Volume 4, Number 2, May 1996

Two friends have been noteworthy in their help through this past year. Their loving friendship, knowledge, skill and generosity with endless hours of energy/body work have been invaluable in my healing. They are Aiji Pipho and Cassie Cammann. Both offer their skills with chi energy, polarity therapy and massage on a sliding scale basis to all who have need of them.


(1) tonglen: often called "giving/receiving" practice. In this meditation we allow ourselves to be open, to allow light to move through us and not to hold it for ourselves but to release it willingly to where it is needed, and then to willingly allow suffering also to move through us rather than holding ourselves separate from it. Then we release it.

(2) vipassana: our foundation practice at Deep Spring Center, described on page 13.

(3) dzogchen: pure awareness practice, described on page 13.

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.


April 17, 1996. Private session, Ann Arbor, MI.

K: I wanted to share briefly some personal experience that may relate to the work we are presently doing. I began to work with ACIM (A Course In Miracles) again last Sunday after a long break from it. I moved back into the last powerful experience I had while working with this material in New York last summer when I had clear insight into my choice to remain identified with the ego and apart from God in my experience. No longer could I tell myself that I am "here" because I screwed up and am relearning the truth of who I am so I can go "home," that I do want to go home. That night last June and also last Sunday I realized very clearly that I don't want to go home. I want to be me and have God love me as this separate self. I was sickened and filled with grief last June and again last Sunday with this realization. This is where I seem to be stuck. I find myself avoiding meditation because it takes me back to this realization and it is so painful.

(K and Barbara then spoke of form and content.)

Aaron: I am Aaron. My love to you all. We will speak to specific questions, addressing first K's question written above. The pattern of parent and child, ruler and subject, and the many myths about maturity all relate to this question. At first the child actually discerns no distinction between itself and its mother. When distinction begins, competition begins. The young child may perceive the father as omnipotent. It is subservient to the father. As it seats itself more firmly in its own identity, the developing child increasingly questions the authority of the father. It experiences that authority as an either/or situation, "If he is the authority, I cannot be the authority," and vice versa.

There is that which wishes to decline its own responsibility, to simply be servant and allow the other to be the authority. This movement comes from a place of fear. There is that which grasps at being the authority, also from a place of fear. Your lives and your myths depict the process of your relationship with authority, whether it be surrendering it or claiming it as your own. One must move through these immature, fear-based movements before one begins to have any real clarity. Nobody is the authority. Pure awareness is the authority, and wisdom and compassion-mind. This authority is not solely in the Divine, nor can any individual claim ownership.

Surrender to God does not mean surrender of responsibility. We are not merely saying, "It is the boss; I am merely serving it." because surrender to God is not surrender to something "out there;" it is ultimately a claiming of your own authority, of touching the Divine in yourself. What you are doing is surrendering the rule of the ego self, not to something "out there," which would be total lack of responsibility, but to the divine expressed within, which is total acceptance of responsibility.

I am intrigued by the potential of the discussion of K's thoughts of form and content. Surrender is merely the form. It can be ego's greatest game. What is the content of surrender? Here is where responsibility enters, the readiness to be responsible for your deepest truth, to be responsible for your choices, to be responsible for the uprising ego self without ever relating to that ego self as "somebody." The form of surrender is a wonderful hiding place of the ego.

For the small ego self, issues of safety, power and control are dominant. This face of self views surrender as the handing over of authority. This is a primary play enacted between parent and child, as the ego-centered child claims its authority and challenges the parent. It is a basic dilemma for the child which both seeks to perpetuate the safety of being the child, free of responsibility, and seeks to control its own destiny.

These roles are part of the entire play of experience on the Earth plane. They are means for sorting out fear-based need to control and feel powerful, and the open heart's clarity that nothing was ever unsafe and that one can truly live in full harmony with all that is.

Just as the child both grieves and rejoices when it first understands that the parent is not God, not omniscient and all-powerful, but is merely fallible human, so the soul both grieves and rejoices when it discovers to "hand it to God" does not mean freedom of responsibility but is the ultimate acknowledgment of responsibility.

We have another question: What is the origin of "individuated expression" and what do I mean by that term? Let us look at one moment in the process of the expression of the Unconditioned. As with the chicken and the egg, I am not going to suggest what comes first, only that the nature of the Unconditioned to expand, to express Itself, eventually necessitates a self-awareness. By that term I do not mean pure awareness. We might consider it as an energy distortion, a subtle shift from nature-of, to express, into a tension we might almost call desire to express.

"Nature-of" means it is simply following a natural law. It is the nature of water to run down hill. If you build a dam which impedes such movement, the water will press itself against the dam. It is still only following its nature. We find in the development of the mental body a moment when that which pushes shifts from a space of pure awareness into an idea of what it is doing, that something is pushing. This involves energy and contraction. I cannot say precisely, "This is how it is," but somehow that which pushes perceives that which pushes back as separate from itself. A subtle friction develops which invites that which pushes to push harder. We could almost say that, at a certain point, this friction gives rise to mental body, which rise accompanies self-awareness.

We cannot say when the individuated expression begins, nor is that relevant. My own perception would be that the seed for the individuated expression lies directly in the Unconditioned. Because the Unconditioned exists, individuated expression, which is the first conditioned expression, exists. I see it more in terms of energy. When I observe the formation of such individuated expression from pure spirit body, my predominant experience is of the friction as this spirit body follows its nature and seeks to expand itself and experiences in the universe that which would seem to grate against such expansion.

I want to take this talk to a different place now. I spoke privately with Barbara last week to her question: Why are we learning this? My every effort is aimed to expressing in various modes that you are the totality of the Unconditioned and the conditioned. During her retreat, I asked Barbara to deeply experience this which we call "ground" and that that ground must include both Unconditioned and conditioned. To experience this deeply is to experience every arising of thought, emotion and physicality as a radiant expression of the Divine.

Some of what arises may be judged as good or bad, by which you mean having effects that are harmful or not harmful to self or to all beings, depending on your orientation. At a certain level, everything that arises is neutral. It is merely the form. It is you who invest that form with content and, thereby, give it its positive or negative slant.

You might look at an earthquake and say, "But, Aaron, people are killed." An earthquake is simply a movement of the earth's crust offered from forces underneath. Whoever promised you the earth would remain still and unchanging? People are killed and injured in that earthquake and homes are lost. Even at this level we must maintain that it is neutral, but its effects are decidedly unpleasant. When it calls up negativity within you, a solid self that must rescue others, then the effect of the earthquake is to create negativity and fear.

When this offered expression of the earth is seen as neutral, then that which agrees to be responsible steps in. It has no need to lay blame in order to release its pain and emotion. It tends to the injured with love. It seeks better scientific understanding of the causes of such earth movement and the places most likely for it, not in order to control the earth, but to exist harmoniously with it. It seeks engineering skills to build safer structures. But these movements do not come from one who is trying to outpower the "father," to be the authority and in control. These movements come from that which recognizes fully its divinity, its infinite power and wholeness and its responsibility. It is only here that you truly become co-creators in the universe. This is the path each of you walks.

We begin simply, learning how to be responsible in very small things, not from an ego place but responsible from a space of loving clarity, pure awareness which sees clearly the way things are. Becoming thus responsible most certainly does not mean that you shrug off suffering. Ultimate acknowledgment of responsibility demands the infinitely compassionate heart, unlimited energy and profound wisdom. You are called upon to allow the expression of all of these in your being. First you begin to awaken, which awakening we can liken to the moment that the child sees that the parent is not perfect, sees that it must become responsible and both grasps at and fights against that notion. This is the whole process of your maturity. Walk it with joy, my dear ones, for with each increase of willingness to fully manifest what you are, you shatter the clouds of delusion of the small and separate self and allow the true radiance of your being to shine out and light the entire universe. That is all.

[Picture] Sufi dancing traditionally concludes a retreat. Here Barbara bows to Aaron who has invited all to open to his energy and join in dance with him.

January 10, 1996. Regular Wednesday session, Ann Arbor, MI.

Aaron: Good evening, and my love to you all. I am Aaron. I wish you all a new year filled with much joy and peace and of course, with deep awareness of the love within your hearts.

That love is so powerful, the brilliant essence of who you are. And yet, like a candle flame, it flickers so easily. Unlike the candle flame, it cannot go out. But the winds of thought, of opinion, of fear, create a flicker, which leads you to lose faith in the ultimate brilliance of the flame. Most of the flicker grows out of your relationship with heavy emotion.

We seem to talk in cycles here, touching a subject, working with it for awhile, letting it go, and then coming back to it again and again. You are all familiar with my basic teachings of working with heavy emotion. I want to talk about emotion in a slightly different way tonight. About what I would call, the direct experience of emotion.

First, I would ask each of you to sit in silence for several moments to reflect and bring up some memory of shame, desire, or other strong emotion. It can be a subtle breeze of emotion; it doesn't have to be a hurricane. I want you to find some memory whose tension you can truly feel, something that creates a tightening of the jaw or the gut, something that creates a stir of unpleasant excitement in you. I'm going to pause here while you find this memory and become aware that you are holding the tension of that emotion in your body. Let us do this now. (Long pause.)

Most of you have got something. Some of you are trying to decide, should I choose this one or that one? It doesn't matter. Please settle on something and simply let yourself feel that emotion within you. Right now we are working with an unpleasant emotion. But the exercise we are going to do here can be done equally as well with a pleasant emotion. Unpleasantness is a bit more noticeable of a sensation.

Let us label this emotion in a very simple way, as tension, or contraction. Feel the way your energy contracts around it. (Pause.) Through your meditation practice, you may have previously had deep understanding that there's really no separate self experiencing something solid, that the sensation is what is called a conditioned arising. Nevertheless, when it grabs you, you get sucked into it. A voice of wisdom may suggest that you make some space around it but sometimes it's very hard to do that.

I want to spend a bit of time looking at why it's so hard to make space. Most of you are in that predicament of the young child who is offered an enormous box of candy. He eats until he gets a tummy ache. At some level he may be aware that that tummy ache is a result of the overeating, but while he is eating the candy, it tastes so good! If he was offered a beautiful hot coal and as soon as he touched it, he was burned, he would drop it, and would learn very quickly that he could admire it, but could not touch it. Seeing the candy, he remembers its sweet taste and desire arises. He chews it and it is very satisfying. Somewhere part way through chewing the first piece, and before it is swallowed, desire arises again wanting more of that sweetness, that first bite down into the soft center of the candy. (If candy is not your idea of a treat, please picture my words substituting a hot roll or tangerine.)

It feels good. You want more of that good. It satisfies some place of pain or longing, really cloaks over the pain or longing. You will have to watch the process very carefully in yourself, because each of you is different, and precisely how this process works will differ subtly from one to another of you. But in all beings, there is a desire to feel fulfilled, whole, free of desire. Ah! Did you hear me? Desire to feel free of desire, because there is a burning sensation around desire. So somehow we have moved into the distortion, that if we can finally get enough, desire will stop. Burning will stop; discomfort will stop! But it doesn't stop. The only way to finally come to ending of desire is to look desire directly in its face and come to understand the nature of it. Even then it does not necessarily stop arising, but it stops ensnaring you, as you come to directly experience its conditioned and conditioning nature. It is only here that there is space.

So you keep wanting more. You hope that somewhere along the line, the tension of desire will stop. Desire for what? Here is where what is primary will be subtly different for each of you. Desire to feel safe, to feel loved, to feel whole, to be at peace. Desire not to feel any pain or fear, not to feel alone. The list goes on.

Desire takes many directions. But there is always something out there that you think is finally going to do it for you, to give you this safety and freedom from suffering. As you become more spiritually mature, it stops being the piece of candy, a better job, and becomes, perhaps, spiritual experience, enlightenment experience. Ah, that's finally going to do it.

Burning with desire in this way, you tend to solidify the self. What happens as I see it, is that there is a surge of energy, of power, with the thought, "I can get this and finally I will be safe, or peaceful, or happy. If I don't see, just at this moment how I can get what I need, then I can figure it out. Just a problem to be solved, and then I'll be happy." In this way, a pattern is established in which the self is constantly solidified.

We come back to the child and his box of candy. Each time he gorges himself, he gets a bellyache, but he refuses to draw the connection because he does not want to give up the pleasure of eating the candy. It is as if this child, when he got the bellyache, thought, "Half an hour ago I was so happy, what was I doing then? Oh, I was eating candy. I'll go get another box of candy, it will make me feel better." And for a few minutes as he absorbs that sweetness, he may indeed feel some solace, until he notices that he is feeling increasingly sick. Each time you move into grasping and clinging, desperately trying to fulfill desire, you create a figurative bellyache, with real tension, and a sense of separation. This is the nature of your "sickness." It is an expression of ignorance of the way things really are.

When you move into a relationship with the emotion, it solidifies itself, and increases the suffering. This pattern has become so familiar that you literally cannot envision any other way of perceiving it. If I have a bellyache, I've got to get something that's going to fix the bellyache. I've got to get rid of the bellyache. If I have a heartache, I've got to get something to fill myself. Because for a brief time absorbed by the emotion, you feel better, you don't recognize the trap you're setting up for yourself.

When you're feeling an emotion, even an unpleasant emotion, you are somebody. You feel strong. If the emotion arouses anger, you may direct that anger against that which catalyzed the emotion. Somebody who said something nasty, for example, or some incident that was painful. Through your anger, adrenaline arises in the body, you feel empowered, and you believe that being thus empowered, you will be able to find a way to that safety and happiness for which you long.

Other emotions display themselves in the same way-craving, for example: the craving in itself is unpleasant but it sends the mind spinning, figuring out how I can get it. It's the same myth-when I finally get it, I'll be safe and happy. Jealousy-not much different, a mix of craving and anger. Shame-a very different one, shame. Shame carries with it an aversion to the self and to that circumstance in which shame arose. There is not usually that same arising of adrenaline in shame. Nevertheless there is a very solid self. When shame comes up, again there's a sense of safety in its familiarity.

We have talked at length here about noting the arising emotions, making space for them, finding some equanimity with what has arisen. This process makes sense to many of you, and sometimes it works. But at other times, the very process of trying to make space, to just be with it, seems to solidify the emotion. As soon as there is self relating to the emotion, someone trying to make space, both self and emotion become solid. We must suppose that when this happens, at some level there was intention to allow that solidity. It is a diversion, even if a painful one. On the surface you would say you do not want that emotion. What happens though is that in the usual pattern, attempting to step away from that emotion is like the child returning to the candy box. You want to be free of it and yet it creates some kind of diverse tension so you crave it.

We go from one extreme to the other, absorption in the emotion and despising of the emotion. Here is the child who has regorged himself on candy, thinking it would make him feel better, and the one who says, "No, I will never have candy again," and judges himself for having eaten it in the first place. There seems to be what I would almost call an addiction to emotion, like this addiction to candy.

There is a process by which we can begin to work more directly and simplify this whole pattern in which most of us are entrenched. The first step is mindfulness. Some of you are smiling. Of course, the first step is always mindfulness! You cannot come to know the interconnected essence of you which has no need to crave or attack because it is not separate, until you become mindful of what seems to separate you from the experience of that essence. As you look, you will begin to discover a rhythmic pattern almost like that of the ebb and flow of the tides. You may begin to watch your body's energy grasping.

As a very real and simple example, this morning this instrument had an hour to ski. It was a glorious day, clear air and blue sky, fresh snow. She noted that pleasant though the experience was, she had a hard time staying in the moment. Her mind kept drifting-planning, remembering, even snatches of old songs arising. She knows herself well enough to know that when she cannot stay in the moment, there's usually some tension pulling her out. She paused, just sat down on an fallen tree trunk for a few minutes, and saw in herself how much desire there was. It wasn't that she wasn't enjoying the day, but there was the pain that this hour was going to end. She wanted to go out to a large woods and ski for the whole day. She wanted to hold the moment. Desire, desire. And of course she could see the suffering in that desire. She is also wise enough to know that she cannot simply attack that desire, that wanting the desire to go away so she can be peaceful cannot lead to peace.

Allowing in the force of the desire is like stopping when there is the bellyache. Instead of saying, "If I eat more I'll feel better," you stop and just say, I have a bellyache, and it's unpleasant, and be there with the bellyache, be there with the desire, with the grief, or the anger, or the shame. So much of that repetitive pattern comes from trying to escape that emotion, at times by escalating it. Sometimes it seems to work for awhile, just as for the child going back and eating more candy brings brief relief from discomfort.

For a simplistic example, a way of "eating candy" at that time for Barbara, would have been planning a skiing trip, fantasizing a way to fulfill desire. Instead, she was able to look at the longing and to look at that which felt separate and wanted something to relieve longing. Then, being fully present with her situation, she experienced what I would call a shift in time. In that moment, just sitting with desire, with the beauty of everything that she needed present in that moment, she experienced its fullness. You have heard Thich Nhat Hanh's statement, "Present moment, wonderful moment." The present moment can be wonderful when there is not intensive craving to continue the present moment, and fear that you'll lose it.

This is subtle. This is where I ask you to draw on the experience with which I first asked you to connect.

We will work experientially. First, let us feel ourselves gathered here in a circle. A pleasant fire on the hearth. Candles lit. Loving energy surrounding you. People who support your spiritual work. "Present moment, wonderful moment." (Pause) Feeling peace, love, connection. (Pause) Now, as fully as you can allow yourself, I ask you to invite in the recollection of this unpleasant emotion. Let the whole memory in of how you experienced it. All the anger, the pain, desire. Can you feel the shift in your energy field from open to contracted? Focus deeply. The more you allow this pain, the more import this exercise will have. (Long pause.)

What are your options here? The wheels in your brain can start spinning, planning how you could fix that situation. Ego. Control. Or you could push the whole thought of it away in denial. As you sit with it, what happens to the "present moment, wonderful moment?" Are you still feeling the loving connection, the beauty of this moment? Or is it tarnished?

Most of you probably experience several different streams of energy moving through. You may be able to feel this that we sometimes call, "small ego self" which is fixated on getting rid of the figurative bellyache, or getting away from it. You may also be able to feel a deeper essence of what you are, a place of deep peace and wisdom which sees the ego self toying with what has arisen, and has the spaciousness to just watch it.

Breathe in and out, noting "desire to fix" if it's there. Desire to escape. Tension. Turmoil. Whatever is predominant. What has stopped the present moment from being a wonderful moment? Is it the inviting in of that thought, the power of that memory, or is it your tension around thought, desire to be rid of it, to be back in control, to escape?

Look closely. What if you just say, Yes, here is pain? Or shame, or craving. No need to do anything about it. Can you come back into that, which through its deep interconnection with all that is, is always safe? By always safe, I do not necessarily mean that this physical body is always safe. But safe on the ultimate level.

Experiencing that tension and your relationship to tension, can you see that as soon as there is tension, the habitual way of working with it is to shift into the solid self? This has been self-defeating behavior. It means taking more candy after the bellyache. Nevertheless it's an ancient pattern. What you are asking of yourself is very difficult. As soon as pain arises in whatever form, the old pattern is to move to defend the self, and thereby to solidify the self, whereas what I am asking you to do is to note the desire to solidify the self and come back to that place of connection, that spaciousness.

"Present moment, wonderful moment." The fire and candles are just as bright even with awareness of discomfort. The group around you is just as loving. The wonderful moment is not just present when there is nothing painful arising in mind or body. The wonderful moment is right now with whatever is arising. Try it. If your eyes have been closed you may wish to open them and look around the room, to see how very wonderful this really is. You are alive! You are sitting in a warm and loving space, and in this very moment you are capable of experiencing freedom from suffering.

"Present moment, wonderful moment." You don't need to escape the pain. You don't need to find a sweet or other consolation. You don't need to fix or disguise. Take a deep breath and rest in your intrinsic joy and peace. Rest in that which is infinite in you.

When Barbara did this while skiing, looking at her desire and opening back into the present with its pain and its wonder, she felt herself fully in the present moment, in a more profound way than she usually allows. She felt it a very powerful and deeply moving experience.

I would request of you in the coming week that each time you note the arising of an uncomfortable emotion, note that it is unpleasant, note the desire to be free of it, and how your argument with it, trying to control it or escape it, leads into a further solidification of self. Then I want you to stop; at first the practice may seem a bit cerebral. I request that you ask yourself, what is wonderful about this moment? Is it perfect just as it is? Do I have to fix anything?

Take a few deep breaths, and work with "present moment, wonderful moment." You're not trying to brainwash yourself. You are not denying your discomfort. You are finding that you do not have to act to change anything. Of course if your discomfort comes from touching a hot pot, you're going to let go of it. Then there's a burn on the hand, "burn, burn," and wanting to get away from the burn, noted as aversion. "Present moment, wonderful moment." Even with the pain in my hand, I do not have to contract my energy in relationship to this pain? What happens to your energy field then? Can you truly experience the wonder of the moment.

You will need to persevere. You do not establish this pattern of getting caught in relationship with arising by doing it 2 or 3 times, but many billions of times. Fortunately it will not take you billions of times to move out of it. The wise person with a bellyache who sees the box of candy coming around again and says, "Yes-no, I think I'll pass, I'll just be here with my bellyache," sees that the bellyache dissolves itself. The power of resting in that wonderful moment is immense. I invite you to try it.

Question: I felt OK with the experience; my question, when I feel emotions like fear, I sometimes want to avoid a deep experience of that fear. I choose to create a space for that fear and leave it in that space. My question is, am I truly trying to avoid the fear, or am I becoming more skillful in staying in the present moment.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Both. You can become still more skillful in opening to fear. You learn that we do not have to be so afraid of fear, pain, or unpleasantness. But the ego also becomes more skillful at its games. One of the ways that ego can avoid being enmeshed into fear and having to confront fear is by separating from fear. It seems the same at first glance. The latter is a kind of blackmail-being with the fear conditionally because if I am with it, then I will be in control of it and it will go away. There is still separation and someone in control. That's very different than being with fear and just being. Do you see what I mean? I pause.

It's very important to watch that. When you see the desire to be free of the fear or pain or discomfort, the anger or desire, you simply have got to know, here is aversion to it, here is desire to be free of it. That desire becomes the primary object. The fear is no longer primary; the desire to be free of fear is primary, and then you work with it in the same way. Just note it, here is desire, desire to be free, desire to be comfortable. And I don't have to do anything with that one either. Do you see how it works? I pause.

Question: At first, I felt an expanded, warm, not-contracted type of being. Then, when I brought the mind, the heavy emotion back, I felt contraction of energy and emotion. Then, a feeling of expansion or space about the contraction, but the contraction was still there, and it was not nearly as nice.

Barbara: Aaron says, I'm paraphrasing Aaron, Aaron says, That's it! The contraction was still there. You can't do this to get rid of the contraction. Or, there's a lot of ego trying to get rid of, but as soon as the contraction can stay or go and it's OK either way, then we are no longer trapped.

Barbara: Aaron is asking, could you feel the spaciousness there, that the contraction still existed but suddenly there was no longer a need to get rid of it. There would just be "unpleasant."

Question: I still felt a preference to get rid of it.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Preference is just a preference. You also do not have to follow the dictates of the preference, which is only another contraction, but just watch it. Can you see that? I pause.

Question: Yes, it is an important point for me that contraction is OK.

Barbara: Aaron says, it is an important point for everyone. This is the place where we get so hooked in, the myth that we have to get rid of the contraction or fix it in some way in order to be comfortable, instead of just being uncomfortable with it. He says, "comfortable in your discomfort."

Aaron: I am Aaron. As soon as the contraction can stay or go (if it stays it's unpleasant and you note the unpleasantness), then you are no longer tensing your energy into any kind of relationship with the contraction. This is where peace lies. This is the place where no new karma is created. This tension-free state, while I call it tension-free, does not mean it's free of discomfort or contraction. As long as you are in a human body, certain kinds of contractions will arise. There's no relationship with those contractions. I thank you for your example. I pause.

Question: Aaron said shame carries with it aversion to self and to the circumstances in which it arose, but nevertheless, there is safety there. What did he mean by that?

Aaron: I am Aaron. Shame is a way of shutting down your energy, feeling small, powerless. Often anger is underneath shame. There is a certain safety at times in shame that masks the depth of that anger, anger to another or anger to yourself. Can you see that?

April 10, 1996. Project Expand, Ann Arbor, MI.

Aaron: I am Aaron. We begin with this "energy," which we may call Unconditioned, All That Is, or simply God. This God or Unconditioned has an essence which is unnamable; we might call it pure awareness or pure being. It has a nature, which nature is to express its essence. Simply put, the nature of the Divine is to express itself. Such expression might be thought of as expansion and yet, since it already is everything, how can it expand? There is nowhere that God is not, but there are places where God is presently expressed indirectly, where God can be expressed directly. It is expressed directly in fullness and indirectly in voidness. If everything is expression of God, voidness is also expression of God. It is absence of light, absence of love, absence of energy. God's fullness is the expression of energy, of light, of love. God's nature, or substitute "the nature of the Unconditioned" if you prefer, is to express these conditioned aspects of Itself, such as light, where there has previously not been such expression but only been voidness or the negation of light, which negation is an active principle in its own way.

In the human being we find the four bodies. The pure spirit body is simply an individuated expression of the totality of God or Unconditioned. Under all of these labels, God, Unconditioned, pure spirit body, we find that which is uncompounded, by which word I mean there is as yet nothing distorted, nothing dependent on conditions for its presence. It is the pure essence. To say that pure spirit body is dependent on God for its existence is to misunderstand the essence of pure spirit body. It is not something created by God, it is God. A small bit of it, yes, not all of it, but there is nothing in pure spirit body that is not identical to the energy which we are calling God. Thus, in pure spirit body there is no distortion.

We are seeking more precise terminology which is why I bring in these technical terms of the three kayas. "Kaya," which means "body," is simply a convenient label. It is not a "Buddhist" term but a term which Buddhist teaching has used with clarity, defining these three "bodies" in such a way that we can experientially comprehend their relationships. I have chosen to use these terms for the clarity of expression they offer. One word opens you to a vast yet precise experience just as a scent of baking bread may open you to the entire process of the growing and harvesting of grain and preparation of it into bread.

Dharma means truth. Dharmakaya, therefore, means truth body. For our present uses we will consider this term synonymous with Unconditioned. At some future time we may choose to explore subtle differences in these two words, but for now we will consider them synonymous.

This Unconditioned begins to offer expressions of Itself. Light is a primary expression. We might also consider light to be a "distortion," taking care with our understanding of "distortion." Every expression is a distortion because it takes the innate energy of the Unconditioned, that which is uncompounded, and offers it out into the play of the conditioned realm. If you shine a perfectly clear light in a vacuum there are no particles to reflect that light. When you shine it in atmospheric conditions then particles reflect it. They also cause distortion between object and viewer; they do not distort the light so much as the perception of it.

It is reasonable to ask, if everything is display of the Unconditioned, how there can be anything that creates distortion. I cannot presently fully explain this to you. The vocabulary is still lacking. Suffice it to say that with the first expressions of Itself, the Unconditioned expressed the conditioned or compounded universe. Once there is that conditioned universe, every expression of the Unconditioned which moves into the conditioned realm is both expression because it comes directly from the Unconditioned, and is distortion because it touches the already-present conditioned. This is the light shining where there are particles to touch, and thus offer distortion.

It is the nature of the Unconditioned to express Itself into the conditioned realm. Thus, it is the nature of the Unconditioned to express distortion. "Distortion" here is NOT a negative term. Light and intelligence are two facets of that purest expression. For light to move further into expression there must be form and, thus, the physical body. For intelligence to move further into expression, one path is the creation of mental body. Since the mental body guides the expression of light into form, mental body comes first and then creates the further expression of thought into form.

In the personal arena, this pure spirit body expresses the light body template of the mental body which is the highest and clearest expression of mental body. There is distortion but minimal distortion. Distortion increases with heavier vibration. With the thought "I am," the mental then conceives of the light body template of the physical body, conceived as way to give embodiment to the light.

In terms of these three kayas to which we turn in order to enable clearer communication, these light body templates are the sambhogakaya. The term, sambhoga, means wealth. This is the wealth body. On every plane, not only the human, it is the highest translation of these first expressions of the Unconditioned, which expressions which have not yet moved into manifestation.

Nirmanakaya is the manifestation body. This does not necessarily imply only the physical body. A manifest thought also has form.

Clearly, these three bodies are not separate, any more than the giant oak tree is separate from the acorn or from the energy which precedes the acorn. Thus, within dharmakaya, or pure awareness body, is every possibility of form, including no form at all, voidness. In this way, voidness is nirmanakaya and is an expression of the Unconditioned.

Barbara: I know you're teaching us about these bodies for a reason and not just for intellectual categorization. Can you tell me a little about your reason for teaching this or would that impede the process?

Aaron: It would not impede the process to discuss purpose briefly. I want you to come to know the nature of each the bodies and directly experience their interconnection. This is primary in your investigation of non-duality and of what draws you into the myth of duality. The Unconditioned core of you is no different from the expressions of that core. When you experience the expression with clarity, it must lead you back to the core. When you see this truth of your being, and rest more firmly in this true nature, it begins to feel increasingly discordant when movement such as action, speech, and thought comes only from the ego self. Experiencing that discordance, you move more naturally back to connection.

We aspire to allow action, speech and thought to arise from that which knows its interconnection with all that is, from the non-dual Pure Awareness. Then the arising is love-based and offered in service to all beings, and is as free as it can be from force of harm to any being. When you are so deeply mired in the manifest body that you lose all awareness of the deeper essence, then you cut yourself off from yourSelf. then the flow is cut in such a way that you function largely from the small self which believes in its separation and thus, lives in fear and service to self. This process of repeatedly following manifestation body back to true self, following expression back to the Unconditioned, shatters the myth of personal self. It continually reseats you in truth and reopens the doorway to movement from that place of truth.

The process works in both directions. When you experience the core, you see the magnificent display of expressions. Then each expression is seen more clearly as divine and judgment dissolves. You learn to more deeply cherish each expression, noting "skillful" or "unskillful, but not holding one as of more intrinsic worth than another, not attached to one over another. With understanding, fixation on arising falls away. You cease to need to make things be a certain way from the personal self but clearly comprehend the conditioned arising process with an openhearted compassion that more naturally chooses the "skillful" precisely because Pure Awareness mind is open, not caught or narrow.

I would ask each member of this group each to observe this week just what "Christ-self," "Dharmakaya," or "Unconditioned expression" mean in your own experience. Observe the relationship of essence and expression. Can you see that this essence cannot be severed from its expressions? The relative resides in the absolute. The absolute's nature is to offer expression we call relative. One way this may be phrased is the term "ground." What is meant by ground? It is not just the dharmakaya, but must contain both the relative and the absolute. When you rest in this ground you cannot become lost in the absolute nor stuck in the relative but are balanced in both.

Awareness of this balance is a vital process. Please practice with it. That is all.

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Brodsky