Wednesday, December 15, 1993

Aaron's talk

Good evening and my love to you all. I am Aaron. Through these past few months we have been working in a different direction from that of past years. After many years of emphasizing how to work skillfully and lovingly in this relative reality, we have been shifting our focus to putting the weight on the foot in ultimate reality. We are working with the light body. Coming to know the perfection of yourself. Learning to rest in that space of pure mind. I do not want to neglect the relative reality. What we're after is a balance of both. Tonight I am going to speak more to relative reality issues, in part in response to the questions of the past few weeks and in part in commemoration of the one who was known as Jesus, whose birth you celebrate next week.

Of course at any one time on the earth there are many different life philosophies, but certain ones are prevalent. Prevalent to the time of the one who was known as Jesus was the attitude of 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.' Not 'Do undo others as you would have them do unto you,' but 'Do unto others as they do unto you.' The old testament, as it's called, of the Bible is filled with stories of killing, of this or that being being treated unjustly and fighting back. These were the old laws under which mankind had lived for a very long time. There was a time when those laws worked, because there was a sense of sacredness of life in peoples' hearts. I speak here of the prehistoric human. Do unto others as they do unto you was fine when there was mutual respect.

The one who you know as Ariel, the one who is my teacher, spoke here one day of the coming of fear and negativity into the earth plane. I have also spoken of this; transcripts are available and I will not repeat it at length. Simply put, humans began to relate to one another more from a space of fear than of reverence. When Ariel spoke of this he introduced the idea that such fear had begun because those who we may term the guardian angels of the earth loved that which they protected, but did not trust the wisdom of what they protected, so they sought to own it, to shelter it, to protect it from itself. In short, they developed an attitude of fear, which sought to prohibit negative energy from being present, because they wanted to protect.

What followed was like the parent who chases the bully out of his yard because he wants to protect his child, rather than trusting that the child can deal with the bully and will learn from it. Humans began to emulate this fear. You learned to fear for yourselves and your loved ones, and to more fully distinguish 'me' and 'mine' from 'yours.' With that distinction came the distortion of 'Do unto others as they do unto you,' because humans began to treat others not as themselves, but as 'other than' and as a threat. Increasingly the spiral went downward into more and more distortion, fear and pain. Everywhere on earth beings were becoming further locked into this distortion.

Jesus is not the only great teacher who incarnated into the earth plane in those times. By universal terms when I say 'those times,' a thousands years is not a big distance. The one who earned the name of the Buddha incarnated. Other names whom you would not know. All over the earth. Since you are here in this culture, regardless of your religious preferences, you are familiar with the story of Jesus and I simply use this one for example, but also because his message is very profound.

He came for one reason, to clarify this distortion. Of course he needed to incarnate into a time and place that was open to his teaching, where there were already others speaking the thoughts that he would teach. In a sense, he didn't say anything new. It was how he taught more than what he taught that influenced others, because he was what he taught. It was not simply his words, but his energy and his life that brought Light to the world.

But in another way it was new. Not new to a very select handful in his country, but to most beings it was new: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; treat each other with reverence; know the sacred in one another; when someone offends you, offer them kindness rather than hatred. These are powerful teachings. Above all else this one came to teach forgiveness. What does it mean to forgive? It is not just words said by rote, but a movement in the heart. Forgiveness is not an event, it is a process. We enter into it slowly. It is not a philosophy, but a way of living. A natural way of living that grows out of the increasingly open heart.

We have talked here much about opening your energy and feeling when it closes in defendedness. When you are defended you're apt to point a finger of blame at another. When you can see your own defendedness growing out of your own fear, and create enough space to have compassion for yourself and cease judging yourself for your fear, then as the defendedness dissolves, your heart opens to the other. You begin to see the other's fear, and to feel the other's pain not as his or her pain, but as our pain. Your hearts connect. In that place of connection the word forgiveness really becomes meaningless, because there's nothing left to forgive. Only two hearts that understand one another's pain. And beyond that, one heart that we all share. That is the end of this process.

But we're not at the end, we're at the beginning. Each of you has been hurt, many, many times in your lives. Many of you have learned to forgive much of what has happened to you. Each of you, everyone in this room, holds some places in their heart which have not yet opened. Some things which feel unforgivable. We come to those slowly, and that is why I say that forgiveness is a process. As a friend puts it, you don't begin with the hundred pound weights or you'll get a hernia, you start with the ten pound weights. Start with those smaller slights where it is more easy to open the heart.

When you do a forgiveness meditation with another, as we're going to do tonight, you hold that person's image before you. We have been working much with light and energy. While the words of the forgiveness meditation will be familiar, I want to introduce something new into it. When you hold that being before you, see if you can see his or her energy field. Can you feel your own energy field at all? We've been working with learning to experience our energy more deeply. As you hold that person before you, can you feel the defendedness, the barrier?

Bring someone into your mind now who has hurt you and let's try this. It does not need to be the heavy weight, a ten pound weight will do fine. Old mind; can you see the way that as soon as this person comes into your presence all the old stories come with it, and the barrier goes up? What happens to that barrier when you remind yourself, 'This is old mind'? In this moment there is just this person and myself. He or she is not hurting me now. Can I speak to this moment's person, not all the past stories of this person? Can I allow my heart to penetrate into this person and really see their fear and pain that led them to act in whatever way they did that hurt me? See if you can allow the barriers to dissolve, your heart to truly connect with this person.

See if you can see or feel the energy field. Do your energies approach one another like darts; sharp points prickling at one another? Or more like the receding ripples of a tossed stone, coming together, gently merging with one another. If your remembrance of the other is as projecting anger, know that at sometime in this other's life it has projected loving energy. Can you find that loving energy in the one that you hold before you? Maybe it has never reflected that side of itself to you, but somewhere that being has loved. As a child, perhaps, he or she loved its mother or father. Or its lover. Or its child. Find within the one you hold before you that part of him or her which can love, even if you never felt that love.

Some of you are thinking here of a parent from whom you did not feel love. I ask you to think of that parent as a young child. Think of your own grandparent, if you can, as mother or father to this parent of yours. As a baby, did this parent love its mother or father? Sometimes to picture your parent, or the one who has caused you pain, as a baby, softens the heart. You may begin to understand the ways that one was hurt, became bitter, and turned that bitterness onto you. This penetrative looking into another is the beginning of allowing the process of forgiveness to begin. Gently now, let this person go. We will re-invite him or her in as we do the meditation.

I just wanted you to experience that softening, even if it's only the least bit of softening. Just watch it, it will soften further as you allow it; as you are ready. So we are going to practice a forgiveness meditation here, and to watch very, very carefully as we do the meditation to see what happens to your energy field when you first call in another who has hurt you and you feel threatened with all the old mind stories. See what happens when you notice that it's old mind and bring yourself back into the present, just this moment. This one person who has hurt you in the past now stands harmless before you.

When we do a forgiveness meditation we begin with ourselves. Perhaps of all beings in the world to whom we may wish to offer forgiveness, the hardest one to forgive is yourself. Bring your own self into your heart and mind. Watch the energy. Is it hard to let yourself in? Are there a hundred old stories, old judgments? 'This being is bad, unworthy, to blame for this or that, untrustworthy, irresponsible, imperfect.' What are the stories of which you accuse yourself? Have you ever said 'I love you' to yourself? How does that feel? I want you to try it. To yourself, say your name and then the words, 'I love you. I accept you, and I love you.' Can you see yourself as you would see another? Look deeply at yourself. What pain, what fear, has made you act at times in ways that were unskillful? If this were your best friend would you judge him or her? Or would you say, 'I see your pain and I love you. It's okay, I love you'? Can you say it to yourself? I will be quiet for a few minutes. Will you offer yourself what seems appropriate.

Your name, spoken silently; I forgive you, I love you …

Can you feel the defendedness dissolve a bit, the heart open?

He taught us to love one another, but to do so one must begin with oneself.

I forgive you, I love you …

I will be silent while you practice.

Letting yourself move out of the center of your focus now, bring in one who has hurt you. The one you used a few minutes ago, or another.

When you are ready, say to this other, 'You have hurt me through something you said or did, or even thought. You have hurt me, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It is hard for me to say I forgive you.

Just for experiment's sake can you say those words, and see how it feels? Say that person's name to yourself, 'I forgive you. I may not yet be ready to say I love you, I can not yet love you who hurt me, but I can see the divine that lies within you and, also, the places of fear and pain in you which led you to hurt me.

'Like me, you have not yet learned to say I love you to yourself. I wish you love. I will try to allow my heart to open in forgiveness. I say the words, just to see where it takes my heart. I forgive you, and I wish you well.' I will be quiet now; please work with this yourself for a few minutes.

When you are ready let that being move out of the center of your focus.

So this is what he came to teach, not precisely forgiveness, but a new way of being in the world undefended, with open heart, seeing not the evil in others, but the divine in others, and living as if everything in life were sacred, rather than as if it were your enemy. This is the same process in which you are still involved. You are learning to allow defendedness to fall away, to see penetratively into each other being and find the divine in that being, so that your own divinity and theirs are what hold you together. When you speak you will not speak from your small ego self, but from the heart, and it is One Heart that you all share. When you and another meet in the place of shared heart, the differences fall away, and defendedness can dissolve.

As you move through these coming weeks that celebrate Jesus' birth, regardless of whether or not you consider yourself Christian, look into your own heart and ask yourself this: 'Jesus and many, many other teachers came to earth to teach the same thing: how we can best learn to love one another. Am I learning it? What prevents me from allowing myself to love? Can I look deeply at myself each time defendedness arises and repeatedly allow those barriers to dissolve, again and again to allow the heart to come back to connection?'

Without much shifting here may I ask if you will simply take hands of those who sit near you; it does not have to be a full circle. I want you only to sit in silence here for one minute and feel the connectedness of your energies, and then we will close. (Pause.) No barriers. (Pause.) Barbara is experiencing the sensation of feeling the pulse on the hands of the neighbors on her right and left. When she first took their hands the pulses were not at the same time and now they have come into synchronization. Some of the others of you may be feeling the same thing. One Heart.

(Silence; we sit for several minutes.) (Bell.)


Question: Please talk about different paths such as Bhakti, jhana and karma yoga.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Let me begin by saying that these are not three different paths which exclude the others. You all find some blend of them, but each of you has one which is most resonant to your own nature. Very briefly, by Bhakti (phonetic spelling bock-t) we mean devotional path. Jhana is a path of deep concentration, of samadhi (phonetic spelling sa-ma-di), as it is technically called. The word karma means action. Karma-yogi is an active path of work in the world.

One can follow a karma-yoga path, for example, not involve oneself in deeper concentrative, meditation practices, or in devotional meditation, and end up simply forgetting why you are working. One can lose oneself in devotional meditation, shut oneself off, safe from the suffering of the world, and not attend to that suffering nor the need to be responsible to that suffering. One can entrench oneself into a jhanic space, where one finds deep bliss and insight, and not connect with the world or with God. So, it's necessary to keep them in balance. Within that balance, you follow the thread that pulls you most strongly.

The devotional path, in its essence, is one of keeping the name of God in your heart at all times. Everything you do is offered to God, everything that moves through you, be it loving or fearful, you release to God. Everything that comes into you comes from God. It is a path that leads you to constantly remembering your own divinity. This path leads to nurturing that spark of divinity in yourself and coming to rest in that place of pure awareness, not from the analytic side but from a place of simply knowing who you are. It is a very joyful path. It is a path of surrender of the small ego self. And yet it is a path of empowerment of the greater self, which is the divine self. It moves your balance from the ego aspect to the divine aspect, and allows you to rest in that divine mind.

When you fully rest in that place, you know your intimate connection with all that is. This leads you into a path of Karma-yoga, not because you've chosen that path, but because there is nothing else you can do; you can not turn your back on another's suffering. When I am God and you are God, you can not turn your back on that of God within another. So you become active to alleviate the suffering in the world, because your devotion leads you there.

When you start with the Karma-yoga path, you may not be thinking of God, only thinking of the suffering you encounter. As you try to fix that suffering you learn how solidified this self is which is trying to fix that which is outside of itself. Slowly, this sense of self and other falls away and you begin to connect with the divine in all of it. The move into that Heart we all share leads to God and back to devotional meditation.

Jhanic states are those levels of awareness that may be accessed through deepening concentration. There are eight jhanic levels. Each one takes you deeper into absence of self. Ultimately, these jhanas are a dead end, but they do teach you deepening concentration. Then you take that concentration into a deeper kind of meditation which allows for the arising of insight. When you rest in the jhanic state, there is such complete absence of self that there is nobody experiencing this, and hence, learning does not take place in the same way. What is learned from practices of intense concentration is the ability to maintain that level of concentration as useful tool, and then apply that concentration in something such as Vipassana practice. One learns how to make the mind tool, not master.

As you move into the jhanas, first solidified self, and then time and space, seem to fall away, and you enter into a timeless, spaceless realm of being. But it's very hard to bring that back into your daily life. The danger of the jhanic path is that one becomes almost addicted to the bliss of those spaces, and turns one's back on the world. However, when it is used wisely, it can teach you the emptiness of self. To my perspective, it is then a useful tool brought back to the deepening of Vipassana meditation, allowing one to move into deeper wisdom. So I would associate the concentrative path with a wisdom path, although they are not synonymous.

You may begin this wisdom path with no devotional practice, practicing in isolation and with no thoughts of service to others. As insight and wisdom deepen you become more able to rest in a space of pure awareness, and that pure awareness can not help but to see the divinity of all that is. You may not call it God-God is not a term used in Buddhism, which is non-theistic-but it is sacred space, sacred energy, light. Call it what you will. One begins to know that one is servant to that light. One begins to see the emptiness of self and that there is and never has been self and other, and thus one is called out of one's isolation and into service in the world.

So these paths do all inter-relate. This is a capsule. If it interests you to explore it further I would be glad to speak at length about it as an opening talk one night. Beyond that, is this a sufficient answer to your immediate question? That is all.

Barbara: This is Barbara. I'm finding that they all inter-relate, that when I do devotional meditation and it connects me with God, it makes me much more aware of any tendencies to isolate myself from suffering. It makes me much more willing to joyfully go out and work in the world. Do other people experience it that way?

Also, jhana is not really wisdom path but Aaron says he is using them as related to one another. Our minds get into a lot of turmoil. We can use mind to 'tame mind,' as Aaron puts it, by seeing what arises and constantly being with our emotions, thinking about what's happening, or we can use wisdom to tame our minds. When I say that I mean that place that Aaron has talked about of pure awareness, knowing that's who we are and really understanding, in a very wise way, how we move into different emotions and thought patterns conditioned by past experience. As we start to see how everything arises in us because of old conditioned mind, we stop identifying with that, then that level of wisdom that really knows who we are tames the craziness of mind that we get into. I find that when that happens for me it's a very-the only term I can think of is a religious experience; it's a very deep experience of gratitude, of connection with God because, maybe I've been feeling turmoil inside and then wisdom gives me a different perspective on that turmoil. It makes so much space and in that space I feel light. It brings me back to devotional meditation and God. It all flows for me.

Are there others who would like to share their experiences or thoughts about it?

Response from someone: I think Aaron's teaching integrates these very well, so that most of us haven't encountered these usual separations. He's always talking about balance; he gives us each different focuses, depending on our nature, but doesn't let us ignore the others. (General agreement.)

Question: How do you deal with doubt? I am working with intelligent people who don't believe in Aaron's interpretation of reality, and often my own faith gets shaken.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I'm going to ask you what color this paper is. I see it as white light. Are you going to tell me it's green? But I see it as white light. I do not see colors as you do. I see the energy that arises from an object, I see with a different perspective. Can you understand that it is both white light and it is also green in color? But I don't have your eyes so I don't see green. When I tell you I see white light, does doubt about your own perception arise in you? You can verify what you see with your own experience. You know you see green paper, so doubt does not arise. You trust your physical senses.

You have other senses. It's much harder to trust them. When someone tells you that they experience reality in one way, it's because they are using one set of senses. If you experience reality in a different way, you are using a different set of senses. Hear them the same way you hear me say, 'It's white light.' You don't close your heart to me, you simply know that I see it with a different perspective. When these people challenge you, know that they see it with a different perspective. They are using only their physical senses. That's all they have been trained to use.

The question here was, how do I deal with doubt? This is one way. When doubt arises because somebody contradicts what you think you see and they affirm, 'It can only be the way I see it,' notice that doubt is arising and ask yourself to come back and verify your own experience. It is not either or, it's both. They are seeing with the eyes of relative reality. You have pierced the veil into ultimate reality, and you see it differently. That doesn't make you better, it just means that you have a broader vision at this place in your evolution. If somebody can only sing the scale from E to G and somebody else can sing one octave higher, are they better? They simply have trained their voice. You have trained your seeing. I think that when doubt arises for you, it is because the other's questioning is accompanied by a sense of finger pointing at you, that you are foolish or inadequate in some way. This arouses your own sense of self-judgment. Look carefully and see what's there. What is there that makes you close your heart to your own clear vision? If everybody in this room pointed at this paper and said, 'I see white light too,' would you say, 'What's wrong with me, I see green?'

Several weeks ago a friend brought an optical illusion that was supposed to have a picture of Jesus within it. Some people looked and said, 'Yes, I see it,' others looked and said, 'Where?' Even when the eyes and nose were pointed out, 'Where? I don't see it.' If everybody in the group said, 'Well, I see it. What's wrong with you?' what would have happened? It's that 'What's wrong with you?' that creates the doubt. A sense, 'I am bad because I don't see it as the others see it.' A sense of fear, perhaps, of contradicting another. I ask you, then, to remember that this is not contradiction. We simply see it in different ways.

Do you know the story of the blind men and the elephant? Six blind men were led to an elephant. 'What does an elephant look like?' they asked. One grabbed the tail and said, 'Oh, it's long and skinny, like a snake.' Another had a leg and said, 'No, an elephant is like a big, thick tree.' One had a tusk and said, 'No, it's sharp, like a sword.' One had the side and said, 'No, it's like a wall.' Another had the trunk and said, 'No, it's moveable, flexible, and swings.' And they were all right. When another says, 'This can't be, you're being deluded, you're foolish,' remember the elephant. What if four of them all had legs and they all agreed that an elephant is like a tree trunk and one had the tail and said, 'No, it's like a thin snake'? It doesn't matter how many people see it differently than you.

What is there that prevents you from trusting your own judgment? You can not force another to see it your way; give them space to see it their own way. But look carefully, what is the threat about? What is there in yourself, you might ask, which wants to be right? What is so afraid of being wrong that you shift yourself out of your clear knowing, that you hold the tail and say, 'Yes, it's like a tree trunk'-even though you're holding the tail!

I think that as you watch the process of moving into doubt in yourself and see the old mind conditioning behind that doubt, see all the needs to be right, to control, to be safe, the doubt will fall away of its own accord. You don't have to work to get rid of doubt. What you do is re-allow trust; come back to the place inside you, over and over and over again, where that small seed of faith lies, and nurture that seed. Nurture it with the reminder, 'We are both right. I am seeing it through my senses and he or she through his or her senses. I do not have to prove them wrong, nor do I have to feel threatened.'

You might also notice here that part of the other's need to prove you wrong is related to their own fear. It is helpful when you can see another's fear, not for purposes of judging the other, but just to empathize with their fear. What you are asking them to believe is very threatening. Many do not want to believe in anything beyond what their physical sense can tell them, because there is a sense of loss of control. This is not to breed superiority in you, only to open your heart in compassion to their fear and see why this person needs to convince you that you are foolish and he or she is right. His or her fear is okay, and your own deep faith and intuition in what you know to be true, not just from words but from your own experience, that is also okay.

This brings me to the last point. Faith has different levels: which are sometimes called preliminary faith, preliminary verified faith, and verified faith. You first may believe something just because somebody you trust tells you it's true. Barbara tells you that if you meditate your mind will deepen and quiet, and you will move into a space of knowing your deep connection with all that is, and that separation will fall away. 'Sounds good,' you say, 'I'll try it.' Before you've even tried it somebody asks you, 'Why do you meditate?' you reply 'Because it takes me to a place of non-separation.' But this is based on hearsay. Once you begin to meditate and you have just one experience of deep connection, that's preliminary verified faith. 'Ah-ha! This is what she was talking about. It really is true, there is no solid self here, I am interconnected with all that is.' It inspires you to meditate more, and eventually that further practice leads you into spaces of deeper and deeper connection, where no one can shake you out, no one can say, 'No, you're separate.' Because your verified faith tells you from your direct experience, 'I am not separate.'

Now most you are in that place of preliminary verified faith, and it's fragile. As doubt arises it may help to remember the spiritual experiences you have had-not what others have told you, but your own experiences. Rest in those experiences and allow them to deepen and eventually your faith will become a rock solid foundation, and a beacon of light to those who have not yet found faith. It is here that you can begin to serve those who question you, not by convincing them, but because their accusations that you are foolish or stupid no longer sway you, nor lead you into fear. They can feel your calmness, the space that you give it all. That opens the door for them. They may then start to be able to say, 'I see the change in her. Maybe there is something to what she is saying.' And they may begin on this path of preliminary unverified faith, just having heard it from you. In this way you hold the door open for others; you do not force them, but allow them to see in whatever way they need to see, knowing that their vision is also correct, just on a different plane.

We are almost out of time here. This week is Hanukah and some of you have asked if we could light this Menorah together and recite the prayers.

(We spend a short while explaining the meaning of Hanukah to those not familiar with it, and we light the candles, recite prayers. Several in the group sing a song in Hebrew.)

This Hanukah Menorah reminds me of a song that Barbara's family used to sing when she was a child. Barbara is unable to sing it in tune, so I will ask her merely to recite it. The song was called 'Rock of Ages,' and the second verse words were:

Children of the martyr race, whether free or fettered
Sound the echoes of your song, where ye may be scattered
Yours the message cheering, that the time is nearing
That will see all men free, tyrants disappearing

You are all approaching that time in which all men will be free. You are pioneers, forging that path to freedom. And I honor you for your courage in pioneering in this way.

My love to you all, and wishes for a happy holiday, whatever it is that you may be celebrating in the coming weeks. That is all.

(We close by singing Amazing Grace.)

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a soul like me;
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour when first I believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun.

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a soul like me;
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.