October 27, 2013 Sunday Morning, Trainings Workshop

Barbara: We have a half hour here. Let's have a half hour of sharing questions. Aaron is happy to come in. Please share anything that you want to talk about.

Q: This morning I kept dozing off during the pure awareness practice. I was wondering how to put effort into pure awareness without bringing a self into it.

Barbara: Were other people feeling tired this morning? (Group: Yes) Let Aaron speak.

(Aaron incorporates)

Aaron: My love to you. Good morning. The work with Norma yesterday brought up a lot of, it's not more energy but rather different energy. Many of you experienced opening through the back chakras. Norma was asking you to be aware of the space behind your back. Lying in the blanket, you were letting go of holding, and feeling yourself supported. It wasn't just the blanket that was supporting you, you had a group of people around you and their energy was supporting you. So you were experiencing a strong flow of energy, and you were experiencing, many of you, a much stronger opening of the back chakras.

When I say back chakras, you're familiar with the crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, spleen, base chakras in the front. D, would you stand? (pointing at her back and to the back chakras) We have the crown chakra, the third eye. There's a chakra right here in the throat. There is a chakra right here, between the throat and the heart. The heart chakra. There's a chakra here below the heart. The solar plexus. There's a chakra here. The spleen. There's a chakra here. And then the base. They are connected to each other, as the front chakras are, and they go back and forth to each front chakra. So the energy flows that way and down.

The energy can flow down from the crown, cycle around, and then come up from the base, energy flowing in that way. Many of you are used to attending to the front chakras and feeling the energy running through the front chakras, but not really feeling through the back chakras.

Yesterday's work with Norma strongly opened the back chakras. It tired out many of you. It's not something that's going to be a long-term exhaustion. In fact your energy will improve as you start to work more fully with the back chakras. But for right now your energy feels low, you're tired, because you're working with your whole energy field in a new way. An improvement, but tiring at first. Using new muscles that you haven't used much.

Furthermore, last night, not all of you were here last night but at one point I answered a question by bringing a much bigger portion of my energy in. How many of you were here when I did that? Could you feel that change in my energy? Right now I'm giving you a miniscule portion of my energy. That's what you're used to getting from me. When I raise my energy even a little, can you feel it raising right now? And last night I gave you a bigger burst, still only a thousandth of my energy, but I gave you a bigger burst of energy. Do you remember how people always used to fall asleep?

Q: You always put us to sleep.

Aaron: Because, my energy field, even as I kept it down in those years, two decades ago, it was big and it knocked you out. So you're working with shifts in your energy. And this is not something negative, it's helpful. Each of you is adapting to a higher vibration, a higher energy, but it makes you tired. You may need a lot more sleep this week.

As for Q's question, how to stay open in pure awareness, how to stay awake: open your eyes. Raise your gaze. Look up. Breathe in higher up into your body from that lower abdomen up. Raise your hands up if you need to. Bringing in that energy. And if you fall asleep, it's okay, just fall asleep. That means the body needed it. Barbara fell asleep too, during the meditation this morning.

I'd like to try something here. (away from mic, walking among group) I bring my energy as it usually is. Now I'm going to slowly raise my energy, and I want you to raise your hand when you feel my energy raising.  Can you catch it? (pause) Keeping it going up more. Most of you are getting it, yes. And now I'm going to bring it down. Lower your hands when you feel it come down. So you're very sensitive to that. You could feel that. Yesterday you were feeling a lot of energy.

Now I want to do something with you. (They move chairs out of the way.) A very simple exercise first. (instructions inaudible over background noise; Aaron asks them to walk forward and then backwards) When you get to the end of the row, face out the window; face the trees. You are using the mundane senses. Now a whole shift of consciousness. I want you to walk back where you were, eyes open or eyes closed as you prefer, walking backwards. Feel the space behind your back. Feel the eyes in the back, so to speak. Can you feel your whole body tuning energetically, rather than using the senses? Tune in to what is behind you. You're feeling the energy behind you. It is interesting: nobody is walking into anybody else or into chairs.

Can you feel the difference? You're seeing through your back, through the energy field of your back. You're using the information from the back chakras. You're using energy, inner eyes. And it wasn't hard, was it? It was different, but it wasn't hard. Thank you, come back and sit.

So you are all learning to move into this space of intuitive awareness, to trust your energy fields. We could do more complex exercises. In class we had people at each end of the room walking backwards, dodging each other. Feeling it through their backs.

The shift from mostly mundane consciousness to living from awareness draws up a lot more energy. Eventually you get used to it. It's like going to the gym. You start with the simpler exercises, but as you build up, the body gets stronger. Your energy fields will open. You become more acutely sensitive to energy. And you won't be so tired by high vibration.

That's all. Other questions?

Q: The question I have is regarding the same area. And that is jhana. I'm learning this word jhana, which is closely related to this sleep state in meditation.

Aaron: Is it? No.

Q: I thought it was. Could you distinguish between jhana and drifting off?

Aaron: Jhana is a very finely concentrated state. It is the scientist looking through a microscope, first on a low power, seeing all of these cells swimming around. And then turning up the focus until there's just one cell in focus. Seeing that cell splitting, and taking one portion of that cell. Focusing in and in, and totally absorbed into what he is seeing. Any of you who do any form of artwork, painting, music, writing, have experienced becoming absorbed into your creative work. Anyone who plays tennis, for example, as you're moving to hit the ball, you're not looking at the birds flying around, you're just there with the ball. You're totally absorbed into that moment and movement.

This is akin to jhana consciousness. It's very awake, but it's not wide-seeing. It's fine-focused. It often leads to a deeply blissful experience because the whole sense of a separate self falls away. There's just you and your interconnection with whatever you're absorbed into. And it is you and you are it. How many of you have experienced this while painting or drawing or dancing or playing an instrument? Total absorption.

In meditation we may use a specific object, sometimes light at the third eye, or movement at the heart, energy at the heart. We take up something that becomes the point of focus. It's very different than the choiceless awareness practice where we're present with whatever is predominant. In jhana we gently nudge aside everything. The same way if you were looking in the microscope and you were on the verge of making a vital discovery. You're seeing how this cell is splitting in a way that nobody has ever seen it before. And suddenly you hear somebody knocking on your door. You're not going to get up and answer the door; you just gently push that knock aside and stay focused. Do you understand the experience I'm talking about? Later there will be time for the knock on the door, but right now, just this.

So jhana practice is very different than choiceless awareness practice because we're staying with one object. It leads to very powerful concentration. It leads to very deep bliss and the end of any sense of duality. However, it does not lead to insight because you do not gain insight into how you're relating to an object. There is no longer a “you.”  You see the cell splitting—wow! Wonder, bliss. You become the cell. There's no separation. Or you're painting and you become the painting. But only after you step back from it and gain some perspective on it can insight about how you relate to it arise, about pleasant and unpleasant experience, grasping and aversion, habitual patterns, and so forth.

I have experienced jhana. It is not something I teach because you do not need it to develop concentration, although some people disagree with me. It can be an interesting and useful practice further down the road. But it also, it's addictive because it's so blissful, and people can get stuck there for a long period of time, just wanting to practice jhana. Because there's so much bliss and joy in it, and people have a false idea, “Ah, this is enlightenment.” But it's just bliss. Nothing wrong with bliss, but I'd rather see you experiencing bliss lying on your back looking up at the sky with a large inclusive field rather than focusing on one leaf.

But jahna is a very awake and present state, not s drowsy one or what we call “sinking mind.” Does that answer your question?

Q: Yes, but I want to take it one step further. So in meditation, then, it's a blissful rest that I experience. And it seems as though it's sort of wrapped in a blanket and all is well.

Aaron: May I look in the akashic records to see your experience? (pause) I ask because I would not violate anyone here's privacy without asking permission to look to see your experience directly. I think you're experiencing something approaching access concentration rather than jhana, Q. You're moving into a place where your meditation deepens. There ceases to be a self separate from the objects, but you're still experiencing a flow of objects, not just one object. The sense of bliss is because the self drops out of it temporarily. There's no separate self, no body, almost. It's a very blissful experience, but there is still mind touching the whole flow of objects.

We use the image of sitting in a boat drifting down a fairly fast-moving river. You see the objects on the shore passing by. Some are beautiful, some are not as beautiful. There's no going out, “Oh, I want to land there and see that place.” Just this place, and then the next place, and then the next place. The whole river, passing you by. And there's a certain ease and joy and bliss because you realize it's all me, it's just parts of me passing by. There's nothing separate. So there is insight in that. It's different than if you suddenly threw a rope and snagged yourself to one object on shore and just stayed there, fixated on that object.  This is access concentration. It is awake and present.

On the way to access concentration, if energy is not stable and open, there can be what we call “sinking mind,” where the attention becomes somewhat quiescent and drowsy. So what is useful where you are is to bring attention to the drowsy and / or blissful feelings. That attention will bring in new energy and wake up the practice.

Q: Thank you.

Q: I have a question. We worked with torpor yesterday, sloth and torpor. And we were saying one way to re-energize is to open the eyes. So this morning as I got sleepy, I opened my eyes. Now, I had done the pure awareness and was in vipassana with closed eyes. So I opened them to re-energize. And I began pure awareness again with the trees outside. And it was even more wonderful after some period of vipassana. And then I went back into vipassana, and that was even more concentrated, or still. So I am asking about going back and forth between pure awareness and vipassana.

Aaron: Trust your intuition. Normally we advise against frequent movement back and forth because people can use it to escape this or that. Maybe in vipassana there's some turbulence coming up, agitation. Some people then say, “Well, I'll open my eyes. I'll move into the calmness of pure awareness.” They move into pure awareness. They say, “Well, I'm drifting a bit. I'll move back into vipassana.” They're trying to get away from something and to get something else. This is not wholesome. In vipassana, if there's agitation, you need to stay with the agitation. If there's sleepiness, you want to stay with it and watch sleepiness. That which is aware of sleepiness is not sleepy.

In pure awareness, ahhh..., there can be a sense of so much space that it feels overwhelming. “I'll close my eyes to get away from the overwhelming.” No. At that point, just, “Here is overwhelming.” Ahhh.... Just watching that whole field of overwhelming in the body, out there, inside. But in a wholesome way. If you're practicing vipassana and there's a strong sense of space and lightness that makes you choose to open the eyes to see the view out there, just ahhh..., you're not avoiding something by opening the eyes. Intuitively your whole awareness knows this is a wholesome choice. If in pure awareness practice there's a sense that it may be beneficial to come back more into the personal self and find the space in the personal self, it's not an avoidance, it's a choosing in a wholesome way. Can you feel the difference?

So, set your intention that the practice be for the most wholesome growth and learning, for the opening of the heart, for the deepening of wisdom, and then trust. Ideally you're not going to keep jumping back and forth. But if something in you says to move to the other practice, then try it. See what happens.

Q: At home I have been coming out of my usual vipassana practice, and just sitting there with open eyes I find myself lingering in pure awareness for a while.

Aaron: Good, good. I dislike the distinction, an artificial distinction between vipassana and pure awareness practice. They're really two sides of the same practice, but we learn something different from each formal practice, and eventually it blends together.

With vipassana we're more focused in the beginning on the arising and passing away of conditioned objects with conditioned senses, mind and body sense, until mind eventually opens more into the Unconditioned and rests in awareness. The supramundane consciousness, the lokuttara citta open. The supramundane objects are there. Eyes open, eyes closed, this is pure awareness practice.

Have you read Ajahn Amaro's Small Boat, Great Mountain? I suggest you read that, a helpful book in terms of the connection between the two practices.

Q: I have been very aware of supramundane, even without knowing that term. Feeling energy flowing in my body and around me, and hearing nada, ongoing. And it has seemed as though vipassana was a step back in awareness.

Aaron: I understand what you're saying, but the vipassana grounds you. Many of you are very old souls and have indistinct memory of resting in this vast field of spaciousness without a sense of a separate self. But when the earth is shaking, the earthquake, and things are falling off the walls and the building is collapsing, where does pure awareness go? There's a strong personal self. Vipassana helps to ground as to that aspect of yourself that's capable of working with mundane experience from that infinite heart, from the, let us say,  the little teddy bear in both cylinders. Unless you do this practice, pure awareness can become an escape from the challenging aspects of mundane reality. If we escape into pure awareness, the building is still collapsing around us, how can we be of help to others that need support getting out? We're just hiding in our own little shell.

So stabilizing vipassana, for those who are very old souls with long karmic experience of pure awareness practice, doing vipassana can help you become more centered in relative reality and more skillful in living in the moments of agitation; and bringing that pure awareness mind out into relative reality, connecting it.

So don't forsake the vipassana, and don't forsake the pure awareness. Simply note that for you, the pure awareness practice is very ancient and stable. And there's a subtle tendency not to fully want to be in relative reality. This may be true for many of you.


Q: During the visioning exercise, when we were talking about possibilities and drawing them, I felt this very fine buzzing in my body, very relaxed, almost oceanic in a way. What is that state? I experience it in meditation at times, but this was different.

Aaron: Through your human history, most of you have been used to creating from everyday mind and mundane experience, believing in human limitations. If you want to create a building, envisioning how many boards you need, how it will go up, how many nails, how many strikes of the hammer. Literally for all of you in this circle, for almost everybody in this workshop, you are all old souls and have had times in your ancient history of coming together with a group and co-creating by imagining, seeing it happening. Inviting all of the different elements to participate. The trees jump down and slice themselves into boards and lie on top of each other! Nobody needs to cut them down. Together you envision the space. The mountains move, literally, to create an amphitheater. You know how to do this at some level. How to work, to co-create with the elements. You know how to do this to co-create a world of peace, of love, of harmony, of plenty.

You are rememberers, all of you, beginning to learn how to bring this into mundane human experience, and how to pass it on to those who do not yet remember. Some of those who are, we call them the loyal opposition, the people filled with hatred and fear, they're afraid that they will lose their personal power and their needs won't be met unless they control, control even by killing, by murdering, to create the personal reality that they believe in. And they don't yet understand that forcing that personal reality on others crashes their realities against each other instead of inviting a reality in which all needs are met. They haven't learned to trust that. So that people who are caught in this, let's call it very primitive kind of belief structure, primitive consciousness, are simply caught there out of fear. As you begin to demonstrate in the world how opening and allowing the co-creation that suits all needs really can happen, this is wonderful. It just opens up the world.

Today after lunch we're going to come back into small groups doing more of this creating imaging, imagining, drawing, perhaps using some of these blocks to create. I invite you at lunchtime to bring in some pine cones, branches, other things. Lie your paper on the table. Create your worlds. Your world, her world, they're a little bit different. Look at each other. Invite in your guides. Stop and look at each other, the 3 or 4 of you at the table. Invite in your power animals, your guides. Talk a bit. Begin to share, hold hands. Feel the energy moving around you. Feel the co-creation that's possible, that suits all of your vision. I want you to experience how the vision gets passed and shared, so that my vision doesn't knock your vision out, but they begin to build on each other, using the various tools. You might turn around backwards, draw it behind your back. Again, inviting in your guides, your power animals, all the supports. Learning how to create from this heart center and a place of high vibration.

Q: Why is Q buzzing? Her question was that she was buzzing unusually during this visioning process.

Aaron: II think it is simply energy. As you go deeper into pure being, the more subtle objects become available. This is energy as object. Learn to include rather than try to exclude that energy. The buzzing may be your guides, power animals, all trying to get your attention, and N saying, “Go away! I'm busy!” Or if you feel such buzzing, stop, breathe, ahhh.... “Whoever is coming, for the highest good of all beings and with love, with suggestions, I welcome your suggestions.” Take your crayon and with your power animal, draw. See what comes. Originally our plan, if the weather had been nice, was to take your paper outside and to use outdoor organic elements as part of your drawing. We had drawing supplies, but I wanted you also to include sticks and pine cones and grass and dirt. If it's warm enough today, we can do it on picnic tables. If not, we'll do what we can in here without making too much dirt in the room.

The buzzing is also attunement to a deeper level of , let us call it ‘cosmic consciousness,' to which you open as you relax and let go of so much self identification with mundane mind and body.

Q: At my work there's a person who creates much conflict. And from my learning here, I know it's from her fear and her desire to control things. Just to make it simple, (I) got into worldly trouble because of her behavior.

Aaron: Is this a co-worker or supervisor?

Q: A co-worker. So my question is, yesterday Aaron said when anger or fear from <> comes, to be loving and to allow that, be aware. And I've come to see this woman as a great teacher for me. But when I have to work closely with her, part of me wants to be loving and open, but I'm too afraid, and I don't trust, based on her past behavior. And I so want to change my resistance to her, but I don't know how, in order to stay...

Aaron: There's a balance. We use kindness and compassion, but we also know how to say no. If it's a supervisor, it's more tricky, but with a co-worker, when this person is blocking the flow of work, you might be able to say to her, “I feel your resistance here. I respect that you're not comfortable with this present idea. Is there something that you are afraid of? If we try it this way and it doesn't work, what are you afraid will happen? In what way might it be possible for you to just let go and explore the other possibilities, rather than holding tight to just this one?” You have to be careful not to say it in an “I'm right-you're wrong” kind of way, trying to push the other person around. Just explore it. As in any relationship, one person wants something, one person doesn't.

Signer: Q wants to know how to ease her own fear with this woman.

Aaron: (walking among group) Come, stand here. You're <>. That's your area, this is my area. You're determined to go that way. Try it.


Q: And I don't like this...

Aaron: “Why is it you want to go this way? Is there something you need down there? What is it you need, can you tell me?”

Q: “My papers...”

Aaron: “If you tell me where they are, I'll be happy to get them for you.”

Q: “*I* would like to get them.”

Aaron:  (being gentle but still firm) “Why is it that you need to get them rather than my getting them for you? Is there something private there that would be uncomfortable for you? Well then, let's go together. We'll go down and get them. There are your papers... Okay. We've worked that out. Are you comfortable now?” Thank you.

Do you see how it works? Can you feel that, the difference in the exchange of energy? Let's try it again. Put that back on the chair. Try it again.


“No! You may not go that way! No, back up!”

Or, the other alternative, try it again.

(non-verbal improv)

That doesn't work either. But we can communicate. You can go get your papers, or I can get them for you if that's more comfortable.

I respect your view. I'm not pushing you around; I'm not allowing myself to be pushed around. I'm open to your need. But if you say--- come back here.

“Why do you need to go down?”

You just say, “Well, I just want to.”

“Well, I'm sorry, it's private territory so I can't let you go down there. I'd be happy to do anything else I can do for you, but this is a private space.”

Just a clear statement, said without out fear but respectful of the other's fears. Okay?

One more question.

Q: I've been struggling with doubt, which has been very sticky. So in my practice, when it comes up, I start by noticing it and taking my awareness there. But sometimes I just feel like I get stuck there. So I try metta, and I try calling in guidance. And sometimes it loosens up a little bit. But what else could I do? Do I just need to give it time and keep practicing with it?

Aaron: Partially. Also, what is the energy of doubt like in your body? How does it feel?

Q: It's heavy in my throat and across my chest.

Aaron: When you feel doubt, instead of thinking of it as a mental energy, bring your attention to the body. Bring your hand up here. Ahhh, here is doubt. Massaging. Hello, doubt. It's a different form of metta. Really feeling how doubt is caught in the body. Then begin to ask yourself, if I were not experiencing doubt right now, what might I be experiencing? Usually there's some kind of fear or just very old experience. Maybe once in a past lifetime you had to make a decision. You were unsure of the decision, and the choice you made ended with your falling off a cliff where a rock crushed your throat and chest. I don't know. So there could be fear, “that could happen again,” figuratively.

There are so many elements. We don't need to know. You don't need to see a past lifetime. When I ask, “If I were not feeling doubt right now, what might I be experiencing?”-- just fear. Sadness. I can't save everybody. I can't always know that I have the right response, that the choice I'm making is the perfect one. Sadness that I can't control everything and keep everybody safe. Or anger that there are so many dangers in the world. Just being present with that experience—fear, sadness, anger, confusion. Feeling it in that part of the body with kindness.

Q: How long do you attend to something like that before you just move on and try to change the energy?

Aaron: As long as it's predominant. If you're feeling that doubt and suddenly three beautiful red cardinals come and sit on the branch in front of you, and your whole energy field opens with joy, then let go of the experience of doubt. If it comes back, pay attention to it again.

Don't be afraid of doubt. It's one of the hindrances. It's a very common one. A very recurrent one, for many people. It's hard because your energy freezes. Everything stops with doubt. So by bringing attention to it in this way, it prevents that stoppage. It helps to keep the energy field open. “What is this doubt? Hello, doubt. Come, have tea. Sit beside me.” Not, “Tell me your stories of old fears,” but “Tell me about yourself. Do you contain sadness or anger or fear, or what do you contain? Is there something that I'm not fully letting myself experience, that's part of you, doubt?” 

It's noon so let us stop here. We'll have more time for questions this afternoon.

(session ends)