Wednesday, October 20, 1993

Aaron's talk

Good evening to you all. I am Aaron. I welcome the new friends who are here tonight. I would ask you to listen with your hearts. Let go of who I am and only consider, is what I am saying of value to you? If it is of value, bring it into yourself and make it your own; if it's not of value, discard it. It really does not matter where it comes from-whether I'm real or not-only, is this of value.

Last week I said that we would begin work with dreams tonight and I want to do that. But I want to start with the waking dream that you're all immersed in. Do you know the song, 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'? How about a rousing chorus of it. Everybody.

(We all sing together; laughing.)

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream, etc.

I won't subject you to Barbara's singing voice any further! Life is but a dream. In your nighttime dreams you frequently have bewilderment, tension, even fear and nightmare. I said last week that we would begin to work with what I call 'lucid dreaming' which means knowing that you are dreaming when you are dreaming. Through lucid dreaming you may change your relationship to those monsters that frequent your dreams, change your relationship to your fear, anger or desire. You also begin to wake from your daytime dream.

Before we move into the practice at night, we must understand what lucid dreaming means by being aware of when we are dreaming in a waking state. By the waking dream I mean simply this: whose body is this that you're in? Is this who you are? Who were you before you lived in this body? What emotions or thoughts have you had in the past few minutes? Do you own them? Is that who you are? If that's who you are, what happens when emotions or thoughts dissolve and cease?

It's clear you are not your body, you are not your emotions, you are not your thoughts, you are not your perceptions … or a particular way of seeing the world. The place where most of you get lost is with consciousness. You can understand that there's a stream of consciousness: you see the ways that your mind touches and relates to that which seems to be an external world. That is what you think you own and so you get lost in the dream.

Some of you have worked at length with me at uncovering a level of what we call 'pure awareness.' This is a space of relating to the world without any sense of a self who is doing the relating. It is a space of being that understands your deepest inter-connections with all that is, understands that you are not and never have been separate. And it understands that you are absolutely safe no matter what befalls the human incarnation. That which is the pure spirit body is safe.

This is not consciousness as that term is usually used. Consciousness necessitates a self-somebody who is conscious-and that's part of the dream. This seeing without ownership is pure awareness.

There are different ways to access that state of pure awareness. You can't grasp at it. That just creates more self-somebody striving to become purely aware, somebody striving to attain pure awareness. This pure awareness is your natural state, with nothing to be or attain. It is the space where you are when there's no defendedness, no dialogue with fear, no separation. It is the state of your innate perfection, that place where the angel or Godhead in you dwells, the space of perfect compassion, perfect wisdom, perfect generosity, truthfulness, patience, and so on.

We've been speaking in recent weeks of ultimate and relative reality. When pure awareness rests in ultimate reality, it knows that relative reality is a dream. But it also knows that it must relate compassionately to that dream. Once you begin to recognize the presence of the illusion in your waking life and can move back to rest in ultimate reality-not to perfect the resting in it, just to know when you are in that space of pure awareness even if only for a moment-once you can do that, then you are ready to move into this practice of lucid dreaming.

For those who have not yet grasped that distinction between ultimate and relative reality on an experiential level, the work that we will do here with lucid dreaming can be brought back into the awakened state helping you bring the dream practice into daily life. So it's interchangeable-it moves both directions.

I want to start with a brief meditation here-a series of meditations actually-that we will move through briefly because of the limited time we have together, but I hope you will take them home and expand on them on your own. My hope is that through these several practices I can help you to identify that space of being fully awake in this non-sleeping state, helping you sort out the ultimate reality from the dream. One fraction of a second of that pure awareness is all you need to be able to know: this is it! And then you will start to see it much more frequently in your life. It's always been there, those moments, of pure awareness, empty of self, that you had not learned to identify. So we start simply by identifying it.

Ideally, we would do this outside, gazing at the sky; but as it's a cold, rainy night, it seems more appropriate to sit inside and visualize the sky. I would like you to sit with your backs relatively erect. Your energy will flow more smoothly that way.

(Dots indicate pauses.)

Come with me to the beach … See a broad sandy plane … Sea grass is waving … There are beach plums and wild roses. Sea gulls fill the air … Ahead of you is the sea …

Feel the hot sun beating down, and a cool enough breeze that the sun is not uncomfortable.

Leave your towel and whatever else you carry on the sand and wade with me into the ocean, to water just waist deep. Feel the swells rising and lifting you gently off the bottom, then putting you back down again. Allow yourself to feel this wave motion … gentle waves … rising and falling … lifting and putting you back down.

Lean back now into these waves. If you have space around you, you are welcome to do this literally and lie down on your back, or stay sitting, as you prefer.

Resting on the waves and feeling them lift you and lower you.

The sun is at a far angle in the sky. It is late afternoon so the sky above you is a clear brilliant blue. Here and there is a fleeting cloud. The sun is warm. The water is just of the comfortable temperature to cool you from the hot sun.

Waves rising and falling … Look up into the sky.

As the waves lift you, notice your breath is also rising and falling … Rising with the inhalation and falling as you exhale … In the meditation/visualization, your eyes are open, seeing the sky.

As you exhale, follow your breath out … Watch it! … How far out does it go? Out and out and out … Does it stop at the ends of the Earth's atmosphere? Is there any boundary there? On out to the ends of the universe, wherever that would be. No boundary.

Now breathe in. Yes, you draw the immediate air that surrounds you into your lungs, but is there any barrier? … You draw the whole universe into yourself and then you breathe the whole universe out again … Inhaling … exhaling … rising and falling, ever so gently on this very soft sea.

I want you to continue this for a few minutes at your own pace.

(Long pause.)

Feel the warmth of the sun, the gentle coolness of the water supporting you … Does the sun stop at your skin? … Can you feel its warmth deep inside? … How about the water? … What about the fluids of your body, your blood with a high salt content? … all the body fluids … Yes, your blood and the ocean water are different in chemical composition, but are they so very different? In some way, do not all the seas of the Earth flow through your body? …

So, I want you just to float here, gently rising and falling with the sea … within the meditation, eyes open, seeing the sky … Visualize that sky. Use your imagination … Feel the sun … Feel the water … Follow your breath out as far as it goes, and then draw it back in again … Relax and notice how the boundaries fall away, how self dissolves …

(Long pause.)

Is there even the barest moment where you cease to be someone doing this and simply become part of the universal flow of matter … of energy … of light? … Just one moment of clarity … One moment of feeling your deepest connection with all that is … Breathing in the universe … Breathing it out again … One moment of bare perception … Pure awareness …

(Long pause.)

If a thought arises-such as the thought 'Hey, I'm doing this right!'-a thought that returns self into the scene, don't get upset or struggle with it or try to be rid of it. Simply notice, 'a thought.' Like a cloud in the sky, here is a thought … The perfect blue sky is always there regardless of the clouds. Pure awareness is always there regardless of the coming and going of sensations, thoughts or emotions …

(Long pause.)

Note that arising and simply ask, 'Where did it come from?' 'Whose thought is this? Mine? Who am I? Nobody.' It simply arose out of the continuity of mind, the process of mind … It is not my thought. I don't own it. Nor do I own the emotions or sensations that move through me … Just thought, just sensation, just emotion.

What happens to that thought, emotion or sensation as you clearly perceive that you do not own it? Does it dissolve? Poof! It's gone. Catch that moment when it dissolves. (Claps hands very loudly.)

Was there a moment there when Barbara clapped her hands and thought dissolved? Just one second of pure awareness and then the next arising. You can learn to identify that space. You can learn to rest in that space in which you finally see your true nature. Then new arising, greeted with the question, where did it come from? Whose sensation is this? Whose image? Whose restlessness? Nobody's. (Claps hands.) It's gone. And you come back for a moment to pure awareness.

You have all known this pure awareness, perhaps when you saw a sunset or listened to a symphony and there ceased to be subject and object for some moments. You and the music became one. You and the sky became one.

Resting on the sea … Breath rising and falling with the gentle motion of the water … Sending out your breath into the universe … Breathing the universe back into you, And the sunlight on the water … No boundaries …

(Long pause.)

The water grows stiller, the swells are ceasing. Just floating on a calm sea … Your body, floating, has turned in such a way that you face the sun. Brilliant light. Within that brilliance, I want you each to seek out that being who is the highest embodiment of truth for you-Jesus. The Buddha. Moses. Mohammed. Perhaps a living being. No boundaries. As you merged with the sky, allow your energy to merge with this beloved …

(Long pause.)

Again, there may only be a moment of total resting in that energy and then the illusion of boundary and separation arises again. That's okay. Do not try to get rid of boundaries, just notice if they're present. They will go. Focus not on getting rid of boundaries, but simply coming back to that beloved energy over and over and centering yourself in it …

Breathe your breath out into it … Breathe it into you … You may want to use your hands to do this, gathering with open arms the breath and the energy of the guru into yourself, then flinging your arms out, being careful of your neighbors here. Bringing it in, sending it out … Aaaahhhhhhh … Exhaling the self into the beloved. No boundaries …

(Long pause.)

If defendedness, fear or separation arise, note them with that same question: Whose fear is this? From where did it arise? Each time you ask, you penetrate a bit more the delusion of ownership of all of these thoughts and emotions. Nothing to get rid of. … Connected to the sky, the sunshine, the water, and the beloved. … Allowing yourself to rest in that being's energy. …

(Long pause.)

No trying, just expanding your energy outward … Not willing it to happen, but allowing it. It is your natural state … Breath, energy, expanding outward into the universe, into the master's, teacher's or guru's energy and light … Breathing in and drawing it all back into yourself … Boundaries dissolving …

(Long pause.)

Now it is time to return to relative reality. In your meditation, gently lower your feet, touching the soft sand. Allow whatever connection there has been to continue, even to deepen. But as you begin to act and move, you will notice an arising of the more solidified illusion of self. No getting rid of that. It's a very useful tool. Someone must walk the dog and take out the garbage. But it's only a tool-your way of relating to this dream of relative reality.

You need this dream. That's why you chose incarnation. This relative reality provides the catalysts for your learning. There is no reason to shun it. But you must also come to know that this is not who you are. It is only the costume that you've put on for the period of the incarnation. And the world is your theater, your stage, your school for learning.

It is time to return to the beach. Walk slowly, being aware of any arising of separation … Not trying to hold onto connection, but maintaining a sense of that connection, that the experience of connection was real and that you can allow yourself to move into that and can dwell more and more frequently in that pure awareness … Come to the beach, dry yourself and we will end the meditation.


There is no one here who did not rest in that space of pure awareness for at least a moment while I spoke. Some of you are more stable there than others, but all of you felt that space of connection: a moment of pure awareness that penetrates the dream, that lets you know who you are.

Later this evening, and in following weeks, we will talk about dream interpretation. This is another step to lucid dreaming. It is important that you are aware of your dreams and begin to remember them. Not only because analyzing them may be of help to you, but because it heightens the awareness of the dream process.

So, we have two components now in learning lucid dreaming. One is becoming aware of the dream in the waking state, which is much the same process you would use in the dream state. One is the future work we will do in interpreting dreams, getting you all to begin to write your dreams so that they're more clearly remembered.

The third component is the work we have done so much of here with mindfulness: being aware, moment by moment, choiceless awareness. When you are in a dream state-sleeping dream state … (Tape ends.) (… are being chased by a monster.)

(Tape resumes.) … by a monster and fear arises, the more mindfulness training you have done in the non-dream state, the more likely you will be able to be to incorporate that training into the dream. But it is still not lucid dreaming. You may work skillfully with the monsters in your dream and still not be aware, 'I am dreaming.'

Here is where the practice we just did comes in. Our work in the coming weeks will be to strengthen and stabilize that moment of pure awareness. That is the homework I would give you in this coming week, to move to deeper awareness of ultimate versus relative reality and to allow yourself to rest increasingly in ultimate reality while seeing the human who does both get caught in the relative and need to work skillfully in the relative.

With these three components we will work toward this awareness, being able to say in a dream, 'This is a dream.' And then to work with it skillfully.

When you move from this plane-in your terms, die-consciousness as you have known it ceases, at least briefly, and there is a moment of pure awareness. If you have trained yourself to rest in that pure awareness, you find that you stay there while the body ceases. You will not identify with the content of mind, but will move very easily into that space of pure awareness. I will not speak at length now about why that is important, only ask you to trust my statement that it is important.

So that is one of the reasons why we wish to work with lucid dreaming. The other reason is simply that it is a place to practice. Some of you did this with me last year. When you are in a lucid dream state and being chased by your dragon, you know, 'This is a dream. My physical body cannot be hurt by that dragon. I do not have to relate to it as I always have.' I'm speaking here not only of seemingly real dragons but metaphorical dragons: the arising of rage or greed or jealousy in the dream.

You then can say, 'I don't have to relate to it in the way I have in waking life. I am safe. If I face this would-be attacker and say 'no' in a loving way, my physical body cannot be harmed by this being's anger. This being is a manifestation of me which is just as it is in the waking state.'

Yes, another's anger grows out of their reactivity, but they reflect you. If you rage, they are more likely to rage. If you're calm and loving, of course, that's no guarantee that they'll be calm and loving, but it opens the door to that possibility.

So, we practice this back and forth; in sleep, in waking. This is just the first introduction to it. We will be doing much more work with it, not every week, but throughout the year.

This has been a very long talk. I thank you for your attention. I will end here and let you have your break, tea and social time and then be glad to answer your questions. I would especially like to hear a few dreams, if any of you have them to share, so that we can begin to see how you may analyze these dreams. That is all.


(Aaron asked for comments on the meditation experience.)

(C talks about arising of self-judgment. Aaron asked: Yes, are you also aware that there was connection?' and C says, 'Yes.')

Aaron: I am Aaron. What we are doing here is noting the judgment, thoughts, emotions, any of it and releasing it and coming back to the connection. In the past our focus has been much more on working skillfully with what arises. Now we're just saying, 'I don't own what arises. Let it go.' And come back to connection. So it's a shift in focus.

That does not mean that that will always be the focus. Just for right now, I want to emphasize this shift in focus. Eventually, there will be a balance. We've been balanced in the other direction because it was so important first to establish strong mindfulness and to work with the sense of arising judgment and other heavy emotions in skillful ways. They were so powerful that they did not allow connection. Now most of you have reached the stage where connection is very tangible, at least for a moment. So, we're adjusting the balance. That is all. Are there other comments? Thank you, C.

(F talks about his sense of oneness with the ocean, especially an energy that he felt moving up his spine and a ringing noise. Aaron said jokingly that F has probably been a dolphin in past lives.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. While this is traditionally taught as 'sky yoga'-moving out into the sky, expanding outward and sensing your unlimitedness-many of you find yourselves more able to expand outward in water because of the water content of your bodies. That's why I put this guided meditation into the sea rather than have you simply lie on the grass and look at the sky. If it works well for you, use it. You don't really have to know why it works, but that 'why' is because of the water content of your bodies.

The focus here is on expanding outward and feeling the energy from that which is not really external to you move into you. If the sun works for you, do it with the sun. If the sky, do it with the sky. Or the sea.

The energy that you felt moving up your spine was the opening of the chakras as defendedness released and energy moved more fully through you. It is a similar feeling to the arising of kundalini energy, but much, much milder. Simply the chakras opening when defendedness is released. That is all.

(D talks about feeling similar feelings to F and feeling she came close to leaving her body.)

Aaron: Both of you did leave your bodies-briefly, not way out there. But there was movement out of the body. What you both felt was a combination of leaving the body and the opening of the chakras which is related. It's easier to move out of the body, to astrally project, when the chakras are open. The buzzing noise you heard, F, is related to astral projection. Usually it's a sound that you hear when you're reentering the body more than leaving the body. The pure tone that preceded the buzzing was what I would call the vibratory frequency of pure awareness. This which we call God manifests as Light and Sound. That is all.

D: When astral projection, why am I limiting myself and staying close to my body?

Aaron: I am Aaron. Thank you for this question, D. It feeds right into lucid dreaming. Let's call it 'lucid astral projection.' The fear here is of losing control. In order to leave the body, the chakras must be open to some degree, at least the upper chakras. When the lower chakras are still closed and the upper are open, there is a distortion. For most of you, it's easier to open the upper chakras than the lower.

We've talked about chakras here before, that the lower chakras govern fear, relationships, survival, sexuality. The upper relate to spiritual areas. Most of you have a harder time being in the body and dealing with the catalysts of the incarnation than being out of the body, at least a little bit, or at least resting in the upper chakra energy.

When you astrally project and there is a strong sense of self, somebody who is doing it, you can't get very far because you're too caught up with being a doer. When you astrally project from a space of emptiness of self, from that pure awareness space, it's easier to lift out of the body. But there may be no awareness … How can I best phrase this? As you move out of the body, there is immediately a sense of, 'Hey, that's my body,' looking back down at the body, which calls back the self, And then you reconnect into the lower chakras and the fear. Self solidifies and you come back again.

In what I've jokingly called 'lucid astral projection,' awareness knows that there is pure awareness, that you are resting in ultimate reality. That stage of pure being makes an aware decision to release the body, knows that is a body without saying, 'I own that body,' just relaxes and lets awareness rise out, move out. There's no attachment to the body because from that level of pure awareness attachment is impossible. Then there's no fear. You know that you are safe, that the spirit body is safe, that the physical body is safe. And you simply allow that expanding awareness to continue to expand. Really, astral projection is just an enhancement of expanding outward.

As for specific suggestions, this all works together and as you practice any aspect of it, it aids in the practice of other aspects. The starting place is identifying these moments of pure awareness, however brief they may seem and beginning to stabilize the ability to rest in them. Then you will be able to move into lucid dreaming. You will be able to move into astral projection.

Start simply, not grasping at lucid dreaming, nor astral projection, nor opening chakras, just allowing pure awareness to be there and paying enough attention to identify those moments and rest there without any fear, 'I'm going to be pulled out of this in a few seconds.' However long it lasts, it lasts. It will stabilize. That is all.

M: This sounds like when you realize that the heart is open and close it up a bit right away out of fear of not staying open, rather than resting in the open heart.

Barbara: Exactly. When your realize, 'Oh, feeling fear!' and you tense with the thought: I've got to get rid of the fear! You can't reopen your heart from that place because self solidifies. The process of seeing how self solidifies is what finally dissolves the solidification of self, whether it's an astral projection or in dreams or in opening your heart in skillful relationship with others.

C: I'm interested in learning about different levels of light body: the physical body, the astral body, the etheric body. How do those bodies relate to astral projection and no-self?

Aaron: I am Aaron. We need to do a drawing of this to accurately present it. I will be brief tonight and perhaps next week we can go into it at greater depth. We've identified here many times the physical, emotional, mental and spirit bodies. We've talked less about the astral, etheric and light bodies. The astral body for the third density being is everything but the physical body. The physical body is not specifically part of the astral body. When you project into the astral plane, the emotional, mental and spirit bodies leave the physical body and simply move into the astral plane. The tie-in with dreaming here is that most of you frequently astrally project in your dreams. You're usually not aware of it. But you do move out of your bodies in your dreams.

I'm not going to get into details of what the etheric and light bodies are tonight. We'll save that for another time when we have more time and when Barbara has prepared some drawings.

As long as there is ownership of the emotions and thoughts, astral projection is difficult because they become something solid that grounds you back into the body. These emotions, this body, these thoughts: they all come together like a magnet. When there is equanimity with thoughts and emotions, space around them and non-ownership of them, astral projection becomes much easier.

Why astrally project? Is it simply a toy to play with or is there value to it? Of course, it can be used as a toy. Ideally though, it connects you deeper with your true self because while you are on the astral plane, as M just pointed out, if there's fear that says, 'Ohhh!' you pull back into your body. While you are on the astral plane without identification with this physical, emotional or mental body, there is very pure awareness. Then, the astral plane becomes a place to stabilize that awareness.

I'm not joking when I speak of lucid astral projection. Ultimately, astral projection can only be lucid because as soon as we bring a consciousness, a self-consciousness, into it, it ends the projection, pulls you back. The more you practice in both ways-finding equanimity with what arises consciously in your life in relative reality, and stabilizing ultimate awareness-the easier it will become to astrally project and the easier lucid dreaming will become.

In past weeks I've been talking a lot about balancing the weight on both feet: the wisdom of ultimate reality that realizes that this body, this world, this is not real; and the compassion of relative reality that knows it doesn't matter whether it's real or not, I must attend to it lovingly. I mentioned several weeks ago that our work up until now has been weighted toward working skillfully in relative reality because it was necessary, for most of you, to learn that before you could begin to consider the ultimate. Now we are learning to balance: weight equally on both feet.

There is no aversion to the relative world with its suffering. There is no clinging to the ultimate as a safe place in which one may avoid suffering. But there is that blending of wisdom and compassion which enables you to deal skillfully and lovingly with the world while knowing it's a dream. This is the same thing you are learning to do in your dreams, not to say, 'Oh, it's only a dream,' but to deal skillfully and lovingly with whatever arises in the dream while knowing that it's a dream. C, does that answer your question? (Yes.)

(We shift to talking about dreamwork.)

M: Are we going to have dream classes out of body, all sitting here floating around on the astral plane?

Aaron: I am Aaron. I'm already here, M. You're welcome to join me any time. That is all.

(Barbara discusses basic dreamwork techniques using the handout as a guide.)

(Someone shares a dream for us to work on together.)

Audience: I dreamed a white mink-like animal was crawling around on my body and I felt somewhat frightened by it. It had beautiful fur, very soft and very pure white. Someone standing nearby said that if one were to put a mirror in front of it, it would become calm. It was a very vivid dream.

Barbara: Okay, so we start with an animal, white mink, fur. It was crawling around on the body. Was the body clothed or unclothed when it was crawling around? Who said to put a mirror in front of it, was it a man or a woman giving that advice? Was the mirror actually put there and what happened? Symbol of the mirror. Symbol of the mink. Symbol of the other person. Symbol of the self. Were you experiencing yourself in the dream as yourself in your present body or in an opposite sex body or what kind of body?

So, we start with writing down the basic items in the dream and the symbols that would seem to apply. If you look at that symbol and you say, 'No way!' then don't bother to write it down. If it really feels wrong, fine. Then, having created the list for yourself of what these items might mean, you begin to meditate. Let go of conceptual mind. Let go of trying to figure it out. Let your own deeper wisdom provide you with the answers. The answers are not going to come by intellect because dreams aren't logical. You can't figure out dreams in a logical way. You've really got to trust your own intuition about them. So, use the sheet of symbols just as a starting point.

Remember that the dream is a message from your subconscious mind. It's usually related to some issue that you're working on and struggling with. You may not be comfortable with what the dream is telling you. If it was easy to understand that, you'd understand it in your conscious mind already, so it's something that you've pushed down into the subconscious because at some level there's some discomfort about knowing about it. It's a place where you're growing. So, it's very important to be very gentle with yourself, to open to the material in the dreams as non-judgmentally as you can.

Let's start with this dream about the mink-like animal.

Aaron: I am Aaron. What I am offering here is a traditional interpretation of this dream. You are each unique. The traditional interpretation may or may not fit accurately. The dreamer will have to decide that.

The symbols. Animals often represent habit. White is a color of light. 'The fur was soft. If one were to put a mirror in front of it, it would become calm. It worked.' A mirror is a way of seeing deeper into yourself. So here we have a habit (animal) with which the dreamer is not quite comfortable. It's a bit agitated but it's very appealing. White, soft. Perhaps it is … When I say 'habit' one need not think of a negative habit. Because of the whiteness and softness of the coat, I think that there is a habit being looked at of moving into deeper patience or generosity or loving kindness, but there's discomfort about that: Can I really do that? Put a mirror in front of it and it will calm down. Begin to look at the reflection of this in yourself and see that you can stabilize this energy, this patience or generosity or loving kindness. You are in control of it. Allow the fear to dissipate.

Beyond that we would need to personalize the dream by speaking with the dreamer, asking questions, seeing if this feels right or if not, what parts of this interpretation feel wrong. Discard whatever feels wrong and ask, okay if that's not what this symbol means, what does it mean? And then let go of conscious thought and allow yourself to feel what it means.

Mirrors and keys are very powerful images in dreams. A key opens the door to a path you have been trying to travel. It's very empowering. A mirror symbolizes self-honesty in dreams. You are looking at the reflection of the pure self … (Tape ends.)