Wednesday, January 12, 1994

Aaron's talk

Good evening and my love to you all. I am Aaron. This evening, as most Wednesday nights, Barbara and her family ate dinner early. And then Barbara made an effort to do the preparations needed here: vacuum, fill oil lamps, set out cushions. Her family includes a young teenager who is not always as reasonable or considerate as she would wish and who seems to choose 6:30 Wednesday night to push at her with his needs.

By this point, she might expect that, anticipate and plan an extra half-hour into her schedule. So, she's participating in the … I won't call it angry-they're not screaming at one another-but in the pressured or anxious situation that escalates as the minutes pass.

She is aware that she needs a good length of time to meditate and really still herself so that her own tensions or thoughts don't intrude on the channeling. She then starts to feel tense: 'I'm not going to have enough time to meditate.' And she gets sucked right in to his irritations, which is, in a sense, just what he's trying to provoke. He's learned how to push the buttons, when he can get a rise out of Mom. This is not a bad kid we're talking about-a teenager who, like many, lives a bit in his world and rather scoffs at the adult's world.

The reason I'm telling you this story is because Barbara then comes to the edges of doing what so many of you do. She almost gets caught in a bind that says, how am I going to be spiritual and channel when I'm feeling this anger? As if there is that which is spiritual-lovingkindness, generosity, peace, harmony-and that which is not spiritual, like anger or greed or other kinds of hostility.

What does this word 'spiritual' mean? We can see the anger is disharmonious, but we really need to examine the meaning of the word, spiritual. As soon as we call harmony, spiritual, and disharmony, non-spiritual, we're setting ourselves up for failure because you are humans and you are always going to feel disharmony at times. His provocative behavior and her irritation at his provocative behavior need not create disharmony, in the deepest sense. What creates the disharmony for Barbara is her sense of fear and the way her energy closes. He offers provocative behavior. If she can continue to love him, and even to love herself, while she sees anger arising, to continue to feel connected and empathize with his pain, while still expressing a clear 'No, this is not the appropriate time for this discussion,' then there doesn't need to be disharmony.

This is what I want you to look at: what are the roots of that disharmony? Is it something that comes at you from without, or is it something that arises from within? It's very easy to love others when they are kind and loving and generous. How do you learn to love others when they are angry? How do you learn to love yourself when you are angry?

We had a discussion with a friend today which included talk of the New Age movement and this idea that you create your own reality. Many of you have heard me talk about this before, how on the ultimate level this is true. And yet, there's so much blame in that statement because if you understood how you were creating a disharmonious reality and why you were creating that, most assuredly you would not create it. It's like telling a child who wears a diaper, a child who's just pre-toilet trained, 'You're creating a mess.' If the child knew how to use the toilet, she would use it.

We all want to live in harmony. The question is not inspiring the desire to live in harmony, but understanding what distorts that move toward harmony, and finding compassion for that in ourselves which closes down our energy instead of disdain for it. Then, and only then, do you begin to live in harmony with yourself. And until you can do that, you cannot live in harmony with others.

You begin by letting go of the delusion of opposites, including harmony versus disharmony, good and bad, love and hatred, selfishness and generosity. I'm sure that in your mathematics classes as children you all worked with those lines that started with an x and added: x+1, x+2, x+17, x+83, and minus: x-4, x-22, and so on. It's easy to visualize that kind of line. It is one line, not two: x+17, x-17. X+generosity, x-generosity, various proportions of the same quality.

There is not a good or generous or kind that is the summation of that, the ideal of it. Nor is there a zero point of selfishness, greed or fear. It's a spectrum. And you are never in one fixed place on that spectrum. Sometimes you're more loving, sometimes less. Sometimes more agitated, sometimes calmer.

You know that I am not suggesting that it's okay to act in ways that are harmful to others, but can we let go of the labels of 'good' and 'bad' which are what create the tensions and lead us to say, 'This isn't spiritual,' and to grasp at that which we conclude is spiritual. That motivation of judgment-I shouldn't do this, I should do that-will never lead you to ultimate peace. It may train you in paths of self-discipline. It may help alert you to the arising of tensions. But it also creates its own kind of tension.

Instead, can there be clear looking at what the tension is about? Can you begin to feel the way your emotional energy body closes off? Some weeks ago, we talked about the fact that there are four energy bodies just as there are four bodies, that each of these bodies-the physical, the emotional, the mental and the spiritual-has its own energy field, and that you can be open in one energy field and closed in another.

What I'm talking about here is the raising of boundaries to defend yourself: not coming into a wholeness within yourself, but seeing the need to close yourself in, either to hold yourself in or to keep something else out. When somebody approaches you with repugnant behavior and at an inconvenient time, can you see the rising of protectedness for yourself, the fear 'I'm going to get hurt' … 'Perhaps my needs won't be met' … 'I won't be able to do what I need to do and then other people will criticize me because I fall short'?

Maybe you're working on a deadline and another office worker starts to pick a quarrel. You've got to get this done or when your boss comes in in half an hour he's going to be angry. It's not the picking the quarrel that creates the tension. You would be able to allow him to pick his quarrel and just let it drift past if you did not have the fear, 'It's going to cause me pain because somebody else is going to judge me; therefore, I've got to shut him off so I can do what I need to do.' And then those boundaries come up. Then you can no longer hear the one who's feeling so argumentative. Instead of being able to say, 'I hear you; I hear your pain,' what you want to say is, 'Shut up. Leave me alone.' The walls are up. Self and other.

Spiritual work does not mean non-existence of walls, but working skillfully, kindly to yourself and to others, with those inevitable walls that come up and down. It involves seeing how your energy closes up, and constantly having the courage and commitment to ask yourself to reopen it.

We're going to do something a bit different tonight. We're going to take a break now for about ten minutes and do an exercise, a very specific exercise. And then I'm going to conclude this talk with some thoughts about the exercise you've done. I will channel a bit of this and then let Barbara lead it. What I will want you to do is each to choose a partner-if possible, someone whom you know and feel some closeness to but, if it's a stranger, that's okay. Try to pick somebody whose energy feels comfortable with yours.

We are going to ask you to divide yourselves, at random: one in each pair call itself A, and the other one call itself B. Let me describe this process first and then Barbara will cease channeling and will get it moving. Pairs, one A, one B, what you will do is spend a few minutes holding hands and looking into one another's eyes, trying to allow the dissolution of boundaries and allow connection. Then, when Barbara suggests that A's do this, all the A's will withdraw their hands, lower their gaze and, in essence, withdraw from the B's.

I want you to watch very carefully. Of course, it's a contrived situation and the B's know they are not being rejected. But I still want you to feel, 'What happens to my energy field when the other withdraws from our mutual energy?' I want the A's to watch, 'What happens within me when I withdraw?' We'll hold that for a minute or two, to give you time to experience it. Without the visual contact and touch, can you reconnect your energy fields? Can you notice any growing of protective barriers and allow them to dissolve and come back together? Then Barbara will ask for the A's to raise their gaze again, connect again, and will repeat it with B's lowering their gaze.

One last connection and then we'll end. I estimate that it will take about ten minutes. Then I would like all of you to talk a bit about it. And, finally, there's a bit more that I would like to share. If there is anybody who does not feel comfortable participating in this exercise, that's fine. It's in no way compulsory. Simply sit back and watch what's happening. Watch your energy as carefully as you can and ask yourself how you feel being there as observer. Are there barriers coming up? What's happening for you as observer? That is all.


(Some of this is not on tape.)

Barbara: With both of the pair remaining as aware of their energy fields as possible, the designated A withdraw, look down, pull away.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Is there any feeling of rejection, of loss, any feeling of barrier going up? I know this is a contrived situation, but I want you to get in as deep touch as is possible with the feelings of connection and separation of energy field. Just that. No thoughts about it-whether it's good or bad, whether you're doing it right or not. Just, what is happening to my energy field? Both A and B. If possible, B's keep your eyes open looking at your partner who has withdrawn.

(We do.)

A's, as you feel ready, lift up your gaze and extend your hands again, reconnect. Pay close attention to what happens to the energy fields, both.

Now I am going to ask the B's to withdraw in the same way. Pay close attention to the building of boundaries, should that occur. Is there any reaching out for the energy that is withdrawn? Something that was within your grasp and has pulled back-do you reach out to grasp it, or can you allow the other to withdraw without fear? If there is fear, is that fear a product of this moment? Are you being rejected? Or is it old conditioned mind saying that, when something withdraws from me, I must grab at it? Can you see how that fear arises? Can you see the way the boundaries come up?

(We do.)

Please reconnect one more time, allowing your energy fields to merge again. As you are ready, allow yourself to move back into your own energy, your gaze and your hands to separate. Take your time. That is all.


Aaron: I am Aaron. This was hard for some of you. Please do not chastise yourself for that. Some of you are more defended than others. You are all learning how to work with that defendedness. And some of you are very deeply moved by the amount of connection you were able to establish. Different things happened for each of you. I do want you to discuss it, but I hope that you can discuss it without comparing yourself, without a sense, 'Did I do this right or wrong? Good or bad?' Just, what happened for you? Did you learn anything? Just that. That is all.

(Pairs discuss their experiences with their partners before whole group discussion.)

J: The first section, when M withdrew her energy, was not a problem for me. I was okay. What surprised me was first, how easy it was to withdraw my energy, just to completely pull in and how it was then to reconnect. It wasn't hard for me to reconnect with her when she withdrew and then came back. I didn't have a hard time reconnecting. But, after I withdrew and had to reconnect, that was more difficult.

I kept having this image of a heart with many doors and, depending on what was happening, some or none or, at times, all those doors are open or closed, depending on how safe I feel or what's happening emotionally.

S: What I feel is ridiculous-absolutely ridiculous-that any of us would withdraw from one another, that any of us would sit and look in one another's eyes and could possibly withdraw. Could possibly withdraw. That I could sit in this group and be with one person and not look at that person and feel part of the group totally, not just that one person, because we are all humbly joining together as a group.

C1: I did this in real life, at a workshop. I had a misunderstanding with another woman about going to lunch. When I tried to discuss it with her later, I found it very frustrating that she wouldn't look at me at all. There was absolutely no eye contact. And, in our discussion, we weren't getting anywhere at all.

So, I asked her if it was all right with her if we stopped talking and turned toward each other and just looked at each other. And she said, 'Sure.' So, we did that and, clearly, the love energy started flowing immediately, and all that words had not been able to do was resolved. And we felt such an openness, such a loving flowing energy that it resolved itself with a hug and there wasn't any more need for words. And for the rest of the week, we were very close. So, I suggest it as an exercise in real life, too.

M: I was surprised when J and I were connecting, the bind I was in as I felt my terror of connecting and the longing to do that.

M2: I realized that if this wasn't an exercise, I would have felt very rejected when M3 turned away. Because it was an exercise, I just felt … I was amazed at how strongly I could feel the difference in exercise. And also because of what Aaron said to me this morning, I was very aware of moving back and forth from my head to my heart, and the constant verbal chatter that my head puts out, and how much more fully I experienced it when I put that aside.

M3: I worked on this today in my personal life and, having opened to some of the pain around abandonment, I was able to not feel anxious about M2 pulling away. But I could feel the habitual barriers of closing up to feel safe from that abandonment.

K: My experience was different from others because I have been moving through a time of strong self-judgment and a feeling of shame. I found myself not wanting to open at first because of the feeling of shame and wanting to hide me from the other. So, when he pulled away, I felt relief and safety. I did experience a deeper opening by the last connecting and that was very healing. But it was interesting to watch how much I wanted to hide in the corner until I resolve these issues and accept myself again.

J2: I also experienced this in my personal life this week. Yesterday, what I felt was also rejection at first from someone else as they pulled away from me. But after the sadness left, I felt that I was able to just allow the process to happen and let it be. And, as I was able to let it be, it became more peaceful and okay.

C2: One quick one. I described it to my partner as feeling fun, like I wanted almost to laugh. But, after listening to a few things and thinking more about what it is, I think it was more a delight, rather than fun. Fun, meaning that it was a good feeling and it made me smile.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I thank you all for your participation and your very honest thoughts. Yesterday, we had a lengthy phone conversation with an out-of-state friend. The friend with whom she is living was needing to withdraw his energy. She knows he loves her, but he needed to withdraw his energy. Not to reject her, just to withdraw his energy. As we talked, she came to see that his withdrawing his energy was his own need and not a rejection of her. When she read it as rejection and, in defense, put up her own boundaries, it evoked an unfavorable reaction in him. Then he felt rejected. Then his withdrawal shifted subtly from simply moving into himself to rejecting her in return. As we talked, she began to see the pattern they were setting up for themselves.

My question is this: What is this old mind, in all of you, that needs to control another in order to feel safe in yourself, that wants to grasp at or stay connected with another who needs to withdraw? Can you begin to allow each other to come and go as you need to, keeping your own energy field open, unless there is a reason why you need to close it? If you need to close it, know that you need to close it. There's nothing bad about protecting yourself, but ask yourself, 'Am I protecting against something that's real or am I protecting against all the old happenings throughout history? Am I unworthy? Am I rejected?' All of those things that come up in you.

You are not asking these questions as a self-improvement project. You're asking because harmony, in your own lives and in the world, depends on learning to keep your energy open to each other, to keep noticing the boundaries as they arise and asking yourself, very gently and patiently, to release them. Not to get rid of them-no aversion to the boundaries-to release them because, in this moment, I am safe and I do not need boundaries.

Now, some degree of boundary is useful. You function in relative reality from the place of an 'I'-self. But that self is a tool … (Tape ends.)

(Tape begins.) … to make the mistake of thinking that that is who you are. I thought I could finish that sentence before the tape ended!

Please take your break now and, if you wish, it might be useful to come back to some of this. I would also like to hear your responses to the homework from last week. May I ask, as you go off to have your tea and conversation, that you stay alert. Watch how you put up boundaries and how you dissolve boundaries. And ask yourself, 'What is this boundary? Where is it coming from? Who is creating it? Is it me in this moment, or is it all the past aspects of me who have put up boundaries habitually to stay safe? Do I really need this boundary right now? Can I come back into connection? What heightens connection and what reduces connection?' I thank you for your time and listening, and for allowing me to share these thoughts with you. That is all.


Barbara: Aaron is asking, do we have questions or do you want him to talk more in depth about what we started the evening with?

(Group decides to hear Aaron talk more in depth.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. Your inclination as humans is to figure everything out. You all have wonderful, fascinating minds. They whirl around. They ask whether what you are feeling is appropriate or not. They put labels-this is good, that's bad-on everything. You do that as a way of maintaining a sense of safety.

On the relative plane, it's true that at times you are threatened. The physical body may be unsafe. On the ultimate plane, you are always safe. There's nothing outside of you. You don't have to control your environment.

This does not mean that if you want tomatoes in the summer, you don't need to go out and plant them, but you plant them in harmony with the earth. You take these seedlings and lovingly put them in the ground with a full expectation that, as you care for them with love, they will eventually grow and feed you tomatoes with love. There's not a manipulativeness about it, but a sharing of energy.

It's the very same non-manipulative shared energy that I'm hoping to inspire in you in your human relationships. Instead of figuring out-'How can I move so as to be liked here? Is he or she rejecting me?'-all of that figuring, can you just rest in your heart, in that part of you that knows it's loved? What builds up the boundaries? When does this controlling mind and manipulation begin? Can you see the connection between that and the building of boundaries, the need to feel defended and safe?

This is the primary question: Who needs to feel safe? What is this desire to feel safe? In this moment, am I really unsafe? If B has withdrawn, is B rejecting me? And, if B is rejecting me, can I allow B to reject me? Do I have to scream and wave my hands and stamp my feet? Unsafe! Unfair! I'm being rejected! What is B's need to reject? Let B reject if it needs to.

I know that if you love B and B is acting in a rejecting manner, that hurts. I am not suggesting that you allow B to use you as a doormat. It is perfectly appropriate to tell B, 'You are hurting me and, if you continue to open to me in that way and then pull back so I never know where I stand, I am going to have to leave this relationship.' That's not manipulative; that is a clear statement, 'I will not be used as a doormat. I will not be drawn into your unskillful patterns. I fully expect to be in a relationship with someone who can love me in return.'

This is the way you create your own reality: by knowing that you are lovable and asking of those who surround you that they offer you love, by saying 'no' if they try to walk on you. But see the clear difference between 'rejection' and that A or B who's feeling dejected, frightened in themselves, not rejecting you at all but rejecting relationship perhaps because of their present pain and fear.

You can give that friend space to reject if they need to, while making it clear 'You are hurting me because I want to feel connected and you withdraw that connection which I very much enjoy … That is the way you are hurting me. You are not hurting me by making me feel unworthy. No one can make me feel unworthy. You are hurting me by depriving me of the loving, open-hearted connection which I feel is my due, my birthright. I choose not to live without that connection. It's your choice.' But then you do not have to reject that A or B; you do not have to reject that other in defense of yourself. You keep your heart and your energy fully open to them. You leave the door open for them to make the decision, 'I can trust this one. I can come back to connection.' But, if they withdraw for their own reasons, and then you withdraw, you slam the door shut. Then you're creating a different reality: one that says, 'I am somebody who needs to be defended,' rather than 'I am one who is worthy of love.' And you reap what you sow.

K has asked me to speak of the spiral that we spoke of earlier today. Sometimes you fall into a sense of grief, despair, deep anger or pain. If you feel these heavy feelings and have a sense, 'I must get rid of these,' it drives you further down. I said to K that the whole thing is like a spiral. It goes up. Your energy expands and opens and reaches up to the stars. Your energy contracts and moves down into heaviness and darkness. You're constantly moving on this spiral. You're not fixed on it. And the point that is down here and the point that is up there are connected. They are not opposites, not dual in any way. It's one line. It connects.

Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet says it exquisitely: 'Your joy and your sorrow are one.' It cannot be said any more clearly than that. Your ability to allow yourself to dissolve boundaries, to open your heart, puts you at risk. You're going to feel more pain because you are not defended. You're also going to be able to feel love and openness and connection in a very heightened way.

You begin to know that it's safe to feel that pain. It hurts. Does it hurt any less when you shelter yourself? Instead of feeling pain, you feel isolated. Is that any less hurtful? You begin to allow yourself to be vulnerable. The more you can release these boundaries each time they arise, seeing the old mind nature of them, the higher up you move in the spiral, the more your energy opens out and embraces the universe. That is all. Are there questions?

C1: In Aaron's first talk tonight he mentioned attachment and why did we feel bad when one person withdrew their energy. That can take many forms, as you know, withdrawing energy with children as well. And I wondered if Aaron could speak more about attachment and detachment? I understand in a general way that we should not be attached. It's more skillful not to be attached. But it seems like a very human condition to be attached to husbands, wives, children, friends.

C2: I have a related question. When Aaron says not to be a doormat, also saying that when you're rejected, I'm a little confused there. Do you open yourself again to that person? And, once rejected, and the pain that's there, how do you manage that?

Aaron: I am Aaron. My dear ones, there is a relative human who feels rejected when another withdraws its energy. The other may be withdrawing its energy because it just remembered that it had an appointment or it suddenly has a stomach ache. But you almost all move into the question, 'Did I do something bad?' This myth of unworthiness comes up-more forcefully for some than for others. But at least a bit in all of you. Very few of you have learned to look at the other and suppose, 'That person may have a stomach ache.'

Perhaps they don't have a stomach ache. Perhaps they are rejecting you. Maybe they don't like the way you look. Or you have a very different viewpoint of life and they feel threatened by it and don't want to talk to you anymore, so they reject you. What is rejection? It's one being acting out its fear, acting out its discomfort by withdrawing its energy from another. What possible connection can this have with bad or good? One person will reject another because he or she has body odor and then turn around and reject somebody else because they're wearing a perfume that they don't like. Who's to decide which odor is good or bad?

Yes, you may try to keep yourselves clean and your behavior pleasing to other people-not in order to be accepted, but simply because it's a loving way to act toward others, not to choose purposefully to offend others, a kind of attack on others. But know the difference between that and acting in pleasing ways to others because you are seeking acceptance, because what one accepts, another is not going to accept. One will like you if you're quiet and another if you're boisterous. Be yourself.

You must listen to the wisdom of your heart and know when another is acting in a rejecting manner, withdrawing their energy. If they do that in a regularly patterned way, as an attack on you it seems, then it is appropriate to point it out. You don't have to hate them for doing it. When you know you have not been rejected because you're bad, when you know it's the other person withdrawing their energy for whatever reason, you can ask the other, 'Did I make you uncomfortable in some way that's causing your withdrawal?' They might say, 'Yes, you acted obnoxious.' They might say, 'Yes, you acted too loving. It threatens me.'

Do you keep coming back to it? My answer here would be, how honest are you able to be with one another? Are you becoming lost in a negatively-codependent pattern of hurting each other, or are you able to observe the places where you've hurt one another, talk about them and make an effort to move past them? Are you each teaching the other?

You do not continually set yourself up to be stepped on, but you also must know nobody else can really hurt you. They can't reject you. There is no such thing as acceptance or rejection. It's all a myth. It's a myth that you've convinced yourself is true. So, when you feel rejected, you feel unworthy. You become angry at yourself for that unworthiness, or angry at the other for pointing out your sense of unworthiness. When you know who you truly are and rest in that beauty that is you, you stop needing affirmation from others that you're okay. Then you are not threatened and they can no longer pull you into their game. They withdraw their energy. You continue to smile and to love them. Their game doesn't work anymore, whatever that game may have been. You cut it off.

What is your relationship to this person? Is it partner or child or parent? Is there a deep commitment that urges you to deepen the relationship and grow together, or is it a casual acquaintanceship in which you may decide, 'I turn my back on this. I don't need to be a part of this anymore'?

Attachment is a funny word. Attachment and love are not synonymous. Attachment grows out of a place of fear that needs the other's approval or acceptance to feel okay. It is a kind of negative co-dependence. I'm not speaking about needing others, opening your hearts to others. There's a lovely song, 'People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,' which I interpret to mean, 'People who have come to see their deepest interconnections with others and realize they cannot live in a false sense of isolation, that they need not so much to be loved as to love, but when they love they are loved in return … their deepest joy is to share their hearts with others.' That is not attachment. That is a kind of love that lets the other go.

We come back to my phone conversation yesterday with our friend in Massachusetts. If her partner was withdrawing at this new juncture in their relationship-not seriously withdrawing, not disappearing for days at a time, just pulling back his energy-could she give him space to do that? Attachment is the clinging where, when the other withdraws its energy, you immediately go after it. You're afraid you'll lose it. When you know who you are, you know you can't lose anything. It may need to go off for five minutes or an hour or a week. No, you can never be sure it will come back, but you're okay. You don't need anything.

The world is filled with love and connection and joy. The world is also filled with pain and loss and sorrow. It's all there. How open can you keep your heart? Can you continue to know, I am okay whether I have this or don't have this? Can you get out of that rut of when it's taken away it's because I am bad, and when it's given it's a pat on the back, I'm good? Cut through that delusion. Look at attachment. See the difference between attachment and love. Are there further questions? That is all.

(No further questions.)

(We form a circle, holding hands.) One minute of silence. Feel the energy from the others … Feel your own unique but non-separate energy field … Focus on your breath as a foundation, as place to rest, and simply feel the energy in the room and any tendency to withdraw or to grasp at … Allow boundary to dissolve … Allow the heart to open …

Can you expand awareness to include all the angels, all the guides and loving spirits that fill this room? …

My dear ones, trust your hearts' knowledge of how deeply you are loved, and that you do not ever need to be afraid …

Good night to you all, with my love. That is all.