Wednesday, April 20, 1994

Aaron's talk

Good evening and my love to you all. My primary focus tonight is not to inundate you with further technical material, nor even to practice the use of that technical material offered two weeks ago so much as to talk more about how you may use it as part of your whole spiritual practice. This is just one part; it's a very valuable tool, and we will give you the opportunity to practice it here, but it is just one part.

As most of you know, Barbara spent last week in the hospital. Part of the time she had severe pain and was feeling much fear. She had a blockage of the intestine, probably caused by a twist in the intestine due to severe vomiting from viral cause. For several days there was very severe pain at times. Barbara was aware that the fear was not so much at the idea of surgery itself, nor fear that she would not survive the surgery. Mostly she was just afraid of the intensity of the pain that she would experience. She was aware of the vulnerability of this soft tissue area of the body. It's a place where many of you center your contractions of fear.

While Barbara's energy is relatively unblocked, while lying in the hospital bed she was able to see the places where she does block her energy, where she attempts to be controlling, to be safe. She experienced very directly how the blockage of the bowel was symbolic for that greater sense of holding and controlling. None of this is new to any of you.

You may not manifest the symptom of a blocked bowel, you may not even be constipated. Perhaps your constipation takes another form than in the bowel-a clenched throat that makes open speech difficult, or stuffed nose or sinuses. There are many parts of the body that can constrict. The question simply is: given the appearance of such symptoms, how do we work with them skillfully? It doesn't have to be severe enough to send you to the hospital. When you become aware of the arising of fear that leads to the desire to control in order to stay safe, what are the techniques, on every level, that you can use to help to work skillfully with the fear and allow the release of it?

As you note such closing in the body it's very important to remember that while there is a mind-body connection and the symptom has not appeared for no reason, still, you did not cause it conscious terms. It's not something that you turned off and now can turn on, or vice versa. Several people asked Barbara, 'Why did you cause bowel blockage?' Can you see the guilt trip that gives one? 'Why did I cause cancer? Why did I cause AIDS? Why did I cause heart attack?' As if you could decide why you caused it and then go about fixing it. If this was a loved one, a child perhaps, and they had a symptom of severe pain, would you ask them, 'Why did you cause it in yourself?' or would you just simply hug them and love them? The question is not 'Why did I cause it?' but 'Now that it is manifest, what can it teach me? How can I work most lovingly with it?'

The first step in working with a physical distortion, then, is not to ask yourself, 'Why did I cause it?' but simply to note that this hurt part of you needs love. Just that. Are you withholding love there? Perhaps through metta (loving kindness) meditation, you can begin to offer that part of you more love. That's the first step.

When there is an ill or injured part of the body we tend to separate that area from ourselves, as if it were only the stomach or sprained ankle that needs healing. We isolate it, which is another way of keeping ourselves safe, by disowning the hurt part. That separation from the whole creates further stress for the injured part of the body. So part of the healing of any ill or injured area is to see that it has been separated and to invite it back in. Part of offering it love is to allow it to re-enter the heart.

When your heart is open to that stressed or distorted part of the body the heart begins to know, intuitively, what that hurt part is saying. It has a message. You can not hear the message as long as you hold it separate from yourself. This is when Barbara began to hear the message. Although she is not generally blocked and fearful and controlling, she could see the places where she was. It does not mean that the bowel blockage happened because she is controlling, but the bowel blockage gives her the opportunity to look at the places where she is controlling out of fear and to touch those fears with more awareness, to notice the physical contraction in the gut when fear arises that something may not be okay. This leads into deeper health, even without any of the exercises that we've introduced in this transcript of two weeks ago.

In this past week, every time Barbara has felt a cramp in her stomach, and they are relatively frequent because her body is not yet fully healed, that cramp simply became a reminder to ask, 'Am I holding tension here? What is the tension about? How can it be touched with deeper love? It there somewhere that I am not offering myself love, withholding that from myself?' That small cramp is like a mindfulness bell. It rings two or three times an hour. It's a reminder to take a deep breath, to relax the abdomen, to offer it love, and then to look and see if something happened that contracted her energy.

Of course, it may be that the cramp is simply due the bowels not yet having resumed their normal function, that there is food material going through that causes a cramp. But each cramp becomes a reminder to relax, to stay in tune with her body and her heart, and touch any fear or tension with love. I invite you to choose whatever part of your body offers you discomfort; a back that aches at times, sinus headaches, whatever it may be. Can that become a mindfulness bell for you, calling your attention to aversion to that pain, and to separating that part of the body away from the whole? Can you invite it back into your heart?

Some of you may begin to notice an emotion that ties in with that physical pain. It may be as simple as aversion to the pain; feeling anger. Somehow, though, they become cued to come together. That doesn't mean that the anger is causing the pain, but the pain is not really causing the anger. What is causing the anger is the contracting into a personal self that needs to be protected.

What is pain? Can you imagine having a throbbing ankle or hand, or a stiff neck, and sitting completing relaxed and aware that occasionally there is pain, but not needing to fight against the pain? That hatred of the pain and needing to get rid of it solidifies the sense of self: me against my pain. Then you get into a war with it, and each time pain arises it becomes a reminder not to compassion, but to pulling back into your separateness and assuming a fighting stance. We see people who begin with a pain in the back or the foot and they end up with a pain in the shoulder or the gut because of that fighting stance. I'm not suggesting that pain is pleasant, but it is an invitation to pay attention and to invite that place of pain back into your heart.

The same holds true, exactly, for emotional pain. We work with it in the same way. You can be burning with a pain in the gut caused by the flu or some such, and you can be burning with jealousy, desire or rage. The more you get in touch with the physical and emotional contractions of the body the more you can begin to use these as gifts to deepen your awareness and to teach you to soften and keep your energy expanded outward, open to the world.

This work is fundamental. Everything in this transcript can be terribly distorted and misused if it is taken as a tool to escape pain. Ultimate reality is not an escape from relative reality, but a parallel dimension in which you may rest and find deeper truth as you work skillfully with relative reality. They must go side by side. With that in mind, Barbara did not begin to work with these light practices until, perhaps, the middle of the nine days spent in the hospital. This first four days were spent, literally, breathing one breath at a time. Breathing in and aware of pain, breathing out and aware of pain. Breathing in and aware of fear, breathing out and aware of fear. Breathing in and aware of aversion to fear or to pain. Breathing in and smiling to the pain. Allowing it to be there with each breath. Allowing connection, as much as is possible, to the place of pain. Acknowledging the part of herself that wanted to disassociate with the pain; how much she wanted to escape. And opening her heart to the human who simply wanted out, who felt, 'Wake me when it's over.'

After four days of that, Barbara experienced a very strong sense of surrender. I will let Barbara tell you in her own words how that came about, if you are interested; it's not part of my story here. Only, that she did experience a profound letting go.

We recently spoke of the myth of King Sisyphus who was given the task to push a huge boulder up a hill. Each day he would push it to the top. At night it rolled its way back down. He had been condemned to an eternity of this routine. My homework to you was to ask you to look at this myth in your own lives. After the break tonight I hope to hear some of what you found as you explored the myth.

Barbara found, quite literally, that when the boulder got to the top and rolled down she would groan and say, 'Oh no, I've go to push it back up again.' Of course you've got to push it back up again. Your incarnation consists of pushing the boulder up the hill; it's never going to stay there. Everything is impermanent. As soon as you think you've got it set and you blink, it's gone. You know that in your lives. You can not count on good health tomorrow, for yourselves or for your loved ones. You can not count on the fact that your job will be here next week. You can not count on the fact that your home won't burn down or be struck by a tornado. When we ask the question, 'Is that okay?' what does that really mean?

It was clear to Barbara that as painful as this abdominal situation was, it was also a gift. She laid there those first four days, simply watching the struggle to get the boulder to stay put. Then she experienced a sense of profound surrender, a very deep realization that it was perfectly okay for the boulder to roll back down; that she'd never had to make it stay put in the first place. The thought it needed to stay was illusion. All that she had to do was continue to push it.

She found at that point that it rolled itself back up the hill just as it rolled itself down, just by the matter of her being, taking a breath. She didn't really have to push it up, to exert great effort, only to be willing to watch it roll up and down and allow that she was not in control. Then the pushing became a joy. There was no longer fear in it.

Take something as simple as making a cup of tea. You want a cup of tea but there is somebody in the next room waiting to talk to you who is very impatient. You can feel their anger all the way around to the kitchen. The pot won't boil, so you stand there saying, 'Hurry up, hurry up.' You're thinking that maybe you should forgo your tea; feeling guilt. Here is trying to make the boulder stay on the top, to fix the impatience and guilt as you fix the tea. Knowing that a cup of tea will help you listen, you can spend two or three minutes simply breathing, aware of your weight on your feet. You may choose to wipe out the sink, or look out the window, or, perhaps, just to stand. And it can become a very peaceful time. During that time, compassion may arise for the impatient one and also for the one who felt guilt. Can you see that you have the choice?

This surrender that I speak of is not a giving up, not saying that you won't make any effort. It is understanding the deep joy in the effort; the wonder of pushing a boulder up the hill; feeling the strength of your muscles; seeing what rolls out from underneath it with each turn; feeling the cool breeze or the sunshine; being alive. It's not hell if you don't ask the boulder to stay at the top.

Half way through the week, Barbara saw how she was holding this boulder of 'no surgery' at the top, as if she could control it, as if she were somehow going to magically open the bowel obstruction. But she can't control it. She can pray, she can relax; otherwise, she can't control it. She came to see that she did not know what she needed most. If she needed to experience the surgery, then that's what she needed. It would offer pain, yes, and also its own lessons. And then she relaxed and simply handed it to God, with a deep sense, 'I trust this whole thing, Thy will be done.'

At that point, when she was able to let go of having to make it better, then and only then was she ready to work with this light practice. This is an extraordinarily powerful practice. It acknowledges the physical and emotional causes of the distortion, including such as simple genetic causes. Perhaps you have a weak back because you inherited it from a parent. It acknowledges the multiple causes. It sees the way that distortion has been bounced back and forth with an identity to it: 'I am my weak back. I am my trick knee, or my sore throat.' It realizes that is never who you were, and then you may begin to work very directly with this light/energy practice.

Because Barbara is a highly visual person, her practice was to see the energy stream from the physical manifestation up to this sub-light body. She could see the distortion that was being sent up, and the way that distortion projected back down. She could see that the distortion was old habit, perhaps originated in this mind/body when she was a child of five or six and had an acute appendicitis and emergency surgery. Seeing that she had held fear in her belly, she simply knew, 'I don't need to do that anymore.'

She was able to see through to the perfect light body template, where there was no distortion, no contraction. Mind does manifest matter. When you can cut through that distortion into the pure mind and into the light body template, you bring the potential for the light body perfection to come back into the physical body. Of course, it takes the physical body time to manifest it, if it can do so at all. Most humans cannot manifest new limbs or nerves. This is simply beyond your capabilities and you are not a failure when it can not be done. You need not create the actuality, only open to the potential and let it carry itself however it will from there.

We're told that your body completely restores its cellular structure every seven years. So from the time that you completely rest in the perfect light body template for one body part, if there were not any further contracting of that part of the body then in seven years it would be identical to the light body template. Or course, that perfection does not happen because the old habits do not die so easily. What happens it that there is some amount of healing, perhaps considerable healing. This practice must be used however, only after the relative work has been done. Only after there is a sense of being willing to be present with the distortion without need to get rid of it, but simply to observe it and make space for it. Then you can see where it's old habit, and feeling the readiness to let it go, you do so. It's not getting rid of, but letting go of that which is not needed.

What I'd like to do now is lead you on a guided meditation. We're continually doing slightly different meditations here of opening into the light body, into the pure awareness, or God-self, Christ or Buddha consciousness. I hope that you are practicing some of these techniques at home as well. What does it mean to rest in pure mind? To rest in the divine self? As we start this meditation I'd ask you to sit up and take several deep breaths to refresh your energy. We're not going to work with physical distortion tonight, but thought, just thought. I want you to see the distinction between the content of mind and mind itself. What is mind? This is something else we can talk about after the break.

(Three dots (…) indicate pause.)

Was your mind born someplace? Sitting here I'd like you to see if you can find where mind originated … Is mind born with the body? Of course you can not answer that with certainty because you do not remember before your birth. What is this that I am calling mind? Its essence is the most divine aspect of yourself. We've used the metaphor here of the child's drawing of the sun with little triangles that project out, each being a sunbeam. Each of your light bodies is just such a sunbeam. It is nothing but a projection of the sun; nothing but a projection of the divine …

Visualize a line from the sun, the source, down to where the sun hits the ground and forms a patch of light … That patch of light is not the sun itself; it is the sun in conjunction with the earth, and yet it is very directly of the sun. When I say to distinguish between the content of mind and of mind itself, it is the same distinction as the sun next to the light the sun lays on the ground. Mind's content can not exist independent of mind, but it is not mind …

Look for mind. If it's not the thought, what is it? … If you're a visual person focus on that image of the light line projection from God through the light body and straight into your heart … Rest in that light … If you're an auditory person you might hear that energy as a cosmic 'Om.' And again, rest in that sound-light … Breathing in, breathing out … Let thoughts arise … Even as simple a thought as 'hearing Aaron.' Stop and analyze this thought. From where did it arise? Is this mind, or is this the clothing of the mind, the ornament of the mind? …

When I touch the thought with awareness, does it go? … As the thought ceases, is there even a momentary connection with that light through any of the senses-seeing it as light, hearing it, or even just feeling its energy? … Just rest there … See the next thought arise. The ornament of mind … Analyze it again … Seeing that the thought is not the mind itself, let it go. And rest in what's left … Pure awareness … Sometimes we can jar the thought loose from the mind, exposing that pure mind for a moment. We may do it like this … Hey!!! (very loud) … In that silence, in that brief moment, could you see the mind shaken loose from the thought?

If you do not think that you are getting it, that's okay. Be persistent. Bring as much consistent mindfulness as is possible to the question: Can I distinguish mind from the content of mind? … A time you may find that you can do this is just upon awaking from a dream. It's very clear that the dream content was ornament of mind. Sometimes in that moment of awakening there is a deep clarity, a deep sense of connection to pure awareness …

(Long pause.)

Some of you may have experienced walking outside on a beautiful day, especially in the spring, when everything is so fresh. It takes your breath away for a moment; thought ceases. What we are attempting to do here is to introduce you to this pure light body. When there is physical or emotional distortion, after you have worked on the relative plane with the distortion, making space for it and opening your heart to it, then you may look and see that this is not who or what you are, and find that you can come to rest in that pure light body and release the distortion. Slowly the energy clarifies; you find that you can manifest your energy with increasing purity, increasing love and joy.

Before we close, with whatever sense you choose to use, once again visualize your choice of metaphor for the Always Perfect-the sun, a personification of God such as Jesus or the Buddha, or that Light and energy which you might call God itself … Visualize your own light body as projection of that, and a light line running from that source through the light body and straight to your heart … Expanding inward is another form of expanding outward; now we're expanding inward to that core of divinity within the heart … Feel it expand … Feel the power of that energy coming in through the crown chakra and into the heart … Breathe it in, breathe it out … Feel the power of that energy and rest there … If thought arises it is simply the garment of this pure awareness; nothing to be afraid of, nothing to get rid of, just let it be and come back to the light.

We will end here. You do not need to let go of that energy. It is and always has been a part of you. As you move into your break and social time, see if you can maintain awareness of it while you talk to one another. Even further, see if you can maintain awareness of it in those with whom you talk. That is all.


Question: (Could not hear start. Speaking of a boulder.) One big one that is coming to me is an emotional boulder of wanting to be somebody, and looking at discomfort with this . It can be very violent at times.

Barbara: Can you see the difference between seeing 'wanting to be somebody' as a boulder that needs to be attended and just opening your heart to the part of you that wants to be somebody without judgment of that? Just letting it be there, as opposed to trying to make it stay at the top of the hill. One of the questions Aaron asked last week was, what makes Sisyphus' punishment hell? All of this painful stuff-wanting to be somebody, or wanting to get rid of the wanting, wanting a bowel to become unobstructed-we can't get rid of the wanting, but when we make space for the wanting it just starts to roll up the hill and roll back down, and we just watch it roll. We no longer need to make it stay up at the top. I think that we get into a myth that the boulder is shaped like a round ball with a flat spot, and if we can just get it rolled to the top the right way, with the tiny little flat space on the boulder faced down, it will stay at the top. We just keep doing it over and over, 'If only there was some way I could do this.' For me in the hospital, peace began with letting go of the idea that there was some way I could do this. Really coming to understand that I couldn't open the obstruction; all I could do was attend to the pain as lovingly as was possible.

Aaron: I am Aaron. The delight is that once you make space for the wanting to be somebody, that space opens you to the place where you're connected to all that is, and you realize that through that connection you've always been somebody, but that that somebody is absolutely nobody, and that's fine. The more you cling to wanting to be somebody the more you separate yourself from your true essence and create the painful illusion of feeling that you're nobody, because you've lost your connection with the divine. That is all.

D: I have been working with these light body practices that Aaron has been giving us. I find that nearly all the time I am really wanting to get rid of something painful, especially when I feel angry. So, it was useful tonight when Aaron talked about the need to work in relative reality first. In fact, he said that ultimate reality and relative reality are parallel. On the other hand …

Aaron: Parallel is not quite accurate. They are containers, one inside the other. The container of relative reality rests within the container of ultimate reality. That is all.

D: But the point is that I do not get done with relative reality and then move on to ultimate reality exclusively. But on the other hand, is not the point of all of this work to release old mind and old fears? In other words to have them gone. I hesitate to say 'get rid of them,' but is not the point of the ultimate reality work to be free of them?

Barbara: The point of the ultimate reality work is to be where we are. We're always free of it in ultimate reality, but if we're still stuck in the relative pain that's where we are. So then the point of the ultimate reality work is simply to open our hearts to the pain without identifying with the pain, without getting fixated on the pain. Aaron once used a metaphor that was helpful to me. He talked about finding a big swamp in our backyards with just slightly visible paths through the swamp where the mud is only ankle deep. We pull on hip wader boots and we're trudging through the mud. We start looking for the path where it's only ankle deep; sometimes were able to stay on the path and sometimes we're not. When we're not it's a lot of work to pull our feet out of the mud and keep stepping through. Suddenly we look up and we realize the swamp is only so big and that we can walk out of the swamp completely. But, we're stuck hip deep in muck! First we need to focus on how we're walking in the swamp; are we choosing skillfully to get on to the paths? Then, from the height of the path, we recognize that there is an end to the swamp, there is dry ground.

Aaron: I am Aaron. You also must remember that when you get to dry ground you need to take your boots off. Many of you move into this ultimate practice and find that you truly can rest in this pure light and awareness, but you're still dragging your boots behind you. The heaviness of the mud tends to pull you back down hill into the swamp. In a sense that is the point of this light practice. It's a way of taking the boots off. Becoming aware of the light is becoming aware of the edges of the swamp. Focusing awareness on the pure light body is moving to the edge of the swamp. The continued work with the energy stream and the stream-energy field (I am still not content with this term) is a way of taking off the boots and realizing that you do not need them anymore, that you truly are out of the swamp. Then, if you find your feet with a little bit of mud you just wash it off; no big deal.

Barbara: D has said that it is very likely that he will enter another swamp.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Indeed it is, but when you enter another swamp you only have to get ankle deep to know that you are in a swamp. And to know how to skillfully extricate yourself. It gets easier and easier. You also become more patient with your forays into the swamp and more compassionate to the human the keeps ending up in the swamp. Are you familiar with the poem that Barbara has read in meditation class called Autobiography in Five Chapters? I will ask that it be added to the transcript here.

Autobiography in Five Chapters by Portia Nelson

Chapter One: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I'm lost. I'm helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I'm in the same place, but it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I fall in. It is habit. But my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault and I get out immediately.

Chapter Four: I walk down the same street. There's a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter Five: I try walking down a different street.