Volume 3, Number 3, September 1995

Deep Spring Center Newsletter
Volume 3, Number 3, September 1995

Aaron: The Unconditioned is the intrinsic core of everything. Its Unconditioned core does not cease to exist when that phenomena enters the realm of conditioned. Both exist simultaneously. The Unconditioned does not create the conditioned, but invites the conditioned as expression of itself. The conditioned is simply voice or manifestation of the Unconditioned.

Barbara: How does the conditioned begin? …

Aaron: The entire conditioned realm is illusion arisen from a distortion of the Unconditioned.

Barbara: Then we're at the same place. What gave rise to the first distortion?

Aaron: Here is where we must move into your understandings of Light. Think of that pure heart/mind, or Pure Awareness if you prefer. This is the primordially perfect light, and is the essential expression of everything that later is "arisen." It is the deathless core. Within that light, there is nothing to arise or cease. When pure awareness first becomes aware of itself, it creates self and other. Perhaps this is the primary distortion. It is not useful to ask what served as catalyst for its arising, but at that moment where awareness looks in at itself, it sees duality for the first time. If the potential for that expression of illusory duality were not part of the nature of the non-dual, it could not be experienced. It is inaccurate to say that nonduality created duality. Rather, you see that duality and non-duality MUST reside together within non-duality. They are two different expressions of the Non-dual. Thus, the Unconditioned does not create duality nor serve as condition for its arising but allows the expression of that which was already intrinsic to its nature. Do you understand?

Barbara: Yes. This is the meaning of "everything that manifests is expression of Rigpa (or pure heart/mind).

Aaron: Precisely!

(From the private journals, February, 1993.)


Barbara's Letter

Aaron's Pages

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

August 8, 1995 and August 14, 1995. Private to B and K.

February 9, 1995. From the private transcripts.

Barbara's Letter

Dear Friends,

I'm sitting on the screened deck of a cabin in the forest. Here I have been graced to live for 6 weeks this summer, in a "tree house" on a steep hill, screening on three sides all that keeps me from the mosquitoes, raccoons, birds and other woods inhabitants. The first gray of morning through dense trees opens my eyes; I do some yoga to stretch myself awake, then climb down the still dark path to the lake where the morning sun is just clearing the treetops. A mile swim across the lake is a time of joyful reconnection, the universe touching me through the cool water and dawn-pink sky. The sun is just beginning to offer gentle warmth. I gratefully receive it.

This morning after swimming I sit for an hour on the dock, clear water reaching down to waving seaweed beneath my feet, where-in dart a thousand fish of myriad sizes and shapes. Ten yards away, water lily leaves rest emerald on the sky-blue surface, white blossoms unfolding golden hearts to the early morning sun. On a nearby log perches mother duck and four small ducklings, babies asleep while momma remains alert to any movement from me. Boundaries dissolve. I become the blossoms opening to the sun. I am duck and ducklings, am awake and asleep. I am the boundless sky. Edges blur! Awareness opens to deeper truth.

After sitting by the water I return to the cabin to eat and meditate again. And now I'm at my small table, forest opening around me as a rising morning sun weaves threads of gold through dense branches. What am I doing here? A month ago I was full of answers, of expectations and opinions. Now I can only offer a grateful "don't know" and rest in healing stillness.

The decision to offer myself this six weeks was based on deteriorating physical conditions of the body and a sense of dis-ease. April of 1994's violent stomach distress which hospitalized me, possibly the result of food poisoning, left me with a hernia or tear in the stomach muscle wall and ongoing intestinal pain. A surgeon said repair of the hernia probably wouldn't hold. Aaron had told me the rip would heal itself if the bowel ceased protruding out several times a week, a very painful experience that created further tearing. And yet each time I ate, pressure pushed against the tear. I spent two weeks this spring on a liquid diet but pressure still was exerted on the tear. Nothing helped.

Furthermore, this June I'd developed severe tendonitis in one shoulder. I'd also noticed for months the difficulty I was experiencing in moving from my own vibrational frequency to Aaron's and back again as I channeled. My entire energy field was increasingly out of balance. I felt disconnected.

I came out here with a program to mend what was "broken." I would do intense meditation and some exercise, try a set diet, work with specific body energy practices, all of which sounded reasonable to my brain. I began and, no surprise, there was no change in the hernia or pain, nor in the painful tendonitis nor energy imbalance.

I'm a slow learner. I wrote last year about the Greek myth of Sisyphus, condemned for eternity to push a boulder up the hill and watch it roll back down. "You can't make it stay there," I observed. "That's where the suffering lies." Yet here I am, still trying to make my body and mind follow certain rules rather than listening deeply to see what is, and hear what healing is wanted.

Slowly I stopped trying to control and fix, stopped trying to tell my body what to do and began to listen to both body and heart at ever deeper levels. I put "diet" aside and began to eat small amounts of food and then meditate, to discover what foods my body could not tolerate. Nurturing "don't know," instead of dictating terms, I asked and listened, As I watched, I got a deeper sense of the imbalances I have carried, not just for a year but for lifetimes. A specialist in diet and food absorption turned up at the right time, again no surprise, lived in a nearby cabin for 10 days and advised me. As intestines become more stable, a friend comes several times a week to work with chi energy on the tear and on the whole of my body. It seems to be healing but what is healing? I watch.

There's more, of course. Aaron has asked me to watch contraction in the body, to see the movement of tension and release. He shows me the natural balance by pointing out the small tension at the end of each exhale, as body reaches for more air. As the inhale begins, the tension dissolves; and then the cycle begins again. The body/mind complex is naturally balanced between these two energies-holding, opening, kyo and jitsu. He asks me to begin to observe closely the ways that this balance becomes distorted by lack of presence.

The contraction of the energy field is a natural response to a physical, emotional or mental stimulus. If we step on a tack, we contract with that physical pain. If someone speaks harshly to us, we contract with that emotional pain. When awareness observes the contraction with a spaciousness that doesn't judge, grasp or fear, the contraction runs through us and then dissolves as its catalyst changes. It will go when it's ready and leave no trace. Mind's old conditioning is what holds contraction. An example is the contraction of pain from a tack's puncture. If we don't move into old memories of pain and judgment, don't hate ourselves for that contracted reaction nor hate the tack, but move kindly and skillfully to remove the tack, the contraction isn't stored in the mind or body. It creates no karma. it's just the energy's natural movement. It will pass.

Similarly, when someone else's anger serves as catalyst, arousing our own heavy emotion, we feel that contraction of emotion first in the body. There is a tension. The arising of that tension is not a concern. Of course there will be a tension, response to the figurative puncture of the tack. The real issue is what we do with the tension. Anger is just energy, as are all emotions. The body will react. When there is kindness and awareness of the process we are in, our natural compassion arises with the tension, allowing us to open our hearts to the pain we feel and equally to the pain of that which catalyzed anger.

As I watched these contractions in my body, I began to see my relation to them more clearly, especially the unnoticed judgments of them. These are what Aaron called the secondary contractions. Instead of the balanced opening/closing, there comes to be a contraction around the contraction. The first does not release. The second enhances the first.

For example, given the catalyst of someone's strong anger, I acknowledge that contact and the unpleasantness of it and experience arising contraction. If I clearly see the conditioned nature of that contraction, see the move from unpleasant sensation to adverse relationship to the sensation, I'm not caught in it. My own contraction can be a loving reminder, can lead to a skillful, compassionate response to the pain, fear or anger which I felt flowing from another.

As I watch I see the subtle judgment of my experience and the way mind moves into duality. Suddenly I am not "with" the experience but trying to separate myself from it. In so doing, I separate myself also from myself. I put this experience outside of me. And I store the contraction instead of allowing it to pass naturally through me. For myself, I find that I "swallow" it, thus storing the tension in the abdomen. I also hold it in my shoulders. For how many lifetimes have I done this? I also see the karmic seeds planted with such storing.

This pattern is not just with strong emotion, thought or sensation. I see it in ten thousand ways. Feeling thirst. Wanting water. I see how I hold the contraction of that desire through the entire process of arising, getting glass and liquid, and drinking, as if the thirst and process of alleviating it were an adversary to be defeated. "Notice the contraction," reminds Aaron. "Notice and release. Come back to wholeness, to pure heart/mind." Again and again!

I'm learning to watch these myriad contractions which fill my days and not get into a relationship with them. Instead I note "contracted, contracted," allow the deep experience of that contraction and note any holding or opposition to it, just further contraction. As I look deeply at the whole process, I see the catalyst and my own contraction as a series of conditioned expressions, just natural movement. All conditioned phenomena arise from conditions and cease when the conditions cease. This is a primary teaching of Buddhism, confirmed by my own experience. There is no need to attack the contraction or otherwise perpetuate it. I find it very powerful to watch the whole movement and see how it eventually dissolves. The more I work with it, the more spaciousness I experience. There is nothing which is not expression of the divine, nothing which I need to fight or hold on to.

What of that which already has been stored in the belly, shoulders and elsewhere? I'm using release practices which you can read in Aaron's book Path of Natural Light, January 19, 1994 transcripts.

Please look for yourselves and discover your own relationships with your thoughts and physical sensations. It is a powerful practice. Meanwhile may I ask for your prayers as I continue to heal?

with loving thoughts,

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 Emrich Retreat, Brighton, MI.

Aaron: Good evening and my love to you all. The first noble truth offered by the Buddha is, "Suffering exists." He speaks of the causes of suffering. One of these causes is your reluctance to accept the truth of the impermanence, reluctance expressed as clinging to that which is, and aversion to change. And yet, change is necessary.

What does it mean that everything is impermanent? On the ultimate plane, there is no such thing as impermanence. I want to ask Barbara to read you something here, from a prior talk; a few paragraphs. Not that I cannot say it again, but it is said concisely here.

Barbara: There is something from Vimalakirti., the book from which I've been reading The man who is speaking says, "One day, after the Lord had given some brief instructions to the monks, I was defining the expressions of that discourse by teaching the meanings of impermanence. Vimalakirti, … said to me, 'Do not teach an ultimate reality endowed with activity, production and destruction … Nothing was ever destroyed, is destroyed or will be destroyed. This is the meaning of "impermanence." '

When teaching me about this, Aaron said, (reading Aaron 95.01.24) "Every construct of the phenomenal world is composed of non-self elements. Therefore, everything is in constant change as these elements become magnified or diminished within the structure of the seeming whole. The mountain is composed of non-mountain elements. It is in constant change because soil will wash away. Trees will grow. Fire will burn it. Water and wind will affect the rock base. The mountain is impermanent on the relative plane. It seems to have arisen from conditions and will cease when those conditions cease.

Looking at the mountain, every element in the mountain has as its core one true nature or essence. They are not different divine essences. There is only one. Please regard the starfish. The arms seem to be independent and separate. Each may experience a different aspect of relative reality. One may break, for example, but all are not broken. Yet, these arms have one core; one reality. If there are a thousand starfish, each with a differentiated consciousness, they all have the same divine essence, or pure awareness, as their core.

On a relative plane, the mountain is composed of non-mountain elements. One with a relative plane bias would consider those elements as separate, but inter-related. Yet, every element in the mountain has but one core; one Buddha-nature. When the surface of the mountain seems to change; when a millions 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?

Change is an attribute of pure awareness/pure energy/pure light. "Change" herein 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 plane. It will pick up impurities; distortions from soil or waste that it encounters. Maybe it will evaporate completely. Is its true nature any different? The Unconditioned, or God is unchanging and Its expressions are infinite. It is always permanent and impermanent; changing and unchanging.

Aaron: This Unconditioned is the core of all of you and it is unchanging. And yet, it must also be fluid. In relative reality, it must manifest itself as changing. Thus, both permanence and impermanence are true. Impermanence is the conditioned expression. It is one of the ways the infinite and unchanging manifests itself. Here you are with a foot on each side. You are the Unconditioned and aware that there is within this core of you that which is the Unborn, Undying and Unchanging. It is very hard for you to let go of that unchanging and to see the constant change.

There is loss in your lives; in all of your lives. Today you were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of the son of one of your sangha. In your own lives, each of you has experienced loss. There is going to be pain in that loss, regardless of how highly realized a being you are. There is a poignant story about a Zen Master whose son had just died in an accident. His disciple came to a room and found this very highly realized man sobbing. He said, "Master, why do you sob? You have told us it's all illusion." The Zen Master replied, "Yes, and the death of one's child is the most painful illusion of all."

You live in relative reality. You open your hearts to each other and you love. Invariably, you lose what you love. Nothing can stay the same. One of you received a phone call last night that her beloved cat had died. Another has been thinking much this week about the destruction of the beautiful woods and meadows behind her home; flattened for a housing development. There is pain in these kinds of change and in any loss.

Pain is not suffering. When you love something, there is going to be pain when it goes. And yet, it is much more painful not to love at all. When you suffer, your suffering grows out of resistance to the pain. It becomes impossible to trust that loss. Why do people die? What if nothing died? Then your loved ones would never leave you. How would that be? Is "no change" gift or stagnation, just another form of death?

I ask Barbara to pass around a piece of wood. When you came here, the tree from which this came was alive. It looked sturdy and shaded the picnic grove. Suddenly it offered a loud crack and fell. Now it is cut into logs and the leaves and branches have been carted off into a compost pile. Think of what will happen. As it decays, it will be turned into the garden's soil. It will grow vegetables. You could come back to a retreat here in three years and literally eat of this tree. The deepening understandings that will grow in you as you eat nourishing food to support your practice will be directly related to the tree. The tree still exists; it has only changed its outer form. Did it teach you as a tree? Now it will teach you in a new way! The piece of wood is being passed around as Aaron speaks.

Change is pain, but change is also freedom. There is one more object I wish you to pass. I want you to take your time with it. I'm going to let Barbara tell you what it is and then I'll begin to speak again. Hold it and reflect upon it and what change really means as it comes to you and moves past you. (I pause.)

Barbara: I find myself very moved by this. It's a piece of the Berlin Wall. I sat holding it for a long while last night. Amazing what this piece of wall has seen, ten thousand joys and sorrows. Aaron is asking that you move into meditation. Simply take these as they come around. If it takes ten or fifteen minutes to pass them, that's fine. He would like you to reflect upon change, and upon the meaning of this piece of concrete. He says specifically-I am paraphrasing Aaron now-"Change brings pain but change also is freedom. It allows us to move beyond what is. Not to hold on, but to let go and keep expanding. As you hold this piece of the wall, please reflect on the relationship between change and freedom! We have many walls in our lives. Each tumbling wall invites a new dimension of growth and freedom."

Aaron: As you wait for these objects to come to you, please ask yourself: "In what ways am I afraid of change? In what ways do I cling to that which is, rather than trusting that which the universe will bring my way?" Ask yourself if you can see the direct relationship between resistance to change and much of your suffering. (Very long pause.)

I will begin to speak while this finishes working its way around your circle. When you hear of another's loss, most of you are deeply touched and feel a strong sense of compassion for them. The depth of compassion which is possible is the depth of compassion you have given to yourself for your own pain. What you cannot give to yourself, you cannot give to another.

Every being wants to stay safe; wants happiness and good health; wants to love and be loved. When you realize the truth of that; that every sentient being wants the same thing, it touches a very deep place in your heart, because you must then look around at the immensity of pain in the world. I understand how hard it is to trust. I have been human. I am not asking you to only look at the silver lining and ignore the cloud. For one who has suffered a loss, of course there is a cloud, but do not neglect that silver lining.

Each time your energy contracts in pain because of the change around you, ask yourself two questions: 1) Am I able to fully acknowledge my pain and grief, which is to acknowledge the relative human? and 2) What gift does this change offer?

It may truly be your own figurative Berlin Wall being broken down. Where am I going to take this change-this loss of a loved one; loss of a relationship; loss of a job? Even the small changes, from sunshine to cloudy, where do they take me? Unless you ask, "What does it have to offer?" you cannot ready yourself to receive its offering. Instead, you're still trying to hold it as it was or to fix it. This is natural. It is the habitual reaction of so many experiences of loss. One gets busy, thinking, "If I did this … if I did that … How can I salvage it?" I'm not suggesting that you never want to salvage, but you don't want to salvage it as it was. If it's a relationship that's falling apart, do you really want to hold onto it as it was? Or do you want to aid it to change and grow into what it can be?

One of you asks, "Not the relationship. How can I hold onto the spirit of the departed?" You can't! You cannot hold onto anything. The harder you try, the more suffering there is. But when you relax your energy and invite it to stay, and it may stay for a while. It's like a kitten. It comes and crawls up in your lap. When it's ready to get up and leave, it's going to get up and leave. Neither you nor the kitten would be happy if you held it by the skin on the back of its neck. It would start to scratch and try to get away.

The more you learn to live in this moment, the less you will cling to the past moments and the less you will fantasize about the future … Here is the only time which is free of change-right now! Now it's a few seconds later. It's not that old "now" anymore. There is no change in this moment … and this moment … and this moment. If you rest here and fully experience whatever love, whatever beauty, even whatever pain, you will be so much less afraid of change because you will have learned how full each moment can be. You will no longer have to hold onto what is because your heart will be so delightfully open to all the wonder it encounters,. To be human is to have the potential to live with that fully opened heart.

Many of you are touched with sadness for another, some of it reflected by your sangha member's loss which touches your own losses. I request of you, take this loss as a gift; a place that touches deep in your own heart and reminds you of how impermanent is all this conditioned world. Let reflection lead you to see what your relationship with impermanence has been before and how you might change that relationship. Open your hearts to your friend and to yourselves. Your heart's capacity for joy is measured by your heart's capacity for sorrow. Allow your heart to stretch wide and much of your fear will dissolve. I would ask you here to sit in meditation and reflection for several minutes, and then we'll open to questions and answers. One of you is saying, "Is that it?" Yes, that's it. No elaborate or intellectual talk tonight. Just this talk directly to your heart.

Questions: Change does not seem safe.

Aaron: I am Aaron. No, change does not seem safe, which means that you are going to have to meet intimately that within you which longs to be safe. You're going to have to come to terms with wanting safety. Who wants safety? What is safety?

An experience I have had a number of times in a number of lives is the need to lead a horse out of a burning building. The horse wants to hide in its stall. It sees the fire and it fears the fire. It thinks that safety is hiding in this place where the fire has not yet come. It's very difficult to lead that horse through the flames to safety. You must blindfold it, so it can't see the flames. Each of you is like that horse. Ego-based effort gives the illusion of safety and control so that you cannot see where true safety, or peace, really lies.

Question: The question is about giving compassion to others and the self and about the process of lovingkindness to open the heart.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I hear your question. On the relative plane, there seems to be self and an other, and when there is much love for that other, our hearts are wide open. In your Western culture you have learned to be critical of yourself, so we may begin with the "other." Traditional loving kindness meditation as it originated in an Eastern culture, began with the self, because in those cultures there was far less self judgment You begin here with the other. You bring loving energy to the other and, as the heart opens, to the self.

Question: I have been reading accounts in the newspaper of the Ann Arbor rapist and the horrible suffering of his victims. And, of course, many people in this world experience terrible suffering; children. How can these be expected to endure that much suffering?

Aaron: You endure because what choice have you besides to endure or not to endure? What you do have is choice about how you relate to that suffering. Much of our work together has addressed that relationship. Can you learn to endure with patience and love. This is not resignation which steps aside to permit needless suffering and not oppose it, but the nurturing of a spacious acceptance which understands the conditioned nature of suffering's arising and moves to address those conditions which are fear, ignorance hatred and greed. Deep awareness respects the lessons such suffering offers even while it works to alleviate suffering.

Let us explore the karmic issues: I do not mean here that this specific helpless infant in a building that has just been destroyed by a bomb has personally planted the seed for that bomb, but there is not one of you in the circle who, in past lives, has not been a violent murderer. Maybe long, long, long ago, but everyone of you has killed.

Now you are learning what it means to offer not harm but loving energy to others. I cannot tell you how many of you are going to have to learn this lesson before the norm over the world changes, but from my perspective, slowly I do see it shifting. How can I tell you what the world was like 2,000 years ago? There was an "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" mentality, not just in small pockets of the world but in most of the world of which my karmic ancestors had experience. The basic philosophy of that time was not, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." But, "Do unto others as they do unto you." If they hurt you, hurt them back. Seek revenge. Defend yourself. So many of you were alive in those times, and if you allow yourself, you will remember the truth of what I say here.

You are evolving. You are all learning what it means to be responsible and what it means to be loving. Of course it's slow, and very hard work. That which you suffer truly is karmic. You have planted the seeds for it in your past lives, and you are reaping the results.

I believe many of you are familiar with the story called "The Hundredth Monkey." The way the story goes, one monkey picked up a piece of food and washed it in the stream, washed the dirt off and found that the food was fresher and better that way. Another monkey saw it wash food and imitated the action, as monkeys do. Then, three or four more watched and imitated until there was a whole tribe of monkeys all washing their food. Thought is energy is ways I cannot express in your language. Somehow, that thought spread to another monkey who had not seen his food washed. Also, when the first had washed its food, and another and another, and in another part of the world, another, the thought energy spread. The hundredth monkey acts-and here one hundred is symbolic, of course; one hundred is not the number it takes, but millions, perhaps-but there is a certain point where it becomes in your slang, "mainstream." Everybody's washing their food. Haven't you seen that yet? Everybody's doing it.

When most of you were children, there was very little concern for the environment. Trash was never recycled. Material resources such as the supply of trees for lumber and paper and so on were thought to be limitless. Now in your culture, to not recycle is frowned upon. Concern for the environment has become a mainstream idea.

Being compassionate to others, living your life in non-harm to others … slowly it's on its way to becoming a mainstream idea. Some tried to make it mainstream in the past, but in so doing, they used self-righteousness rather than loving awareness to support it, tried to shame people into kindness, and it didn't work. In your culture are you beginning to truly open yourself to what kindness means. Tremendous healing and growth are possible.

How long must you endure? Until enough of you all over the world say, "We have endured enough! What is the way to end this suffering?" Then you will truly open your hearts to deeper truth and love rather than being slaves of your fear.

August 8, 1995 and August 14, 1995. Private to B and K.

(Talks given specifically for the newsletter. We lost the center of the first talk from the computer; Aaron gave a replacement talk three days later. They mesh well but not perfectly. We've chosen to leave them as they are rather than edit Aaron's words.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. I wish to offer an abbreviation of the work of the past eight months, one slice of the essence of two hundred pages summarized so as to fit this newsletter. In these pages we can touch on the essentials but much of the richness and depth are lost. The serious student will wish to read the original material in its entirety when that becomes available. It is my expectation that this past material and the coming year's work will be published together in a volume I suggest be entitled Radiant Passage. These words are not mere poetry but bespeak the true experience of your passage from delusion to clarity!

We begin with the One. This "One" is all that is. It does not appear here and there, nor would I even say it is in everything. It is everything. The "everything" cannot be separated from the "One" which is the true nature of that "everything. "This One is unborn and undying. We distinguish between phenomenon of the conditioned realm which arise when conditions are present for arising and cease when conditions which maintained it cease, and the Unconditioned, that which never arose and will never cease but is Eternal. This One did not come into existence, arising with conditions. It is The Unconditioned. Some may choose to call it God. I do not intend here the western cultures' vision of a puppet master god, nor is it a masculine rather than feminine energy but is simply God as infinite energy, intelligence, and light. There are many labels we could use. They are mere labels, concepts! For simplicity's sake. I will usually use the label "God."

God is all! There is nothing else! It appears in two ways, in it's Unconditioned essence and as conditioned expression of itself. These are the same, merely the ultimate and relative. It is all One. The infinite potential expressions of the relative dwell in the ultimate. The Unconditioned core is at the heart of each relative plane expression. To find this heart one need not travel outside of oneself and to God. There is no place where the Heart is not found. One goes within, to the pure heart/mind, the pure and luminous awareness, which is the Unconditioned core of each being.

This pure heart/mind bears the same relationship to the divine as does a drop of water to the sea. It is not the whole sea but there is nothing missing, no element of the sea which the drop lacks. The pure heart/mind is the core of Unconditioned which resides within the conditioned expressions. But both are God, the pure heart/mind and the myriad expressions of that Divine essence.

It is more difficult for the human to directly experience the Unconditioned essence because the human is accustomed to perceive only through those conditioned expressions we call physical senses; these senses cannot perceive that which is not expression. The human is not accustomed to go beyond these senses. Through these senses the human seeks in vain for a direct experience of the Unconditioned. This is like going outside on a dark night to seek light at a neighbor's fire rather than sitting by your own hearth, finding the spark there, and adding wood! The divine is found immediately upon resting within, in pure heart/mind, pure awareness.

This pure heart/mind is not something you must attain nor seek anywhere. Rather, you learn the true nature of your own 'hearth," see how it flames and warms. The spark is always present! You learn to stabilize the experience of that Light so that when wandering in darkness you can easily return home. Your meditation practice is essential tool here to stabilize clear awareness. You discover that "home" is everywhere. There is no place special to find the light. You carry with you in every moment. You recognize it everywhere. Each form brought to mind by the senses, each sensation, thought and emotion, brings deep awareness of the radiant Heart of all that is.

That which we call God chose to manifest its energy in infinite ways. For reasons upon which we will not elaborate in this abbreviated transcript, it invited infinite expressions of itself. The pure spirit body, which knew the Eternal as both giving and receiving (non-dual), desired also to give and receive in emulation of that of which it is part. It therefore was not content merely to receive but also began to offer myriad expressions of itself. It began with the mental body; thought allowed the expressions of the emotional and physical bodies. Please note that all of this-material form, mind and spirit-is of the same nature as the Divine, as is every expression of those bodies. We can see the analogy in a river. The original water flows. If the river divides into three streams, all carry that same water. So, also, does every small rivulet stemming from the stream. Nothing is "other-than" the river. Nothing is "other-than" God! I ask you not to take my word for this but begin to look for yourselves. Can you find anything which is not God?

It is within the confusion about this question that the distortion of duality lies. For the human every variety of sensation and thought is possible. Some sensation is pleasant such as the scent of flowers or the coolness of water on a hot day. Some sensation is unpleasant, such as a tack piercing the foot. Some thoughts are pleasant. Regard the loving memory of a friend or the expression of generosity and caring which allows the heart to feel open and connected. These are pleasant thoughts. Some thoughts are unpleasant such as anger. We speak of burning with anger; desire also. The sensation of these emotions in the body is decidedly unpleasant. Pleasant or unpleasant, they are all merely conditioned expressions of the Unconditioned. Often the human does not see it in this way but calls some "good" and others "bad," some "of the light" and others "of the darkness." But everything that arises has as its true nature only Light, even if it moves through considerable darkness on its way to the expression of that Light.

Let us examine the process. With bare attention, we note a series of conditioned expressions and become aware of the process we enter with contact. The tack's puncture of the skin touches nerves and creates pain. Pain is a conditioned expression of the physical body. Seeing an angry face approach, the seeing touches the emotional nerve endings of the emotional body. Here I will not elaborate the details of the process. Again, there is pain. Pain is unpleasant, be it physical, emotional or mental pain. The energy field contracts. If there is not deep awareness, one moves into aversion or, with desire, into grasping. These mind states at first seems to focus on the catalyst. Upon deeper looking at the situation with the tack, one begins to see that the real focus of the dislike is the pain. You don't want the tack to go away, you want the pain to stop. You have learned that removing the tack will end the pain and so you remove the tack. You don't want the ice-cream soda but the sense of comfort which accompanies such a treat. The contraction is around the pain and holding to alleviation of pain. The same process occurs with emotional pain. You wish that person with angry energy to leave so as to be free of pain.

Whether that which has arisen is pleasant or unpleasant, a similar process begins. We see it as "other-than" the One, as separate from self, and are afraid we will be immersed in it or will lose it. Then aversion or grasping and clinging arise. This is a very oversimplified explanation of the entire process of dependent arising.

Contraction is result of any fear, tension, pain or desire. When painful or unpleasant sensation arises, the body will contract. When you step on that tack there is pain and resultant from that pain is contraction. Sometimes, with such contraction arises judgment related to the contraction. As example, first there is contact and contraction around the pain. There is a thought of dislike of the pain. Unaware of the conditioned response that moves one to wish to be free of pain, one attacks, not the pain but the catalyst for pain. It is seen as something separate which is attacking the self. You enter into a relationship with that catalyst and it is seldom a loving relationship! I speak not only of aversion. Clinging is also not a loving relationship. It is important to note here that without duality there can not be something outside of the self that attacks or of which one is deprived.

There may be a secondary contraction, either a thought about hating the unpleasant sensation or anger at the self for reacting. You wish to be free of pain because it is unpleasant, but it also brings up long held opinions and judgments such as, "This is bad! For it to leave would be good." Or you may judge your response: "I shouldn't feel this. I should feel that. Then I would be good." It goes on and on and on if you are not attentive. The same experience will occur if the primary catalyst is a thought-remembering, perhaps-and with the memory, the arising of anger or some other heavy emotion. As soon as that which has arisen is regarded as "other-than," the energy field contracts again in opposition to it.

The greatest difficulty I see is that you have come to view arising in a dual way: this is "good," that is "bad." Certainly, it may be unpleasant-that tack puncture or angry person-but it is not good or bad. Perhaps stepping on the tack draws you to attention and you notice that the ground ahead of you is strewn with broken glass and other debris. How fortunate that you stepped on the tack just then and it brought attention before severe damage was done to your feet. Was the tack's presence bad? Was the pain bad? Unpleasant, yes. Good, bad, they are meaningless terms.

Nevertheless, such judgments, "good, bad" do continue to arise. They are less value judgments than indications that a certain situation is pleasant or unpleasant. Eventually the mind will purify itself, will obtain a clarity about conditioned arising which ceases to offer such judgment. For now, the judgment "good" or "bad" is just another judgment. When you hear yourself labeling "good, bad" be alert, "Here is a place of contraction, an unpleasantness which I wish to push away, or a pleasantness which I wish to hold onto." That the mind gives rise to such labels is not bad nor good, it is simply the nature of the untrained mind. There is nothing you need to do about such judgment but note "judging, judging." and note "contraction" if it is present. Let it remind you to have compassion for all humans, that they live in bodies and prefer the pleasant. Let judging mind open your heart. Judging mind is not bad. It also is God.

Everything that arises is a conditioned expression of the Divine. Everything! There is no other-than. This is the first lesson you must learn. You learn it by attending carefully to each arising in the self, noting that it is a conditioned expression-that certain conditions were present which led to its arising and when those conditions cease, what arose will cease. What is your relationship with it? Notice the contraction around "unpleasant." The contraction is also conditioned expression. The Unconditioned expresses itself in infinite ways. When you look deeply, you enter the direct experience that each conditioned arising is simply a conditioned expression of the Divine, of the Unconditioned. You begin to develop the wise and kind spaciousness which does not get into a relationship with arising but simply observes the conditioned nature of it and finds increasing compassion for the human who experiences this painful cycle. There is no duality around that which has arisen. One attends to it with increasing skill.

The human body in harmony with the universe moves in an ebb and flow of contraction and release. That which is contracted will release. That which is free of tension will contract. Physical and mental energies follow this pattern. In the harmonious human they are in balance. Fear leads to contraction, such as the fear of anticipated need. Desire leads to contraction, as do aversion and pain. When you note such arising contraction, allow it to pass through you and note the conditioned nature of what has been catalyst for that contraction, the mind balanced in wisdom and compassion does not fixate on the catalyst nor on the contraction itself. It does not try to get rid of the contraction, nor does it strive to maintain it. It does not move into any relationship with the contraction other than to note, "Contracted, contracted." It sees that such contraction is a call for skillful response. For instance, you remove the splinter or tack from the foot. You listen to the voice behind the angry face to see what the matter is and what help might be offered to alleviate its pain. There is no extended relationship with the catalyst or contraction. One notes, "Contracted" and tends to what is needed. If the catalyst is unpleasant, one notices one's distress with kindness and allows it space.

You are in a human body. Sensation, emotion, thought, contraction-these are all a priceless gift. Every sensation, emotion and thought is an opportunity to balance yourself. On the relative plane there is pain or pleasure and, perhaps, the arising of like or dislike, desire or aversion. Are you going to be at war with all of these conditioned expressions, or will you open your heart to them as teacher?

There is a teaching in Zen Buddhism: The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon itself. You can look at ten thousand fingers and, if you focus only on the fingers you will never see the moon. The fingers are every conditioned expression of the phenomenal world. The moon is God. Each time you note the arising of any conditioned expression, ask of it, "Other-than" and see that it is a conditioned expression of the Unconditioned, a reflection of the Divine, then this experience of the conditioned expression points to the moon. "Ahhh, the Unconditioned is right here and right here and right here! To find God I need look no further than the itch of this mosquito bite, than my opening heart which feels gratitude for the kindness of a friend, than my pain at the experience of another's anger. God is right there in all of it."

When you practice this way, the relative and ultimate come into a natural balance. Practice is needed, of course. It is easier said than done. I want to look a bit at the human tendency to fixate on what arises, to judge and to choose.

Please visualize a crystal. Light shines through it and the crystal offers a conditioned expression of that light in the form of a rainbow display. Please notice that you cannot pick up that rainbow and move it. It has no solidity. It is conditioned expression. You may look at that display and say, "I like the blue or purple light; I do not like the orange light. The orange light is bad." Can you grab it and move it? It is all conditioned expression. If the rainbow display is shining in someone's eyes and causing them pain, in relative reality harm is being done and you are responsible to move the crystal so the harm will cease. That is all you need do.

Through the crystal of self is manifest the conditioned expressions of anger, jealousy, patience, generosity and so forth. One takes care, one must be responsible, that those energies are not given solidity and used to harm another. One works with skill. One notes that patience is a kind and loving emotion and allows oneself to act upon that. One notes that jealousy is a conditioned expression grown out of fear. One neither denies nor acts out the jealousy. One does not need to enter into relationship with it beyond the knowing, "Here is jealousy." If one does get caught in relationship with it, one simply notes for example, angry speech which may be a conditioned expression of the jealousy. Staying present, one sees the habitual patterns grown out of old pain and slowly one finds a spaciousness wherein reactivity ceases. You catch it where-ever you catch it.

Those with much practice will not fixate upon the jealousy, but just let it run through them and go. Those not yet so highly practiced may take a while to catch on. The effort is not to get rid of jealousy, but to note it as a conditioned expression, to see how one tenses against it as other-than the Divine. This is what you must watch: this long-held tension. Relax. breathe. Note "Contracted, contracted." Look back on the emotion of jealousy. It is also a conditioned expression of the Divine, a finger pointing to the moon. This, too, will bring you home.

There is much work here. First, one must develop the mindfulness to be present with what arises. Second, one must work with those practices of lovingkindness, generosity, forgiveness, sympathetic joy and so forth which open the heart and nurture the experience of connection. Third, one must practice meditation in two ways. One connects with mindfulness, choiceless awareness of the moment, this moment of relative reality. Also needed is meditation in which one deepens the experience of the Ultimate, of the pure spirit body, of the Unconditioned Divine. within and without. I call this the pure heart/mind which rests in infinite space of the Eternal.

Next one must use that deepening awareness of relative reality to observe the infinite numbers of fingers that are all pointing home … home … home, and one must have the courage to follow them, a step in which the ego self does not delight!. This is the path. There is a very beautiful line from the Buddha's teachings which I take slightly out of context. "If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it."

I thank you for your attention to these thoughts. I hope that they may be of service to you. My love accompanies you on each step of your path. That is all.

February 9, 1995. From the private transcripts.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Positive polarity has been defined in the past as service to other and negative polarity as service to self, yet on the ultimate level there is no self or other. How, then, may we define this term? We can define polarity most clearly with talk of energy and contraction or non-contraction of the energy field.

The deepest expression of positivity is the willingness to be a vessel through which energy-as abundance, as loving kindness, as light-may flow, to draw for the vessel-entity that which is needed for its own sustenance and to freely pass the rest through with no holding. Thus, one does not deny nor make martyr of the self, nor does one do harm to another or withhold out of fear. Ultimate positive polarity knows the infinite nature of Source so it has no fear that it must withhold or suffer lack. Neither does it serve another in preference to itself for it knows that both's needs will be met. When this pattern is in process, what I see visually is the clear flow of energy through the vessel-entity, circulating within its physical, emotional, mental levels and passing freely from it to all who would receive it.

Please remember as I speak that negative polarity is a distortion of positive polarity. Negative polarity may be defined as the contraction of fear whereby the serving entity contracts its energy because it does not fully understand the unlimited nature of God. Fear leads it to the bias that all needs may not be met. It may hold back more than it needs, thus depriving momentarily but still causing another real pain through that momentary deprivation, or it may be induced by fear to deep and ongoing harm to others.

It may move to the opposite bias, serving at expense of itself, depleting and even destroying itself. Such movement seems to be service to others, but self is also an other. To do harm to any, even the self, demonstrates the presence of the contraction of fear. There is a the distortion that there is not enough or that the self is insufficient as channel for that abundance. If one denies self, not including self in that sharing of abundance, there is distortion that self is separate from other. This being may be basically of positive polarity but contains these particular biases of duality and of its own insufficiency. Its energy field is contracted around the issue of meeting its own needs. It expresses a negative distortion within the positively polarized vehicle, rust on the otherwise open pipe.

Barbara is asking, what of the saint who truly gives its life, in love, to serve another? Here there is no contraction. Its deepest need is being met, which need is to do precisely what it has done, to accept the harm in replacement for another with deep awareness that it is suffering no harm but merely willingly suffering damage to this particular physical body as necessary means of the moment.

I believe contraction or non-contraction of energy is the best basis for determining positive or negative polarity. No being is totally positively- or negatively-polarized, so we do not have a totally contracted or open energy field. Relative bias toward positivity or negativity may be measured by the degree of contraction.

Remember that negative polarity is a distortion of positive polarity. For a simple image, liquid will flow smoothly through the uncongested pipe. The pipe that is clogged with debris reminds one of a contracted state, yet no matter how clogged the pipe, it has the potential to open. The water pushes against that congestion just as light touches darkness, asking it to open, receive and share. Openness is the true nature of the pipe or of any vehicle. It is the true nature of the soul.

What is the perfectly polished and clean pipe? Can it reach a stage where it cannot get cleaner? Would one polish away all the material of the pipe itself? Then what would shape the water's flow? We are always moving toward perfect positive polarity, in process!

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Brodsky