Wednesday, October 13, 1993

Aaron's talk

I am Aaron. Good evening and my love to all of you. I'm going to do something a bit different tonight and break this opening talk into two parts with no attempt to connect them.

As usual I want to address what seems to be the issue of the week. I also want to make time to get into dreams. This is not going to be a basic talk about dream analysis. I want to speak to you about lucid dreaming, what it is and ways that you may work more deeply with it. I also want time after the break for a good discussion of all of this and for your questions.

We have been speaking about this curved intersection between relative and ultimate reality-the relative reality where there is constant occurrence, turmoil and activity with which you must work skillfully; the ultimate reality, which transcends that turmoil. You find as you rest in that curve that you do not need to be in a still place to have stillness. Stillness does not mean silence and lack of activity. It means lack of fretting about the noise and activity, just letting it move through you.

Several years ago Barbara and Cassie were at Plum Village in France, Thich Nhat Hanh's community. They call Thich Nhat Hanh, Thay; it is Vietnamese for teacher. One of the nuns who was there reflected to Barbara Thay's teaching about stillness and occurrence, which was so beautifully simple that Barbara was very moved by it.

She said that they work a lot with refugees in crisis situations. There is constant turmoil, frequent situations that might truly be called those of life and death, such as refugees on a boat who may drown if help doesn't come to them, or those who are being turned away from the shore. What's going to happen to them? Yet, this community maintains a certain mindfulness ritual. They come into a meal and they eat in silence for, perhaps, twenty minutes or half an hour. Then a bell is rung, just once. That is a sign that they may begin talking. They sit at table for another ten, twenty or thirty minutes, not just in idle chatter but mindful conversation. Three meals a day.

So Barbara asked this nun, what happens when there is an activity with a lot of turmoil, a crisis; does the community continue to function in this very calm way? She said yes, that is the basis of their being. They create a space of inner silence, out of which their energy may flow. It may be a life or death situation, but if you sit calmly and allow that inner light to be nurtured, allow yourself to rest in that space of deepest stillness and peace, then when you return to that very important work you will not be caught up in the ego self that is striving to fix this and fix that. You will allow the deeper self to be in control of the energy, allowing universal energy to flow through you, to direct action appropriately, without the fear and tension that creates inner turmoil that leads you to snap at people and to make inappropriate choices out of fear. The more tense the situation, the more you need that stillness.

How many of you face the day with the thought 'I'm too busy today to be mindful or to meditate. I'm too busy for stillness, I've too much to get done'? How much of your reactivity grows out of your denial of that basic nurturing to the spirit self?

We have been talking here a lot about stillness and occurrence, about their patterns. There are times when it will be still, within and without, and times when there will be turmoil. You can never find inner stillness when there is a clinging to creation of outer stillness, because then you must get rid of this or that situation. You can only find inner stillness when you truly have no need to make the outer world manifest in a specific way. There may be a preference, but inner peace grows from the awareness that it's okay either way.

For most of you, when you have an entire day when you're going to be alone and quiet, and it's a beautiful day of perfect weather, with time to take a walk and read and meditate, if somebody was to ask you 'Could you do me a favor for a few minutes?' you would say 'Of course, no problem.' Here is your neighbor, perhaps, knocking on your door. 'Could you just come and help me carry something heavy for five minutes?' Your response is simply 'Of course.' Now, another day comes along when you have a heavy schedule. The same neighbor knocks on your door. Perhaps you're standing at the kitchen counter pushing down a sandwich with one hand and making a marketing list with the other. 'Can you help me carry something heavy?' Resentment may not arise but a sense of fear will arise, 'I can't do all of this. Too many demands on me.' Perhaps you won't snap at your neighbor; you'll smile and say 'Of course' and you'll go and carry it. Then five minutes later, when you've returned home and your child comes home from school or your spouse or partner comes home from work and asks 'Would you make me a cup of tea?' you snap 'What do you think I am? You make your own tea.' Or you make tea with an attitude of martyrdom, thinking 'Poor me, always asked to give.'

It's very easy to keep your equanimity in heaven. Can you keep it in hell? The earth plane is not about creating heaven in your daily lives. Yes, certainly, you can go off to a mountain top and meditate. But eventually you're going to need to come down and stock up on your food. How are you going to deal with the marketplace?

I want you to begin to look at the ways that you respond to pressure. That will pinpoint for you how you're doing on the spiritual path. I'm not suggesting that you're not learning something even if you're reactive under pressure, but can you now begin to carry that learning into the most extreme turmoil of your daily life? How many of you see yourself in this picture. You have just come home from work feeling tired from a long day. The telephone and the doorbell simultaneously ring; perhaps a child starts to cry or the dog to bark. You become explosive, if not outwardly, at least inwardly. What happened to your stillness?

I want to offer a hypothetical example here. Let us look at the situation and what could have been done. It has been a harried day for both partners. They come home and agree to order pizza. Easy for everybody. Each of them has retreated into their own space, tired from the long day. Suddenly the doorbell rings; it's the pizza delivery. She asks him 'Where is the money? Where is your wallet?' He responds 'On the sofa.' So she glances at the sofa and, as is his usual pattern, his jacket, briefcase, paper and so on are tossed there. She picks up one or two things quickly off the sofa, no wallet. Again she asks, to the doorbell's insistent ring, 'Where's your wallet.' Again he says, 'On the sofa.' 'No it's not, ' she snaps. 'On the sofa.' And he lifts his briefcase aside, lifts his jacket, and there is the wallet. Why did she have to snap? What was that about? Where did the stillness go? Do each of you see yourself reflected in this? Is there anybody here who hasn't snapped in just that way sometime in the past week? I think not.

Let's investigate this a bit, in several different ways. What is really happening and how might one move to more skillful response? In this case perhaps she's angry because he always comes home and throws his stuff on the sofa and she's been resenting it for years but never said 'I wish you wouldn't throw your stuff like that, but put it away.' Maybe she's simply had a hard day. Maybe she spent the afternoon trying to find a paper that a secretary had misfiled. The wallet was just one more thing to look for. The reasons are myriad. One must stop and honestly ask oneself, 'What am I really angry at?'

That moment where there is the urge to explode is the moment when your spiritual practice proves or disproves its validity. It's easy to keep your equanimity in heaven, can you keep it in hell? Not much of a hell just looking for a wallet; there are much greater hells than that. But at that moment, it is the inspiration for turmoil. This is when your mindfulness practice proves its value. If you have worked with yourself repeatedly, training yourself to be aware of what's arising in you, not to condemn it but not to fling it at others, then in that moment when you go to the sofa, and the man is ringing the doorbell and the dogs are barking or the baby is crying, you will be able to stop and say 'Feeling tension, feeling anger.' That's a giant, flashing, red warning sign, STOP. Unless the house is on fire, and even then a moment might be of more value spent breathing rather than running, stop, take a deep breath. Breathing in 'I am aware of my tension, of my anger, of my pain.' Breathing out, 'I smile to my anger, my tension, my pain. I do not wish to inflict this on another. My partner's throwing his or her jacket and briefcase on the sofa is not to blame for my emotions. Nothing is to blame for my emotions. Why do I need to say it's his or her fault? What is the anger about?'

Spiritual growth, my friends, is about becoming responsible for all that moves through you and not needing to throw it at others. Spiritual growth is also about penetrating the illusion that this is a solid reality, a solid self to whom it's happening. We're working on the relative and the ultimate plane, then. To stop in that moment of anger and use only the brain and not the heart to say 'Wait, this is not reality here. There's nobody feeling anger, there's no mess on the sofa,' is to deny the pain. To move the other way and say 'I am the fixer and I am going to calm myself down and I'm going to find the wallet and I'm going to take a deep breath,' can entrench you more in being somebody doing. Can you come to that meeting space, breathing and making space for your anger or frustration?

Ask yourself 'Whose anger is this? Where did it come from? How did is arise?' By 'How did it arise,' I don't mean that you analyze each moment of your day that led to the arising of this moment of anger. Only that within the context of that question one recognizes immediately that this is old mind. Right now there is simply the pizza delivery person at the door ringing the bell, the baby crying and the dog barking. My spouse is in the bathroom and I must attend to this. Right now you are feeling pressure, feeling sorry for yourself. Who is it who's feeling sorry for themselves? This being that you have been since infancy and with whom you identify, this mind stream of old mind that has felt infringed upon by others so many times, is that who's feeling sorry for itself? If you come to a clear sense of who you are in this moment as spirit, is there anything happening to feel sorry for? All you need to do is stop and notice and smile to your anger. Then go to the door and apologize to this person 'I'll be back in a minute with the money,' lift up and hug the baby and go back in and find the wallet. You may ask yourself, 'What prevents me from acting skillfully in that way? Where am I getting caught?'

I want to repeat this because I consider it so important. If your spiritual practice is not leading you to both more responsibility and more loving and skillful response, then it's not working. If your spiritual practice is leading you to disassociate yourself from the world and seek a still mountain top, you are still deluding yourself. I'm not suggesting that all of those monastics, yogis and so on who go off to live on mountains are living in delusion. Perhaps they have done their work in the world and now is their time of rest. But, you are here; what are you going to do about it? How are you going to live it with more love?

I want to impress upon you the importance of this dual practice. First is working skillfully with the pain of the moment, whatever that anger, pain, frustration or need may be about, and asking yourself whose anger, whose pain is it? How did it arise? Can you see the way it dissolves when you cease owning it, the way awareness enables you to smile at this self that's playing the same old record again-'My problem, my pain, my anger'? See the owning of it all. Come back to a sense of who you really are. It is the kindest thing you can do, not only for others but for yourself. Resting in that awareness is the second part.

You build the habit that carries you through turmoil by beginning to work with light occurrence. A friend puts it very beautifully: start with the ten pound weights, you'll get a hernia if you start with the hundred pound weights. Practice with the pizza delivery and when the house is burning down you'll know how to get yourself and your loved ones out safely, without panicking. When the ship with thirty refugees is in danger of sinking, you'll know that it's valuable to sit quietly for twenty minutes and eat lunch-to allow yourself to come back to that place of stillness in which the true self emerges empowered because there's no identification of me, empowered because it truly allows the flow of universal energy through it. It is that unlimited aspect of you that truly will alleviate the suffering in the world-not the frantic one that dashes about throwing buckets of water frantically on each small blaze it sees, but the one who sits back and says 'The world is burning, where do I start?' and allows wisdom and a loving heart to provide the answer, not fear and its outgrowths of anger and hatred. I would welcome your questions after our break to speak about this more directly in your own lives.

I want to shift topics here for a few minutes and begin to talk about dreams. I've asked you to bring in dreams to share, that we might begin to get into the process of working with dreams in more depth. About half of you here have worked with dreams with me before, half of you have not. What I want to provide here tonight is just some basic background. First of all, to work with your dreams you must begin to record them. You must begin to let the dreaming aspect of yourself know 'I value this information that's coming through and I will attend to it.' Recording may mean writing a note and then going back to sleep or pressing a button on a tape recorder. Try it and see what works best for you.

You have many different kinds of dreams, but they seem to exist on two basic levels. One is the symbolic dream and one is what I call a teaching dream. In the symbolic dream you are doing things and/or there are other people. They may seem to be the mundane things of your life, but they are related to your life on one level and symbolic on another level. An example that comes to mind is a dream that Barbara had some years ago, a particularly vivid dream when she was working a good deal with mindfulness. She dreamt she rode a bike down a long hill and then left it for a moment in front of a building because something attracted her attention. When she came back the tires, handle bars and seat had all been taken. She was infuriated. She saw a woman getting on a bus carrying these particular parts of her bike. She confronted her, saying 'Those are mine.' The woman handed them back willingly and said, 'Yes, never leave your vehicle unattended.' A dream about mindfulness: What do you think? Your body is your vehicle. How often during the day do you leave it unattended, with your mind off somewhere else?

In these symbolic dreams every character in the dream is an aspect of you. This does not mean that if Aunt Mildred just died and you have a dream in which Aunt Mildred appears and you are delighted to see her, that on one level the dream is not about missing her. But on another level, each person in the dream is an aspect of you. The dream will be about something very different also. Perhaps Aunt Mildred had certain characteristics with which you identified. Perhaps you were afraid of the loss of those quantities in yourself. Perhaps Aunt Mildred was very generous and you loved that about her. Perhaps you're afraid to be generous in the way she was and her death has made you think about how you could better emulate her generosity. At that level, Aunt Mildred in the dream is an aspect of you. Perhaps you wonder if that aspect of yourself is dying and wonder if it can be revived. Maybe in the dream Aunt Mildred has died and you are trying to shake her and bring her back to life. Yes, on the one level you loved her and miss her. On the other level you're trying to shake and bring back to life your own potential for generosity that she symbolizes.

We generally find certain symbols that are quasi-universal. A being of the same sex in your dream is often an aspect of your conscious mind. A being of the opposite sex is often a manifestation of your subconscious mind. A child in a dream may be a new or young aspect of yourself, something that's just coming into being. An old person or teacher may be an older and wiser aspect of yourself. Vehicles-cars, planes, trains, bicycles-often represent the body or may even represent the spiritual journey, the vehicle that takes you through your path. I can not begin to tell you how many meditation students, when they are struggling in the beginning stages of meditation with the misunderstanding, 'I must stop thoughts from arising, I must get still,' and beginning to feel like inadequate meditators (not that there could be such a thing but that's the feeling), and wondering 'Is this practice right for me?' have dreams of cars with flat tires, or bicycles with wheels falling off, or trains that run off the track. So it seems that these physical vehicles do represent your physical vehicle on your journey. What I think we will do is to ask Barbara to assemble a list, with my help, not a elaborate list but, perhaps, twenty or thirty of the most common of these quasi-universal symbols. We will hand that out next week.

The other level of dreaming is what we call the teaching dream, in which you have a sense of sitting either in a classroom or by yourself in front of a teacher and being offered wisdom. This is precisely what is happening; there is nothing symbolic about it. You leave your body often in your dreams and move to the astral plane. You're open at the conscious and subconscious levels, hearing your guides and teachers. One of the uses of lucid dreaming (by which I mean knowing that you are dreaming when you are dreaming) is to come to know: 'I am dreaming now, therefore I am out of my body and on the astral plane, and this guidance is real. If I can remember it, it will help me.' This is something that you can all learn to do.

I am capsulizing all of this now and will go into more details in coming weeks. I just want to cover all the types of dreams you may have. The first step to the practice of lucid dreaming is just like the first step in remembering your dreams, you begin with stating the intention as you get in bed and pull up the covers. This works best once you have first developed the practice of recording your dreams. You state the intention: 'Tonight while I am asleep, I want to be aware that I am dreaming. I intend to do this.' You might have to do it a dozen or fifty times. But suddenly there is going to be a breakthrough and in one dream you're going to be chased by your dragon or walking down the street or flying through the sky, and you're going to say 'I'm dreaming.'

After you do it once it becomes more recurrent. You learn how to shift your mind into that space that knows it's dreaming. In part this grows out of mindfulness practice. In part it grows out of this practice I've just advocated to you of awareness, noting when there is anger or fear that there is anger or fear, and asking 'Whose is it?' When you do that enough times in your daily life, you start to do it in dreams. You're running from the dragon and you note in your dream 'Feeling fear,' and you ask 'Whose fear is it? The dreaming self's fear, I'm dreaming.'

That is it in capsule form. We will be going into much deeper details in coming weeks. I want to spend a short time each week talking about dreams. For now I would like those of you who do not record dreams to begin doing so and those of you who are already recording your dreams to simply try stating this intention when you go to bed: 'When I dream tonight I intend to know I'm dreaming,' and let me know what happens. That is all.


Barbara: I've found that there is a big carry over, for me, as I've become more lucid in dreams. It's not that I change the dream so much by knowing that I'm dreaming, but I start to see the dream quality of everyday life, seeing how I'm getting caught in thinking that I am that person in the dream who's fleeing from something, or angry at something, or raging at something. It's not an intellectual carry over, there's just more awareness in my everyday life; I catch it much faster that I'm doing just what I do in the dream. I'm running from the monster, I'm raging at something. I'm stuck in this waking dream. I think it's the matter of the identification of self. When I free myself from the identification of self in the dream and realize that it's just a dream, that there's nobody actually running from the monster or whatever it's about, there's just an indescribable carry over so that in everyday life I'm much more aware when I'm identifying as self and that I don't have to do that. It's very powerful.

A question about a dream

Barbara: We are asked about a dream. Several times a year he dreams that he is escaping from some evil force; specifically he sees Nazis.

Aaron: I am Aaron. It's hard to say without hearing more specifics. But two different thoughts come to mind. You will have to ask yourself which seems most likely and applicable. First let me simply ask you, is what you are fleeing from usually masculine rather than feminine?

Answer: Always.

Aaron: When the other character in the dream is the same sex as yourself, it often represents an aspect of the conscious mind. So, one possibility-possibility because we don't have enough to say this for sure-one possibility is that what you are fleeing from is your own anger, irritation and/or fear. This Nazi represents the angry aspect of yourself and it frightens the peaceful aspect of yourself. You are afraid that it will overwhelm you, that it will take over. The best that you can think to do is to flee from it.

Another very different possibility is that there's some level of reality in this. I spoke of two kinds of dreams, symbolic and teaching dreams. A third kind of dream that we didn't get into tonight deals with memory, either from this life or past lives. Some of you have recurrent dreams about an unresolved issue from a past life. This does not mean specifically that you lived in that time when people were fleeing the Nazis. The Nazis could be a symbol for a dictatorship that you may have lived under a hundred, a thousand or five thousand years ago. It could be as recent as the Nazis. Sometimes people dream that they are fleeing from some large, wild animal. Animals sometimes represent habits in our dreams. Symbolically that person could be fleeing from what they view as a negative, destructive habit, feeling that they want to get out of the reach of that habit. Or, it could be that that person was chased in a very traumatic past lifetime by just such an animal and that there is much fear and hatred, much discomfort.

It seems useful to look at the first analysis first. Is this some aspect of myself that's chasing me? And if it's not, if that clearly doesn't seem to fit, then you might begin to ask 'What do these Nazis represent? What is the Nazi feeling? What am I feeling in the dream? Might there have been something that was unresolved? Might this be a picture of that?' Do you have questions?

Another question about a dream

The dream is that I was traveling with a group of people. One was a woman I worked for. The second week we were traveling on a boat.

Barbara: Were you traveling on the first week?

Answer: Yes.

Barbara: Were you traveling compatibly together?

Answer: Yes.

Barbara: What does this women represent to you?

Answer: She is my boss. She is someone I enjoy working with.

Barbara: Is she someone you respect?

Answer: Yes.

Barbara: Give me a couple of adjectives that describe her.

Answer: She is like a teacher, I've learned a lot from her.

Barbara: Was there joy about the journey?

Answer: Yes.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Again, with these brief summaries of dreams I can only give you my conjecture of the meaning. You'll have to ask yourself if it fits. We begin with the symbols. Each being is an aspect of yourself. So, she represents both your boss, whom you respect, and that wisest and most mature aspect of yourself. Basically I see this dream as being about a spiritual journey. You as the conscious human are moving to embrace this highest aspect of yourself, becoming ready to embark on a journey with this aspect of yourself. A boat goes through the sea. Water is an essence of the life force. You're getting ready to move through the symbolic sea of life, the sea of wisdom. That sea works on many different levels. There is much joy about the journey. An expectation of learning and of growth. That is how I would interpret the dream with the information given. As I said, you will have to see if it fits. Are there questions?

D: I have a question not related to dreams. It has to do, somewhat, with the first part of Aaron's talk.

(Tape stopped.)

Barbara: The question is: can any thought or feeling about something be in the present, rather than being old mind?

K: He's talking about thinking and feeling about something that's happening now.

Barbara: D is asking about the movement from neutral into like or dislike and does that always take one out of bare perception and into old mind?

Aaron is asking me to speak a little bit about this first. There are many subtle stops along the way between bare perception, neutral and strong grasping or hatred. Comfort, discomfort. If I touch something hot there can be discomfort. I will not like the discomfort, it will remind me 'This is painful' and that the appropriate response is to pull my hand away. But I don't hate whatever it was that was hot. The crux seems to be whether there is mindfulness or not. If there is mindfulness then you catch it at discomfort or dislike and it never turns into wanting to kick the stove. What makes us want to kick the stove? At this point I'm going to turn it over to Aaron.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I want to start with the question: what is bare perception? This is one we haven't tackled, neither here nor in the study group last year. At first glance it seems easy to define. What is bare perception? I'd like you to toss that around a little amongst yourselves and then I'll come back and speak about it.

M: Is it when you see somebody naked? (Laughter.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. I would have understood it a slightly different way. I would have thought it was when you saw that member of the mammal family that has long claws, sharp teeth and a hairy coat. Sometimes called a grizzly or polar bear. That is all. (Laughter.)

M: It's the purest awareness of something identified as other than self.

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron who is asking if that means that there can not be bare perception during an experience in which there is emptiness of self? He is saying, does there need to be a self for there to be perception? Considering that there does not need to be a self to have awareness, must that self enter for there to be perception?

(Tape stopped.)

Barbara: To me consciousness implies a self to be conscious, whereas awareness is pure awareness, without any level of self. So in the deepest levels of meditation I still have awareness. There is nobody experiencing that experience, but I'm still aware that the experience is happening. There is nobody to register it as consciousness; there is the awareness … Aaron is saying it's like taking the picture before you develop the negative. The picture is taken as pure awareness, but in order to get a print of it somebody has got to come in and develop the negative. So awareness is happening at the deepest level of meditation, but there is not consciousness of that awareness.

M: So awareness does not have to turn upon itself in order to be aware.

Barbara: No, it does not have to. It may.

M: Then what is it being aware of?

Barbara: It's being aware of everything arising and ceasing in this moment but there is not consciousness to register that it's being aware until the self comes in and remembers that awareness was happening. The photo is developed.

K: I was thinking about how animals are aware without a sense of self. There is awareness, but I'm assuming that you and Aaron are talking about awareness at a higher level.

Barbara: An animal is aware without being self aware as in an ego thinking about 'me'-'I want this next,' that kind of conscious thinking. But the animal is conscious, there is not a sense of self the way a human defines self, but there's a knowledge of hunger, for example, and a desire to do something about that hunger, and the animal hunts or grazes or whatever it may do. It's not just instinct, but it doesn't always think it out. It depends on the intelligence level of animal, but mostly it doesn't think it out, it just acts in appropriate ways. But that's not a level of pure awareness. Let Aaron speak to this briefly.

Aaron: I am Aaron. There are several levels here. We've looked at the difference between the newborn infant and a wise old man or woman. The infant is no less intelligent but it has not yet accumulated the insights that allow it access to its intelligence. You've heard me say that you are already enlightened, but few of you in this room are aware that you are enlightened. All beings have a god-nature, that of God within them. Most beings are unaware of that in themselves and others. That doesn't mean it's not there. But they haven't learned yet to rest in that space and relate to the world from that space. They haven't learned that they are awakened, not yet learned how to access that pure awareness. So, it's there but it's not used.

This is the difference, perhaps, between the animal, the unaware human and the aware human. The animal has a certain level of awareness and, as it evolves, a certain level of self awareness. Animals such as the pets in this house certainly have self awareness. An ant walking on the doorstep has no self awareness. Do not mistake cognizance for awareness, they are very different terms.

Awareness as I would define it, pure awareness, means the ability to rest in pure mind, totally without involvement of the emotional or mental bodies, to rest in the nature of mind, the perfection of mind, to rest in that space where there is nothing that is not God.

Anything that you see from that space I would call bare perception, period. Most of you have had some experience with either sunsets or music, so pick the one that feels closest to you. Think of the difference between looking at the sunset or listening to the symphony with a mind that was checking the watch, thinking about what it had to do next, or simply allowing yourself to fully enter the experience of the sunset or the symphony to the point that there was no barrier between you and the sunset, there was nothing being played, nobody listening. There was simply music occurring, bare perception-nothing coming between you and that symphony, nothing coming between you and that sunset. Can you all experience that? That is all.

(Aaron now returns to the original question.)

Now, please remember that you are here in physical bodies, but you also do have emotional and mental bodies. If you stub your toe and there's pain you're not conceptualizing about the pain. In that moment there's pain. It's not that you're feeling pain because you stubbed your toe once, or a thousand times, before and there was pain. In this moment the physical body nerve endings are feeling pain. There's no emotion about the pain in the very first moment of it; there's no conceptualization about it. There is just the bare perception of pain. Now, let us coin a phrase-emotional nerve endings. Suppose you're sitting at your desk working; everything's fine. Suddenly the door slams and you hear a shouted curse at yourself. You feel the anger which has entered the room. The emotional nerve endings are feeling pain. You're not conceptualizing about that pain. You're not in old stories of old anger, in that moment there is emotional pain. And there is bare perception, not 'This pain is happening to me,' just pain. You and the pain are one.

Now, let's look through this process. The contact has been made with the emotional or physical nerve endings. At that moment there's bare perception. Consciousness notes that perception of pain, notes there's discomfort, pain. Discomfort is not emotional involvement. It is not ownership of the pain, nor aversion to it, It's just knowing there's pain. The mind knows that the physical or emotional body is experiencing pain. If it doesn't like that discomfort, then the movement goes from neutral, the bare perception of pain with no emotional involvement in it, to dislike.

That dislike does not always take you out of bare perception. It depends on what you do with the dislike. Dislike becomes the next consciousness. There's discomfort at the physical or emotional pain. There is a sense of the possibility of a self that could be harmed and beginning intention to arm oneself, to defend oneself. This is the beginning of solidification of self. Remember this is a flowing process. We can not label it in stages, although we are trying to. But it flows, it's a river not a series of pools and dams.

If there is bare perception of the new consciousness of dislike, not getting caught in the stories of dislike, not getting caught in 'he shouldn't have done that,' just awareness that dislike is happening in me now, there is still bare perception. There's no ownership of the dislike, there's no distinction 'this is happening to me,' simply 'dislike is happening.'

This is where most of you get lost, as soon as dislike is happening you assume it's happening to you, 'I'm the one feeling threatened.' Then you shift out of bare perception and into ownership, into old mind, into all the stories. This moves the dislike into anger, hatred and various forms of aversion.

May I suggest, D, that you're getting caught in analyzing it and that you would be putting your energy to better use simply to note, 'Where am I shifting out of bare perception? Where is self arising? Whose disliking is this?' That's a good question because when dislike arises you are on the border of that shift from bare perception to old mind and if you can catch it there, just as bare perception of arising dislike, it doesn't need to go any further. Whose dislike is this? Where is it arising from? Those questions will carry you back into the bare perception.

If you practice it enough they will bring with them a reminder to have compassion for this being in whom dislike is arising. Remember, you don't have to get rid of the anger or fear. Whatever you're feeling is okay. Relax. Come back to bare perception. But do not cling to bare perception to the degree that it denies the arising of self and denies the pain that illusory self is feeling. This is that balance of wisdom and compassion-wisdom that knows there's nobody feeling this, compassion that knows, yes, but it is happening and it hurts. Does that answer your question, D? (Yes.)

Barbara: K is pointing out something which I've also observed. When we've had a dream and we just wake up, if we stay in that same position we are in (or if we've moved as we woke up, if we more back into that position) the dream comes back. If we shift to a different position, the dream is gone. Why?

Aaron: I am Aaron. I'm going to ask Barbara to do something for a moment. To say … BOOO!!!!! (Said very loudly.) Look at yourself very carefully. What is your physiological response? Some your hearts beat just a bit faster. Some of you scrunched your shoulders, or your abdomen clenched. Each of you is different. Much of the physiological patterning of your body is habituated from past life experience. Some of you have suffered serious trauma in one or another part of your body, perhaps in connection with a loud and frightening sound. The area of the body that was injured most severely may carry blockages and tense more quickly at a loud sound. This is why some of you feel it in the abdomen or in the heart, head, face or shoulders.

In your dream you are very connected to the subconscious mind, and to the superconscious mind as well. To, let us say, that level of non-conscious, or other-than-conscious, awareness, which has closer recollection of past lives. It would be very interesting to see research on what I am about to say; I don't believe that it's ever been done.

Each of you has certain dream positions that key into certain kind's of dreams. If something is threatening you, you move in your dream into the protective stance that defends what to you is the most vulnerable part of your body. If you're experiencing joy in dreams some of you open up in this way (Barbara's body opening); Some of you open up with your faces. Generally there's more of a straightening of the body, an openness of the body. But there are not necessarily universal movements. Some of you may experience a dancing in your joy so that in the dream one leg becomes extended as if it were pushing.

Because your body reflects what is happening emotionally and in memory, when you move back into that position you re-invite that particular memory. If you could relax enough while awake, you would find that certain positions invite certain images. This is one of the reasons why we emphasize the importance in meditation of sitting with the back erect, arms and legs relaxed. For some of you, if you assume a certain position in meditation you start to have certain kinds of images. The images are arising simply because they are keyed into that body position. Those of you who meditate regularly, watch this; notice the difference between the visual images you may receive if you sit erect or if you slump over, or hunch your shoulders with some tension. You're keying certain images to arise. You can start to become very aware of the way your body does this.

For a women, with a women's sexuality, when the legs are relaxed and open, as they are indeed when you're sitting cross legged, there is a certain opening of the entire body. A man often finds that opening comes more from squaring the shoulders, exposing the chest area. So there are many openings and closures which reflect your gender differences and your past life memories. Your dreams reflect all of this. So it's very natural when you move back into that position, you're inviting that memory to re-arise. You took that position in the dream in the first place because it coincided with that type of memory that was arising, the type of symbols and events. Does that sufficiently answer your question, K, or would you like me to speak further on it? That is all.

Barbara: M has just said she notices her body position creates dreams. I'm paraphrasing Aaron who says that you move into those positions because those are the dreams that need to come to the surface.

Aaron: I think that as a potential study, working with such as schizophrenics, simply by observing dream positions and then receiving dream biofeedback by different means, would help to ascertain which body positions are linked to more fear and which body positions are linked to less fear. In certain areas of mental illness it would be possible to work with a person, retraining the assumption of body position to gain some degree of control over the illness. (Tape ended.)

(One last question and answer. These are from transcriber's notes/memory, not recorded.)

Question: How does body position relate to lucid dreaming?

Aaron's answer: When you are lucid in your dreaming you can be aware of your body position, make a decision to change positions and see what effect it has on the emotions in the dream. Body position has no effect on the ability to dream lucidly.