Volume 4, Number 3, September 1996

Deep Spring Center Newsletter
Volume 4, Number 3, September 1996

I am Aaron. Thinking of this (Easter/Passover) as celebration of freedom, may we hold in our hearts tonight all beings who are not free, either because they are enslaved by another or because they are enslaved by their own passions and confusion.

Each of you has the ability to find freedom for yourself and be a model for that path for others. You're constantly given the choice to choose fear or to choose love. Each time you choose love, you're choosing freedom. You're illuminating the way for all beings. To choose love is a very difficult thing. It means always extending your hand to the one who has fallen, but giving them the choice whether to grasp the hand and rise or not. It means a full respect of the divinity of every sentient being. The ability to choose in this way is given to each of you. At first the attempts are stumbling and awkward. Slowly they become more graceful. The angel is in all of you. Honor its efforts to make itself announced. When the time comes that enough angels know the truth of their being, suffering will cease on the incarnative realms.



Barbara's Letter

Aaron's Pages

January 19, 1994, Wednesday. A private message from Aaron, channeled before class.

January 19, 1994, Wednesday. Aaron's talk.

Guided Meditation from Aaron

Barbara's Letter

Dear Friends,

Again this summer, mornings find me sitting on the "tree house" porch in the woods. At dawn I was meditating in this dense forest, tall trees exuding a deep peaceful energy, patches of blue sky shining through the high branches, lake glistening in tiny shards of silver. As I sat, mind kept running to "planning, planning, planning."

Traditional teachings divide thoughts into two categories, those obsessive thoughts with which our minds run wild and focused, investigative thoughts and reflections. The first is "sticky," what I call velcro mind which attaches to self-concepts and doesn't want to let go. The second is non-stick, teflon mind! It stays with whatever is predominant in our present moment's experience without preferences or attachments. Sometimes the Pali language terms are helpful because they offer one word which gives a clear statement of a large concept. Papańca is the Pali word for obsessive thinking which sticks, self-proliferates and seems to run on its own internal energy. It leads us deeper into concepts and away from direct experience. All of us are familiar with such thinking. The "ongoing stories" about which I wrote in the last newsletter are an example of papańca, stories with which mind so often runs.

Contrasted to obsessive mind is reflective mind. This is a special kind of reflection, based on direct observation of phenomena. It's not a wandering reflection which moves into mental elaborations, stories, or fantasy but reflection which just sees what is here, in this moment, watches it arise and observes its movements. It's willing to stay put, in the present. Vitakka is a Pali term for the mind-process which stays totally connected to this moment. Vicara is a Pali word for investigation. Vitakka-vicara may be used together in this hyphenated way to define the mind process which observes immediate experience, beginning with contact, consciousness, sensations of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral-in other words, bare perception-and continues there. It's interesting to observe that there's no concept of "self" in this investigative-reflective mind.

These two movements of mind will often alternate. Emotions arise behind the thought and seem to lock into it. Unless we are very present, they shift us into obsessive thought with its sense of self and other. Investigative-reflective thought has a cool, empirical quality. It's not devoid of heart, not disassociated from experience, but spacious and willing to stay with the experience.

So I sat on my porch this morning and watched mind running, thoughts drifting into "planning" and the tensions around that planning. My life feels up in the air just now, trying to finalize the fall-winter retreat schedule with people thousands of miles away, not even sure what I'm doing today as I have no telephone here and received two messages through others from students asking for meetings at the same time this afternoon. In two weeks I leave for personal retreat; again, with no telephone, mail or e-mail out here, I don't yet know for certain where or when I'm going! And my son (found and lost and found again so many times I've stopped counting (and noting with humor that nothing is ever "lost" or "found") is somewhere in Tibet or China; I want to know his whereabouts and schedule too! Mind is running in circles, trying to organize, to control!

How do we work with the obsessive mind? The first step is simply to recognize its presence. There must be a willingness to get off the roller coaster of fixation on these thought patterns, to stop and look. Can we go into the thought pattern instead of riding on its surface? For me, the question to be asked this morning was "what is this planning?" Old attitudes surface and are noted, such as desire to be in control, wanting to be safe.

Here is where we have a choice. Old habit has led us to believe we can't help ourselves when immersed in obsessive thought. No, indeed we can't stop the thought from arising, nor force it to leave. We can help the way we relate to what has arisen. Usually we have allowed ourselves to get into a relationship with this thought. We may grasp at it and at all the stories it proliferates or we may hate it and fight to be free of it because it burns. Neither of these is going to work. Both enhance our relationship with the thought! Both responses keep us on the roller coaster.

There must first be awareness that we are on such a ride and that we're here because at some level we chose to be here. At first glance, this proliferation of thought may feel safe; it may shield us from deeper fears, deeper emotion or pain. We see resistance to just letting the thought be and to refusing to be ensnared into relationship with it. Resistance wants to continue old and familiar patterns. Fear wants to say "I can't help it," to disclaim responsibility for our choices. This desire to lay blame elsewhere and to gather around ourselves that which feels comforting is ancient in us. It's not the on-running thought which must first be addressed, then, but the fear or discomfort which accompanies the thought and propels us into its perpetuation. So the first step is just to note we're caught in a repetitive thought (with kindness, please) and thereby to invite return to the spacious reflective mind that observes what's happening

Contraction in the physical body such as the tight belly or tense jaw usually accompanies such resistance to discomfort. Use the body as much as is useful to help create focus and sharpen mindfulness. Through the body we can often touch the otherwise inaccessible fear or tension. One choice is to leave the thought be and stay with the physical contraction which accompanies it. Note the physical contraction with whatever label seems appropriate. So doing may open the way for clearer understanding of what is propelling us. When I say "what is propelling us," I don't mean the specific story of what happened when we were four, of how we were hurt, unloved or afraid or how we were "good" and were loved. Some times these stories have been so deeply buried that we do have to open to them first, to acknowledge pain, confusion, fear, or anger, but after we know that old story, its retelling, in itself, becomes obsessive. What is propelling us isn't the story now. It is, in part, our reluctance to part with the story.

What we must ask of ourselves is to just be present with whatever is here, in each moment, here with the stories, the unpleasant (or pleasant) feeling of the stories, and with that which wants to be center stage in our dramas of how we were hurt or dramas of how we will resolve it all. We must be here with our resistance, without trying to know it, to control it. We can just be present.

I call this "being with it." It doesn't matter whether we're talking about formal meditation or simply noticing these wild thoughts as we walk through our lives. The tool is the same; be with it.

As we look ever deeper, we see all the places where there is resistance. We must be so gentle to ourselves here, never forcing, but offering balance by repeatedly touching base with that deeper truth in ourselves which knows its wholeness, its limitlessness, its deepest loving interconnection to all that is.

What leads us to a willingness to note the stories and cease to involve ourselves in a relationship with them which encourages their proliferation? It's one thing to know what's happening, another to be willing to take responsibility, to live what we see. We can train ourselves in mindfulness and decide to be present, but living from that place of presence must come from the heart. When we see deeply we allow the truth of our being to emerge. We cannot forever cage ourselves within the prisons of our fear. Can we find a willingness to move on, to let the past be and remain in this moment.

It takes courage to recognize our wholeness and unlimitedness; we must acknowledge that courage and honor ourselves for it. There are tools I've found helpful to support a more accurate image of true being, such as meditation on those who vividly portray certain qualities I'd like to see more clearly in myself. The qualities are within me; by observing the display of them in another, I begin to acknowledge that they are everywhere, are truly available.

Another tool is the practice I mentioned in the last newsletter, clear comprehension of purpose. When I ask myself what is my purpose, such as to get revenge, or to be comfortable, or truly create harmony, I may find that all of these purposes are there. If I ask who or what wants revenge, really allow myself to hear that human I was who was hurt, I find she doesn't really want revenge so much as to be heard and loved. When I offer her unconditional love, desire for revenge fades.

To be comfortable: this calls in the second part of the practice which is suitability. Is what I'm doing really leading to comfort? We pick up a red hot coal only once and drop it quickly because it burns; we find it much harder to drop the hot coals of old mind conditioning because of ancient beliefs that somehow these mind movements and behaviors have kept us safe.

As I sat with my wild mind this morning, I was able to work in the ways I've described. There was no need to disassociate from the stories or emotions. There was a willingness to watch them and observe the fears and tensions from which they sprang. There was a long-practiced kindness offered to those fears, a willingness to hear them as a parent hears a child crying from a nightmare, reassuring the child but not scrambling frantically to shoot a monster under the bed! As I give my fears an openhearted presence without needing to buy into them, they naturally quiet. Then I am able to rest in the spaciousness of being which is always there, which doesn't depend on absence of fear for its existence.

As always, I encourage you to try this for yourselves, just being present, without any special program, watching what emerges with an open heart. I wish you an autumn of brilliant leaves and inner growth. I look forward to seeing many of you in classes and at retreats.

with love,

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. For this edition, I have chosen an older transcript because of its central importance to our ongoing work.

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.


January 19, 1994, Wednesday.

A private message from Aaron, channeled before class.

Aaron: I am Aaron. My greetings and love to you all. Some of you have worked with me and with Barbara for many years, some, for a shorter time. Some of you are new to our work. I would speak to you all about our present path together.

Like a rope, your spiritual paths are composed of many strands. We can name these strands in many ways, following the language of many different religious traditions. Let us be simple and non-technical. One great strand is simply living lovingly and skillfully in the world. Work within this strand pulls together the numerous substrands of morality, which manifest as intention to offer your energy with non-harm, non-judgment, and compassion. This strand is fundamental. It was the basis of our work for several years.

Another strand is mindfulness, deepening attention. Amongst its substrands are concentration, skillful use of energy, greater tranquillity and the opening heart which increasingly allows one to be present in each moment. You can already see how these two strands interweave and depend upon one another for their strength.

Let us call the third strand wisdom. Within this strand are the deepening awareness of your true nature and of the interdependent nature of all that is in the universe, and the ability to rest more stably in ultimate reality. Exploration of this strand is newer in our work together.

Last fall we began to speak less frequently of the skillful living in relative reality and more about the balance. This shift is not because I find skillful living in relative reality to be unimportant, but because it's time to more fully bring in the third strand. You must continue to work with mindfulness. You must continue to strive to live lovingly and with non-harm, to understand the ramifications of your actions, words and thoughts, and also the meaning of being "someone" who is striving.

We could continue forever to talk about nothing but how to live skillfully in this moment and to work on such skills. It is highly important but insufficient. The preliminary work is essential. It shows you where there is aversion to relative reality. It opens your heart to this human who is afraid. It teaches you equanimity with all that arises in mind and body. As long as the aversion is treated as solid and something to be escaped from, then ultimate reality, heaven or nirvana, become something separate, something to be grasped for, a place of escape. Relative and ultimate reality, heaven and hell, samsara and nirvana, are non-dual. If you grasp at ultimate reality as escape from the pain of your humanness, you only dig yourself in further to the patterns of aversion, grasping and fear. Learning about this has been our foundation. Most important is that we have raised awareness of intention to live skillfully, and opened compassion for the being who finds that so difficult. That intention and growing compassion walk with you.

Now we have brought in this third strand. You are learning to see how boundaries arise, and that they are the delusion of old mind. You are learning to let go of identification with that arising, and to come back and rest in what various systems call pure mind, rigpa, the light body or higher self. These terms are not quite synonymous but are close enough to bring them together in this way.

We all meet here together, new and old to this work. Those who are newer to it travel hand in hand with us. To all of you, a word of caution: constantly you must go back. You must earnestly practice this skillful living in the present, living with love and an open heart, compassion and non-judgment. My book, Aaron, and many transcripts are available as guidance. Your meditation practice is your tool.

Tonight we jump into a new phase of this work for which all of this has been preparatory. In past months we have been discussing the light body, the perfect, unwrinkled sheet of paper, the illusory wrinkles and how the physical, emotional and mental bodies reflect those wrinkles. If I were to introduce you directly to practices of identifying with that perfect sheet of paper without the practices of finding compassion for that which experiences itself as wrinkled, I would be teaching you duality and disassociation with the human, not the integration and non-duality which are true fruition of this path.

We move ahead then with this caution: what I teach here is not escape from your humanness, but deeper embracing of that humanness, wrinkles and all. We will begin tonight with the introduction of very specific practices for releasing identification with the wrinkles, be they emotional, mental or physical distortions. It is essential that you see that this work must be done with no aversion to any of those distortions, only the skillful realization, "This is not who I am. I need not carry this any more. I let it go."

It will be each of your responsibility to be aware of where there is aversion and to do further work on the relative plane with the human who is still stuck in unskillful distortions.

This is background. I would like to be certain that each being who joins us understands that this present work is only the blending of the strands and that each strand still must be attended to. This is important. Given a physical distortion such as a painful back, or an emotional distortion as the frequent arising of jealousy, if there is any aversion, you are not releasing the distortion but solidifying it through the attempt to get rid of it. I am not suggesting this is bad, but it will be painful and lead to further adhering karma. You must attend to the relative being.

I fully trust that people are always where they need to be. If you are new here tonight or in these past few weeks and, if our work speaks to your heart, trust that you are meant to be here even if it seems very new to you. Trust that the pieces will come together as they need to. I do not wish to frighten you with my cautions, only to remind you this work will ask your deep energy and effort, skillfully given. Our work is not about judgment, preference and aversion, nor about avoidance of these, but about equanimity. It is about balance, non-duality, and opening the heart. My love to you all as we walk this path together. That is all.

January 19, 1994. Wednesday. Aaron's talk.

Aaron: Good evening and my love to you all. I am Aaron. The introduction that we channeled earlier today gives you background. Instead of the normal opening talk tonight, I'm first going to explain this process that we'll be practicing: the various steps of it, why we will do those steps and how to use this practice as a tool in your daily life. After this introduction, we will answer your questions and then take a break. Then we'll come back, do a guided meditation with it and use whatever time is left after the meditation for other questions.

Some of you worked with me last year learning about the interdependent co-arising of all phenomena, of all experiences of body and mind. By this I mean that when this arises then that arises. The arising of that is conditional on the arising of this. When this ceases then that ceases. Some of you have read the book, No Chain At All, which is based on the transcripts of that semester's work.

For those of you who are completely unfamiliar with this background, you are still able to join the work we're doing now. But you must know that this past teaching is at least useful for your consideration and will be very helpful in the present work. It is one of the building blocks of the present work. It is not necessary to start with it but, eventually, you may want to come around to learning about it.

Through the past years, we have spent most of our time here looking at the heavy emotions and thoughts that arise and learning how to work with those more skillfully. You have learned how to be not quite so reactive to what arises in your life. This has created more space for you and more joy. As I said in this introduction, we could go on with that work forever. This is what I have called in the past several months "horizontal practice," practice with relative reality.

Last year we began what I have called "vertical practice" in which there is conscious focus on allowing in the wisdom mind that cuts through the delusion of a self involved in these situations. Many of you have done various exercises with me learning how to shift the balance to that pure heart/mind, pure awareness, and away from the small ego self. What I've emphasized is the importance that there be no aversion to the small ego self, but compassion for the human that keeps getting caught. This, too, has been a core of our work in past years.

Now we are come to a place where I want to begin to bring it together. Last year we did many exercises leading you to rest more fully in pure heart/mind. We looked at that pure light body, the perfect white sheet of paper. Almost all of you have seen Barbara crumple that paper-an actual piece of paper. She opened it out again, and then we asked, "Can you see the perfect unwrinkled sheet in the wrinkled sheet?"

In recent months we have begun to emphasize the ways that you can rest awareness in that unwrinkled sheet-in awareness of pure heart/mind-without aversion to the relative self. We've also talked at some length about the ways the relative being reflects, not the pure mind-not the pure white sheet of paper-but the wrinkles. You get caught in that identity. When that first wrinkle first was created, it served some purpose.

For illustration, we might use the wrinkle of raising boundaries, the distortion that you need to be separate, that you are separate. That distortion served a purpose at first. It allowed you to feel safe and in control. Now you begin to see that's not who you are.

Yesterday Barbara was swimming back and forth in the pool. There were a young couple who were a bit wild in their play, diving down in the deep end and coming up, taking over the whole space. Swimming is a daily meditative activity in which Barbara completely relaxes and merges into the water and space. Boundaries fall away for her. She was watching herself, how each time she came to the deep end, aware of these swimmers-that they were not in any way watching out for her, but likely to dive right on top of her-she tensed. The boundaries came up.

Yes, there was real danger. In fact, one of them, coming up, kicked her very hard in the stomach. There was real danger that there could be injury. But the boundaries were still not necessary. It was useful to be alert each time she entered that end of the pool, to watch that they were not about to jump or dive, to watch that they were not under water and about to come up. That's all. Where did the boundaries come from?

As she swam, she asked, "What are these boundaries? What is this wall that comes up each time I enter this part of the pool?" Old mind. The need to be safe. The need to control. It has nothing to do with the present situation. In a similar way, you may look at the arising of greed, of jealousy, of rage, of impatience, of any heavy emotion.

We've come this far in past months: looking at what arises and seeing how it has grown out of old mind conditioning. Repeatedly, I have asked you to note that arising and come back to this moment. The illusion of distortion may remain though, the wrinkle in the paper. There may not be reactivity to it, but are you still identifying with it, still trying to get rid of this, to be that?

Remember that the light body is perfect. The distortion is in relative reality. It is this relative with which you continue to identify, owning the relative self, wrinkles and all. Each time you re-confirm that distortion, it solidifies the identity. It plants a further karmic seed. Please note that to experience that you are not the wrinkle is very different than to grasp at not being the wrinkle, or to convince yourself of that fact. Thinking you are the wrinkle is just another wrinkle. Judging that new wrinkle is still another wrinkle! I am not suggesting aversion to identification with the relative self, only the accompanying clear seeing that the identification is grown out of illusion.

Now we have come to a place where we are ready to introduce exercises which will aid you not only to see the distortion of old mind conditioning, but to release that distortion instead of practicing it. We will begin in this week, and in coming weeks, working with emotional distortions, gentle ones at first, not the biggest ones. The same principles that I am teaching you can be applied to physical distortions and, finally, also, to adhering karma. Work with these will come later in the spring. You may no longer be planting the seed for new karma in this or that situation, but the old karma is still there, the roots are still there. This is one of the ways in which those roots can be allowed to dissolve. I don't want to get too deeply into that yet. First I want to stabilize this practice with something easier.

Before we start I would like you each to bring to mind some emotion which is discomforting to you and causes a withdrawing of your energy, causes barriers to arise. It does not have to be the heaviest emotion you work with. It may be something like impatience or judgment, desire to control, anger, greed, jealousy. I ask you simply to call to mind a situation in the past few days in which this emotion arose-not to involve yourself in the story of it, just to recall the incident and to make the decision, "This is the emotion and situation I will work with tonight." In response to those of you who are unsure of what kind of emotion I'm talking about, it can be something as simple as the need to defend when you feel threatened or criticized. It doesn't have to be a screaming rage. Pick something that's a recurrent issue for you, and one specific recent situation. (Pause while we do this.)

What I want to do now is talk about the four basic steps. They are steps that I hope you will be doing over and over and over-not just in meditation practice, but in your everyday life. I remind you, I will go through the steps and explain them. We will come back to each step in the doing of it.

The practice we are going to do has four essential parts. The first is that we note the intention that this practice is not just for ourselves but for all beings, to alleviate the suffering of all beings. To clarify this intention broadens awareness to the fact that the work we are doing is the work that all beings are doing, each in their own way and at their own pace. It helps us to dissolve the boundaries between self and other, to see the suffering not only of ourselves but of all beings. It helps us be aware of where there is selfishness and fear, where there is aversion and wanting to get rid of this or that discomforting feeling, and offer compassion to those fears in self and for all beings. It helps us remember our connection with all that is. So, the first step is simply to clarify one's intention that one's practice is for the alleviation of suffering of all beings.

The next step is one of outward expansion and release of barriers, which we have introduced here in one form or another many times before. Do you remember that meditation of expanding outward? You are not trying to expand outward, you are allowing the natural outward expansion from the small self into your true being. It is an allowing of the dissolution of barriers and separation. The prior step of intention is helpful here. It serves as inspiration that the work you are doing goes beyond you and does touch all beings. That helps you with the fear of letting barriers dissolve.

Last week we did an exercise preparatory to releasing barriers. Very briefly for those who were not present, you joined in pairs, facing one another, hands touching, eyes meeting. You allowed barriers to dissolve as much as was possible so that you felt in connection with the other. Then the one designated as A withdrew hands, dropped arms, withdrew energy. I asked you each to see if you could feel any barriers that arose. You rejoined and the one designated as B withdrew.

What we were doing is watching the arising and falling away of these barriers. We looked at the old mind conditioning through which those barriers were re-erected. We saw that there was not a tearing down of barriers so much as a realization that the barriers had never been there, that they were illusion created by the fears of old mind. I asked you to practice this during the week, simply allowing your energy to merge with others, feeling how barriers arose, as I described with Barbara in the swimming pool.

So, the second step is allowing energy and awareness to expand outward, allowing the barriers to dissolve. No grasping, but seeing the natural non-separation of your being. We've done a similar practice to this outward expansion with what is called "guru yoga": visualizing-or, with your eyes open, looking at a photograph of that Divine being or high master with whom you feel strong affinity, such as the Buddha, Jesus, Mary, or one of the various gurus you may have. The process of allowing your energy to merge with that being and its with you, moving out of the self, is similar to this practice of expanding outward.

We've done the same thing with what I've called "sky yoga." At other times, we've rested in the aperture in the breath, between inhale and exhale, breathing in … space … breathing out. There's just that brief instant of very pure awareness with no self involved in it. You have found the absolute NOW of that space, empty of any notion of self but filled only with ineffable Light. So, there have been a number of different expansion practices that we've introduced in the past year.

Finally, we have practiced what the Tibetans call "resting in rigpa." I have introduced that term but not used it often. Essentially, it is the practice of resting in pure heart/mind. We've watched thought arising and brought bare attention to that arising as a conditioned display. With that bare attention, we have seen that thought dissolved. At the time of its dissolution there was often a moment of pure awareness, in which you have rested. In this way, you have practiced non-ownership of what arises, practiced resting in the Pure Awareness that only sees the flow of arising without fixating on any content. Slowly, that Pure Awareness stabilizes and you begin to understand that this pure heart/mind is what you are, not the myriad comings and goings of thought from that mind.

There is a Buddhist teaching that one must remember that the finger pointing to the moon is not the moon itself. These are all tools to help you find Pure Awareness. They are not Pure Awareness. The expand outward practice, guru or sky yoga, breath practice, noting thought and the moment of dissolution of thought-they are all tools. I cannot offer the experience of Pure Awareness. I can only point my finger to it. But I promise you that it's there. You don't have to grasp at it because it is innate, only to become aware of it.

Each of you, in your own ways, has been working with one or another of these practices, working to identify and then to stabilize that space of pure heart/mind, to learn how to rest in that space for increasingly long periods. When I say long, it may only be a few seconds, but you're increasing your ability to rest there.

This is step two, then, and it will vary depending on what practices you have been using. Or, if this is new to you, which of these practices I've just described feels most familiar to you. What step two entails is dissolution of boundary and resting in pure heart/mind.

In step three, this expanded awareness looks, with love and compassion I would hope, at the relative human and remembers that discomforting emotional situation that I asked you to first consider you would work with tonight. This is where we move into something new. Pure Awareness has seen with clarity, "This is old mind. I don't own this." But there has still been the pain of the old identity with it, the old patterns of holding onto it. What you are examining is not the thought or emotion itself but the contraction around that thought or emotion, indicative of your relationship with the thought or emotion.

As we enter step four, we are going to shift balance from relative reality-the human who is involved in this pain-to ultimate reality, but we do so very carefully, with no aversion for that which the relative human is experiencing. With aversion, step four becomes a "getting rid of," and solidifies self. Here you must watch very carefully. There must be an open heart. This is why we do not introduce this practice until you have done much work with awareness of what arises and learned to find equanimity with arising. If there is aversion, can there be no aversion to the aversion? If aversion is present, it's the aversion that needs to become the primary focus and not the emotion that preceded aversion.

There is some confusion about the last statement. Let us regard the movement through step three, into four. If you are looking at how you move into jealousy and remembering a recent movement into jealousy and the discomfort of that, and you see aversion arise-"I don't want this jealousy!"-then allow the focus of this step three to shift, seeing the pattern of aversion to what we experience, how painful it is, that constant putting yourself out of your heart, that constant self-judgment and denial of experience because it feels so threatening.

Whatever it is that you are looking at, I ask you to do it from this space of expanded awareness which sees the human involvement and makes the very conscious, skillful decision-with equanimity to aversion-"I do not need to own this anymore. I've been carrying this pattern around for how many lifetimes. I see how it arises out of certain conditions. I see how I get caught in the ownership of it. From this space of pure awareness, I see that I really can release that, just make the decision to let it go."

This is the fourth step: release. Not getting rid of, but seeing through it, seeing it was never solid in the first place. It was your fear of it and the repeated patterns with it that made it appear solid. It is like those raindrops we've talked of that created the Grand Canyon, one drop at a time.

The difference here from our prior work is that instead of this awareness simply leading you to non-reactivity to that which has arisen, here we are going to release it, to cut the roots. We've stopped planting seeds, now we're going to cut the roots of these old patterns.

There are many ways in which you can release it physically. Raise your hands; let it go. Breathe it out. Drop it. Put it in the fire and burn it. If that which we call God is real to you, offer it to God. Ask for help from those masters or gurus with whom you feel connection. Each of you has your own way of working. Each of you is unique. You are free to ask for help to release it, but you don't need help. Just let it go. But, again, I remind you, you are not getting rid of. There was nothing there to get rid of. Rather, you are freeing yourself of the delusion that there was something that needed to be gotten rid of. In a real sense, what you are doing is less a "letting go" of the thought or emotion, than a letting go of fixation upon that thought or emotion, coming to a place where you can let it be.

These are the four steps. At first, you may wish to practice them in meditation. Soon, I hope, you will begin to apply them when tension arises in your life, when greed, jealousy, impatience or anger arise. At first it will take you a few minutes. You will get faster at it. When I first taught Barbara this practice, I told her that eventually she should be able to do it in four or five seconds-one second for each part. And, indeed, she has learned to do so. That's in the future. For now, let it take as long as it needs, one step at a time.

We will not simply introduce this practice tonight and then be done with it. We will continue to work with it. We've worked with some of the stages of it. We'll work more with the other stages independently as well as bringing it together. In the future, I will teach you how to apply the same principle to recurrent physical distortions, such as a constant backache or migraine headache.

What you are doing here is practicing your perfection and wholeness instead of practicing the wrinkles, the distortions. I'm going to end here. I want to hear your questions specifically about this practice and then we will have a break first and then do a guided meditation with it. I thank you for your attention. That is all.


Question: Could you clarify the difference between steps three and four?

Barbara: The end of step two has given you a shift in awareness … it's that juncture we've talked about of horizontal and vertical practice-relative and ultimate reality-coming into that space where we're balanced on two legs across an illusory threshold. When you find that balance between ultimate and relative reality, you allow yourself to see from the viewpoint of ultimate reality while embracing and not getting rid of relative reality. The relative is part of the ultimate. There can't be any separation between them.

From that space, step three involves seeing the human who's caught in this thought or emotion, perpetuating its energy. Step three involves the intention to release. We open our hearts compassionately to this human who's suffering with this situation. We see this is old mind conditioning; it has nothing to do with this present situation where this human is stuck in it, has been stuck for however long. We know, "I don't need to carry this anymore." The difference here is, in the past we've looked at the thought and found we can sever the identity with that. We don't have to be reactive to that situation. But we haven't allowed ourselves to release distorted energy. Each time that thought has arisen, there's been a contraction that goes with it. It's not the thought, so much as this contraction around the thought, which concerns us. We can choose to no longer perpetuate a relationship with the thought, which means noting and releasing the contraction.

Step four is the new step: releasing it. Instead of just being non-reactive to it, we say, "Take it out of the backpack and leave it. I don't need it anymore." This is part of the process of stabilizing pure heart/mind, stabilizing our resting in the pure light body, cutting identification with the distortions. Okay? (Yes.)

Question: Why are we adding this process to what we've already learned about mindfulness?

Barbara: Instead of just working more skillfully with the relative reality situation, not having to be reactive to what's arising in us, what we're doing is noting the ways that pain has caused us to put up barriers, to close our energy, to become "self." We make the decision, "Not only do I not need to be reactive to this, but I really can let it go." We see it never was who we are, there was never a self feeling or doing this. We let go. There's no rush. If it stays, just watch it. When it's ready, it will go.

As Aaron said, it's the difference between merely not cultivating the plant so it drops new seeds and looking back at what are the roots of confusion? How can we start to cut the roots? Aaron's not going to get into the karmic side of this tonight. We'll talk about that in the future. But this is how we start to cut this old karma … to not need to repeat these situations. We can go on forever with anger or fear or greed arising when certain conditions are present for their arising. We don't have to. We really can start to clarify that, while not with any getting rid of. Are there any questions?

Question: It feels as if what we are releasing is that moment's karma, or that little moment of jealousy or whatever emotion. We are not releasing the roots of it in this practice at this time. Is that what you are saying?

Barbara: It works its way down. After you've done it a certain number of times, you start to see that that surface of the root is connected all the way down there and, as you release that, the whole thing comes out.

Barbara: We're going to do this meditation. Please remember there's no right or wrong way to do this. You're not trying to achieve something, not trying to get rid of anything. Whatever happens is okay. In the beginning when you do this at home, you might want to take longer to do it than we're going to take here. Or certain steps you may want to do longer, certain steps shorter. So, you'll each want to adapt it to your own needs. As Aaron pointed out, it's a process; once you learn the process, it becomes a very workable tool … that you can bring it into your life and apply it each time there's the bit of contraction of fear, anger, jealousy or whatever there may be.

So, no getting rid of. Nothing to achieve. Nothing to grasp at. Nothing to be done. Nobody doing it. Just relaxing and being with whatever is, as we go through these four steps. Before we start, think of that emotion, that specific situation, that you want to work with tonight. It doesn't mean that that's what you'll work with continually; just think of some time in the past few days where there was some kind of contraction of wanting mind, greed, fear, whatever was arising, and especially something that you see is a recurrent pattern for you.

Guided Meditation from Aaron

(Dots denote short pauses.)

Begin with the breath … simply noting the inhale and the exhale … relax into the breath …

Throughout this earth of yours beings are suffering … not only humans, but sentient beings in all forms … Begin by offering the intention that the work you do is to alleviate the suffering of all beings … Allow this intention to inspire you and lend you courage and energy as you work … I will be quiet for a few minutes while you do this …

(Long silence.)

As I previously noted, you have worked with many practices of outward expansion and the dissolution of boundaries. I am going to lead you here in one specific practice. If it does not fit you, feel free to silence my words and move in your own direction.

Inhale … noting that the breath you draw in comes from beyond what you have considered your boundaries … exhale … sending the breath from within you out into the universe … in … out … beyond the walls of this room … beyond the atmosphere of the Earth …

(Long pause.)

Let awareness rest for a moment lightly on the body … feel the skin that seems to define self … As you breathe in, feel yourself also drawing in energy from the space around you … as you breathe out, feel yourself releasing your energy … not just the breath, but the energy … you do not stop at your skin …

(Long pause.)

Breathing in … breathing out … allow yourself to expand outward … With each in-breath, draw in the whole universe until it becomes too big to be contained in this skin … with each exhalation, allow boundaries to dissolve and expand outward …

You are not trying to expand outward, you are allowing the natural expression of your being … which is a dissolution of self … an expansion into the whole universe and beyond … boundaries dissolving … gentle allowing …

(Long pause.)

If there is any tension about this dissolving of boundaries, simply note it … tension, tension … and make space for it … no judgment of that tension …

If judgment arises, note that … judging, judging, judging … the arising of tension or judgment, or desire to hold to these boundaries for safety, have nothing to do with the reality of who you are …

Allow yourself, as much as you are able, to move into that outward expansion … into the pure heart/mind and awareness of your true being …

As you find that space, simply rest there … breathing in and breathing out …

(Long pause.)

If conceptual mind returns, note it and let it go …

Pure awareness … turning in on itself … pure awareness seeing how tension and the illusion of boundary arise and gain solidity …

Pure awareness touching with compassion the human who keeps getting caught in this delusion of separation …


Look at this human as if you had not seen him or her before … a new being … the way you very occasionally catch yourself in a mirror, and see yourself in an unaccustomed way …

See this human experiencing desire … aversion … impatience … jealousy … the need to control … to protect itself …

See with clarity how that emotion is a manifestation of old conditioning … that from this higher awareness there is nothing to be afraid of … nothing to protect or defend from …

Can you look with tenderness and loving-kindness on this human … who has gotten caught in this pattern over and over and over … and whose bewilderment and aversion to its pain has solidified that particular emotion … and led it to plant new karmic seeds … led it to new reactivity …

Can pure awareness see all this and embrace this human? …

(Long pause.)

What is this fear … jealousy … greed … anger … need to defend? … To whom does it belong? …

Pure awareness sees with clarity that it does not own this emotion … it sees how it arises and how it may pass away … it sees how it has been packed up in a backpack and carted from situation to situation …

Allow this human to rest in the spaciousness of pure awareness … allow the heart to open … to be touched with compassion for this human that has so often been judged …

(Long pause.)

The human has been practicing that distortion … either through the repetition of it or through aversion to it … the attempt at self-discipline to pull away from it … just a different practice of it …

Seeing how it has arisen from old mind conditioning … and that it need not be carried into this moment … notice the intention to release it … look to see, is there any getting-rid-of … If there is that aversion that creates desire to be rid of, can you open your heart enough to make space also for that aversion … releasing the emotion and the aversion …


Pure awareness touching this human with love … pure awareness releasing the burden of so many lifetimes … let it go … whatever this energy was, There is no "mine" to it … I do not need to continue to own it and carry it around … I let it go … no getting-rid-of, but the beginning of understanding that it never existed in the first place except in the mind …

If it does not wish to go, let it stay … just watch it … when it's ready it will go … you release a bird … you open your hand so it may fly away … you don't push it off your hand … only release … it will go when it's ready …

(Long pause.)

Now please begin to draw awareness back into the body … come back to the breath … to the weight of the body on the buttocks … the physical sensations of the body … back to the inhalation and the exhalation … re-balancing … drawing back into this relative reality through which you experience the world …


May all beings everywhere find freedom from the suffering grown out of delusion and ignorance … (bell)

May all beings come to rest in their true nature, to know themselves as non-separate, to open their hearts to themselves and all that is … (bell)

May all beings everywhere find perfect peace … (bell)


Q: At the end of the meditation, Aaron was helping us to ground ourselves. I understand that. But, is there anything wrong with maintaining the level of awareness we had at the moment as we move home and into our week? I had the feeling that Aaron was saying to come back into our bodies. Be here. I didn't want to. I wanted to stay in awareness of both parts. And I'm wondering if there's any problem with that.

Barbara: There's no problem with it. No matter how hard we try, we can't stay in that ultimate awareness. But we can know when we're not in it. When we forget that ultimate level of awareness and starting to get caught in our identity as "me" … when we see that "I'm thinking I'm 'me' again," then we can remind ourselves to re-balance. But is there aversion to re-entering the human awareness with all its delusion? His regrounding us is a way of reminding us not to deny the human with its illusory wrinkles.

Q: This afternoon, you were in a place of ungroundedness. Is there anything to be aware of? I think Aaron understands my question.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Barbara's ungroundedness this afternoon resulted from her having been channeling from a deeper than usual trance state and needing to ease back into balance. In that trance state, she experiences total dissolution of body and ego.

When you are doing this practice, there is a place of shift of perception, an awareness that perception shifts as if weight were shifting from the one foot that's in relative reality to the other foot that's in ultimate reality. In the long run, weight must be balanced on both feet. One learns that relative and ultimate are not separate. As long as you see them as separate, you dwell in your pain and start to think, "There's this other place out there that I can grab hold of. I can move from samsara to nirvana. I can move from hell to heaven." But they are part of each other.

Now you are balancing because you do not yet intimately understand that they're part of each other. Your intellect understands it, but there's not yet firm experiential understanding. As you work with this practice, it will help to draw the two together. Ultimately there is no balancing because there is no duality.

About opening and closing, consider the example I gave of Barbara's swimming and the people who were jumping on top of her and kicking her from underneath, simply being very careless in their play. Each time she experienced some painful contact from them, the boundaries came up, anger arose. She'd turn at the end of the pool and swim back the other way, noting how that anger had arisen, noting that it was simply old mind. She needed to physically defend herself by being aware and not swimming into their jumping and diving, but the anger was really not part of it. It didn't take her long-one length of the pool and back. As she came back, she was open again. Then they'd jump on her again and the anger would arise again. You keep working with this balance, continually.

The difference here-and I think this is what your question is about-is that working with it continually is what you've all been doing. The new practice is the release. Instead of carrying it with you down to the other end of the pool, you know in that moment, "I do not need to carry this any further. It's old mind." To do that for now, attention must be resting very stably in Pure Awareness, in pure heart/mind-ultimate reality, light body, higher self, whatever you wish to call it.

This is not to differentiate that pure heart/mind as something separate from, only to bring in that aspect of awareness which is usually not fully entered. In a sense, what we're doing is shifting weight back and forth more firmly than one ordinarily would as preparatory to learning to set both feet stably, united, on the ground. First you understand how it feels to rest in ultimate versus relative reality. Then you begin to understand that both feet can carry the weight simultaneously.

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Brodsky