May 9, 2012 Wednesday, Cosmic Healing Class, Large Group

(This talk not yet corrected by Barbara and Aaron)

Barbara: Our topic tonight is, what is healing? I've had some interesting talks with Aaron this week. One of the discussions we've had, to share with you, is why we named the book Cosmic Healing. What does that mean?

We are each a cosmos unto ourselves, and we're each part of the entire cosmos. Aaron used an example. If you have a piece of knitting and one thread is pulled so the whole fabric becomes bunched up, distorted, if you then work the thread back smooth, the fabric smooths.

We're each a thread in this grand fabric, and as we smooth out our own distortions it serves the whole cosmos. So we tend to think of ourselves as small beings and not important to the whole, and yet we are the whole. We can't separate ourselves from the whole. Cosmic healing.

Aaron is going to incorporate and talk. He has an exercise that's going to involve pushing all the furniture back, but he is going to talk first and then do the exercise part way through. Before we start, we have a guest tonight. Let me introduce Lisa, who comes from Saugatuck on the other side of the state. Lisa owns a bookstore in Saugatuck where Aaron and I are going to give a talk and workshop in June.

I had an interesting discussion with Aaron and a brother of light that we're just beginning to call Father John. We asked him what should we call him, because there were several brothers and we wanted a specific way to name him, and he said “Father John.” His name was Father John in a different language, but he said the English equivalent is fine.

So we were talking about the simultaneity of what appears to be broken, and wholeness, and how best to demonstrate the instantaneous quality of healing, that what appears ‘broken' never is ever really broken. Father John suggested, “Why don't I take a razor, make a little cut in the finger, show the blood, show the observers the cut, and then pull it together until it appears healed, so they can better get the idea of the ever-whole and the ever-perfect?” I opted out! I said, “I'm not ready for that.” He said, “Don't you believe I can do that?” I said, “Of course I believe you can do that! I know you could do that. But I'm not ready for it, and I'm not sure the class is ready for it.” So we will not be cutting fingers tonight.

So, that said, a note of humor, I'm just going to let Aaron come in and talk. (tape paused; then Barbara returns)

I just want to share this with you. There are a number of entities here, these brothers and sisters of light—interested, curious, eager to be of service. And I'm feeling them pressing in on me a little, as I'm getting ready to open to Aaron. These are all very loving, high-vibrational, high-density beings. Some of you have been with me at times when they've incorporated in the body. They're not mischievous spirits in any way; they're very loving, very positive beings. But they're also, some of them, a bit playful, and I can feel them wanting a turn to share their insights about healing!

Aaron says, “Focus on me. Focus on my energy.” I focused on his energy, a strong sense of his energy and the others fading to the background. Then he said laughingly, “Just stay focused on me. I'll keep these rowdies in line!” (laughter)

(Aaron incorporates)

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. Thank you for being here with me tonight. Did some of you see the rainbow in the sky on your way over? A very vivid rainbow, very beautiful. A rainbow is a promise. The rainbow holds all the colors of the chakras, manifesting with openness and clarity. The rainbow is the promise of the unity of so many different energies. Within you also there is always a rainbow. Sometimes you are aware of that rainbow within the self, and sometimes not so aware, but it's always there.

So, what is healing? We come to this from two sides. From your conventional everyday mind there is a linearity which sees something as perfect,  then perhaps broken and then mending gradually,  and then perfect again. It sees the ongoing progression of form that is impermanent so it breaks and then resolves the break into a new expression. There is a time element in that form of healing. It's not instantaneous. This is the linear, relative position. The linear is the horizontal line

Then regard the ultimate position, the vertical line. The ultimate is right now, this place where the vertical line intersects the horizontal. It is NOW. There is never anything broken. There is only the innate perfection.

If you carry in your mind the belief that the linear healing and linear progression of distortion are the only mode, then when you experience a distortion you will work gradually toward the healing of that distortion, be it a physical or an emotional one. Your mind will hold the idea of “broken” and strain to fix it. There is still focus on “broken” so the progress is slow.  If you bypass the linear and move into a meditation space of pure awareness, where you experience ultimate reality, within that ultimate reality you can invite an instantaneous healing of the distortion. But unless you stay in ultimate reality and do not waver from it, you may not be able to maintain that release of distortion. Returning to relative reality, one remembers, the distortion, looks to se eif it is gone, and in the moment of wavering, it returns.

Thus, if you have a broken arm, on the relative plane it's broken. Moving into pure awareness, feeling the place where the molecules have come apart, you can invite them to come back together. And there's an instantaneity, an instantaneous resolution of the separation of the molecules that the pure awareness mind knows. Then you move back out of that pure awareness mind and feel for the arm. And in that moment of feeling for where the break was, you re-invite the break. Because the molecules on the one level are pulled back together, and on another level they are not yet fully pulled back together.

Some of you have heard Barbara talk about the broken toe a number of years ago. Remember, the healing that happened with that toe happened over three days' time and not instantly. Theoretically it could have happened instantly, but she could not have maintained it when she came out of the meditation because she kept looking to see what had happened, expecting some damage!. So she spent three days' time of singing to the toe, meditating, sleeping, feeling the resolution as the molecules came back together, and then as she lost focus on the resolution, it slightly pulled apart. But because she was persistent and worked with it many hours of the day, coming back to it again and again and resting in awareness, knowing the ever-whole, it knit very quickly. It took three days rather than six weeks. But it wasn't instant. The instant is possible, but for you as humans it's very hard to maintain the focus that knows and rests in the instant, innate perfection and totally releases any idea of brokenness.

So we need to honor the humanness, but we don't have to honor the delusion, “Oh, a broken bone. It's going to take six weeks.”, “Oh, a strep infection. It's going to take 10 days.” The healing can be much quicker because you let go of the belief in the distortion and the linear-only mode of release of distortion.

So healing to me is really the release of the belief in the solidity of the distortion. But there is still a willingness to concede, “Yes, in this moment there is a distortion expressing itself. I do not hold a belief in that distortion, but I will take care of the distortion.”

The piece of paper. I'm sure you've all seen this exercise. The perfect sheet of paper, no wrinkles. (he holds up the perfect sheet of paper for all to see, then crumples paper) Where is the perfect sheet of paper? We've been doing this exercise this for 20 years. Can you see it there? It has wrinkles, but the perfect sheet of paper didn't go anywhere.

Here, look at this body. Where is the 10 year old? Can you see that she's still there? If the body would let her, she would still be doing somersaults and climbing trees. The 10 year old has gone nowhere. But on the linear progression, it's now an almost 70 year old body. It can no longer climb trees easily. Both are there. The unwrinkled sheet of paper is always there. The innate perfection is always there.

If we believed that this was now a spoiled, wrinkled sheet of paper, we'd either throw it out or get out an iron and iron it, to try to fix the wrinkles in it. And of course even by ironing we could not get it to be as perfect as it was. But when you just look at it, you see the innate perfection. (crumples it again) Play with it. Pass it around. Look deeply at it.

So when you hold a belief in a distortion, be it physical, emotional, spiritual or mental, you keep perpetuating that distortion. When you release the belief in the distortion you allow the possibility of healing, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily going to instantly heal. If Barbara was missing one arm, she could not really envision the arm that was missing and simply say, “Okay, let's have a new arm, instantly.” And yet there are cases where, not whole limbs so much as parts of limbs or organs have grown back when people deeply understood that that which was distorted or missing was actually there.

So healing is both a process and an instantaneous happening. The challenge with it as the instantaneous happening is maintaining it.

This Brother, Father John, let's call him, is hovering around here. We've forbidden him use of a knife to make a hole in Barbara. He's eyeing Barbara's highly bent second toe. This toe has been broken a number of times. Can you see how bent it is, almost 90 degrees curved so the side touches the ground? He says that while I am talking, he simply wants to hold and work with the toe. He's not sure what results we're going to have, because the class doesn't give him-- it gives him all the time in the world, he only needs an instant. But he does not want to re-break and mend the toe so much as to invite it to straighten, because he does not want to inflict that trauma. He does not feel Barbara could continue to channel me smoothly if he breaks the toe, although he could do that painlessly, just dissolve the e molecules and then bring them back together in another order! So in kindness to Barbara, he will simply work with whatever straightening he may be able to do with it just by inviting it gently to shift its molecular form.  It would help if I were not incorporated in Barbara's body and if she could hold the vision of the original straight toe. We'll have to hold it for her.

So the challenge that you humans face on this physical plane is that linear time is gradual, slow, progressive. You are so used to the belief system of this gradual time and gradual change, so used to the beliefs in who you think you are, what you think the body is like, what the emotional limitations and mental limitations you have, that you cannot envision something completely different.

It's okay. You're not here to express the “perfect” body, mind, emotions, etc. You're here to learn compassion. One of the catalysts for that compassion is the occasional experience of body and emotional pain. These are not your enemies. We don't need to look at them as things to be fixed, but to regard them as teachers. And yet at a certain point they may begin to get in the way, as for Barbara this toe sometimes gets in the way, becomes a bit painful when she walks because it bends under so much. Then it's wholesome to invite healing at whatever speed.

Emotional healing works the same way, for somebody who is experiencing grief, loneliness, confusion, deep anger. We attend to these emotions with love, with compassion for the human that's experiencing them, and without getting overly lost in the identity as that being experiencing that disturbing emotion. Yet we do not deny the presence of the emotion. We allow the emotion to be a ground for compassion. We watch any aversion to the emotion.

Right there with anger is that which is not angry. Right there with confusion is that which is clear. Right there with loneliness is that which knows its innate connection to everything. Right there with sadness is joy. We do not chase the sadness away in order to choose joy. Rather, we see the joy that's right there with the sadness, and we make a wholesome choice to focus on the joy rather than enhancing the sadness by retelling the stories of the sadness. Or with anger, or any other emotion.

It's a bit easier to see in emotions. When I say “That which is aware of anger is not angry,” you have all learned, to some degree at least, to rest in that that which is aware and see the place of non-anger and the open heart without chasing the anger away, without aversion to the anger, but without enacting the anger, giving it space to dissolve. And it goes. Gradually it goes.

It's easier with an emotion to find that which is not angry, that which is not afraid, right there with the emotion. It's harder with the physical body. That which is aware of a strongly distorted toe, that awareness is not distorted, but there's no denying the toe is distorted. That which is aware of a broken bone is not broken. But we see the physical reality, and we get caught so easily in self-identification with it, being the one who has arthritis, cancer, a defective knee, whatever it might be.

What if you ceased to self-identify with these emotions? What if you see yourself as the radiant clear angel that you really are? What if you go back in your mind to the newborn infant that you were, who, for most of you, was free of any physical distortions? Maybe the head squished in a little, yes, but that clarifies itself quickly. But that newborn infant probably did not have any problems in its organs. Sometimes, yes, but rarely. It did not come to birth with any broken bones, with any diseases, and so forth. Again, sometimes, but rarely. Go back to that newborn infant and know the innate perfection of the infant. You are that. You are that radiant whole being.

So the challenge is twofold: to hold loving space for the distortion that's expressing at the moment, without aversion to that distortion. On the mundane level, on the linear level, knowing this is a distortion that's presently manifesting and it's painful. And on the ultimate level, cutting through and knowing, this has arisen out of conditions, it's impermanent, and it can shift in an instant if I only know that it can shift in an instant.

(To Father John) How are we doing? A bit straighter, he says. Not a lot; he would need more time to work with it in this slower, linear method; but a bit straighter. It bends better. It's a bit awkward to hold the foot up that way so we'll put it back down.

(An aside from Barbara as I am reviewing this transcript; After the ‘wave  accident' in 2004 I was left with a broken orbital bone in the right eye. The doctors felt it was too risky to my vision to operate and bring it back in line so elected to leave it to heal out of alignment. The eye was bleeding a bit inside, frequent nosebleeds too , there was localized pain and headaches, and I was aware of the discomfort of it all. There was a ridge that one could feel, where the bone was healed crooked. The Brother of Light who today we call Father John looked at it and chose to mend it. We arranged for his surgery to take place with the assistance of a friend who is a chiropractor and whom he knew from experience could hear him well. I lay on her table, she held the energy, and watched with some wonder as, as she phrased it, that area of the face literally began to swim around and move as she watched, for a few minutes, then solidified again. I rested there a few minutes and she drove me home to sleep the rest of the day. The headaches ceased, bleeding stopped, and ridge was no longer noticeable to the touch. I have not had it x-rayed so no proof there, just my internal experience of it.I think this story is in Cosmic Healing)  

He is suggesting again we could simply break the toe and heal it instantly. She would probably not even be aware of it. And I have said no. (laughing) I have the body. I am the guardian of the body. We will not do that! I do note that Father John has a good heart.

I'd like to open the floor to your questions. I have more to say, but I'd like to hear any questions from you first.

I'm telling him, a failed experiment! He says, not completely! Give it time!

(From Barbara as I review: It is a little straighter; the side does not hit the ground fully any more; the bottom hits now, as it should, though toe is still badly bent.)

Q: In past forums, you as Aaron and various brothers and sisters of light have also discussed the notion of healing as remembering. How does that tie with what you're describing here?

Aaron: The notion of healing as remembering: this is why I mentioned the infant body that you once inhabited. It didn't have strong muscles. It could not stand up and run. But it also was free of distortion.

Barbara has been working with the osteoarthritis in her shoulders by remembering the infant body, and that while the infant's muscles were not strong, it could move its arms freely and there was no pain. She is inviting the body on a cellular level to go back, not her mind remembering so much as the body and the cells of the body remembering how they were back then, and re-expressing that. It is helping. She's doing it as a regular practice, and it is helping.

You can also remember in a similar way, when you're feeling very angry, remembering how it felt not to be angry. What is the experience of the open heart right there with the anger? That remembering of absence of the painful emotion can bring you back into knowing and re-expressing that absence of painful emotion, or its opposites, the joy, the connection, and whatever.


Q: It's not a question as much as a comment. When you were speaking about remembering what it was like as a child, and to have the emotional innocence of a child, I was reminded of a part of the Bible, which spoke that we must be children to enter the kingdom of heaven. And that's a helpful interpretation.

Aaron: I think that's a beautiful way of expressing the reminder to let go of all of the conditioning which has accrued through all of these years. The child, even the one year old already has some conditioning but not a lot. We look at the one year old and if that child has been raised in a loving home, he or she is unafraid, bubbling, joyful. She cries when there's pain or hunger, appropriately, to express it. But otherwise is open to people, remembering its innate innocence, radiance, love, its innate connection with the divine. You feel that love in a very young child. Slowly it gets trained out of the child.

Thank you. Are there any other questions or comments about what I've said so far? (no)

So from the human perspective, healing is a process, not an event. It is the linear process of returning to the innate perfection that is deeply known and remembered at some level, and rejoicing in that innate perfection. It's also the process of observing any resistance to the fullest expression of that innate perfection. So many of the distortions that you have picked up are conditioned defenses. They are the armoring that you've put on. There's loneliness because you can't break through the armor. Even the diseases come up in some way as a reaction to your environments and conditioning.

How can you better resolve the resistance and open your hearts to the fullness of yourselves? Is there anybody in this room who does not have some limiting belief? No? Not one of you. I'm teasing you. Of course, I'm not surprised.

So I'd like you all, each independently, to think of one limiting belief. Just hold it in your mind. I'm not asking you to think of how it came about. In other words, I'm not asking you to go back to your childhood and realize, “Well, I feel unworthy because all my life I heard my parents saying, ‘Why don't you get this? You're not good'.” Just note the pain of that limiting belief. Hold the awareness, in some way this limiting belief came up to protect me from something.

A limiting belief of unworthiness, of lack of mental capacity. Maybe no sense of humor or not a good athlete. Clumsy. Whatever kinds of limiting beliefs you have. Here it is. Try to carry yourself back to that very innocent 8 month old child. But perhaps without the early parental influences that were already planting the limiting belief.

So think you instead, not of yourself as that actual child, but of some radiant baby you have seen in the past months; joyful, shining, happy. Rolling or crawling around on the floor. Banging on toys. Laughing. Fully delighted with its environment.

Become that child. Whatever the belief is that you've been maintaining, can you temporarily put it on hold and consider the possibility of the deeper perfection? Be the little girl skipping rope or the boy climbing the tree. Be the one rolling on the ground with friends in laughter and delight. Be the ones hugging with a group of friends, feeling fully embraced by your comrades, deeply seen and heard and loved. What if you really are that?

And as you consider that possibility, is there any subtle tension of resistance? Can you bring kind attention to it? Not trying to get rid of it. Just holding it lovingly, as you might hold a young child who was afraid of an insect or of a big dog. Not forcing the child to approach but simply holding it lovingly and comforting it, and helping it to release its fear. That which is aware of fear is not afraid. This healing work must always be done with gentleness, never with force.

We ask the question, what does the belief in this distortion and the seeming solidity of this distortion protect me from? What if I did not hold this limiting belief or this physical distortion in this moment? What might I experience? Of course, there's no one answer. There are 1,000 and 10,000 answers. But the big question is, can you at least contemplate the release of that limiting belief or limiting physical expression? What would life be like without it?

I do not mean to suggest that everything is protecting you from something. In other words, if one gets a sore throat, it's not necessarily because one has to speak about something and doesn't want to be able to speak. It may be that you simply encountered the strep germ and it took hold. There are many reasons why objects and physical sensations, arise. It is different to get a strep throat once in ten years, than to get strep throat every three weeks. At that point you begin to ask, what is this protecting me from? Is there some reason I don't want to have the full use of my throat? Don't want to be able to fully talk? Is the throat chakra closed? What if I could fully express my truth? And so forth with different kinds of ailments.

Once upon a time you had the ability to correct distortions almost instantaneously. This is the ‘you', before you were fully human, but manifest in different forms expressing on this earth as third density. But you came to learn compassion and wisdom. And you destroy the usefulness of the human experience if you fully remember these instantaneous healings and simply manifest them. The distortions are your teachers.

I am not suggesting you need to carry a thousand pounds of distortion on your back all the time. But gradually you start to see the innate perfection in yourself, and live that perfection while knowing the distortion too, and holding it in the heart. You learn compassion, and do not use the knowledge of wholeness as an escape from human experience. If I can fully manifest my wholeness, right now, in any moment, and see the perfection in everything around me, where is the catalyst for compassion? Where is the teacher of wisdom? That knowing will come, in its own time and after compassion deepens.

So we neither want to prolong these distortions nor to feel an urgency, “Get rid of it! Get rid of it!” but to ask, “What is the teaching here?” As you learn from the teacher, you release the distortions. And you need not be afraid that you will then be without teachers, because there are always going to be new distortions. If nothing else, eventually you're going to be bent over and limping and your teeth falling out. This is the nature of the body. You're always going to have something to practice with.

Take them one at a time, on the one hand work toward inviting the deepest expression of wholeness and at the same time, asking, “Where is compassion to be found, right here with this experience?” As long as there is not compassion, there's a self grasping at fixing this distortion, and that distortion and that distortion, and there's no peace. There's just constantly something else to be fixed.

But when you can relax into it and just greet it with, “Ah, here's another one. Let's take care of this one. Let's take care of the next one,” then your lives are peaceful. They're filled with joy. And there may be the achy knee or shoulder, the occasionally loneliness or anger. Let them. They're not a problem. There's no self-identification with them.

That freedom from self-identification with the forms of the body and mind, the expressions of the body and mind, is perhaps the ultimate healing. You enter into what we might call the ever-healed. You know yourself to be that ever-healed, even if you're limping with a cane, and your teeth are falling out.

Once again, are there questions?

Q: The emotion that I'm dealing with is shame. A class I'm taking asks for a life review. So for the first time ever, I'm really looking at this shame. And I wondered if shame is different. It's shame of things I did, not things perhaps my parents told me. Different than anger or lack of confidence.

Aaron: They're all aversive experiences, by which I mean the body energy contracts, and there's a pushing away of something, a grasping of something. They're each subtly different. The experience of anger more often involves fear that one's needs won't be met, fear that one will do harm to another because of the anger. It's a contracting experience.

Shame is also a contracting experience but I see it more as a shutting down. Where anger is empowering and brings up energy, shame is a shutting down. These are often deeply habituated karmically, so in the same situation, one person will respond with shame and another with anger. All you really need to know is this is very old and that it is a way of shutting down your whole body energy field, armoring yourself.

Often shame relates to anger in a very subtle and deep way. That one understands one's power at some level, and that anger will bring up that power, and that out of that power you really could destroy, and sometimes in past lives probably have destroyed with anger.

For the person on a conscious spiritual path there is a deep aversion to the idea of doing harm. And shame then becomes a tool whereby one shuts down one's energy field and diminishes one's power. So it's often, not always, but often, being used as a tool to step back from anger and diminish one's power, often out of fear of power.

I'm glad you are doing this work. I hope it's very helpful to you. Please remember there's nothing you might find that is not workable. Some of it is very hard to be with. But overall, going as deep as you are able to go is helpful.

It is also helpful to look at the body response to shame, such as heat, constriction, rapid heartbeat. Use one or more of these experiences as a focus and just watch it, so that you see the distinction between the body response and the story shame carries.  Know the story as a story. One must develop a readiness to look deeply at the story and know it is arisen from conditions, that whatever one did, there can be release and forgiveness and that shame is a mass of mind and body reactions that is just an old conditioned way of dealing with the story line.

Have we talked about the second story of Milarepa? Not the “Have Tea” story, but the second one, in this class? (no)

A dear friend of Barbara's, Aura Glaser, wrote an article for Tricycle Magazine two months ago, about this story of Milarepa. It is a familiar one like the ‘Have Tea' story, but she wrote about it in a very beautiful way. You can find it in Tricycle Magazine.

Milarepa went out to gather some firewood. He came back and found his cave had been taken over by demons. He was upset. He thought, I've got to get them out of here. So he picked up the biggest stick he had and started chasing them. And they laughed. The more he chased them, the more delight they had.

He finally realized, this isn't going to do it. How else can I get rid of them? I know, I'll give them a dharma talk! So he sat down with them, started talking about loving kindness, forgiveness, gratitude, generosity, all of the paramitas and how to cultivate them. They just ignored him.

So he finally stepped back and said, well this isn't working either. I'm just trying to get rid of them in a more subtle way. I have to learn to live with them for a while. They clearly have set up housekeeping here. Maybe they've been here all along and I've never really noticed them before. So can I just make space for them and go on with my life?

As he decides this, almost all of them leave. He's not very interesting anymore. He's just going about, making his own tea, doing his own chores, and ignoring them. But one big demon stays. He's got long fangs. He's got a huge mouth. He's pretty hideous. He simply follows Milarepa around. And Milarepa, he's trying just to ignore him, but he realizes he can't completely do that. He realizes the only thing to do with him is fully to surrender to him. Not to constantly be trying to sidestep him or get away from him, but to open himself completely to this demon.

So he walks up and he says to him, “Okay, eat me.” And he puts his head in the demon's mouth, completely giving in. And with that, the demon dissolves and disappears. Why? Because he's recognizing that the demon is simply one aspect of himself. He's not creating separation. He's opening his heart completely to that aspect of himself that was so fearsome, and not trying to avoid it, to fix it, to manipulate it in any way. Neither by chasing it with a stick nor giving it a dharma talk, but just to fully move into it and understand it. Not understand it intellectually; feel it in his heart and just be present with it. And the demon dissolves.

Last week at the weeklong retreat she led, Barbara told the story in the morning instruction period. She actually read some from Aura's article. And the yogis worked with it. It was a weeklong retreat. They worked with it. How do we bring ourselves to put our head into the lion's mouth? In what subtle ways are we using this evasive tactic or that evasive tactic to avoid a feeling such as shame, to fix a feeling such as shame? To avoid anger? To avoid our resistance or aversion to a certain unpleasant body sensation? Can we be with it fully?

When you open your hearts to it like that, then you come into the experience of the ever-healed. It's not so much that the demon ceases to exist so much as it ceases to be a demon. It's just that headache again, that sadness again, the confusion again. Just let it be. There's nothing to fix.  

At that point we move along this relative line to the vertical, the place that cuts through and knows the ever-healed, experiences that which is without shame, that which is without loneliness, confusion, or aversion. The heart can open that deeply.

Other questions?

Q: Aaron talked about being angry. What about happy emotions? Do we treat them the same?

Aaron: If there's a self-identity with the happy emotions, the need to be the one who is always joyful, who is always patient, who always feels generosity or delight, that's a huge burden to carry around. It's wonderful to appreciate these happy emotions when they arise spontaneously out of conditions, and also to recognize, these are just like any other object. These are impermanent and not self.

There's a difference between a happy emotion on the mundane level and a very deep pervasive sense of peace and ease on the supramundane level. I would not say it's not happiness, but it's a different kind of happiness. It's touching onto that innate happiness, that innate joy of being, that innate delight, that the liberated mind or pure awareness can pick up. It's where you are when you're not thinking, “I should be happy.” Or “I WILL be happy.” Or “I AM happy,” but just resting in a place of happiness. There is nobody being happy. Can you feel the difference?

Think about a situation, not of absolute joy and delight but simply of ease and peace. Perhaps just sitting, sharing company with a dear friend over a cup of tea by a fire. Or watching a beautiful sunset with the eyes seeing, but with no strong self in the seeing. Or maybe listening to a concert. Again, no strong self listening. There's a certain ease and joy. There's no striving, no trying to get somewhere. You're home. Can you feel the difference between that and conditioned happiness? “Oh, I've been wanting this chocolate candy for such a long time. Here it is! And here's the second piece... (less enthusiastically) And here's the tenth piece...” and it changes. You feel the difference? It changes. Does that answer your question? (Yes.)

Q: Avoiding or denying or fixing or trying to get rid of negativity or fear, all of that obstructs awareness of wholeness. So, giving space to that which is not angry or afraid allows us to experience wholeness. So in a way, these partial experiences, like fear or the demon in the story, are kind of like imposters, in a way, as claiming to represent the whole experience when that's not really true.

Aaron: I think that's a good way of phrasing it. Yes. Only within the unconditioned emptiness can one find the whole experience. Any image from a self is an imposter pretending to the whole.  

Q: Kind of like those pictures where you can see the <the optical illusion seeing the face of the lady vs the vase>

Aaron: Yes and no, because in those optical illusions both pictures are there. Here, both are there, but one is really an illusion. Let me put it differently. In those pictures, they are both real and both illusions. But there's a reality to both. I think of the optical illusion of the lady and the vase, and they're both there.

Here the imposter is trying to pretend it's real. And it does have a certain relative reality. But when you see through the optical illusion, you can go back and forth and see the reality of both. Here, when you look through it simply self-destructs. You really can't come back to it and see it as solid again.

The practice, then, is to take the predominant object, such as anger, fear,  confusion, loneliness or pain, and see how it's trying to take center stage. Ask yourself, right now if I was not caught up in this object, what might I be experiencing? If it's anger, can I come back to that which is not angry? If it's pain, knowing pain in my leg, perhaps, can I rejoice that I don't have a headache or a toothache? Can I really bring attention to the fact that there's no pain in my teeth, feel that lack of pain and rejoice in that without denial of the fact that my foot hurts, that my ankle throbs?

In practicing in this way, we are essentially putting our head in the demon's mouth. We are allowing ourselves to go deeply into the experience of the physical or emotional pain without taking that as a solid reality. There's nothing to be avoided because it simply is as it is, yet it's not self, and it's impermanent.

Right now in this moment, with that throbbing, broken ankle, maybe, there's enormous aversion. It may be the aversion is predominant over the body pain. We move into the experience of aversion. That which is aware of aversion is not averse. We see that which is so spacious and open and unlimited, and able to take this experience of pain and the aversion that comes with the pain with an open heart, and not get stuck in the self-identity.

What we're doing here when we practice in this way is opening to the liberated mind. Moving beyond the beliefs of who I am into a clear knowing of what I am and always have been, of the innate perfection, the radiance, the wholeness of the self. There doesn't mean there's not still going to be a throbbing ankle or anger, but there's no longer a self-story about it. The stories go, and there's enormous space and ease, even while the ankle still throbs.

Other questions?

Q: (hard to hear) In the case of emotional intensity, anger or unworthiness, worthlessness, and you feel compassion for, let's say the young child who's hurt? Or the parent inflicting the hurt? Or both? Where do you go with those intense...

Aaron: You don't separate. The parent's pain is the child's pain. The child's pain is the parent's pain. They're all conditioned. If the parent is verbally abusive to the child, the parent was most certainly also abused as a child. The grandparent who abused the parent was probably abused as a child. Can we begin to hold the whole world in compassion, that people are still caught in these delusions, limiting beliefs, and unskillful ways of expressing their needs and emotions? The heart breaks open and weeps for the pain of the world. But it's different, because it beats with a spaciousness, and the tears wash clean the old pain.

There are no longer expectations, so-and-so should get this, should be different, should be better. So-and-so is stuck wherever he or she is stuck. We don't simply walk away and leave them stuck there. We continue to hold the door open for them. But we no longer hold an expectation that they're going to walk through the door. We suffer as long as we expect the other person to walk through the door. If somebody is caught in their own negative way of being, we can't force them out of it. Only our own kindness can hold the door open and express an option to them. When they're ready, they'll walk through.

The same is true for ourselves. We cannot force ourselves out of our own unskillful mind-sets and feelings and so forth. But we can keep reminding ourselves that there is an option. This has arisen out of conditions. It's impermanent and not self. It breaks my heart and I hold my heart open to it. Clear comprehension: what is my highest intention here? Is what I am about to say suitable to that highest intention? If I'm about to condemn myself, feeling a lot of shame about myself or feeling unworthiness or self-anger, is that suitable to my highest intention for compassion? If not, then I put my head in the demon's mouth, of the whole cycle of shame, unworthiness, fear, anger. I find this is me, and what is else is in me? Where is that innate radiance? Where is that inner light? I invite it forth.

We remember the possibility of that radiance. In the Crazy Wisdom Journal, there on the shelf, Barbara's article is entitled, “This Little Light of Mine, I'm Gonna Let it Shine.” Do you know that song? (singing) This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine....

The verses I recommend:

When my heart is aching, I'm gonna let it shine...

Are you going to get lost in the aching heart? Or are you going to just note the aching heart with kindness and then let the light shine out?

When my body's aching, I'm gonna let it shine

When my heart is breaking, I'm gonna let it shine...

The deep intention to stay with the light. Not to lose the light. And not to deny the aching heart, the aching body.

Sing it with me. Bring up this energy!

(group singing)

Thank you for indulging me with that.

Q: They've been playing that on certain programs on NPR lately.

Aaron: It's a beautiful reminder that you have a choice. You can move into a pit of blackness and despair, or you can note, “This has arisen as a conditioned object,” and move fully into the experience without fear. Not trying to push it away. Not beating it with a stick or giving it dharma talks. Not trying to manipulate it. But simply note: it has arisen from conditions, and temporarily this is the experience. I have a choice whether to get caught in a self-identity with this experience or not. If I choose not to get caught in the self-identity with the experience, can I remember this light? Can I remember the radiant divinity, the essence of my being, and that that is what I choose to express?

When you do that then healing happens. The healing is release of the old identity as limited, as broken. Once that idea is understood in the mind, that you are not this broken, physically broken, emotionally or mentally broken self, then the body begins to manifest the wholeness. It's a much slower process because the physical body does respond much more slowly. But gradually you shift out of that particular physical/emotional/mental impairment.

When I watch conscious people working in this way, it's such a delight. Barbara has a friend that she was with today, a friend with whom she gets together once a month, two friends. One friend was quite sick several years ago. She had severe chemical sensitivities. And then she broke her foot and she was in a heavy cast and so forth. Her whole body was very weak. She was very frail. She's been working at a very deep level with seeing and knowing and expressing her wholeness. And about 6 months ago she began to run. Now she's about to run a marathon in June. Her whole body is bursting with energy. She's coming to know and express her wholeness.

It's very powerful to watch that in somebody, and to know you also can do that. But with a caution: if you can't fully manifest it, you're not a failure. Don't then use that as more fuel with which to condemn yourself. Just keep the light shining and keep working on it.

Wherever you direct your attention and energy, that's what you will manifest. So if you are constantly trying to fix some flaw in yourself, you just keep giving energy to that perceived flaw. When you look away from the flaw and see the radiance, you start to give energy to the radiance, and the flaw itself becomes weakened, both the physical manifestation of the flaw and the self-perception with the identity with the flaw. It falls away. You stop thinking of yourself as the angry person, the greedy person, the imperfect or unworthy person. And you begin to see your radiance and then more and more to live that radiance. The same is true on a slower level with the physical body, because the physical body is the heaviest vibration and responds more slowly.

Further questions?

Q: Does the flaw have to be identified before ...

Aaron: ...What flaw? There never was a flaw.

Q: ...Erase that!

Aaron: You understand what I'm saying. We don't see it as the flaw, we see it as an area that keeps catching our attention because it grates. It's uncomfortable. A place where discomfort arises. It may be physical or emotional discomfort. We don't have to name it. Only, here is a place of contraction, unpleasantness. We don't have to name it.

But to be aware, right here with whatever it is, if I simply sit with it in meditation and bring attention to the ongoing dis-ease with this particular body sensation or emotion or line of thinking, eventually I see the place where it stops. I shift attention from the broken ankle that throbs to the teeth that don't hurt. I start to feel gratitude: how wonderful that my teeth don't hurt. My back doesn't hurt. My head doesn't hurt. And then I start to bring up more energy into the body and to send it down to the swollen ankle. I begin to envision that throbbing ankle healing, whole, and that speeds the healing. The same on an emotional level.

So stop thinking of flaws and instead think “temporary distortion arisen from conditions.” Impermanent, not self, but I will still attend to it.


Q: Suppose the throbbing ankle is a friend or relative, then how do we treat it?

Aaron: Ask yourself what is beautiful about this person. Perhaps right there with this person's grouchiness, anger, demanding nature, there's some level of generosity or kindness, and occasional sense of humor. Try to really find what's beautiful and hold it in your heart. Begin to see this person as truly a divine presence, an angel. Ask yourself, what can I learn from this unpleasantness that comes from the person? Usually if there's something about a person that really disturbs you, it's because that person mirrors something in yourself with which you are not entirely happy.

It may not even be an expressed trait in yourself. If there's a person who is very demanding, always wants everything to be perfect, and that really bothers you, you can't let it go, turn the mirror on yourself. What is there in me that, if not manifest, at least under the surface is constantly judging and wanting things to be perfect? Is controlling, is grasping. Can I bring compassion to that aspect of myself?

As you find compassion for that in yourself, you begin to find it in the other person until you begin to just smile at the other person's grasping and controlling ways. They don't disturb you so much anymore. So there are both sides of it. To work directly with the perceived distortion in the other person and what that reflects in the self, and to work with seeing the radiance of the other person as well as the perceived distortion. Truly loving what's beautiful about them. It's impossible not to find something beautiful in any person. It may be hard, but you can find it!


I had an exercise in mind for you, and I'm going to describe it. We've been doing a lot of talking tonight, but I'd like you to feel some of this through your body and energy field as well. Have any of you ever played a game called “Human Knot”? What we do is, we'll clear all the furniture, put the chairs away so we have a clear floor. All of you will face in to the center of the circle. Cluster together, not spread out. And you will each take 2 hands, not of the people right beside you, but two other hands, so that everybody is holding two hands, but knotted.

Then you will unravel yourselves. In other words, somebody may have to step over. You and your partner may have to put your hand down while somebody steps over it. Even a whole line of people step over it, so that you can spin out of it. It takes cooperation. We can do it in small groups, or we can do it as one large group. It's harder in one large group. I leave you free to choose. A smaller group is of course much easier. Three groups of seven, that's fine. Try it, and then try it with two groups of ten, and then decide if you want to try it all together.

What I want you to focus on as you do it, it does not have to be silent. You can talk and suggest things to each other. But I want you to feel where you're caught in the body, and feel free to move around and see what opens the field. Eventually the field will open.

Intuitively, not just trying to figure it out from your brain. Enjoy it. Feel energetically. It's okay to talk, but also try to feel from other people what they're suggesting. Not just saying it with articulation, but feeling the movement. Somebody lifting a hand out, somebody swinging a hand in. So it becomes a dance. Try to feel it, and enter fully into the dance. Any questions?

I'm going to release the body to Barbara. My blessings and love to you all.

(taping ends; group spends ½ hour with the exercise and much laughter.)