Wednesday, October 6, 1993

Aaron's talk

I am Aaron. Good evening and my love to all of you. As we move into new directions here, we also must stop and repeat at times, because you are human and you often fall into the same hole again and again. You flounder around in there saying, 'Why am I here?' You climb out and take a step and fall in again. I don't say that with any criticism, only as reminder of why it becomes useful to rephrase that which we have discussed often before.

The most frequent question this week has been this: How do I know when I am choosing fear and when I am choosing love? Given a choice, how do I know if option A is the more loving or if option B is the more loving? A friend comes and asks me, 'Can I borrow two thousand dollars?' This friend has not always been reliable. The friend says, 'I really have repented of being irresponsible in the past and this is what I want the money for, to help me set up this new business.' He talks to you about it a bit; it sounds well thought out. He readily answers your questions.

Yet, this is a friend who's leaned on you in the past and taken advantage of you. Is it more loving, presuming of course that you do have that much money to lend, to lend it or to say no? Do we continue to trust and trust and trust again? At what point do we then become doormats for others, inviting abuse from others? Is there ever a distinction that something is more loving to another but less loving to me? Or more loving to me and less loving to another? Or is it consistent: If it's more loving to one, will it necessarily be more loving to all?

My answer to that last question is yes, if you understand what loving means. We spent some time here several weeks ago talking about saying no with love, not being pulled into another's distortions, and how that no is often the most respectful and caring answer to both beings. If that no is accompanied by anger-'You hurt me before! I'm not gonna give it to you!'-then it doesn't come out of a place of respect. It comes out of a place of fear. So, it is not the 'yes' or 'no' which determines if the response is loving, but the attitude with which it's offered.

What if, in this hypothetical example, you say, 'Yes, here's the two thousand.' Three months later the friend is back saying, 'Well, I lost it all. Sorry. But I have a new scheme. Can I have two thousand more? When I make money on the new scheme, I'll pay you four thousand. I've really had a change of heart now. I'm not gambling at all with my money anymore. This plan can't fail.' Do you trust? Logic would say no. And yet, what if nobody trusts? Is that bad?

We tend to think that we need to protect others from pain, that we will trust others, give of ourselves and help others, because what if nobody helped? Can we make some distinctions here? Envision a being who can't swim; he thinks it's rather funny to jump off the dock and then yell for help because he likes to see everyone come crowding around. The first and second and third time, you pull him out. Is there ever a point when it's okay to let him drown?

Clearly, it depends on the situation. I would ask that being whose friend is leaping off docks, after he's done it three times, why do you come with him near the water? The problem for you is not his jumping off docks. The problem for you is that you're willing to accompany him to the dock. When he says, 'Let's go down to the dock, I promise I'm not going to jump in today' … 'No, that's not something I can do with you anymore.' This is not offered from a place of anger but from a place of respect. Once you're on the dock with him, you've got to pull him out. Get off the dock!

Some of you express confusion about your work. There are things you like about your job and things you don't like. This aspect is fulfilling, that aspect is difficult and painful. People don't appreciate you. You're not paid enough. You're not offered opportunity for independence or creativity. 'Should I find a different job?'

I ask those people, basically, do you enjoy what you're doing? Yes. Sometimes, of course, it's no. Then it's clear it's time to look for a different job. No problem. But if it's yes … what is the issue about? If you want more chance for creativity or independence or appreciation, are you inviting those or are there ways where you're rejecting those? If you move to a new job, is there going to be the affirmation you think you want? Is there going to be more independence, or are you taking shelter in that 'can't get independence or affirmation' anger from a fear of independence and affirmation. Perhaps in your present job it's easy to say 'I want this' because you know you're not going to get it. What if you got it? Maybe that independence is terrifying as well as longed for. Maybe the affirmation is going to be very discomforting because it jars the sense of inadequacy behind which you have hidden.

'Why would a sense of unworthiness or inadequacy be comforting?' you may ask. Some of you have learned to play those roles in childhood. They were the roles which won you approval. For you to be adequate and in control perhaps threatened the adults around you; they wanted you to be helpless; you complied. There was rage about the need of complicity. To become adequate or worthy, to acknowledge your innate adequacy or worthiness, opens a Pandora's Box of confused emotions. Safer to dwell in the illusion of inadequacy and complain about it.

I'm tossing out a lot of hypothetical situations here. I want to keep this talk relatively short so I'm going to come back to the details of these situations. We talk here often about not getting into a dialogue with fear. I sense that this has been misunderstood to mean 'Don't feel fear.' You've all heard me say 'Fear is an illusion.' But it's a very potent illusion. When you're caught up in fear, it's very hard to get out because the self solidifies around the fear. There's somebody being threatened, somebody fearing it will be hurt or its needs not met. So, you commence a war with fear: 'I've got to get rid of this.' But trying to get rid of fear is just another kind of dialogue with fear.

Letting go of the ownership of your fear ends the dialogue with it. When you no longer identify your fear as 'you' but just allow the experience of it, knowing it's arisen and it will fade, then there is no more dialogue.

So what? When fear is no longer controlling you, then you're able to go deeper into your heart's wisdom and respond in loving ways. Your friend is here asking for a second two thousand dollars. Are you going out on the dock with him? Are you going to jump into his scheme again? You cannot know if what that friend needs to learn is deeper trust in himself and that he can succeed or to be more realistic, more careful. Perhaps he needs to learn that actions breed reactions. If this happens, that happens, and we bear the repercussions of our choices. This is part of the law of karma.

You can't insulate your friend, keep providing situations over and over for that friend, or child or whoever it may be. You cannot know what they are learning; therefore, you cannot say, 'My no is depriving them.' Perhaps instead, your 'no' is helping them to learn that there are limits. 'These are my limits. I say no with love. You can come and talk to me about what's happening with your work. I'd be glad to help you send out your mailings or in other ways to support you in your choices. But no more money.' The heart knows what to say. It's when you get into this dialogue with fear that says, 'But am I hurting him?' that you get stuck.

Now, this is difficult because each of you wants to live your life with nonharm to others; but the question remains, what is nonharm? You can get caught in this incessant dialogue with fear which says that you have got to personally take care of the world or you're harming the world. When you look deeply at the roots of those thoughts, awareness penetrates into wanting to be the good one, wanting your own affirmation, wanting to be loved. Nothing wrong with any of those desires either, but if they are in control without your knowing that they're present, they'll lead you in unskillful directions, lead you into this unwholesome co-dependency of which we've so often spoken.

The other kinds of life choices: this job or that job? This relationship or that relationship? Can you begin to trust your heart's wisdom and to start to ask yourselves the right questions? Some of you have heard me say that you can manifest whatever you want to in your lives. But first you have to know what it is that you want. Most of you are sending out mixed signals: I want this-but it terrifies me. You can only manifest confusion when you send out a mixed message!

Perhaps you want a job with more independence or more control over others, a larger staff to help you. But you also sense within you the part of your nature that wants to dominate others, and you're afraid of that in yourself. There's also the part of you that wants to be in control because it fears being out of control, that's another one. So, unconsciously, you jeopardize each opportunity to move into that job where you're managing others; and then you complain, 'Why can't I get a better job?'

What if you had the job? Are you still dialoguing with the fear-either thinking, 'I should get rid of the fear' or just 'I'm not going to face the fact that there is fear'?-rather than being able to say, 'There's fear here. I don't know if I can trust myself to handle the situation. There's fear.' It is not the fear that presents a problem but your relationship with fear. Fear will arise. Can you greet it with a smile?

Then you come to know that you can trust yourself. There are no more hidden motives. It's all on the surface. And each time there is, for example, a feeling of inadequacy that leads you to want to dominate and control, you just look it in the face and say, 'Here's inadequacy again. I don't need to be reactive to it.' Just note it. 'This too …' nothing to be done. You may begin to ask, 'From where did this desire to dominate arise?' Then you begin to see the old mind fear and that in this moment, there is no need to dominate; it is just old fear. And then the management job that you've got becomes comfortable.

But when you sit back and say, 'I want this! Why am I not being offered it? It's not fair!' know that at some level you are not allowing it to manifest because you're caught in this dialogue with fear. 'What if I get it?' There is not one of you in this room for whom this isn't true at some level.

Let us speak briefly about two more aspects of this. First of all, to quote myself, 'There's nothing in your life that is not here for your learning.' And that includes fear. How are you going to learn equanimity with fear if you're never experiencing a sense of fear? How are you going to learn non-reactivity to fear? How are you going to learn to stop trying to get rid of fear and just let it be?

Think of something you're afraid of-big spiders maybe, or snakes, or rats, growling dogs-close your eyes and visualize one right here, sitting on the floor next to you. Big rat. Long whiskers. Spider with long hairy legs-a wolf spider. Whatever. Picture it there. The first thing you want to do is get up and run away. Or slam your hand down and kill it.

Continue to visualize it. Can you just be present with it, without destroying it? What is the fear about? Fear is an illusion. In this moment there's only a spider sitting here, who is probably more afraid of you than you are of him. I'm not going to talk about the ways we move from bare perception to old mind consciousness. It is on many tapes and transcripts. But it's old mind that's telling you the stories of past spiders, past insects. Perhaps they've not even hurt you, it's just the look of them. In this moment when bare perception looks, there's clear seeing, seeing a spider. The whole point of it is that after you've made this shift often enough, seeing clearly-'I am caught in the old mind story of my fear. When I look with bare perception, fear is an illusion'-each time you do that you cut through the fear. How would you learn that fear is an illusion if you had no chance to work with fear?

I've been talking here for the past few weeks about what I've called the horizontal and vertical planes. There is relative reality in which there is much that's frightening, including one's own sense of inadequacy, one's own desire for dominance, one's own greed or anger and that of other people, and the ultimate reality that cuts through all of those emotions. We don't deny that emotions, thoughts and sensations exist, but it's not who we are. When you let go of your identity with it all, including the fear, you move into this deeper space of knowing who you are and find the ability to just let it all rest and to act from the wisdom of a loving and connected heart. It does not mean that there's no longer fear, anger, greed, jealousy, impatience, any of these emotions.

The relative practice teaches you compassion for the human who experiences it all. The ultimate reality practice cuts through ownership of it. We did this last week, taking a thought balloon and popping it, then resting in that space of emptiness of self, emptiness of arising thought, until a new thought arose. You just keep cutting through it.

We've been talking about it as a horizontal and vertical practice and I wonder if instead we ought to talk about it as a circle. There are times on the circle when you are more on the horizontal and times when you're more on the vertical. You keep going around and around and around until it all comes together.

There is much more that could be said about this. I've promised a short opening talk tonight. I do want to get into the dream work we talked about last week, to start talking about lucid dreaming. I also want time for your questions. But this question of when one is choosing fear or love has been so prevalent this week that it needed to be spoken to. I thank for hearing me, for your energy and attention. That is all.



(Going around the room with many people offering questions.)

1. Why is there so much anger in the world?

2. Please share about your plane and how we can relate to it.

Barbara: Let me speak to that question briefly. In past years what we've done on these Wednesday nights is to answer all the questions that people had; people would come in, ask Aaron to share about his plane and a week later somebody else would and a week later somebody else would, so that some people were hearing it for the fifth, sixth or twentieth time. There was always a little something new but it got repetitive. What we're going to do with these questions that are already in transcript form is to direct you to transcripts where you can read Aaron's prior answers. Then if you still have questions, Aaron would be glad to speak to them.

More Questions

3. How does art heal? In what ways does the expression of art allow for healing?

4. I'd like to hear more about the idea of fear being an illusion. Is it because it's impermanent and that's how we learn to experience it as illusion?

5. Aaron frequently says to try and not 'own' our emotions in order to make more space around them and be less reactive to them. However, when I am feeling strong anger, for example, it's very hard not to own it. So, how do we not own it, yet not deny it?

6. With the rapid planetary changes (political, environmental, social) I find that the fear and uncertainty can be crippling and cause self-destructive behavior. How can I turn this fear into loving action?

7. What purpose does physical pain serve?

(Barbara: Aaron says, for the most part, none at all.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. We have many questions here and one very deep question that is as yet unread. But I want to speak briefly to this question of physical pain. I am still learning. I do not feel physical pain. I have no body to feel pain. I feel sadness, even grief, but I don't experience physical pain. Yet I'm still learning. Everything serves a purpose. Some things are invited and some things more aptly cross your path and you might as well learn from them. Most of what arises in your experience is mix of both. You do not need pain to learn. When you pay attention, you learn. The pain reminds you to pay attention. When you ask me, what purpose does it serve, the reason I say 'None' is you don't need pain to learn to pay attention. What you need to do is to learn to pay attention. It's not the pain that is the primary source of this learning; it's paying attention. But the pain is an excellent prod to pay attention.


There is another side to this. Pain is not necessary, but as long as it is present, it does offer learning. Some of you find the physical pains of the body to be an excellent place for understanding the patterns of attachment and non-attachment. You want to feel good; you don't like to feel bad. It's uncomfortable; it's unpleasant. Of course, you don't like to feel pain. But there is much wisdom that can be learned when you pay attention to your aversion to pain and grasping at freedom from pain.

There are many lessons derived with pain as foundation, but all of them can be learned without pain. That doesn't mean that you can go out tonight and decide to get rid of your pain because as long as you are in physical form your body is going to experience some pain. You develop the wisdom to see the difference between pain itself and the resistance to pain. You begin to open your heart to the pain, to lessen the war with your pain. Through doing so, you learn to lessen your ownership of all of your emotions. So pain can be a very potent teacher because you often cannot control it. It comes and it goes and comes again.

I'm not talking about resignation to pain. Resignation is a kind of defeat. I'm talking about the profound wisdom that knows: this is something that's going to move through a physical or emotional body. If it's not pain, it's going to be aging. That's another kind of pain. Even if your body was somehow miraculously in perfect health, free of any scratches or insect bites, no colds, nothing for many years, not even a strained muscle, eventually you're going to have to look at the pain of seeing that body deteriorate. If you approach that with a sense of resignation, there's a giving up quality to it. It's not that you are resigned to pain, resigned to aging, resigned to whatever comes up in your life, as that you find space for it. Can you feel the difference between resignation and equanimity? Let me pause here for some feedback.

M: It reminds me of a story I once read written by a friend of mine. It was about a being who once helped an alien life form that did not feel pain. When the food ran out on their planet, they began eating one another. The problem was they were becoming extinct. I think they developed another form of food and then they had to help these beings learn to feel pain so they could survive.

Barbara: Aaron is asking, can you all see that that is a value of pain?

Aaron: Pain is a survival tool. Would any of you be alive if you didn't feel pain? Or would you by now have scalded yourselves, cut off limbs, or in many ways destroyed yourselves? Pain is necessary to the survival on the physical plane because you must develop an awareness about this body that carries you around. You not only inhabit this body, you must learn to cherish it, a state very different from being attached to it.

I've given the key word: awareness. I do not have a physical body to mutilate. If I were briefly to move into incarnation now, hypothetically, to briefly have a physical body, I would need to substitute deep awareness for pain if I had no physical nerve endings. You do reach a level where you can be aware of your body on a cellular level.

Physical pain is rather gross. What you perceive of as burning in the knee or itching on the eye dissolves into a multi-faceted tingling. Those of you who have done deep work with meditation have experienced this. It stops being pain in a leg or arm or head; it breaks into a thousand parts. It stops being felt just as burning and becomes tingling, tightness, pulling, and many different sensations. You start to become aware of the movement of the itch, for example, up the leg and around, of the heat, of the tension of skin. When you become that deeply aware, the pain is just another sensation! You are tuned in to the subtle aspects of your body and able to work much more fully with your body's energy.

This gets into a subject that I spoke about with a friend this afternoon. We were speaking about menopause and the changes in the physical body. Something that I'd like to talk about with all of you sometime is how you can begin to tune into the physical body and not be a slave to the dictates of the body. If you feel itching on the shoulder, must you scratch? You notice, 'itching.' You know it's not skillful to scratch it and break the skin. Perhaps you put some ice or medication on it, or you simply notice that it's itching.

I'm not suggesting that if you break a leg you shouldn't set that break, but if your body is experiencing hormonal or chemical changes, temperature fluctuations, faster or slower pulse, instead of scurrying to take care of whatever physical symptom may present itself by mechanical or medicinal means, can you just tune yourself in with deeper awareness. You know this is possible with what you call biofeedback. You can slow your pulse. If your blood pressure is too high, you can bring it down without chemicals. If there is hormone fluctuation from menopause you can work with it in the same way. There's no need to raise the heat; warm your body through the use of your mind!

I suggested to my friend this afternoon that eventually your society will learn to work with those who are addicted to alcohol in a new way. Rather than forbidding them that substance, they will be helped to learn to control the ways it influences the mind and body, to become responsible consumers who may allow themselves to develop that sense of what you call 'highness' in safe situations and move to an awareness that no longer allows the alcohol to control the body if there is need to drive a car or do some other activity that is unsafe while high. It's all a matter of learning physical control of your body. It is something to which deep levels of meditation can take you.

We'll talk more about it in future weeks. It also relates to lucid dreaming: being aware when you're dreaming that you're dreaming. We could call it 'lucid inebriation': being aware when you're drunk that you're drunk. In lucid dreaming you are no longer slave to the dream. What I am suggesting is that in lucid inebriation you are no longer slave to the alcohol. In 'lucid menopause' you are no longer a slave to your hormones. And so on. We will speak further about it. That is all.

M: Aaron mentioned in our last private session about control of body chemistry in regards to schizophrenia and manic depression. This is related.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I want to go deeper. First, a very brief scheme of this for the few of you who have not heard it before. We divide you into groups called 'densities.' This is an ungraded classroom. You're not put in a specific grade where you must stay. You're free to be anywhere, but you choose to be where you can learn the most. One common vocabulary speaks of humans as third density. We are moving into what's been called a 'new age.' What this is about is that the whole Earth is going to become fourth density. Instead of moving to fourth density on the spirit plane, without future need for incarnation, there will be a choice. Some will wish to experience fourth density learning on Earth.

Equanimity with emotions is what I have offered as the key for readiness to move from third to fourth density. I've expressed this very simply by saying, in fourth density you are fully telepathic. You move into group telepathic sharing with others. If you were telepathic and everybody in this room were telepathic now, would that be okay with you? Have you had any thoughts in the past hour that you would not like to have shared? Is there still shame or discomfort? Might others have had thoughts that would upset you? In your spiritual work, you will not stop emotions from arising, nor need you. But you'll find so much space around them that there's no longer fear of them, no longer reactivity. You know you don't have to deny emotions, nor do you need to act them out. Yes, they do cease arising as rapidly, but there still will be emotions .

As you move toward this new age and toward readiness to graduate from third to fourth density, one of the things you're going to need to learn if there is going to be fourth density on the Earth plane is to deal with your physical bodies in a new way. It's not just the emotional body. If you're moving to fourth density without a physical body, you have no need to attend to the physical body any further. But if there's going to be fourth density with a physical body, that physical body is still going to get cut, burned, or bruised. It's still going to age. It's still going to have chemical distortions, hormonal distortions, and so on. So, a new phase for all of your learning is going to be opening with equanimity to the physical body and learning not to be the slave of the distortions of the physical body. Are there questions?

Barbara: (Reading a related question at Aaron's suggestion.) One of the main obstacles to feeling consistently good seems to be the existence of archaic childhood memories and feelings-ghosts, as it were. You have explained well how these feelings get suppressed and repressed. For the child, it is indeed a matter of survival to do this. As an adult, it is not a matter of survival and the repressed feelings become obstacles. It is not uncommon for an adult to feel rejection and abandonment. If these feelings are felt and perhaps expressed-feelings of abandonment and rejection-they are experienced as just as powerful, if not more so, from the person feeling them (self rejecting or abandoning self) as from an outside source (another's abandonment or rejection). In a pragmatic, hands-on sense, what is the relationship between ultimate and relative reality in removing this specific obstacle?

Aaron: To answer this, let us return to the first question: Why is there so much anger in the world? Let me simplify the question and toss it back to you: Why is there so much anger in you? May we have some feedback?

Group responses: Because I don't get what I think I want.

Because there's fear.

Covering hurt.

Sexual frustration.

Because it comes up.

Life is not fair.

Aaron: I am Aaron. My dear ones, you are the world. You say, why is there so much anger in the world? When you have fully understood why there is so much anger within yourself, and have come to a place of equanimity with that anger-seen the way that it arises from old mind consciousness, seen the ways that you get caught in old mind, and learned to come back to this moment-then that which we call anger will very seldom catch you. It's still going to arise because in human form you're never going to be free of distortion. But when you see anger arising there will be no identification with it, nor need to act upon it. It will be a warning flag waving. It says, 'Here there is fear. Fear that I'll be hurt. Fear that my needs won't be met.' It may take any of the forms you've suggested: here is anger that the world is not fair, there is sexual frustration, or anger that people don't give you the answer you want. It's all part of that, 'My needs may not be met. I might be hurt.'

You have learned an habitual pattern of dealing with those fears through the arising of anger. No matter what is happening in this moment … Here's a neighbor that comes in and he's stamping his feet and yelling. Nobody can quite figure out why. He's bringing in tremendous rage. Maybe he's yelling that a car drove over his front lawn, making tracks, and he's accusing the people here.

You see anger arise in yourself. You're unjustly accused. 'Life is not fair. I didn't do it.' Maybe he's going to take out a gun and shoot us. 'I could be hurt. Instead of praising me for being here and doing work on myself, he's accusing me.' All of these little bits of old mind come up.

In this moment there's only a man standing there feeling rage. That's all. When you start to see that clearly, you begin to move into compassion for him. Clear wisdom begins to understand that he cannot make you angry, it's your fear that makes you angry, and your need to protect.

Sometimes that anger is useful. We've talked about the use of pain in survival, that otherwise you'd cut off limbs. In the past, anger was also a useful mechanism for the species. It creates a rush of adrenaline. It gives your body more power. That's not usually true in these times though, unless somehow you've come to hand-to-combat with another, or need to flee and need that adrenaline for speed.

In this moment, there's just somebody being angry. If you are going to survive, you're going to have to allow to drop away the old and inefficient tools of survival which prompted the beings that you were to move to combat with that which realistically might hurt you. You must replace that defended reaction with deeper wisdom, empathy and understanding which acknowledges your connection to this raving human in the middle of the living room, which doesn't need to confront him but can allow him to express his pain. Anger can become a catalyst for compassion. It does not need to be a catalyst for hatred or greed.

So, why is there so much anger in the world? It comes with the incarnative experience! It is the illusion dweller's prime illusion. It does offer the opportunity to break through the illusion of separateness.

It teaches you compassion. It's a constant catalyst grown out of your fear; it reminds you there are skillful and unskillful ways to work with this fear. You can come back to the arising of anger again and again and again and hate others. All you are doing is practicing anger. Or you can see how futile that is and allow the arising of fear and that fear's blossoming into anger to remind you: 'Stop, take a deep breath, open my heart, let go of the separation between myself and the catalyst for my fear or anger. Come to experience that being's fear. Find compassion for us both.' This is something you're going to have to practice hundreds or thousands of times before you really get it right.

So anger is a tool to learning; when enough of you have learned to work skillfully with your anger then there's not going to be so much anger in the world. There is so much anger in the world because most of you still allow yourselves to get away with anger without calling yourself on it, without asking yourself simply, 'What is this anger?' By 'calling yourself on it,' I don't mean getting rid of it, or judging it, just asking the simple question, 'What is this anger about? Can I take responsibility for my anger instead of blaming another?' That's the crux of it. When each of you can take responsibility for your own anger without needing either to own that anger or to get rid of it, then you're going to find that it is an illusion and that the fear that heralded it was an illusion.

We have been asked, what is the relationship of ultimate reality and relative reality in removing the obstacle of repressed feelings? Feelings become repressed because you've judged them. You've been taught to do that since childhood. This is bad behavior. That's good behavior. That's part of the way that your parents were taught and have moved themselves to teach you. And so you grew up judging yourself and needing to repress what's uncomfortable.

You must learn to work with all of this-not only repressed feelings, not only anger, but fear, jealousy, desire, physical pain, all of the variety of thoughts, emotions and sensations which the human experiences-from the relative reality plane, which sees how old mind has recreated the situation again and again, and from the ultimate reality plane that understands there never was good or bad, worthy or unworthy, that there is no duality. This is something that we can only scratch the surface of tonight. We're going to be talking about it for weeks, months even, and still have just scratched the surface.

I want you to see relative and ultimate reality as a continuum. I know I've been speaking of an intersection. Speaking of this with friends earlier today, I could see their confusion in visualizing the intersection. Duality of relative/ultimate was enhanced with the question, 'This is relative (horizontal axis) and that is ultimate (vertical axis). Where do I balance?' Think of it instead as the vertical process of ultimate reality cutting through delusion and the relative practices of opening the heart, deepening compassion, being mindful. They are not opposites, but work together! See that they come together as a curve, each leading into the other. You may start wherever you like: one foot on each end coming to the middle, both feet on one end. Eventually, through your many lifetimes, you're going to be drawn to the middle of the curve. I said earlier tonight that we would think of it as a circle, a spiral drawing inward to that spot which contains everything.

I have been asked to speak further about fear as delusion. What is fear but learned behavior? There's a tiger in a tree branch about to pounce. You could be killed in a moment. That sounds very uncomfortable. Fear arises. Fear is the body's habitual response which creates this adrenaline, readies you to do battle with that tiger. On the relative plane, there might be use in that bio-physical response, if you really had to do battle with a tiger. But increasingly your life takes you away from that kind of physical battle, at least those of you in this culture. I'm not saying there isn't street crime, but I'm not sure it's of much use to feel fear when you turn around and there's a mugger with a gun pointed at you. These are learned responses. You can learn more skillful responses. What of it is old mind conditioning, just the way you've always done it so it's become a tendency and a habit? What of it is in this moment?

There is a wonderful story of a man who was walking when suddenly a tiger spotted him and the man fled. He came to the edge of a cliff where he was trapped so he started to climb down. He found a giant root to hold onto. The tiger was snarling over the top. He looked down to see how could he descend and when he looked down, there was another tiger snarling below. At that moment some mice came out and began to gnaw on the root he was holding. He looked around for some way out and there was nothing, just this bare cliff, a tiger above, a tiger below, the mice gnawing on the root. And the only other thing was a tiny ledge with some strawberries. What is there to do? He began to eat the strawberries. One can live a lifetime in the mindful eating of one strawberry! Would he have been better off to tremble there until the root was gnawed through and he fell?

In this moment there's no fear. There's clear seeing. All you have is this moment, and within it, you have a choice. There is a tiger above and a tiger below. The mice are gnawing on the root, for all of you. Each day you're a day older. Eventually you're going to die. Are you going to tremble about it or stop and eat the strawberries?

This is the cutting through of the wisdom of ultimate reality. I'm moving through this life as all beings do. I was born and I'm going to die. I have some control but not ultimate control. There's going to be pleasure, there's going to be pain. There's going to be joy and sadness. Am I going to spend my life grasping at the joy, at the pleasure, trying to keep the sadness and pain at bay? Or am I going to just look around and see the strawberry and eat it, fully mindful? No matter how long or short a time I have left to live? I can still enjoy the strawberry. I can still enjoy this conversation with a friend, this symphony, this breath! Just that.

That is the junction of ultimate and relative: working compassionately to accept all that moves through the human while truly seeing that it all is a dream. How many lives have you lived? Many of you have lived more lives than you've had nights sleep in this life. Do you dream each night? Which is the dream: what you enter into at night or this lifetime? That doesn't mean you don't live it with love. But it is just another dream: the dream of 'somebodyness,' of identification with this body and ego. That's not who you are. Until you know your true divinity-and that knowledge allows you to cut through this ego-grasping-you're going to relate to the world from that place of self and create suffering for yourself and others, and continue your dialogue with fear.

Much of what your life is about, whether you are putting weight on the foot on relative or ultimate reality, is learning how you relate to and from this ego self. The ultimate reality cuts through to the reality that the ego self simply is non-existent. The relative reality helps you to find growing compassion for the human who thinks he or she is somebody, growing compassion for all beings caught in that delusion.

There is one more aspect of this, a large one, that I would save for another night. That is all. Before we go on to the other questions, I would like to hear your responses. It feels more important to me that we continue to shape this into a dialogue than that we cover everything. We will hold onto this list of questions. Perhaps I will base some future talks specifically on questions from this list. That is all.

Barbara: Aaron is asking, can you better understand this balance between relative and ultimate, and the ways that we're trying to come to rest in that curve between them?

(Someone gives an example of a marble on a track: it rolls back and forth and finally comes to rest in the center.)

(Group microphone is not working and some comments are lost.)

Barbara: (Back to question 3.) In what way does the expression through art allow for healing to occur?

Aaron: I am Aaron. Art is the manifested form of the emotional and mental bodies. Especially it flows from the emotional body. It doesn't matter whether this is the creation of a painting or poem, of a dance, of a symphony, the playing of music. You had thought that you owned those emotions and related to them with so much attachment or aversion. In the creation of your art you give reign to the universality of emotion and of thought. It's a way of saying, 'Here is my anger or my longing or my love,' and sending it out-not in ways that it's going to inflict itself painfully on other people, but in ways that others may identify with it and come to their own sense of the commonalty of emotion, their own cessation of ownership of it.

Why is it helpful to you to sit here and hear others expressing some of your questions? You learn that you don't own that question or the pain that has given rise to that question. This knowledge allows you to shift from the small ego self to the heart-connected space where it's no longer my pain, my question, my fear, but our pain, our questions, our fear. Art serves the same function of allowing the sharing of pain. It links the personal with the universal, while stating the universal through the personal. It must be personal if it's to be attended to; it must be universal if others will hear it! … (Tape ran out; some lost.)

I do not mean that art must be maudlin. Quite the contrary. It transcends that 'maudlinness' which comes from personal anguish when it moves into the impersonal. So you let go of the personal when you send out your art, and in that letting go you heal yourself. The one receiving it is also aided to transcend the personal pain and thus aided in healing because its ownership with that pain is severed. Does that answer your question sufficiently or would you like me to speak further on it?

Barbara: (Paraphrasing Aaron.) Aaron encourages us to bring in well-thought-out questions that we have already written down to provoke deeper discussion. Aaron reminds us that next week will begin our discussion of dream work. We will be working with the arising of fear in our dreams through lucid dreaming, and also a deeper level of lucid dreaming that uses the dream itself as part of the knife that cuts through delusion. We can use our understanding of how we dream while the body sleeps to see how we're dreaming while the mind sleeps. He'll talk more about this next week. We can begin to record our dreams in preparation for this discussion. Common dream symbols will be briefly discussed to get us started.