and feet a little bit, “Oh, I can move myself,” and off you go to join your friends.

You have a lovely summer. Every day you put on your lifejacket and you go out and swim. Ten years go by. I come back to the same lake, see you putting on what is now a moldy, mildewed, waterlogged, rotten old lifejacket.

“What are you doing?”

“I'm going to swim with my friends. I'm putting on my lifejacket.”

“But it's waterlogged.”

“But I always swim with it.”

“Do you remember how you tried it ten years ago and it supported you? What if you climb down the ladder now, let go as you did ten years ago, and see what happens?”

“Okay, but I swim with it. It supports me.” So you go down the ladder, and glub, glub, glub, glub, under you go. This heavy, rotten, waterlogged lifejacket pulls you down. You swim yourself to the surface, and you have to work pretty hard because it's a heavy weight.

Now, the interesting thing is, when you come back up the ladder and stand on the dock with me, and I say, “Do you see how it pulls you down?”, you say, “Yes.” And I say, “Take it off,” and you say, “No! No, I need it.” There's still a belief that you need it.

This is basically what I'm asking you to do with whatever limiting story, whatever box, you decide to work with. Once you learn the principles, you'll be able to switch it to different kinds of beliefs. As I said, I want to stay away from any sense of self-fix-it program and simply focus on principles of human evolution, coming to know your unlimitedness and wholeness and to trust that, through working with one particular area of your life.

So, this is what I would like you to do for the next class. Please come prepared to share some, and we'll probably break into smaller groups for that circle. What you experienced, what you learned. Maybe two groups: one with Anna Marie and one with Barbara. That's all. I've held you longer than promised, so I'm going to end here.

My blessings and love to you. And let me add one thought: if you find yourself clinging to that lifejacket and knowing that it's rotten and waterlogged and you don't really want it, but there's terror at taking it off, simply say, “Aaron, help me,” and I promise I'll be there. I will not help you to stay afloat. You already know how to stay afloat. You're naturally buoyant. I'll help you deal with the terror and remind you that it's safe to trust your wholeness and your infinite radiance and capacity.

Thank you for this opportunity to share with you.