Wednesday, October 27, 1993

Aaron's talk

Good evening and my love you all. I am Aaron. Sometimes I think I need a new opening line, that it must be getting a bit tedious. But, frankly, I can't think of any clearer way to say it.

There are several things I want to speak about tonight. A bit of this and a bit of that pulled together. Several of us were talking earlier today about the light body, and about your innate perfection and the ways that everything that arises-your joy, loving kindness, generosity and patience, as well as your anger, fear, jealously and greed-everything that arises in you, is a reflection of that perfection. How can that be? This is what I want to explain with a bit more clarity and depth than previously.

You've heard me often say that there is no duality. I want Barbara to do something that will take her hands and eyes, and then I will return and we will talk about it.

(Barbara holds out a new, clean sheet of paper.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. I want you to just breathe, relax. SLAM! (Barbara claps her hands hard.) Can you feel your energy contract just a bit? A louder noise would have created a stronger contraction. You knew there was no real danger. Still, there was contraction. When your energy contracts in response to any physical sense touching a sense object and creating discordance or discomfort-hearing a loud noise, seeing a bright light, touching a hot stove-what I see appears like that clean white sheet of paper contracted. (Barbara crumples up the sheet of paper.) Energy is squeezed together in this way. (Barbara now opens up and smoothes out the paper.)

I want you to visualize the light body as best you can. Your energy, the energy that moves through this physical body and the energy of your aura, are manifestations of that light body and of the natural radiance of the light body. You have heard me say that you are energy and light. First you are Energy; the Energy manifests as light, the radiance of the light body, which is the perfect template for the physical manifestation.

You cannot contain all the energy of the light body in any single incarnation. The body contains a bit of that energy. We once used a metaphor of the sea as God or Source, a hot water tank as the soul, and a cup of water drawn from that tank as the individual. Since the characteristics of each tank and each cup are different, you are each unique, but the material within you is the same-the same water from the sea, or more precisely, the same energy, manifest as light. This water tank, then, is the light body. Its light is manifestation of the full energy of the spirit body. Within the teacup of the physical body is the reflection of that light, and also the portion of energy that being contains, which we will call the energy body. It is the perfect sheet of smooth white paper. I will talk more about this in a future week.

When there is jarring from any of the physical senses, the energy body contracts in the way you have felt. The paper crumples. If you are unaware of that contraction you are pulled into reactivity to it. You might become defended, fearing you're going to be attacked. You may yell at another. You may simply feel strong fear or anger.

You are responding to two things. First is the threat of being hurt, which sends you back into a sense of separate self. You're also responding to the contraction in the energy itself. Electricity does not flow in quite this way, but if I had some way of squeezing the electric cord in this lamp so not as much energy came through, you can imagine that the light would become dimmer. In essence, your body energy becomes dimmer. Because this happens over and over again and much of it is left untended, a systemwide blockage develops throughout the physical body.

Also (this is going to take some explaining; we will not get it absolutely clear tonight; we're just beginning this) remember that each of you has a light body, which is the perfect blueprint out of which the physical body is replicated. By perfect blueprint I don't mean the physical body comes out looking identical every time; it has it's own genetic structure. For reasons which I will explain at a later time, contractions of the physical/emotional/mental body leave a reverse imprint as scarring on a projection of the light body, like the wrinkles in this paper. (Barbara crumples paper.) The metaphor with the paper is not perfect, but it will do. Each of you saw the perfect, smooth paper before it was crushed. Within this wrinkled piece of paper is the perfect, smooth paper. The potential for that paper, the blueprint (that's the closest word I can give you) for that piece of paper, is still there. If one were to iron it, one would again have a perfect, clean, unwrinkled piece of paper. Even more, the perfect, unwrinkled paper still exists!

What I am describing is very difficult to convey in words. I am offering here the closest words can come to an experience which each of you are going to have to investigate for yourselves experientially. Untended trauma creates scars in the light body. The scars are illusory scars and yet, on the relative plane, they seem real. Can you all see that within the wrinkled piece of paper lies the perfect, unwrinkled piece of paper? Within the somewhat illusory scars on the light body is the perfect light body. The scars are illusion and yet when the human manifests the energy blockages in the physical body it manifests scarring in the light body in those areas of physical body blockage. These are karmic blocks; that's the closest I can come to it. This is why some of you are prone to back aliments, migraine headaches, stomach aliments, week knees, or a shoulder that becomes disjointed easily. It's not just that that area was injured and has become weakened. That area was injured because there was already blockage in it and it was weak to begin with. So when you fell, that's the part that accepted the injury.

Another night we will explore what this means in terms of karma.

We work on two levels. One is working with the physical body. Something we will be getting to later this year is working directly with the light body. We're not yet ready to begin working with it, I'm only mentioning it here. What I'm doing tonight is planting some seeds, and as those begin to grow we'll work with them through the following months. We have spent much time here talking about working skillfully and lovingly in the physical body, in relative reality, with the emotional and physical manifestations of fear. My emphasis here tonight is to give you a different perspective. It's something that I've been talking about in one way or another all of the past month. You have two feet. Your weight has been on the relative reality foot. I want you to begin to see that perfect sheet of paper more clearly in yourself and to relate to the world more frequently from that space of perfection. This is not denial of the wrinkles. It's only the clear understanding that beyond those wrinkles there is the perfect, radiant, unblemished self. When I speak of self in this context, I don't mean a personal self, but the universal self, the aspect of you that is totally connected to all else.

So I've been spouting some theory at you. Let's move now to the practical. I want to talk about fear again. The reason I work with fear so much is that it is universal. Some of you may have not felt strong physical pain today, a sense of loss, jealousy or strong desire, but I highly conjecture that everyone has felt some kind of fear. We have spent endless hours here talking about working skillfully with fear. You've all heard me say to you that you have two choices, fear or love. Out of that statement some of you have formed the misconception that there is a duality between fear and love, that if you choose fear there's no love in it, and if you choose love, fear is cast aside. But, there is no duality. Fear is simply a distortion of love.

When you are resting awareness in this perfect self, in the natural radiance of the light body, and furthermore allowing that light body to rest in, let us call it the universal light body, resting in that space of total emptiness of separation, then there can not be any fear. You may feel burning by touching something hot, or hear a loud noise, or see something startling, but when there is awareness of feeling discomfort you don't move into a sense of separation. You remain in that universal, non-separate state.

When there is not awareness of how discomfort arose and the ways it moved to disliking, or comfort and liking, then there is contraction in the physical and light bodies. It is not useful or necessary to ask which contracts first. There is simply contraction. When there is no awareness you move into the distortion of fear because there is a desire to protect this suddenly self-perceived separate being. You wish to protect this being out of love for it. The fear is a distortion of universal love, grown out of the delusion of a self. It results from the desire to protect the illusory self. So, fear is a distortion of love. When I suggest, then, that you can choose fear or love, what I am suggesting is that you can choose distortion or clarity.

It can't be a conscious choice which says 'I will not be afraid,' because if fear arises, fear arises. When there is awareness of how that fear arose, of the delusion which fostered it, then it dissolves on its own and clarity returns, love returns, a love that does not separate into self and other. Thus, the real choice is awareness or nonawareness.

We've talked about the ways to work on the relative plane with fear. Most of you here have heard me talk about this many times. Tonight I want to offer a new addition to that work. You can not simply say 'This is illusion.' It may well be illusion, but on the relative plane you're being threatened, there is a snarling dog and he's standing ten feet from you with his lip curled. Of course there's going to be fear. It is no illusion that the physical body can be harmed. When you know there is fear you're not going to need to be reactive to that fear. On the relative plane, of course, it's the best response. If you run from the dog he's far more likely to chase you than if you calmly say to him 'No' and slowly walk backwards away from him. So your panic is not going to preserve the physical body.

Knowing that fear is an illusion, that it is a distortion of love, if you can re-connect to that place that we might call the angel in you, the perfect radiance of natural, pure mind, that perfect blueprint of who you are, when you can return to that level of awareness suddenly there is clear perception of how the whole thing is moving through you. Instead of panic or disdain for the human who's feeling fear, there will be an openhearted washing over of compassion for you and for the dog. Both of you are feeling fear; he wouldn't be snarling if he wasn't feeling afraid.

Out of that compassion and clear seeing-yes the fear is illusion and yes, the physical body is being threatened-out of that space comes skillful action. Not only is it skillful but it will be free of adhering karma. The change in emphasis that I'm offering with this then, is that I want you all to begin to recognize this naturally perfect aspect of you, not just to glimpse it here and there, but to really begin to identify it, constantly, as it arises, and to find the ability to come back and rest in that awareness.

Occasionally it's useful to introduce a foreign word, when that word most clearly defines that for which English necessitates five or six or ten words. Karma is such a word. It's so familiar to most of you that it might as well be an English word. I want to introduce the word rigpa to you. This is a Tibetan word. It means pure awareness. The best I can define rigpa is that it is that state of pure awareness of the light body when it rests in the universal light body and is completely empty of any delusion of self. As pure awareness, it perceives truth as absence of all duality. Since there is no duality in rigpa, it's not just mind, but the totality of all that is, the energy in which mind rests as well as the mind itself.

Rigpa is not an experience; it is a natural awareness. It is the pure paper before there were any wrinkles in it. No matter how many wrinkles you put in the paper, that pure paper is always there. I want you to learn to recognize this pure state in yourselves, and to stabilize it so that it gives you a strong foundation from which you may look at fear, anger, greed, or any heavy emotion, and begin to better balance your weight between relative reality, which must respond skillfully to the relative catalyst and ultimate reality, which sees the catalyst as illusion. One might say about this dog, 'It's all illusion, but if I run I'm going to get bitten.' Both are true. It can not be simply dismissed as illusion, it can not be acted on as absolute reality, otherwise you reinforce the wrinkles. If you start to think 'This is who I am, this person being threatened by that dog and there's nothing more here,' fear, anger and defendedness increase and the wrinkles get ironed into the paper. When you remember that beyond all of this perceived threat there is that wrinkleless piece of paper, there is that pure self, you iron out the wrinkles.

Several of you are feeling confusion, asking 'What is this pure awareness?' It is the way you are when you are listening to a symphony and at a certain point you are so fully with the music that there stops being a symphony and a listener. There's no subject or object anymore. You and the music become one. That's rigpa. Watching the sunset can be the same thing. At some point you stop watching the sunset, there's just sunset happening. The sunset is occurring and it's being seen, but there is no object and subject, just sunset. I know you can think of many more examples.

Perhaps I can lead you to another example. I'd like you to breathe with me, just inhaling and exhaling. Deep breath. I'm not going to direct the inhale or exhale, I want you to do it at your own comfortable speed.

Deep inhalation, deep exhalation … Watch the breath moving in and out … Feel it at the nostrils, as attentive to it as you can be … Now, not while I'm talking, but when I stop, with the next inhalation after I've stopped, I want you to pause for a moment before you exhale. Not too long, just a fraction of a second. Instead of seeing inhale, exhale, I want you to see inhale, stop, exhale. Do that now …

(Pause. We do this.)

If the stop is not too long there is not space for any thought or sensation to enter. In that moment there is rigpa, pure awareness. The pure, radiant mind. So you carry this with you all the time. It's not something you have to become enlightened, or do anything special, to experience. It is your natural experience.

You are constantly cut off from it by the arising of thought, emotion or sensation, fixation on what has arisen, ownership of it, and the ensuing thought, 'I must get rid of the thought or the physical sensation or the emotion, to come back to this space of perfect quiet, perfect peace, perfect clarity.' But rigpa transcends arising and stillness. Pure mind watches it all, still or in motion.

When I say that fear is an illusion and is no different than love but just a distortion of love, so is any thought or emotion or sensation. You do not have to get rid of fear, nor of any of it. You begin to understand it all as part of this natural radiance of mind. It changes your relationship to what arises in you.

We've talked a lot here about not getting rid of those heavy emotions and thoughts but allowing them to dissolve. We've worked with them primarily from the relative reality plane. Now I want you to begin to see that just as fear is a distortion of love, any thought, any emotion, is simply another aspect of that natural, pure mind. There's nothing that needs to be gotten rid of. If the emotion arises, it will go. You do not create new adhering karma because emotions arise or because thoughts arise. The karma grows out of your reactivity to that which arises. We've been practicing equanimity to what arises here for a long time. Now I want you to begin to expand your awareness of that which arises so that you can more fully embrace it, seeing that the anger, the greed, all of it, really is okay. It's just part of this natural radiance of light. We could take this crinkled paper and label one wrinkle anger, label one jealousy and one worry or desire. It can all be ironed smooth. It's all within the perfect flat piece of paper.

I repeat that what I am talking about is very hard to grasp with conceptual mind. I can not share my experience with you, I can only share the concept through words, but the words really don't carry it. We have here tonight a group of people most of whom have worked with me for some years. You have developed strong meditation practices. To understand this you're going to have to move into it on an experiential level. I do not exclude those who are new here tonight. You can do this also. If you do not have the foundation of a meditation practice, it will be harder. You can begin to understand it on a conceptual level and as your experience deepens it will make more sense.

Let's do that breathing exercise again. Breathing in and out. When you are ready, take a deep breath. Pause for a moment and then exhale. Do it several times. See if you can catch that place beyond arising or stillness.

(Long pause while we practice.)

And then a thought may arise, 'Oh, I've got it!' and the thought 'Oh, I've got it' ends that resting in rigpa, not because thought arose but because a self arose to own the thought! There's self coming back again, somebody to have gotten it. You just exhale and go ahead and do it again.

What I would like you to do through the coming week, whenever you're in a situation where you're feeling fear, anger or any strong emotion, is not only to come back to your breath, but to come back to it with this specific process: inhale, pause and focus on that pause, exhale. Inhale, pause, exhale. I want you to do that four, five, ten times within that time of tension. See if moving to that space of rigpa, to that pure mind awareness, gives you more space for whatever is the catalyst for the fear. Watch what happens, takes some notes if you want. How does it effect your anger when you do this? How does it effect your desire, your impatience or your fear?

I've done something very different tonight than has been my usual practice, not giving a talk about one subject, but teaching you a process. This is not something that you're going to get in one night, or one week or one month. It's going to be a foundation for much that we'll be working with this year.


(We began by hearing a dream that A had brought in. The dream was written down and is presented below in its entirety.)

The dream: I was supposed to go on a cross country bus trip with my friend, P, from Ann Arbor to Kansas City. I know we were doing a bus trip because we were both pretty poor and couldn't afford to go any other way. I was late getting to the bus station. As I arrived the bus I needed to take was getting ready to pull out of the station. I waved it down and asked them to wait just a minute so I could get my ticket. I then went to the window and asked for the woman to hurry issuing the ticket, but I couldn't remember where I was going and had to yell to my friend on the bus to get clarification. The woman behind the counter began asking what seemed to me interminable questions. It took so long that the bus finally left. I'm frantically blurting out that the bus is leaving-hurry, hurry-and she says 'Well, you'll have to catch up with it. It stops in Toledo, you could leave your car there.' (I had brought my Honda down.) Next she is trying to help me calm down (I really don't want to leave my Honda in Toledo-nor do I want to buy a ticket with no assurance that I can catch the bus) and suggests that we go out for a cup of coffee. As we are out getting it, she says to me that she really can't take a check for the bus fare, didn't I have cash? And I proceed to say that, no, I didn't, and to show her how poor I am I pluck my old worn wallet out and open it to show I have nothing, but it's full of cash! I am surprised by this because I pull out a bill and it's a 20. Anyway, we get our coffee and start to walk back up the hill from First St. going toward town, and as we look up there is, in the sky, what appears to be a black lunar eclipse (it is day). There is a black orb, spinning, with some sort of crescent around it, and as the 'sun' begins to come out, the orb turns from black to blazing white and then dissipates like light rays going off to the four corners. Now, in place of the orb is the picture of a polar bear, which is there for a moment and then gone. Everyone in the area had stopped to watch this. Then, as we continue on up the hill, we see what appears to be someone in a polar bear suit, which turns into a woman with a polar bear pelt (?) with the head coming up over the top of hers. I then begin to hear music-very lively and joyous, and my companion begins to talk about another woman she knows whose music and performance are so wonderful that you can't take your eyes off her-and her right eye becomes a little green jewel and dances up and down as if following someone's music, while the left eye continues to look at me. (The phone rang in this plane of reality.)

Barbara: The process of interpreting a dream is to take all the symbols that you've got and write them down. It doesn't matter if they seem right or not, just write it down. Let go of 'this is right, this is wrong.' That discernment comes into the second step of it. What is the most common symbol? If you write down your dreams you start to become acquainted with your personal symbols and may replace some of the universal symbols with your more personal symbols.

So, the bus: an organization, church, club. A small personal vehicle that she didn't want to leave parked in a strange city: the physical body. I don't have money on this list of symbols we've prepared but money is a way of obtaining something that we want. It's a tool, a key. Animals are usually habits. Often, but not always, white is equated with good, black with shadow, anger and so on. So a white polar bear is likely to be a good habit, a habit that you want to nurture. Clothing, the woman in the polar bear suit, is an outward presentation; how you present yourself to the world. So, there is a desire to present oneself in this good habit. At one level every character in the dream is an aspect of yourself. The woman at the ticket office who's quieting her down is an aspect of herself. Because it's the same sex it's an aspect of her conscious mind. The woman in the polar bear suit is another aspect of conscious mind. Different aspects of conscious mind. At that point, after you've got all the symbols, you sit and just meditate with it. I'm going to let Aaron give you his presentation of what he thinks the dream is about.

Aaron: I am Aaron. First of all, she's going on a trip. A journey is symbolic of your spiritual journey. Of course there are many levels to this. If you are catching an airplane in the morning it's possible that there will be some anxiety-'Will I get to the airport on time, I've got to leave at five in the morning for a six-thirty flight.' So that may enter your dreams. We must account for that in the dreams as well. But that's self explanatory. We're taking the dream to the deeper symbolic level. On that level the travel is part of a spiritual journey. It's a cross country trip-it's a major journey.

While in the standard list of universal dream symbols a large vehicle like a bus is a club or organization, that doesn't seem to fit right here. One must be careful not to pin the universal symbols on, but to ask, 'Does it fit?' She's afraid of missing the bus. Perhaps the bus in this case is more of a spiritual community or group. Not necessarily this group. It may be a looser structured spiritual community. It may be simply a different aspect of her spiritual work. She's afraid it may leave without her, she can't remember where she's going. She has to ask her friend 'Where am I going?' There is resistance from one aspect of conscious mind to recognizing where the journey is going.

She doesn't have money, just a check, a piece of writing, no real money. Then it turns out that she has a lot of money. This is speaking to me of resistance. There is some fear of giving herself fully to this journey on which she is departing. She is surprised to find that she has that much money. This is a new presentation of the self, an awareness that she does have this much courage, strength, sense of responsibility and focus. To me that's what the money symbolizes in the dream. When she looks deeper within, it's all there. The woman, who is another aspect of herself, tries to quiet her, says 'Lets go out and have coffee,' because she's agitated. This is simply one aspect of conscious mind speaking to another aspect. They are both emerged to the surface; we're not talking about subconscious here, but a fully emerged aspect of self.

We see the frightened aspect that has resistance and the more certain aspect, one of which is already on the bus and has gone off across the country-the friend-and the other who is saying 'Come, lets have coffee. Settle down.' In those aspects there is a positive statement of taking control of one's life, of not dialoging with fear, not being caught in that fear. So, there is the clear statement, yes, there is fear for this next step in my life. Yes, I do have the resources, much to my surprise. And yes, a part of me is already going, it's already committed and on the bus. And part of me is very wise and calming.

Not wanting to leave the car: again we must look to see if the universal symbols fit. The car in this case seems more to symbolize the present vehicle, which may mean not the body but the present life situation. Perhaps the bus is an emerging, larger kind of different life situation. It may have nothing to do with travel so much as movement in this town, from one area of work to another, from one way of processing the world to another. Letting go of some of the bitterness and fear, moving into a more openhearted, open-minded space.

The black sun and the light of it seems to re-echo the same sentiment. There are light rays coming out, there's a space of darkness but it's opening into light. And then there is a polar bear in the middle of it. That juxtaposition puzzles me and I don't want to offer any ready answer for it. Everything in the dream need not be solved, it's not a jigsaw puzzle where every piece must be laid in place. So I can't tell you why the polar bear emerges from the black disk in the sky, but I think that we're talking about the interrelationship between the shadow in the self and the light in the self. And the dreamer is seeing within that light some of the strong positivity in herself in the guise of that polar bear.

I would need to ask the dreamer what qualities does the polar bear symbolize to you, so what I say here may not be accurate to the dreamer herself, I'm simply giving you my own interpretation if it were my dream. To me a polar bear symbolizes strength, steadfastness and courage. So those are some of the habits. The woman is wearing polar bear suit, she's clothing herself in it. It is those strengths of the polar bear which are substituted for the black orb in the sky, which overcome the shadow and bring light again.

My effort here is not so much to fully interpret the dream to the dreamer as to give all of you a better sense of how to interpret a dream. This dream with its many, and at first glance somewhat confusing symbols was a wonderful one to work with because it helps you to see that there can be sense drawn out of it. Remember, you must not be rigid. It will be very helpful to develop your own set of symbols. I've seen this particular dreamer use vehicles in ways that are unconventional to the universal symbols before. It is her own set of symbols. So, build up a list. Don't be rigid in interpretation, even with that list. Trust your intuition. Are there questions?

Barbara: (Paraphrasing the question.) Suppose you are involved in a painful issue with your two children, one of whom is male and one is female. When you dream about them are you really dreaming at a symbolic level or are you dreaming about the children?

Aaron: I am Aaron. These dreams exist on many, many levels. On one level you are involved with the issue with your children. You're trying to resolve that tension. But, there are many different things that you could dream about in relation to your children. Why this particular dream? To answer that we must take it to the symbolic level. We don't have a full dream here, and I don't want to take the time to do a full dream, but if it were a woman dreamer and she were engaged in a heated debate, not raging and screaming but with tension, with male and female adult children, as adult children they are aspects of her mature self, of conscious and subconscious mind. She as the dreamer is an aspect of conscious mind. She is caught up, at some level, with tension between these aspects of conscious and subconscious mind. It might be that the male in the dream was a teenager, not an adult, then it would be an emerging level of subconscious mind. Perhaps it was being judged harshly by the conscious mind. Maybe the daughter in the dream was angry at the son. One aspect of conscious mind is angry at an emerging, younger aspect of the subconscious mind.

Look at the different levels of it. Your dreams are giving you clues not just to the surface tensions of your life, but to the deeper issues of your life. They are truly doors into your deepest subconscious thoughts. They can help you to clarify issues. They can help you to know when there's fear that hasn't been attended to., and when there is a sense of strength, as there was in the polar bear dream. They may show that you are coping with the fear. It can be very reassuring. That is all.

Barbara: (Reading a question from CM.) Is there any truth in this world? Can we say that true and not-true co-exist in this world at the same time? Therefore, truth is just like the flowing water in the river. It does exist, but is changing, disappearing. So, can we say that truth can be relative like a drop of water in this river. And, truth can be absolute like the entire river which is filled by every drop of water. Do you agree, truth, God, spirit are just like this?

Barbara: In Vietnam, after the end of the war, a number of younger Vietnamese Buddhist monks and, also non-Buddhists, came together trying to formulate a set of life principles. There are many rules for living, for example, the Buddhist precepts and the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments. They wanted to find something that was less specifically grounded in any one religion, that was more universal. They came up with what they called, in Vietnamese, the Tiep Hien Precepts, or Principles of the Order of Interbeing. There are fourteen of them; I find them very beautiful.

I want to read numbers one and two. 'Do not be idolatrist about or bound to any doctrine, theory or ideology. All systems are guiding means, not absolute truth. Know that the knowledge you presently possess will change and is not changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn to practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not only in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.'

One person who was instrumental in writing these is Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a Vietnamese Zen master, peaceworker, and poet. Tiep Hien Order of Interbeing is now a worldwide, largely Buddhist but really non-secular order. Groups of people meet and recite these precepts with one another about once a month and ask themselves to consider them in their lives. We use them as part of mindfulness training in our meditation class. I have extra copies of them if anyone else would like to have one. Aaron had suggested I read that; now he's going to talk.

Aaron: I am Aaron. What we have been given here is not so much a question as a very clear statement. I will offer my response to it.

The only absolute truth that I know is love. I once said the only truths I know are God and love, but when we get into the word God we get into each of your concepts of what God is. In a book of the Bible, John 3 I believe, is the quotation 'God is love.' So if I say 'The only truth I know is love,' God is part of that.

Fear, as I have said earlier this evening, is a distortion of love. All of your heavy emotions are distortions of love. Love is the river that flows endlessly. Part of the river cycle is its time spent in the sea. Part of the cycle is its time spent as clouds, and also its time spent as rain. So it's an endless cycle. Some of the water in that river is absolutely pure and some has become polluted. Water is made up of the chemical composition two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen. Even the polluted water still is that H2O, but it also contains pollutants. Within any river are the pollutants and the clear, pure water. The paper contains wrinkles, but within that paper is the pure, unwrinkled sheet.

Each of you understands the truth of love in your own way. Each of you is embarked on a journey, ultimately, to manifest that truth as purely as you can, to let go of your own filters that have distorted truth. As you purify your own energy and move away from this delusion of a separate self and back into the natural radiance of pure mind, or into manifestation of your angelness, you move back into the source from which you came. The Christian calls it God, the Buddhist calls it emptiness, the absolute, or pure mind. You may prefer 'the Unborn, Undying, Unchanging, Uncreated' of the Buddhist Udana Scripture. Whatever you call it, you move back into pure expression of that energy which is the manifestation of love.

When you feel that your truth is better than another being's truth and try to convince them to give up their truth and embrace yours, even if you try to force them to embrace your truth under the guise of religion, or a great teacher, you still do violence to that other being. There is no true religion on this earth whose founding teacher advocated violence. There may be those who call themselves religions and advocate violence, or those who have misunderstood their founding teachers, but no spiritual master who founded any major living religion advocated violence as part of his/her teachings.

By its very nature religion is a way of reaching the truth, a way of expressing the Christ or Buddha consciousness, the godhead within yourself. It doesn't matter how you label it. You're expressing that radiant, pure mind, rigpa. That can only be a reflection of love, which is the truth of the universe. Each of you has areas where you get stuck. As open-minded and unprejudiced as you may be to a certain point, each of you will hear something within another's belief system to which you say 'No.' Now, your personal 'no' is fine. You don't have to embrace another's truth. But, are you hearing their truth and allowing them to hold their own truth and express their own perfection in their own way? Or are you demanding of them that they express it in your way. This becomes a distortion of love. Within this distortion there is fear. Within fear there is anger, jealousy and greed. They are all distortions of love. Love is all there is, the bare substance of the river when all impurities are removed.

Since we have not really been asked a question here I have not really provided an answer, only my thoughts on a very beautiful statement. I wonder if there are other thoughts that some of the rest of you would like to share. It is a statement that invites participation. That is all.

(Discussion not transcribed.)

Barbara: (Reading question.) Is the astral body the same or different than the light body?

Aaron: I am Aaron. Different. Not only different but we are speaking of bodies that reside in different, non-intersecting planes from one another. In other words, we can not diagram them in order to show the relation of the astral body to the light body because they are on completely different planes of being. The astral body is that aspect of self that exists on the astral plane. There is a chain of different planes, the physical plane, the astral, the causal, the etheric. The light body cuts through them all. I can best describe this with an example of many overlays of transparent paper. We have an etheric body, a causal plane body, an astral plane body, a physical plane body; four overlays. Line drawings of the body on each overlay, lying on top of one another, each gets a bit denser. The light body is a flashlight that shines through them all. I will speak further at another time in definition of these bodies. There is a drawing we did several years ago. Rather than ask Barbara to redo the drawing we will give her time to find it in the files and Xerox some copies of it. It will be of help as we talk about this. That is all.

Barbara: (Reading question.) Can you speak of grace as it relates to karma?

Aaron: I am Aaron. The word karma means action. Every thought, every word, has accompanying karma. Some of it is what we call adhering, some what we call non-adhering. Some of it is what we think of as wholesome karma, some unwholesome. I use these last terms with some caution because I do not want to create value judgments through my language. What we think of as wholesome karma is simply that which creates situations that lead to greater happiness, to alleviation of suffering. What we think of as unwholesome karma are those acts, words and thoughts which lead into a deepening of suffering. They are not 'good' or 'bad' in common use of those labels.

Suppose you are outside picking tomatoes and beside you is somebody at whom you are angry. You have a tomato in your hand and you say 'Okay, I'm gonna let her have it' and you throw the tomato at her. She becomes infuriated, comes over with her hoe and starts hitting you. That's instant karma. Your action prompted a reaction. You planted the seed for that reaction with your act. What if when noticing your anger at this fellow worker, you see deeply into the roots of that anger-into your own fear and her fear? What if your reflection leads to the arising of deep compassion for both of you, so you are moved to open your thermos and offer her some cool ice tea? What if she accepts, and you sit for awhile and talk and become friends? That is also instant karma, based on the results of your acts.

You have lived hundreds, thousands of lifetimes, and through each of those lifetimes there has been an accumulation of unresolved karma. One must always be responsible for one's acts and choices. There will be karmic repercussions from each act, word and thought. And yet obviously you can not go back and touch each bit of karma in every lifetime with the work that will be needed to resolve it.

There are many ways of releasing old karma. Forgiveness comes to mind as, perhaps, the most direct and powerful. Suppose throughout a dozen different lifetimes you either were stabbed to death, or stabbed another being to death, because of your quick temper. You can clarify all of that karma in this lifetime if you begin to look at the same quick temper in your present self, a tendency which has persisted. In this lifetime you know that despite that quick temper you would never kill another nor would you provoke another to that extent. You begin to find compassion for yourself for the fear that leads to this temper and begin to work very skillfully with it, learning to release the anger, learning awareness of the arising anger before it builds up to that explosive state, learning to transform the angry energy in skillful ways.

If you then find forgiveness-not even needing to know all the cases where you have killed or been killed-you will be free of that tendency and much of its karma. You simply offer a genuine, openhearted forgiveness to yourself for your angry impulses that have harmed others. You ask forgiveness from those others and you offer the same forgiveness you ask for to those who have harmed you. That can clarify most of the karma. If in your mind you give blanket forgiveness except to Joe Smith, who you feel 'I really can't stand him, he really ticks me off,' well, there's still a bit of unbalanced karma there between you and Joe Smith. If there's still misunderstanding, the karma around that misunderstanding is not clarified.

Please note that even after there is forgiveness, compassion, and no accumulation of new karma in a specific area, you must still be responsible for the harmful acts of the past. You need not be killed to balance that responsibility. To teach others not to kill also balances that karma.

There are two steps then, doing the present work in which you acknowledge complete responsibility and transform unwholesome old mind tendencies, and finding and offering forgiveness of the places where those tendencies created harm.

There are other ways to work with karma. One is working directly with the light body and what I call scar tissue on the light body. This practice includes the above, but takes the clarification a step further. I will not go into the details of that here now. I simply want you to know that there a number of ways to work consciously with karma.

There is a way related to Light practice, which involves a different kind of purification from that of forgiveness practice. When we use the word grace we think of it as coming from either a great master such as Jesus, grace of God directly, grace of a guru or spiritual teacher. You can not go to such a being, whether it be the spirit aspect of the Christ, or to the living or no longer living guru, and just say 'Free me from my karma' without changing from within. In this or a past life, first you must do sincere, deep inner work, really giving the effort to work with the shadow within yourself, learning to live your life with more love and skill. And you learn to surrender 'self,' allow yourself to rest in the energy of that teacher, or of God, and through prayer and other kinds of purification practice opening your energy to that very high energy. Then, through means that are beyond explanation by their very nature, you open yourself to the possibility of what we call Grace.

It is not that that Grace is offered here, and not there, randomly. Grace is offered! It is your own work that opens the door for that Grace to come in. This is an important area to clarify. There's nobody up there saying, 'He's worthy, she's unworthy,' or making an arbitrary decision 'I'll give grace to the first three that come along.' This receptivity to grace is part of your own natural, pure mind and perfect radiance. When you do the work to express that, you open the door to receive the grace that's always been offered. You are the one who opens the door.

We're out of time here. Perhaps next week if it interests you, we can talk more about Grace. The whole concept is a very interesting one. I thank you all for your attention and energy. It is very wonderful to sit in this room with so many of you so openheartedly seeking your own truth and seeking to manifest your truth so purely. I find great joy in your sharing of your energy.

All of you have such strong energy tonight I would like to ask if we can lower the lights and just sit for two or three minutes in a circle, hands together, and allow you to experience the joy of this energy and to pass it on to wherever there is need of it.