Volume 7, Number 1, January 1999

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-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 …

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 that experience of interconnectedness.

From a talk on January 10, 1996


Barbara's Letter

Two Stories of Learning from the Fall Retreat at Emrich

Spiritual Teachers from Sri Lanka Visit Deep Spring Center

Aaron's Pages

Aaron's Talk on the Five Elements-Part 1. Wednesday Night Discussion Group; May 20, 1998

Aaron's Talk on the Five Elements-Part 2. Wednesday Night Discussion Group; May 27, 1998

Barbara's Letter

Dear Friends,

For over four weeks I have been ill, the first 17 days in the hospital, and the remainder convalescing slowly at home. I'm sitting now in a large recliner chair in the dining room, tucked into a warm quilt, looking out large windows to the woods of the back yard. For the past hour I've just been sitting, aware of the deep blue of the cloudless sky, the flaming maples holding the late afternoon sun with the blue of the spruces a cool contrast. Squirrels run to and fro busy with seasonal preparations. , Over one hundred birds are densely gathered on one high, almost bare maple limb. I sat here, not meditating so much as being, just sitting, no thoughts, no effort, only a joyful appreciation of being alive, aware, present. It's taken an illness like this to bring me to full stop, lead me so fully into the moment. For that I am grateful.

And for more. Friends' kindnesses have meant a lot and expressed love in innumerable ways. And then there is the ever-deepening faith in dharma, in the deepest teachings of spirit and truth, and in vipassana practice. I'm feeling gratitude for all of these in my life because despite the pain, discomfort, and occasional fear of these past weeks, most of the time I've not been suffering! What a difference from my last extended hospital experience some years ago where I became quite lost in fear. Instead, I'm feeling a deep sense of peace and gratitude (and yes, an aching, burning leg too !). But I DO see the immense difference in my relationship to this illness. I want to share some of what I've learned with you, partially from the journals of these days.

Journal, October 3: On Monday, September 28, just after coming home from leading a weekend retreat, I came down with a very high fever and swollen, inflamed leg. It's an infection called cellulitis, caused perhaps at least in part by the poor circulation in this leg caused by an accident almost 40 years ago. It's being treated with intravenous antibiotics. It's basically an infection of the superficial membrane beneath the skin, resulting in much swelling and inflammation. It may go deeper, into the bone. It's raw-feels like a bad burn from knee to foot. Deeper down is a terrible, cold ache.

The day I went to my doctor, who sent me on to the hospital, was the day of the first fall meditation class. 104 degree fever and I was still thinking I could just finish this medical process and then go and teach class, a bottle of antibiotic in my pocket. Ha! … Does this sound familiar to you? Here's the mind that is NOT present in this moment, but trying to be somewhere else.

Three days passed. The first antibiotics didn't seem to work. The infection kept spreading up my leg, fever rising. I spent an interesting few days, fever reduced enough by medication to be alert, but sickness and pain directing real focus on this body and moment, meditating in bed, and reflecting. The infection had risen to just below my knee and was coming up two inches a day. What happens when it reaches mid thigh? While I knew a worst case scenario was very unlikely, almost impossible, it still led me to look at my relationship to my body. What would it mean to need to amputate this leg to prevent spread of the infection into the organs? It wasn't a fear based reflection, just clear acknowledgment of what is important to me-to continue loving relationships and to live and teach the dharma-and that the leg isn't necessary to any of that. I can't begin to tell you how freeing it was to KNOW I don't have to cling to these body parts. I can care for the body as well as possible, but without clinging.

But I also saw that cutting off the leg, even considering that possibility, was in some ways the easy answer-separating from the difficult. It was also my habitual pattern, to separate from that which is painful. What difficult aspects of ourselves do we all tend to "cut off" rather than receive into our embrace? How can I bring that which is difficult into the heart, and allow whatever healing is possible? Further, what does healing mean? What really asks to be healed here, and through what release, what opening, may that healing move? How do I touch the deepest places of fragmentation from myself?

Much work here with a karmic ancestor (a past life) I've seen so often through the years, a Catholic nun, 1600's, who believed access to the divine could be direct and personal, and not only through the church, and was tried as a witch for that belief. Taken back to the city, dragged in leg irons, intense pain (same leg/same spot) and she finally cut off the leg late one night to free herself of the iron, feeling she would die but not be further tortured. In meditation the past few days I watched how she separated herself from the leg before she could allow herself to cut it off. With such agony, she pulled her heart closed.

What does the leg symbolize for you? We all have parts of ourselves from which we've separated. To cut out the "bad" seems far easier, in many cases, than to embrace it and draw it into the light. But herein lies the heart of our healing.

I spent many hours reflecting on what had been cut out. It's one of the hardest practices I've ever done, looking at the decades of subtle separation from myself, from thoughts, sensations, pain and fear. So many opinions to get in the way of clear seeing. Little by little I let it in, the pain of losing my hearing, the anger of that too. The pain of loving, and knowing that what is loved will always be lost, that nothing can be held back from the relentless process of change. All the clinging, craving, aversion and fear of so many moments all come together in the midnight hospital room, all of that which had been denied access to the open heart.

How do we open our hearts?

Journal, October 5: Very late last night they moved in a new hospital roommate. As the lights came on at the bed beside me, I saw staff gathered around an elderly woman. A nurse moved aside giving me clear view of the newly amputated leg. l lay there and watched the nurses clean and re bandage her stump, and also looked at the old stump, for the other leg had been amputated previously. Seeing all the possibilities there: Legs/no legs. Ears, eyes, body, mind/and none of these-all dharmas arising and dissolving, not me nor mine, but the human still cries out in fear or grief and that too is dharma. A meeting place of wisdom and compassion. She was herself, was Barbara, and was the old nun; one leg to heal for us all! They worked on her for hours; I could feel their urgency, and her pain. I lay awake in the next bed, doing metta, letting myself back into my heart, holding her, myself and the world in that heart, feeling my heart break open, weeping tears of joy and sadness, moving from my heart to The Heart, the ever-spacious Heart we all share.

Journal, October 7: In many hours of lying still, there's been much opportunity for reflection. The first three Noble Truths (1) have been foremost since I've been working on those with the teacher training class, and re-studying the scriptural presentation of them. I saw these in a new way, as layers, insights deepening almost as the view widens when one climbs a mountain. I stopped seeing them as three and they meshed together. In any one, always the other two. In arising is cessation!

For example, of course there has been fear, fear of pain, not fear based on all the stories that might have come up. Still, fear! So I looked at fear and let it go. It stayed anyhow so I let it stay. I saw cessation right there in fear, not as something that fear may lead to, but freedom right in that moment of presence with fear and not owned by it. Fear is freedom. Fear isn't a conditioned experience that may lead to freedom; fear is freedom.

Seeing wanting mind as it is, seeing fear mind as it is, impermanent arisings, not self, right there in that seeing is cessation and freedom-and joy and tears … joy for the wonder of understanding and freedom, tears for the human who still feels fear and pain. But even with fear and pain, real peace and joy can be present. Everything just hanging there, radiant, just as it is.

One image I had is that of grass growing from dirt. At first glance there's no understanding, just the grass blade seen, and the earth. Then one takes a trowel and digs, sees the root structure. One studies the root structure and the nature of the earth, and sees how they interrelate. One begins to deeply understand how this tiny seed may produce a blade of grass. Finally, just seeing the grass tip penetrating the earth, all of the wisdom of how things are is right there, in that moment of seeing. But first one must have been willing to look, to deeply understand, to let wisdom and compassion arise. Only then do fear/anger/pride/greed/etc. become freedom.

Journal, October 8: The days pass. Pain, at times, is intense. Sometimes there is this ongoing relationship with "my pain," attempting to be with it skillfully, but very little space. Other times it goes past "my pain" and becomes "our pain." Then my heart is open as it has rarely been before. I feel deep peace. And yes, I still would prefer the pain to go! Just "preference" …

Journal, October 9: Looking at energy. This summer I spent a wonderful 9 weeks at the lake cabin, but did not return home feeling nurtured. It was a busy summer, a "working vacation" but I've done that before. For some reason I felt disconnected. In meditation I began to see how I cut myself off from feelings of discomfort or unsatisfactoryness, using even meditation and anapanasati (2) as a way of separating from experience. It can be skillful to work with pain in ways that don't allow it to overwhelm us, but still, there is that separation. That which cuts off any part of the self also cuts off the energy flowing in. We put ourselves in prison. We truly are alive only when we release those barricades. T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" comes to mind. "What have we given … The awful daring of a moment's surrender … By this and only this we have existed."

When we pray to become pure channels for the dharma, pure channels through which the Divine may move in service to all beings, to allow that clear movement of truth, we must let go of all to which we have held. Maharaj-ji's words from two years ago come to my mind. He told me then, "let go of everything." I've been trying to learn what that instruction means. I took it as a letting go of old concepts, old holdings of mind and body. But I see now that it also means letting go of the armor, all of it. Without that letting go, what moves through is distorted. Without that letting go, I am not in harmony with the universe, not able to "recharge" within the joys and sorrows of each moment. To experience fullness, I must open. If I'm open, I'll feel everything, joys and sorrows. It's as simple as that.

Journal, October 11: Reflecting on this past week. After brief experiment, at the beginning, I declined narcotic drugs for pain. I wasn't trying to be stoic. The drugs knocked me out but didn't really stop the pain. Along with surface burning was an intermittent pain which reminded me of a firecracker exploding in my leg, and came at intervals, 1 to 30 minutes. Rising sensation, a kind of tightness and pressure like the upward streak of a firecracker, then an explosion, then quickly diminishing. The brief explosion stage was and the drug didn't touch it. It just knocked me out. Then I wouldn't feel the rising, just come out of a drugged sleep to that explosion, and immediately the old pattern surfaced of war with it, contracting/separating. Diminish/back to sleep/and repeat.

When I was present with the rising stage (not drugged but awake, or even asleep but able to feel it as it began), there was great spaciousness, opening into intense pain but space for it to float. No self at war. A kind of rhythm developed and I really could keep it up for hours on end. It was a very peaceful and joyful experience, despite the pain. Total presence. But after a week of this, I was finally exhausted, just going from one short nap to the next, with explosions in between.

At that point, something in me just surrendered with the realization that even with this seemingly skillful means, I was still being somebody doing something, trying to cope and control. I was bargaining with pain, still in a subtle way trying to make something different happen rather than just being with it as it was. I couldn't do that any more. I began to see how doing anything, even meditating, was a form of control for me, a way of managing otherwise uncomfortable situations. Making space around pain is still a coping means, even if a skillful one. I finally became able to enter right into the heart of pain and into grief and fear too, with no barriers at all. That's when it finally opened up to "the" pain, no longer "my" pain. No defenses against it. Weep as it passed through. Feel all the burning, all the terror and helplessness. Heart big enough for it all, not "my" heart but The Heart. Finally it was no longer a doing, just being.

Fortunately, the antibiotics finally took hold and the infection began to diminish, slowly, but enough so I could get more rest and healing begin. After a few days they sent me home. That week, and much of these two weeks at home, I've spent most of the days just lying in bed and out on the grass on a blanket. Not much energy to read or write.

Journal, October 19: Today I lay on the grass. I had forgotten a book so I thought I'd meditate and immediately saw again how that formal meditation was a separation, and just allowed myself to be present, taking whatever sensations were there as primary object, seeing, smelling, not lost in it at all, but hours passed with few or no thoughts arising, deeply connected to sky, trees, flaming leaves waving brilliant hues against that deep sky, squirrels scampering. Breath was present too and there was awareness of it, but no choosing it over anything else. I think this is the first I've ever really understood choiceless awareness, and being meditation rather than doing it (although I've spoken often about that conceptually!)

Journal, October 22: Sometimes through these weeks, in meditation, I've been looking at all the old patterns of being, all the small ways of shutting myself out of my heart, shutting away the unpleasant and uncontrollable aspects of experience. Many hours of seeing a lifetime and more of defenses, old opinions, body holdings even at a cellular level, all old ways of being in the world. Seeing the two levels of anusaya, roots still seeming to be present, and rootless, bound only by old habit. Most of these patterns are just old habits which I've never dared to investigate before. Letting go is terrifying but I find a sense of freedom too and awareness that what was seen as "enemy" never was, like a child hanging four feet above the ground, screaming for help instead of just putting her feet down! So much old debris, 10,000 lifetimes of old defendedness and separation-just letting it float away.

So the gift of this illness, the healing, has been learning to be, at ever deeper levels, self falling away, heart opening. Today I sat and watched the autumn leaves drop off the flaming maple Mike planted years ago. Tears ran down my cheeks, heart touched with tenderness, seeing these fragile forms caught and tossed by the breeze. Not maudlin sentimentality. No thoughts really, just the open heart, present as it has rarely been before.

Journal, November 4: Looking back at the past six weeks, I see how all the "skillful" means of dealing with the symptoms of suffering, while on the relative level, not only don't get at the root of suffering, but really compound the ego and the sense of someone doing all this skillful work. I don't think they must do that, but for me this was the effect.

The first weeks, I worked with the breath, with metta, finding ways to be present with pain and fear. Also, all the body energy practices, and seeing relevant past lives, working with forgiveness meditation. All of this did reduce the symptoms, less clinging, less fear, more space for pain. It probably enhanced the possibilities of healing. It was a kind thing to do for myself. But there was still that sense of bargaining with pain and illness. I was certainly able to be more graceful with the experience, send less fear out to others, but there was always that background sense of someone working to be in control.

The Buddha says, "Abandon what is unskillful. One can abandon the unskillful. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it …" This has always been one of my favorite sutras. But I've not fully understood "abandon" before.

Not until that night when I let go of doing anything for a result, just wept with pain, watched the breath breathe itself just because it was there and not as a way to control, really let go of all doing, did I begin to touch the root of the suffering and go beyond it. That emptiness was exquisite, such a peaceful, really joyful space. There was a clarity that night very similar to that which has been there in the deepest meditation, seeing the whole of dharma-of understanding of dependent arising, of seeing the way self comes into being and all the notions around self that come with it. Seeing the karma of this leg too, through so many lifetimes, and a clear understanding of what was happening, of the way mind conditions the body at a cellular level. There was nothing I've not seen in meditation, but this took it into this moment, not as something seen in an experience of dissolution of body, but right there in the body …

Now I keep seeing the habitual tendency to fill up this emptiness! (no surprise)

Just letting go, again and again. It's so old, no roots to it anymore, just habit. My practice this week has been watching this tendency repeat and just reminding myself that I don't need to do that, can leave it empty …

I wonder at first how to balance the many tools which are skillful, and not enhance somebodyness. I see now that the tools are necessary. I needed to feel enough safety (I'm not sure that's the best word) with the enormity of pain, fear too, to go into the heart of them, to let go of trying to change anything.

I can go back to that, doing metta, working with the breath and energy practices as a way of helping me through bad pain, but clarity is there. Nobody doing it. It has a different texture. No tension or contraction around the doing.

This morning, tears running down my face even as I type this, at the human fear, desire to feel safe, but it's different. I'm feeling very open to this human, to this pain, not needing to make anything happen. Really no grasping, and a deep sense of peace despite the fear. I cry less for myself today than for the truth of suffering …

The days go by. The leg is a big unknown and I am relaxing into no control, into not knowing. It will do what it will do, heal fast or slow. I can attend to it lovingly, but not 'fix' it. Mind is not nearly so quick to offer comment on the parade that passes by in every moment, much more willing to settle in and just know arising thought and sensation for what it is, impermanent and not me or mine, yet with the power to arouse endless physical and emotional states, to draw tears and laughter. The barriers aren't gone, I'm certain, but they're thinner, and I know them too as impermanent and not self. In this knowing, I find immeasurable peace.

May you find the peace of true being, and the joys of all the beauty and kindness which surround us. My wishes to each of you for a new year of health and happiness.

with love

P.S. Dec. 6. It is healing!


(1) The four noble truths are a basic of Buddhist teaching. They state, first: that the nature of our conditioned, relative world experience is as dukka or unsatisfactoryness. Things simply are not the way we want them to be, and if they are, they don't remain that way. This doesn't mean things can't be delightful, wonderful really, only that we can't get away from the unpleasant nor can we hold on to the pleasant. Second: the cause of dukka is not in the experience itself but results from craving, from our wanting things to be different than they are. Third: this truth speaks of the cessation of suffering. This cessation is not only about total, final liberation, but about our freedom in every moment when the heart is open and we deeply understand our predicaments. The fourth truth is the Noble Eightfold Path outlined by the Buddha, one of increased moral awareness, deepening mindfulness and concentration, and growing wisdom.

(2) anapanasati: practice of full awareness with the breath. Sati = awareness, ana pana = the in and out breath.

Two Stories of Learning from the Fall Retreat at Emrich:

"Smoke as a Teacher" and "Listening to a Flower" by Ken Starz

Smoke as a Teacher. Sunday evening at the fall weekend retreat. Many had left that afternoon, following the formal closing of the retreat. My afternoon meditation had been very happy, even blissful. Since the group staying on through Monday was small, we decided to hold the evening meditation and sharing in the lounge instead of the large rustic chapel. We would be cozy, sitting around a fire in the fireplace.

I was washing pots after supper. John offered to prepare the fire. Finally my pots were finished. As I entered the lounge, a smoky haze greeted me. "Oh, no," I thought, "I forgot to remind John to open the fireplace damper!" Coughing and with my eyes watering, I heard Celeste say that she had just opened the damper. Relieved, I opened all the doors. The chilly outside air seemed so slow in clearing out the smoke!

Sitting in our small circle, I could see smoke floating in the rafters. Cold blowing in. Meditation. Cold. Cold. Chanting together, led by John's harmonium. Breathing. Breathing. Thoughts of smoke irritating our lungs. Fear. Fear. "Just be sure the damper is open," I had been told earlier when I asked about having a fire. Why didn't I remember to tell John? Guilt. Guilt. I recalled the Buddhist monastic practice of community confession. Maybe I should jump up and confess on the spot. What had happened to the cozy meditation I had pictured? Contraction. Contraction. Barbara was trying to stay warm, pulling another comforter around herself. Judgment. My fault. Judgment.

Finally my tense sitting was over. As sharing began, I said, with a feeling of relief, "I want to talk about the smoke!" I described how my inner turmoil had developed. John shared his feelings of responsibility. So, I was not alone in building up inner tension. Then to our surprise, Celeste told how she felt responsible because she had closed the damper the day before to keep the room warmer! We broke up into laughter. Barbara recalled that she had thought about the damper but expected that anyone building a fire would know to check it. No guilt! For Anna Marie, the smoky clouds were all silver lining. She had just enjoyed the primitive woodsy smell of the smoke! I thought, "What an amazing set of mental formations we have created." By this point, although there was still a little smoke left hanging in the air, our laughter and openness had cleared away the tension. I didn't think to note, "Happiness. Happiness."

Listening to a Flower. While Barbara was instructing me about a meditation question I had brought to her, I was a little surprised when she suggested I find a small flower in the fields, sit down beside it, and take time to be with it until I felt it speak of love to me. "OK," I thought, "I'll at least try it." She suggested a small flower, nothing showy. At first, it was me looking a little self-consciously at a wild purple aster in a sunlit field. A plant, a flower, just a bit of nature. Then those names dropped away, and my heart and eyes opened to its beauty. How it spoke of its love I can't explain, but it did.

Spiritual Teachers from Sri Lanka Visit Deep Spring Center

Sirithri and Ratna Ratnakara are the guiding teachers of Saddhamma Friends Society, a lay dharma and meditation center in Sri Lanka founded by them in 1955. Like Barbara, one of their primary teachers has been spirit. They were introduced to us by one of our sangha, Katie Leshock, who practiced with them while in Sri Lanka in the Peace Corp. They were visiting the west coast and plans were made for them to spend five days here in Michigan where they stayed at the lake with Barbara and met many of the sangha. We had a wonderful visit! They shared much of their wisdom and had the opportunity to observe the teacher training class and take home a new perspective on dharma in America.

[Picture] The photo shows the Ratnakara's with our Deep Spring teachers, left to right. Top: Ratna, Sirithri, Dave Lawson. Middle: Dottie Coyne, Anna Marie Henrich, Barbara, Kris Kurnit. Front: John Campbell, Dianne Austin, Cassie Cammann, Larissa Czuchnowsky, Frank Levey. Missing from photo: David Coupland.

(Printed below is channeled dialogue by both Aaron and Sarasavati which came from a private session between Barbara and Sirithri on August 18, 1998. Eight people were present.)

Sirithri channeling Sarasavati: (This is the end of a statement about what she teaches, using the example of a severely cut finger and the reaction to the pain, how it causes suffering.)

So through all these, you will feel the pain in the mind also … You have not understood what the pain is, but you know that there's a pain and you want to get rid of it forever without getting it. So what he does is, he tries his best physically to avoid that (pain). But we know, as people who have seen dhamma, as people who have seen the body of fear, and the people who have seen this know that there is suffering. So for that suffering you have to know the real Buddha dhamma and through that you can get rid of the suffering.

For this you can't explain the whole thing within a few minutes but just to introduce, it is this, that through science we know that every action has a reaction. If there's an action, there's a reaction. This pain, … the human being expects happiness without pain. So that means the action is having the pain of cutting the finger, and through that you have the pain. For that moment, the reaction is having another expectation to be without pain. Then what happens is, it goes on like that and that is the way of samsara. That is living from this birth to the other and that birth to the other. That also is, you can see through the science, that is from this action to a reaction, and that reaction will be an action, and that action will be another reaction. I hope you can understand. And this will go on like a chain.

Now she would like to stop. If there are any questions, you may ask later. For the moment we'll stop. And with her blessings for you.

Barbara: Aaron would like to say something briefly related to all of this.

Aaron: I am Aaron. With gratitude to my sister Sarasavati for her clear expression of the dharma. I would like to take this one step further. We're discussing here where distortion sets in. There are two forms of distortion. One is simply not having heard the dharma. This is the distortion that sees the pain of the cut but does not understand how craving, how the desire for things to be other than they are, creates the suffering, and mistakes the suffering for part of the pain. This is the distortion which believes that the emotions and thoughts around this pain of the cut are a necessary ingredient to it.

Once one understands that the pain and the relationship with the pain are different, that the pain of the cut is just the pain of the cut, and as Sarasavati spoke it, the reaction around the pain is something different, and the reaction to the reaction is just one more arising, then one must ask, how does one attend to that reaction around the pain. Here is where we come into a deeper distortion. I speak often of that contraction, that is, there is the cut and there is a contraction of the energy field, a contraction of the human body experiencing that cut. It's a very natural reaction. If you have a one-celled ameba under a microscope which you approach it with a tiny bit of acid, when it feels the heat of that acid, it contracts, it withdraws itself. Contraction is not a negative term. There is a flow of openness and contraction through the energy field, kyo and jitsu energy. It is a process of opening and closing that is natural to the human being.

When that contraction occurs, regardless of whether it's contraction based on the physical pain of cut or the contraction of any sense touching object, for example, hearing, ears touching sense object and the resultant hearing, when the words or the tone of voice are unpleasant, there will be contraction. When we move from that contraction into the mental formation of aversion or of craving based on the experience, that is what I call the contraction around the contraction, and this also just a contraction. If there is pain and contraction around the pain, the feeling of unpleasant, and then the thought, "I don't like this! I want to get rid of it!" as soon as one sees that that is just another contraction, one is no longer caught. One sees mind touching the object of unpleasant thought and wanting to back away from it. Immediately, insight is gained and the flow of one reaction into proliferating thought, or papancha, ceases or at least begins to dissolve; there's more spaciousness.

Now, the distortion I want to address here is how one addresses that second contraction. This is the primary distortion that I have seen of basic Buddha dharma. Because the dharma that the Buddha uncovered was a dharma that taught one to be clear about the whole flow of process, that whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease and is not 'me' or 'mine,' with that clarity, immediately there is a basic kindness, a basic relaxation around the experience of the contraction. The practitioner may understand this, yet still have opinions arise about the first experience and contraction. Not seeing this further arising as part of the same movement of conditioned arising, a solidification takes place. When the second contraction is seen as something which must be fixed or gotten rid of or attacked, then one forgets the basic truth that if it had the nature to arise, it does have the nature to cease. One forgets the basic truth that it is not self, and moves into the distortion of attack.

There is a distortion of Buddha dharma here that deeply concerns me. Related to a catalyst and certain mental distortions, anger may arise, for example. Then comes the thought, "I should not be angry." One may make space for the anger, but become caught in guilt and self-deprecation. The distortion is heightened by misunderstanding of such words from scripture as "abandon the kilesas (heavy mind states)."

The question I would like to put to you human teachers and to all of you is, how have you addressed the distortion in yourselves, and how do you teach others to address it? This is an area that you have each considered for yourselves, within your own framework of understanding, but there may be benefit in sharing your articulation with one another. When the concept of 'abandon' arises, and is accompanied by a contraction against that which has arisen and is wished to be abandoned, can you see that second contraction also as the flow of process and not fixate upon it? Attend to it with kindness, but do not fixate on it. Fixate on nothing; hold on to nothing. There is freedom!

Once again, my deepest gratitude to all of you and your presence here. That is all.

Aaron's Pages

Aaron's Talk on the Five Elements-Part 1

Wednesday Night Discussion Group; May 20, 1998

Barbara: I want to talk about background here, about our trip (to Greece) and the island of Santorini. This is the southernmost island of the Greek Cyclades Islands. It was once a round island, highest elevation over 2500 feet, with a volcano near the center. The volcano erupted around 1450 B.C. What's left is a crescent shaped island around a deep caldera or crater filled with the sea. On the far rim of the circle, across about 5 miles of sea, are several small islands which mark where the circle was. In the center is the still smoking volcano, about 2000 ft high. The land on the outer rim of the crescent rises gradually from the sea. There are beaches, then farmland, up a rising hillside to the summit, 2400 feet above the sea. Then there's an abrupt edge and the land falls away, not a sheer drop but close to it, straight down to the Aegean Sea 2400 feet below. The two biggest towns are built right on this edge. There are tons on the outer side but because there is no sheltered harbor, the harbor is within the crescent. Ships pull up, you disembark, and an engineering miracle of a road winds back and forth up the sheer cliff, literally carved into the cliff side. Buses meet boats and take visitors to town at the top. Needless to say, it's a breathtaking trip up the hill!

Some of the houses are built as normal houses, on land at the top. Most of the houses and other structures are built into caves which pockmark the face of the cliff. Thus, many of the streets are little more than stairs, each level of houses and other buildings perched atop the next lower, and all built into the cliff side. The place we stayed was two rooms with a courtyard about 35 feet deep in the front. The far edge of the courtyard had a railing and then plunged straight down to a courtyard a flight below, then another, and finally, down all the way to the sea. I'd say the incline was 70 degrees. The outer room had a window and door. The roof arched like a cave. The rear room was simply cave, whitewashed or stuccoed. But rocks projected in. Cool in the heat of day, dim. There was a stone slab floor. It wasn't at all rustic but very polished, lovely, but it was unmistakably a cave!

Sitting outside in the courtyard, on the roof of the dwelling below which was accessible down a steep flight of steps, my view was of an enormous sky, endless sea below me and as far out as I could see, and there was the rock under me, not a building but literally the island itself-rock! The hot sun and smoking volcanic cone in front of me completed the picture. I spent several hours a day meditating in this setting.

Aaron had told me before we came here that this was related to the lost island of Atlantis and that there would be much to learn here. We visited the volcanic island and there was nothing there but lava flow, totally barren, even after all of these years. Very powerful. He talked about the earth forces which create such an eruption and how they relate to the energy in ourselves.

I spent a fascinating few days with Aaron talking to me about this and teaching me some meditation practices that pertained to this. He promised me at that time that he would talk about it in more detail the Wednesday night when we came back. So this is his program for tonight. I'm just going to let him talk …

Aaron: I am Aaron. Good evening and my love to you all. This instrument has provided you with some background. I want to establish a vocabulary so that we're all communicating clearly.

I use a term "density" in a specific way, referring to present-day human as "third density." By density I mean the density of the entire structure of the bodies, the energy density, the light density. Mineral on your present planet is 1st density. Plant and animal is second density; human third density. You are evolving into fourth density. This is the meaning of this term "new age," an age of fourth density human. Beyond that there are fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth densities. I am a sixth density being.

Third density on the earth plane has these four bodies with which you are familiar: the physical, emotional, mental and spirit bodies. The emerging fourth density human also will have these four bodies. Presently, since there is not yet fourth density incarnate on earth, fourth density is made up only of the emotional, mental and spirit body. The difference between third and fourth density is not in the possession of an emotional and mental body but in that for the fourth density being there is deep equanimity with these bodies. By that I mean whatever arises, there's no contraction around it. No need to cling to it or get rid of it. I do not say there is no judgment, but when judgment arises, there is also equanimity about the arising of judgment. There is a clarity that whatever arises does so simply because the conditions are present for it to arise, and it is not you or yours, me or mine. Everything that has the nature to arise has the nature to cease. Therefore one does not get caught up in the resultant forms but sees those resultant forms as the very natural outcome of the conditions and understands that, if the forms are unwieldy in some way, create discomfort for beings, that the direction to work is not in attacking the outer form but in understanding and releasing the conditions.

At present time, those who finish third density who are at a point where they do not need to incarnate again on the earth plane, move into what I call fourth density energy groups. These are loosely structured. You always have free will. You are free to come and go. Nothing holds you there except your own free will decision to stay within the group and learn what you came to learn. Because there is equanimity with emotion and thought, if emotions and thoughts arise within you, there's no shame about them, and if they arise in others there's no judgment. In fourth density you are able to fully use your natural telepathic ability. I phrase it in that way because you do not suddenly become telepathic, you've always been telepathic. Presently you do not allow yourself to use your telepathic abilities because they're so uncomfortable, because there's so much shame and judgment.

I often ask people, if everybody in the room were telepathic, would that be okay with you? And often people say, "No! I have had thoughts this evening of which I am ashamed. I don't want people to know my thoughts." When there is this complete equanimity with thought and emotion, then learning becomes possible not only through your own experience but through shared experience. There is complete understanding of another's experience. So learning comes much faster.

The chief learning of fourth density is compassion and secondarily, wisdom. The being who has moved through fourth density, slowly withdraws from this group, moves back into a more individuated self with that self being really a concept, a convenient container within which to work, and not anything that is taken as ultimately real. Many fifth density beings are teachers of one sort or another. Many of your guides will be fifth density beings. Fifth density beings are advisors to fourth density energy groups-the elders of those groups, so to speak. The chief learning in fifth density is wisdom, and secondarily compassion, with wisdom being primary in fifth density and compassion primary in fourth density. Beyond that, as I said, there remain sixth, seventh, and eigth density. I'm not going to explain the details of those here tonight, because they are not directly relevant to my talk. Further discussion is available in my talk "The Universe According to Aaron" in the book Aaron.

What comes next is a bit of ancient history. All of this is already available in transcript form so I'm going to summarize, and if you wish more detail we will be glad to make a transcript available.

There have been many different kinds of civilizations on many different kinds of physical and non-material planes. The earth plane provided the first opportunity in the universe where all four bodies were expressed together. The foundation of the earth plane literally is love. There were deeply loving beings who have become known in your myth as the guardian angels of earth, very highly developed, evolved beings who gave of their energy and became literally the foundation of the earth plane. The whole myth of creation really springs from the willingness of these beings to be the foundation out of which earth, the earth itself and all that grows upon the earth, evolved.

In the old transcripts of which I spoke, it has been told in detail the story how there was no fear on earth, then how these guardian angels began to be protective of that which they had helped to co-create. There were two laws that governed the earth: one, a non-intervention policy, and second, that beings must be left to their own free will. Non-intervention means nothing can approach the earth but through human form. For example, I certainly have the ability to appear here in the middle of the room, but that would violate this non-intervention policy. My thoughts must be filtered through the human, through this dear instrument. Free will means each being must choose for itself and is responsible for its choices.

Since all beings have free will, however, they also have the free will to break this non-intervention policy. Beings of some negative persuasion were attracted to the earth. It is a primary piece of real estate, in galactic terms. Those who would guard the earth and maintain the non-intervention policy cannot maintain it in violation of the free will of a being who would intervene. Here, fear arose among some of the guardians, and an idea that they must protect the earth plane. The situation was one perhaps of a parent whose child picks up somewhat questionable playmates. Does the parent say, "No, you may not play with them," or does the parent trust the child to use this as a learning situation, to begin more deeply to differentiate positivity from negativity, love from hatred?

These guardian angels were of differing opinions. Some of them felt that humans needed to be protected against the negative influences. One thing they were able to do was create a force field of positive polarity around the earth. Negative polarity has free will to come to earth despite the non-intervention policy, but positive polarity has free will to create such a force field of positivity. Negative polarity is repelled by positive polarity. Thus, what approached the earth was not highly negative at that point in your history but more neutral with a slight negative slant. Humans did not learn fear from that negativity which approached the earth. Humans learned fear from the guardian angels themselves, who moved into the negative stance of fear, based on their love for the earth plane and that which dwelled upon it. So we could say that fear was a distortion of love, one which grew out of love, as it always does.

We come now to the beginning of my story tonight, the civilization of Lemuria. At that time of Lemuria, beings on earth were still fully telepathic. They were not really third density, it was a fourth/fifth density civilization. There were emotions but not fear-based emotions. For example, sadness. If one loves someone or something and it dies, there's going to be sadness, a sadness which could be differentiated from fear, clinging, or a desire to hold to that which has left. One can let go completely and still feel sad. So, there were the love-based emotions of joy and sadness. There was an emotional body. But there was no fear-based emotional body until such fear was introduced into the earth plane by the guardian angels.

Centuries passed; millennium passed. Earth slowly devolved into a third density planet but there was still memory (We pause for a moment. This instrument and I are debating whether one can use the term "evolved" here, since it was a step backwards. She offered the word "devolved" and I suggested that this is not a proper English word. I will let it go.) At the time of the civilizations that you know of as Atlantis, humans were third density. They still had the memory of how they had dwelt as co-creators of the earth, living in complete harmony with all that is. Some of the skills involved in healing and creation and so forth were still available, but there was a basic and unforgiving distortion. It is about that distortion that I wish to speak.

First I want to clarify my plural use of Atlantis. Lemuria was literally a civilization. As it, we coined the word "devolved," stepped backwards, beings who had been creators and healers, fully in tune with the universe in that civilization, spun off, going here and there. By the time of Atlantis, this high knowledge was held only in memory of what had been. Very few could enact it. Those closest to it dwelled in three different parts of the world: one in part of what is now South America, one in part of what is now Philippines, which was the home of Lemuria itself, and one within this island of Santorini and the surrounding islands.

What had these beings lost? Basically, with the arrival of fear came the contraction into the idea of separation. This is circular, each contributing to the other. The emotional body becomes solid and one is reactive to this body. We could say that this regression was a necessary part of the course of learning on the earth. That is another topic.

You are all familiar with the four elements, of earth, air, fire, and water, and what some consider a fifth element of ether or energy. The higher density Lemurians, before the beginnings of fear on the Earth plane, had no veil of forgetting of their true nature as you experience that veil. There was an absolute clarity of who they were, what their true nature was and what the reality of their existence was. They understood that they were not separate from each other or from anything. With this, what you might call, Buddha nature, Christ Consciousness, pure awareness mind, or whatever name you wish to give it-with this came awareness there was a Light within everything and that everything was also bound together by this balance of elements. The secrets of Lemuria are very simple. They knew how to hold themselves in balance and harmony with all that is, and they allowed the universe around them to reflect that inner harmony. When I speak of reflection, this process is no mystery to you. When you are angry and send anger out into the world, it is reflected back to you. You call forth the anger as reflection of your own anger. When you send out love, that is reflected back to you. Your outer world reflects the inner. The Buddha says it very elegantly in the beautiful scripture known as Dhammapada. The opening words are, "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world."

Their primary concern was to bring into the physical plane the deep harmony of the non-physical planes, to enact that harmony into this earth plane. Whenever there was an imbalance in the perceived self, it was noted immediately upon its arising and because of the deep intention to do no harm, to create balance and harmony, or more correctly, to serve as co-creator with all else in the establishment of balance and harmony, a being immediately did what it needed to do to bring itself back into balance. There was no judgment about imbalance. If you are walking on a log and begin to topple off of it, you hold your other arm out. You don't judge yourself and say, "Why aren't I in balance?" you simply bring yourself back. It's as simple as that. There was no thought about being good or bad. There was simply the living of what one might call the Law of One, as a brother Ra has phrased it. All beings, one body. Each being its own unique expression of that One.

So each being learned how to balance itself and keep itself in harmony. This was the expectation made of any sentient being as it participated in the world. Thus, if it struck its arm on a rock and there was a cut, it perceived the imbalances and brought it back into balance. There was instant healing. If it fell off a cliff and broke its leg, there was instant healing. No miracle, it simply knew how to rebalance, how to restore harmony. Likewise it reflected these skills into the world.

Just as the human in Lemurian times could still fall off a cliff and break its leg, because the leg is fragile and can break, so the pressures under the earth could create the conditions for earthquakes, volcanoes, tidal waves. The one who broke his leg found instant healing with no scar tissue or deformity. Just so, the distortions of the physical planet were balanced, before damage could be done. Many beings, feeling the changes in the earth and the subtle imbalances immediately helped to draw the earth back into balance. Their own wholeness was reflected in the earth and the earth's wholeness was in them. Every thing acknowledged its responsibility to the whole of which it was partial expression. This ability to balance is what was lost. It was lost as "self" fell into an illusion of separation, fear and distortion.

You all have this ability. It is innate. To claim this ability you must acknowledge your own wholeness and divinity. There is nothing "other than," meaning everything is an expression of the Unconditioned or of the Divine. Everything. Not just what you see and judge as beautiful and good, everything. Some are distorted expressions, some are clearer expressions, but everything is constantly expressing, the whole conditioned realm bursting out of the unconditioned. In this knowledge comes awareness of wholeness.

So to begin to use this skill of harmonization or balance, you first must cease to consider yourself as separate in any way, must understand that you "inter-are" with all that is. Second, there must be the deepening of moral awareness. Buddhism uses the term "sila." I try to avoid specific terms from another language where I can, but sometimes one term sums up what would take me a great many words to express. Sila doesn't just mean moral purity; rather, it is a moral awareness which grows based on the foundation of one's sense of connection with all that is. One cannot possibly consider harming another when there is no self or other. So sila carries not only the idea of moral awareness but moral awareness as grown from this deep place of understanding of interbeing.

Sila must be nurtured. It's available to all of you. It must be nurtured by investigating that which experiences itself in some way as a separate self, and becomes greedy or possessive or finds judgment or aversion to others. This is not a statement that you get rid of greediness or aversion, so much that you are willing to consider not perpetuating greed or aversion. So often the human emotional field chooses to perpetuate because it finds it safe. As soon as it perceives a self and other, then it can feel threatened. Then it moves into a place of more power, more separation, grows boundaries that are even more solid. Protects and attacks. You are working in the face of a millennium of animal instinct. You are no longer animal-man. You are human-man and the shift to fourth density is taking you into a different realm, let us call it divine-man. But you're still acting out of the instincts of animal-man, who does not perceive the inter-being of all that is.

There must be a willingness to be present with fear, to allow the experience of fear without need to get rid of the fear, greeting fear with some judgment or aversion, or to hold on and enact the fear.

This is difficult. There are teachings in every religion which say, "Abandon that which is negative." That idea is so easily shifted into "get rid of." So many of the Christian concepts of sin grow out of this distortion. This thought or that thought is evil, get rid of it. Buddhism is no better. "Abandon the kilesas." Directly quoted from the scripture. You've got to understand what abandon means. When there is a difficult energy, the absence of that energy is also present. To restore balance one has not to "get rid of" one so much as to return to the other. It doesn't mean attack.

There's a beautiful Buddha sutra, the Bhayabherava sutra. The Buddha tells the story of how, before his enlightenment, he wanted to meditate at a haunted forest shrine. Monks liked to go there at night to meditate; it was a place of great energy and power. But it was also fearsome. And he was terrified. How was he going to do this? His instructions are so clear. "I asked myself to sit with the fear and dread and allow the experience of it until it dissolved itself." A very difficult thing to do, not simple at all. Yet, that which is aware of fear is not fear itself. When you sit with and allow the experience of fear and dread, or the experience of craving, the experience of anger or prejudice or pride, or any other emotion, and simply allow the experience of it, it does dissolve itself. You can watch it fade and cease.

We've done a practice here where we've practiced with a small object like a piece of crystal or a rock. This instrument has asked you to hold out your hands and placed a small rock or other object in your hands, asked you to sit there with it and just allow the experience of it, not try to figure out what is it, not try to control, just to allow the experience of it, be willing to take it into your heart, to bring it to you. To feel the characteristics of it, such as coldness or warmth, roughness or smoothness, not to figure out or control but just to know it. And then we take that practice a step further, taking whatever emotion or thought has arisen and holding it in the same way with a sense of tenderness, curiosity and openness. You invite yourself to allow the experience of it and stay with it. And of course it will dissolve itself because it has no permanent self, it's simply a conditioned object which has arisen and will dissolve. Whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease, fear included.

These are the prerequisites, then. A deepening sense of sila and all the implications of that word. The growing wisdom about the nature of the conditioned realm, and a deepening presence in which you allow yourself literally to be present with whatever arises and following the Buddha's suggestion, to allow the experience of it until it dissolves itself, to see it all the way through to cessation.

When you have to a relative degree mastered these skills, I'm not talking about perfection, just that these skills are the starting place, when you can firmly state that your highest intention is to do no harm but only to do good, to do no harm through active doing, to do no harm through withholding of that which would serve others, then you have the inspiration to go further. Then you are ready to look deeply at this process of harmonization. I do not want to present this process as an ultimate step, it's just one step on the path. But it's a very useful step and in fact it is essential to this evolution into fourth density, if the evolution is going to be into positively polarized fourth density.

The practice which I began to teach this instrument sitting on that cliff top is rather simple, part of a much larger practice, a practice of presence, of awareness, of lovingkindness and so forth. Let us do this together.

I want you each to get in touch with the elements within you and see if they feel relatively in balance. I know the first question you are going to ask me is, "How do I do that?" Don't get intellectual about it. At a certain level you already know how to do this. If I start to give you verbal instruction, it's not going to work. Offer the intention to bring the elements within the body into balance for the good of all beings. Draw in a few deep breaths and release them. If any element feels out of balance, balance it; for instance, if your energy feels very heavy, you might want to bring in more air or water. Which one does it need? Again, trust your intuition. If you're feeling a lot of tension, perhaps there's too much fire and air, perhaps it needs more earth and water. There's no way to state precisely, what "balance" means. It will vary from moment to moment. It's very much like walking across a log. You've seen tightrope walkers with a long stick that they use for balance. If you ask one of them, "How do you know when you're out of balance?" they would shrug, "How do I know when I'm out of balance? It's obvious. I feel like I'm falling." When you're out of balance in terms of the elements, it's the same thing. It's just something you haven't really paid much attention to. If you ask them how they use the stick, they will shrug again, "I use it to restore balance!"

I'm going to be quiet for a minute or two while you bring yourself into balance, and then-and we will warn you beforehand-this instrument will make a loud noise. Even though you have been warned, you are going to be startled, a little bit at least. I want you to watch what moves out of balance with the startling. I request you not to judge that you've moved out of balance any more than you would judge yourself if you were walking on ice and slipped a bit. You would simply reach out your hands and rebalance. Simply notice any shift out of balance as reaction to the startle and the noise. Offer the intention "For the good of all beings, I offer the intention to bring myself back into harmony, back into balance," and do what you need to balance it. And watch carefully what happened to that startle reflex. Let's take it just that far and then we'll take it a step further. I'm going to be silent now for a minute and ask you to create this first harmony. I pause.


Now I'm going to ask this instrument to make a noise. Simply observe in yourself what shifts there are in this harmony and bring it back into balance. No need to get upset over imbalance, just gently bring it back.


You may find that the shout literally pulled you a little out of your body, that it needs grounding. To bring in more of the earth element, you can literally visualize forests, mountains. Breathe them into the self. Or you can feel yourself sitting as this instrument did, atop an enormous rock 2400 feet high. Draw in that rock through the base chakra, drawing in the earth energy. Perhaps you feel that the energy as you draw in the earth element gets a bit stagnant and needs more water. Visualize a vast sea. This instrument did have the opportunity to learn this practice in a perfect setting, with that vast sea literally displayed before her and a rock under her, and an immense sky and hot sun, all the elements displayed very clearly. But you don't need to be in the presence of it. Use your vision, your imagination. The difficulty is not to find a way to draw in more water or earth or air or fire energy. The difficulty is to come to the willingness to do so, because you are so used to perpetuating the distortion out of the fear-base of the small ego self. So what you must do here is to come back to the pure awareness self first, to that which deeply aspires to harmony and let that deep aspiration guide you. Once you're in that place of deep aspiration, the doing of it is not difficult.

Take a minute to center yourselves again, and then I'm going to ask this instrument to make a noise again. Watch yourself shift, perhaps only subtly, out of harmony. Decide what element or elements are needed to come back into harmony. I'm going to be quiet through the process this time. Noise is coming.



This instrument found that although she was the source of the noise, she also was startled by it, and the first time it sent her out of her body a bit so she needed more of the earth element, more grounding. The second time there was more fire to it and water helped to balance it. So it's not always the same in the same situation. You've got to be present and feel what is distorted.

Now we're going to take this a step further. I want you each to think of something that has happened to you this week that was disturbing. It might be a memory of somebody who verbally attacked you, a memory of some very unpleasant situation such as having a bad stomach or headache. Of sadness or fear or worry of sickness, or discomfort of someone you love. It may be a memory of strong desire or jealousy. Allow that memory to emerge and allow the emotions to move into that pattern. Use your memory. (pause)

Now, aware that there is a distortion in the energy field, a distortion in the elements, I ask you to rebalance but with a very specific idea here. You are not rebalancing in order to get rid of this discomfort and emotion. You can't do it that way. You are rebalancing simply because of the deep stated intention to bring harmony where there is disharmony. The willingness to suffer any discomfort in that process of bringing harmony; for instance, letting go of some of your shielding and allowing yourself to feel vulnerable. All you are doing is inviting in harmony, rebalancing the elements. Once harmony is reestablished, look and see what happened to the emotion. I'll be quiet.

(Long pause.)

How are you doing? Remember, you're not after perfect harmony, you're simply inviting in greater harmony, greater balance. This instrument brought to mind the loss of several hundred dollars which seems to have been stolen in her travels. On one level she says, "That's OK, I can accept that." On another level there was a feeling of fear and vulnerability. Bringing in that memory, she saw the anger and the desire to hold onto that anger because it made her feel more powerful in the face of that vulnerability. This is ego's answer to the experience of fear and vulnerability. So she saw that first there needed to be a willingness to release the anger, to let it dissolve itself. Then to take the step to allow that dissolution. Her experience of the energy imbalance was, too much fire. And also too much tightness, both earth and water tied together. So she felt the need to bring in more air: more light, more space.

As she brought in that space, the tension and anger around the loss simply resolved itself. Not all of it but a good part of it. I offer her experience as an example of how it can work. You are not doing this practice to get rid of anything. If the emotion stays, it will stay. You're doing the practice because of your highest intention to create harmony and to offer your energy for the good of all beings.

We will hear your questions about this practice in a few minutes. I would request you to take it into your daily life. First, take it into your meditation. As you are sitting and a thought or emotion comes up, if you feel an imbalance in the elements, offer the intention to allow that imbalance to come back into balance. Ask yourself which elements are out of balance, what needs to be released or brought in. Then do it. Try to work with it in an ongoing way, rather than waiting for severe imbalance.

And then observe what happened to the heavy energy you were feeling, to the emotion you were feeling. Start it in formal practice and then take it out into your life and let it become a constantly recurring movement. You are walking on a giant tightrope. Actually most of the time you're hanging by one finger or another on the tightrope or trying to get your legs back up. Isn't it time to get more centered on the middle of the tightrope. You don't have to spend your life hanging off of it. It is a deep kindness to yourself as well as to all beings to allow yourself to come back to center.

Until you learn this skill, the world around you is going to reflect your imbalances. This is the cause of all the violence and disharmony in the world. It's a reflection of human imbalance. Each of you has the ability to begin the process of rebalancing. Working with the elements of course is only one part of the whole of rebalancing but it's a very important part because it is dealing literally with the physical reality of your human experience and of the setting for that experience.

This has been a long talk. I thank you for your attention and deeply appreciate the willingness of all of you to consider such a practice and the importance of bringing it into your lives. I know that there are questions. I'll pause here and be happy to hear them. I pause.

R: When you're in balance, don't you also at some point have to go out of balance in order to reach a different balance, a higher balance?

Barbara: Yes, because there's constant change. This is Barbara talking, not Aaron. There's constant change. Nothing can be stagnant. There's a constant movement of balancing and imbalancing like the yin and yang, the constant movement of something that Aaron has taught the energy class, what he calls kyo and jitsu energy. This is part of shiatsu energy work. Jitsu occurs when you hold your hand out to receive something, jitsu is that readiness to receive. And then once something touches the hand, the reaching energy relaxes completely, the energy becomes kyo. And then it moves back into jitsu again. We follow this pattern with our breath. As we breathe in, as the breath is empty, there's a jitsu energy contraction. And as soon as you start to inhale, the energy moves to kyo until tension builds up again because the chest is too full. It's jitsu again. And then at the start of the inhale, it subsides and goes back into kyo again. Like waves cresting on the shore and going back into the sea. So we're constantly rebalancing. But there's a difference between this motion and that motion. What he has been saying is that so often we shift off into that more extreme imbalance, and then instead of simply attending to it and saying, "OK, there's imbalance, just bring it back," we say "Oh, what am I going to do!" (waving arms frantically) We hang onto it or we try to fix it, which creates too much force the other way. Using the elements is a simple way to invite ourselves back into center. He says, I'm paraphrasing Aaron here, we all intuitively know that feeling of the heart center and what's necessary to create it. He says, if you are hot, nobody has to tell you to move into the shade. If you are cold, nobody has to tell you to move into the sun, it's obvious. You know when you're hot, and you bring yourself back into balance by moving into the shade. You don't stay in the sun and move further into the sun and say, "What am I going to do? I'll put a coat on." He's saying it's the same thing. It's very accessible, he is saying.

R: I just want to add … It seems to me that sometimes people stay out of balance in order to access certain creative energies which weren't accessible to them before.

Aaron: I am Aaron. You are correct, R. Each being must find the degree of imbalance that is most effective for it. To try to remain perfectly centered creates a very strong negative tension. There's so much grasping at staying at center. Everything is constantly in a state of flux. You can't hold yourself in perfect center. To not attend to imbalance also creates tremendous tension. And these tensions are the basis of karma.

When you speak of people allowing imbalance for creativity, yes, sometimes people throw themselves out of balance or attach to imbalance with the illusion that it helps them be creative. I perceive this as a reaction against the idea of staying centered. The choice is not to stay perfectly centered or be radically imbalanced. If you see it as opposition in that way then you're going to throw yourself into the radical imbalance. But when you begin instead to

see it as a constant flow, noting imbalance, bringing it back, but you're never going to be right on center and you don't have to be. It's a flow. However, one must remain attentive. It would be like walking down a road with quicksand on either side. First, just shallow quicksand and then deepening quicksand. The road is wide. There's a line right down the middle of the road. You don't have to walk on the line. But when you see yourself coming to the edge of the road, you do have to be awake, and note, "I'm getting too far into the sand. If I move too far to the right, I need to go left. If I'm too far to the left, I need to go right." I pause.

Barbara: He says, I'm paraphrasing him, that this is a very interesting question, that many of the most creative people in our western culture have traditionally chosen extreme imbalance. But it is a myth that this imbalance is necessary to creativity. That some of the most creative beings that he has known throughout his many lives were very highly realized beings who were very much in balance, and claimed subtle imbalance as a way of stimulating creativity, creativity here being one of the elements of response to change. It's a whole different concept of creativity. He'll talk.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I would state this for myself. Within the extremes I see the personal creator. Within the subtle energy flow, I see the being who is beyond the small ego self and is working as co-creator. This is where it shifts. As long as the ego is going to be the creator, there are power and control issues and they swing radically from side to side and choose to maintain imbalance. As soon as one resolves the notion of ego self and is willing to live more fully from the pure awareness self, then one is delighted with the role of co-creator and understands that co-creator best manifests when there is relative balance. I pause.

Question: I thought of a conversation today that upset me. I wondered if I was wrong in the advice I gave someone. And in feeling myself come into balance while holding the situation, I realized strangely enough, that the other person did need to have a strong emotion to move her in some way. And it was OK for her to be there.

Aaron: I am Aaron. Strong emotion is not negative. Identification with the emotion is very unwieldy and creates much pain for self and all beings when you are owned by the emotion or own the emotion. But the experience of the emotion itself is just an experience. It's like being in the sea where sometimes there are small, gentle waves and sometimes there are huge waves. They're all just waves. There's nothing inherently good or bad about them.

What is the effect of the wave? What is the effect of the emotion? In what ways is man enslaved by the emotion? It's very useful to realize that sometimes strong emotion can be very helpful, very freeing. I pause.

Barbara: Aaron asks, seeing that that person needed to feel the strong emotion, were you able to release any concepts of 'was I right, was I wrong'?

Question: I am aware that I still have some feeling there and I can keep working with it.

Barbara: He's saying there's reality that sometimes we're skillful or unskillful. He doesn't want to call it good or bad, but sometimes we're skillful or unskillful. And it's useful to recognize when we're being unskillful and understand why and offer an intention not to perpetuate that kind of unskillful action, speech or energy. He's saying so much of this is simply the power of intention. And he is saying intention of course is the root of karma. When we offer the intention to work with whatever arises in loving and skillful ways, we immediately become very much free of it, even while that energy is still moving through.

Aaron asks you to practice this balancing of the elements. He says don't work at it, play with it. What he is saying here is, don't make it something that takes big effort and somebody to do it. Just delight in it, delight in the freedom and power that you find as you see that you really do have the ability to restore balance. He says, please share your findings with him next week. He offers his love and says good night. That is all.

Aaron's Talk on the Five Elements-Part 2

Wednesday Night Discussion Group; May 27, 1998

Aaron: Good evening and my love to you all. I am Aaron. There are a number of subjects related to last week's talk, about which question has been raised. My plan tonight is to give a far briefer than usual opening talk. I wish to speak about the elements in continuation from last week, and then reply to questions.

I want to begin with a guided meditation similar to the one we did last week working with the elements. And then we're going to take it a step further. To refresh your memory, we spoke of the elements of earth, air, fire, water and what we might call ether or space. We spoke of the way these elements exist in every substance, animate and inanimate. It would be insufficient to say they exist in the human being, for each of these elements in its own precise balance exists in each cell of your body; in the bone cells, in the skin cells, in the blood cells. They exist not only in the earth itself but in each grain of sand within the earth.

I spoke last week of the loving intention to bring these elements into balance, to note when they are out of balance, not as a way of conquering difficult mind states but simply because there is distortion and the intention is to balance distortion, to restore harmony. Please note that when I use the word distortion, I do not use it in a negative sense. If you have a straight line upon the paper and then create waves in that line, each dip up and down is a distortion. There's nothing bad about these distortions. If you have water in the sea, and the force of tide and wind and current push the sea as waves against the shore, the force of the wave building up and crashing down upon the shore is a distortion. The pull back into the sea is another distortion. There's nothing bad about distortion. I spoke briefly last week about jitsu and kyo energy. Jitsu: Reaching, receptive, taking energy that is tense and anticipatory carries a certain high-pitched tension to it. Jitsu: As that which is reached for is received, the hand relaxes. The energy field relaxes. All the tension runs out with kyo energy. Everything in the universe is in constant movement between jitsu and kyo.

We call these distortions but they are not negative. The effort, however, is to keep the distortion in balance. If you have too much jitsu, too much tense anticipatory receptive energy, reaching out, wanting, it builds up out of balance. If you have too much kyo energy, you wind up totally lethargic. Balance.

When I speak of the distortions within the elements then and bringing it back to balance there is no statement of bad or good, only of the desire to aid in harmony by keeping things within some kind of a balance. It might be an extreme balance or it might be a very subtle balance.

Please remember then that your distortions are part of the incarnative process and are not inherently good or bad. In fact, in your desire to offer service to another, your distortions are part of that service. If you need to practice compassion, you need some catalyst with which to practice. If nobody or nothing ever irritates you in any way, with what are you going to practice compassion and lovingkindness? They offer you the service of offering a catalyst so that you may practice. Is their distortion bad then? Uncomfortable, perhaps, but also perfect.

Breathe in and out. Bring the attention to the breath. Feel the soft touch of the breath on the nostrils flowing into the body and then flowing out again. Allow yourself one at a time to perceive the elements in you. Let us start with earth. The material substance of the body is in part the earth element. And we note here that every substance contains all the elements, therefore we cannot say the material body is the earth element and the blood and other liquid flowing through the body is the water element. Every cell in your body contains all 5 elements, each in its own particular balance. I ask you now to focus on the earth element, both within the body and in the world beyond you. Feel the solidity of this house made of wood and brick. Bring to mind a forest or a mountain. Literally breathe in that stability which characterizes the earth element.


And now, air. Air is all around you, air in you. Perhaps openness and spaciousness are the most precise characteristics of the air element.


Water. Visualize a waterfall, a stream flowing and coming to a drop of many feet, water rushing down, gathered at the bottom, swirling and flowing on down the river. Then bring that waterfall into the self, feeling the river literally flowing through your body, flowing through your veins. Fluidity is the primary characteristic of the water element.


And then fire. Here you might want to think of a raging bonfire with intense heat and brilliance of light. Feel the energy of it, the passion of it. You may also wish to think of the sun.


That which I call ether is part of the composite substance of each element. It has two aspects, energy and space. It is not easily experienced as a distinct element unto itself. As energy, it is the energy within the flowing water, the energy within the crackling fire, the energy within the strength and solidity of the earth, the energy in the movement of the air. As space, it is that which is empty, true sunyata of the Buddhist teachings. Energy and such emptiness are two expressions of the same ether. Think of molecules of water moving. These molecules are separated by space and have space. One might say the molecules both contain space and are space. Here "space" equates with the true nature of conditioned phenomenon as empty. Energy is found in the interplay, the kyo/jitsu movement of phenomena. The space and energy aspects are not different but part of one whole. This element is the most difficult to understand as it cannot be noted conceptually, and we will not work deeply with it now. Those of you who feel ready to investigate it further are invited to do so within your meditation.

Feel all of these come together in the self and allow there to be a balance. Intuitively note what may be out of balance. In other words, any element which may not be there in useful balance to the others. Simply draw more of that into the self.

You will come to a point where you feel balanced, whole, open, comfortable, stable, and yet fluid. Energetic and yet not erupting with energy. I'm going to ask this instrument to make a noise. Note the ways that the noise pulls you out of this balance and simply invite the balance in again. We will do this now.


I cannot tell you how to balance. Intuitively each of you does know how. Did you need to bring in more of the stable mountain? Did your energy suddenly start to dance off the top of the mountain? Did it perhaps become very solid, necessitating bringing in more air or water? Your needs will be different as each of you is unique. Let us do it again.


Just right. Gently allow the self to return to balance. This is not a statement of aversion to imbalance but simply the skillful desire to be co-creator in the harmonious flow of experience. Not to maintain imbalance for ego-centric reasons, such as to heighten the power or to create shielding. Open. Centered. Balanced.

Now, as we did last week, I invite each of you to invite in a strong emotion that you experienced within the past day or two. Invite in the memory of it. Really allow it to be rekindled in the experience. It can be an emotion such as anger or desire, jealousy or pride. It can be an emotion such as deep lovingkindness or compassion.

Note, with the drawing in of emotion and the movement into the memory of that emotion, whether it serves as a small catalyst, whether the elements shift out of balance. If they do, then simply intuitively draw the self back into balance the same way that you have just done with the noise. I will be quiet while you do this. We will pause for two or three minutes here to allow you time.


I am Aaron. This is the basic practice which we introduced last week. Now I wish to add some subtleties. What we have done thus far is very simplified. It is the observation of the essential experience of each element in balanced form. This experience is like that of looking at a forest from an airplane, very different than if you descend and walk through the forest. From above you simply see a sea of green. But when you get into the forest you see the earth from which the trees spring. You see dry areas and mud or marsh. You see the woody trunks and the branches, the green leaves above, the roots below.

There are two points I wish to address. The first is to look closer at these elements and learn about their composition. The second is to more deeply address the question about use of imbalances which was raised last week.

Each element is comprised of all five elements in its own particular balance. Today we continue to lay ether aside and work with the other four, not because ether is unimportant but because it adds too much complexity at this stage of the lesson. By way of example of this balance, I will share a story. Earlier today this instrument was walking barefoot and stepped on a sharp object on which she cut her foot. There was a moment of sharp pain and then as she sat down and stopped the blood flow, experienced the continuation of the pain, there was a bit of anger that this object was there on the floor of the lake where she was wading. It wasn't precisely anger at cutting the foot, it wasn't precisely anger at the object on which she cut the foot, it wasn't precisely anger at the idea that she was now going to have a painful foot for a few days, it was simply a tension of anger.

I asked her to stop and examine the balance that was present. Fire was predominant. Fire was out of balance. Instead of bringing in more water, air and earth, I asked her just to stay with the fire element and investigate the fire element itself. In fire, she began to see each of the elements clearly, that air, water and earth were present, but not in a balanced way. By "balanced" I mean each of the elements contains a balance of all the elements within it. In the water element, water predominates, but the other elements are also there. In the air element, air predominates but the others are also there. So the other elements were there within the fire element, but each presented itself as an imbalanced representation of that element, because in each, the fire itself was out of balance. Within the whole experience, fire was predominant and out of balance with the other three, and within the fire element there was imbalance. What I asked her to do then was not to balance the four elements overall but to attend first to the fire element itself.

By way of metaphor, if you have purple paint with too much red, and mix it with an equal portion of white, the resultant color will be a red-tinged lavender. If you want it to be truly balanced lavender, you must mix the white with a balanced purple.

You can literally use these elements as a palette. A useful metaphor would be to use green, orange, and purple as metaphor for three of the elements. You see that within green there is yellow and blue, within orange there is yellow and red. Therefore with four elements, each which contains the four elements, you have 16 segments to work with. Please do not become too conceptual about this, just work with it intuitively and begin to understand when it's useful to maintain subtle imbalance and when it's useful to restore full balance.

In this case what was useful for her was first to draw more air, and then more water into the fire element. And finally most important of all was to draw more earth into the fire element. She felt how her energy was bubbly, as a pot that is boiling too fiercely. The air and water helped but bringing earth in tended to bring this fire element into balance. When the fire element was in balance, fire was also balanced in the other three elements. The result this one experienced was this brought the whole energy field down and quieted and stabilized it. At a certain point in that stabilization process, she noted to me, "Aaron, I feel the same fire energy. It's still predominant over the other three elements. But it's no longer expressing itself as anger. Rather, it's expressing itself as a powerful intention to go out and wade around and find what I cut myself on."

This was not to take that object and abuse it in any way, it was simply to take that object and lift it out of the water so that it would no longer be a danger to others. I asked her, instead of doing that, which would have been a skillful choice, to use this as a learning process, to note what happened if she then went on to the other step of balancing all the elements. I asked her to observe what had happened to the other elements, now that fire was balanced.

So she let go of the fire element itself and the sub-elements within fire and began instead to work with the other individual elements, observing them and bringing them into balance. She found they needed little further balancing, only a fine tuning.

As she worked and observed, I then asked her to balance the elements so that fire was no longer predominant in any way. After a few minutes of this she began to note the difference, that in the first situation where she had brought the fire element into balance insofar as the sub-elements, but left fire dominant over the others, anger had faded but there was still a strong energy, let's call it a fire energy, which was still very available and able to be used as energy. When she balanced the four elements together, brought more earth and water and air in, released some of the fire, she came to a place of equanimity. It was still possible to say, "It's useful to go and find that upon which I cut myself," but the energy force of it had dissolved.

This is very subtle. I cannot give you precise directions because each situation will be different. When might it be useful to allow fire or earth or air or water energy to remain subtly out of balance with the others? We got into this question a bit last week, I believe on R's question about creativity. You really could become a master using these as an artist would a palette, mixing colors together. Sometimes you want the red to be forceful. Sometimes you want the overall palette to have a blue tone. What does the canvas need?

In a situation when you're planting a garden, for example, it may be very useful to have a predominance of earth energy within the self to help you be more deeply attuned to the soil with which you are working. You can do this both by acknowledging the earth sub-element in each of the other elements and also by allowing the earth element itself, with its sub-elements, to take a shape of distortion of balance with the other elements, to be predominant a bit.

If you are hot, have been laboring or sweating, you find the body out of balance in terms of perhaps too much fire. If you are also feeling very solid and heavy, lethargic, there is too much earth. In such a case, bring in air and water. There are two ways to do that. One is the kind of balancing we did at the beginning of this session and last week, and one is to note these four sub-elements within each element. If you're hot in that way, experiencing an excess of fire and earth energy, you can find the air and water sub-elements within the fire and earth elements.

I do not want to become too complex and put this out of anyone's reach. I would ask three things of you. One, that you work with these instructions at whatever level feels clear and comfortable to you, and let go of the rest. Two, begin to see not just the elements but that each element contains all of the others, each in its own necessary proportions. Finally, that you experiment especially with the fire energy that comes with anger, because this is a place where it's very accessible to work with. When there is anger and you feel an excess of fire energy, instead of bringing in that which would balance the fire energy, I want you to pause and ask, "Is there any use to this excess of fire energy? How can I bring this excess of fire energy into a more workable balance and still leave fire slightly out of proportion to the others? Would that be skillful?" Just ask yourself these questions. Trust your intuition.

What you will likely find is that the intensity of anger from a fear-based place, where the anger wishes to control or harm or act in some way against some object, that anger fades but that a certain degree of fire energy remains simply as energy, as thrust. I request you to work with the arising of anger simply because this is the most accessible place in which to experiment.

I repeat that if this practice sounds too complex at this point, simply go back to what we began with, the four basic elements and the balancing of the elements. Slowly you will come to recognize the four sub-elements within each element and begin to understand how to bring everything into balance.

Barbara: Aaron asks, first, are there any questions about what he introduced tonight. He says he knows it's very subtle and that you're going to have to experiment with it in order to understand it.

J: When I recalled an experience that I had yesterday, experiencing a sense of fear and anger, as I sat with that tonight, what I felt energetically was a vacating of little bubble-like particles, primarily from my mid-section of body and my head.

Barbara: Aaron is saying, J, that what was actually happening was not a vacating from your body of little bubbly material, that that was simply the image that it took. That what was happening was a release of a certain imbalance, released as energy.

J: … The elements seemed like earth. What was shifting felt denser than energy.

Barbara: He asks, could you feel that what was happening was that the earth element itself was coming back into balance in terms of the four sub-elements. As the earth element came into balance, it was able then to be utilized in balancing the four elements. He says the words are confusing. Within the earth element, the four sub-elements came into balance, thereby making the earth element more balanced and thereby able to be utilized in balancing the other elements.

J: Intuitively, yes. At the outset of re-living the experience, I felt that in reverse order.

Barbara: Aaron says this is a perfect example of what he is talking about, I'm paraphrasing Aaron. That the element J intuitively moved to work with was the earth element which had a surplus of both earth and fire energy in it. Some of this excess felt as if it literally bubbled out. It was a way of bringing the air and water sub-elements within the earth element into play so that the earth element came into balance. The earth element imbalance was then able to be used to bring him down from the anger which was part of the imbalance of too much fire element. You couldn't use that earth element at first because it was out of balance with its sub-elements, but as soon as it came into balance, then you were able to use it to balance the fire element.

J: This explanation is useful, as I have had similar sensations, but I'm trying to develop a workable understanding.

Barbara: Aaron is saying, for most of us, an intellectual understanding is not useful until much later along when we are able to do it and then to look back and see what we're doing. But at first, what's useful is simply to work intuitively with it without trying to figure out what's happening. Aaron will speak.

Aaron: I am Aaron. What is important here is simply to offer the statement of intention to come back into the degree of balance, the relative degree of balance that is most useful for the good of all beings. Given that statement of intention, there is no longer any aversion to the imbalance, only an awareness that it's out of balance. If you're on a raft that is tipping because all of the weight is on one side, it's skillful to move to the other side of the raft to help balance it, so beings don't fall into the water. There's no aversion to the imbalance, there's simply a statement, "For the sake of harmony, I am willing to allow balance to begin itself here." And then intuitively you allow that balancing without trying to push or change anything consciously, but simply offer the statement, "I invite in what is necessary and I invite the release of what is not useful."

But then observe the process and see how it happens, and begin to familiarize yourself with these elements. Begin to observe when they are out of balance not just in yourself but in the world. I pause.

Di: It helps me see that I am not getting rid of too much fire. I am paying close attention to that element that presents itself.

Barbara: Aaron says, yes, precisely. I am paraphrasing Aaron here, he says, to you as an artist that he recommends the image of mixing paints and colors. If you're painting with a palette and you put some color on that seems to clash a bit, perhaps you might feel that some degree of contrast is useful for the dynamic of the painting. But you might choose to tone it down a little, say to tone down the orange by mixing a slight bit of blue with it, just to bring it into a hue that's more harmonious with the rest of the picture while still being a dynamic element in the picture. He says use that image of how you mix color in a painting as part of the image here of how you're working with the elements. He thinks that will be helpful. He asks do you understand?

Di: Yes. But I, now anyway, think an intuitive approach will be best. The first time Aaron asked us to look at our balance, I recognized I needed more earth. I tried covering myself with moss and dirt but it didn't work. I went into a tree and that was what I needed. I felt the movement of water and the air at the needles of the tree, and all the elements. And then I could use earth. Before, I couldn't use the earth.

Barbara: He says yes. It is just this kind of balancing, precisely, which is most skillful, to find out how to literally use each of the elements and to experience their interrelationships. Others?

L: I often get quite hyped at work and with my busy schedule. Where am I at on the matrix, in this paradigm?

Aaron: I hear your question, L. I am Aaron. Please, all of you visualize the experience of total relaxation. Resting on a hammock, perhaps, or floating on a raft on a gentle lake. There is a state of low energy. It's not quite a kyo state, but it's close. Now I would ask you to visualize not only tension, of jitsu energy, but hyper tension, of fear-based anxiety and grasping. Pushing, pulling, controlling.

Finally, visualize a balanced working energy. It cannot be as tension-free and kyo as the hanging in the hammock, and yet in order to relate skillfully to the persons and situations around you, it cannot be as high-pitched a tension as the strong jitsu energy and anxiety you've just remembered. You do control this. It's not an on/off switch, it's a dimmer switch. What I perceive specifically in you, L, and this will differ for other beings, is that when you reach that high-pitched level at work, fire energy is dominant as sub-element in all the elements. Fire energy is also out of balance amongst the four elements. Air is also dominant and out of balance. Specifically, then, as sub-element of each of the four elements, fire is out of balance. And in the four elements themselves, fire and air are out of balance.

You do not want to let go of all the fire energy. You don't want to shift to a lethargic kyo kind of state. There are 2 possibilities. The simpler is simply to invite in more water and earth and to release some of the excess fire. This is the rougher way to do it. It's possible but it's not as fine-tuned. It will serve the purpose of releasing some of the tension and bringing you back into balance, but it may not maintain the energetic jitsu energy that you need to do the work. More useful is to take this fire and air element which are each out of balance in their sub-elements, to find the fire sub-element that is out of balance in the fire element, to focus just on the fire element and how it feels, and bring the fire element itself back into a balance whereby it becomes a usable tool again.

You won't see this at first but after awhile you'll become attuned to the fact that as you balance the sub-elements in fire, and bring it back into a usable tool, that touches the fire sub-element in each of the other elements so that the fire remains as dynamic energy but it becomes a useful energy rather than an unbalanced energy. Would you like me to speak further on this or is this sufficient explanation? I pause.

Barbara: Would you like more information? (Yes)

Aaron: I am Aaron. When I ask you to picture the state of lying in the hammock, completely relaxed, you can feel that the elements may be in balance. They're in good balance for relaxing but they're not in good balance for dynamic action. Dynamic action does necessitate bringing in more fire energy. Can you feel that?

When there is tension, an anxiety-based, ego-based tension, as somebody that needs to get things done, needs to be in control, to be safe and keep others safe, to produce and so forth, then there is an excess of the fire element in the balance of these four elements. There's also an excess of air element for you in this situation, and for many people. The fire is the energy, the air is what keeps it going, like blowing on a fire in your fireplace. It produces hotter fire. The air keeps the fire energy in motion, stirred up. So there's a need for both water and earth to tone it down a little and make it workable.

This instrument, in making her bronze sculpture, uses a welding torch with 2000 degrees of heat. She must balance the gas and oxygen that fuel the fire in the torch. It's of no use to her if it's a 2000 degree blowtorch bursting out in an immense flame. She needs a fine-pointed flame. This is the kind of balancing you do. You don't want to get rid of the fire and air energy. You don't want to go back and hang on a hammock or the work's not going to get done. You bring attention first to the imbalance, simply bringing in more water and earth energy, releasing some of the air and fire energy, until the fire element feels balanced within its four sub-elements. You still have a vibrant, dynamic fire energy, but it's a balanced fire energy. You bring attention to it in the fire element because that is the one in which you most notice the distortion of balance in terms of the sub-elements. As you balance the sub-elements in the fire element, those sub-elements are naturally balanced within the fire sub-element in the other elements, bringing them all into balance.

Here we get into a non-linear process which it is sometimes difficult for the human mind to fully comprehend. It's a simultaneous movement. As fire is balanced in terms of the sub-elements, that which is next to it automatically also balances the sub-elements. It's difficult for me to offer a metaphor here because it's a simultaneous, not a linear, progression and this is not common in the human experience. I can only offer a metaphor which is in reality untrue to human experience, but you can perhaps comprehend how it would be if this happened.

If you have an instrument that has four strings and you want to bring them into harmony with one another, you may tune one string. What if when you tuned that string the strings next to it automatically tuned themselves, came into harmony with the first string? Basically that's what you're doing. As you create harmony within the sub-elements within the fire element, the other elements and sub-elements create harmony naturally in replication of the fire element and its sub-elements.

Again, I fear I'm becoming too complex here and leading you to a conceptual experience or to over-use of the intellect. Very simply, you note that the fire is out of balance, that that is what first catches your mind. First catches your body also. Simply act in the appropriate ways with the intention to create harmony there for the good of all beings by bringing in more water and more earth, releasing some of the fire and air, until the fire element feels balanced but dynamic. You're not putting out the fire. Balanced, but dynamic. Then invite that dynamic balanced fire to be replicated in each of the other four elements. Observe constantly how you feel as you do this. If you're doing it skillfully, you're going to feel a release of the anxiety/tension and yet there will still be a dynamic energy to do the work. Is this sufficient explanation, L? I would be happy to speak further on it if it's useful. I pause.

L: I feel better just listening to the explanation. Is Aaron saying that I'm prone to air? Hot air? (Laughing)

Barbara: Aaron says, somewhat. He says, "better hot air than hot lava!" He is saying please do not let this become a doing, a conceptual, "First I've got to do this and then that." Don't make a long list and check it off. He says it's an intuitive process and fundamental above all else is simply offering the intention to allow rebalance for the good of all beings. When that intention is strong enough, you intuitively know how to allow this. He says it's like driving on a highway. You don't have to think of how far to turn the wheel and how far to push the accelerator. You just observe the traffic flow and you observe, "For the good of all beings I intend to drive skillfully" and then allow self to do it.

Q: I would like to know how I can help evolve in my spiritual path, journey.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I hear your question. The first step is to relax and trust that everything you need will come to you. The second is to practice mindfulness and presence to the degree that when what you seek does come to you you're going to be awake and aware that it's come, otherwise it will simply pass you by.

We've been talking tonight of dynamic tension and dynamic relaxation, a balance between that energy I have called jitsu and what I have called kyo. There's a constant flow. The pattern of waves hitting the shore and then receding is a good metaphor for that flow. The deep aspiration to grow, the precise statement of intention to deepen spiritual understanding, to purify the energy, to do no harm but live in service to all beings-these statements of intention do set up a jitsu kind of energy, a grasping. When there is too much grasping, one cannot be present with what is in this moment. If there is no stated intention, then one is asleep. So the balance is found in stating the intention and then deepening in faith, allowing the natural arising of faith and trust that each moment brings you exactly what you need for that growth, and that you don't have to go anywhere or do anything to create it. And indeed the learning of faith and love are the primary lessons of this third density human experience.

How do you find this balance? First, simply meditate and be awake, be present in each moment as much as is possible. Second, recognize first in your formal meditation practice and second in daily life the moments where a distortion of fear is governing your thoughts and actions. When such distortion arises, you do not seek to get rid of it but to have more space for it. So you begin to recognize the habitual patterns that have been there in relationship to the various distortions that the self encounters. You begin to understand how mind shapes experience.

With habitual pattern you may ask after it, "Is this skillful? If not, what else could I be doing here?" For example, if there is fear and an intensifying contraction of one's energy field, one may ask, "Can I relax a bit? Can I bring in a bit more spaciousness and kindness?" To allow that spaciousness and kindness does not mean to create it. It already exists. The question then is not, "How do I create kindness?" but "Where have I misplaced kindness? How can I more fully invite the loving heart into this painful or difficult situation?" And then, we come full circle back to intention, the intention to allow the loving heart to be the foundation in your choices and actions. I would ask you to remember that fear is a distortion of love. Fear is not something antithetical to love, it's simply a distortion of love. There is love for the self and then there is fear that that self will be hurt or its needs not met. There's love for another and the same fear. When you meet fear, your work is not to conquer fear so much as to recognize it as distortion of love and literally to find the love in it. This is what creates space.

This is a rather general answer. I would not wish to violate your privacy in any way but I also suspect that you would be grateful for some more precise instruction. Like many old souls, there is much self-judgment when negativity arises. A very specific area of work to you at this point in your evolution is to begin to regard judgment, the whole process of judging mind. You're not trying to stop judging mind, just to observe how often it arises and to ask yourself, "What could be substituted here? Can I be a bit kinder, a bit more merciful to myself?" It's very difficult because there's such intense aspiration to grow, to purify the self. There's such strong desire to purify the energy so that it feels worthy of the divine. I ask you to remember that you are not and never have been anything other than an expression of the divine. None of that which expresses out of you, be it fear or love based, is anything but expression of the divine. There's nothing that needs to be fixed. Can there be more kindness to the self? Each time judgment arises, especially self-judgment, can there be a gentle reminder, "Maybe I don't need to be so hard on myself." I pause.

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Brodsky