March 18, 2012, Sunday Your Soul's Purpose Workshop, with Robert Schwartz

March 18, 2012, Sunday Your Soul's Purpose Workshop,

with Robert Schwartz, Barbara Brodsky and Aaron

(opening statements not recorded)

R: I interviewed people about a particular life challenge, common things, again, and then those people had one, two, and sometimes three sessions with mediums and channels, who are my colleagues and collaborators. And in those sessions with spirit, I posed the question, did this person plan this challenge before he or she was born, and if so, why? So it was essentially an attempt to give meaning to suffering that, to a lot of people, might appear not to have any meaning.

Now, at the time I researched the first book, I actually didn't know Barbara or Aaron, so Barbara and Aaron are not in the first book. But I'm delighted to announce that, after 5 years of working on it, I have a second book coming out next month called Your Soul's Gift: The Healing Power of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born, and Barbara and Aaron are featured in that book. And they made a wonderful, wonderful contribution to it, and I thank them for that.

Let me begin by telling you a little bit about myself and how I came to write a book on this subject, and then Barbara will speak about herself. As some of you know, I wasn't always an author or a seeker. Back in 2003 I was actually living in Chicago and I was doing marketing communications work. I have a background that I think is probably unusual for the author of a New Age book, I have an MBA. I was in the corporate sector for a number of years.

So, back in 2003 I was doing essentially corporate marketing and communications as a freelancer, and I found this work to be tremendously unfulfilling. You know, I used to say to people, if I were to fall off the face of the earth my clients wouldn't even know that I was gone. They would just plug somebody else into that role and carry right along. But I also had the distinct sense that there was a higher calling or a higher purpose for my life—my soul's plan, so to speak-- and I wanted to find out what this plan was.

Now, I did a number of things to discover this plan, and I don't have time today to describe all of them to you. But there was one thing that was pivotal for me in figuring out my soul's plan, and that was that on May 7, 2003, I did something that I had never done before, and that was that I had a session with a medium. I had tried all these other things to figure out what I'm doing here on earth, what is it my soul would like me to do, and none of them worked. But on May 7, 20003, I had a session with a medium which actually answered this question for me, although I didn't know it at the time.

In this session with the medium she introduced me to the concept of spirit guides. How many of you know what a spirit guide is? You're way ahead of me; I didn't know. So the medium explained to me, a spirit guide is a highly evolved non-physical being with whom we plan our lives prior to birth and who then guides us through our lives after we get here. Through this particular medium I was actually able to talk with my guides.

Now, they said a lot of amazing things to me that day, one of which was, you planned your life and your biggest challenges before you were born. I will tell you, I just shook my head and said, why in the world did I do that? I see you can relate to this!

Well, the guides had an answer to that question. They explained to me, basically you planned your biggest challenges for purposes of spiritual growth. Now, I probably would have dismissed all of this channeling as some kind of delusion on my part except that earlier in the session the guides had said things to me that indicated that they knew literally everything about me. And I will share with you an example of this that made a big impression on me.

Five years prior to the session with the medium, I had been going through a difficult time in my personal life, and one day when I was home alone in the privacy of my own home, I said a prayer to God. I didn't even say this prayer out loud, just thought it silently in my mind. And the prayer was, “Dear God, I can't get through this alone. Please send help.” Now this was five years before the session with the medium. I didn't even remember having said that prayer. But my guides knew about it, and through the medium they reminded me of it.

And then they said, “Your prayer was answered.” by which they meant that additional non-physical guidance had been sent. So as you can imagine, if you're talking to beings who know everything about you including a prayer you said five years earlier, alone in your own home, silently in your own mind, this gives them a fair amount of credibility. So when they introduced the idea of pre-birth planning, I was listening very closely.

Now, in the days and weeks after the session with the medium, I thought about this information constantly, and I can't overstate to you the impact that it had on me. And the impact was that it allowed me to review the course of my life and, for the first time in many instances, see a deeper meaning or a deeper purpose to the challenging things that had happened. And for me this was a deeply healing experience. So that was really when I started to think about writing a book about pre-birth planning.

At the same time, I started to have metaphysical experiences of my own. I want to share with you just one, which to this day is the most profound experience that I've had. It had a big impact on me in deciding to write the book. It also had an impact on my understanding of pre-birth planning.

Just a few weeks after the session with the medium, I was home alone in my apartment in Evanston, Illinois, just having an average work day. In the middle of the afternoon I decided I would take a break and go for a walk. So I was walking down the sidewalk in Evanston when suddenly I was overcome with this feeling of overwhelming unconditional love for every person I saw. And when I say unconditional love, I don't mean the kind of love you might feel for a partner or a child or a parent. This was an experience of divine love, transcendent love.

I remember it very clearly because the first person I saw was the cab driver sitting behind the wheel of his cab, waiting for a fare to come along. When I looked at this man, who was a total stranger to me, I felt this overwhelming unconditional love for him. Then I looked up and there was a man's barbershop on the corner. I looked through the window and I saw the barber cutting a client's hair, and again there was this feeling of overwhelming unconditional love for these two strangers. Then I turned around and I saw a young woman, a mother, pushing an infant in a stroller down the sidewalk, and again there was that feeling of pure, overwhelming unconditional love. Everywhere I looked, every time I saw another person, I had that feeling of unconditional love for them.

Now, I understood intuitively what was happening here, which was, I was in some type of enhanced, immediate communion with my own soul. So it's as though my soul were saying to me, “This love is who you really are. This is your true nature.” And I believe my soul gifted me with that experience that day because, when I went on to write the book, Your Soul's Plan, and now the sequel, Your Soul's Gift-- as some of you know, I've worked with a particular medium, Staci Wells in Arizona. She has the ability to go into a person's pre-birth planning session and see and hear the conversations we have with each other before we're born. In working with Stacey, we could go into someone's pre-birth planning session and actually hear the conversation that people were having with their future parents, their future children, everybody who was going to be in their life.

What we heard when we listened to these conversations was that the pre-birth plan was always, and I mean in every single case, it was always based on unconditional love. This was true even when a “negative” role was being planned. Now, if I had not had that experience of my soul walking down the sidewalk that day, I think I would have had doubts about what I was seeing in these pre-birth planning sessions. I still would have seen the same thing, but I think there would always have been this little voice at the back of my head saying, “How do you know that what you're finding is true? How do you know that the plan is based on love?”

Well I know this because this was my experience walking down the sidewalk that day. I had an experience of myself, my soul, as unconditional love. And this is why I can sit before you today and say to you, with total confidence and certainty, that I believe that we as souls are made literally from the energy of unconditional love, and that our pre-birth plans are based on unconditional love. That was the experience I had that day.

Now, I want to share with you something a little more personal, which is that, if you read the first book, you might have noticed in the Introduction I don't actually say much about myself. There's one sentence in which I make a reference to having experienced suffering but I don't talk about what it was, and I never get specific at all in the book.

The suffering that is alluded to there is that I experienced a lot of emotional abuse as a child in my family. I chose not to write about it or speak about it publicly at the time the first book came out for a number of different reasons. The details of what happened are not important, but what is important to share with you today is that I think we all wonder, why do things like this happen? Certainly I wondered that in my own case. If we live in a loving universe, if there is a loving God, how is it that things like that and other “bad” things can happen? And so I had a very personal motivation for wanting to do this work.

I believe that I knew prior to birth that I was going to have that experience in my birth family. Now, if my soul is love, as I just said to you a few moments ago, and I believe that it is, why would my soul plan for me to have that experience? There are a couple of reasons, and we will explore this in greater depth today.

One of them is a karmic reason. As I understand it, the planning for my current lifetime was based in large part on a prior life in which I was a woman, I was female, and my current mother was my son. And in that past life, I was in a very difficult marriage. I managed to extricate myself, and I took my son with me, but my decision to leave that marriage resulted in impoverishment. My son, who is my current mother, blamed me for this, was very angry about it, and actually carried that anger throughout his entire life, to the grave.

In addition to that, after I left that marriage, just a few years later I became ill and actually died at a relatively young age. My son in that lifetime then felt abandoned by me, was very, very angry about that, even more so than for the impoverishment, and took that anger to his grave.

If you die with resentment, anger, rage, lack of forgiveness toward someone else, it's not so much that it becomes part of your soul, but it's metaphorically speaking like a stain on the soul, and the soul wishes to cleanse it, to clear it away. So, as I understand it, my mother carried that anger back into the body, not for the purpose of expressing it but rather for the purpose of healing it. And I, out of love for her and in service to her, agreed to give her that opportunity, knowing that it was likely that some of it would be expressed, and that I would then use that to foster my own spiritual growth. It's always for the mutual benefit of all parties involved. What would my lessons be? Deepening compassion. Saying no to abuse with sincere and true compassion. Learning self-love and to value myself. Those are the basic lessons.

The second reason for setting that up is, as I understand it, we've all had, or at least most of us, the vast majority, have had past lives in which things happen that caused us to believe things about ourselves that we know are not true at the soul level. Two of the most common false beliefs would be a belief in unworthiness and the belief in powerlessness. A basic spiritual truth is that there is no unexpressed consciousness. So if you have somewhere within your consciousness the false belief that you are unworthy, or the false belief that you are powerless, that will be expressed outwardly somewhere in the physical world. You've heard the expression, “The outer mirrors the inner.” That's another way of saying that.

The reason it's set up this way is not as a punishment to me or to you, it's set up that way so that these false beliefs can trickle into the light of conscious awareness where you can then heal them. So as I understand it, I did have a number of past lives where I picked up beliefs like that, in unworthiness and powerlessness, and that was part of the planning, so that I could heal those in this lifetime.

That's basically why I do the work that I do and how I came to do it. And now I'll turn things over to Barbara and Aaron for a few minutes.

Barbara: I know many of you. Many of you know me. I'm Barbara Brodsky. I'm the guiding teacher of Deep Spring Center here in Ann Arbor. I'm a medium for Aaron, and I teach meditation.

It's been a joy to work with Rob on the book. I've learned a lot. Of course I'm not in the body when Aaron is working with Rob on an interview, but reading them afterward I've has been powerful. And I've enjoyed Rob's compassion as he worked with people and asks questions.

Rob was talking about the abuse he experienced, the chance to offer service to his mother in this lifetime, and to deepen in compassion. There are two parts of karma: release and balancing. And what I hear from Rob is the release of the karma came from his willingness to look into himself, at his pain in this lifetime, and not be caught up in the myth, “I must be bad because I was abused,” but to move past it. And part of the release is in his willingness to forgive his mother. Forgiving doesn't mean condoning the abuse. Forgiving means acknowledging that the abuse came out of conditions, present life and karmic, and not to take it so personally; to have compassion for the whole situation; and also, eventually, to learn how to say no to abuse in an appropriate way.  Then there's the balancing, which he's doing by writing these books and teaching in this way.

All of us, I find, are releasing old karma and balancing it. For me, when I look at what is my soul's plan in this lifetime, I grew up in a loving home but my parents were not present for me sometimes. I had a nanny that took care of me, and there was a housekeeper. When I was about 6 years old the nanny got sick and had to leave suddenly. I felt very angry and was told, “Don't be angry. It's not her fault that she's sick.” When I was 11 the same thing happened with the housekeeper. So the anger gets turned inward.

Why would a soul choose to experience that kind of abandonment? It wasn't so much about the abandonment, it was about the issue of feeling unworthy, feeling literally poisonous to others, and the soul's intention to know not only its own worth but the worth, radiance and beauty of every soul; to stop thinking of people as being worthy or unworthy, myself or anybody.

It was also about finding more compassion and space for anger. Not getting caught up in my anger, not being afraid of anger; simply knowing the experience of anger and seeing how it arose out of various conditions. This is what we teach at Deep Spring. In meditation, we see a physical , mental or emotional object arise out of conditions. We learn how to hold space for it instead of getting caught up in the stories. Letting it go.

So, of course I'm releasing the karma by learning about this in myself, and I'm balancing it by being a dharma teacher, teaching others. So thank you for being here because if you weren't here, I couldn't balance my karma! I need to teach this as well as to live it.

The other part of this for me; in 1972 when my first child was born, I suddenly lost my hearing. This was a hugely traumatic experience, suddenly to be deaf. It also affected the middle ear nerves so I had no balance. I had to learn to walk again with visual balance. I had to start by crawling, just like a toddler. I was angry. I was afraid. And I was blaming, “Why me?” I was angry at God. What did I do to deserve this?

At a certain point I prayed for help, definitely not expecting a discarnate spirit to appear in my living room, but that's what happened. I didn't trust it right away. I thought, maybe I'm hallucinating. I went into the kitchen and got a cup of tea. I thought about it and considered which was scarier, that this spirit was real or that I was hallucinating? In a sense it was easier to think I was hallucinating. But as my experience of him deepened, he proved to be real, at least to my perception. I experience him as a different intelligence than mine. He understands things and sees things from a different perspective.

When I was ready to listen to him, the first thing he said to me was, “You're suffering. Let's look at the causes of the suffering.” I have a book, Cosmic Healing. This is my story of how I went through the deafness. How I met Aaron; what he taught me; and finally, my going to Brazil to John of God and the Casa de Dom Inacio there. All of this has been so opening of the heart. Opening of the hearing, too, but opening of the heart, especially. So after a slow start, my soul is following its plan.

I began to understand from Aaron that the other part of my soul's plan was to move past all limiting beliefs. We all carry limiting beliefs. They are diverse. “I have to be the good one. I have to take care of everybody.” That's a kind of limiting belief. “I'm not worthy. I'm not good enough. I'm unloved.” That's a limiting belief. “I'm not good at math.” or “I'm not good at writing.” or “I can't sing.” These are limiting beliefs. “I can't make friends.” “My body isn't the way it should be.” We all get caught up in these beliefs and end up living in their confines.

For me, the work of this lifetime has been to break through the whole idea that these myths have reality beyond the relative reality we ascribe to them. If you believe it, you create it. Then on one level, it becomes real. We create our own realities. This is not a “New Age” teaching. The Buddha 2,500 years ago said, “You are what you think. With your thoughts you make the world.” What do we choose to think? Do we think in an openhearted way of unlimited possibilities, or do we think within a very narrow slice and try to live our lives within that very small slot? Then there's suffering.

I see now that the suffering of this lifetime, the losses as a child and the feelings of abandonment, and the loss of my hearing and balance, that these have all been very wonderful teachers for me, although I hated them at first and it was hard for me to say, “Okay, I'll stop and listen.” But once I did stop and listen, the learning came. And I'm so grateful for what my life has brought me. There is no longer bitterness about the childhood losses. No longer bitterness about not hearing. I feel very blessed in my life, and happy to be able to balance this karma now by teaching it to others.

So that's my story. And working with Rob on his book gives me a chance to teach it out further to others. Thank you! (to Rob)

Aaron is going to come in now for a few minutes and share this from his perspective. How many here have never heard Aaron? He incorporates fully into my body. This means that I astrally project my consciousness out of the body and Aaron moves into the body. It's not as simple as that. I have to be in a very centered place. I have to make sure that nothing negative moves into the body rather than Aaron. This is all background work that at this point you don't need to know a lot about.

When he moves into my body, he has a very big energy field. You'll see my body shake, which is not uncomfortable or painful for me in any way. Aaron says it's like a large woman putting on a tight girdle, shaking her way into it. He has a big energy, and while this is certainly not a small body, it's small compared to the size of his energy.

When Aaron is incorporated in my body, I'm literally not here, so I don't know what he's saying. He's running the body. That said, I'm going to get out of the way and let Aaron talk.

(Aaron incorporates)

Aaron: My blessings and love to all of you. I am Aaron. The first thing I do when I come into Barbara's body is to remove the shoes. I like my feet on the earth. I'm not used to wearing shoes.  (taking shoes off)

I experience from a different perspective. I am spirit. In that truth, I am no different from you. You are spirit. But I'm not locked into the myth of being a body or thoughts. Rather, they are apparel that can be put on and taken off at will. You move into various bodies and out of them; into various life experiences, but you become identified with them as self. .

There is a form of drama, improvisation. There is a general plan and group of actors. In the improv, you know who the actors are going to be on the stage and you have a general idea: this one is going to play this kind of part, that one is going to play that kind of part. But there's not a set script. You have free will in the improv, and in the improv of life.

You come with certain characteristics, certain tendencies, such as to believe in your unworthiness, or to be the one who needs to be powerful, to be the one who is always fearful. These are conditioned by your old experiences in this and past lives. You come with a plan, each actor in the improv coming on the stage, with the idea that through the improv he/she is going to learn certain things. At the start each actor can trust that the others will stay true to character.

There is always possibility for change. Sometimes the actor is so locked into his old habits that the learning is difficult, so he keeps repeating the same drama, over and over and over. How many of you saw the movie Ground Hog Day? (Many). This is what the story is. You keep coming into the same scene over and over and over, and it doesn't work. You knock your head against the wall, “Why isn't it working?” until suddenly something clicks: Ah, maybe if I do it this way... And then there's a shift. So in the improv of life, the other actors and the self grow and change. The script is not set except in the depth of the habitual patterns. Thus, the life experience allows growth.

People ask me, why would I choose to come into a life where I am abused, where I have been raped, where I have been abandoned, where I have moved into a physical body that's not fully functional? My dear ones, if you wanted comfort and convenience, if that was your primary intention, you would not have incarnated. The astral plane is very pleasant. Not always heavenly in the ultimate sense, but there is not great trauma there.

But you are souls, and your intention is to learn. Your intention is to move past the old, limiting beliefs that you have enacted. At first you have believed,  “It's not just outer clothing, it's who I am. I AM this white shirt with flowers on it.” Not, “I put it on today.” but “I am this or that personality, this or that skill, this or that limitation.” You come into the incarnation to learn the truth of who you really are, to bring forth that truth. You release old beliefs that have limited you for eons. Each time you bring forth your own truth, you invite others also to bring forth their truth. It's a very beautiful sharing. You model for others the possibility of living from an authentic place of love, rather than the armored and frightened place. Each time you do that, it's a wonderful gift to others.

You come into the incarnation to know the fullness of who you are, and to be willing to play with experience. Rob, I don't want to cut into what you were going to share next. Rob was going to talk some about why we choose these life situations, so I'll speak only lightly about it.

You want to know the fullness of experience. How does it feel to be the one who is loving? How does it feel to be the one who is angry? How does feel to be the one who receives love and is open to receive it, versus the one who is afraid to be loved? You choose to explore all of this.

Basically you are on a journey of consciousness. You begin with the consciousness of the young child, magical and mythical consciousness. The child believes it's all-powerful. If the child is angry at somebody and that person then becomes sick, the child thinks, “Oh, I did it with my anger.” Gradually the child matures into a more rational consciousness that sees, “My anger could not have made that person develop this virus,” or whatever. Eventuality, everything is judged by rationality.

Much of your Earth today is in this rational consciousness mode, but it doesn't leave any room for spirit. Rational consciousness is all about the experiences of the body and the mind and ignores the fact that you are souls. Who are you beyond the body, beyond the mind?

Then you begin to evolve into what we call vision logic consciousness, which is still grounded in logic but allows for the visionary, for the deep intuition of the soul bleeding through. The next step is non-dual consciousness, sometimes called Christ Consciousness or Buddha Nature.

You are all part of this flow of evolution. Much of your world is still stuck in rational or pre-rational consciousness. Many of the fundamentalist religions of the world that say, “We are right, and we'll kill everybody that doesn't agree with us” are caught in a very immature level of consciousness. But like all of you, they are evolving. They are not evil because they're caught in that consciousness, they're simply young. Just as the parent does not hit the child or shame the child for being a 2 year old, but develops mature strategies to work with the child's immature consciousness, so those of you who are developing into a higher consciousness have literally come into the Earth in part with the soul plan, to evolve yourselves into a higher consciousness that's capable of holding light and love in an Earth that is often torn apart by fear and hatred.

Again, quoting the Buddha. “You are what you think. With your thoughts you make the world.” If you think a loving thought, you create a space. If you're in an altercation with another, if that person is speaking abusively to you and, instead of getting riled up hitting them or yelling at them, your heart opens with compassion, this changes everything!. Seeing the depth of that person's fear and pain, you allow for a shift in which that person can feel the spaciousness of your heart. Then  perhaps he/she can invite some spaciousness for him/herself as a way to release his/her own fear and pain.

When we talk about the soul's plan it's important to remember that you have personal karma, and you have what I might call group karma and a social karma. You come in to release and balance the personal karma, and for the personal, specific learning, and you come in also because you are committed to a growing harmony in the world.  Those drawn to such a workshop as today are literally old souls-- wise, maturing, and seeking how to let go of the dualities of self and other, good and bad, praising and blaming, and so forth, and to move into a place of openhearted compassion. Such compassion is still strong and able to say no to negativity, not from fear, not from hatred, but from the ground and space of compassion.

Our original plan had me giving some example from myself from a past life. I was going to talk about my final human lifetime and what my soul plan was in that lifetime. But I don't think it's vital here. We need to use our time carefully. I've talked longer than I intended so I'm going to pass this back to Rob for the next step.

Thank you all. I'm going to release the body to Barbara.

Rob: You know, if someone had told me 10 years ago I was going to be doing a workshop with an ascended master, I don't know what I would have made of that!

Let's talk just a little bit more about why we plan before we're born to experience great challenges in life. I just want to round out the picture a little bit more. We've talked about balancing karma, and you've heard some examples of that.

Another basic example would be, let's say two people have a past life together in which one is ill and the other person is that person's caretaker. When those two people transition back into spirit and have their life review, as we all do, they may have a sense of unbalanced energy around this relationship and they will be motivated to balance it.

The simplest, easiest, most direct way to do that is simply to trade places. So the one who was ill may plan the life challenge of caretaking, and the one who was the caretaker may plan the life challenge of illness.

What makes this so interesting, and so challenging, I think, is that when two souls get into body, neither one will remember the pre-birth plan, just as most of us don't. So the challenge becomes one of, how do we express love unconditionally in such very difficult circumstances?

When I talk about expressing love unconditionally, the flow of love in the world is circular. So visualize a big circle. If you cut that circle in half, half of this circle is giving love to other people. This is what we all try to do. We're all taught this is a good thing, and we all believe that. And it's actually only half the circle. The other half of that circle is receiving love, allowing other people to love you. So if you are someone who does not allow others to give love to you, you're blocking the flow of love in the world just as effectively as if you never give love to anyone else. So, both are equally important.

A second main reason for planning life challenges is to release karma for the purpose of healing. In case it's not clear, the distinction between balancing and releasing it, as I understand it, is that if you think of karma as unbalanced energy, you could balance the energy by doing certain things or having certain experiences. But there are underlying tendencies that cause you to create the karma in the first place. When you release or heal those underlying tendencies then you have released the karma so that you don't continue to create more karma in the future.

There's an example of this in my book, Your Soul's Plan. In the chapter on the pre-birth planning of deafness and blindness, I share the story of a young African-American woman. Her name is Penelope. She was about 24 when I interviewed her for the book. Penelope was born completely deaf in both ears. We worked with medium Staci Wells, who is the person I described earlier who can see and hear the conversations we have before birth. We went into Penelope's pre-birth planning session and we heard the conversation that she had with her spirit guide when she planned the deafness.

What we discovered was, in the lifetime immediately prior to this one, Penelope had the same mother she has in this lifetime. And in that past life, when she was a little girl, she heard her mother shot to death by the mother's boyfriend. Now, she didn't actually witness the murder but she heard the gunshots that led to her mother's death. And, as you can imagine, she was quite traumatized by that. She was so traumatized that it actually led her to commit suicide in that lifetime.

So she transitioned back into spirit with what you could call an energy of unresolved trauma which now needs to be healed. In the pre-birth planning session her guide says to her, “My dear, would you prefer to be born deaf so no similar trauma will happen to you again, and so that you can heal from your last lifetime?” And Penelope responds, “Yes, that is what I want. That is what I wish to do.” And then what ensues is a fascinating dialogue between her and her spirit guide in which they work out the details of her deafness. But this would be the second main reason I see in my main work for planning life challenges: releasing karma for the purpose of healing.

A third main reason is service to others. This is something that I saw in literally every pre-birth planning session we looked at. We heard souls talking about the desire to be of service to one another, to humanity as a whole, to the Earth as a whole. In one form or another, to one degree or another, the desire to be of service was present in every single pre-birth planning session.

Now, if you read spiritual literature you've undoubtedly heard of the concept of oneness. This is the idea that there's actually only one being in the universe: it's you, it's me, it's all of us. Each of us is an individualized expression of the One. As I conceptualize the orientation towards service, it's a natural expression of oneness consciousness.

So in other words, let's say that you and I are back in spirit and are planning a life together, and you perceive that I am literally you. It's not just intellectual concept as it is here, but you actually perceive that I am you. If you have that perception, then it would be only natural that you would want to be of service to me. And conversely, if I perceive that you are literally me, then of course I want to be of service to you. But this would be the third major reason: the desire to be of service to others.

A fourth main reason I saw in my research for planning life challenges was a desire to experience contrast. I think Aaron alluded to this in very different language when he talked about how there isn't trauma on the astral plane. I said earlier that my experience of my soul was that I was made literally from the energy of unconditional love. The astral realm, the non-physical realm, as I understand it, is very much as it's classically portrayed, which is to say it's a realm of great peace and joy and love and light. So, if we are love, and we are in this realm in which there is only love, this means that we experience no contrast to ourselves, which in turn means we don't fully understand or appreciate what it means to be made from the energy of unconditional love. So I believe that what we as souls are doing here is coming to this realm of duality for the purpose of experiencing contrast, for experiencing the “not love,” because then when we go back to the non-physical we have a much more profound self-knowing. We understand what love is, which means we understand who we are.

This, I know, is a somewhat abstract concept. So to make it more accessible, I borrowed an analogy from a book other than my own. In one of the Conversations with God books, this idea of experiencing contrast comes up. God asks the author, Neale Donald Walsch, to explain it using the analogy of the white room, which goes like this.

Imagine that you are a white being in a white room. The ceiling is white, the floor is white, all the walls around you are white. Everything in this room is white, including you. Now, if you are such a being in such a room, how do you know that you're white? The answer is you don't, and in fact you can't until you experience something that is other than white. Then, once you've had that experience, you understand much better what it means to be a white being.

This I think is what the soul is doing on the physical plane. We are love. We are in a realm in which there is only love. We therefore experience no contrast to ourselves. We therefore don't fully understand or appreciate who we are. And so we come here for the “not-love,” the contrast, because then when we go back to the non-physical, we have a much more profound self-knowing of ourselves as love.

And the last reason that I see in my work, the big one for planning life challenges, and we've talked about this already, is to unlearn limitations, to heal false beliefs. Two of the big ones again being a belief in unworthiness or a belief in powerlessness. If you have those beliefs in your consciousness, even if at a sub-conscious level, they will be expressed in the outer world, not because the world is trying to punish you, but because the universe is operating in a way that is trying to bring those false beliefs about yourself into the light of conscious awareness so they become conscious, so that you can heal them. This is what Barbara and Aaron were talking about.

These are the main reasons that I see in my work for the planning of life challenges:

balancing karma,

releasing karma for the purpose of healing,

service to others,

the desire to experience contrast, and

the healing of limitations and false beliefs.

Now let's take a look at one of the stories from the new book. I gave this as an example a moment ago when I was explaining balancing karma, the idea that two souls who had a past life where one was ill and the other was the caretaker might choose to change places. There is a story very much like this in my new book.

Just to give you an overview of the new book, there are chapters on the pre-birth planning of spiritual awakening, miscarriage and abortion, caregiving, which I will share with you in a moment, pets-- this is a fun chapter. This is actually the most highly requested topic since the first book came out. People keep writing and saying, “Do we plan our lives with our pets?” Well, we do, and now there's a chapter that has a good story about that.

Actually it's a very touching story. It's a woman who plans for purposes of her own to be a dwarf. She is 4' 8”. She knows that this is going to cause a lot of problems, especially as a child where she'll be ostracized by her peers. So, in her pre-birth planning session, all of her future pets are there: the dogs, the cats, the horse, the rooster named Crooked Beak. I'm not making this up! And they all talk about how they will offer her unconditional love when her peers at school reject her. Set up prior to birth.

There is a chapter on the planning of abusive relationships, sexuality—this is a particularly interesting story. It's a gentleman who plans prior to birth to be born homosexual, but also to discover his homosexuality within the context of a heterosexual marriage. So the challenge in his case is one of courage, honesty, self-truth. Will he be able to love himself enough to first acknowledge to himself his sexuality and then to tell his wife, “This is really not who I am,” and then leave the marriage. That was his self-created challenge.

There's a chapter on pre-birth planning of adoption, one on poverty, one on suicide, one on mental illness, and a couple of other chapters which I will share with you later today as we go on.

So, let's take a look at the chapter on caregiving.

Barbara: I would like to add something before you go into the chapter. Just a few thoughts about what Rob has said here.

He spoke about somebody who was deaf because of the trauma of hearing her mother shot to death. I've explored a past lifetime in which the being I was, was a sailor on a ship that was sunk in battle. He was losing consciousness in the water. He could hear the people screaming around him, but he was helpless to help them or himself. The last sense to go is hearing, and this was the trauma, knowing he was dying, and he was helpless and angry. So I see the ways that I, I don't want to say pre-planned specifically to be deaf, but pre-planned the possibility of deafness.

Anything that comes to us, we pre-plan it, but we also-- it's that improv. We don't know exactly how it's going to play itself out. So there had to be certain genetic and environmental conditions that were met, certain reasons for the deafness. I did not come into the incarnation deaf. I became deaf when I was 29. So certain conditions had to be there to allow the deafness to happen or not to happen. Because the deafness happened, it led me to ask the question, “What is it I don't want to hear in this lifetime? What am I trying to get away from?”

The question we often invite people to ask is, if this situation were not here, if I were not so angry or not so afraid or were not deaf, what might happen? Is there something I'm blocking? So I really began to see clearly: I want to hear, I long to hear, but I don't really want to hear it all. I'm afraid to hear everything because there's so much suffering out there. And I feel helpless to do anything about that suffering, so I'll just stop hearing.

And then I had the interesting experience with John of God. Is there anyone here who is not familiar with John of God? He's a non-traditional healer in Brazil. I've been going down there for nine years and taking groups down with me, and have found immense healing in many ways down there, not just about my deafness. But I am hearing many sounds now that I didn't hear for 30 years.

They're interested in healing karma, not just the outer manifestation of the emotional or physical situation. So I came up and asked, “What about my hearing? Can you help me?” And he had already said to me, “You will hear. I'm helping you.”

So he said, “Why do you want to hear?”

I said, “I want to hear all the wonderful sounds—waterfalls, children laughing, birds singing.”
He said, “Go and sit and meditate. Come back tomorrow.” The next day he said, “Why do you want to hear?”

I said, “Well, I want to hear all the beautiful sounds but I'm willing to hear the hard things.”

“Go and sit and meditate.”

The next day I came up. “Why do you want to hear?” By now I was finally getting it. There has to be a free will choice, “I choose to hear it all.” And in making that choice I'm releasing the old karma of fear, “I'm helpless. I can't alleviate the pain of the world. I don't want to hear it.” Okay, I'm willing to hear it, to open my heart that deeply with compassion.

So the healing here was not primarily about the ears. The healing was about the karma and learning to open my heart to the human condition, that often we cannot fix things for each other in the world, but we always can love. And that we can always hold our hearts open with that much love, really be totally open. And at that point, when I said, “I choose to hear it all,” he smiled at me and he said, “Go into the surgery room. I'll work with your hearing.”

This leads me to the second point, and this is from Aaron but he's not going to incorporate. So I'm in a sense sharing what he was saying to me as Rob was speaking, when Rob gave his list of why we choose these challenging situations. We all have free will. We came into the incarnation because we truly want to learn how to be loving, compassionate beings and express our wholeness. We came in with free will. Nobody stood behind us with a gun and said, “Get in there, into that lifetime.”

Eventually we're going to have to take the incarnation, but not until we're ready. We come in with free will and a feeling of readiness. The support is around us. The various beings who will be part of the incarnation with us are there and ready. It's like a half dozen people on a high diving board, all together. Some of them are shaking and say, “Oh, I can't jump!” Everybody says, “Ready, let's go! 1, 2, 3!”

Now, obviously some people incarnate before others, the parents before the child, and so forth. But there's a group decision: we're going to do this together. We're going to play with this improvisation together, each playing our own habitual roles, and see if we can help heal ourselves and each other, and with a choice to grow in consciousness and love. And that's a very powerful force, especially on the astral plane when we're not so locked into the myth of “I am this body and mind.” but really see who we are.

Okay, let me pass this back to Rob then for the story he's going to read.

Rob: Just to add a couple of comments to what Aaron said. When I work with Staci Wells and she goes into the pre-birth planning sessions, she reports that she sees something that to her looks like an incredibly vast, elaborate, and intricate flowchart. Now, what is a flowchart? It's a series of decision points. If you do A, then X happens. If you do B, then Y happens. She sees something like this that is so vast and intricate it's almost beyond the comprehension of the human mind.

This, I believe, is the soul taking into account the free will that Aaron was just speaking about. So you do always have free will. Your soul knows that you have it and that you're going to exercise it. And so the pre-birth planning takes into account so many contingencies that it would just be beyond the comprehension of the human brain.

The other thing that I want to add is that, as I understand it, the life plan is forged by the soul but then agreed to by you, the incarnated personality. Generally the personality will just agree to the plan. But sometimes, in a minority of instances, you start to experience human emotions about the plan: fear, doubt, the sensation of being on the edge of a big diving board and about the dive in.

So if you have these human emotions of fear and doubt, you're certainly able to express them. And what will usually happen then is that your guides will reassure you of the love and wisdom of your plan. You will sense the great love and wisdom of your soul, and your fears and doubts will be assuaged, and almost always you will agree to the plan. But you don't actually have to. You can say no, in which case the plan is modified. That's my understanding of what happens.

So let's look at a story from the new book. This is the chapter on caregiving, and the story here is a couple. Their names are Bob and Katherine. They're now in their 70s. They've been together since college. They were college sweethearts, not far from here, at Michigan State, actually, and married shortly after graduating.

Katherine, throughout the decades of their marriage, was what society would consider the model wife and the model mother. She was dynamic, vibrant. She did it all. She raised the kids. She took care of the home. She looked great while she was doing it. She volunteered at the church. She was active in all sorts of community affairs and book clubs. And on top of it, she was a gourmet cook. So they had a wonderful and very happy marriage, raised a few great kids. Bob was a senior executive at a very large chemical company. He was tremendously financially successful so he retired at a young age. At that point he and Katherine thought they were about to begin really living the life of their dreams. The kids were out of the home, they had plenty of money, he would be retired, and they would basically have fun and enjoy themselves for the rest of their lives.

One month after Bob retired, and the timing here is not coincidental, it was part of the pre-birth plan, they went to California to attend a wedding. And when they were flying back home, they were sitting in a restaurant at the San Francisco airport having a normal conversation, when suddenly Katherine became unresponsive. She just become immobile and wasn't saying anything. And Bob said, “Katherine?” And there was no response. He said, “Katherine?” and there was no response. And then he shook her arm. “Katherine?” There was no response.

She was taken to the hospital. To this day I don't think doctors have figured out what happened. Probably it was a stroke of some kind. But when they got back home from that trip to California, their lives were completely different. She basically became bedridden. She sleeps 18 hours a day. Her personality has changed drastically, and she's not at all the person that Bob knew over the decades of their marriage.

Now as you can imagine, this was traumatic not just for Katherine but for Bob and the entire family. At first he was very angry, he was bitter, he was resentful toward Katherine, resentful and angry toward the universe. Trying to make sense out of all of it. The reason that I was drawn to their story, and I want to read this to you, is that he expressed something to me along the following lines. This is after he had read many books on spirituality. And he evolved this philosophy on his own, before I ever talked to him. He said:

     “I began to feel that Kathryn was doing this to produce the effect of my becoming more spiritual, less involved with control, and more involved with taking life as it comes. That led to the belief that Kathryn has agreed to do this for me out of love. Once I began to understand that this is all part of a plan, that changed everything. That made something that was intolerably frustrating, first of all tolerable, and second of all desirable.

    “Whether you know there's a plan or not, the plan is going to unfold—to your benefit. What sustains me is knowing that reincarnation exists and that Kathryn agreed, before we came to this incarnation, to become dysfunctional and thereby allow me to become a full-time caregiver and learn the lessons of kindness, patience, compassion, and love.”

He said something like that to me. This is a slightly different quote for the actual interview. But when I heard that, I thought, this is somebody who really gets it. This is somebody who understands his soul's plan. And that's why I wanted to tell his story.

Now, to give you a sense of what he's up against, and this continues to this day, just to give you a flavor or it, this is a quote from Bob's interview with me. He says:

    “Then I give her the morning medications. After giving her Valium, I spoon-feed her other meds in applesauce. She'll ask me what's in the applesauce. For the thousandth time I will tell her. After taking the meds in applesauce, she will ask where her Valium is. For the thousandth time I will explain that she took that fifteen minutes ago. This will start an argument where she insists that I withheld the Valium. Finally, I will say that I don't care if she believes me or not, but she is not getting a second Valium.

    “When that settles down, I will ask if she is hungry. No answer. After a few minutes I'll ask again. She will say ‘Why, are you hungry?' ‘Please,' I'll say, ‘just answer the question. ARE YOU HUNGRY— YES OR NO?' Then she will say, ‘What have you got to eat?' I won't answer because she won't remember what I say.

    “So I will go to the kitchen, get the assortment of options, and show them to her. She will ask what this is and what that is. Then she will go through a period of tasting the various options without giving an indication of what she would like. This process can take thirty minutes. Out of frustration I'll insist that she make a decision. Finally she does, but she thinks I'm angry with her.”

This happens every day.

So let's talk about why in the world two souls would plan an experience that is this difficult.

I'm going to give you three brief past lives here that will give you some insight into this. Now, this information comes from the session with Barbara and Aaron, and this is actually Aaron speaking here, so I'm quoting him. The first two past lives explain Bob's reasons for coming, and the third one will address Katherine. So this is the first one. We're talking about Bob's reasons.

Aaron says, “There are two past lives I'm going to talk about. In the earlier of the two lifetimes, you and Kathryn were married and in opposite-sexed bodies. You were female [the mother], and she was male [the father]. You had a child who was beautiful and healthy until age five. This girl child contracted a disease similar to polio. She was paralyzed, and you provided total care. You had two younger children. The children were sent away at first so as not to catch the disease. They came back some months later. Your whole life seemed to be about taking care of this sick child. You loved the child. You could not bear to see the child in this situation. So, you took the two younger children and left, leaving the sick child to the father, who was Kathryn in that lifetime. In your heart you were not happy with your choice. Part of your pre-life planning in this lifetime was to stay to take care of her. It really is as simple as that.”

That's what I was talking about earlier when I was talking about karma and balancing, sometimes it really is as simple as that. Now let's look at the second lifetime that played a role in Bob's decision. And here again, this is Aaron speaking to Bob.

“I also want to explain the second lifetime. In that lifetime Kathryn was the mother, and you, Bob, were her son. She was a very loving and beautiful woman. Your father had died a few years earlier. There were no siblings. When you were sixteen, your mother was injured in a carriage accident. She became partially paralyzed.

    “You already were doing the chores of your father, and now you had on top of that the commitment to take care of your mother, the one who was Kathryn. You did it, Bob. In fact, as years went on, finally you married, but your mother went to your home. You shared your attention between your wife and mother. But, there was an undertone of resentment. You did fulfill the part of the life plan to take care of your mother, but you were not able to do it with love. Simply put, in your current lifetime you were to do it with love. Love does not mean that there will never be resentment or pain. And the love must be extended to the self as well as to the other, caring for yourself as you care for Kathryn.”

So that's the second of the two lifetimes that play a role in Bob's decision to be part of this caregiving scenario.

Now, we've said earlier that it's set up to be a mutual benefit. It's rarely the case, and possibly never, that one soul is making some huge sacrifice and getting absolutely nothing out of it. The planning is done to the mutual benefit.

So here's where Katherine comes into the picture. And this is Aaron talking, again.

“Kathryn was a wife in a lifetime in which Bob was not present. The husband had a stroke and lost function of half of his body. Kathryn did indeed take care of the husband, but there was a lot of impatience of the husband's inability to move himself easily and of his general neediness. So, she needed to come into an incapacitated lifetime in order to develop compassion for herself and for this husband she had in a past life.”

That's her motivation.

Now, Aaron goes on here and he offers a bit more explanation. He's talking about that lifetime of Katherine's.

“Because she experienced resentment, she was adrift. She allowed herself to move into feelings of unworthiness and various unwholesome traits, and to blame others. So, she needed to come back into this relationship with Bob, choosing a less but still highly painful and debilitating impairment.”

And then I write:

    “Here we had come to a theme I would see again and again in pre-birth planning: a soul who had responded to a challenge in a past life by developing feelings or beliefs of unworthiness would then seek a similar type of experience in another lifetime in order to rise above it and come into a knowing of one's infinite worth. Regardless of the circumstances or challenges of an incarnation, we as souls desire before we are born to remember our inherent magnificence while in body.”

That gives you a little bit of insight into why people would set up something that's as difficult as the situation that Bob finds himself in with Katherine.

Now, just to give you an update, a lot of times when I interview somebody for one of my books, they don't stay in touch. But Bob actually has, and he's doing wonderfully well. He is at peace with Katherine's situation. He's still her primary caregiver, but they have since hired a home health aide who takes a lot of the burden off of his shoulders. He's, I think, as joyful and at peace as someone can be in those circumstances. He is dealing with Katherine with tremendous patience and love. And this was exactly the intent coming into the incarnation.

So I will turn things over to Barbara and Aaron now and they can comment on the same story.

Barbara: So we're hearing the details of Bob's and Katherine's story. The value in hearing other people's stories is to take it back to our own lives. I know there is nobody in this room who has not at some time asked, “Why am I in this situation?”

The important thing is, we can't hear another's situation and say, “Oh, it's for the same reason as he or she is in it,” but we can understand, “I chose this for some reason.” I'm paraphrasing Aaron here. He will speak.

Aaron: Thank you. I am Aaron. Imagine I invited you all to my mansion by the beach. You are given a lovely sunlit room, plentiful meals. The beach is just steps away. You have a large pile of, not good literature so much as magazines, things to entertain you but not to take you deep. You can walk on the sand; you can swim. You can sleep on the beach chair. You can read. The first week is heavenly. The second week it may be heavenly. How many weeks is it going to take before you're longing for something to do?

This is part of the human make-up, that there is an innate desire for growth and to be of service to others. Eventually you're going to get up from that lounge chair and walk down to the beach, where there's a young mother with three toddlers, and say, “I'll watch them for a while. Why don't you go for a swim?” You're going to pull out some paper and write that book you've been wanting to write for decades. You're going to find something meaningful to do.

Why do you come into the incarnation? It's not because heaven gets boring so much as there is a drive to grow, to learn, to evolve. So when you hear Bob's and Katherine's story, and how Bob is now at peace, let it help you understand that within your own situations there can also be peace that comes through growth and understanding and through the opening heart.

We'd like to take some time now to hear your questions and thoughts about the story Rob has shared, questions to Rob or to me. Let me ask, how many of you have been in a caregiver role, at least temporarily? Many.

Q: What are the social consequences of this belief? If each person believes this is true for themselves and others, why would it be appropriate to interfere in others' paths? Why would we work to eliminate poverty or war or domestic violence or drug addiction? Is inequality across class, race, sex, gender, age, etc., to be accepted due to the lesser person needing to experience victimization? What are the social organizing principles that flow from this belief?

Aaron: We come with many intentions, but always toward the opening of the heart, growing in wisdom and compassion. It is never compassionate to turn one's back on suffering. However, one cannot heal suffering by trying to fix it from an ego place. So the other person's suffering leads the one who would attempt to heal suffering to find a place of clarity in themselves, free of the ego, so that the reaching out to heal war, drug addiction, hatred, domestic violence, and so forth does not come from a place of fear but a place of compassion.

In this way, the one who has allowed him or her self to move into this difficult role of experiencing the consequences of poverty, of ill health, and so forth, is offering himself or herself as a catalyst to the one who would help. It serves both their learning, one who is giving and one receiving, interdependent. Hopefully, the one who would help will learn that if he/she is a someone trying to fix you, it doesn't work. But if he/she is a loving spirit holding space for you and attempting to attend to the world conditions that create this poverty, this starvation, this homelessness, and so forth, then he /she is drawn into this place of love in him/herself, into a place of wisdom. So you are teaching me, reminding me what works and what doesn't work, as you experience your pain.

How many of you have or have had a teenager in your life? When a teenager is angry and saying, “Oh Mom! Oh Dad! You're so stupid!” there's not much you can say to them. If your ego says, “I am not stupid. Do it my way!” it doesn't do much good. But when you hear them from a deep place of compassion and say, “Well, I see that you're set on doing what you feel you need to do. I'm not in a position to forbid you. I can't stop you, but I don't think it's wise. But I love you anyhow. I'm here to talk about it if you have unpleasant results from this plan”, then you hold the door open for the other to learn.

But the teenager is also giving you the opportunity, instead of having fear say, “Oh no! Don't do that!” to say, “I'm really frightened for my child. This is hard. But I love my child and I have to allow my child experiences.” Of course, if you see your child about to experiment with heroin, you're going to say no in a stronger way. It's still a child. But if you see your teenager staying up until 3AM, you really can't force them into bed and to sleep. They're going to have to experience the consequences. So you have the opportunity to grow from the catalyst they are offering you, how you handle their consequences. And as you grow, you have the opportunity to bring your spaciousness and love to them, to shift things for them.

So there are two parts to this. The one who is suffering - the domestic violence, the victim of war, the one who is suffering in poverty or homelessness - and the one who would attend, and each is playing their part. You can never turn your back on them any more than you could on your teenager. You cannot fix it for them. You are invited to open your heart to their situation and attend from a place of love, and in doing so you do shift the situations throughout the world that create violence, starvation, and so forth.

Each being must participate. Each is playing his or her possible roles. And each is seeing that the role of, “No!”, while carrying signs, while belligerent and angry, “No more violence! No more war! I'll kill anybody who wants to have a war!”-- it's not going to help. Does that answer your question?

Q: It certainly helps. But the question that always comes up is the Holocaust, where millions were murdered. Why did so many have to learn this lesson?

Aaron: First, Q, I would say that nobody incarnated into that situation against their own free will on a deep level. Consciously, certainly they said, “No, I don't want to be here.” But pre-birth, every soul that moved into a situation where they might die knew what it was taking on. Knew what the potential consequences of its incarnation were.

It was not as much the learning of a lesson as the decision to teach others. There was a mass drawing together of souls at that time who were determined to make a statement: Look where bigotry, fear, and prejudice lead us. If one person dies as a result of such bigotry, people don't pay much attention. How many millions have to die before the world is ready to say that's enough?

There's a line of a song from Bob Dylan, “How many deaths does it take ‘til he knows that too many people have died?” When is the world willing to say no? And it did change the world. I can't say that it changed the world completely; there is still genocide in the world. But, we've got to look at different groupings of people. Among the population who is evolving into a higher consciousness there is much less likelihood of genocide as a result of what happened in the Holocaust. Amongst those who are still very caught in a very young consciousness, an “I am right and everyone else is wrong” consciousness, there is still both genocide and the possibility of it. But there is an increasingly wide group of people worldwide who are able to take a stand, “No, we cannot allow this to happen again.”

You are learning that not only individually but as a race. We get into other questions, here. As you become more mature, you have more power. In order to wield that power there has to be a deep certainty in each of you that when strong emotions arise, you will not enact those emotions on the world. Each of you through incidents like the Holocaust are invited to see your own emotions, like your own emotional response to such events, and to ask, “How can I bring love even to this nightmare?”

Rob: Other questions?

Q: (The question is about autistic children.) Why are they here?

Rob: (off mic, can't hear clearly) There's a chapter in my first book about the pre-birth planning of having disabled (autistic) children. And that is the story. Have you read that? It's the story of Jennifer, who has two autistic sons. One has Asperger's, one is more severely autistic. And they all planned this before they were born. In one of the sessions with the mediums, we find out that the two sons were in Nazi Germany at the time of WWII. Apparently they were working in propaganda for the Nazis. Which is to say that they knew the truth but distorted it.

At the same time, Jennifer, the woman who eventually became their mother, was here in the U.S. as a crusading journalist. She had evidence that concentration camps were being built before the general public knew. So she knocked on the doors of all the politicians who would listen to her, and tried to explain: this is what is happening in Europe. And they condescendingly patted her on the head and said, “Europe can take care of itself, and nobody in the U.S. wants to hear about this.” But she knew the truth and she tried to bring it forward.

So when that lifetime was over and the two souls who would become the autistic sons had their life review, they saw that they had the truth and had distorted it for not such noble purposes. And they basically said to themselves, we would like to do this again and “get it right.” We would like to challenge ourselves in a way that will teach us the value of truthful communication and the value of communication in general.

So with that intent in mind they planned autism. Then, having set that up, they went to the woman who had been the crusading journalist and they said to her, “You were a crusader on behalf of the truth. You understand the value of communication. Would you be the mother who shepherds us through the experience of autism?” And out of love for them, and in service to them, she agrees. So that's one example of why souls might plan something like that.

And let me add to that description. The fact that the two sons worked in propaganda for the Nazis, on the soul level there was no judgment around that, other than perhaps their own. But there was no external authority saying, “You were bad. You must be punished by having autism.” It doesn't work like that. They saw that this was how they had behaved, and they wanted to grow and evolve, so they chose the challenge for themselves. But there was no judgment around that at all.

Aaron: Thank you, Rob. I would add here, regarding autism, obviously any outward symptom has many different reasons. But autism as an inability to take the world in fully, and to express one's own inner world out, is usually about communication, communicating one's truth and willingness to hear others' truths. It's one catalyst that can teach the person experiencing it the value of allowing oneself to open, hear, and speak. It can also teach the importance to allow others to be heard.

It's important that we not over-generalize, though. I have personally seen more than one case of autism where the child came in agreeing to be autistic fully in service to the parent, to help the parent learn how to accept that child. It was about past life karma between that parent and child. The child could probably equally have been paralyzed or have had some other ailment. Autism came in as part of the genetic and environmental complex of the child as conceived and born.

So we always have to understand that there are many factors that govern what particular condition will express. When we say that there is a pre-birth plan to experience some limitation, that it's often not a plan that says, “I will plan specifically to be autistic,” so much as, “I will plan to be limited in some way in my communication.” and then we see what comes. Sometimes there can be a specific plan, but more often a general plan.

I'd like to suggest we pause, let people take a break. Rob is going to speak about incest, to read from the chapter about incest, after your break. If there is anybody who will find themselves struggling with that topic, please come up and talk to us now at the beginning of the break. Rob will read and then we will have much more time for discussion-- Why does somebody choose something so painful, such as incest? And I'd like to see our discussion move beyond incest to rape, physical abuse, the various kinds of human trauma.

There are books on the table. Cosmic Healing is Barbara's story of losing her hearing, meeting me. My guidance to her through the years. Going to the Casa and meeting John of God. Working with this whole question, how do I move beyond limiting beliefs?

The Aaron'Q'uo Dialogues: Q'uo is a beloved spirit plane friend of mine, channeled by a friend of Barbara's. Through many years we had workshops together, and these are the outgrowth of the dialogues from me and Q'uo. They present our deepest feelings about so many different spiritual questions. Take a look at the Table of Contents. It will give you a clue to the richness of the book.

And my book, Presence, Kindness, and Freedom, which is my basic book of my teachings. Why I am here, I, Aaron. What I have come to teach.

And of course, Rob's wonderful books.

If you want a book signed, please bring it in during the break and Barbara, and I assume Rob also, will sign it.

I'll pause here.


Rob: When I was reading the list of chapter subjects to you earlier from the new book, I intentionally left out that there are chapters about the pre-birth planning of incest and rape. I left that out because I didn't want to say that without being able to talk about it a little bit.

When I started to do research for the new book, I wanted to look into those two subject areas. My intention was to uncover information that would be helpful and healing to people who have had either or both of those experiences.

Now, it's obviously one thing to suggest to the world that something like a physical illness might be planned prior to birth, but when you start to suggest to the world that things like incest and rape are planned prior to birth, this is obviously taking it to a different level of discussion. This is very challenging material. So I thought, well, I'll look into it, and after I find out whether these kinds of experiences are planned prior to birth, I can make a decision about whether to include them in a new book.

So we did sessions with someone who had experienced incest and someone else who had been raped. And sure enough, it was part of the pre-birth planning. So then, having discovered this information, I wrote it up as compassionately as I could. And I was still very uncertain about whether I wanted to put this out into the world, so I turned the few chapters over to two different people—a friend who was a healer and someone else who was a professional psychologist, who works specifically with people who have experienced incest and rape. They both read the chapters and they said, publish them. There's a lot here that could help people who have had those experiences. So I just share with you this part of the process, that, as somebody who has not experienced incest or rape, it's challenging for me to put out into the world the idea that these sorts of things are planned. But I feel a certain responsibility to share what I've found in the research. And again, it's my intention that these chapters will be healing to people who have had those experiences.

So I want to read you some portions of the incest chapter. The person I'm talking to here is a woman whose name is Debbie. She was 54 at the time I spoke with her for the book. She experienced incest with both her father and her grandfather, and we later found that both had been planned.

Over the course of her life, for a period of decades, she experienced a number of symptoms that she couldn't explain. One was that she had very little memory of her childhood. She also found that she didn't trust anybody. She told me that she behaved seductively toward men, but then when they got too close, she'd run away. She cried every time she had sex and she had no idea why. She needed to exercise very rigid control over her home environment. She suffered from insomnia, particularly if there were guests sleeping in her home. She drank a lot of alcohol, experienced anxiety, depression, attempted suicide, had a lot of one night stands, all without having any idea of what was driving this because she had no memory of the incest, or even her childhood, really. Which also, by the way, was part of her plan. We can talk later about why that was set up.

Sometime in her 30's she started working as a counselor. She was counseling people who had experienced incest. And she made an interesting observation: she noticed that the people she was counseling had many and sometimes all of the same symptoms that she had, that I just listed for you. So at this point the recollection started to come back.

What she did was, over a period of time in working as a counselor, the memories started to return to her. At first she didn't know whether she was making it up or not. But then it became more and more vivid. She started actually to have flashbacks to things that had really happened. Finally she got to a point she knew intuitively, she was sure she had been incested.

At this point she embarked on a healing path. She purchased a book that is considered a classic for healing from sexual abuse called The Courage to Heal and she started working with that book. She did all the exercises in it. And, fortunately for her, she got a lot of help from her husband. He would leave the home so that she could be alone, and then she did things like, she would get down on the floor on all fours and howl like a wounded animal. What she was really doing was tapping into the energy that had been buried in her in the cells of her body and letting it out, letting out all that grief, all the rage, all the anger. She did this very intensive healing process over an extended period of time, and eventually got to a point where she really and truly forgave both her father and her grandfather.

So I'll read you the quote from her interview. It will give you a sense of her experience that I find very touching. This is after she's gone through a good portion of her healing process.

She says, “Then one day I made it for a few hours without crying. As time went on, I made it a few days without crying. And then, finally, I felt a sense of relief, because everything made sense. All my life I thought I was crazy, worthless, and a bad person. It took me awhile to forgive myself for some of the behaviors I engaged in, some of the people I hurt, but now I could move in a direction that was right for me because now I knew the truth.”

Now, her healing journey and her realization that she experienced incest was facilitated by some very profound spiritual experiences. I want to share with you one of them. She was sitting on a beach in Florida where she lives meditating and, in her mind's eye, her third eye, her deceased mother and a number of other deceased relatives appeared to her. She shared with me that the quality of the vision was such that she knew it was not her imagination. All of her family was there in her mind's eye communicating with her, including her mother.

And they said to her, “You wanted to heal the world this time. Your life had to have sorrow, pain, grief, and hurt in enough measure to invoke personal healing. If you had been comfortable, the impetus for personal healing would not be as great. If the hurt were not enough for personal upliftment, your contribution to the world would have been less passionate and significant.

You helped from a safe distance before [in past lives], but when it became your story, too, you had to get involved in a much deeper, committed way. Through personal healing, you know what it [healing] feels like. You can guide people through their pain in steadfastness and love, because you came through it yourself. Thus, you can be more energetically impactful in the world. You reach more people in healing by the healing of yourself and by your prayers and meditations.”

So that's what they said to her in that meditation on the beach that day.

Then after I interviewed her for the book, she received a message from her spirit guides, and here's what they had to say.

“Healing yourself changes the vibrational frequency of your generational line: your past, present, and future selves. Forgiveness also changes the vibration, which affects all involved. By healing yourself you help uplift the entire planet because you are contributing love, peace, and forgiveness rather than lower vibrational emotions. Stop fighting yourself; surrender and allow. Healing will occur naturally if allowed.

You on Earth in human bodies are to be the channels for healing to pass through to others on Earth. Be still and listen. You are powerful and creative beyond your understanding.”

So that's the message from Debbie's spirit guides.

Now, in addition to working with Barbara and Aaron on the next book, I worked with somebody new who was not part of the first book. Her name is Pamela Kribbe. She is a channel in the Netherlands and she channels Jesus. When he speaks through her he uses his given Hebrew name, which is Jeshua. So although Aaron did a session for Debbie, since I've already read some of his work and since he's here and can speak for himself, I'd like to read you some of what Jesus had to say about Debbie's pre-birth plan. And this will give you another perspective, which may be slightly different than what Aaron offers.

We begin the session with just me talking with Pamela. Pamela is clairaudient, clairvoyant, clairsentient. She uses those gifts to tune into a past life of Debbie's that will explain this decision to experience incest.

It turns out that in this past life Debbie was a manageress of a brothel. She was in charge of all the girls who worked there. And this is what Pamela tells us.

    “You could not stand to see injustice done to these girls. Whenever you saw them being treated unfairly and even violently, a deep anger and indignation rose from within your belly, and you were not afraid to stand up for them and help them as best you could. You were less inclined to stand up for yourself than for others. Because of your fiery temperament in this respect, you made it to head of the brothel when you were older. By then you had grown a deep sense of distrust toward men and a fierce protectiveness toward ‘my girls.'   

    “You were in your forties when your current father entered the stage. He was a man visiting the brothel, having an affair with one particular girl. He fell in love with that girl and wanted to marry her. He was decent, quite sensitive, but also frustrated because he wasn't as manly as one was expected to be by that society. He came to the brothel to prove he was a man. He was insecure and did not mean to harm or look down on the prostitutes.

    “The girl loved him, too. She was a shy girl with low self-esteem. You thought this man would only use her and not keep his promises. The man's feelings were honorable, and the girl wanted to go away with him, but you refused to let her. You talked to her vehemently and persuaded her to stay in the brothel with you. She agreed; she was impressionable and unable to make decisions for herself. I sense she would have been happy with that man.

    “He, your current father, was very upset by your interference, and his disappointment and indignation were great when he found out you had turned the girl against him. He never forgave you. You forbade him entrance to the brothel. The girl grew weary and sad after that, and got into a state of apathy. Seeing this, you did sometimes have the feeling you might have made a mistake, but you did not allow the man back in. Your heart had become closed toward men, and you felt it your mission to be the protector of the unfairly treated women. Your current father died in that lifetime with hatred toward you. This set a karmic wheel in motion.”

Now again, having had the experience I had of myself as love, this kind of description raised the idea of how could this person be like this on the soul level. So I put this question to Jeshua. And the way he explains it basically is to say that while the soul is generally very loving, it's not correct to say that the soul is literally all love. There is the loving portion, but there can also be darker portions.

This is what I think of as sort of the stain on the soul—the anger or the hatred that somebody carries with them unresolved from the lifetime. So the way he puts it is, a sort of “higher” part of the soul allows a “lower” part of the soul to carry these negative energies back into the body, again, not for the purpose of expressing them, although that often does happen, but rather for the purpose of resolving them, of healing them. And so this is what has happened in this particular case.

What's interesting is that in the rape chapter there's also a similar explanation provided for how the rapist's soul could create a pre-birth plan of that nature.

So them Pamela continues.

    “In the deepest part of you, at the level of your soul, you wanted to make peace with both men in this lifetime. Your soul consciously allowed the incest to happen, even if it caused deep emotional trauma. Your soul wanted to move forward and deal with this issue of hatred/distrust toward men. It wanted to move beyond these emotions and create a new openness to men at the level of the heart. In your heart chakra, I sense a remnant of the energetic shield you put there in past lives to protect yourself from pain and fear. Here again, allowing old emotions of anger, feeling betrayed, or sadness to surface will help to remove the armor and let your heart shine free and open once more.”

Then we go into the actual channeling with Jeshua. So I asked the central question: “Jeshua, why did Debbie plan before birth to experience incest?” And here's what he says.

    “She wanted to meet the two men involved in the incest, her father and grandfather, because she wanted to resolve old issues with them. These issues had to do with past lifetimes in which she ridiculed them, specifically their masculinity. Debbie's soul knew that both these men harbored an old grudge against her. She allowed them to express this hatred. Her soul's plan was to be able to cope with the abuse and to forgive them in the end. Her soul had the hope that she would be capable of it if she would call upon all her spiritual strength. Being able to heal herself and forgive the two men would allow her to move past her difficult relationship with the male energy and achieve an inner balance between the male and female energy.”

So we go on, we talk a little bit more about how all of this is set up. And I write:

     “I now had an understanding of Debbie's intentions at the soul level; still, it was hard to accept that other souls would agree to a plan that would cause such suffering for Debbie.”

And then I asked Jeshua, “Why did Debbie's father and grandfather agree to participate in such an experience?” And he says,

    “They were both unable to let go of their indignation and resentment. They felt belittled and humiliated by Debbie in the past lifetimes mentioned, and their souls allowed them to play out this dark aspect of themselves to eventually overcome it. Both their souls knew that Debbie's soul gave permission for the experience. There was sadness in both their souls as they planned the likelihood of this experience. Their souls' plan was to be confronted and awakened by the shame and guilt that would arise because of what they had done to a vulnerable, young girl.”

This is a concept that's tremendously hard to grasp at the level of the personality. But essentially what's being said here is, some of the experiences that you and I would consider to be most horrific, most hurtful, most painful, most traumatic, can, if they're worked with, as Barbara would say, skillfully, they can create a quite profound healing at the level of the soul.

Now, this is a risky kind of plan because you can go in the other direction. If you are the person who is the “victim” you can become angry, resentful, bitter, filled with rage. That's the direction your soul is hoping you don't go in. But you can also go in the direction of becoming more compassionate and developing forgiveness.

If you're the person who is playing the role of perpetrator, you can become enmeshed for a very long time, across many lives, in shame and guilt, and it can take a long time to get out of that. Or, as Jeshua says here, you can eventually use the pain of the shame and guilt to become awakened and heal. This is the kind of thing that we're talking about here, a powerful soul level healing that's catalyzed—and you heard Barbara use the word catalyst—it's catalyzed by pain on the physical plane.

By the way, if you go in the “wrong” direction, your soul has no judgment of that. The soul's attitude if that happens is, let's try again. It's basically as simple as that. There's no judgment around it.

So that's a little bit about Debbie. And I'll now turn things back to Barbara and Aaron.

Barbara: One of the things I'm reminded of here, as Rob reads from this chapter, is, people keep asking me, do I need to experience pain? Pain is not necessary for growth, but paying attention is necessary. Being willing to be present with our situations, with our old fears, our old confusion, our old unwholesome habits.

Pain reminds us to pay attention, and sometimes a little bit of pain is not enough. So at some level, because the intention to learn is so strong, we become willing to invite more and more pain until finally we say, “Okay, finally I've got it! Enough! I'm paying attention now.”

These situations are so deeply painful, and yet, I suspect that people who have experienced such trauma often have turned their backs on some things in past lifetimes until they finally said, “Okay, I'm willing to get to it now.”, as I know I did when I look at my past lives and see the intention at this point to let go of old limiting beliefs. I understood how I had to move into very, very painful limiting beliefs in order to finally say, that's enough! I give up! I'm ready to pay attention!

Let's open this to questions not just about incest but about anything, any of what we've been talking about here. I'm going to invite Aaron to come in. I'll stay in the body for now and if there is a question for Aaron, he will come in.

Q: In relation to what you've just said, Barbara and Rob, in past lives we may not have been willing to pay attention enough to take the whatever issue it is fully to healing and love. When someone chooses suicide, is that an example of them not being willing to do whatever it takes to heal, and unable to see the situation that causes them to have such feelings of hopelessness and transform that into love?

Barbara: I'd like to let Aaron come in and speak about that.

(Aaron incorporates)

Aaron: I am Aaron. I hear your question, daughter. There are numerous reasons for suicide, as with anything, but usually the one who suicides has reached a place of despair, not because they are not willing to face the pain but often because they are not willing to face the reality of their radiance and divinity.

If I truly am that radiant, that divine, and I've lived my whole life in this darkness, this place of anger and despair, it turns on itself and becomes proof to the person, “See, I really am no good. There's nothing to do but end the life.” Because the alternative is to acknowledge, “I AM divine. I AM radiant. I AM good.” and to have to go back to square one and restart living on this new premise, and that's terrifying. It's an acknowledgement of one's power, if one is truly divine. It's also a statement of the “blindness” of the past part of the life and that may be read as failure rather than unfulfilled trial and error, learning.

I find often that people who have not in any way clarified their relationship with their heavy emotions—notice how I'm saying that. It's not about the heavy emotion but how you relate to the heavy emotion-- that people who are still very afraid of their heavy emotions and trying to avoid them or control them or totally suppress them are the most frightened of their power because if they acknowledge their true self, their true power, then they are acknowledging, “I have the power totally to destroy everything. I'm not ready to acknowledge that power. Therefore, I'll keep myself small.” And in keeping oneself small, one is not letting the light in.

Think of your houseplants. What if I gave you a beautiful new houseplant, flowering and radiant, and you said thank you and put it in a dark closet? Could it thrive? So the person who is trying to keep himself small is putting himself or herself in that dark closet because it fears the light. It fears it will burst forth and grow everywhere and take over everything. So it backs itself further and further and further into this place of darkness until it has no place to go.

Usually it did not come into the incarnation with a soul plan for suicide. It came into the incarnation with a soul plan for certain learning that was to be catalyzed by certain challenging experiences, but it was not able, then, to move past the perceived radiance of the self, diminishment of the self, and deal with the challenging experiences. So it finally just closed in and backed away and left.

I want to point out that this is not only true of active suicide, but there are many kinds of suicides. People who over-drink and develop disease of the liver; the person who becomes morbidly obese, 400 lbs. The person who simply is a workaholic and stresses himself to death. These are all forms of suicide. They are all forms of saying, “I'm not ready to bring myself out of the dark closet into the light and acknowledge my true being and be radiant in the world. It's too frightening.”

Thank you.

Rob: (hard to hear, off mic) While we're on the topic of suicide, there is a chapter on suicide in the next book. I just want to share with you one of the pieces of information that came out in the (work) for that chapter. I consider this to be one of the most significant things that I've come across since I've been doing this type of research.

This comes from Jeshua. And what he shared with us is, he says that every suicide that could have been prevented by outside forces was in fact prevented. What he meant was, if somebody is suicidal but has the slightest bit of opening or willingness to change their mind, the universe, because it's so finely tuned and coordinated, will stage some kind of intervention. So, a bird flies by and distracts the person, somebody walks by and smiles, or something more dramatic like an angel or a guide assuming human form and directly intervening.

But he tells us that every suicide preventable by outside forces was in fact prevented. The implication of this is that if you've lost a loved one to suicide, and you blamed yourself because you feel that you could or should have done more, that's actually not the case. If the suicide was completed, there was no openness or willingness at all to change direction, and there was literally nothing that could have been done. I just put that out there in case anyone was feeling guilt in regard to losing someone to suicide.

Aaron: Let me add something to that, Rob. I would agree completely what Rob has just said is accurate. Each being has free will, and people who move into a place where they can see no pathway but suicide, you can counsel them, you can guide them, and until they're ready, you can't change them. It's the same with somebody who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. The person has to be ready to make the decision to save themselves.

This brings us to a different question, though. If a person suicides and you are feeling guilt, “I should have been able to save them,” perhaps part of your contract with that person, it was not that they agreed that they were going to suicide so you could feel guilty, but they were going to live their life free of your being able to control them. And you were going to look at the feelings of guilt and helplessness because you could not change things for them.

Q: Are there people who come in who begin to pay attention from the very beginning and don't experience the suffering, and actually in fact change the world anyway, with compassion and surrender and love?

Aaron: Yes. And I would not say they do not experience suffering, but it's a different level of suffering. I think of someone like Gandhi, who certainly suffered to some degree both personally and because of what he saw in the world around him. But he was such an evolved being that he was able not to make personal stories of his fault, not blame himself, but to understand, all of this is for learning of compassion in myself and the world.

Increasingly there are new souls coming in who are this highly evolved because the Earth is in a process of transition into a higher vibration. These old souls are coming in as children, learning to hold this higher vibration in consciousness.

A lovely example came to me this year when Barbara was visiting someone with a young child, about 4 or 5 years old. The child was building with Lego blocks and the structure would not hold together. So finally he picked it up and threw it all across the room. Barbara was sitting on a nearby sofa reading, and she watched him frustrated and then throwing it. She said, “You look angry.”

And he said, “Yes, I'm very angry.”

She said, “Can I help?”

He said, “No, I'm taking care of my anger.” And he sat there, just sitting on the floor, breathing (huffing and puffing) with his very strong anger.

She said, “Can I come and sit with you while you take care of your anger?”

“Yes.” So they sat on the floor together for maybe five minutes. And then he looked up at her and smiled and said, “I'm all done now. We can play.”

This is possible for all of you. But yes, there are people who are incarnate now who are at that level of consciousness.

Q, as repeated by Rob: Two parties are locked in some kind of karmic struggle. One person resolves things emotionally on his or her end, the other person does not. What do they do at that point?

Rob: My understanding of the way it works, and Aaron may say something totally different, I don't know what he's going to say, my understanding is that karma is an individual thing even though it's played out with others.

So in the example that you gave, if the person resolves the underlying karma, then their portion of it is done. The other person who still has the anger or the rage, whatever it may be, the lack of forgiveness, they still have to resolve that, which they could do with the person whom they were originally in the karmic agreement with, if that person consents to play the role again. Or they can resolve it in another situation. But the karma doesn't require both people to resolve it. Your karma is an individual thing that you resolve on your own.

I've heard it said that balancing karma means untying the ties that bind. If you do that on your own, your karma is dissolved.

Q: If I balance my karma with someone but they don't balance theirs with me, do I have to come back with them?

Rob: You don't have to. You could. You might, out of love and service to the other person, choose to do that. But you wouldn't necessarily have to, as I understand it.

I think Aaron wants to jump in here. Let me turn it over to him.

Aaron: People often struggle with this idea, perhaps two people in a relationship with unwholesome codependence. Maybe one is drinking and the other is constantly covering up for the drinker. The one who is covering up begins to see that he or she can no longer do that. Begins to say no in a very clear and loving way. But the drinker is still drinking and becoming angrier and angrier because the companion is no longer covering up for him. I say him but it could be either sex, of course.

The one who has become clearer and has released the karma often then comes to me with the struggle, what do I do? Do I leave this person or do I stay with him? Once you become clear that you no longer have to save the other person, that the other person is doing what they need to, wholesome or unwholesome, for themselves, and that you truly have forgiven the other person, and you feel that there is nothing more that you need to learn, it's fine to stay with them, and it's fine to leave. Can you stay with them without creating new karma for yourself? In other words, if they are starting to throw things at you or beat you up, it's not wholesome and it's not good karma to allow another to abuse you. Perhaps at that point you have to leave.

I'm thinking here of somebody who was sexually abused by the father through many years. She separated herself from the father. Then the father became old and sick and wanted to see his daughter. She went to visit, but whenever she came to visit he was drinking and was sexually suggestive. She truly had forgiven him, but she felt she could not abandon him because he was still the father but she also could not be with him. At what point does one say, “No, I'm not coming anymore.” and cut him off?

So I suggested to her, although it was quite a drive, several hours, to go and see him, that she say to him, “If when I arrive at your door you've been drinking, or if you are sexually suggestive, I will leave immediately.” She said, “How can I do that? It's a half a day's drive!” Well, do it!

So it took maybe three tries. The first time he was astonished when she walked out the door. The second time he was angry and screaming at her when she walked out the door, and she spent some time again doing forgiveness until she knew, “This is about him, it's no longer about me. But he is my father. I will give him another chance.” And the third time again she left, but he wasn't so angry. He said, “Yes, I see, you have to leave.” And that was it. Then he stopped drinking when she came. He stopped being sexually suggestive, was very appropriate and kind, and they enjoyed each other. But she did not have to go back for him. She had to go back for her. I want you to see the difference.

Thank you.

Rob: Other questions?

Q: (inaudible—maybe about, how do you know when you're done with the karma?)

Rob: (off mic) People in the next book ... (on mic) Both feel that they've completely forgiven the people that they were in those experiences with. So I would say, if their forgiveness is true then at that point they're done. They both have the intuitive sense that there's no more karma there. So again, it's an individual sort of thing. And in the case of the woman who was raped, the rapist, as I understand it he was sent to prison, paroled, and died shortly thereafter with a lot of unresolved rage, the same unresolved rage he brought into the body and that motivated the rape. So his karma is still there, waiting to be healed.

But the woman, Beverly, who was raped, she has completely forgiven him. And if in fact that's true, I think her karma is resolved.

Q: (inaudible—maybe “So how is his karma to be resolved?”?)

Rob: He's going to have to do something to balance the act of the rape and then to release the underlying karma, which is the rage and the resentment that led to the rape in the first place.

Q: That's without her being there?

Rob: As I understand it, that it's possible without her being there. But she could volunteer to be there if she wanted to be of service to him in some way.

Aaron: Forgiveness is perhaps the strongest healer of karma that I know, but it has to be authentic, not a rote recitation of, “I forgive you. I forgive you.” that's coming from the mental level. It has to come from the heart.

You know when you're done with the karma because there's no more contraction around the issues. The heart opens. There's deep compassion toward the other being.

The Zen master and poet, Thich Nhat Hanh, writes a beautiful poem called “Please Call Me By My True Names.” It's about a young girl who is raped by the sea captain and throws herself off the boat into the sea and drowns. “Thay” is what they call him (Thich Naht Hanh). Thay says, it's very easy to blame the sea captain, to blame this man who raped a young girl. But when we look at the whole situation, he probably grew up in an abusive situation himself and was sexually molested. He grew up in a place where violence was a norm and where he was never taught to hold back on enacting his impulses. Do we then blame his parents? His culture? His local villagers and town?

Can we let go of blame completely and open our hearts with compassion that this is still the way the world is? That people are taught in unwholesome ways, not taught with love, and move into the enactment of violence? As we hold that great space of love and true forgiveness in our heart-- forgiveness is not a thought, it's an act of compassion-- with true compassion that understands this sea captain did this because of his conditioning-- and yes, he had free will, we're not condoning what he did-- we no longer blame him in terms of hatred. We hold him in compassion at the same time as we say no.

When you can do that about the situations in your own life then the karma is released. Then you take it to the next step, which is balancing that karma. The balancing must also come from an openhearted place, not a fear-driven place. I see people who have healed of rape, incest, and other such trauma, who then become fierce spokespersons, saying, “Lock up all rapists. Lock up all who do incest.” And there's still so much anger. There's not really forgiveness. So they heal themselves at some level and move beyond feeling themselves to be the victim, but now they're the attacker. So there's still karma.

The release of the karma comes at the point when the heart is open but still able to say no in an appropriate and loving way. Then you're done with it.


Q: Have you any more research (indicating that soul contracts can be rewritten once you're incarnate...)?

Aaron: Can a soul plan be rewritten? Absolutely. But it's never completely rewritten. Let's say that I wish to travel from Point A to Point B, and I've made the decision before my journey, “I'm getting to Point B. I'm taking this road.” But as I take this road I find that the road has eroded so badly with potholes four feet deep, it's not navigable. I'm struggling. I'm drowning in mud. My feet are sore from tripping on rocks. There's still the plan to get to Point B, but I make the conscious decision to choose a gentler route.

So it's not a complete revision of the soul plan. It's an understanding of the destination of the soul plan and backing up to choose a gentler route to that destination, rather than, for example, pursuing a route that might involve violence to the self.

Rob: That understanding is identical to mine. Let me give you a concrete hypothetical example to illustrate it.

Let's say that there is a soul who has had many lives making certain plans before coming into body, but when that person gets here they have a tendency to defer to the wishes of others. They let other people tell them how to live their life. When that person transitions back into spirit and they have their life review, they see this tendency and they resolve to heal it.

Arbitrarily I'm going to make this person female. No sexism is intended. The soul decides to reincarnate as a female, carrying back into body the tendency to defer to the wishes of others, for the purpose of healing it. Now, having made that plan, let's say that there's another member of the soul group that has the opposite tendency. This is someone who, when the soul gets into body, tends to dominate others inappropriately and tell them how to live their life. That person also sees that tendency in the life review and wants to heal it. I'll arbitrarily make that person male. That soul carries energetically into a male body the tendency to inappropriately dominate others.

Now, they've both set up this plan to heal these tendencies that they have. Let's say that the soul that's incarnating as the female is aware of the plan of the soul incarnating as the male and so she goes to him and says, “I am incarnating to heal this tendency I have to defer to the wishes of others. I see that you are bringing into body the opposite tendency, the tendency to dominate others, also for the purpose of healing it. Why don't we make a pre-birth plan to marry, say, at the age of 30, and although we know that this is likely to be a turbulent relationship, our intention is that I will learn to stand up for myself, and you will learn to respect the wishes of others.” So they form that plan.

Now let's say that when the woman is 25 years old, she gets a job with an employer who is running roughshod over her, treating her with a profound lack of respect and kindness. And let's say also that she marshals her internal resources and she makes a stand and says, “Stop. You may not treat me that way. If you want me to continue working here, you must treat me with respect and kindness.” The moment she does that, there's a tremendous increase in her vibration. That's the learned lesson, the planned lesson.

So if she can sustain that increased vibration until she's aged 30, now by virtue of the law of attraction, one of two things is likely to happen. One is that she and the man she planned to marry never meet because her vibration is much higher than his and so they don't come together, or they do meet and now there's no attraction. They have one date and nothing comes of it.

That's a hypothetical example of what Aaron has just been talking about. This person used her free will to learn the intended lessons, which obviated the need for the planned challenge, the difficult marriage. That was the shorter road, the easier road.

Other questions? We have about 5 minutes.

Aaron: Let me add something to that. There is an overriding soul plan beyond all the small lessons, and that is love. All the other lessons come and go. So you create small individual plans, contracts, as it were, but when the major lesson is learned, you don't need those side lessons.

I think here of a young child who's given ten pages of arithmetic problems, and on page 3 he suddenly gets it. “Ah, I see how this works!” And he goes up to the teacher and says, “I really understand this now.” And the teacher says, “Fine, skip pages 4 to 10. You don't need them.”

But it's not stepping aside from the soul plan. Rather, it has simply learned it in an easier and more comfortable way. And that's what I would wish for all of you.

Q: When you offer forgiveness to somebody, somebody who's been wrong in some fashion, the presumption is that you have the power to forgive, and that you are better than that person. But I'm coming to the conclusion that since we're all divine beings, we do have that power. Am I on the right track?

Aaron: There are two parts to the question. Yes, that presumption may exist. There's no better or worse in the ultimate sense but people may presume it. And yes, all have that power; but some are ready to manifest the power and some are not.

Also consider that the thought, “I am better than,” this may be a different strand of karma this person needs to work at. And the person to be forgiven may have come with the other person just to challenge that particular strand of karma with them, or in addition, to resolve that additional strand of karma. It's very mixed, many different elements come together.

We will need to stop in a few minutes. Rob's reading from his book is wonderful, and I don't know if Rob is interested in this and if David is, but I'd love to see us do another workshop in the future where we ask all of the participants to read your book ahead of time. Then, not reading from the book but working with exercises together, and questions, and having a chance for a deeper look, perhaps an hour or two longer so we have a chance to delve into it. We can talk about this in the future.

Is there one last question?

Q: This is kind of embarrassing, but it seems like the first half of my life I was afraid of dying, the second half I've been afraid of reincarnating. Any comments?

Aaron: I would ask you, daughter, to meditate on fear. To be afraid of dying and to be afraid of living are the same thing. If one is afraid of dying, it is because one is not fully living. If you are afraid of reincarnating, you are afraid of living. What does it mean to be fully alive?

I would refer you to Barbara's book Cosmic Healing, living without limits, without limiting beliefs. What limiting beliefs do you hold about yourself?  Are you ready to move past the belief that you are mortal in some way and begin to know your own divine wholeness? From the perspective of divine wholeness and the soul, there is no living or dying. There is only pure being and love. I know that sounds a bit conceptual, but try meditating and working with it. But do also acknowledge the real fear in loving and non-judgmental ways.

I'll pass this back to Rob in a moment. From me, my thanks to all of you for being with us today and sharing these thoughts, and doing this deep inner work in yourselves. As you heal yourselves, you bring light into the whole universe. It's not about you. You are expressions of the Divine, and it is about enabling this Divine to more fully broadcast itself out and out and out until the whole Earth and universe knows itself as expression of divinity. And at that point violence from oneself to another becomes impossible. That's probably not going to happen in your lifetimes but hopefully the whole Earth is moving in that direction, where each of you is learning to release old unwholesome habitual patterns and live with more love, kindness, and wisdom, each to each.

Thank you.

Rob: So you see why I like working with Barbara and Aaron and why they're in the next book. The level of wisdom and love is just tremendous. I'm honored to collaborate with them.

Before we go, I'll just make one request of you. I receive emails from a lot of people who say, “I've heard of your book. I'd like to read it, but I can't afford to buy it.” There are more people in that set of circumstances than you might think. So I've made it a personal mission to place the book in libraries so it's available for free as a resource. I would ask you, if you see merit in what I do, and I'll make the same request on behalf of Barbara's books, if you see merit in what we do, ask your local library to carry the books. Or if you're done with your copy, consider donating it. That one simple act of kindness will touch many, many lives. It's like the pebble that's thrown into a pond and then the waves radiate out forever. It will just touch so many lives that way.

I'd like to thank all of you for coming. I'd like to thank Dave for having us here. And that's it for today. Thank you very much.

Aaron: My love and blessings to all of you. (Barbara returns to the body)

Barbara: Thank you all for coming. And I'd like to share with you, those who do not know of Deep Spring Center, we are Deep Spring Center for Meditation and Spiritual Inquiry. There are flyers on the table. Once a month there's an open session with Aaron...(announcement about that, off mic, hard to hear)

I want to thank Dave for hosting this, as you have many times before...

(Dave announces Interfaith services, off mic, hard to hear)

That's all...

(session ends)