February 4, 1993

Aaron: Good morning and my love to you all. Know as you hold J in your hearts (J is sick and in the hospital) that your prayers and loving thoughts do have an effect. It is your thoughts, even more than actions and words, that create the next moment. For your thoughts create the actions and words.

No thought stream is entirely pure. Given that each thought is just this moment, there may be seventeen moments of clarity, empty of self, mostly purely intentioned, giving and loving, and then that sudden moment of fear. And then back to purity again.

Perhaps as you think of J and wish him better health and cessation of this suffering he's presently experiencing, a stray bit of thought creeps in of the ways J's energy has served you. There's a brief thought: 'What would happen to me without J's energy?" Just a brief bit of fear. You may see that fear with a kindness to yourself and let it go. That fear has not created unwholesome karma, but there is adhering karma there.

When you notice how the thought arises, and how the solidified self arises with the thought, see that clearly with no ownership of it, the thought self-destructs, you might say. As it goes 'poof" and dissolves without your having owned it, you find your mind back in pure awareness, empty of self again. There it rests until the next thought arises. When there is no mindfulness of the arising thought, it becomes condition for the next arising, leading the thought stream into deeper turbulence.

Since your acts and words are not determined by any moment's isolated thought but by the thought stream, it is out of that thought stream that adhering karma grows. When there is ownership of the thought stream, identification with it as 'mine," then the ensuing acts and words reflect that self and karma follows. This does happen, of course. Within that thought stream occasional strong fear arises in the human, fear which catches you. As I have repeatedly suggested, that fearful entry into the thought stream is also not a problem, only a chance to practice compassion for this arising of human fear.

So you are sending loving energy to J. I have said that this really does reach J. How does this work? It is the same as with affirmation made for the self. When the thought stream is largely clear, there is no self trying to fix or change, only the purest of loving energy and light moving through you as if you were that magnifying glass we've spoken of, light focused where you project it. It is important to note that you are not doing this to make something special happen. For example, if your prayer is that J become physically healed, how do you presume to know that this is what J needs? Can you see that it is the fearful brain that makes specific requests? The heart's deepest wisdom only focuses that love and light to J and asks, 'May he find the healing that he needs, whatever that may be."

You are familiar with the image I've sometimes used of fearful energy radiating out in sharp points, and loving energy as the concentric circles that absorb that sharpness with no fear, until that sharpness blunts itself into the softness of love. From my perspective, I can see this connection of your loving energy and J's present fear, even when J is not consciously aware of the offering of that energy. On the etheric plane, J's frightened energy at his pain and helplessness becomes gently softened, as a frightened and crying child is comforted by loving, stable arms. The energy felt on the etheric plane transfers itself to the astral plane. The unaware being may only notice some slight lessening of its tension. The aware being, as J is, may be sitting in meditation and truly experience your energy at a conscious level. When the being is aware, the healing power of your energy escalates the softening of its fear. When the being is unaware, there is still a softening of its fear, although less profoundly experienced.

You have all heard this New Age statement: 'You create your own reality." I have said that I'm hesitant to say it in those words because people so easily distort that statement and use it to blame themselves or another. How cruel it is for example, when one is seriously ill from cancer, Aids or even an inflammation such as J's, to ask them 'Why did you create this?" Are you trying to help with that question or to insure your own safety from such illness with an inner statement 'I'm too aware to do that to myself"? Certainly, J had no intention of creating such pain. If he understood why this was happening within him, it would not be happening. To say, 'You create your own reality" is to suggest to the other, 'You have control, you are to blame." While the other has control at a real level, the conscious mind did not choose illness. So, let us use this phrase with caution that there be no judgment in it.

What does it mean, then, 'You create your own reality"? The thoughts of this moment create the next moment. The seed that is planted in this moment creates the fruit of the next moment. When the thoughts of this moment are very free of the concept of self, of a doer or fixer, manifest by the fearful brain, then those thoughts create no adhering karma. As soon as the brain chimes in 'me, me, me!" and that 'me" is related to with contempt, with judgment, or desire to get rid of, then self solidifies. When the open heart can smile at that 'me," pat it on the head and release it, then that bit of attention-seeking self merely floats past and pure awareness returns. The me 'self-liberates," as one teaching system phrases it. So it is not the arising of attention-seeking self but ownership of it which moves you into new, adhering karma.

It's like the two year old child playing in the kitchen while you are preparing dinner. It pulls out all the pots and pans and it clatters them for awhile. It wants your attention. It's hungry and tired. It opens the refrigerator and suddenly there are broken eggs on the floor. Anything to get mom or dad's attention. For that child, negative attention may be better than no attention, so it may prefer being scolded to being ignored. To really quiet and calm that child, you tell it, 'I see you need attention." You pick it up, hug it, set it down on the counter and give it a spoon to stir the dish you are preparing. You know that this is what calms the child so that small ego self stops screaming 'me."

Can you doubt that you have the same needs? You do not judge the child for wanting attention; you understand that this is the nature of the child. Why, then, do you judge yourself? This is the nature of the small ego self within you. My dear ones, you do not need to get rid of that small ego self. The more you attempt to get rid, the more it screams 'me." 'I will stifle myself," you say. But this small ego aspect of you is part of the incarnation. Trying to get rid of the self, reluctance to be in the body, are all factors that take you further from that desired ability to unconditionally love. You are here to find loving acceptance for the bumbling human that manifests itself through your own energy and through others' energy. It is only in that acceptance that true equanimity lies. It is only in that acceptance that freedom from this samsaric cycle lies. The threshold to fourth density experience is not total absence of emotional and physical fear. Rather, that threshold is lovingkindness, a readiness to nod to the small ego self and let it be. It is here that rebirth consciousness ceases.

I am going to do a lot of talking today. I want to give you an opportunity to have a break. Then I will talk about rebirth consciousness, vinnana, and the next segment of this circle-the Pali word is nama-rupa-mentality-materiality. That of which I have just spoken will tie in directly to this exploration of rebirth consciousness-what it is and when it ceases. Barbara is smelling the fresh bread so enjoy your break and then we will continue. That is all.


Aaron: Last week we just barely introduced vinnana, rebirth consciousness. Today I want to introduce nama-rupa and talk in more depth about these two. Do you remember the five skhandas or aggregates of self? Buddhist teaching suggests that the 'self" is comprised of these five aspects: form, as the physical body-the rupa of nama-rupa, or materiality-consciousness, and then those aspects that grow out of consciousness, the three nama or mental states: feeling (by this we mean neutral, positive or negative; I have called this sensation), perception, and mental formation.

I said to you last week that different presentations of dependent origination show the chain in different ways. We will not concern ourselves at all with the scholarly aspects of why there are different schemes. Many schemes show these twelve steps as we introduced them last month. The sutra that goes deepest into these teachings shows only nine steps. It leaves off the first two that we've just discussed: ignorance and volitional formation. It begins with rebirth consciousness. I mentioned that the whole scheme of twelve steps might be thought of as composed of three lifetimes. Ignorance and volitional formation of the past lifetime create the rebirth consciousness of this lifetime. Ignorance and volitional formation of the last moments create the seeds of rebirth consciousness of this present moment. It does not matter whether you view it as a reincarnative cycle or simply the rebirth into the present moment. However, since most of you do not have clear vision of what planted the seeds for this present incarnation, it is more helpful to work with vinnana as moment to moment rather than lifetime to lifetime.

While we focus, then, on the unfolding of each new moment, be aware that the same principle needs be applied to the unfolding of each lifetime.

The sutra that goes most in depth into the complexities of dependent origination, the Maha Nidana Sutra, begins with the inter-relationship of rebirth consciousness and mentality-materiality. Rather than the relationships being demonstrated as a circle, including avijja and sankhara, nama-rupa (mentality-materiality) is shown as with an arrow backward to vinnana, rebirth consciousness, which has an arrow right back again to nama-rupa. It moves through the next steps to the end where there is the same arrow going down and back again, back and forth.

Perhaps you can see that this nama-rupa, with its factors of feeling, perception, and mental formation, is really no different than the arrow coming the other way from ignorance and volitional formations into rebirth consciousness. We spoke of the difference between consciousness and pure awareness. Feeling and mental formation manifest from the consciousness that thinks it is a self, not from pure awareness. There can be pure perception, bare perception, but mental formation and feeling do not derive from bare perception, only from old mind consciousness grown out of a self. We can talk more about this if it puzzles you. This is complicated and not necessary at this stage of your learning. It really doesn't matter. I only mention it in passing to provide some clarity to those of you who puzzle over why the presentations differ. For today, we're going to concern ourselves only with these first two steps.

So, here are these two factors: vinnana and nama-rupa. We are not going to cover these interrelationships in a half an hour. It will be several weeks at least before we add another segment to this list. Do not feel that you must understand this all today.

The most vital question that I wish to address is: what is rebirth consciousness? What follows is not the traditional Buddhist way of explaining this phenomenon. But then I am most certainly not addressing a group of traditional Buddhists.

Vinnana connects directly with this new age term: 'You create your own reality." The universe offers you that for which you ask. We've talked about this before. If your focus is on creating abundance, there is also a sense of wanting to move away from lack of abundance. The impetus for this focus then may be fear and grasping. If you affirm: 'I will have abundance in my life, I am worthy of abundance in my life …" that's also a statement: 'I will not have lack of abundance." There is no duality. The focus on abundance is equally a focus on lack of abundance and the aversion to that lack.

When there is a fearful self striving to create abundance, a doer, the universe may read that focus and hand you non-abundance. The harder you try, the more non-abundance your fear inspires. When your focus instead becomes meeting the fearful self with kindness, transcending both abundance and non-abundance and instead focusing the energy on trust and allowing harmony with universal energy, the universe reads differently that surrender of self and need to control. There is no more self grasping fearfully, so, the universe provides you with that upon which you are now focused.

When there is this small ego self that flings its arms about and shouts, 'me, me, me," and it is greeted with disdain and an attempt to get rid of it, that solidifies self. It creates adhering karma. When there is no solid ego self, no doer, fixer or controller, the energy of the universe moves through you. In that moment, that slice of the thought stream, your thoughts, acts, and words give rise only to non-adhering karma.

In your human form, an aspect of each of you is the small ego self, just as an aspect of each of you is the physical body. Rebirth consciousness is expanded each time that small ego self strives to continue itself and is greeted either with desire to maintain ego or with fear, suppression, or desire to get rid of ego. This solidifying of ego, recurring over and over and over again, is the planting of the seed of rebirth consciousness. As soon as there is rebirth consciousness, these aspects of materiality and mentality appear. The universe is providing that upon which you have focused, offering the mind and body to continue the ego experience.

In reincarnative terms, when you have passed beyond this present life, the adhering karma that brings you into rebirth is manifestation of this ego thinking itself, planting the seeds, and also manifestation of resistance to the ego thinking itself, which resistance solidifies ego and plants the seeds. Movement from vinnana to nama-rupa is a relationship of necessary causality. As soon as there is rebirth consciousness, materiality, feeling, perception and mental formation necessarily arise. And you are into the next life or the next moment.

Yes, you do have free will which gives you some choice of when and where that life will be. If you are on the astral plane between incarnations, you have already manifested that free will as pertains to setting the stage for necessitating the next life. That was part of the free will decision of how you related to the ego in your last moments of the prior life. You create your own reality. When you fight the ego self, you give the universe the message: 'I am focusing on existence of/non-existence of ego …" and the universe gives you the opportunity to practice that seeming duality yet again by creating the next moment in incarnation, replete with ego.

My dear ones, ego is not a dirty word. You are here in human incarnation. Is 'body" a dirty word? 'Emotions" are not a dirty word, not anger, nor jealousy, nor greed, nor any of it. Our aim, if there is one, is to find equanimity with all that is entailed in being human, including ego. It is to embrace, not be rid of, humanness!

We are almost out of time. I would only add here that while rebirth consciousness is a necessary cause for nama-rupa, the existence of mentality and materiality is a contributory and not a necessary factor to rebirth consciousness. Here, then, is one place where the cycle can be broken. You practice with the catalysts of your mind and form, over and over and over, seeing what gives rise to this fearful ego self and what gives rise to the reactivity against the ego self. Repeatedly you remind yourself to smile at the arising of fear until that practice becomes so strongly ingrained that you cease planting the seed for rebirth consciousness.

This, then, is your homework: watch it in yourselves as carefully as you can. When you see yourselves moving from a place of pure mind, or emptiness of self, and suddenly, self creeps in, notice the arising desire to get rid of self. Smile at both the self and the desire to get rid of it. Use a modification of Thich Nhat Hanh's practice, 'Breathing in, I am aware of the arising of self. Breathing out, I smile to that arising." Use the breathing practice we did two weeks ago-in, pause, out … Take a deep breath and remind yourself: it's all okay, thereby allowing yourself to come back to center and to plant a different seed. As you notice self arising, and notice aversion to that which arises, as you ask 'From where does this arise?" see that ownership of arising dissolve. Nothing on which to become fixated. Can you physically feel the constriction dissolve? What is left? Rest in that space of pure awareness, awareness aware of itself. Feel the spaciousness and light of that space.

I will not introduce any new steps for several weeks. I want to give you opportunity to share what you observe about this in your own lives. Our goal here is not intellectual understanding, but deep experiential understanding, which will lead to increasing freedom. Please remember how much you are loved and how much your courage is honored as you work with all of this. That is all.