Wednesday, April 6, 1994

(At Aaron's request, Barbara gives a brief review of the meaning of karma.)

Barbara: The word karma means action. Every action involves karma. Karma falls into two basic categories: what we would call adhering and non-adhering karma. Adhering karma can be wholesome or unwholesome. What determines whether karma is adhering or not is whether there's a self involved as the 'doer' of this or that. Since every act has multiple motivation, there are parts that stick and parts that don't stick.

If there's a very skinny, hungry-looking child who walks up to me and wants an apple that I'm about to bite into, my heart's going to open and I'm going to very selflessly offer the apple. No adhering karma in that. But there's the little voice that pats me on the back and says, 'Gee, aren't I the good, kind, generous one?' Okay, there there's a little bit that's still sticking. The stickiness isn't about the giving. In this case the stickiness is not in the giving; I'm okay there. Stickiness is about needing to affirm myself and feel good.

If I had a thought after I gave it, 'Maybe I should have only given him half, what am I going to eat,' the non-adhering karma is still non-adhering, and it's wholesome karma. There was selfless giving. The adhering karma-there can be twenty different little motivations. This one might be about fear, not being sure how much I can give, how much I need to hold onto.

If I had a hundred apples here, or a thousand, and I gave him one, there's not really any generosity involved in that. Giving doesn't have much meaning if there are a thousand apples. If there are one or two, then it's got a lot of meaning because I'm asked to give something I feel I might need. So, to learn generosity, I may have to practice that giving hundreds, even thousands of times before I can give without the little voices of fear.

All karma plants seeds. The seeds they plant depend on what we give out. Aaron used an example once about adhering/non-adhering of wearing cotton fleecy pants and walking out in a field where there were stickers. They stick to the pants. If you walk through the same field with denim pants there's nothing for it to stick to. What karma sticks to is self: this whole illusion of being somebody solid-I'm a me, me giving, me not giving, me being good, me being bad.

Karma is not punishment. Karma is a way of learning. As soon as we think of it as punishment, we get distorted because it starts to be a reward and punishment system. But is has nothing to do with reward and punishment. It's simply this: if I give without getting stuck in this place of self, or if I do whatever needs to be done, say whatever needs to be said without its coming from an ego-centered place, then there's nothing for it to stick to. If there is something for it to stick to, life simply points to that spot and says, 'Here's fear. Here's a place which still needs work.

It's kind of like a piece of wood and sandpaper. You sand it for awhile and then you feel it. Right here it's a little rough, a little splintered, hurts a little. Sand it a little more right there. So, we just keep sanding it down, finding where is the ego-self still is rough, around what issues. And we each have our own personal issues. Jealousy. Generosity. Patience. Whatever they may be. Where are the places where we still get stuck?

M: So, when we drop our identifications of self, that would cancel karma?

Barbara: Then there's no adhering karma, which means there's nothing of 'me' that I'm planting that needs to come back and learn this lesson again, practice it again, whether in this lifetime or future incarnations. I've got this one thing worked out, I'm not getting caught in it. But maybe I don't have that one worked out. So, because we have multiple motivations, the places that we haven't worked out keep popping up no matter how varied the situation.

Maybe the issue is generosity and fear and holding on. It doesn't just come up in places where I'm giving apples. It could come up if I'm just walking with a friend where one side of the path is sunny and one is shady; it's a cool day and I'm afraid to give up the sunny side of the path. Ego! Self!

M: Does it have to be so tedious? Can we just cut through? … Shebang!?

Barbara: Yes. This is part of what Aaron is going to talk about. He just wanted me to give this basic foundation.

(Barbara reads a question about karma that someone has written.)

Question: … Karma. I really get angry about this. When you can't even go to the dentist, Barbara, without concern for accumulating more adhering karma, I think something's wrong with the system. This is more detrimental than old traditional religions that had us feeling guilty about everything. At least confession made the slate clean again. Not so with beliefs about karma. While we are admonished on the one hand, 'Have compassion and forgiveness for ourselves,' we're warned on the other about picking up new karma. God forbid if you do something nice for someone and you should feel good about it! More karma! After feeling unworthy for God knows how many lifetimes, is it so terrible to feel good about yourself for some nice things you've said or done? I'm afraid all my work to show myself compassion and forgiveness is more than wiped out by my new fear of karma. Finally, it occurred to me that if this life is an illusion, then any of its by-products must also be. Do you remember the night I asked about that? Is karma an illusion? 'No,' Barbara said. 'Yes,' Aaron said. So, if it's an illusion, please, Aaron, straighten out the confusion.

(Barbara reviews her trip to the dentist for dental surgery a few weeks ago for those who were not present at that session. See earlier transcript. She also gives a bit of background information on the light work that Aaron has been teaching for those who are new tonight. See earlier transcripts.

Barbara reads excerpts from the story about 'cow karma' which was read a couple of weeks ago and has provoked several questions about karma since that reading.

Barbara talks about the idea of being caught in a karmic stream as in her encounter with the woman Joan/Miriana, and how we can choose, by paying attention, to pull ourselves out of the karmic stream.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. Good evening and my love to you all. I hear the last question and will speak to it. I want to first address the terms 'balance' and 'release.' To balance karma means to find forgiveness, to assume responsibility, to know that for which you are responsible and also that for which you are not responsible. To release it is to know it is already balanced and I don't have to lug it around anymore. Now I release it.

We have spent years on forgiveness meditation, on awareness work, looking to understand what you were responsible for and to open yourself to responsibility, to balance. Now I want to work on release. We're going to do this guided meditation.


(Dots (…) indicate pause.)

Aaron: I would like you to bring into your mind some situation which created tension for you, but in which there is clearly nothing to fear. It may be a big dog in your neighborhood whom you walk past on occasion and whom everyone has told you is friendly, but there's contraction and fear when you pass it. It may be that visit to the dentist or doctor. Fill in with your own example.

Allow yourself to remember this situation and what you felt … Allow yourself to feel the contractedness … Feeling fear …

Now we're going to do this release practice … As much as is possible, I want you to feel yourselves sitting in a column of light … See if you can feel that light as a cloak around your shoulders … and penetrating the crown chakra … entering your body …

For those of you who are not visually inclined, you may hear this vibration as a cosmic Ommm … In one way or another, see if you can feel that very high vibration of sound or light … allow yourself to rest in it …

Come back to the thought of the dog … the dentist … or whatever the situation may be … You may see or hear the discordance of that contraction as light or sound … against this perfect light … perfect sound vibration, Ommm …

As much as is possible, relax your body into this perfect light or sound … Rest in it … allowing awareness to expand … from the personal into the impersonal … Look down on this being who you are … See this being cloaked in light … and within the human with its fear contraction …

Look at the whole scene … Here is the human who has been invaded in one way or another, countless times in its life … so that the mere thought of sitting helpless in this dentist's chair with steel instruments in its mouth creates a rebound contraction of energy … Is this human safe in this moment? … Is anything bad going to happen to it? … Who is it going to happen to? … Is it old mind memory? … Even if there is some pain or discomfort, can there simply be space made for that discomfort … no need to change it or get rid of it … just seeing it and being with it as it is … this moment of discomfort? …

Can you see the contraction as old baggage? … I repeat, no getting-rid-of … We're not getting rid of the contraction because it's uncomfortable or even because it's old, with that held as judgment against it … we're letting it go because we clearly don't need it … it's old baggage … Seeing that … make the simple decision, let it go … simply release it … Breathe it out … forcefully … With the in breath, draw in clear light, clarifying that energy stream … Breathe out the contractedness again … Breathe in clear light … And again …

Releasing that which is no longer needed … Defendedness served its purpose once … now it is old baggage … Release it … The same may true for a sense of unworthiness … or greed and holding … Once they served a purpose, helping this being you were to feel safe … Now it is old baggage … Where do you fix your focus … on the wrinkled sheet of paper … or on the always perfect sheet within the wrinkled sheet? …

Breathe it out … audibly, if you like … releasing with an 'ahhh'… Draw in that perfect light … rest in it … Send it out … release it … ahhhh … letting go … Feel that burden lift … Breathing in light … Focusing on the clear light … drawing it in … Draw it in … allowing focus to shift from the old mind which is released to the perfect light … Please continue on your own …

(Pause for several minutes.)

(Bell.) (Bell.) (Bell.)

Last month, we offered a four-step process in which distorted energy was released through guru meditation, through aligning yourself with the light of a great master or guru, and finding your own perfection within the perfection of that being. This is a parallel practice but, instead of using the guru, you use your own light, your own divinity. If the guru practice is more useful to you, that's fine. For some people, the personification of that light is a help. At that time, we did not speak about it as related to release of karma, so that is new tonight, but it's the same practice which some of you have been doing in these two months since we introduced it.

So, yes, on the relative plane you must do it the tedious way. You must practice over and over with awareness, seeing where you are caught and balancing that karma. And then you come to the understanding, it's all been illusion, in the same way that the whole relative plane is illusion, and I can release the whole thing. But only after balancing it and finding that there's no more aversion to it.

In answer to the question, is this whole 'karmic deal' cruel? It is never punishment. If it's seen as punishment, yes, it's cruel. When it's understood as opportunity to learn, offered you constantly at your own pace, then it's very wonderful. Life always gives you the opportunity to practice.

What of this idea, if Barbara tensed, she was creating new karma there in the dentist's chair? But it doesn't matter how many times she does it. Ten, twenty, seven hundred. Eventually, she's going to get the idea, as she did, this is old baggage. And then it's balanced and released and that's it. So this idea of accumulating 'bad' karma is somewhat of a myth. I say somewhat because, yes, if you kill one person or five hundred, there is a difference in what's needed to balance that. You've got a lot more balancing to do if you've killed five hundred. But it's still there to teach you: 'I am responsible. And then I balance it and then I release it.'

You have been sitting for a long time. We're by no means finished with this subject of karma. I'm going to pause here for a break. I would very much like to hear your questions after the break. I thank you for your attention. That is all.



C1: Aaron was saying that karma was illusion on the ultimate plane, but it's not illusion on the relative plane. That's the part that still confuses me. It seems like it should be real or not.

Barbara: Aaron is saying that anger is illusion on the ultimate plane, but here on the relative plane we experience our anger or fear or whatever. Remember Aaron's statement that fear is a distortion of love. On the ultimate plane we have that clear energy which is love. When we move into the distortion of self, our energy contracts around that self and creates the illusion of a solid fear or anger or greed or whatever. As we're experiencing them they seem real so that we must relate to them on the relative plane with compassion and awareness and so on. On the ultimate plane, they're not real, but we still need to practice with them. It's the same balancing and releasing. If you don't balance it, if you just release it, then there's usually getting-rid-of. Aaron asks for discussion and then he'll talk to the group.

C1: Is it illusion?

Barbara: Aaron is saying it's illusion, but with each incarnation we willingly enter the illusion.

(Group sharing about experiences with the meditation.)

C1: I do something similar in daily meditation and it feels real good for awhile. But then the old fears come back, and sometimes I can shift easily back to the higher plane and sometimes it's not so easy. But I haven't experienced releasing it forever.

Barbara: Aaron is saying that one doesn't need to release it forever. The distortion keeps getting thinner. The light keeps getting clearer. But you do have to be persistent. He's saying think about how long it took you to accumulate that distortion. It won't take nearly as long to clarify it. He promises.

C2: I can experience the higher vibration and the higher contraction. I find it very easy to distinguish those experiences and to feel them. During the meditation, I had the thought, 'Oh, now I can get rid of this jealousy.' And immediately it stopped working. But I'm a bit confused because it feels like getting-rid-of. It's releasing, but I would appreciate some clarification on the difference.

Barbara: What Aaron has told me when I have had the same experience was to note the aversion and be aware of the aversion as the next predominant mind movement, the next contraction. Ask yourself the same questions: what is this aversion? Am I really safe?

C2: I'm not talking about aversion.

Barbara: What was the 'get-rid-of' referring to?

C2: The feeling of tightness around the experience.

Barbara: Okay, that tightness is a form of aversion, the physical sensation of wanting to get rid of the jealousy. Feeling aversion, it is predominant in this moment. You shift your focus from the contraction you were releasing to the aversion. Ask yourself the same questions about the aversion: Am I really safe? Can I just permit this feeling of aversion? Is it just old fear that says I've got to get rid of uncomfortable feelings and hold onto comfortable feelings?

C2: I wasn't asking about fear but jealousy. So my fear and aversion to it came up and I said, 'Oh, getting-rid-of …' It blended together with the jealousy

Barbara: And a thought arose, 'I'll be rid of the jealousy.' You note there is aversion to the jealousy; with the arising of aversion you do the same thing as you were doing with jealousy. Once there's space on the relative plane for the aversion and it's okay-there's just the aversion, that's just the experience of this moment, but it's old baggage, I don't need it-then you release it. Do the same thing with the aversion. And then if there was a contraction that you were working with originally, like jealousy, go back to that after the aversion is released. Or if the aversion stays, just know there is aversion. There's nothing to get rid of. No fixation on it; it'll go when it's ready.

C2: Basically, the work would be to shift focus from releasing the original fear to releasing the clinging to getting-rid-of.

Barbara: First to just knowing there is such clinging. Then, when it's balanced, you can release it. Aaron says, remember you are not getting rid of the aversion. Notice the desire to get rid of the aversion. That's where the question, 'Who wants to get rid of the aversion?' comes in. In this moment I don't need to get rid of the aversion. It's okay that it's here. I can just be a little uncomfortable with this aversion. Then I'm ready to release it.

C2: First, notice the aversion. Let it be there in the light. Then when it's loose …

Barbara: It's just like your meditation practice where, if there was fear and then aversion to fear, you see the aversion to fear as separate from the fear itself. You work with it in this situation with this release process.

C2: Thank you.

F: My mind has a little difficulty with the practice, but it is a very powerful practice. I experience the release like loosening a knot. The knot is still there but it's lighter and looser. The light is very strong and soothing, but I have a hard time with it.

Barbara: I think what you're experiencing relates to what we talked about in meditation class on Monday. We want to get rid of this stuff both because part of us aspires to clarify our energy and to respond and live in more loving and skillful ways, and also because it's uncomfortable and we want to get rid of it. Fearful and loving motivation are both present. But also, we've created it in the first place for a defense of some sort to help us feel safe. So, when you say you have a hard time with this, I think you're getting into the contradiction, 'I want to get rid of it, but I want to hold onto it.' Maybe that's what you need to look at and work with, first with vipassana and eventually with the release process, just feeling confusion. Is this old confusion? Who is confused? Do I need the distortion of this confusion anymore? Can I release that?

F: I also think the mind stuff comes from feeling that it's just in my mind and that's not a real release.

Barbara: It's just concept?

F: Yes. But it is powerful anyway.

Barbara: Can you see that the concept 'It's just concept' is a shield against the experience? It's part of the resistance.

F: Yes.

Barbara: Label it 'resistance,' touch it with gentle awareness, and keep going. Can there be equanimity with resistance, no force to let it go? It will dissolve when it's ready.

D: My question is similar to what C2 was asking originally. I try Aaron's four-step release process, but I find that my releasing is usually a desire to get rid of something uncomfortable. Is what Aaron means by 'release' really a willingness to not hold on anymore and release is not an act of conscious will? Is this the essence of Aaron's message here, that we no longer need the old mind patterns?

Aaron: I am Aaron. Precisely, D. It must grow out of a willingness not to hold on. But the willingness not to hold on grows out of a place of deep wisdom and clarity that sees there was nothing to hold onto in the first place, nor anybody to do the holding. This relates to what Barbara was saying to F: As long as there is somebody there, holding on or not holding on, you're caught back into that solid self and its prior ways of defending. Then you can look at that and simply say, 'Defending …'

There's nothing bad about defending, it simply gets you stuck. It's like walking in the mud. You want to get from here to Point B and there's a muddy swamp. There are a few paths through it. You can walk deep in the mud, drawing your feet out between each step, or you can find the path. The mud route is neither good nor bad, but it takes more energy, is harder work.

When there is somebody defending, all you need to know is 'Defending.' Each time these old mind thoughts come up, they're a gift. They're another place to practice, and another, and another. Here it is again, and again, and again. Barbara asked C1, how long has it taken you to create these patterns? It's like doing an arithmetic workbook. Do you want to do one problem a day or a page a day or a chapter a day? Keep at it. Each time something comes up, note 'defending' or 'aversion.' Just watch it and let wisdom mind cut through it. Illusion. Old mind. Release it. The thought is nothing to be afraid of. Do you understand? (Yes.)

There is a story that Barbara and I have been discussing this week, a Greek myth, the myth of Sisyphus, a Greek king. Through various bits of mischief and trickery, he found himself in a situation where he finally died and, according to the myth, was given an eternal punishment where he had to push a rock up a hill, a large boulder. Every time it got to the top, it rolled back down.

I asked Barbara, what is the suffering in that? Is it in the act of pushing the rock, or is it in one's expectations and opinions about pushing the rock? I would like all of you to look at this myth this week, reflect on it and the ways it fits into your own life. Are you pushing a rock up a hill? Are you doing it with the expectation that it's going to stay there, so there's a sense of failure each time it doesn't stay? What is your relationship to this pushing the boulder up the hill? You get out of bed each morning and you start to work on your boulder. Can that be okay? Can there eventually develop a deep joy and even a deep sense of peace just doing what needs to be done, free of old opinions about it?

This relates very directly to this release process and the sense of self that we're talking about, self who gets caught into the release process so that it becomes getting-rid-of or holding-on. I'm not going to talk more about the myth now. We'll talk about it next week. I would ask you each to watch that in your life. Are there further questions?

D: I have a question about the analogies that Aaron has been using. One analogy is the wrinkled sub-light body. Aaron said a few weeks ago that we reach up and wrinkle it. Then he introduced the analogy of the mirror on the sub-light body. Are the wrinkles and the mirror the same thing?

C2: And, when we are reflecting the light back up, how do we clean off the mirror? How does that work?

Aaron: I am Aaron. May I make a shift in the analogy? Let's put the mirror aside and replace it with a clear piece of glass. If the glass is clean, the light from in front and behind it can pass through it. If the glass is dirty, the dust on the glass tends to serve as a reflecting surface. The light can't pass through the dust, it bounces off the dust.

Visualize, as best you are able, this stream energy. I ask Barbara to draw something here. (Barbara does this, with a drawing of several objects, sub-light body, and a stream of dots between each object and sub-light body. Some streams of dots are condensed, some loose .)

Barbara: From Aaron's perspective the energy we're sending out looks more or less like this. There are places where it's perfectly clear, places where there are contractions and it draws together in a density. And, then, as the contraction opens out in the energy we're sending up, there's more clarity, it goes from black to gray, in a sense. Aaron is saying, if you can, picture millions of particles of dust. As the contraction opens out, the particles of dust are less dense. But there's still contraction. And here's another contraction. (Barbara adds to her drawing.) So, we're sending up these areas of clarity and of contraction.

C2: While Aaron is working with this, how are all the wrinkles of the paper related?

Aaron: I am Aaron. These are all analogies for what I see. Let me simply describe that. Your energy manifests itself as light of different density. Some of it is very clear light, completely free of distortion. That which is distorted I see almost as you would see an accumulation of dust motes, bits of density, bits of shadow. The more contracted it is, the more turmoil that particular bit of light is in.

Coming back to this first analogy, if you can visualize that turmoil as dust motes, it rises up and settles on the glass. Then it falls back down. Another way of saying it is you reach up and wrinkle the paper. I use the paper analogy because of the value that you can clearly see the perfect sheet of paper lies within the wrinkled sheet. It's a bit harder to see that the dust-free window lies within the dusty window. Pay some attention to it and you can see that, too.

At that point you know, the wrinkled sheet is illusion, the dusty window is illusion. Then, instead of agonizingly ironing out the wrinkles or wiping the glass clean, you just move through the illusion, through fog into clarity. This moment of clarity is what we're after. When C1 asked, how many times does she have to do it, in relative reality practice, over and over and over again. But in ultimate reality there is that moment of clear seeing. Resting in that clarity, you are home; there is nothing more to be done.

We've been introducing this space of pure mind all year, in one way or another, through breathing practices and other methods. Resting in pure mind, you see the wrinkled sheet of paper and know it's perfect; it doesn't matter if it appears wrinkled. It doesn't matter if the dusty window appears dusty, the perfect clear window is still there. Therefore, I just push through the dust. I fix my gaze on the perfect light body template and not on the dusty window. Does that answer your question? (Yes.)

If you have some pleasant weather this week, I offer you a second bit of homework. Go out and lie in the grass or in a comfortable chair, gazing at the sky, and simply breathe. Send your breath out, way out, into the universe. Breathe the universe back into you. Let go of your limits. In that space of unlimitedness, see if you can discover this pure mind I keep speaking of.

What we're doing here is much like looking at an optical illusion. Some time ago someone brought in an optical illusion with a series of dots. If you looked at it just so, you could see a face in it. Some people could see it, some people couldn't see it. For those who couldn't see it, the dots were pointed out: Look, here's the nose, here are the eyes. Barbara couldn't see it. She looked and she looked and she couldn't see it. But here's the nose, here are the eyes. You all know how an optical illusion is; suddenly you get it. After that, even though there might be a moment of confusion when you look and say, 'Where is it?' you never lose it again.

This is what we're doing. I'm pointing out to you, here it is, here is pure mind. I'm pointing it out to you in myriad ways so that each of you may find the tool that works best for you to catch it. Then you are never going to mistake the dusty window or the wrinkled paper for ultimate reality again. When you see the dusty window or the wrinkled paper, you're going to say, 'That is the relative experience, and beyond that is the perfect light body template of the perfect sheet of paper, the perfect clear window, the perfect light body template for my physical, emotional and mental bodies. It's all there. Can I learn to see it? Once I see it, can I learn to rest in it? That's all we're doing. Are there questions?

Barbara: Aaron is saying the first step is learning to see it. Some of you have done that, and some of you are still struggling with it, as I was with the optical illusion. The second step, once you see it and stabilize the ability to rest in it, is to work with it, doing things like this release of karma, of distortion of energy, clarifying the energy in the physical and emotional bodies in that way. He doesn't want to wait until everybody sees it to go ahead, and it's okay to practice this process even if you don't clearly see it. It will all come together.