Wednesday, November 24, 1993

(There are many new people here tonight.)

Aaron's talk

I am Aaron. Good evening and my love to all of you. I'm going to move in a rather different direction this week. We've been talking about this balance between relative and ultimate reality. The ways you rest in them both, the ways you work with mind and awareness within the relative reality and the ways you allow wisdom mind to cut through delusion in ultimate reality. Much of what we've been talking about has been somewhat abstract. We have applied it to your questions: 'What do I do with the painful catalysts of the incarnation? What do I do with the anger, the desire and the fear?' But we haven't pinned it down precisely; its been somewhat abstract.

I want to begin tonight with telling you a story. For some of you it may stretch your credulity quite a bit; that's fine. This is something that Barbara experienced, but if you are more comfortable seeing it as a dream, it makes no difference. The basic story elements remain the same, whether the person is real or simply a figment of Barbara's imagination. We're not trying to convince you of the truth of the story but only to share the story as a basis for discussion afterward. After Barbara moved through this experience I spent many hours discussing it with her. As I did so it felt to me that it touched on many areas of learning we've approached here and not gone into as deeply as I would have liked. We have been talking a bit about karma and grace, and this especially touches on their interrelationship. Also on the bardo states in between incarnations, and how one moves into the next incarnation, what stream pushes one. First the story. As I said, take it in any way you like.

I begin by saying that the experience Barbara had is not a new one to her. Barbara is a spiritual teacher and counselor. She does not choose who will come to her, but tries to open her door and her heart to any. She was asleep. I could almost say the doorbell rang, but it didn't, because what came to her door was discarnate energy. Within the dream, but totally unrelated to the dream, she heard whispered in her ear-I know she can not hear, but nevertheless there was 'Pssst,' and a loud whisper in her ear-'My name is not Joan, my name is Mirianna.' It didn't fit with the dream at all; she thought somebody was in the room whispering. Yes, in her sleep she does not remember she is deaf; she does not lip read in her sleep, she hears in her sleep. So, in that blurry moment of waking she felt that somebody had entered her room and was whispering in her ear; it was that loud. She woke feeling a sense of horror, of darkness. Again the voice, 'My name is not Joan, my name is Mirianna.' It was demanding and desperate.

The first thing Barbara said was, simply, 'How can I help you?' This voice said 'Pray for me.' Barbara felt a very heavy darkness. You know I do not use the term evil. There is light and there is relative absence of light. There is that which you may call God, Love, or truth, or the absolute. Or borrowing from the Buddhist Udana scripture, the Unborn, Undying, Unchanging, Uncreated. There is no absolute negativity in the same way that there is absolute positivity. There is only degree after degree of darkness, until it does get very dark indeed. But even that which is darkest is part of the light; it has come from the light and in some distant time it will return to the light. This is your nature. That being in heavy darkness has not yet come to any understanding or acceptance of its nature.

Whatever we call it, that which Barbara experienced early in that morning was very pervasive and heavy. Because of the nature of her work, that she must frequently work with negative energy, Barbara is not intimidated by such, although she is certainly respectful of it and of its power. This first step then was to work to center and ground herself so that she could be a resource for this being that had asked for help. After centering herself and reconfirming her own truth, she did begin to pray for this being. She felt it was being pulled down a hole, that something was holding on to it and pulling, with its hand sticking out the top at the last moment saying 'Help me.' All Barbara could see was the fingers over the top. So, she figuratively grabbed hold.

Slowly this being's story emerged. Barbara spent, perhaps, two hours talking to her. She was in a hell realm of her own choosing. She had closed herself up there both because of the deeds she had done and because of her own fear and self condemnation, but it was not punishment. One is not put into a hell space, one creates that for oneself. Barbara began to see images. First she saw what this woman had done in her lifetime; it makes your horror movies look like fairy tales. Immediately there was some judgment in Barbara, but she realized this woman had been judging herself for however long. Many decades, I suggested. She had not come for judgment, but seeking the light. The larger story began to emerge. I will tell it very briefly so as to not invade this being's privacy beyond what is useful for instruction, but I do speak with her permission to share it.

The father terribly abused the female child named Joan. The mother turned her back on the abuse, denied it. When Joan cried or complained she told her 'No, you be good!' And so this child named Joan grew up acting out the parentally requested model behavior of a child, but only by denying the other reality of her life. That other aspect of her suffered terribly at the hands of both her parents, one who forced his body upon her constantly and beat her as well, and one who totally denied the horror the child was living. The only way that Joan could survive this was to move out of her body. She became Mirianna. She even called herself Mirianna to her schoolmates and teachers. While the body of Joan was being abused, Mirianna consorted with the angels. She simply escaped completely, with no idea of what Joan was experiencing. This is typical multiple personality disorder. There was no connection between them. Joan's rage grew. Can you imagine the impossibility of being this proper, polite and loving young woman, with the rage, pain and torment Joan carried in her heart?

Joan finally exploded. Remember that Mirianna did not know what Joan experienced or did. Joan began to kill people, brutally, not people she knew, but innocent people. And as there was no connection between these murders, she was not apprehended for some time. Mirianna knew nothing about it. Mirianna was the good one who walked through the proper settings of Joan's life. Finally, Joan killed her parents, brutally, dismembering them.

This being suffered such torment after her death. Yes, she was put to death. On the spirit plane there was awareness of who Joan was. Mirianna needed to totally deny Joan: 'Joan belongs in hell, I don't.' There was no compassion for the terrible suffering she had experienced and there was no readiness for responsibility, only pointing the finger of blame at her parents: 'It's their fault, they turned me into what I was.' This distortion completely closed her to any possibility of light. It was her own negativity that pulled her into that hell she created.

Barbara spent most of those two hours saying, no, she would not call her Mirianna and deny Joan, she would speak to Joan. Joan was worthy of beginning the process of healing; Joan and Mirianna must be integrated. I do not need to tell you in depth what Barbara told her. She told her what any of you would have told her in the same situation. During the time Barbara spoke with her she made no effort to understand the ideas behind what had happened. She kept feeling Joan/Mirianna pulled by negativity. She kept saying to that negativity, 'You can not take her unless she agrees to go and she has not agreed; she has asked for help.'

Barbara understood as she talked to her that it was negativity's pulling in that way, distorting, that finally tuned Joan/Mirianna into the fact that maybe there was some hope: 'This negativity is trying so hard to pull me in. If I was truly that bad, that completely hopeless that I could never return to the light, it wouldn't have to try to pull me in. It would just turn its back on me and let me sink.' It was at that point that she cried out 'Help me!' There was just that tiny glimmer of understanding.

Barbara asked at one point, 'Why me? There are far more powerful sources of light in the universe.' Imagine a being that has been in a cave for fifty years, totally in darkness. Even a candle would barely be bearable. Part of the reason Barbara was asked to help was that Joan/Mirianna could not begin to approach brilliant light. She needed an intermediary to further approach light, one who was still partially within the shadow world herself. She also needed a human. On the higher realms there is no judgment. She needed to approach someone who contained judgment and also compassion. And this was her gift to Barbara, because as terrible as that woman's deeds were she evoked Barbara's deepest compassion. All judgment of her fell away. Barbara truly began to feel love for her. Perhaps that's what Joan/Mirianna most needed, to see that she could still be loved, that she was worthy of salvation. I am happy to be able to say that in the end Barbara was able to give her hand over to what we might call an angel. She allowed herself to be led where healing would begin.

It is then that Barbara and I began to talk. Yes, it was a rather long night for her. She knew that she could go back to sleep then, but was curious about what had transpired and rather full of energy, so we talked for a few more hours. Barbara also meditated and began to see many things more clearly for herself. There are a number of different places here that we will touch on.

First, I have told you that between lifetimes you decide what will be the next lifetime. I know there has not been complete clarity about that, but I decided at that time to leave it alone because I did not have a good way of explaining it more deeply. This is the question: how much choice do you have and how much does karma influence choice? In exactly what way does free will act?

Let us start with a image that Barbara had in meditation. It helped her and I hope it will help you. She began to see a river with a strong current, that river in which each of you is immersed. Sometimes there were small side-streams which wound their way about in a meandering flow, with almost no current to them. Those are the places where you can rest as long as you need to until the next incarnation. But the water is constantly moving downstream, even when the current is slight. Eventually you emerge from that meandering bypass and back into the current. You can hold on to a branch and rest. But the seed of what is technically called vinnana, rebirth consciousness, will, once it is planted, draw you inexorably into the next lifetime.

How does free will work in choosing that lifetime? We've talked about looking at a blueprint of sorts, seeing what yet needs to be learned and what are the ideal conditions for learning. While that is all accurate there is more to it. Here you are in this river, pulling you downstream. Straight ahead of you there is a deep chasm. The river banks rise up high and trees close in, so that there is almost no light coming through. The waterbed descends sharply and contains huge boulders. You go over the edge, flung from rock to rock and down steep waterfalls! You are beaten by the elements. This might be the event of one moment or it might be a lifetime, you can read it either way. Then you emerge into a quieter pool. The current that started up at the top and came down that chasm, the main current, is drawing you into the next chasm. This is the habitual aspect of karma.

If you pay attention you'll feel the small eddies in the water, and a warmer, gentler current, pulling you to one side; there you see another stream. It is one where the banks are not so steep and there is more sunshine. It requires an effort of will to move yourself out of the habitual stream and into this gentler stream. Perhaps this is where what we call grace comes in.

For several weeks we have defined grace a bit here and there, but have never come to a definition of it. Grace relates to that source of love, call it God, call it pure awareness, call it whatever you wish. It is the source of light and love in the universe. It is the center that all energy comes to when it finally does come to center. That light is your true nature. I will not say that it's constantly available, it's more like a light house that turns its beacon, shining this way and this way and this way. If you miss it the first time around, it will be back! It only keeps going around. So, when I say that it's always available, it's always available somewhere, but it may not always be available deflected toward you. Not perhaps in this moment, but, yes, in the next moment. And if you miss it, it will be back.

We might use the metaphor of grace as that warm eddy of water that catches your attention because you are aware and says, 'There is another way.' My emphasis here is that grace is always available, but you must pay attention to connect with it. It is not a personal grace that singles one out because it has prayed for help (although prayer may connect with that help because through your prayer you enhance awareness). Grace is not saying, 'Yes I'll answer this prayer, no I won't answer that one.' Rather, your prayer is a statement of your readiness to be more responsible, to be ready to learn, to open your heart a bit from its prior constrictions of judgment and delusion. Hearing that intention, the light is focused on you. For Joan/Mirianna there was just such a moment of grace. It was a moment of awareness: 'I do not have to continue to descend forever into this hell. There is a choice. There is light.'

So, you go down this easier stream. You're still battered on the rocks a bit, the water is colder than you would like, the sun doesn't come through very well and there is a pool again at the bottom. Again, at either the end of this moment of catalyst or at the end of this lifetime, are you awake, or are you so busy blaming the boulders above you that you miss that warm eddy of water? When you are aware, not caught in blame, not caught in dispersion, but fully present, you start to see the thousands and millions of alternative paths and you allow yourself to move more and more into a path of peace and joy.

The most important ideas I want to leave you with are that grace is always available and it is your option whether you choose to allow its presence or not. It is you who hold the window shut or open. What does this have to do with moving into the next lifetime? If you find yourself in that pool cursing at the rocks above that have skinned your legs and cut you, and below you are three more chasms, what you are learning and where you are karmically pulls you into one of those three chasms, which are all dark. As you ask those beings who might parent you to do so and arrange with them to be your parents, what you are arranging is to move into another lifetime of horror, continuing the flow into the next dark, rocky chasm.

But if the light caught your eye, if you were paying just that much attention, and made the small effort to move out of this fierce flow, you would see different streams. You will again incarnate into that lifetime in which you may work to resolve that old karma, but it's different at this point. Some of that old, habitual tendency has been changed. The heart is open. For Joan/Mirianna, had she continued to descend into that hell she would have reincarnated again into that hell, probably reincarnated into another very brutal lifetime, perhaps as another murderer. It is by her own acts (not on an incarnative plane but on the astral plane) that she has changed that flow.

This is the second point that Barbara and I talked about, the interval before becoming. This is the interval before movement into a different incarnation, often called the bardo state. Joan/Mirianna is beginning to look at the possibility of forgiveness towards herself and her parents. By the time she is ready for incarnation-while she is still responsible for all of those murders-she is not going to have to be murdered, have her body hacked into thousands of pieces lifetime after lifetime, as balance for what she did. There are other ways to balance that karma. Balance will be required. But it is likely that she will move into a lifetime with parents who are also working to learn forgiveness and non-judgment, and who will help to foster those qualities in her because that is what she's ready to learn.

So she will find beings who are working with the same issues of non-judgment and forgiveness and ask if they will parent her. She will seek a lifetime in which she will not be abused. As she learns what she needs to in that lifetime, she will turn even more towards the light. That turning can occur during the lifetime, it can occur at the moment of death, or it can occur in the bardo states between lifetimes. The precise way it happens is complex. If there is interest Barbara or I will be glad to explain it more deeply. I do not think it is necessary to go into all the fine details at this point and thereby encourage intellectualizing. You are not presently in that state, you are here in incarnation, and our emphasis has been on what we do with the catalysts of the incarnation. I share this present information because each moment between one tumultuous happening and the next one is analogous to a bardo state. It is a place of resting before you move on. Do you rest in hatred, fear and delusion, or do you begin to use love and wisdom to cut through that in the ways we've been practicing? Do you use your meditation practice to understand what has arisen and how attachment and aversion have formed? Is awareness present? With awareness you may shift the weight to ultimate reality and come back to this sense of who you truly are, to the divinity of you.

Each time you work in either or both ways, working with the real catalysts of the moment and resting in pure awareness, you create new seeds for the next moment. Each new moment is a kind of rebirth. In these ways you really can affect karma. Yes, you will still be responsible for harm you have done, but there are far gentler ways to work out the responsibility for harming another than receiving harm. Joan/Mirianna may serve those beings she murdered in myriad ways, helping each of them on their path. She may atone in that way for what she did. Balance is created by what she is able to give them from her new place of understanding.

And this is also true in your moment to moment lives. If you've blown up at your child or partner, screamed and raged at them, it's not enough to say 'I'm sorry.' You can say 'I'm sorry' ten thousand times and it's never completely sincere if there is no sense of responsibility behind the 'I'm sorry.' But when you look deeply into that person's pain that you have caused by your rage and understand your responsibility for that pain, then you may work with that being to help alleviate that pain. It is no longer their pain, nor yours, but shared pain. You may help them find deeper understanding about their own pain. In this way you serve them and balance that karma.

It was a fascinating evening for Barbara, if one in which she got little sleep. She's deeply grateful to this being for knocking on her door and teaching her. There is much more that Barbara and I covered that night. I do not want to talk too long here. I want to allow you your break and leave time for your questions. I would be glad to answer further questions about this whole story. I thank you for your attention. That is all.

January 6, 1994. Barbara: As I sat here this morning cleaning up this transcript, I prayed for Joan/Mirianna and asked what had become of her. I was offered an image of this woman, this energy, looking like an invalid, dressed in what seemed like a white hospital gown. A nurse/angel-a very loving energy dressed in soft white, radiating soft white-walked beside her and supported her. Joan/Mirianna paused often to pull open tiny slats in the window shades in the hallway where she walked, and look out. She was careful not to open them too far. She still cannot bear much light. But she is healing and learning. I sent her my loving wishes for her continued emergence into the light. I feel real gratitude for the opportunity to have served this sister in a small way.


Question: Aaron has said we don't lose lessons previously learned, however a certain person was probably not a murderer before, so if we choose abusive parents it would seem we risk sinking into unskillful behavior. Can you comment on that, Aaron?

Aaron: I am Aaron. The clearest way I can comment on that is to return us to the river. We've moved ourselves from the chasm, we've entered a gentler stream. But as we go down there are still boulders that bark our shins, the water is still cold and while there are patches of sunlight, there is still shadow.

If you drift down that stream blaming the rocks for being present, blaming the water for being cold, blaming the trees for casting shadows, you go through that same kind of stream many, many times. You're not learning, not seeing how self has solidified and aversion sprung from that solid self, but just casting blame on everything else. The boulders are just being boulders. It is the solid self that imagines the boulders to have a personal vendetta. Once you clearly see that the boulders are just being boulders, then you understand it is your choice, to continue down that chasm or to seek a stream that is freer of boulders. What happens, metaphorically, is that your attention becomes so ingrown at lashing out, rather than seeing clearly, that you get swept into the colder, fiercer current of the deeper chasm again. This is part of it. In describing being swept into the deeper chasm I'm speaking of people who move back to a lifetime of intense suffering. This is only one reason.

Part of it may simply be, let us call it unfinished business with the being with whom you incarnate. Karma is not a blanket that's clean or dirty, black or white. There are many streams of karma. You can have clarified many things and still have one area that is totally unresolved. Karma is not punishment, but learning. It invites you into where you need to learn. What do we do with the child who's failing its arithmetic class? The teacher invites the child to come after school and go over the material. The child may come in cheerfully, pay attention, learn and get a good grade on the next exam. Or the child may come in reluctantly, saying 'It's not fair!' pay no attention and keep failing regardless of how skillfully the teacher tries to encourage and excite the child about the subject. It's simply the child's attitude: 'I'm not gonna do this, I won't be responsible.' So, the child must repeat the class.

The third possibility is part of re-balancing karma but also offers one the opportunity to see if you really learned this. You incarnate into the heavier lifetime with some degree of clarity and the intention to try to open the door for the other being who had been trapped in that karmic situation with you. Can you maintain that clarity through the situation or lifetime? If not then you still don't really have it clearly and you need to work on it again. It is harder when the situation is heavier, and yet those heavy situations in some ways offer the best opportunities for learning. They really push you to the wall. Are you going to open your heart or not? It's much easier to move into blindness when you are in a situation that doesn't challenge you in that way. You just stop paying attention. So this third possibility is that the incarnation with abusive parents was taken to help the parent learn something, to balance past karma by offering oneself as teacher to that parent. And also to see for yourself: did I really learn it? Can I get through it this time without turning into a murderer, without blaming others? Because certainly every being that has an abusive parent doesn't turn into an ax murderer. Does this answer the question? Are there further questions related to this? That is all.

Barbara: John is asking: When we make plans with someone who will parent us, do we know in advance they are going to be abusive? Let me answer this a little bit from what Aaron has taught me.

Because we ask them before they incarnate and we don't know what's going to happen to them in that eighteen, twenty, thirty years before we're ready to move into incarnation, we ask a number of prospective parents to parent us. We have the agreement with a number of beings with whom there's a connection, with whom we feel there might be a good opportunity for learning. Then we look at where they are before we are ready to move into incarnation. Which body are we going to move into? They've all agreed to parent us if the situations are right. Well, maybe person A's spirit is saying 'I need to learn to practice forgiveness and compassion, I need to learn not to move to rage, to value myself. In order to learn that I need parents that will give me some support. But, if they give me too much support and there's nothing that's a negative catalyst I'm not going to be forced to look at the rage within me. So, I need something that will be somewhat abusive and somewhat supportive. This one's out because he/she grew up in a situation that was totally abusive and he/she is a raging maniac. That's not what I need. This one's out because she's moved to Africa and is living in poverty. That's not the right situation for me. This one seems just right. So, this parent seems right and I even have a karmic connection with the partner too.' We still don't know if that parent is going to be abusive, but we know there is the possibility for abuse because the parent reacts quickly and loses its temper quickly, but it is working with learning how to forgive and how to be more skillful in its life. So, that's why we choose that one.

Question: What puzzles me is that we like to think that we are getting closer to the light with each incarnation, but it seems that it's quite possible to regress. I think Aaron understands what I'm concerned about.

Aaron: I am Aaron. An abusive childhood, a childhood of deprivation, or an adult life where one is scorned by some does not necessitate an adult who is suffering or who is abusive. Look, if you will, at the later part of the lifetime of the one who was known as Jesus. He was crucified. But he wasn't in a dark chasm. He offered to move into that lifetime in service to others. There are very beautiful children, who grow into very beautiful adults, who move through much heaviness in their childhood. It simply reconfirms the light for them. You can not presume that an abusive childhood means that this being has done something bad in the past and is stuck in a negative karmic stream. It is not the situation but how you relate to the situation. Some beings see all the streams spread out and enter the one where they can do the most good. Some beings see all the streams spread out and say to themselves, 'These will be much gentler, but I really need to test myself and see if I finally have learned this; I'm diving into that one.' Does that answer your question?

Response: It doesn't necessarily follow that being abused leads to unskillful behavior later, however, it appears that it is still a big risk.

Aaron: I am Aaron. It is a big risk. The being who enters such a chasm in offering to serve must be very, very aware. One who enters to serve, but filled with ego: 'I'm going to be the servant,' that one very often gets caught. To make that kind of movement there must be real purity, clarity and real emptiness of self. So that there is no servant and served, just heart connection. What muddles this is that there is not just one motivation, nor one strand of karma that leads you into an incarnation. If that were so it would be very simple. There is a dog toy in the house that illustrates this wonderfully; I wonder if Hal can find the toy 'braid.' We will meditate silently while he looks. … (Hal hands the toy to Barbara-Aaron thanks him. It is three large, intertwined strands of rope, each strand made up of many smaller strands in a variety of colors.) It's not just a braid with three strands, but each strand has innumerable pieces that make it up. So many different streams of karma. Of course there are the basic lessons of a lifetime, but you're learning so much. All of those thousands of pieces of karma, thousands of streams. Let's say that the pink strands are the real aspiration to serve and purify one's energy. The blue strands are the anger, the greed, the rage, the fear, the delusion of self. You will notice that within any heavy rope there are several different colors. The decision to move into that chasm of a very heavy lifetime comes both from a place that says 'Perhaps I can be of service here,' even if that's one one-millionth of the motivation. Yes, it may come from complete blindness that just sweeps you along in this samsaric cycle, that's one possibility. But as the being becomes more and more aware the multitude of motivations come into play.

Yes, there is a risk. There's always a risk. Do you think that there is a lesser risk if one were to move into a life of great plenty, of wealth, of very loving parents? One would be nurtured and cared for but, perhaps, one would never learn independence. Perhaps one would never come to understand suffering. Do you know the story of the Buddha's boyhood? He was raised as a prince and his father went to great effort to hide from him the reality of suffering in the world. He never saw illness, death or hunger. But he was curious and he moved out beyond his boundaries. He went out into the city. 'Why is that man sitting on the curb?,' he asked his older companion. This companion said, 'He is sick.' The prince asked, 'What is sickness? What about that one whose face looks lined and can hardly walk?' The companion responded, 'She is old; she's dying.' Until then he did not know what sickness or death were.

Eventually every being reaches that place of illness and of death. Is one necessarily better prepared for it because one had a childhood free of pain? Might one be better prepared for the suffering that necessarily emerges in the human lifetime if one has had the repeated practice of finding space for that pain, finding ways to forgive and move away from judgment?

When I use this metaphor of the dark chasm I see that there is a distortion in that metaphor, and yet I can not think of another way to phrase it. I use the dark chasm with a heavy current mostly to illustrate the way one can be swept blindly from one incarnation to another, or from one moment to another, never seeing that one's rage and blame is truly that which has kept one captive. Entering the dark chasm knowingly is very different than being swept into it through delusion. Does that clarify it for you? That is all.

Barbara: (Reading question, comments that Aaron is laughing and likes the question.) Everybody and every book says that to benefit from meditation you have to do it regularly. My question is: why? Why can't it be like a medicine, I do it when I need it? Your comments please.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Lets start this with a question: who are you? You each have many concepts about who you think you are. This body, these thoughts, this brain, these skilled hands or whatever special artistic skills you may possess, this way of relating to the world, this stream of consciousness. You start to think that these are who you are. Body, mental formations, consciousness.

Meditation is not a medicine that you take when the distortion becomes too severe. Meditation is a way of being, not something to do. You meditate regularly because that's the only way to begin to fully move into that way of being. What is this way of being? It is allowing yourself to fully enter that state of your true nature, to rest in that pure awareness, free of the delusion of self, of separation. It is that place of ultimate connection with all that is. You are here to learn to live your lives from that space. To do so is to live your deepest truth. You can't do that on a now-and-then, when it's convenient, or it hurts not to, basis. The only way to live that deepest truth is to become meditation. And to become it you must practice it regularly.

Yes, the practice is a 'doing.' It's like practicing swimming. Imagine somebody who effortlessly moves across a lake, very gracefully. They are fully at one with the water. Then you jump in and you practice: 'How do I turn my head? How do I kick my feet? How do I move my arms? How do I put it all together?' You are 'doing.' You're not at all one with the water, you are learning the skills that will eventually come together and allow you to move into that effortless oneness. Meditation takes that same practice, to move from doing to being meditation. So, that is why it needs to be regular. That is all.

Question: When you talk about meditation I am reminded of a saying from the Bible that says when some crisis happens, the way to treat it is to be still. That kind of training is related to Buddhist non-action. I was wondering, relative to regular meditation, if there is some connection between all of these religious activities that train us to be our higher self. Being still, non-action, does not come naturally.

Barbara: By non-action do you mean, literally, non action, or not reacting, but moving from a skillful place of center?

Response: I am not very clear myself. But I just read a book that called non-action not doing something … It doesn't mean that you do nothing. Is there is some connection between all of these religious activities? Is meditation training to be that higher self?

Aaron: I am Aaron. I understand your question. Where there is reactivity that springs from a place of self it may wish to defend itself. It may be defending itself in a more subtle way, which is to be uncomfortable with what is happening and want to be the fixer. If there is a child who has fallen off its bike and scraped its knee, and is sitting there in the street crying, a part of your heart doesn't plan, it simply moves to embrace and help the child. It's not helping because it's uncomfortable with the child's pain, it's helping because the child is in pain. But there is also a part that is uncomfortable with another's pain and wants to fix it. The compassionate movement comes from a place of emptiness of self; the fixer is part of ego. Both motivate the action.

It doesn't really matter if you are literally being attacked in some verbal or physical way and moving to a solid self that defends, or whether you are defending through being the fixer that fixes another's pain so that you won't have to be present with it. There is still somebody doing. As long as there is somebody doing, adhering karma is created. Different religious systems give different terms here. But each system teaches to move from a space that is free of ego. Buddhism talks about it in terms of cutting through delusion of self. Christianity asks you to surrender that self, to move deeper into the Christ mind. These terms Christ-consciousness, Buddha-consciousness, essentially refer to moving from that place of absolute center, free of the distortion of a self who is moving to protect itself.

To be free of the distortion of self protection doesn't mean that you don't step out of the street if a truck is coming, but that action comes from that place of pure awareness which values this body as the home for the spirit; it is to be cherished, you take care of it, you move it carefully back from harm. That is not reaction, you're not striking in anger at the car as it goes past, with thought that it could have hurt you, you're simply moving back.

This that you call non-action is a way of learning to move from that place of center. It does not mean that you do not act. If a child has fallen in the middle of the street and traffic is coming, non-action does not say 'I'm just going to sit here, I'm not going to react.' You are always responsible, not only for what you do, but for what you do not do. If you could have saved the child and didn't, you are responsible. Non-action, rather, is what allows you to act from a place of emptiness of self, where there is no more ego motivation. There is no desire to save the child in order to be the good one. There's no anger at the car that's coming. There is just clear seeing of the situation and very skillful and loving movement to do what is necessary in this moment. No old mind, just what's necessary in this moment.

So, non-action is a fuzzy kind of term, if I correctly interpret your meaning. It might be more clearly stated 'non-action from ego.' Such non-action is the core of every known religion. Coming to rest in that place of pure awareness, coming to rest in the heart of God, coming to rest in the Tibetan-Buddhist term rigpa, pure awareness empty of the delusion of self, and also able to move from that space.

There is in the Christian bible some talk about a rock from which the water flows. This water, this river of love, of pure awareness, of God, this is the true nature of all of us, this divinity that flows through all that is. The labels you put on it are culturally conditioned concepts which we paste on to something that is totally beyond concept so as to give ourselves some way to speak of it. We all seek to learn how to touch that rock in such a way that we can feel the pure water flowing out. The one who comes grasping to the rock will not find the pure water. The one who scorns the rock will never find it. The one who comes to it with an open heart, with faith and without the concept of a self doing it, that one will find the spring and allow itself to be fully immersed in that spring and nourished by it. That, to me, is the core of every major world religion. To learn to be nourished by that spring, and to allow that nourishment to move through you and extend to others. It matters not what we label the spring. Does that answer your question?

Response: (Question is difficult to hear; transcription may not be correct.) Does meditation take us out of ego centeredness?

Barbara: This is Barbara. Meditation works in two different ways. On one level of relative practice it starts to show us how often we are moving from a place of ego and we just become more aware of that and begin to train ourselves not to do so. At another level, deeper meditation is like a sword that cuts through the ego completely and we start to see that the ego was never real. It is a construct that we created, out of habit, out of fear. But, on that ultimate reality level there never was an ego in the first place. We don't train ourselves not to live from that space, we start to see that we don't need to relate to that at all. We learn to have compassion for the being who keeps getting stuck in this delusion that there is a self. The two legs: ultimate and relative reality.

C: I'm thinking about the picture which is very familiar to many of us; it's an optical illusion of an old woman's face with a long nose but, also, if you look at the picture in a different way it is a beautiful young woman with a hat. It is another wonderful example of the way we are looking at things.

Barbara: We're so often stuck in looking at it one way. We are so stuck in being this self, this aspect of the illusion, that we never quite caught on that it's never been there at all. When I say it's just a construct, do you know what I mean? Does it make sense? But, we can't come into a painful situation and feeling ourselves solidify and ego growing say, 'Oh, it's just illusion,' because that's denial. Then we are cutting out the human aspect of us that's feeling very real pain, and the pain is not illusion. The self is an illusion, but the pain is real. So, we really need that balance between ultimate and relative reality. We can't deny the relative world. It's this balance of wisdom and compassion. In the relative world we need to open our hearts in compassion, in the ultimate plane we learn wisdom, but there has got to be a balance.

C: I have a little story I would like to share. On Sunday night I returned from our retreat. I was very openhearted and quiet. I had a hard time connecting with Co., he was just on a different wavelength. He did something which upset me and I was very aware. I had one foot in the mud of being very upset and another foot in that whole concept of being an angel, being very loving and understanding. I went to sit for a while and found myself able to be compassionate to that angry part of me. It felt a little bit like the one part was hugging the other part and a wrestling match was going on inside me. All of a sudden I thought, 'Oh, this is what the story of Jacob is all about, where he wrestled all night with angels, his human self was wrestling with his divine self.' It just went on and on until I had that realization and then I said 'Oh, good,' and let that angel hold the human, angry part and went to sleep. It was not ending it, it just was okay. It was a place to be.

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron who is saying this is also in the story he told when you first came, about Joan/Mirianna, the two very separate aspects of her. She was saying, 'I'm not this one I am that one.' and what she needed was to integrate them. So, (I'm still paraphrasing Aaron) he's saying what we need to do, all of us, is to learn that integration. Aaron wants to say something here.

Aaron: I am Aaron. A bit of homework here for those who would like to pursue this further. This week, each time you come out of a chasm, look around at the rocks that have cut and bruised you. Notice the desire to blame. See how the more you stay stuck in that blaming mind, that self wanting to defend, the more easily you get swept into the next chasm. After an argument with somebody and the wounds from it (I don't mean physical wounds necessarily but feeling pain from it), notice the desire to blame them.

Your self is solidified, you're mired in this muck, and when the next situation comes along, it might even be a relatively mild kind of situation, perhaps somebody interrupts you when you're talking and you blow up entirely out of proportion to the event itself. You're just entering another chasm. Now, what I want you to do when you get to the end of a chasm, when the turmoil has quieted down a bit and you just find yourself standing there feeling anger, be aware and ask: who is feeling anger? Am I stuck in this current? Is it pulling me on into a continuation of the same stream … (Tape ended.)