Volume 1, Number 3, August 1993


Barbara's Letter

Aaron's Pages

February 25, 1993, Ann Arbor, MI. Excerpt.

March 21, 1993, Anchorage, KY. Excerpts.

May 26, 1993, Ann Arbor, MI

April 18, 1993, private. Excerpts for newsletter.

Barbara's Letter

Dear Friends,

I've just returned home from a summer of teaching and retreats and find myself with a week to write, print and mail this newsletter. The fearful, perfectionist part of my mind says "can't," and the loving part replies, "it does not have to be perfect." What is this perfectionism about, that we all carry to some degree or other? Within myself, I see two aspects. One is the loving heart within myself which aspires to purify my energy, to live in ways that don't add to the suffering in the world, and to allow the shadow side of the self with fearful, solid ego, to dissolve. The other is the fearful aspect that grasps at perfection and despises all that's imperfect arising in me.

The more we grasp and push away, the more solid the ego becomes, someone trying to be perfect. There's so much suffering in that grasping. What happens when instead we open to this space within ourselves which is "already perfect" and just allow ourselves to rest in that space? Can we allow our hearts to open nonjudgmentally to our pain and fear, see the constant flow of arising emotions and then stillness and then arising emotion again and let go of the war with it? Then we allow our experience to teach us that our suffering grows out of our illusion of ownership of that thought or feeling, and the self that owns, not out of the thought or feeling in itself.

These past three weeks I've been at a meditation retreat focused on a high Tibetan Buddhist teaching called Dzogchen, or "luminous Great Perfection." While much technical terminology was offered, most of you aren't Tibetan Buddhists, nor am I, so I want to put this in simple language. What is the true nature of our minds? When all "self" falls away and only pure awareness shines out, that awareness sees without a reference point of self. It sees that the thoughts, emotions and sensations which arise are empty of self. They simply come and go, like clouds swept through the sky. Then we cease to think we own those thoughts and feelings, and our relationship to them changes. But we are so attached to this "self." How do we penetrate this illusion?

One day the teacher read something I found very meaningful from a poem, "Flight of the Garuda":

To believe that meditation is only when the mind rests quiet,
And maintain that there is no meditation when the mind moves
Is proof of not knowing the core of stillness and movement,
And of not having mingled stillness, occurrence and awareness.
… Whether moving or still, mind is the continuity of awareness.
So, when you fully comprehend stillness, occurrence and awareness,
Then practice these three as one …

So often we see arising thoughts of anger or greed and then jump to judgment, try to get rid of these thoughts we judge unwholesome. Then there's an even more solid self doing, getting rid of, perfecting. Can we instead notice the arising of thoughts or heavy emotions and greet them with compassion, see that arising as something the mind has done since time before time, and just let it go. There are many methods for letting go, but the simplest is just to notice what arises without getting tangled in it, without opinions about the arising, not preferring stillness to occurrence, but just noticing the ebb and flow, letting it all move past. Of course, if judgment or opinion arises, that's just another cloud in this endless procession: no ownership of that opinion!

Then we start to discover in ourselves this space we may call "already perfect." It is a space of pure, non-dual awareness. Neither love nor non-love, not good or bad, it's just pure, open awareness, totally connected to all that is, beyond the dualities of good and bad, fear and love, self and non-self.

First we need to recognize that non-dual core of ourselves, to catch brief glimmers of it and say, "yes." Then we can learn how to rest in that space, and to allow our manifested selves to more and more fully express this perfection in our words, acts and thoughts. Here is where we come home, no longer fearfully grasping at perfection nor fighting those imperfections that arise, but increasingly allowing the natural expression of our open hearts.

All of this is path for the movement from relating to the world as solid ego-self to relating from a space of emptiness and connection. We can't get rid of that ego, but we can see how it solidifies through fear, how it has done so over and over, and begin to know that there's no substance to it. Many forms of spiritual practice are essentially supports for this cutting through of ego. I can't begin to list them all here, but I'd like to share with you one teaching I received from spirit this spring and that has become a very powerful practice for me in allowing the fearful ego self to fall away. I share this with caution, knowing that for some it will ring true and for others perhaps not. That's fine. We're all different and must follow our own truths. So I share it with the request that you simply see if it fits, and if not, just lay it aside.

This comes directly from a spring journal:

"You have been a mountain. The mountain has stability and deep equanimity. As it is slowly eroded away, it does not cease to exist but becomes the earth itself. Now your practice must change. You are to become the earth, in all its manifestations. There is no longer need to identify as the mountain, but only to merge into everything."

The thoughts that came with this teaching were of the profound letting go of personal identity and concurrently, the letting go of need to defend. "The earth does not defend, but only nurtures."

I felt some pain in my injured foot and a sense that "should" ignore it and return full concentration to this teaching. "Always attend to pain. Practice gentleness with all things." I was asked to remember Whisper as a two day old kitten, the kind of attentiveness to her needs, to her hunger and discomfort. "This is the way the earth nurtures. Practice total awareness and gentleness, giving to each as it requires but without attachment or aversion. The earth nurtures in just this way, without aversion to the pain of that which dwells there, but always providing what is needed."

It was suggested that I start my garden and work mindfully in the soil each day, reminding myself that I AM that soil to all that is. We each can become that soil. This reminder is a gift of the earth with its foundation of love.

After this meditation and breakfast, I dressed and went out to take a long walk down to the road. Then I saw the plants we'd just bought after the retreat, waiting by the side of the house to be planted. They were thirsty. I (ego self) wanted to walk, said "they can wait. Why do I have to come last?" And suddenly this new teaching made such sense. When I water the plants, I care for myself, I do NOT come last. In caring for the plants, I put myself first, and all beings first. There is no difference. Be the earth, give and be given to, nurture. No mountain!

I went in and got a bucket, watered these plants with great joy, and then went on my walk.

It was harder to "be the earth" last night, with many people needing me, but I was able to be mindful, notice how arising resentment grew out of the illusion of needy self, of the "mountain," and let go. Yet also remembering there is nothing to be let go of, and no one to do the letting go! Relative and ultimate reality, two parts of the same truth.

This is one of the ways I'm discovering that true nature of perfection and non-dual awareness in myself, and working with fear. I hope it's of some help to some of you.

Many of you ask in your letters, "Who are you when not teaching meditation and channeling Aaron?" I'm 50 years old, married to Hal Rothbart (we celebrated a 25th anniversary this year), and have three wonderful sons. Peter is a freshman in high school, David a sophomore at University of Michigan and Mike a senior at Swarthmore College. And, yes, they all enjoy "hanging out" with Aaron! We have two tricolor collies, Prince, still filled with puppyish exuberance, and Beau, an elder statesman. Meander, a black cat with purr I can feel although not hear, rounds out the household. We live in a small, three bedroom ranch house on a dirt road on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, and are blessed with a yard through which deer, fox and many other creatures roam, and woods, meadows and marsh behind our yard through which I enjoy daily walks with the dogs. All this work pours out of a little "office" room in the basement, bare pipes and cinder block walls, transformed by many posters and pictures.

Thanks to those of you whose financial support covered our $900 printing and mailing costs for the April newsletter. This summer we also sent out over 20 free Aaron books to prisoners, elderly friends and others who requested one but could not afford to buy it. We presently have a wish list that includes a $500 amplifier which will allow me to concentrate on channeling, not on whether my voice is loud enough to be heard at the back of the room, recording equipment to replace our present sound system (an aging $29 Radio Shack tape recorder), and a dual tape player to copy tapes. On our long-range wish list is finishing the garage into a meditation hall so we can move all of these channeling sessions and meditation classes out of my living room and to a larger, quieter space. About 50 to 60 people come through our house for classes each week. This would give us more quiet and space and free my family from evenings of tiptoeing. Any volunteers with construction experience? Thank you in advance for your donations, which will pay for this edition of the newsletter, support all of this work and allow it to continue.

Thanks also to all of you who have offered to transcribe. We've sent out tapes to most of you, almost all the backlog tapes through June, 1993. More tapes are coming to those waiting for one. We start channeling sessions again in a few weeks, and will be making 2 or 3 tapes a week which need to be transcribed. We continue to welcome new transcribers. I'd also be very grateful for a local volunteer to co-ordinate the transcribing efforts, copy and mail out tapes, and enter incoming transcripts into the computer files by subject, helping create our index. I expect this job would take 1 to 3 hours a week.

We're almost finished the transcribing end of the new book of Aaron's talks, to be entitled, Angels in Earthsuits. This book will be considerably larger than Aaron and with longer chapters compiled from talks on various subjects. We now need people to compile transcripts, edit and otherwise pull this book together. Is there a local person interested in being coordinator/editor? I envision that coordinator sending out 4 or 5 transcripts on a subject like "fear" or " ecology" which a reader would cut/paste and pull together into a chapter. I have a sense that if we work together in this way, the book will fall into place. We hope for publication by December. Another collection of his talks, the teachings on "Dependent Origination," as given to the study group this past spring, may be part of this book or gathered separately.

I'd also value office help, any amount of time you're able to give, occasionally or regularly, to handle routine inquiries about Deep Spring Center, mail out books and newsletters, and update mailing lists. Also still looking for guidance in the legal process of becoming a non-profit organization.

I welcome your correspondence and try to answer each letter. I'm always glad to answer meditation questions. I cannot personally channel Aaron's answers to your questions but we will respond in whatever ways we are able. Some of your questions to Aaron find their ways to the Wednesday open house channeling session. If they're addressed there, I'll send you a copy of tape or transcript. Of course if you live nearby or happen to be traveling through, you're welcome to attend this weekly session and ask for yourselves. Aaron books are $8 including postage and may be ordered directly from me. Seventy-five pages, spiral bound, 8 1/2 by 11 format. The answers to the questions he's most frequently asked are in there.

Many of you write to ask about retreats and workshops in your parts of the country. Most of these are created locally. I'll travel anywhere to offer a workshop if my expenses are met. Residential meditation retreats are offered on a donation basis. For non-residential workshops, my payment is included in the workshop fee. If you are interested in organizing a retreat or workshop in your area, please let me know.

In the last newsletter I asked if there was anyone interested in creating a "readers' newsletter." Elizabeth "BJ" Lord of Ohio came forth with a wonderful proposal to combine that need with the newsletter she was already planning. She will call it "Fertile Soil: A Journal of Writings that Explore the Spiritual Nature of the Universe." In her words, "Fertile Soil is a newsletter filled with articles, comments, letters, creative writing, and other items from readers … There will be unpublished items from Aaron and discussion about the teachings from Aaron; a Wanderers' Corner will be established where wanderers can talk to each other and share the experience with non-wanderers; other special sections will be created as things come up. The work of other channelers and teachers will also be included. BJ invites your participation with any writing you'd like to share. Send it now for inclusion in the first full issue. Write to request a sample issue. Fertile Soil, P.O. Box 503, Swanton, OH 43558.

my love to each of you,

Aaron's Pages

My greetings and love to you. I appreciate this opportunity to speak to so many of you and to choose among past tapes those which I feel would be most beneficial to share. It is a difficult choice because no two of you are identical in your paths and your needs. Yet certain questions and issues do recur frequently. As is familiar to those of you who know me, my first choice of subject is not the myriad metaphysical questions of the curious seeker, but the basic issues that relate to living this incarnation with greater love, faith and wisdom. There is nothing wrong with those metaphysical questions. I respect your curiosity and there are many fascinating areas to probe. But many of you move off on such intellectual sidetracks and neglect the main focus of the incarnation, or perhaps choose to escape that focus because it has been painful. You are here in human incarnation, not to deny the incarnation but to embrace it. How do you learn to love this imperfect body, and the emotions and thoughts which are often uncomfortable? How do you open the heart that has been closed? How do you move in the direction of deepening compassion for all that you are and hence to unconditional love and non-judgment of others? With apologies to those who are dissatisfied, these are the questions on which I choose to focus in these pages.

As you read my words, please remember that I am not omniscient. I do not claim my teaching to be Truth with a capital T but only to be truth as I understand it. If it rings true to you and helps you gain understanding, use it. If not, throw it away. I thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts. My love to each of you as we walk this path together.


The following pages are transcribed from channeling sessions. They have been edited by Aaron to fit them into the available four pages. Some additions have been made by Aaron for clarity in these adaptations from longer transcripts.

February 25, 1993, Ann Arbor, MI. Excerpt.

Aaron: You learn early not to be present. You learn fear early. Fear deepens the illusion of separation. When there is a perceived separate self, there is that which can be threatened. In the habitual way of the illusion-dweller, fear promotes the solidification of a self seeking safety. One of the places you learn to seek that safety is by moving out of the now. The child plays peek a boo; it hides and thinks it is invisible. Sometimes the thrill of play is so intense that for the baby that it needs to become invisible to quiet its feelings. You play peek-a-boo with NOW. You move into the past, into memory; you move into the future to fantasy and dreams. It helps you to feel in control, to feel safe. This practice of quitting the moment is a basic way of dialoging with fear. When you can notice feeling unsafe, notice the secondary aversion to that feeling of insecurity, and come back to center, fear dissolves. You come home, back to your true being. Can you rest in that space of truth and end this incessant dialogue with fear?

March 21, 1993, Anchorage, KY. Excerpts.

Aaron: I am Aaron. We're offered the question, how do you, living in this illusion as you do, keep your heart open through the many catalysts that your life offers you? If you will forgive the pun, may I come to the heart of this question by reminding you, the heart never closes; it never deviates from its true nature. You may build a wall around it, but it never closes or deviates in the slightest. There is a real difference here, subtle, but important. When you think of the heart as closing, with that closed heart you are totally separate from your deepest reality, which is that of the divine within you. The heart is the center of that divinity. So, as soon as you ask, how do I keep my heart open, at some level you are caught in the distortion, "How do I retain my divinity?" as if it were something that could be lost! But your true nature can never be lost. The real question is, "How do I express that divinity, and remember that it's always there even when I can not experience it?"

If you think of the heart as a place of the purest light, truly reflecting that divine light, then you realize the heart light always shines. When you build a wall around that light, you have not turned off the light, you have just walled it in, out of fear. If you rest in that image, you will remember the light is still shining. Constant awareness of the presence of that light can be an important tool in the work to dissolve the wall.

The wall is going to be built, over and over again, as you feel threatened, as you experience fear. When there is such a wall, the external light cannot move into you and, thus, you feel yourself cut off from that divine light. And the conscious human cannot experience the divine in itself and, thus, feels itself hemmed in by the illusion.

Knowing that the light is there, instead of focusing on the fear that prevents you from experiencing the reality of that light, you can re-focus on the light. By doing this, you avoid a dialogue with fear. You are no longer saying, "How do I get rid of the fear?" Rather, you remember that fear is an illusion and simply move back into focus on the light: "This is reality; this is what I am and what we all are." Can you hear the difference? "How do I open my heart? How do I deal with the fear?" may get you into a war with the fear. Rather, "Here is the light. Pay attention. It's harder to see today because there's fear. Focus on it. Let it blossom. Let it become real for me."

As you move back into the clarity which focus on that light allows, the wall dissolves by itself. There's no self taking down the wall, nobody "doing" this. There has simply been awareness: "Fear is present. It is blocking the light. I need to find that light and look a bit harder for it because of the presence of fear. As I let love in, fear naturally dissolves." There is no denial of the experience of fear, only refusal to own that fear and be caught in its grasp.

This process opens you to a very strong statement of who you are. You are not your fear, you are not your negativity, although both do reside in the human form. You are not the heavier densities of the body, although that is part of what you are. You are divine. You are angels …

What I suggest is not a matter of denial of that part of you which is fearful and negative, nor is it an unwillingness to allow the expression of that part; rather, it is a coming into wholeness which knows that fear is just fear, and which allows the full expression of all the beauty in you: the loving kindness, the generosity, the caring, the energy, and so much more. It is the reminder of your true being …

I am Aaron. I would like to leave you with a brief exercise that you may practice. First I would ask you to move into the heart center and therein to find that spark of the divine, that place of infinite beauty and love within you, that place which is undefended and has no reference point of self. Visualize or feel that light shining within you. If it is helpful, visualize the being who, for you, is the embodiment of Truth, and merge your heart with that Guru or Master. As fully as you are able, allow yourself to rest in this space, empty of all self, and to radiate that lovingkindness which is the true essence of your being.

Now I ask you to turn your memory to some moment today when you felt a bit threatened. It doesn't have to be a big issue-it might be just a very minor slight-but some moment when you felt fear and the small ego self moved to protect, made the strong statement, "I am here, me, ego, self." As you remember, see if you can feel how the solidifying of that small ego self moves you away from pure awareness, empty of self. As much as is possible, allow yourself to re-experience that move from center to what would seem to be the closing of the heart in protection.

What I hope you can experience is that the light does not fade. It's simply blocked. Each time this small ego self solidifies, it blocks the light. You are left with two choices then, both of which we will explore in depth tomorrow: how to work skillfully with that which blocks the light, and how to return the focus to the light.

For now, let's leave working with the blockage, just put it aside until tomorrow. What I'd like you to do now is to work within the frame of your present experience … feeling the self threatened … moving to protection … feeling the separation from God, the separation from your true being … I want you to simply remind yourself, "A cloud has come between me and the sun. It feels dark in here. The darker it gets, the more fear builds. But the sun is still shining. Instead of getting caught in the darkness, I am going to focus on that sun. A simple reminder: "I need not dialogue with fear, but may give myself permission to move back to my true self. I am not denying the cloud, just letting it be and coming back to focus on the light."

This is a skill, a learnable skill. Most of you have created patterns whereby as soon as the cloud appears, you raise an umbrella, enclosing yourselves in further darkness. You must first notice the raising of the umbrella, that sensation of the heart's closing, and then you must remind yourself, "Every time there's a cloud, I don't need to raise an umbrella, only to look beyond the cloud and reconnect with the sunshine."

With great gentleness to yourselves, I would ask you to practice this through the evening and the early hours of tomorrow until we meet again. Each time there's closing and a wall being built, notice that it's happening. Give this small ego self that's feeling fear a hug. Let it know it's okay that fear is being experienced, and consciously refocus on the light. No judgment about the arising of fear, no grasping at the light. You are not reaching for something that has fled, only allowing your focus to come back to what is always there, to this place of love, infinite wisdom and compassion, and deepest connection with God.

I thank each of you for being a part of this circle and for the profound earnestness and love that you express by your presence. May all beings everywhere open into the light of their true being. May all beings transcend the illusion of fear so that they can more fully manifest their true nature of love in every expression of their energy. May the work of each of us help all beings find their way. My love to you all. That is all.

May 26, 1993, Ann Arbor, MI

Question: The media is saying Clinton's presidency is in jeopardy. It seems that no one can leave Clinton alone to do the work that needs to be done. What does Aaron say about this Clinton bashing?

Aaron: I am Aaron. My dear ones, you seem to need to have a scapegoat and the president is a prime candidate for that. We are dealing here with a world in which there is so much fear. You are all exploring fear in yourselves and in your lives. You are all creating new situations of fear to further reflect your own fear and give yourself more opportunity to investigate fear, anger, pain and deprivation.

You create problems for yourselves over and over and over. Because when there is a problem it gives you something to get to work on. You can pinpoint it and say, "This is the problem and if I can solve this then everything's going to be fine. Then I'm going to be comfortable and everyone is going to be happy." It gives you an illusion of power, of control and thereby of safety. You love your problems. When your own problems seem well on the way to being solved you go and find a friend with problems so you can help them solve their problems. It is one of your chief recreations-the creation and solving of problems!

Certainly there are issues which need to be resolved, but you can relate to them in two different ways. Many of you have heard me say that there are no problems, only situations that need your loving attention. There are some of you who are willing to risk being undefended in a place of pain, opening hearts and paying attention to these situations and giving them love. Others of you are attached to your problems and treat them as doorway to something that you can do-problem solving! This is tricky. When you're doing, when you're problem solving, it helps you not have to feel the pain of the situation so acutely. You say, "Well, I'm doing something about it." The delusion here is that instead of really giving it your loving attention you may withhold that loving attention because at some level you want to perpetuate the problem so as to stay safe from the pain and continue to feel: "I'm doing something." Helplessness, or letting go of control, is not viewed as an option.

It's very subtle. Look at it in yourself. Find an issue that's uncomfortable for you. A place where there's a lot of pain. Maybe it's about wanting a better job, or a better relationship-something that you view as a problem. Then take a deep breath and ask as honestly as you can, "What if this were resolved?" Part of you says, "Wow! Wonderful." Part of you shudders, "What if it were resolved, what would I focus my attention on now?" Because the real issue is that even if this relationship were fixed, even if this job were improved, you would still be suffering. Because your suffering does not grow from the poor relationship, or job or even from poor physical health. Your suffering grows out of your relationship to those things, your ongoing battle with life and the illusion of a separate self who does this battle, your deep fear, and unwillingness to just be present with what is in your life, and work with it. You are like that skater on thin ice we frequently mention, always having to move fast to avoid falling through. "Problems" keep you in motion!

Can you see that in yourself? If the relationship is improved and I'm still suffering, what then? If you retain the illusion, "If only I can fix the relationship, if only I can fix the partner and all his or her inadequacies brought to the relationship, then everything's going to be fine. Then I'm going to be happy," it gives you a sense of control and helps you feel safe. So at some level, you want to perpetuate your problems.

Now, we come to a president who has some ideas about resolving problems. We have fear from several viewpoints. First of all there are those who aren't ready to have the problems solved, who are holding on to them. Second, there is the fact that he is attacking them as problems. Those who say: "It's just a situation that needs loving attention," are unhappy with his "attack." There's discomfort from both sides.

Those who see truth more clearly understand that it's not enough just to change these laws or those habitual ways of acting, that we've got to look deeper. We all must move to a much greater honesty with our very basic fears and greed and anger. We must find deeper acceptance of all of those forces within us and learn how not to be reactive to them. You are not going to end poverty, for example, by passing laws. You're going to end poverty by each individual learning about the place of greed within them that hordes and takes more than its share so that others lack.

Some beings understand this. To them, Clinton's choices do not seem to reflect this understanding, so they seem quite inadequate, because Clinton is attacking it as problem. What they may not understand is that one needs to start somewhere, and any approach that brings awareness to the issues is a start.

On the other side are the beings that say, "Yes, there's poverty, but it has nothing to do with my greed, it's his fault and her fault." In a sense they're addicted to the continuation of the cycles of poverty, and threatened by anybody who would attempt to clarify those because in the clarification it might touch on "my greed" and "your greed," "my fear" and "your fear." "Don't come that close!"

So, Clinton is the scapegoat. I think the dissatisfaction reflects where you are emotionally and spiritually, as a nation right now. Your political leaders are reflections of your present state of consciousness. So many of you are on a threshold of discovering yourselves at a deeper spiritual level. Many of you are very frightened by that. Perhaps not those in this room, who are more ready to do this work. But your nation as a whole is still at that place of saying, "I'm not sure I'm ready to be that responsible." People feel threatened that they are going to have to be more honest with themselves and make some changes in themselves.

I do not think that it is a bad sign that he's being used as a scapegoat. One of two things is going to happen. People are going to watch this reflection Clinton offers and to learn, to be more willing to do the inner work that's necessary. Or there is going to be much more chaos in your society, and through the pain created by the chaos people are going to finally understand, "I've got to do this inner work, or else."

How painful is it going to have to be before you pay attention as a society? This is group karma. Those of you who do understand are constantly sharing your insights and encouraging others to greater honesty. There is far more honesty now than there was forty or fifty years ago. In essence, that's why he's being so challenged. Because as we move further into that honesty, it becomes more threatening. I think that you are increasingly ready to deal with it as a society, maybe not in Clinton's time, but in the next decade or two. I have much hope for you and the open-heartedness with which you are learning.

April 18, 1993, private. Excerpts for newsletter.

(Terms unfamiliar to some readers defined in italics.)

Question: You've spoken of two ways to work with the many thoughts, emotions and sensations that arise in our experience. Will you elaborate?

Aaron: You have many tools. Skill and ease come from learning to choose the proper one for any situation. One being may choose an ax to pound a board in two; another will prefer a saw. Is the wood knotty, wet, tending to split? Which tool is most appropriate in this moment?

You may use mind to tame mind, or you may use wisdom. Both have a place. When mind is agitated, it is most helpful to be present with that agitation, moment-to-moment. See the arising of anger; see aggression and know it as reaction to anger and not the anger itself. See self-judgment, should it follow, and know it as reaction to aggressiveness, a way of turning the anger in on oneself. Through work in this way, you begin to understand how the illusion of self allows solidification into a mass of varied emotions.

With practice in this method of noting, you will find the arising of anger becomes a catalyst for compassion rather than aggression-compassion for the being thus enraged, compassion for the catalysts to that rage, and to the entire situation. As compassion replaces aggression as habitual response, the kilesas (heavy emotions) fall away. You begin to understand the solidification of the skandas (those aspects of "self"-form, sensation, perception, mental formations and consciousness-all seen in their basic nature to be empty of self and manifesting only when the conditions are present for their arising) as growing out of conditions, and that when those conditions cease to be present, "self" no longer solidifies. This is how mind may be used as a tool to tame mind. Through the use of the mind, touching each new arising, you open to deep wisdom about the empty nature of all phenomena (empty of a permanent self).

The other potent tool you possess is this wisdom. This is not knowledge, which must be attained, but wisdom which is natural to you if you will only allow it to emerge. This is the wisdom which has seen a million times that all dharmas are empty of self, and may finally bring that wisdom to everyday arising.

The arising thought, physical sensation or emotion is like a serpent, puffed with air to seem larger, head raised and ready to strike. Notice it puffed up there, and touch that creature with the wisdom mind of pure awareness which knows the emptiness of all arising. That done, it deflates and slithers away. In the words of one teaching system, it "self-liberates."

You begin to see that the thought is empty, just puffed air, and to let those thoughts come and go with equanimity. It is as the sutra says, "a bubble and a dream." You then begin to understand that which you have heard from me so often-it is not the thought, emotion or sensation which ensnares you but the illusion of ownership of that arising, and the self which solidifies to claim ownership. Suffering lies not in what arises but in your relationship to what arises. This is how you may use the wisdom of emptiness to tame mind.

Eventually you arrive at that place where pure awareness turns in on itself. You cease to focus on the clouds that drift across the sky, clouds of anger or greed. Turning awareness to the pure blue sky itself, unlimited and perfectly clear, you begin to know that perfection as your true nature. You cease to mistake the clouds for the sky. Once you know your true nature and practice the resting in that nature, thoughts and emotions will bead up and flow off like water on an oiled cloth. They will no longer entrap you.

Both tools are useful in their place. The constant in both is mindfulness, constant mindfulness! You must be aware of arising before you know which tool will be of most help. Please note that the tools are related. Use them interchangeably but know which you are using. You can touch arising with mind forever and not allow the opening into wisdom mind which knows emptiness. What causes that denial? Can that fear too be seen, touched with kindness, and laid aside. This is how you sharpen the laser point of wisdom.

When wisdom lays bare the arising, exposes its innate emptiness, then rest in that emptiness. This is the final step. I keep repeating, there is nothing to do, nowhere to go. You are already there, but you must come to recognize that fact. In essence, this recognition is the goal of all our work. It is only then that you truly understand there was never anything to do, never anything to fix, get rid of, or improve. Recognize who you are, not as a personal "you," but as pure awareness which floats in the heart we all share, and you truly will be free.

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Brodsky