Volume 3, Number 2, May 1995

Deep Spring Center Newsletter
Volume 3, Number 2, May 1995

Every construct of the phenomenal world is composed of non-self elements. Therefore, everything is in constant change as those elements become magnified or diminished within the structure of the seeming whole. The mountain is composed totally of non-mountain elements. One with a relative plane bias would consider those elements as separate but interrelated, yet every element within that mountain has one core, one Buddha- or Christ-nature. On the surface, the mountain seems to change. When a million years have passed and it is eroded away into a desert, in relative reality it has changed. We say it is impermanent. Has anything changed beyond the way it manifests itself? Is the true nature of the desert any different than the true nature of the mountain?

… We turn toward this "Unborn, Undying, Unchanging …" Looking at the mountain, every element in the mountain has as its core one true nature or essence. I offer "change" as an expression of this pure awareness/pure energy/pure light. "Change" is the fluidity to manifest its energy on the physical plane and, once entered into that plane, to reconcile its expression with the laws of relative reality.

We might think of this pure energy as a river. It reflects the sky as blue or gray. Its temperature changes as it moves from icy mountain peak to sunny plain. It will pick up impurities-distortions from soil or waste that it encounters. Maybe it will evaporate completely. Is its true nature any different? God is unchanging and its expressions are infinite. It is always permanent and impermanent, changing and unchanging.

Why should the Unconditioned exhibit the characteristics of the conditioned, such as change? Can you see that it must be both, changing and unchanging, or it denies relative reality? What if this "All That Is" was unchanging, unfluid in its expression?

If it is already infinite and already everywhere, and yet is still fluid, changing, expanding, then "Unchanging" is its ultimate reality and fluidity, change, expansion are the ways in which it manifests. This is true of everything in conditioned and unconditioned realms. Relative reality rests within the Ultimate. Because there is no duality, unchanging and changing are nondual. Again, no paradox. Here is where your meditation must carry you when words fail. Rest in that place where you are the Unchanging and then you will know.

From the private transcripts, January, 1995


Barbara's Letter

Aaron's Pages

March 4, 1995. Excerpted from Aaron's talk at the Emrich Retreat, Brighton, MI.

January 20, 1995. Private excerpt. Speaking of Divine energy.

Barbara's Letter

Dear Friends,

In my back yard yellow crocuses are pushing through the last of the snow, adding a bright spot of color to this April morning. I ate breakfast sitting on a mat outside the back door, enjoyed the first hot sun of the year, and found it hard to tear myself away from this hint of spring and come down to my basement office. I've taken this week off to write and to paint the inside of my house while my children are home from school on their spring break.

Painting is a wonderful form of meditation. I've just returned from a long personal meditation retreat at a friend's country cabin and the experience of it is still very fresh. I find both the quiet movements of painting and the noting of aversion to my home's chaos produced by this work bring formal meditation into daily life, just watching the arising of thoughts and opinions and my relationship with them.

During the retreat I watched this movement between the stillness, joy and peace that come when awareness rests in the pure spirit body, or what we may call "pure heart/mind" and the fears and tension when awareness is caught in dual, discursive mind. Aaron reminds us that this resting in pure heart/mind is the natural state which we can't lose. It's only obscured for awhile. Watching, I ask what seems to pull me out? What I find is that even a painful arising thought, emotion or sensation doesn't pull me away from a deep level of peace and stillness. My reaction to it does, and getting lost in a "self/other" relationship with that reaction.

As example from retreat, I was meditating on the beach when a small boat went past. I felt pulled to it, wanted to talk, to ask for a ride. Of course I didn't do any of that but desire was there. While I was able to be mindful, I did lose the spaciousness of resting in that natural state. The next day there was another boat. "Seeing, seeing." Again, "liking, desire." This time there was nothing in that liking or desire to obscure the natural state. The boat moved in one side of my vision and out the other. In short, there was no contraction accompanying the desire.

What was the difference? In both, "seeing, seeing." and arising interest and desire, In the first, when I looked closely I could see the subtle judgments of that interest, "I'm supposed to be meditating …" and a quiet tension. Here's where I was pulled into dual relationship. My experience has taught me that everything that arises is an expression of pure heart/mind. In other words, there is nothing in which God is not to be found. When I recognize the nature of that arising as "not-other-than" direct expression of the Ground of all being, there's no fight with it. With "other-than," there is a sudden break, me against this, and the experience of separation with its accompanying grasping or pushing.

It was not "seeing" which registered as "other-than," nor even "interest, desire," but my relationship to that desire. Even with that judgment, if there's awareness of the conditioned nature of its arising, it's just a judgment. There's no fight with it!

With the second boat, I was more connected to the moment. "Seeing," just eyes touching object. Then "pleasant," "liking," and arising of desire. This desire was not-other-than! It was so clearly just a conditioned response with no independent existence and was nothing to get caught in. So I rested in that natural spaciousness and just watched mind's movements. With mind still or in motion, the natural state remains.

There is some guidance from Aaron which I found quite helpful. "The pure heart/mind is never conditioned by that which it reflects, but is always pure, always perfect. If that perfectly clear mirror [of pure heart/mind] were placed so as to reflect a perfect white sheet of paper, that is what you would see. If something passing by splatters mud here and there on the mirror, the intrinsic nature of the mirror is not altered. The mud is on the outside, yet the mud appears in the reflection. The reflected perfect white sheet of paper then appears to be splattered by mud. Seeing that image, we do not contract our energy fearing that the paper itself has been spoiled. We get a rag and clean the mud off the mirror." With the first boat I felt that the response was "muddied" and needed to be attacked. With the second I was able to see the response as reflection of the natural state and not chase after it.

A metaphor from Aaron which I've found helpful this past year is that of the pure crystal which, when light shines into it, reflects out a rainbow of light. That rainbow clearly has no independent existence, no solid substance. It's merely the produced expression of light and crystal. "Not-other-than!" I'm still responsible for it; if it's shining in someone's eyes, disturbing them, it's skillful to move it. Thus I must attend to these expressions, but there's no need to honor them with a separate "self" and then wage war with, or cling to them. All of the arisings of the phenomenal world are like that rainbow, not solid, "not-other-than," but merely the expression of the Unconditioned realm. "There is nothing which is not expression of God." When I remember this truth, it helps me to relax the contractions around whatever has moved into my experience.

There's another, more playful place I've been watching these contractions. My son taught me the computer game, Tetris. Here one must maneuver a fast paced, ever changing flow of shapes, putting them into place so they fit with no holes. When a row fills up it disappears, making space for more rows. As I played this game I found the same contractions. When I relax around the mistakes and just stay in the present, I can move the shapes just fine. When I see my errors and tense in argument with them, I move out of the moment and out of control. There's wonderful, immediate feedback. Resting in pure heart/mind, I score high!

As I've become increasingly aware of the contracted state and how I've habitually related to it as "other-than," and contracted around the contraction, I've found it very powerful to discover from my own experience that there is no "other-than," Yes, I do keep forgetting. It will take much practice! Yet, from this realization, I'm feeling a peace that unpleasant circumstances can't steal away. It's with deep gratitude that I bring these teachings into my own life and am given the joy to share them with you. Please don't take my word for it but check it out for yourself. Is there an "other-than?" Discover non-dual mind in your own experience and come to know its peace. Maybe you'll even outscore the kids at Tetris!

My wishes to all of you for a beautiful summer of gardens, friends and sunshine, growth, happiness and peace. I hope to see many of you in my summer travels.

with loving thoughts,

A Tibetan Buddhist teaching called Dzogchen closely parallel the Light teachings from Aaron. I've come to highly value the guidance of an American lama, Surya Das, who teaches in this Tibetan tradition. He teaches in many parts of the country. His schedule can be obtained from the Dzogchen Foundation, P.O. Box 734, Cambridge, MA 02140.

In the Vol. 2, No. 2 Newsletter, I wrote about my visit to Mother Meera in Germany. Mother asked me to publish her address and phone number so you may contact her directly: Oberdorf 4a, D-6255 Dornburg-Thaiheim, Germany. Phone: 49-6436-2305. Darshan is given on Friday through Monday evenings. Due to high demand you must write or call in advance to reserve a space.

Aaron's Pages

My greetings 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. As you read my words, please remember that I am not omniscient. I offer my teaching to be truth only as I perceive it. If it rings true to you and helps you gain understanding, use it. If not, throw it away. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts. My love to each of you as we walk this path together.


March 4, 1995. Excerpted from Aaron's talk at the Emrich Retreat, Brighton, MI.

Barbara: Aaron has asked me to begin by reading two short selections. The first is from The Kabir Book, poem number 33:

The small ruby everyone wants has fallen out on the road.
Some think it is east or us, others west of us.
Some say, "among primitive earth rocks," others, "in the deep waters."
Kabir's instinct told him it was inside, and what it was worth,
and he wrapped it up carefully in his heart cloth.

The second is a repeat of two stanzas I read earlier today. This is from the book, Flight of the Garuda, an excerpt from the poem "Flight of the Garuda," song 15:

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.
For this reason, fortunate and noble heart-children
Whether moving or still, mind is the continuity of awareness.
So, when you have fully comprehended stillness, occurrence and awareness,
Then practice these three as one.
This is how stillness and thought occurrence are non-dual.

Aaron: Good evening to you all. I am Aaron. I wish to address the confusion I see is about the nature of this "ruby," as Kabir has expressed it, and where it is to be found.

We have used the term "stillness," and that is one expression of the ruby. Peace is another expression, that great peace-shantih, "the peace that passeth understanding." This peace does not come by stopping arising, nor is it be found somewhere out there, east, west, under the sea. As Kabir said, it is in the heart. You might call such peace an expression of Buddha nature, Christ consciousness, pure spirit body, or pure heart/mind.

What is this "pure heart/mind?" We have explored the idea that the Unconditioned or Eternal offers infinite expressions of itself. Conditioned mind does not directly know the Unconditioned, but comes to understand it by its expressions. There is a story of blind men and an elephant. They are brought in to "see" this beast. One touches the trunk and says, "an elephant is like a giant snake." One holds a leg and notes, "an elephant is like a tree." A third feels the elephant's side and says, "No; an elephant is like a wall." But all are true. When you put together the expressions, you start to have a clearer concept of the whole. We have seen that everything that arises in the conditioned realm is an expression of the Unconditioned, or, to say it in another way, there is nothing which arises that is not God.

Pure spirit body bears a different relationship to the Unconditioned in that it does not arise! It is not a conditioned expression of the Unconditioned, but is to God as a cup of water is to the sea. It is not the whole sea, of course, but there is nothing of the sea itself that is not within the cup. There is nothing in this essence of you which is different in any way from what we might call the Unconditioned or God. This purest essence does not contain mental, emotional or physical bodies. These are expressions of the pure spirit body, the pure heart/mind. I call this pure heart/mind aspect of you a spark of God. It is from here that you have, not concept of the Divine, but the direct experience of that Eternal and Unconditioned.

I have said you do not need to seek the ruby of the Ground of all being elsewhere. Well, if it's always there, why don't you experience it all the time? Speaking with one of you today, I gave the example of a path on a mountain-side. The path is there. When a fog rolls in, you say, "The path is gone." The path hasn't gone anywhere, but there's fog, and you no longer can connect with the path. When you rest in this space of pure heart/mind, and you do rest there far more often than you know, then you experience your innate peacefulness, wholeness and joy. When you depart from that space unawares, then it is as if the fog rolled in. Where is the path? Where is peace?

What is the nature of this fog that prevents you from seeing and experiencing the truth of yourself. It is not the arising of the mental body, not mental body's expression as dual mind, not even the expressions of that dual mind. It is fixation on the dual, discursive mind and the erroneous belief that this dual mind is something separate from the divine aspect. As soon as there is belief in that separation, you lose the truth of yourselves. How do we penetrate the fog? How do we remember that everything that arises is expression of the divine and therefore is NOT separate? By the light of the wisdom and clear seeing. Of course, we come to that clear seeing through meditation. Your meditation practice is not to find anything that's not already present, but to reconnect you to the deepest truth of yourself.

The confusion that I see occurring here today surrounds that term we call choiceless awareness. Choiceless awareness means to rest in whatever is present, understanding the conditioned nature of its arising and that whatever has arisen is an expression of the pure heart/mind, an expression of God. Seeing that, you cease to take a dual stance against that which has arisen, but let it point you back into the ground of your being, the divine core. Here equanimity is present, equanimity with arising, neither grasping or pushing away. For this "choiceless awareness" to be truly choiceless, everything that arises must be seen as divine play, divine expression. No exceptions. The difficulty is that you do make exceptions, taking stance against that which you judge as "other-than, " the fear, anger. desire. Even this "other-than" judgment is not what fogs in your peace,. Delusion grows from the belief that this arising thought, "other-than," is true and from the contractions that form as you move in relationship to "other-than."

You may rest in a state of pure awareness, very present with your breath, awake and connected. Into that space a thought arises. It is just a thought. If you move into a dual mind state, arising thought feels "other-than" and is experienced like a small push. Dual mind's conditioning leads you to chase after the thought or to push the thought away. It is here, with this confused relationship with the thought, that energy contractions form around it-the energy of grasping or pushing. Then you wonder where your peacefulness and stillness have gone. It is not the arising of thought that deprives you of the direct experience of your innate peacefulness. It is the contraction around the thought and relationship to the contraction. You can get in touch with thousands of these contractions that come into your everyday life.

Last summer at a retreat, one day there was a lawn mower going back and forth. It gave rise to a very valuable discussion. Barbara and John brought up Achaan Chah's question, "Is [that sound] coming in to bother you, or are you going out to bother it?" People were sitting in meditation, and suddenly in the distance, there was "Brr-rrr-rrr-rrr." "Hearing, hearing." Energy began to contract with a fear, "this noise is going to distract me."

My dear ones, can you see that it is not the noise that distracts you. It is your relationship to the noise, your defending against the noise. The noise is not coming in to bother you. You are going out to try to stop it because of the fear that it will bother you. I offer the image of a rather snarly dog on a chain. He is sleeping in front of his doghouse when a child rides by on a tricycle, wheels rattling a bit. The child is just going by on the tricycle. Hearing that noise and feeling himself to be the protector of his property, the dog dashes out to the end of his chain, barking. Is the child coming in to bother the dog? Did the child pause to taunt the dog? The child was just riding his tricycle. You all act as if you are dogs on chains, conditioned with, "Here comes that against which I feel I must defend." And you run to the end of your chain, yapping at it. Of course, there's no peace.

Some of you are displeased with the picture I have painted of you, and a bit indignant: "I am not a yapping dog." But you're yapping at my present provocation, aren't you? If it's just words, against what do you need to defend?

Every arising of the phenomenal realm is simply a conditioned arising, a change in the weather. If you're outside taking a walk in the woods and occasional clouds go by, you don't pay much attention to them because they present no threat, just a small cloud. If you are lying on the beach in the sun and that same cloud blocks the sun, immediately you run out to bother it. "Go away, cloud. You are taking MY sun!" The core of your work, then, is first to watch the arisings of thought, feeling, impulse, sensation and know your relationship to them and second, to begin to discover that you are always resting in that space of pure awareness, of infinite peace, to discover what pulls you out of awareness of that space. It is your own fear which encloses you in the fog of delusion that you have lost peace.

When there is an arising, hearing a lawnmower going by, and there is a momentary contraction around the lawnmower, if there is mindfulness, you note that contraction almost immediately, as it arises. The contraction around the hearing is not the hearing itself. That contraction, also, does not pull you out. Now this is a tough one. I'm going to be more specific. What really pulls you out is fixation on the contraction. Here is the delusion. The hearing was not "other-than," but the arising of contraction "like" or "don't like," and the energy contractions therein, are judged and experienced as "other-than." I want you to think about the difference between contraction itself and fixation on the contraction. I'm going to ask Barbara to make a loud noise. I want you to watch any contraction around that noise, and then, whether you simply note the contraction around it and let it go, or whether there's judgment or wanting to hold on to the contraction for defense Let's just observe.

(There's a long pause, and then Barbara gives a sudden, loud shout. And again.)

Could you feel that shift? Of course the body startled from the surprise of hearing and there was a contraction of energy. The energy contraction is simply a conditioned arising, just as was the physical sensation of hearing. Fixation on any conditioned arising pulls you out of that state of pure awareness. By "fixation" I mean a self-identity with, a move to change, prolong or control it which is movement of the small ego-self.

What if you see the fixation after a time, and then release it? Then, yes, you do come back to that state of pure awareness, even while the body may continue to reverberate from the contraction. There may still be a distortion, a warp of sorts, in the energy field. In my book, The Path of Natural Light, I have delineated practices with which you can work with such distortion and release it. I'm not going to speak to that here. What I want you to begin to see is how easily you can come back home. As soon as you catch it, whether it's a fraction of a second or ten minutes later, as soon as you catch it and re-open, you are home. My dear ones, you had never left! It is all illusion.

You are not denying the arising of fear, anger, desire or any mind state. If those arise, then work with them skillfully, touching them with gentle awareness until they soften or dissolve. To be aware of a mind state is not to fixate on it. It is not necessary to have a "relationship" with your mind states! Simply be aware of them. It is not the mind state, any more than it is the arising of any thought, that beclouds that pure awareness. Anger is just another arising of conditioned mind. It is harder to make space for the anger than simply for a thought like "planning," but it certainly can be done. You are not denying anything in your experience but observing the fixation around each contraction that follows the thought or sensation. Observe how the contraction seems to have an "other-than" quality, and how you tense against "other-than."

On a recent, stormy day, the plane that Barbara was on flew through an open sky and straight toward an enormous, heavy gray cloud. Even though she knew it was just a cloud, her energy contracted with the thought "We're going to crash!" Then, noting the fear engendered by the thought, judgment arose. You give solidity to what seems to push you by your fixation on it. Then you give it permission to push you because you're fixated on staying in control of it. As soon as there's the separation, "that against me," then it can push you, but if there's no separation, there's no pushing or pushed. When she noted the judgment with a spacious interest, the whole "solid" structure collapsed!

I speak here of the kind of push of somebody angry at you at work, the flat tire, stepping on a tack or even the smaller pushes such as the spilled glass of milk or memory of something sad or unpleasant. When these things are painful, there's going to be a contraction around it. Stepping on a tack is just stepping on a tack. Feeling pain because you stepped on a tack is just feeling pain because you stepped on a tack. Neither the stepping on the tack not the pain that's resultant of that pull you out of your peacefulness. Your own defended response is what pulls you out. When there is stepping on the tack, and resultant pain and contraction around the pain, are clearly noted, it is just what's going past. Yes, it's unpleasant, but there's no dwelling on it, no fixation.

Even if angry or grasping responses do arise, and they will, wherever you catch it, that's where you start. "Judging, judging. Blaming, blaming," whatever is there. Notice that this contraction has shifted to "other-than" and remind yourself, "not other-than." Remind yourself that even dual mind is an expression of the divine. At first it will seem mental, but a deeper awareness will catch on as you become aware of the process through which you move.

At that moment, as you shift back into pure awareness, both the thought and the contraction, in the traditional language of these teachings, just self-liberate: Poof! Yes, there may be reverberations of that contraction, which linger in the heavier density physical and emotional bodies. You may even be trembling, but you're back in a place of very calm, pure awareness, just watching that shaking with great spaciousness, back to the ground of your being, and watching the show. This is the back and forth play that I want you to watch for the remainder of the retreat. Keep it simple, Begin wherever you are.

What I want to do now is move this out of the theoretical into direct experience. We're going to try a physical exercise here. I ask you each to find a partner with whom you will work in silence. Designate yourselves A and B. I would like you to start with hands resting on one another's shoulders and breathe, for two or three minutes, till you feel relatively connected with one another. Then, not on any outer cue, but simply when you both feel ready, the one designated A will give a push to person B's shoulder, enough of a push that they're thrown a bit off-balance. I would prefer that both people keep their eyes closed, or at least the one receiving the push.

I want B then to feel that push as primary catalyst, a physical sensation, and then note the contraction around the thought/experience of "being pushed" and, if applicable, of losing balance. I want A to feel the physical act of pushing and any contraction around doing this pushing. Note if there is fixation on that contraction, by which term I mean some strong aversion to it or even some attachment to it, any series of thoughts about it. Noting the whole flow of the process, take a deep breath. Then come back again. Then A may push B again, or you can shift and B can push A. Let it flow back and forth.

I want you to focus on the four different aspects of this exercise. First, resting in pure awareness, feel the touch on your shoulder. If contraction about expectation arises, notice that. Second, feel the push itself. Third, distinguish the physical sensation of push/being pushed from the energy contractions of feelings arisen from the push. Fourth, watch your relationship to the contraction.

This is exactly how your lives push you. Is everything in your life a push? It is if you perceive it to be. A long as there's a defendedness which says, "I must maintain control. I must maintain stillness," that means thoughts that arise must be checked out, to see if they're safe. Later you may wish to observe your relationship to the pushes in your lives. Can you see how the arising of a thought is a push, and the way you contract around that arising thought, let it ensnare you and move to control it? Seeing this all, let it rest! There is nothing to do but watch this whole show!

What I am proposing, is nothing very different than mindfulness practice. The only difference is that you become increasingly aware of this ruby and where it lies within, that the peace you seek does not need to come from controlling what's happening out there, and fixating on it, but by letting it move past, and coming back again and again to this space of divine perfection, the space of pure awareness. Remember, you're not getting rid of that which pushed you nor of anything. You're simply re-opening to the heart again.

Let us do this now, That is all …

January 20, 1995. Private excerpt. Speaking of Divine energy.

This private work is the forefront of Aaron's teaching. We plan that it will eventually be available in written form.

Aaron: We have here-in the core of the dilemma. If this energy contains all light and darkness, "good" and "evil," positivity and negativity, giving and receiving, the human struggling to reflect only the positive becomes entrapped by its own humanness with arisings of greed, anger and various arisings of ego-based fear.

If my urges toward greed and hatred are "evil" and antithetical to God, then my work would be to smother those urges, perhaps through practices of austerity, or through strong focusing of the mind which instantly cuts off and denies fear-based arising. Doing so does not make me a more loving person nor a wiser person, only more in control. Thus, control and power are viewed as the attributes of the Divine most highly regarded by persons of this bias. Judgment is predominant.

On the other hand, we have the view of Divine as non-dual. Here one does not need to subdue the arisings of fear-based ego, but to draw those arisings more strongly into the heart of love. Just as this Supreme Energy was drawn increasingly to express Itself as positive polarity until It became the perfect model of positive polarity, so is the human who embraces non-duality drawn along this path.

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Brodsky