January 21, 1993

Aaron: Good morning and my love to you. I am Aaron. Before we go on to anything new, I want to attend to any confusion from last week. The first question: Why are we studying this material? It is a doctrine of great beauty. To me, it gets to the heart of the issue, how do we find freedom? It also helps us to understand the truth that we have always been free.

We have looked at karma in depth, at the habitual and ownership characteristics of karma. We have looked at the arising of fear. Each of you has seen in yourselves how fear solidifies a delusion of self thus leading to the creation of new adhering karma. We've looked carefully at that 'active moment" where there may be movement from neutral to positive or negative, and identification with that movement, thus leading to craving or aversion. Traditionally, this space between feeling and mental formation with its craving is offered as the space where there is most opportunity for freedom. Now we may begin to look deeper at that and at other spaces where freedom can be found, to look at the interrelationships. Do not seek to look intellectually but to understand this doctrine through your own lives and meditation.

In its deepest essence, this is why we are here, here in this room, here in this life … to grow in this way, to clarify delusion. When I say that you are here to bring light where there has been darkness, in a real sense I am saying, 'to bring the light of understanding and clear seeing where there has been ignorance." The most important work I can do with you is to help you to understand how ignorance creates rebirth.

I talk about freedom. Please understand freedom in all its ramifications. Ultimately, we speak of freedom from this samsaric cycle of birth and death. Now I speak not only of freedom from this samsaric cycle-that is, ultimate freedom-but freedom in each moment, freedom from the delusion of a solid self, which delusion is the condition leading to unskillful choice as well as to rebirth.

Here I want to shift a bit and speak in more depth about conditionality. We spoke last week about these two steps: avijja-ignorance and sankhara-volitional formations. We said that the whole doctrine of dependent origination is about the understanding that when this arises, then that arises. When this ceases, then that ceases. This and that are in conditional relationship to one another. We are simplifying here. Buddhist teaching specifies 24 different types of conditional relationship. One can learn to identify each of those, to see relationships so clearly and instantaneously as to label the specific kind of conditionality. It is not necessary. You are not scholars. You are not looking for intellectual understanding.

A being that Barbara was some past lives ago could rattle off these 24 types of conditionality and perhaps offer you a 24 hour dissertation, an hour of explanation on each one. Needless to say, that being did not find ultimate freedom using that knowledge or Barbara would not be here. So what do you need to know? We can break down all of those types of conditionality into 2 areas. The first is necessary conditionality: this necessitates that. If A arises, then B must also arise. When A ceases, B ceases. When there is birth, for example, there must be death. Birth is a necessary condition to death. Whenever there is birth, death must follow. When birth ceases, death ceases. Many of these subtly different 24 conditions fit into that category, each expressing different kinds of relationships. But the link between them is this-when ever this arises, that must also arise.

The second general category is causal conditionality: if A arises, it does not mean that B must arise, but A is a causative factor in the arising of B. Furthermore, if A does not arise, then B cannot arise. An example of causal conditionality is the arising of sense consciousness and its link to mental formation. Sense touches the sense object and results in sense contact. Mind knows that contact has occurred; the knowing is sense consciousness. There is no necessary link here: contact of sense touching sense object opens the door to the possibility of sense consciousness, but you may remain unaware of the contact. Once there is sense consciousness, and then arising perception and sensation, there may be mental formation. Thus, sense consciousness is a contributory factor to mental formation, for example, to craving. Without sense consciousness, there can be no craving. However, all sense consciousness need not lead to craving. It is a contributory factor.

So, what's important about this? If each step in this process necessitated the next step, there would be no way to escape. It would be hopeless. What we do then is study the cycle to understand which links necessitate and which are merely contributory. In gaining this understanding, it will be vital that you not take my word for it, but examine it in your own life. Then you will begin to know each new place where there is choice and to understand how you slip into adhering karma. With each deepening of understanding of the process, you will find increasing freedom. Are there questions?

Discussion: (Recorded but not transcribed.)

(Barbara comments that where there are two necessary conditions (A necessitates B) to avoid the arising of B, we need to look not at how B arises, but at how A arises.)

Aaron: I want to correct some confusion about karma. Last week we began this study with avijja (ignorance) in its two aspects, moha (delusion) and annana (not knowing). I spoke of avijja as being a condition for sankhara-volitional formations. We talked about what avijja is. The focus here is on the delusion of a permanent, solidified self, and the ignorance as to all arising as manifestation of the Light, the Absolute, of Pure Mind, of God, or Rigpa, a Tibetan term about which we will speak much more. These terms are not perfectly interchangeable but any will suffice to aid understanding. We spoke of the importance of fear, but fear does not arise unless there is a self to be frightened. Fear does not arise unless there is that which is deemed to be 'other than" and thus, threatening. Then we spoke about the arising of volitional formations. As we defined karma and agreed on our terms adhering and non-adhering, in reflection I see some confusion in your minds.

All acts, words, and thoughts create karma. When a word, act, or thought is based on delusion and fear, selfishness, greed-basically fear and its manifestations-unwholesome, adhering karma is created, karma which leads to a new moment or a new birth with an unpleasant fruit, let us say. If you act in anger, you reap anger which leads to the creation of the next moment and of the next life in which the fruits of that anger will be experienced. When you act in a way prompted by love but still with the delusion of self-"I am a good person, I will act lovingly"-there is still an 'I" performing these acts. 'I do this for you"- here are self and other. There is still adhering karma, but what you might call wholesome adhering karma. Please note that the 'I" is sticky! It is that notion of 'I" to which the karma adheres.

I said last week that these words wholesome and unwholesome, which are often used here, have strong emotional connotations. We might instead say karma that leads to a pleasant, peaceful, joyful next moment or rebirth or karma that leads to a painful, sad, joyless next moment or rebirth. That is a mouthful. Wholesome and unwholesome are the traditional terms. They will do, but use them with awareness.

Note that both may be adhering karma that leads to rebirth. I did not present this as clearly as is possible last week and apologize to you. They are both adhering karma whether wholesome or unwholesome if they grow out of that delusion of 'I"-self and other. Unwholesome karma always grows from an 'I"; wholesome karma may do so. That part of the act which is empty of self is non-adhering. That part which contains self is adhering. I explained this last week in terms of no act being entirely pure. You may help another from a space of loving concern, but there is also that small bit of self. Where the self seeks attention, compliment, reward and thus there is need and a self that needs-"I need this," implying another from which to receive it-there is adhering karma. The aspects of the act that are pure breed wholesome karma. Nevertheless, as long as there is a self doing and controlling, every act, word, or thought based on that delusion of a solid, continuing self results in adhering karma.

This does not mean that you never act without adhering karma. Each of you has moments, sometimes many moments, of offering acts and words unlinked to self. These acts, words, and thoughts grow out of clear seeing that there is no self or other. The result of these volitional formations free of delusion, free of ignorance, is non-adhering karma. However, only the Arahat, that being who is fully enlightened and free of this cycle of birth and death yet still presently on the earth plane, only that being's every thought, word, and act is free of adhering karma. Movement from non-delusion is a process, a learning into which you enter. With mindfulness, courage, and open heart, that which flows through you becomes increasingly pure.

There are two parts to this learning. One is to see the repeated arising of delusion, to notice every act, word or thought which grows out of the delusion of self. The other is to learn to identify that space of clarity within you, that space of divinity, Pure Mind, and perfection, and increasingly to learn to rest in that space and to move from that space. In a capsule, these two areas are the focus of our learning for this next year, and perhaps for this entire life!

Karma is specific. This is one of the characteristics upon which we have not yet touched in depth. There is a wonderful story that illustrates this characteristic. In the Buddha's time, there was a woman with an exquisite voice. People came from all over to hear her sing. But she was so ugly-her face and her body-that they had to place a screen around her when she sang. People asked the Buddha why this wonderful voice and physical ugliness.

The Buddha said that in a past life this being worked on the construction of a temple. He hated his work. He hated the building itself. While he worked, he cursed continually about how ugly the temple was, big and unshapely. Cursing, complaining. When it was finished, he looked at it and thought, 'It's really not so bad. I've been unjust." Then he went out and with his own wages he bought an exquisite sounding bell and hung it at the door of the temple as a gift. From the cursing has come this ugly body and from the loving gift of the bell, the exquisite voice. This illustrates the characteristic of specificity of karma. You might also observe that both the beauty and the ugliness were adhering karma. There was a very solid self that bought the bell and gave it. It is wholesome and leads to pleasant fruits. Nevertheless, it is adhering karma.

In future weeks we will continue to look at the multiple motivations which move you, some from a place of self and some free of self, and see how those motivations influence karma.

Please be aware as I speak of rebirth that it is equally valid to apply these lessons to incarnational rebirth or to that instant rebirth into the next moment. Are there questions?

(Long discussion. Not transcribed.)

Aaron: There are many mentions of dependent origination throughout Buddhist literature. We are NOT here to become scholars but to find more freedom. We will not pursue this as scholarly research but as living guidance to moving beyond the creation of adhering karma. Traditionally this doctrine is presented as possessing 12 stages that interpenetrate. The most famous sutra which deals with dependent origination is the Maha Nidana Sutta. This sutra offers only 9 stages. We will not deal with the scholarly questions this raises, only take the different doctrines as guides to our learning. Thus there will be times when one writing is inconsistent with another. Please just let it go.

Think of this cycle of dependent origination as a spiral encircling three lives. The first steps we have looked at, avijja and sankhara, are part of the past. With the next step, vinnana we move into the present. Vinnana is rebirth conditioning. Again it is not important whether we speak of actual rebirth or the birth into the next moment. The last two segments of the cycle, birth and aging and death, are part of the third life.

In my talks here, I am using Pali words. I ask the transcribers to put them into boldface type the first time they are used, and thereafter, into italic. There are certain words which are almost a part of your English vocabulary, so familiar have they become. These are the Sanskrit words karma, dharma, and sutra. Because of your prior familiarity with these words, I have chosen not to use the Pali terms, kamma, dhamma, and sutta (except in a title, as Maha Nidana Sutta). All other terms will be given consistently in Pali.

Please continue with last week's homework, focusing on the questions we added in today's discussions. Especially notice, what solidifies self? What happens to the solidification when it is noticed with bare, non-judgmental attention? That is all.

(Out of time; some questions saved for next week or following weeks.)

J: Why does so much clinging seem to create beautiful art, like someone seeing a sunset and wanting to paint it?

K: In considering necessary conditionality, does adhering karma arise when we experience either clinging or aversion to the necessary consequence?

Aaron: In partial answer to K, please note that clinging and aversion are part of the same thing. Yes. We will discuss this next week.

A: Aaron has said that one need not be completely beyond ego to graduate from third density, yet this latest channeling seems to imply that one would need to be beyond ego to escape the birth and death cycle. Can Aaron explain?