August 4, 2013 Sunday Afternoon, Trainings Workshop two

(Note: This talk not fully reviewed by Barbara and Aaron)

(The group is in the water by the lake; sound of a loud jet ski in background)

Barbara: Whether you're sitting in the water or on land, feel the earth beneath your feet. Try to feel the power of the earth element, how it feels. It's solid. It gives off certain energy. Feel the earth element connecting down into the earth. Feel your base chakra connecting down into the earth. (The jet ski is not helping things. We don't usually have motor boats on this lake.) 

So once again, feel the earth element under your feet and feel it through the base chakra. Feel this earth energy in yourselves. How does it feel? Just earth. I want you to feel each of the elements one at a time first, then we're going to expand into the ways they combine.

Earth. What is the earth element like in your body? Now move attention to your breath. Know the air element in your body. The fire is more easily accessible for those who are sitting in the sun. Those sitting in the shade, look outward. Feel the water element, whether your feet are in it or simply looking out at it.

At first glance, each element seems distinct in itself. Earth, air, fire, water. Feel the fluids moving through your body, the breath. Feel the heat in your body, the fire element in the body.

Looking out at the lake, you can see the clouds reflected there. Water element and the image of clouds. Looking up at the sky, clouds. What are clouds? Water vapor. So we have the sky in the lake, and we have the lake in the sky.

See it outside yourself first, so you experience it. How there is no place where the lake stops, with all the water collected just in the lake. There is no place where the sky stops, with all the space and air only in the sky. But the breeze touches the water, making ripples. The sky is filled with water vapor, with lake. I want you to really feel how they come together.

Now go inside your body. Feel the fluid of the body. Your body is mostly fluid. Feel it moving through your body. (pause)  Take a deep breath and merge the water in the body with air and space. The water in the body is not solid, just as the water in the lake is not solid. (pause) Breathe and feel the spaciousness, the air, right there in the fluid of the body.

The lake bed is not a solid dry lake bed but it's filled with water. If it had been warm and you were sitting in the shallow water, on the sand, , I was going to have you reach in for handfuls of sand. Those who are sitting with feet in the water can still do this if you want. Reach down and pick up a handful of sand; feel the mix of earth and water. As you let it fall through your fingers, feel the air in it. Is there anything you can point to and say, “This is earth, just this”? Even the hardest baked clay has some air in it, some water in it, and if the sun is shining it has a lot of fire in it.

Keep going back and forth from what you see and feel against your body “out there” to what you feel within the body. (pause)

Look at the sun glinting on the water, glinting on the leaves, right now behind a cloud but it will be back. Notice how everything is combining with the sun, with the fire element. All the trees around us would not exist without the sun. Looking at the trees, you can see the earth element in the trees, but of course there's also the water and fire element, and space. Watch them blowing in the breeze. (pause)

I'm going to be quiet now for about 10 minutes and just leave you time to experience this intermixing of the elements, out there and within yourself, and then we'll talk about how the akashic field...

Recording lost here. It was not a lot. If anyone has this material on personal recorders, please let us know.

... relates to the other elements. I said more but don't remember what.

(pause)

We're going to take this to a new place now. We talk about objects arising from conditions. When the conditions are present, the object will arise. When the conditions change, the object dissolves. For example, certain atmospheric conditions are present, and it's a clear and sunny day. The conditions change, rain clouds come. Then we have raindrops. It's all the arising and passing of conditions.

So we speak of this whole conditioned realm and also of “the unconditioned,” that is, That-Which-Is, which exists free of conditions, empty of conditions. We recognize That-Which-Is as the ground of everything. We're part of that ground. Everything is part of that ground. So we have the ground and the expressions arising out of the ground.

I might use as a metaphor a very pure and loving heart as part of the ground, and then somebody bumps into me rudely and anger arises. The anger isn't coming from someplace else; it's one expression of the heart. And then compassion arises for myself and for the person who bumped into me. And that's another expression of the heart.

Given similar arisen conditions, because of our individual karma each of us will have a different response to those conditions. The farmer might say, “Hurray! We needed rain.” The picnicker will say, “I don't want the rain.”

What I want you to see here is twofold. First is to understand the concept of dependent origination. That means what I have just said, that everything is part of everything else, everything arising from conditions and passing away. Many of you who have done a lot of vipassana practice know this in a much deeper way. The conditioned world is constantly expressing out of conditions. Second, there is also the “Unborn, Undying, Unchanging, Uncreated” of the Buddhist Scriptures,  this ground or essence of everything. Call it God, Goddess, That-Which-Is; whatever you want to call it is fine. It transcends any labels.

The elements are conditioned. They exist because certain conditions are present. If you lived on an arid planet where there was no moisture vapor, you would not have water. If you lived somewhere in outer space, you would not have earth element as we know it. Yet these elements as we know them and experience them, all do exist.

Akasha is another element, sometimes called ether. Don't think of it as like the earth, air, fire, and water but as a cup, container in which earth, air, fire, and water rest. Almost like the water is resting in a bowl of earth of the lake bed. Try to image this. The lake bed is a giant cup or container, and the water is resting in it, and the breeze is blowing over the water and rippling the lake. The sun is shining down on it, giving fire energy to the lake. It' a poor metaphor because the earth bed is still conditioned and does not give rise to the other elements, only inter-is with them. This is just an image that speaks to their interconnection..


What holds all of that-- the lake bed, the water, the heat and fire of the sun, the wind, the sky above it? What is the greater container? We call this the akashic field. Tibetan Buddhism gives it the name All Ground, the ground of everything. I'm not a Tibetan Buddhist teacher or practitioner, so I like to give it a simple name; the akasha, the akashic field. Everything, the elements and the emotions related to the elements, our bodies, the earth body, thoughts, emotions, everything is arising out of the akashic field. Right now this is a concept to you. Akashic Field and All-Ground are not synonymous but are close.

Because we're spread out here and with a lot of wind, my voice can't talk at this loudness for very long without straining it. What I want you to do is this; we're just going to sit here for about half an hour quietly. I want you to reach in, try to feel any one element in your body, like the earth element. Feel it under your feet, feel it in your body. See it in the ground out of which the trees are growing, the ground out of which the water lilies are growing. Earth element. And raise the simple question: what does the earth element rest upon? When the earth element dissolves, what remains?

Water element. Put your feet in the water. Look at the water. Feel the fluidity in the body. The fluidity in the body exists because of conditions. The earth element in the body is there because of conditions. If I have a distortion like high blood pressure, it's related to the earth element in my body, the compression of the arteries and veins, the fluid in my body of the blood, fire, wind; it's related to many things. Hiccups; another distortion that relates to all the elements.

 

(Pause for meditation)

What we're going to do next, again, speaking conceptually, but I think some of you will get it. And it's hard. I've been working with this for a couple of years and I'm getting it, but it's hard. I go into a place where, for example, if I've just exerted myself a lot and I can feel my heart pumping blood, trying to catch my breath, my body in a certain distortion, I focus on the elements that are related to that distortion and then I go through to the ground and I see the place where the distortion is not, right there with the distortion. For example, feeling cold. Fire element low in my body. Opening up to the place beyond that coldness, feeling the heat, the sun, everything coming into the body, the possibilities.

I can't strain my voice anymore; I'm getting hoarse. All I want you to do now is to meditate with your eyes open. Try to feel the coming together of the elements in your body, in the lake out there, in the sky, in the woods behind us. Then become aware of any even small distortion, like an insect bite—burning, itching, too much fire energy in the skin. But we're not trying to fix the fire energy; rather, to find the place where the skin is not expressing that distortion. We go into this All Ground or akashic field. I don't want you to do this yet so much as to get a sense, beyond these elements, what's there? What's the base beneath them all?

Find this container out of which all the elements are expressing, but it's not part of the elements, it's the container and ground for the elements. Does this intellectually make sense? Do you have a feeling for what I'm asking you to invite, to relax into? (yes)

Okay, I can't talk this loud or I'm going to lose my voice entirely. So let's just spend a half an hour doing this, and then we'll probably go up to Michigan Friends Center, where we can sit and talk. Okay? Hmmm. Smell the mint!

(exercise)

Nothing to get, just relax, relaxing into things as they are...

(Pause for meditation)

We've just finished the meditation and we're gathered in a smaller circle now to talk.

The best image I can give is the world of conditions with everything pouring out. Conditions come along and results arise; here's this, here's that. Go through the conditions to the base beneath.

Sometimes we do this with soap bubbles. When you have a bubble solution and you dip the wand and  blow, a bubble forms. When the conditions cease to be right for it, it goes poof. It's all arising from conditions, and passing away. But there is also a base that we call the Unconditioned. When we try to change the world from the conditioned level, we're just pushing against the conditions. Sometimes that's appropriate. It's cold so you put a jacket on. That's a conditioned resolution to the issue of being cold. But if we want deeper change, we can't just push the conditions around, but we can go down into the Unconditioned. One place to access the edge of the Unconditioned is the akashic field.

Now, properly speaking, the akashic field is not the Unconditioned, it's one clear layer above. We can't quite go into the Unconditioned. This is something we'll talk more about in Weekend 3. I'm going to send out some pre-reading for all of you,. But we go into this Field just above the Unconditioned, touching the Unconditioned, and within this field, we find all the elements as a base for everything else. Within all the elements everything else is expressing. So we've got, I don't want to call it four layers because everything is touching and interconnected, but 1) the Unconditioned, 2) the field, 3) the elements expressing out of the field, which are the foundation stones of our conditioned reality, and then 4) all the expressions. So we go down deep through the expressions, into the elements and beyond the elements, into the akashic field.

It sounds simple. It really is simple. In the beginning I tried to make working with it much too complex for myself, and then I realized how simple it was. It's just resting there, sinking down and resting in that field. And in that field I see everything moving around, interbeing, expressing out. And right there I have the opportunity to say, “Ah, let's just shift this a little bit. If I do this here, what happens up there?”

But we must do it with extreme care and from a base of intention to do no harm, from a place that's not the ego, me, because “I” want it to be this way. Going to the akashic field, for example, saying, ”I want warm sunny weather today so that we can all have this day working with the elements,” but there are some people who would prefer it to be otherwise for various reasons. We have to do it from a place that's so connected to everything. This is part of what we were establishing a base for in the exercises we did yesterday. Who gets the flower? From that place of interconnection we know who gets the flower. From a place of ego, we either wonder, “Should I give it to someone else?” or “I want it.” Where does the flower go, from that place of interconnection?

I'd simply like to hear your questions at this point, and then we'll see where we go from here. Questions, and also share your experiences, because you learn so much from each other just sharing what you've experienced.

Q: I want to know more about where the fire is in the body, because even though I can understand and feel it in the digestion, I know that exercise creates more, and little birds shiver in the winter to stay warm. I would like to know more so I can feel that more, that other source of fire.

Barbara: Does anybody here do Tai Chi? Anybody who's done Tai Chi, what can you say about that source of fire and power in the body? Where is it?

Q: Right here (pointing to the solar plexus).

Barbara: What does it feel like there?

Q: You can feel it expanding. You can feel it generating from under your feet, from earth, and it comes up to that area. And then there's a point in the spine right through in the back that's called Ming Men Heat, and that's considered in Oriental Medicine where tai chi comes from. It is considered to be the post-natal fire.

Barbara: Thank you. Anybody else want to contribute to that, others with experience with it? When you feel anger, where do you feel it? In the belly. Anger is energy. It's really fire energy. So we transmute that fire energy. Instead of saying, “I shouldn't be angry,” how do we really utilize that fire energy in a positive way? It's fire.

Q: In yoga there is a breathing technique where you (inaudible, block your root <>) and your throat, and you drag your breath in and out from this place Q mentioned, and it ignites the fire into heat. (further informal discussion not signed, hard to hear)

Barbara: There's a Tibetan practice where practitioners go out on icy cold days in short shirts and sit in the snow; they raise the heat in their body to such a degree that the snow melts around them.

It's also important to remember that the fire element in the body does not exist independently. It's part of all the other elements. If the fire element is not strong, it's not just the fire that's lacking. A fire needs air or it won't burn. A fire needs some earth, something to burn. So, sitting by the campfire last night, we had a strong fire with a breeze blowing it, and wood, earth energy to burn. When any element's energy feels low, we don't just increase that element but we ask, what is out of balance here throughout the whole body? Then bringing it all into balance.

Q: Unless he has retired, there is a postman in downtown Ann Arbor who all winter wears shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. We always called him a reincarnated yogi.

Barbara: And he says he's never cold, even on the coldest days.

We need to keep a number of things in balance. We want to increase the fire energy. We want to keep the elements in balance. But the elements are also tools. So we go back to the question, what is my higher purpose here? How does the imbalance in the elements lead me into more of a place of ego, of egocentricity and self-concern and fear? As the elements come into balance, how does this help me with my intention to be of service in the world, to be connected in the world? When the elements are not in balance, it's almost impossible to really be connected.

Are there questions?

Q: Does the day come when you can open to the akashic field and just have it all? It seems like your whole life would change if you could <have it all>.

Barbara: That's the ego's voice saying that it wants things to change, “I want it all”—. When we really are living in the akashic field, the whole “I” seems to dissolve. I still take care of myself, but taking care of other things is just as important as taking care of myself. So I can't just claim what this mind and body need from the akashic field and control, manipulate conditions in that way. I actually have more and I have less. I have more in the sense that I feel so at ease in the world, balanced. Not much scares me anymore, except a little bit brown recluse spiders! I'm getting past that, gradually. Nothing much scares me anymore. But also, I recognize that often I need to give. What I, the ego, wants is not what's best in the situation. Constantly letting go. Not trying to manipulate so it comes out the way I want it to be.

I don't know if that answers your question. If not will you rephrase your question?

Q: My impression of the akashic field and All-That-Is is that you have a profound, inclusive understanding. And if one had that, if one had access to that level of understanding, how rich and beautiful and greater would our life be.

Barbara: Yes! There's absolutely nothing I lack in my life. My life is rich and full and wonderful. It's not just from the akashic field; it's from my vipassana practice. It's from very deep resting in the Unconditioned and connection to the Unconditioned. There's joy, there's ease.

Q: (inaudible) (can I find that?)

Barbara: Sure. If you didn't, I wouldn't be teaching. But it's gradual. We can't just flip a switch and say, “Okay, I want to be there,” because that's just the ego wanting to be there. It's deeply grounded in the meditation practice and a gradual deep understanding that truly everything is arising out of conditions. I am not the center of things. I co-create with everything. And when “I” tune in to the whole level of consciousness around me, there's a kind of experience of hearing, understanding what is most useful, what is most suitable. It's a deep level of compassion.

Sometimes people come to see me and they're suffering terribly; they're so stuck in their suffering, and they're not ready to let go of it. And I can't make them let go. So I point out the practice. I've had people to whom I've pointed out the same thing for 10 or 15 years, and one day they come to me and say, “Why didn't you ever say that before?” Suddenly they're ready to hear it. We all have so much resistance, so much armoring. Gradually, as we work with these practices and with our deep intention to live with love, we're increasingly ready to let go of the armoring and the old opinions and the old self-views, to open into this vast non-dual consciousness and to live there. And no, I don't live there 24/7. Just the night before I had the rage that came up when I woke up at 3am and there were more of these spiders on the wall! The rage was from a very strong ego point of view. But we catch it sooner when we move into that space.

Let's move this question out a little bit further. Some of you who have been practicing vipassana or other spiritual practice for a long time, are you increasingly connected to everything, increasingly at ease in your lives and happy? Share with some who are newer how these practices have helped you. And this is not a statement, “I am enlightened. Me, I'm perfect.” No, I'm not enlightened. The word enlightenment is really an invalid word. I'm a little bit lighter than I was.

Q: For me the hardest part about old age has been loss. Loss of loved ones and friends, and loss of good health, and not being able to do many of things that I have loved to do. At the same time, my spiritual practices have really sustained me through everything. But I have really been looking for ways to manifest good health at the highest level. So for me, experiencing vipassana has been such a blessing. And meeting you in April at Interfaith, and now the workshop a month ago. And reading Cosmic Healing and doing the practices. And the sessions that we had here at the lake on a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago with you and D and A and the others that were here. My heart has really been opening during the last few years. But it's opened so much in the last six months. It seems like these teachings are just opening up a whole new system.

I have been experiencing my guides very strongly since last December, but I didn't know how to respond to them, and you're teaching me how to do that. But I felt so guided. And it seems like they've always been there, giving me the answers, helping me with driving in busy traffic. And they would give me answers to questions I wasn't even thinking about. So I just wanted to trust them completely. And now I know how to challenge them.

I've been working with the elements for a long time, but today I have had new understanding of how they are involved in my high blood pressure and some of my other health problems. So they're all challenges that are coming up to teach me what I need to experience. But I'm so grateful and filled with gratitude. The people that come to you for teachings are so filled with love and compassion...

Barbara: Thank you, you are inspiring; thank you, thank you for sharing that.

Q: Thank you, thank everyone! (applause)

(recording is a little fuzzy from here on, can't hear clearly)

Barbara: We love you. I want to say something about what you said about losing health, growing older. I've always loved the ocean, loved swimming in the waves. Eight years ago, as some of you know, I had a near death experience in the ocean, bashed against the ocean bottom, knocked unconscious, and my body has been much weaker since then. I lost the vision on one eye because of that incident, so my balance is worse than it was. And I still have things wrong with my back from that accident, and so forth.

I still lead that retreat every year. This year I was sitting on the beach and watching people swimming in the ocean; such a longing came up. “It's not fair. I want to swim.” I knew I couldn't swim safely. There was big surf that day. For me a good question to ask right there is, where is the suffering? Is the suffering right here in the fact that I can't swim in the ocean? Or is it in the old feeling deprivation, “I should be able to swim in the ocean. Why is this happening to me? Why am I losing my ability to do certain things?” I sat there and just meditated for over an hour. And I saw how deeply I could tune in to all these people enjoying the ocean. There was such a sense of release and relief, a feeling of, “I had my turn for, I can't say 70 years because I didn't swim in the ocean probably before I was 5, so for 65 years. Now it's their turn.” I found how deeply I could enjoy just watching them all. It wasn't just, “Well I will have vicarious pleasure,” as sour grapes. But there was a genuine pleasure and joy.

I've been watching that this summer because my body is increasingly limited. But every time I ask, “Where is the suffering?” and I find how I can really connect with others' joy with what they're doing, just watching the kids kicking a ball around and playing soccer-- I can't do it. I have the walking sticks, I can't play soccer with them! But it's okay. Finding that place, not that celebrates but knows, “This is okay.” That has changed things for me.

I appreciate what Q said and I wish others would share and inspire us, the ways that your various spiritual practices have led you to this place Q is asking about, really opened you and led you into a deep peace and joy and connection.

Q: Since the Remembering Wholeness event last month, my practices are much deeper, and my emotions are much deeper, all of them. There was a particular day when I experienced the deepest compassion toward two members of my family who I have felt the most intense strife. And the compassion was so full of sorrow and sweetness that for a moment I melted into it. And I didn't <> anymore, and I've never felt that. After years of spiritual practice, I felt many, many mystical things but never that, that love and compassion for people for whom I often felt hatred.

Barbara: And the remarkable thing, and that's part of what this series of workshops is about, is that when we move into that level of consciousness and meet those people that have been difficult people in our loves from that much more openhearted place, it may take years but eventually they start to respond. It changes them as well, because we're no long holding a (sound effect), trying to pull and push at them. There's just love holding space. So we're no longer something against whom they can push and pull in the same ways. But we're not doing it to change them; we're doing it simply because this is what we have to do. But our shift in consciousness changes things for other people; opens doorways for other people. Thank you for sharing. Others who would like to share?

Q: There is a woman camping here who meditated this morning with the group. She asked me how was this, and what was I getting out of it. I thought-- did not go into the two hours of sessions, about all I was getting out of it. What I said was that it's a practice that's making it so I don't have separation in my life. The practice becomes my life. It helps me make space for everything that comes up, so that I don't feel like I have to have a time when I'm doing “my spirituality” and then there's the rest of my life. It makes everything that comes up in my life okay and part of my spiritual practice is life experience.

Barbara: Thank you. It's wonderful for people to hear all this. Please share more.

Q: I think that we develop a belief over time about who we are and what we can do and can't do. So there are big ways that the practice can change that, because you watch the arising of those thoughts and you see they're not real, they're not permanent, the come and they go, and they don't define who you are. So I challenged a thought about myself this year, where my belief was that I am not physical strong or athletic. I decided that I would train to do a short triathlon.

So I signed up for swimming lessons and I started running with a running group that provided a lot of support and encouragement. And I learned how to ride on a spin bike, and worked with a group of like-minded people to watch my endurance grow. At first the stories were coming up, “I can't do this.” I would arrive at the Y and could barely walk up the stairs because my muscles and my bones hurt so much. My motto was just “Show up.”

So I trained for 9 weeks. It was an indoor triathlon. I swam for 15 minutes, biked for 15 minutes, and ran for 15 minutes. (applause) And that's just the tip of the next iceberg.

Barbara: We all have limiting beliefs. Some are very severely limiting. “I'm unworthy. I'm incapable. I'm incompetent.” But even the belief “Now I've got it,” is a limiting belief, because if I believe “Now I've got it,” I close the door.

Others who would like to share on this topic, or introduce a new question?

Q: At the summer retreat, Barbara said, in speaking of akasha, that many of us did this when we were 5, and people chuckled. And others say that most or many people have enlightening moments as little children. So the notion that we are remembering, I think we would do well to consider that seriously. To know we all know the akashic field and we're just remembering.

Barbara: We grew up into a culture that has certain beliefs and values, and we forget what we knew as little children. Part of our work, as I see it, is to teach our little children not to forget, to help our little children not to forget. I've had some wonderful young children come and talk to Aaron with amazing questions. They're so open. I'm talking about 3 and 4 year olds who have no trouble opening to Aaron. He doesn't ask them, “Am I real?”, he's just a friend and they know he's not me and they're fine with that. They ask him all kinds of questions about who they are, who they were in past lives.

I remember one little girl who asked, “I remember being my Mommy's mommy, but that seems strange. Could I have been my Mommy's mommy?” And he said of course. He didn't say, “Yes, you were,” he said, “Of course you could have been.” And she said, “Oh, so I can trust...”—she didn't say it in that way, but suddenly was able to trust the reality that she had perhaps been her mother's mother in some past life. He asked her, “What kind of mother were you to your mother?” And she thought about it and she said, “Sometimes I was mean.” And he said, “So your mother's sometimes mean to you.” “Yes.” “How do you want to respond to her, to help her be less mean?” And she really got it. And this was a 3 year old. We forget.

Can you remember being 3 or 4 or 6 and lying on the grass looking up at the clouds going by? No real thoughts, just present and watching the clouds float by. Being the clouds, being the grass.

The retreat that Q was just talking about is the Deep Spring Center June retreat that we hold every year up in Brighton, the Emrich retreat. People come for either the first weekend or the full week. It's a silent vipassana retreat, meaning no conversational talking, though we do meet regularly for instruction an din small groups. There's a lot of time to hang out with Aaron. In the afternoons we sit out under a big flowering catalpa tree with the blossoms dropping down on us, and just talk about whatever topic is coming up. Sitting at meals and in- between meditation sessions people are silent, so there's a chance to go very deep inwardly. It will be advertised next spring and everybody is invited. It's a wonderful place to deepen your vipassana and spiritual practice.

Others?

Q: When we were sitting here and you said, “Be the lake. Be the clouds, the air, the sky,” I moved into pure awareness practice and noted that it still seemed to arise from the conditions that were present. I tried to feel the akashic field in some way as a container for that. And then asked my spirit guide for help doing that. I was flooded with what felt like very balanced energy, and then the thought came, how does spirit energy fit into the akashic field? It's not earth or air or water. How does spirit (fit)?

Barbara:  How does spirit fit into this whole framework of akashic field? I'm going to pass that one to Aaron.

Just a comment; I've learned a lot in 25 years with Aaron as my teacher, but he's still my teacher. I come to questions like Q just asked and I need to ask Aaron. I could try to answer, but he'll give a much clearer answer.

(Aaron incorporates)

(this portion has sound interference from wind at times)

Aaron: My love to you all. I am Aaron. Everything is energy. Everything is spirit. The tree is spirit, the grass is spirit, the (lost to wind). It is spirit expressing as a tree, expressing as an ant, expressing as a human. These outer expressions are of the more mundane world in which the tree has expressed. That expression has a certain materiality that's made up of the elements. It has a certain energy which is also partially of the elements. There's fire energy, for example, earth and space; certain kinds of energy.

Buddhism talks about the so-called skandhas, or in the English word, aggregates of being—(I have filled this out during transcript review; it is optional for you to read this paragraph and footnotes) the form aggregate (rupa; that which can be experienced through the material senses); feeling (vedana; as either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feelings); perception (sanna1; perceiving the qualities of an object); the mental aggregate (sankhara2; all types of mental habits, thoughts, ideas, opinions, prejudices, compulsions, and decisions triggered by an object) , and consciousness (vinnana3).

Simply be aware there are these different components, which are the aspects of what you are in the outer way; the physical body, the mental body, the emotional body; these are outer expressions. They are not the essence. And yet without these outer expressions, you wouldn't be Q, you wouldn't be Q2. These outer expressions are beautiful. We cherish them. But they are not the essence of you.

As we deepen in practice we find a more central level of the physical body. A more central level of the mental body, the emotional body. It's not the superficial level; it's that which is more deeply connected to the spirit essence. It's not different than the outer body, it's just more grounded, centered and interconnected to everything. We might call this essence “spirit”, the spirit essence of the physical body, the spirit essence of the mental or the emotional body; the spirit essence of consciousness. It's still mundane. It is of the conditioned realm.

But, if you're going to be you, as Q, you cannot just be pure spirit. You need to be all these beautiful, broader expressions of spirit. So we keep going deeper and deeper and deeper until we touch into that deepest essence and we enjoy the outer expressions.

One of the fruits of vipassana practice is a very profound experience of dissolution of ego and the body. This will happen in advanced practice when you are ready. The whole sense of “I am this body” goes. The whole sense of being a body goes. There's just spirit, just, I call it awareness: present, open, connected to everything, unlimited and roaming everywhere. The experience can last for a short a time or it can last for hours. But eventually you come back. The body is hot or cold, or there is thirst or hunger, or there's cramping in the legs or back. Something pulls you back into the more mundane level of reality. That is not bad. If you didn't have these mundane bodies and minds, how would this beautiful spirit that you are experience the world? Who's going to walk around? You don't have to be a “somebody” in terms of ego, but the body and mind are wonderful things. I appreciate it more now that I don't have one. I used to complain and say, “Oh, it aches.” Now I appreciate how wonderful the body is. I have no intention to come into a new incarnation, but I can appreciate the body.

So there is this spirit essence. Now, coming to your question. Be the water. Be the air. Be the sun. Be the earth. Move into the spirit essence of all that is,  that is expressing in these wonderful ways. When you are there the sense of separation dissolves... And yet at a certain point, Q gets up and walks away. He comes back into being a more mundane, relative plane human. The important thing is not to forget spirit. This is a primary point. Have any of you read Tom Brown's books, maybe Grandfather, The Tracker, Awakening Spirits, or others of his work? He writes in a very accessible manner about grandfather spirit, and how he finds that essence in all things. His teacher sat him before a 15” square of earth for many hours and asked him to see. At first he was bored.  Then he started to see the wonders. Gradually self dissolved. There was no watcher or watched. Then his teacher tapped him on the shoulder.  “What did you see?”  He was able to see the whole world is there in that patch of earth; the whole universe is there.

So these teachings are available in many cultures and religions. The vision quest where one goes out into the wilderness is a beautiful practice to open to this “no-self.”.

When you have a profound experience of the Unconditioned, there is just presence. There is nothing there that is not the Unconditioned. From that place, if you go into it stably and learn how to come and go from it, you begin to be able to see this spirit essence in the akashic field, and each step building up upon the essence, expressing out from it. You understand then how everything becomes compounded on everything else, until we have this whole world of things and beliefs and opinions, and fear and doubt and so forth, all compounded, expressing from the Unconditioned.

I will not say these things are not real, but they are simply compounded out of conditions. If we are not happy with the reality we are experiencing, we don't try to rearrange the outer reality so much as to go into the conditions, find their paths of expression and see where we got off track. This is the work in the akashic field. Where did I get off track? Where is center?

Barbara had been going into the akashic field often this week looking at her relationship with spiders. She's seen a past life in which she was an insect caught in a spider web. Still alive, struggling to get free of the entrapping web, she sees the spider coming along and stinging her in the abdomen, until that fly or whatever it was, was poisoned and immobile, though still alive. She sees the sucking the vital juices right out of that insect. She has done a lot of metta with that moth, and with the spider. Then she's gone into the akashic field and seen how the nature of any insect has arisen from conditions. The nature of the human has arisen from conditions. The nature of the fear, “This can harm me,” has arisen from conditions. She holds the strong intention to release the conditions that create separation for her and the spider or anything else. Going into the akashic field; not forcing herself by saying, “Now I'm going to hold a spider in my hand” but going into the akashic field and working with the fear with love. Does that answer your question?

Q: Almost. So the spirit essence comes from the Unconditioned, or from the akashic field?

Aaron: The spirit essence simply is. It does not “come from”, or it could not be a direct expression of the Unconditioned. Direct expressions of the Unconditioned, like spirit, like nada or luminosity, are dependent only on the Unconditioned.

We need to create a distinction between akashic field, as a container, and spirit. Everything is spirit, the spirit essence of everything. At a certain point spirit seems to move into, or express out of distinct areas-- the spirit of a tree or the ant or you. But it's one thing, one essence, of spirit, which is still taking different expressions. It's one spirit. And you have also been a tree and an ant. That same spirit, the largeness of the spirit in you could not be contained in an ant, just as the largeness of me, as Aaron, cannot be contained in this body, of Barbara. What comes forth is just a small amount of my energy. I am vast. If I let my energy come through, I'd knock you all out! But I've learned what is appropriate so as to allow you to stay awake and listen to me.  Do you (speaking to several individuals) remember listening to Ariel in Barbara's living room and everybody would fall asleep? At the Casa, sometimes when the entities work on people, people walk up to the entity and the entity says, “Catch them!” and the person falls back. Very strong energy.

But your essence, your spirit is equally vast. You just do not yet know the unlimitedness of it. Energy and spirit are not the same thing. I'm using this as a metaphor. Everything has energy. Everything has a core of sprit. There is only one Energy, and everything is expressing as part of that one Energy. There is only one spirit, one That-Which-Is, one divinity, and everything is expressing some bit of that spiritual radiance.

So it goes back into the Unconditioned and then it comes out in whatever expressions: the physical expression of spirit, the energetic expression, the mental expressions. Does that clarify it?

The akashic field: I want to wait to talk more about this until you have the opportunity to read some of the things Barbara and I will mail out to you, so that you have more background, rather than trying to talk too much about it intellectually.

One simple illustration though: We have the Unconditioned. Let's visualize the Unconditioned as being a pure underground spring. I want a cup of that pure water. But as soon as I take a dipper and dip into the underground spring, I'm breaking into the purity, bringing in a foreign element of my cup. It's no longer pure. It's been touched by the dipper. Can you visualize that? The pure water is there, but as soon as the dipper touches it, it changes it. I pull water out. I drink it. The air is touching it. It's no longer the same water as was in the spring.

If we think of the Unconditioned as that spring, if the pure water is touching right here (holding out hand and touching the bottom of the palm) we have a layer that is permeable up but not down, so that the whole of the Unconditioned can filter up, the whole of the pure spring can filter up, but no impurities can filter down into it-- are you with me? The water that's seeping through is now touched by the outer environment, but anything distorted of the outer environment cannot seep into the spring. Here is the Unconditioned with the film of the akashic field or All Ground over it, touching it completely and allowing it to move through and express out. That Unconditioned holds everything.

The Unconditioned, being what it is, contains the possibility of negativity or it could not be All-That-Is. It contains the possibility of perfection. It contains everything—distortion, perfection, positivity, and negativity. It seeps through into the akashic field from which your intention chooses to keep what attracts it and releases the rest. Does that make sense to you?

We are going to send out what may be quite a lot of reading, 20 or 30 pages. We'll try to keep it as short as possible, going through hundreds of pages of material to choose what is most appropriate to send. Read it and reflect some on it, and then we can have a much deeper discussion about the akashic field, and a chance next gathering to learn how to work more deeply from the akashic field.

Barbara: Sunday afternoon, our final session. I'm reading aloud from a written question just handed to me.

“I have recently had contact with philosopher Martin LeFavre. His view of human consciousness is that it is dark and growing darker, and that humanity as a species is headed for extinction. His style is opposite what I have valued, but I came to the workshop series with you in full intention to be of service, so I'm willing to see Martin's showing up as part of that. We share a love of meditation, but he seems to think about it a bit differently from what we are doing. I'm interested in your sense of what he is saying.”

Quoting from Martin.

“Set aside everything for at least one half hour period a day and sit quietly, preferably in nature. Even the backyard may suffice.”

I would agree with that; set everything aside for at least a half hour a day and meditate! Outdoors is lovely if you can, but don't be attached to it. If it's 10 degrees and snowing, it's fine to be indoors.

“Without direction, intention, or goal, let the senses open, and at the same time let awareness, especially, come to each sound. When the mind names, associates, or chatters, let it do so without interference of any kind, including judgment or effort. Just passively observe.”

I'm taking this one paragraph at a time. I agree there has to be some intention; not a goal, an intention. The intention simply to stay present is an intention. If we just say, “Okay, I'm going to sit,” there's nothing to direct our energy, so an intention is important. But not too fixed an intention, not “I'm going to have this happen as a result of the meditation period.”

“Let the senses open, and at the same time, let awareness especially come to each sound.”

Also to physical sensations, to the arising of a thought, to any object, not just sound. So I don't agree with him singling out sound, but bringing the attention to whatever arises in your experience.

“When the mind chatters, associates, names, let it do so without interference of any kind, including judgment or effort.”

That's fine. How do we do that is important, though. We need to learn how to watch the mind chatter or have views or whatever and not get caught up in the view. So there's more skill to it than saying, “I won't get caught.” “I won't get caught” is just another view.

“When the senses naturally and easily become attuned to what is happening in the environment, let the same passive awareness come to the movement of thought and emotion...”

Okay, so he does go on to other objects...

“... as it occurs in the present moment.” So he's simply starting with sound. That's as good a place to start as any, but if you're only starting with sound and you're pushing something else aside, that makes me a little uncomfortable. I'd rather not teach people to put anything aside from the beginning, rather than saying in the beginning, put everything aside but sound and then gradually let other things in. It can lead to people feeling overwhelmed because so much comes in. But on the other hand, if you put everything else aside, it creates an unskillful habit of pushing things aside. There is not a specific better way, only personal preferences.

“Catch the observer, the self, in the act of separating itself from this stream of consciousness. The very act of watching the habit of separation intensely, without any goal or idea, acts on this habit of separation. The act of watching the habit of separation without any goal or idea acts on the habit of separation. When the observer ends, meditation begins.”

Yes, I would agree with that.

“In any case, when attention gathers unseen, it acts on one's mental patterns and quiets them completely, at least temporarily. Insight comes with space and silence, and insight changes the brain.”

I would agree with that last sentence. “When attention gathers unseen and acts on mental patterns and quiets them completely,” it does, “at least temporarily,” this is the difference between vipassana or insight practice and jhana. With jhana or concentration practice, mind is brought directly to bear on this object and everything else is pushed away. Then it does quiet everything temporarily, but insight doesn't develop. So this kind of concentration practice is valuable for the development of concentration, but it may become a dead end. One has to then back up to what we call access concentration.

We'll be talking about this in my class this fall. At access concentration one sees that there's a fork in the road. At that level where each object is seen as arising out of conditions, becoming predominant, then passing away, coming up, passing away, and there's no going out to it, there's no pushing it away, but they're still coming, one makes a choice to move into one object and develop a, what this man describes, just, everything else stops. There's just this. Or to focus instead on the whole flow of arising objects and passing objects as predominant object, which is a very different experience. The mind doesn't quiet in the same way, but there's no self-identification with what's arising. This then can lead into much deeper insight.

So I think it's important to differentiate here. I don't want to talk in depth about it. It's really the subject of a whole class that we're going to be doing for seven weeks this fall.

Q2: I'm having trouble with talking about this. What is the intention? Is it to critique this person's method of teaching meditation, or is it something else?

Barbara: The intention is simply that Q1  handed me this question and said, could you or Aaron speak further on it? So I'm answering her. There's no special intention. I'm not saying I have the right method; he has a wrong method. I'm simply commenting in answer to her question. Is that what you're asking? Are you asking what is my intention in critiquing it?

Q: Why are we critiquing his method of meditation? I'm finding it confusing to talk about it.

Barbara: The reason I'm replying to this question and find it valuable is that as you get deeper into meditation, there are different kinds of practices where this one is more suitable for this end, this more suitable for that end. So I'm talking about it because what he is teaching is suitable as a way to calm and stabilize the mind, but from my perspective it's not suitable as a way of gaining insight. So I'm simply commenting that the vipassana practice that we've been teaching here is a more viable tool for the kind of insight that can develop. That's just my opinion. This man would certainly disagree with me. Does that answer the question, what I said? (yes) Okay.

And in regard to his view of human consciousness, that it is dark and growing darker, I can only say, ask yourself in your own experience: do you agree with this or not? I personally don't agree. I know Aaron doesn't agree. But each person is the authority on his or her own experience. And if this is what he experiences, I can't tell him he's wrong. This is his experience.

I think if I believed that, if that was really what I saw, it would lead me into a very nihilistic place. I don't believe in the innate goodness of people in order to avoid moving into a nihilistic place; I trust the inherent goodness of people because that's what I experience in meditation. But I'm happy that's what I experience, because if not, I would find it hard to deal with constant negativity.

Q: Aaron said that we're moving from 3rd density through 4th and fairly quickly into 5th. Can you or Aaron talk about 4th and 5th density and what our experience will be of that, or already is, but help us to discern?

Barbara: Let's let Aaron talk about that.

(Aaron incorporates)

Aaron: My love to you all. There are different ways of talking about these terms. Third density has in the past been the highest density for human, but now human is moving into 4th and 5th densities.

The characteristics of these densities: the third density human is much more in relative reality, the rational stage of consciousness. As you move into vision logic consciousness, there's a presumption of picking up energy, feeling energy; of feeling and experiencing beyond the information given directly to the mundane senses. You start just to feel energy. There's a reality to it. You can't see the finest, I don't know what they're called, the very smallest submicroscopic aspects of physical being, but science has no doubt now that they exist because they've seen them through, very high-powered microscopes.

Gradually people start to trust these deeper senses—clairaudience, clairvoyance, and so forth, that there's a way of communicating without going down into the verbal aspect of communication. All of you have the potential to be telepathic, but if everybody in this room was suddenly telepathic, if everybody knew everything you had thought today, would that be okay with you? Are you a little uncomfortable with that idea? What if you knew everything everybody else was thinking?

At the point where we see everything truly is arising out of conditions, is impermanent and not self, we're responsible to it. We take care of it. But we understand with compassion if somebody looks at you and thinks, “Why is she wearing a swim dress? That's not appropriate.” Barbara would simply think, if she picked that up telepathically, “Oh, this person has a certain conditioning that a teacher ought to be dressed in more formal attire. That's okay. I feel compassion for this person's discomfort that I'm dressed in a swim dress. It's okay.” So she doesn't need to challenge it or fight it or fix it, there's just compassion. She would understand this is simply this person's conditioning.

If the person came at her with a stick, saying, “You get that swim dress off! That's not appropriate attire for a teacher!” she would be taken aback and she would say, “No, you may not hit me. I hear that you're angry that I'm wearing a swim dress. I'm sorry you're so angry about it. What do you feel would be appropriate attire, considering I just came up from the beach, from the lake? What should I have done?”

“Well, you should have gone and changed your clothes.”

“And come late to the session?”

“You should have planned ahead.”

Hearing (lost to laughter), hearing (). Compassion.  “I hear this person is attached to things being done in a different way. I don't have to pick up their opinions and take them onto myself. I don't have to fight their opinions. I open my heart to the way this person is suffering because I'm clad this way.”

At this point, as this level of consciousness develops, and I outline this very specifically in my talk “Trainings” in Cosmic Healing, at this point you are ready to move into expressing your innate ability to be telepathic. You weren't ready for it before; now you're ready. You are ready for the move into a higher density; 4th density will become telepathic, but selectively so. Fifth density will become fully telepathic. This is just one of the differences.

As you move into a higher density, you move through Subtle consciousness and into Christ/Buddha consciousness. Maybe not yet non-dual consciousness, that's 6th density. But at least, maybe, not stable Christ/Buddha consciousness but the highest level of vision logic and approaching some stability in Christ/Buddha consciousness.

So gradually the world is making this transition. Those in your world who are attached to being the ones who have power, who are right, who are more deeply in magical, mythic, and rational consciousness, don't want this transition to happen. If it doesn't happen, then I think this Martin is correct. I don't believe that human consciousness is dark and growing darker. I experience, not believe, that there is both light and darkness in human consciousness and that if we cultivate the light, we will bring forth the light. If we cultivate the darkness, we will bring forth the darkness. If we continue deeply to cultivate the darkness, eventually the human will become extinct, yes. But why would you choose to cultivate the darkness? You are all here to learn how to cultivate the light, and that brings me much hope, that you're all willing to take four weekends out of your busy schedule to learn some tools to help cultivate the light.

The old supposition was that humans would move into 4th density, but the Earth is moving so quickly here that I see you really moving through 4th density and into 5th density. And you will hold that 5th density level perhaps for quite a long time, as the whole world moves into stable 5th density. But this will not be a non-physical but a physical 5th density.

Q: Is that in our lifetime?

Aaron: It could be. Perhaps not in this one's lifetime who is older, but in one such as yourself. Others? Other questions?


Q: I sort of understand this, but I would appreciate if you could articulate this so I can get it deeply. In spiritual circles, people talk about the law of attraction and how our conscious and unconscious thinking attracts circumstances in our lives. So I'm wondering how that meshes with the vipassana idea of understanding that everything arises from conditions, so we don't necessarily need to do things, act upon the things that are grabbing our attention. Does that make sense?

Aaron: Yes, but I don't see any conflict there. When something is arising out of conditions-- the jet ski on the lake, certain conditions were present. This owner apparently has a new boat. This is only the second time it's been on the lake. So they're making noise. Your energy goes out to it, “I don't want this, I want quiet.” At another level there's a deep part of you that wants to find equanimity with formations, find equanimity with things as they are. So in a different way, you invite him to keep racing his jet ski because it keeps bothering you, because you want to get past the point where it bothers you. So he's providing you the catalyst. When you finally relax and just say, “The jet ski is not bothering me; only my aversion to it is bothering me. Let it be.” then the energy that he gets is, “That's enough. Take it home.”

Q: So one could say our energy attracted the jet ski so that we could practice with it.

Aaron: That's part of it. The other part of it is simply he had a new toy and he wanted to try it! But whether he was going to race it up and down the lake for five minutes or five hours is in part dependent on your energy and relationship to it.

There are always many conditions out of which things arise. This becomes very important with people who develop an illness like cancer. It's very cruel when people ask such a person, “Do you understand why you have cancer, why you invited the cancer?” As if this law of attraction is the only reason for the cancer. There are many past karmic conditions. There are genetic conditions, environmental conditions; there are many causes. We can't just say, it's because of this, and why are you doing this to yourself?

The question then becomes, okay, cancer has manifest in your body. How are you relating to it? Is there a lot of hatred of it? Is there some openheartedness to it? What is it teaching you? How can it become a teacher for you? Can you relate to it with a degree of compassionate kindness that doesn't hate it but also says clearly, “That's enough. I choose to have you release this body.”? But not, “Get away! Get away! Get away!” which is just the opposite side of this law of attraction, focusing on fixing it.

Barbara with this silver dollar-sized wound on her belly from the spider, she was a bit alarmed at first. She took it to the Casa entity, asked if it was a spider bite and what to do, and he said, “Stop thinking about it. I'm taking care of it. Just let it go” She has learned to trust him to the point that when he says, “Stop thinking about it,” she's able to stop thinking about it. But if she had kept thinking about it and working with upset, with aggression with it, she would give more energy to it, to the point it's keeping the sore in place. By just relaxing and literally seeing the smooth perfect skin that has not yet expressed itself but is on its way to expressing itself, taking appropriate care of it, washing it, keeping it clean, and so forth, but not fretting over it, not giving it energy, but envisioning it healed, remembering wholeness; this will support healing. The body tissue can only replace itself at a certain speed. It will take as long as it takes.

We end in ten minutes. Let us end the questions here and let's have a short guided meditation. I'd like to ask a few of you to move in one seat or another so there are no gaps in the rows. Then I'd ask you, however many there are in your row, 3, 4, 5, to take your neighbor's hand. The right hand is the sending hand. Have it face down to send. The left hand is the receiving hand, so have it face up to receive. Those on the end, hold the other end up, up or down, receiving energy from the universe or sending energy out to the universe, as is appropriate.

All of us reaching up, out, inviting into our hearts the deepest and the most loving energy. Feel yourself a part of that loving energy, inviting it to flow through the crown chakra and down into the heart. Breathe in and feel it fill the heart. As you breathe out, send it all out through the right hand. Breathing in more loving energy. Let it come into the heart. Envision it with whatever tone or color feels appropriate. Breathing that light and energy into the heart, that song. Breathe out and send it out through the right hand.

Those who are on the right end of the row, as it comes into you through your left hand, comes in as you breathe it into the heart, simply send it out from your right hand. You're not holding another hand, so just send it out with the thought, “May all beings benefit from this love.” Those who are on the other end of the row, no energy coming in from your left hand from a human source, but simply invite it from the universe, breathe it in through your heart, through your crown chakra into your heart, and then send it out. Begin to feel this loving energy circulating; feel the simple intention to connect with the deepest and most profound essence of love. Breathe it in. Feel the joy and beauty, the radiance of it, and then release it, not holding it for yourself but knowing that there is an infinite supply of this love. Just passing it around.

I'm going to be quiet for five minutes and just let you do this.

(sitting)

We offer this energy and love out throughout the entire universe.

May all sentient beings everywhere feel the power of this love. (bell)

May all find their own innate ability to enhance this love and pass it on. (bell)

May all beings everywhere love and be loved. May all be happy and find peace. (bell)

Whatever good has come to us personally through our participation this weekend, we offer it freely out to all beings, with love. (bell)

May you all be well and happy. Thank you for sharing yourselves with me this weekend. I'll see you again in 6 or 7 weeks.

(session ends)

1 Bhikkhu Bodhi states:


The characteristic of perception is the perceiving of the qualities of the object. Its function is to make a sign as a condition for perceiving again that "this is the same," or its function is recognizing what has been previously perceived. It becomes manifest as the interpreting of the object...by way of the features that had been apprehended. Its proximate cause is the object as it appears. Its procedure is compared to a carpenter's recognition of certain kinds of wood by the mark he has made on each

2 In the first (passive) sense sa"khāra can refer to any compound form in the universe whether a tree, a cloud, a human being, a thought or a molecule. All these are sa"khāras. The Buddha taught that all such things are impermanent, arising and passing away, subject to change,

3 In Samyutta Nikaya, 22.79, the Buddha distinguishes consciousness in the following manner:


"And why do you call it 'consciousness'? Because it cognizes, thus it is called consciousness. What does it cognize? It cognizes what is sour, bitter, pungent, sweet, alkaline, non-alkaline, salty, & unsalty. Because it cognizes, it is called consciousness."