Wednesday, November 3, 1993

Aaron's talk

I am Aaron. Good evening and my love to you. I will talk a bit as we begin, but I want to take you into the experience of my words and not just let it settle on a cerebral level. We have been speaking a lot of relative versus ultimate reality. In the past we've spoken of this angel in an earthsuit-just different phraseology for the same thing. The earthsuit is your relative reality. The angel is the ultimate reality of who you are.

We're going to speak a bit of history tonight. There have been programs on television about ancestry and roots. What are your roots? Not in this lifetime and not of the ancestors of the cultural, religious, geographical being you happen to be. Who are you? What are your deepest roots?

Because I would not introduce any kind of mass hypnosis-that would be a terrible infringement on your free will-I cannot lead you into this experience. I can only help you lead yourselves and ask you to use your own imagination, visualization and whatever other techniques you may have at your disposal to move with me to as deep an experience as is possible. Let go of perfection. Relax into my words. It will do.

Breathe deeply. Last week we worked with the aperture within the breath-that space between the inhalation and the exhalation. I asked you to rest there, to find that space of perfect light and absolutely pure mind in that brief rest between the inhalation and exhalation. Will you try that now. Breathe in … breathe out … breathe in … pause … breath out … in … pause … out. Do it at your own pace, but bring awareness to that pause. (Some time of silence.) In that pause you are absolutely present in this moment. Pure awareness. As I speak, then, allow this to be a tool that can help bring you back to that pure awareness when you stray.

You have heard me say that you are sparks of God, that you are angels, that you are clear perfect light. I want you to use your imagination here. I will ask you to visualize as brilliant a light as you can. Feel it enter in the crown chakra and move through the body. If there is any hesitation to fully entering that light, note it gently. No force. Move as much into the light as you can. No force.

An optional step here, for those to whom it would be useful: visualize some dearly beloved teacher or guru … living or no longer living … Jesus … the Buddha … or any of your choice … for some of you it may help to personalize that light in this way. If you choose to use such a figure, feel the barriers dissolve between yourself and that being. Feel that being as a channel for this perfect light; feel the intensity of that being's light and energy, and allow yourself to merge into it, all separation dissolved.

The important thing is that I wish you to rest as fully as you can in that light and, while resting there, to feel how your own energy feels when it's clear, when there is no constriction of what I have called the light body.

Let us begin with several deep, cleansing breaths. Visualize that Light. See it as you see the sunbeams coming out behind the clouds … (Pauses between.) … the world's most brilliant sunbeam reaching out to enfold you … like a cloak, gently wrapping you … comforting you … the light so deeply full of love … full of gentleness … feel all holding dissolve in the loving intensity of this light … all separation fade … resistance fade …

As much as you are able, feel that light entering you through the crown chakra … like the sun melting an ice cube … dissolving all the holding … moving through the third-eye and throat chakra to the heart center … and then that inner warmth spreading through the body …

It may help to open your hands palm up in your lap, a gesture of opening and letting go … not getting rid of fear, but allowing fear to dissolve in the perfection of this divine love … not getting rid of separation but allowing that delusion also to dissolve … softness of the physical body … soft belly … soft shoulders … allow the jaw to hang just a wee bit slack … dissolving the tension of the face …

(Long pause.)

This is your natural state. In this way the conscious human can reach to who you really are. Undefended. Connected. Loving and loved. This is the angel who you are. This was the level of awareness of that first spark of God that moved into the illusion of separation from God.

And then what happened? Somewhere within the first moments of that brilliant light's awareness, it looked around and saw itself as separate. What occasioned that first sense of separation? It's not a useful question to ask. We can simply say that there had to be a sense of separation and the why doesn't really matter. For each of you, the catalyst will have been a bit different, but the illusion of separation was necessary. If you never moved into that illusion, if you stayed in this complete openness-no veil of forgetting of your divine nature-then the Earth catalysts could not teach you. You would know it constantly as illusion. It may sound paradoxical but, how can you learn equanimity with emotion when there is no emotion? Why bother to move into incarnation in the first place, if you are not going to set your feet down firmly in this relative reality and accept the learning of the catalysts that are offered. To do that you first agree to accept the illusion.

So there was that first response to catalyst. Feeling yourself as open as you are now, the first catalyst was like a roll of thunder, BOOM! (Aaron shouts and Barbara's hands clap.) Could you feel your energy contract then? And then awareness, it's okay, I'm safe, and a relaxing back into the openness again? But suddenly there was a sense of threat, a sense of separation, something 'out there' that could hurt me 'in here.' And the first defendedness arose.

I have described this using a metaphor of a raindrop on a vast plain. One drop of rain falls. It must go somewhere. It sinks into the earth or, if the earth is just slightly slanted, it runs downhill. Then another drop falls in that very shallow furrow and digs out a few more grains of sand. A third and a fifth and a tenth drop, and there's a small rivulet of water.

Whatever was the first catalyst to separation, it carved that first tiny furrow, and then each new catalyst was interpreted in the same way with a rising sense of need to defend. Each of you created your own kind of defense, your own ways of constricting your energy. Eventually, there were enough raindrops that there was a stream and a river. Finally, the Grand Canyon. It was not formed by a cataclysmic explosion. The Grand Canyon within each of you, of your separation from God and from your self, your separation into 'me' and the illusion of separate self, was not necessarily formed by monstrous traumatic episodes in this and past lives, but just by a million raindrops which followed the path of least resistance, moved into the habits that were solidifying into character and way of being with the world.

I want you to experience this within your own energy field. So, I want you to return to that openness again. Call up again that beloved teacher or guru. Move back into the light. Feel your energy open. Use the tool of the breath … in … pause, and rest in it … out … (Some times of silence between words.)

Now I would ask you to think of something painful that came into your lives this week … something against which you felt a need to defend … perhaps a sense of jealousy … of a friend getting a job … not taking it from you, but perhaps you've been wanting a better job … and there was a feeling of pain or inadequacy … perhaps the pain was from a sense of rejection by somebody … or trying to do something and not being able to … feeling inadequate … feeling attacked by another … the arising of anger … Allow this situation to come into your memory … as fully as you can … now this next step is going to take careful watching … with senses that you don't usually use … can you feel the sense of fear … the constriction of energy … and how it cuts off the light … allow yourself to feel it … unshielded …

I want you to look at this situation and ask yourself, in this moment was I really unsafe? Was I really threatened? Was I really unworthy or inadequate? … Can you see the way mind interpreted it because of all the past data and the ways it had been interpreted? The carving of the Grand Canyon-can you see it?

Now, very consciously, come back to that clear light. We are not going to get rid of the shadow-this is important. To get rid of is just to bring more self in and create deeper separation. Rather, you are going to come back to who you really are, to allow the constriction of fear to dissolve. To come back to openness again.

Breathing … drawing in light …

This is not done because there is preference to the good feelings of connection and openness, and aversion to pain and separation. This is done because you make the decision to live in truth, and the truth is that you are light and that fear is an illusion. The constriction created by fear is part of the illusion.

No holding … relaxing back into the light … back into who you are …

There is a light body which is perfect. With each arising of fear, separation, constriction, the light body gets what I call a scar tissue. You might think of the image of a brilliant light, perhaps a window through which brilliant light shines and plant like ivy climbing up over the window. It obscures the light, shades the light. But that ivy is also a manifestation of light. If you take the light away, the ivy dies.

The scar tissue on the light body truly is illusion. And yet, on the relative plane, it has solidity and is, in its own way, also a manifestation of light. It relates to old karma, which is another kind of scar tissue on the light body. The physical incarnation is a replica of the light body. If you were a painter or sculptor and here was this perfect model on the platform, you cannot create the model, you can only create a replica of the model.

Last week we crumpled a piece of paper here, and then smoothed it out, and I asked you each to see the perfect smooth sheet of paper within the crumpled paper. So, on the platform you have the perfect physical model: young, elastic, radiant skin and glossy hair, vibrant energy. Now let's change that model. Throw some tomatoes at it. Wrinkle the skin a bit. Rough it up. Here's some scar tissue. Chapped and dried places. Is the perfect body still there?

Come back to your sculpture. You create what you see. If you see the scar tissue and the garbage that's been thrown, the wrinkles, that's what you create into your sculpture. The incarnation uses the template of the light body, but all those places where there is old scar tissue-the constrictions of old mind tendencies, the scarring of karma-they all are carried into the new incarnation. Then you can work to clear all that and finally come back to that perfect light body, come back to knowing that in that crumpled piece of paper is the smooth perfect white sheet, come back to knowing that within this physical incarnation is the divine perfection of who you really are.

There are many techniques for releasing the illusory scar tissue, releasing old karma, releasing old energy patterns. You can work with the chakra energy in the body directly, with the energy meridians of the body. You can work with mind and emotions and meditation. They're all tools. Part of what we are doing here this semester, this year really, is to further explore these tools, to help you find ways to rest in your perfection, to release the constriction and defendedness and come back to truth, the truth of your perfection and divinity, the truth of that first spark that is nothing other than the divine.

This week I would like you to practice what we've done here tonight. When you are quiet in meditation, allow yourself to enter into that space of undefendedness and connection. When you are moving through the myriad catalysts of your life and something booms or roars and causes constriction, when you feel that tension, stop if you can. Notice the tension. Ask yourself, 'In this moment am I really threatened? Or unworthy? Or inadequate? Am I at risk of not getting what I need?' Whatever the appropriate question seems to be. When the answer is 'No,' see if you can consciously allow that constriction to dissolve. This is a bulldozer full of dirt pushed back into the Grand Canyon. Fill it up again. You don't need it. Come back to who you are and, from that place of connection, see how your response to the catalyst differs. Can you learn to live your life more from this space of divinity within you, rather than from the illusion of fear and the constriction of old mind?

Do it again and again and again and again. Eventually you will learn there never was a Grand canyon, that this was part of the illusion. Next week I would very much welcome hearing your experiences. Tonight, after the break, if there are any of you who tried last week's homework, which was to insert this breathing practice-in … pause … out-into tense situations, I'd very much like to hear your experiences with that and hope you will share them with the group. I thank you for your attention. That is all.

Questions and Answers

Barbara: Last week, Aaron is saying, he gave us an exercise of breathing-breathing in, resting in that pause and breathing out-and asked us to experiment with that during times of tension during the week to see what happened if you did a few breaths that way before coming back to the tension. Did anybody do that? Anything anyone wants to share?

J: The time I remember the most was last Thursday. I had to take an exam, but before the exam I had a two hour lecture, and I found my heart racing, waiting to get through the lecture so I could take the test. I kept doing the breathing and stopping and re-centering myself, and it really helped to calm me down and bring me back to myself.

C: May I ask J a question? (Sure.) Did you find that moment between inhalation and exhalation anything special?

J: The thing that helps me with that moment is, Aaron has described that moment before as the now. That moment is now, the moment we are in, and that helps to bring me back to myself. We always talk about how the most important moment is now, not the moment we came out of, not the moment we're going into, because we're not in either of those places.

C: He said that tonight, too, but I don't understand why the inhalation and exhalation isn't as much the now as the pause.

J: Why isn't the breathing-the exhalation or inhalation-just as much … (Can't hear rest of question because of microphone movement.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. I understand your question. Technically, the inhalation and exhalation are just as much in the now if you have done extensive mindfulness training. But, for most of you, the exhalation especially pulls you into the future, reaching for the next inhalation, expectant; the inhalation links you to the past. There is a timeless quality to the aperture between. That is why it is given the name 'aperture,' an opening into NOW.

With the inhale and exhale, if there was anger, for example, as you inhale, that anger is in this moment, but the catalyst for the anger-unless it's continuing; let's assume that it's not continuing, but that it happened some moments ago-the catalyst for the anger is in the past. As you draw your breath in, you frequently draw that past catalyst in as well. When you exhale, your mind is already looking to the future, to the next inhalation. That space between the breath has neither past nor future in it. It's very hard to come out of the now of that space. You really have to work at it. Whereas, in the inhalation and exhalation, it takes a bit of work to stay with the now of the inhale and exhale. Does that sufficiently answer your question? (Yes.)

Barbara: Anything else people would like to share about the breathing exercise?

C: I was very angry at my husband for something that had come up during the weekend, and I sat on Monday morning with that anger, doing that breath. And the image of love and light and the God within us, the whole idea of that place being a safe, loving, peaceful place was very helpful. I could be very in touch with anger on both the inhalation and exhalation and still rest in the peacefulness of that moment. I think, with practice, it becomes a very powerful tool.

Barbara: I was using it a lot this weekend, too. I was in Florida with my parents. My father was moved into a nursing home last week and is very sick. When I say very sick, he has Parkinson's. He's not sick in a life-threatening way. He has reached a point where he can't move himself around enough. He needs such constant care that my mother couldn't take care of him anymore. He was feeling very uncomfortable being in this new environment instead of his home and realizing, 'This is my home for the rest of my life,' which is a very scary thing to look at. Taken from the comfort of his apartment and his big recliner chair in front of the TV, suddenly he's in a small room with another man. He's got a hospitable bed and a wheel chair. It's a nice nursing home, but it's very scary. And my mother was tense, scared and agitated. I was breathing. It really got me lovingly through the weekend.

Anything else anybody wants to share? No? Okay.

Question: I don't dream. I just fall asleep and wake up.

Barbara: You probably dream but don't remember the dreams or even the act of dreaming. The first step to remembering your dreams is the intention to remember them. Take a note pad with you. Put it beside your bed with a little flashlight or nightlight, and a pen. And say to yourself, when you get in bed, if I have a dream, I'm going to wake up enough to write it down. Or just begin with the intention to wake up and note 'dreaming,' then go back to sleep.

CM: A long time ago I had a dream and my mom criticized me in English in the dream. She was Chinese. Before she died, I was in China. Does this mean something? In the dream I asked her, 'How come you learned English?'

Barbara: As a female, your mother represents your subconscious mind. As mother she's also authority, perhaps, and nurturer. Subconscious is criticizing conscious. English is a new area of growth. I see this as the subconscious asking the conscious to 'step it up' a little, to work and learn. This is my interpretation; you'll have to decide if it fits.

J: I also want to say something. I never used to remember my dreams, like you. I would fall asleep and wake up. And maybe once a year I would remember a dream. Working with the intention to remember my dreams really helped. I remember a lot of dreams now. It's not that you're not dreaming, it's that you're not remembering the dreams.

Barbara: We've been talking about lucid dreaming which is, when you're dreaming, knowing that you're dreaming, and being able to work with the content of the dream to change the dream. If somebody is chasing you in the dream, you know, 'They can't really hurt me in the dream,' and to turn around and say, 'No' to them. Or if there's fire and you're being chased by the forest fire, you're aware enough that this is a dream that you can say, 'I can't get hurt by fire in a dream. I'm just going to turn around and walk right back into it.' We start to learn to work with the dream state in our dreams, which empowers us to work with the dream state in our lives, with the part of us that thinks that this illusion we call life is real, and to not get so caught up in it.

Aaron wants just one dream-a not-too-elaborate dream. He basically wants to teach us how to analyze our dreams by going through one briefly each week and helping us learn through his way of analyzing them.

J: I dreamed I was an ice skater. I was a woman. I had on a beautiful white dress with flowers, very flowing. And I was an incredible skater. I was passionate and skilled and the crowd loved my skating. I got very high scores. When I came off the ice, the girls' hockey team and the coach were waiting for me. The coach was dressed in black with long black hair and she was saying, 'That's enough. No more ice skating. Now you have to play hockey again.' And I said, 'No, I don't want to play hockey anymore. I want to ice skate. I like it better. I'm good at it.' And we had an argument where I say, 'You can say whatever you want, but I am going to be an ice skater. I am not going to play hockey anymore.' And then I leave and my friends are waiting for me and the crowd is cheering.

Barbara: What does hockey mean to you?

J: Well, it's a violent sport. Very aggressive. Very fast-paced.

C: Also, it's not usually a sport women play a lot!

J: The image of the coach and the girls' hockey team was funny, but they were a very menacing presence in my dream.

Aaron: I am Aaron. We've given you printouts of the frequent symbols of these dreams and made the statement that the way you use the symbols may vary. The printout is only a guide to help you get started. I want to you create your own sheets of personal symbols. Ice skating usually would have do to with balance. I suspect that that's only part of it in this dream. For J, I think, ice skating, figure skating, has a sense of being open, moving to the inner and outer music. Passionate, as he said. Fully alive and in this moment. One cannot ice skate while one's mind is drifting off. One must be fully in the moment. Free. Creative.

He was dressed in white. White and black are not always consistent symbols, but I have seen in J's dreams before that white is very much a color of light for him and black a color of heaviness and closure. If you are keeping a dream journal, it will tell you how you've used symbols in the past.

These were all women. He is male in this incarnation. So they're aspects of his subconscious mind. Three different aspects: the figure skater, the coach, and the reluctant hockey player. A coach is a figure of authority. Figures of authority in his life have been both respected and not so respected: beings such as parents or teachers who were the authority figure without really earning J's respect. The coach then represents that kind of controlling but not necessarily wise authority which the space of love and creativity and openheartedness balanced perfectly on its feet, dancing, dressed in white is finally learning to say no to. It says no to that outer authority which would hem it in. And also to the subconscious inner authority that mimics that voice of outer authority, that voice of judgment, 'You should do this, you must do that.' No. And the reluctant hockey player aspect knows, I've had enough aggression in my life, it's time to dance.

It's a very powerful dream. It will help J to understand the transitions that his subconscious mind is making, the choices that have not yet come into consciousness, but which will be manifesting themselves in his upcoming conscious life. Thus, he won't be surprised when he turns down the 'good job' while the voice of authority says, 'You should do that,' but there's a lot of tension and disharmony in doing that … and when he moves back into the place of love and balance and openness and more fully pours himself into the dance of his life. That is all.

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron. He wants to know if you see how it works … that the subconscious mind makes certain choices. If we're not in touch with our subconscious, we're not aware that we're making those choices, and then they surprise us. In this case, the judgment-a voice that says, 'You should take that job'-if we start to get stuck in it and think, 'Well, gee, maybe I'm deluding myself, maybe I should listen to that authority voice, instead of going deeper and trusting, 'No, at some level this is a real decision that I've made and I can trust my heart, I can trust my decision.'

CM: Prayer, 'self-talk'-those things help us sometimes to know about ourselves. They give us some feeling of honesty, sincerity and respect for ourselves. But those two things are different. Self-talk is clinical way to help your self-image. And prayer is the religious way. And yet, they serve almost the same thing. Is there something similar going here? What is the link between these two forms of self-change? Does prayer work because it includes a clinical form of self-help techniques? I do not believe in God, but I have found self-talk helpful at times and it seems similar to the way prayer is taught in religion. So, are these the same or different? And how do they work? One is clinical; one is religious. Or are they just different forms of the same thing?

Aaron: I am Aaron. This is a wonderful question to dig ourselves into. First I want to discuss prayer and what you call 'self-talking,' or affirmation. The 'self' is involved in both, to some degree. There are many aspects of the self. I'm not talking about that place of pure awareness and emptiness of the experience of self here, but the place where consciousness and self-awareness set in. There may be no delusion of that self as separate from anything else, but there's still a sense of an observer, of somebody who's participating in this. I'd call that the clearest level of consciousness: a place of connection and, simultaneously, of self-awareness. It doesn't buy into the illusion, but it is willing to work with the illusion.

This is the space within you from which the most sincere prayer emerges. It's the place where all delusion is cut, where dishonesty is put aside. It's the place where you are willing to remove the armor of defendedness and truly stand naked, vulnerable, and open-hearted, to experience the depth of your joy and pain, and not to own either of them, but to allow your own joy to take you into the joy of the whole universe, and your own pain to be acknowledged as part of the pain of the universe.

Prayer that emerges at that level is never selfish. It admits its total ignorance. It doesn't say, 'Let this happen,' rather it is a form of communication with all that is. If you envision a God as part of all that is, then it's a form of communication with God. But prayer does not necessitate an image of God as controller, creator, puppet-master. When I use the term God, I'm not envisioning that puppet-master with a long white beard and a stick. Rather, what I envision when I use this term is the eternal, that which continues to exist through its infinity and inter-being with all that is.

In the Buddhist Udana scripture, the Buddha says, 'Oh monks, there is an Unborn, Undying, Unchanging, Uncreated.' To me that is a perfect description of God. We can't say God is this or that, or it limits it. We can only say what it's not: not born or dying, not changing or created. It is that within all of us which is unborn, undying, unchanging, uncreated. That spark of divinity within all of us.

When I am within that place within myself and I address that space in the rest of the universe, that is prayer. I do not beseech; there is nothing to ask for. I merely open my heart and communicate my love and my pain.

When we move into a dialogue with fear in our lives, it enhances separation. We start to act as if we need to control our lives. With connection, we pray, 'May all beings find freedom from suffering; may we all find the healing that we need,' and trust the myriad forms in which that healing will appear. With fear we start to say, 'May this particular pain be healed.' You can't know that's what you need to have happen. True prayer offers deep trust.

Of course, when there's painful catalyst, the first impulse is to wish it away. For example, when Barbara first lost her hearing, her fear said, 'Please, I need my hearing back.' I'm not saying that would have been a wrong thing to happen to her, but it would have prevented the tremendous amount of learning that has come her way through experiencing the world from a place of silence. You cannot know what's going to happen in your lives.

When you move into that dialogue with fear, the level of consciousness shifts and the person expressing this prayer changes. There's more constriction of light, as we talked about earlier tonight, more need to control. You start to think that you are somebody and that that somebody has got to fix yourself, fix the world. The further you go with this, the more controlling you need to be.

When you use the phrase 'self-talking,' I see a wide variety of possibilities there, from something very akin to prayer, but from more of a place of self, to that which needs to convince itself it's okay. You spoke of this being taught to enhance self-esteem. On the relative plane, yes, it's useful to keep telling yourself, 'I'm okay.' But, eventually, you've got to get into that, 'Why do I have to keep telling myself I'm okay? What doesn't feel okay?'

Affirmation can be very tricky because, if there is much fear, it can come from a place of denial of one's dialogue with fear. It can be a way of separating oneself from one's fear. Affirmation used skillfully can be a reminder of who you really are.

When I hear the phrase 'self-talking' then, to me the usefulness of that depends on how caught up you are with ownership of your fear. How defended are you? Is the self very clear or has it moved back to the self that needs to control, that needs to make a statement 'I'm okay' and keep saying it over and over, more and more forcefully each time it doesn't feel okay? You are never going to learn that you're okay by bargaining with the universe to be okay, by grasping at 'okayness.' You're only going to learn you're okay by slicing through 'okayness' and 'not-okayness' and finding out that neither one is real. You've always been okay. There's no such thing as 'not-okayness' it's just a distortion of 'okayness.' There's no duality between them.

What I would suggest is when you quiet down and begin to use this process, you ask yourself 'Who is talking here? Is this a voice of fear? Can I let myself just fall into that fear, release my defendedness? And instead of having to talk from a place of barrier and separation, can I move more deeply into the fullness of my open heart and my inter-being with all that is?' As you do that, the 'self' in 'self-talking' dissolves, the connected self takes over and you move, increasingly, into the form of prayer. Does that sufficiently answer your question or would you like me to speak further? That is all.

CM: I'm having trouble understanding the part about separation and connection. I got lost there. I understand that if you separate yourself from the real world you're going to have a lot of fear and if you connect with the world you are not afraid.

C: What do you mean by the real world? What Aaron calls the illusion of life?

CM: Oh, that's a good question. I don't know how to say it. If you are not realistic, you think things are surrounding you; you are separate.

C: You mean reality is this physical world? Or do you mean what Aaron … ?

CM: Not just physical-material world. It's kind of like reality. If cut yourself in reality, you're going to feel fear. Am I right? I don't know.

C: He describes the real world as reality, meaning the material world.

CM: Not only material. Reality is reality; it's truth.

J2: But isn't reality different than just reality?

CM: Reality is something. … The imagination is not reality.

J: Aaron talks about relative reality as opposed to ultimate reality and that relative reality is illusion.

CM: I'm trying to understand which dimension the real world is. If you're always thinking for yourself, self, self, self, me, me, me … you always have a lot of fear. Why? Because you separate yourself from dynamic whole world. Real world.

J: I think maybe what you mean is you're separating yourself from the connection of the spirituality … or you're getting too caught up in the illusion of the world, the materialism of the world.

D: When Aaron says that this world, relative reality, is an illusion, does he mean that the illusion is the illusion that this physical world is all that there is to us? What does he mean when he says this world is an illusion?

Aaron: I am Aaron. You've heard this before. You are actors in a play. You learn through your acting role and you learn because you're also part of the audience. If the play is presented with love and truth and you sit in the audience and hear and watch it, you're going to learn something. If the actor appears on the stage and says to the audience, 'Now, this is just a play. Don't pay much attention to it. It's not real,' and his stage presentation is careless, sloppy, he's not going to put his heart and soul into that role and the audience is not going to pay attention.

If the actor comes onto the stage and becomes so obsessed with his role, so totally identified with it that he forgets it's a play, he may turn his back to the audience. He may lose track of the fact that when he walks off-stage, he leaves the role behind him. Just so, in this incarnative experience, if you put ultimate reality aside completely, you can get so caught in the illusion that this is all there is-this body, this mind, these emotions, these physical senses, this consciousness-that you start to attend to all that as if there was nothing else. And, of course, if that's all there is, there's going to be a lot more fear. It makes you grasp at trying to fix things the way you want them to be.

I'm not suggesting that there's anything wrong with skillfully fixing that in your life which creates suffering. If you see that your neighbor's house is about to burn down, you don't shrug and say, 'It's all illusion.' You get a hose and you put the fire out. That's the actor skillfully reading his lines. You're not trying to write the lines, but you follow the lead of those lines. If there's a fire, you put it out. If there's somebody crying or in pain, you comfort them. If there's hunger, you eat. If you're tired, you sleep. But you do it with a sense of awareness: this isn't all there is.

There are those who attempt to do social service of one sort or another in their lives, to attend to the myriad sufferings of humanity. Those who do that work most skillfully do it with a lack of attachment to results. They are not afraid of other's pain. If somebody is in pain and there's nothing they can do to alleviate that pain, they don't run around screaming, 'Oh, do something! Do something!' They sit quietly and hold that being's hand, just allowing their pure beingness to be a balm to that being, help with the space they can make around the being. They're able to do that because they don't mistake relative reality for ultimate reality.

Somebody who rests only in ultimate reality may have deep wisdom that cuts through the illusions of the relative world, but they also have desire to escape the pain of that relative world. They use their wisdom as an escape. They say, 'Oh, don't pay attention to the pain. It's not real.' It may not be real but, if I'm the one who's just burned my hand and the flesh is blistered, it certainly hurts me.

You must know that at one level it's illusion, and at the same time it must be attended as skillfully and as lovingly as is possible, with as much compassion as can be mustered. This is that balance of relative and ultimate. Eventually, you come to see that relative reality is an illusion. It rests within the ultimate.

I spoke of the perfect pure light body, but somehow it's had tomatoes thrown at it. It's become wrinkled like the piece of paper. The manifestations on the physical plane are those of the illusion of imperfection. The perfection always exists. The pure Buddha or Christ mind always exists. You do not mistake the wrinkled reflection for the reality, and yet you know that the wrinkled reflection is nothing but a manifestation of that reality. Fear is a manifestation of love; a distortion perhaps, but you do not have to get rid of fear to find love, but to cut through fear and know it for what it is so that you're no longer entrapped by it.

You don't have to get rid of relative reality to experience ultimate reality. By your loving attendance to it, without any attachment or aversion, not trying to make anything happen, to fix anything-just being present, aware 'This pain is perhaps relative pain, but right now it hurts; it touches the deepest place in my heart with compassion'-it stops being your pain or my pain. It becomes the pain of all beings everywhere in the Earth. And thereby, it becomes the vehicle by which I can return to pure mind, while knowing I still need to deal with the human pain.

There is much more that could be said here. We're running short of time. I wonder if this answers the question for you? If you have specific questions, will you think about them this week, write them down and bring them in with you, perhaps offering them here before the start of the session so that if there are enough specific questions, we can start with this focus as my opening talk.

Your instrument for keeping track of linear time says it's time to stop. My loving gratitude to you all for the love and commitment that you give to this inner work. I have enjoyed this evening with you. That is all.