Volume 12, Number 2 - Spring/Summer 2004

Contents

Letter from Barbara
March 2004

State of the Sangha
Ann Barden, Board President
February 28, 2004

Barbara's Instructions
Howell Retreat
March 6, 2004

Spiritual Inquiry Class with Aaron
February 11, 2004

Spiritual Inquiry Class with Aaron
February 25, 2004

Aaron's Talk to Teacher Training Group
January 24, 2004

Letter from Barbara
March 2004

Dear friends,

Yesterday was a "lion" day of March — 5 in the morning here at my cabin, stove struggling to warm the space. Today was a "lamb" day — sunny with a soft breeze that felt like spring. I'm here on a personal retreat, and will move into silence tomorrow. My cabin underwent a wonderful renovation this winter with fresh paint and added windows to bring in needed light and allow me to better enjoy the views of woods and lake. A friend gave me her lovely blue carpet as she prepared to redo her living room. I'm filled with gratitude for this new space, and appreciation for the skilled hands that brought it forth. 

In my letter in December, I mentioned my upcoming January trip to Brazil to see the healer, John of God (Joao Teixiera de Faria). I  was blessed to be joined in my travels by my son Davy and by two friends. We had an amazing trip. I can't sum up my experiences in a few paragraphs. Suffice it to say I found deep learning, very compassionate people, new ways of relating to energy, and the statement from Joao that he "probably can cure me but it will be gradual." 

Since my return I occasionally find the healing entities present here at home: of course they're not bound by space. I've received two energetic surgeries, one at the Casa and one at home. The nerves between ear and brain are too damaged to repair. The plan is that they are transplanting healthy nerve tissue and giving me energy exercises to create the fertile ground for this tissue to grow. I'm being instructed in chanting and overtone chanting. This chanting is a fascinating process for me, not the least being taught to chant by discarnate entities! For the first time in 32 years I can "hear" my voice in my head. I'm learning to feel the vibrations of the different tones in my body. At the last group session of  session of channeling with Aaron, he said: "We have had Barbara chanting scales repeatedly, something she could not do even when she could hear. She's learning how the tones feel, the vibration of them in the body. I hope she will better feel that vibration as she speaks, and when it is lacking, be more aware that she has dropped the ending of the word." The feedback from the group was wonderful. Many people commented on how much easier it was to hear and understand Aaron, how rich and full the voice was. 

I also have more energy. I'm really hearing Aaron in a new way, not drained by the channeling sessions but energized. The contraction over "did I get it?" is gone. There's much more ease. I haven't had a blood test since my return, but my guess is that my thyroid function also is improved. It will be tested next  month. I've lost 8 pounds on their weight loss formula, which may not seem like a big deal to you, but for someone whose hypothyroid condition has made weight loss impossible, it's wonderful! 

The entities have suggested I come back every 6 to 9 months while this work progresses. Thanks to several generous donations, it looks like it will be possible for me to return in September for three more weeks. I have over half of the money needed for this trip. I'm committed to this process, for now, and we'll see what happens after a few more visits. 

If you'd like to know more, there is a 30- page journal, a combined offering from Aaron, who spoke a lot to us about the work he saw the entities doing, and from me, my personal journal of the trip. Some of you have already  have already seen this document. It's available to anyone who would like to read it. Just e-mail the DSC office and it will be sent out to you. 

Now I turn to silence for two weeks, and welcome an opportunity to integrate the richness of these few months. I know I'll be seeing many of you in the coming months as I travel to Seattle, to NC, and to Whistler, BC. I've already heard from many of you about your plans to join us here in June for the DSC summer retreat. For those I don't see, I wish you a summer filled with sunshine. 

With love, 
Barbara

State of the Sangha
Ann Barden, Board President
February 28, 2004

Dear Ones, 

This is an attempt to summarize the significant activities of Deep Spring Center over the past year and look briefly at what is ahead for us in the next year. For those of you who would like more detail,  detail, I refer you to our website, where you will find minutes of all Board meetings and the full text of policy documents. The presence and maintenance of that website has been a major contribution to meeting our goal of open communication with members of the sangha. 

We are sitting in the evidence of some of our best work this year. This beautiful physical space has taken lots of attention and time and sweat to bring into working order. It is working with classes and meetings here four nights of the week, and class and meditation every Sunday morning. 

Learning how to manage our finances in a way that matched our expanded level of activity has been a challenge. Dave Coupland as treasurer has brought fine leadership to this process. He has trained the Board to create a budget and to understand how it works. He has created a system of recordkeeping that is coherent and provides us the data we need about our financial status. He has worked with the Office Manager to develop a system for entry of financial information. Our budget is balanced. 

Learning how to manage this space has taught us a lot. After the initial move-in, the Building Usage Committee needed to handle mundane issues such as who would clean and how often, how we scheduled rental of the space, and what rules we needed around usage. We learned a lot about what is involved in being responsible for our own space. 

Being here has changed some of the ways Deep Spring works. There are now more than 100 students involved in Deep Spring–sponsored classes. The teachers' group made a strong commitment of their time to support our growth into this space and it is reflected here. Since most of the classes meet here, I feel as if there is more of a sense of relationship among folks in the different classes. It is common for me to see notes and books and packages left for pick-up on the shelves by the entry. The Sunday morning  meditation and the instruction available before the sitting have been very popular. What used to be a very small, intimate sitting has become quite a large group. Several small practice support groups are meeting monthly in homes. There is a yoga class for meditators on Wednesday morning. 

We have learned a great deal in the process of helping all  these activities to happen. We have made mistakes and we have had successes. Throughout, we have walked our talk and brought loving attention to what was happening. I am grateful. 

The work of the Board this year has been to clarify the work of the Board. We have been quite successful in moving management details off the Board table and into committees. This has allowed us time to step back from operational details and look at some larger policy issues. We were greatly helped by the Sangha Development Group. The result of this work has been some clear policies around what kind of altar we would have and how it could be used, how the building would be used by sangha members or others, what kinds of processes we would use for major decision-making and how Barbara's role fit within the organization. In addition, we have all increased our understanding of the financial management issues. We see our work ahead as continuing to build strong, stable structures around the Deep Spring Board and committees that will support the growth of the organization. 

There are two large issues coming before us in the year ahead, and the Board will be looking for ways to bring the discussion around these issues to the Sangha. The most concrete issue is what to do about our building space. Our lease ends in December 2005 and we need to know well before then what we want to do next. Are we ready to think again about the purchase of space? The less concrete issue but one on which everything else depends is developing a community understanding of just what is the identity of Deep Spring Center. What does being a non-denominational center mean?  

Look for communication from the Board about this work. Think about what you are willing and able to bring to this process. I look forward to working with you. 

In metta, 
Ann Barden 
Board President

Barbara's Instructions
Howell Retreat - First Morning
March 6, 2004

The ground for what we're doing here is vipassana. Vipassana brings us to the noting of everyday experience. We're aware of the rising and falling of the breath. We're aware of sensations. We're aware of feelings of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. We're aware of the texture of mind, and aware of the arising of thoughts and emotions. 

You're all experienced with vipassana; you all have the ground of the practice. We practice in a very dedicated way and become very adept at watching objects arise and pass away. We may develop a great deal of spaciousness around these objects. Body pain might arise, or a strong feeling of anger might arise, and we don't have to suppress that experience, nor act it out. And yet if the conditions are present, strong emotions still arise. 

Our habit energy is such that those same conditions time and again give rise to that same response of, "I want this," or "I hate that!" or whatever it might be. There may be real equanimity with the arising mental states, yet it's still uncomfortable for us and sometimes for those around us. 

We each have certain tendencies of mind that tend to be frequent visitors: judging, aversion, greed, impatience. Each of us has our own most frequent assortment. I see in myself, part of me would prefer to call it discriminating mind rather than judging mind, but really it's judging! "I like this; I don't like that." I've learned to be very careful not to bring that forward into the world in ways that will harm others, and to work skillfully with that judging energy within myself, not to get caught up in its stories. But judging mind still comes, and it comes, and it comes. Any little thing can tick it off. Looking out at the lake here is a beautiful scene and yet when I first looked out at dawn, the image came to my mind of the summer we had a retreat here and the lake was all infested with weeds. It was so inviting to look at, but you couldn't swim in it. So, I looked down at the lake this morning, and immediately this thought, "But you can't swim in it!" came up! 

We can laugh at ourselves when these different textures of mind arise. We're more spacious; story lines don't develop. But the thoughts still come. The contractions of anger and grasping still come. When we work with them in traditional vipassana practice, we note them, we rest in the space between thoughts, we observe them resolve, and we deepen a lot in the wisdom, "Whatever has the nature to arise, has the nature to cease, and is not self." As the wisdom develops that it all arises out of conditions, we don't take it so personally. 

This is helpful, but it does not lead us to liberation. What does?  

Think of the earth and the way you experience sunrise and sunset. In the morning, it looks like the sun rises. First it's dark, and then it's light gray, and then there's this band of pink and a red globe rising over the horizon. We understand that the earth is just spinning, but still we think "the sun is up." Then the bright pink band again, and suddenly the sun slips down over the horizon. Sunset. We understand deeply, not just conceptually, how it's happened, but we still think of it in terms of sunrise and sunset. 

If you rode away from the earth in a spaceship, and away and away and away, there would come a certain point where you could see the earth, see the sun, see how the earth is spinning, and know without question that the sun never rose or set, the sun is just there, the earth is spinning. Although we understand that deeply from here on earth, it's still semi-conceptual because we've not been in outer space. We can imagine how it would be, but we've not been there. We've got to take people's word that the sun isn't moving around, we're just spinning on our axis. We thoroughly believe that, but it's still not experience. But once you got out there and you see it for yourself, you know without any doubt, this is how it is. 

When conditions are present, an object—let's use anger, something we're all familiar with— anger will arise. When the conditions pass, the anger will pass. And yet there is also that space in us in which there has never been anger. Let us call it pure awareness, or we could say Buddha nature, Christ consciousness, or whatever you want to name it. That which is aware of anger is not angry. We rest in the space before and after the anger, the great space from which it arose and into which it dies away, like a wave rising on the sea and fading, nothing there but water in whatever form it appears. 

Let me use another example. The lake out there is frozen. Some of you who have been here in the summer and seen it in a storm have seen it turbulent: waves, white caps. When there's no wind, it can be still. The true nature of the water is the fluidity that allows it to be still or turbulent, responsive to conditions. When nothing is disturbing the water, it stills. Our mind, or Awareness, is like this: its natural state at rest is stillness, yet it has the fluidity to move. 

When the air is cold, the water freezes. If you could light a fire under the lake, it would start to boil and steam. Our energy, our bodies, our minds are like this. Sometimes they steam. Sometimes they're frozen. These are expressions of the essence. Neither of those is the true nature of our being, which is like that still water on a calm day, when nothing is touching it. 

Things come along and touch our minds and bodies, giving rise to tension, giving rise to pain, giving rise to difficult emotions. Because of our habit energy, we're pulled off into thinking, "I have to fix this; I have to fix that." And we do have to attend to it. But we also can rest in that place of stillness knowing the direct experience of it, knowing this true nature of not steaming and not frozen. Still. Clear. Loving. 

For me, the direct experience of my energy is an important guide. I can feel when my energy becomes very contracted, when fear comes up or anger. When my mind is feeling agitated, my body is also agitated in an imbalanced way. I can feel when I'm at the other extreme, just totally lethargic, with no energy at all. And I can feel when it's balanced: not too agitated, not too lethargic. Calm, clear, centered. Here is the lake at rest. 

We return to the fact that these negative emotions and distorted body experiences do come repeatedly. So long as the conditions are present, these thoughts and sensations are a result. How do we change the  conditions out of which they arise? The practice of the Seven-Branch Prayer is a wonderful way to relate to these shifts in mind and body experience from both the relative level where we observe what has arisen, offer the balance to it, are fully present with it, and from the ultimate level, where we rest in spaciousness, aware of what has arisen but free of self-identity with it, more aligned with the space than the object. From that spaciousness we can watch with dispassion, with clarity and fearlessness. Then the attendance to what has arisen is clear and love-based, not frightened and agitated. 

I remember a story that I used to read to my children when they were little, "Someone is Stealing the Sun," about a primitive society experiencing a total eclipse of the sun. The people were all terrified. "Oh! Someone is stealing the sun!" When negativity comes, we think we've lost our loving, wise nature. Can anything steal our true nature, this true nature of ability to be present, openhearted, calm, clear, loving? When we think anger has come and stolen kindness, what's happening? 

There is a story. "This person is aggravating me! He's stealing my ability to be loving!" But all that's happening is a flow of conditions on the relative level. And on the ultimate level, just as the sun is still there even during eclipse, this true nature is still there. The openheartedness, the clarity, the compassion, they don't go anywhere. Our fear, our shadow, just gets in the way so we can't see them, figuratively speaking. 

This practice of the Seven-Branch Prayer guides us into working on both levels simultaneously. This is the important thing, that we work in a balanced way with both the ultimate and the relative experience. That leads us to a look at the three kayas, which help us understand the nondual relationship of relative and ultimate. Most of you have studied this so I'll be brief. 

Kaya means body; Dharmakaya is truth body. Dharmakaya is the Pure Ground; Nirmanakaya, nirmana means form. It's not just a physical form but a mental form as well, any kind of form. The form body. Looking at the lake, the Dharmakaya level is that still water on a clear, windless day. A nirmanakaya expression of the water is the ice. Right there in the ice is the still, clear water. Sambhogakaya: this is often translated as wealth body. I prefer transition body. 

We can use a clear underground spring as an example of the kayas. This is a metaphor, of course, because the pure spring is not an ultimate reality. It's also subject to conditions. But it's a good metaphor. Imagine an absolutely pure spring. It's underground; nothing can touch or pollute it. Then it bubbles out of the ground. In that moment where it first bubbles out, that ever-pure underground source touches the plane of conditions. Here, if there are pollutants in the air, right there where the water first comes out, the pollutants touch the pure water. If there is soot coming down from the sky, underground the water cannot be polluted by the soot, but as it comes out, soot touches it. 

Then the water rolls down the mountainside and becomes a stream. Ten miles downstream it's a wide creek, a few feet deep, and animals walk in and drink. They stir up the bottom so it's cloudy. There are farm fields and fertilizer and things have washed into the stream. Maybe somebody has discarded a can of oil that wasn't quite empty and there's a small oil slick floating on the surface. 

You're thirsty. Where is the ever-pure water from the spring? Do you have to walk ten miles back up the mountain to go to the spring? Well, you're not going to drink from it right there; you've got oil, you've got fertilizer, you've got all kinds of pollutants. But if you have a water filter, the ever-pure water is right there: it hasn't gone anywhere. The pollutants are there; we don't deny the pollutants. And the everpure water is there. You take your filter, you filter the water, you drink it. You don't have to walk back up to the spring. 

The point I'm making here is that the nirmanakaya expression, the form body expression, is no other than the dharmakaya, but it has changed its form. It's been conditioned by the various things that have touched it. 

As analogy, this Buddha nature we've talked about, where would it go? If anger comes up, does that mean the Buddha nature is gone? Where would it go? Where is Buddha nature? Does it only arise from conditions or is it always present? 

We talk about the conditioned and the unconditioned. The conditioned realm is that which is touched by conditions and is the result of conditions. This plant is the result of conditions. There was a seed, sun, water, good soil. Without those things, the plant cannot exist. If you take away any of those conditions, no matter how much sun and good soil and water we have, if I don't have a seed I'm not going to have a plant. If I have the seed and the sun and the water, but I put it in a pot of sand or clay with no nutrition, I'm not going to have a plant. The plant is the result of conditions. 

Everything in the conditioned world is the result of conditions. If that were all there was, there would be no escape possible from this whole cycle of birth and death; there would just be the constant flow of conditions. 

There is a beautiful sutra in which the Buddha addresses a group of monks and says, "Oh, monks, there is an Unborn, Undying, Unchanging, Uncreated. If it were not so, there would be no reason for our practice." What is this Unborn, Undying? What we have here is that which cannot be affected by conditions. We call it the Unconditioned. That which is. There are many different names for it: Buddha nature, Christ consciousness. The word God comes to mind, God/Goddess. That which is unchanged by conditions: unborn, undying, unlimited. We are that, or more precisely, we're the nirmanakaya expressions of it. 

In other words, we have a lot about us that is conditioned, including the physical body itself. If certain conditions cease, the physical body will die. But the basic nature of us as participatory in that which is, is unchanging. This does not include the physical body, the emotional body, or the mental body. There will be a point where all three of these bodies will have ceased. At that point, as some of you have experienced in your meditation, when you come to a place where the ego dissolves, and the physical body seems to dissolve, there's no more self. But what we call awareness continues. Ajahn Chah used to call it "the one who knows." There are many names for it. In Tibetan Buddhism, they call it rigpa, pure awareness, this deep place of full presence and awareness, unconditioned. 

When we experience that in deep meditation, that place of center, it's profound, life-changing. And yet, when we come out of the meditation, the physical body is still there. Discomfort is still there. Judging mind is still there. We have a deeper sense of what the center is, and it becomes very easy to want to cling to that center and deny the physical/mental/ emotional body experiences. It's also easy to put that experience aside and re-immerse ourselves in attending to arising sensations and thoughts. 

The practice that we're working with this weekend is the place where both of these come together, to be deeply present with the physical, mental, emotional experiences with as much skill as we can, making space for them, attending to them, but not selfidentified with them, and resting in that place of Ever-Perfect. You can't deny the experiences happening in body and mind. You can't lose yourself into them. With the three kayas, the point I made with the stream is the ever-perfect water is there, and the stream with all its distortions is there: they are part of the same thing. 

This is the third kaya, sambhogakaya. Sambhoga is defined as wealth, wealth body. Transition body is another definition for it. Neither of those translations phrases it clearly for me because transition gives you the sense of a bridge from the dharmakaya to the nirmanakaya, and it's not a bridge, it's more like with the foundation of the building, the 7th floor is also right there. Without the foundation you can't have the 7th floor. The whole structure of the building is built up from the foundation. So there's no transition. But the 7th floor is not the foundation. Only the foundation is the foundation. 

Let's use the term co-emergent. Sambhogakaya is the co-emergent body. It contains the base, the dharmakaya, and it contains the expressions. It's the container that holds it together. This is its wealth! 

This sambhogakaya is what we're really working with in this practice, the place where we don't lose touch at all with the dharmakaya or the nirmanakaya expressions. We literally become that container that holds both, with an awareness of both. 

This has been my primary practice for the past three years. For longer than that, it's been part of my practice, but it's been my primary practice for the last three years. This is the first retreat where I've really attempted to teach it in an ongoing way. I've found this practice to be both profound and lifechanging. My meditation for many years had led me to a place of deep resting in the Unconditioned many times with very deep experiences into the Unconditioned. My practice had led me to a lot of skill in working with the difficult, everyday expressions of life: the body pain, the emotions. So that I had reached a point where I'm confident of my ability not to bring those out into the world in ways that do harm. But I was struggling looking at how to bring these two together. 

I could rest in that spaciousness, nothing but light, no body, no emotions, blissful, far beyond bliss, very deep peace. I could come back from that space, remember that space, and use the inspiration of that space to live my life more skillfully. And yet, there was still a somebody that came back from that profound experience and was subtly trying to do: to fix this, to control that, to balance. How do I find the place where they really come together? 

Aaron first taught this Seven-Branch Prayer, and we created the book Awakened Heart in 1996, eight years ago. So this is when I first met this practice and worked on it quite a bit. His teaching then was about the relative practice. In the years between, I worked in depth with dzogchen, resting in awareness. Four years ago I began to bring these together more. What I've found here is that it has become an almost intuitive practice for me. For example, this morning as I looked out at the lake, saw its beauty, and said, "Ooh, that's pretty, but it has too many weeds!" when the judgment came up, there was just the noting, "Judging, judging." There was awareness of judging mind, and a little laugh, "Still here, judging mind. I smile at you." Then into the Seven- Branch Prayer. I go through the whole process in a minute. In the beginning it used to take me ten minutes, but now I go through it in about a minute. 

First, the asking of support. I asked you each to try to personalize this practice. You don't have to go through the entire Seven-Branch Prayer. You can choose the parts of it that are most significant for you. Personally I find the whole practice has value, but I want to be sure it doesn't become mechanical for you, a rote ritual. You can simplify and then add steps later. But there are certain parts that need to be included. First, the seeking of support. I like to combine the seeking of support with the gratitude step, and I find gratitude to be an essential piece of it because it's impossible to feel aversion to something and to feel gratitude at the same time. When you deeply touch on the consciousness that knows gratitude and openheartedness, that's a very strong response to the aversion. 

So, I call forth the support, just inviting all those beings of the past who truly have reached that level of enlightenment where such negative thought doesn't arise any more, I invite their support and I offer gratitude that such teachers are present. Then I also bring in the judging mind itself, relating to that as teacher, reminding myself, "Here is also just this judging mind; I can have gratitude for that." Not gratitude in the sense that I want to encourage it; gratitude for the whole experience as teacher. There is something that has brought forth anger or discomfort. Instead of saying, "I don't like this!" I can note, "Thank you for reminding me I still have work to do here." So it's the offering of gratitude to the whole experience instead of fear and trying to control the whole experience. 

The reflection, "This still arises. This habit energy is still here in me, alive and well." Compassionate regret. This is very different from self-criticism. Compassionate regret says, "I deeply regret that this still arises. I know it arises out of conditions and it's my intention to resolve these conditions." A sadness. This is still arising and it doesn't have to keep arising. It's possible for it not to keep arising. 

Then, the core of the practice. This is the two-level, relative/ultimate piece of the practice. The resolve to bring in the balances or antidotes. For me, for that judging mind this morning, it was just to come back into appreciation of the direct scene. That was a good balance to the judging energy. The perfect lake. Remembering the way that the weeds were able to teach me patience as I was trying to swim in that water. After the first few days of frustration, wanting to swim and finding weeds everywhere, I began to just relax in it and float on my belly. I put on my swim goggles and just looked, just relaxing into, "It's perfect just the way it is." 

Whatever comes up is where we start. If there's a feeling of greed, then giving, generosity, might be the balance. If there's fear, whatever balances that fear. Sadness is balanced by joy. Anger is balanced by lovingkindness. This has to be intuitive; you know what will bring balance in that moment. At the same time as I'm doing work with the resolve to bring balance, am stating the willingness to invite the antidotes to this negative energy, there's the shift into the place where it's already resolved. I note anger and rest in that which is not angry, not choosing one over the other, not creating an either/or duality. 

This is a little bit hard. It requires us to shift into that outer space perspective where we really see that at some level this has been resolved long ago; it's just old habit energy. 

You've all heard me say countless times, "That which is aware of anger is not angry. That which is aware of fear is not afraid. That which is aware of impatience is not impatient." We're asked to come back to our own deepest experience of our truth, our radiance, our beauty, our calm. So much of the habit energy involved here is from that which wants to keep the self going by having more opinions, stirring the cauldron of being, of becoming. I experience it as keeping this fire burning through the stories, so there's still a sense of self. So much of the habit energy involved in the perpetuation of emotions is an expression of the fear of no self. When you can acknowledge that fear and come back to the deepest experiences of selflessness, of emptiness, clarity, radiance and love, you call those states forth. 

That's why we request the support of great beings, because these awakened beings give us the clear message, "We've done this and you can do it. It's possible." Turn to whatever being most models that true nature to you. The Buddha's or the Christ's true nature, and our own true nature are no different. We need the reminder, "I also am that." 

So there's the willingness here not to be so caught up in the ego self and who I am, and the old habit energy that keeps the "Who I Am" stories going. But to let go of that so the whole ego structure becomes transparent. It's like coming to that polluted stream and filtering the water. The pure water is there with the sediment. True awakened nature is there with the ego self. We filter out the pure water. We shift attention to the already present enlightened nature. 

If you get worked up over it, you can go on a big campaign about how polluted the streams are or how bad the personal characteristics are, greed, anger and so forth. This is the ego saying, "I'm going to have a mission: I'm going to get this stream cleaned up." Can you see how that creates more self? On a real level in our world, we do need to clean up our streams and rivers. I'm not saying we don't. But no-self can do that a lot better than self. We do need to attend to the arisings of greed and aversion. Again, no-self, clarity and love can do that attending with far more wholesome results than if we bring fear to these energies. 

So this is the practice. We come to that resolve/ resolution level. And for me now, after working with this for quite a while, as soon as I bring forth that resolve/resolution level, I come immediately into that place where the whole mind state collapses or at least weakens. The anger, or judgment, or whatever it was, goes. There's nothing left to hold it in place. At which point I offer gratitude to all the awakened ancestors, to whatever helped support this opening into clarity, and I just come back to my breath and mindfulness. 

We will have time for more discussion of this later. What I'd like you to do in this sitting is start by bringing attention to the breath, to the body. As you're sitting, if there is something that comes up sharply and draws attention away from the breath, I want you to work with it first on the noting level. Be aware of it. Here's an example. Maybe some of the geese start honking out on the deck. [As Barbara is talking, three geese are looking in the window at us, tapping noses on the glass. You're sitting with your  eyes closed and suddenly there's a loud, unpleasant noise. "Hearing. Unpleasant." Feeling the tension grow if aversion enters. It may not. There may be just "hearing," and then the return to the breath. Don't create a mind state here. 

But if there is a shift from pleasant/unpleasant feelings into grasping or aversion, be with that arisen texture of mind. "Hearing, hearing. Unpleasant. Tension." Then, be with whatever is predominant, maybe the judging mind spinning out a story, "Why isn't somebody doing something about this?" or aversion, "I hate those geese." Feel that energy: judging, aversion, or just tension. Our usual practice is just to note this texture of consciousness, the third foundation of mindfulness; stay present with it until it changes or dissolves, then return to the breath. 

At this point, what I want you to do is to begin to work with the Seven-Branch Prayer. First noting, this has arisen in me. In this mind and body, there is this strong aversion that has contracted in the body, or is felt as agitation in the mind, whichever is predominant. This has arisen. The conditions are still present for this to arise, not only the external conditions of the honking geese and the organ of hearing, but the internal conditioning of this mind and body. The sound of honking geese doesn't have to give rise to anger. But the conditions within are still present, so anger has arisen. 

Begin with the reflection, this texture of mind arose, and compassionate regret. Then go through this process. Invite in the support, whatever that means for you. It will vary on who you are and your background. Turn to those models of enlightenment, whoever they may be for you. Ask for their support and offer gratitude that such teachers exist. Offer gratitude for this whole situation, that the honking geese exist, offering you this opportunity for practice. Then, work with the resolve to find a balance on the relative plane, and also with the resolution level. 

Working with resolve, the antidote is whatever brings balance. There are different ways of working with it. Mostly, I find it's best not to have a balance sheet written in one's mind, but to be intuitive. If I feel enormous tension in the body, for example, what might work best for me at that moment is just a kind of physical body release, even literally touching the body at the place of tension. Bringing direct attention with the intention of inviting softening of that area. If the mind feels very hard, obsessing with thoughts and agitated, just breathing and offering metta, "May I have well-being." Breathing out, "May all beings have well-being." "May I be calm and at peace; may all beings be calm and at peace. May the conditions for peace be present in this mind and body; may the conditions for peace be present in all minds and bodies." 

Another kind of antidote can simply be clarity and mindfulness. For example, noting agitation, I bring attention directly to the experience of agitation. This can be a balance for agitation. Singleness of focus stills agitation. The experience of agitation itself becomes the primary object, and as mind settles into observing that experience, the stories quiet down. So practice needs to be a bit intuitive, just asking, "What will bring balance best here?" 

One of my favorite practices, and I don't want to go into this deeply because I think it will add too much complexity this morning, but I work a lot with the four elements. Agitated energy is very fiery. So I literally breathe in and feel calm: I feel the water element in my body, I feel the presence of that water element. I visualize blue, deep quiet colors. So, I feel the very fiery agitated energy, and I literally bring in the water energy. Usually with anger energy there's a lot of both the fire element and the wind element. So I bring in more earth and especially more water. I do that literally by recognizing the earth element in my body, the solidity of the body and bringing attention to it. I note the fluid in the body. I feel the saliva in my mouth and I swallow it. I take a sip of water or whatever I have with me. I invite in the balance in the body. This is something that works for me. I'm not suggesting that this is the primary practice that people should be doing. Simply, this is one possible way to bring in the antidote. 

So there can be any of a number of practices to bring balance. I know that's not very precise, but I think we have to be intuitive about it and trust ourselves. The important thing is the intention to bring balance, rather than to perpetuate this negative or obsessive thought as an habitual way to maintain a self. 

On the resolution level, I remember, "That which is aware of this anger isn't angry." Can I be aware of and rest in that spaciousness at the same time as I also work on the relative human level with the balances, inviting metta, and so forth? There's no denial or avoidance of the relative plane experience but a willingness to go beyond it too. There is a definite shift here, seeing both object and the space around the object, and the intention to hold that space as primary, temporarily releasing the object. We don't deny the experience of the anger and the need to offer metta. We don't deny the reality of that which is not angry. We bring both together. 

And as you feel the tension release, offer thanks and return to your breath. You might do this five times in a sitting; you might do it fifty times. As often as it comes up, repeat the practice. 

Let us sit.  

Spiritual Inquiry Class with Aaron
February 11, 2004

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. This trip and the work done at the Casa so perfectly brings out to the physical plane the core of the work that we do here. As I speak, I am stepping outside any role as a vipassana teacher. One of the things I teach here is spirit. You are spirit. What does it mean to be spirit? You are here in a body in human form, what does that mean? Why are you here? 

Many times I have said you are here to bring love where there has been fear, to bring light where there is darkness, and the work we do here is to teach you how to bring that light, which is your true nature. How to bring forth that love, which is also your true nature. 

There is a term tossed about, New Age. This term is often quite misunderstood. You have been in an age of what we might call human man. Man and woman; I use the term man non-generically. This human is often confused, often afraid. She seeks leadership. He wants to be certain. There is fear and doubt. 

Despite the great teachers who have come in the past two to three thousand years proclaiming your divinity, not until recently have you been ready to know that divinity fully. There was a time when the divinity was at least remembered, if not fully experienced. The earth mother was known, the divine feminine was known. The loving power of the divine was known and trusted. 

As I see the progression of history, in the centuries after Jesus lived and died, somewhat over-zealous caretakers began to twist the meaning of his teachings. I believe the intention was good, at least to begin with. You don't let a young child climb on a chair and play with the dials on the stove. You know the child does not yet understand fire. He must be protected until he has the knowledge and maturity to handle fire. 

But throughout history, and back to very ancient times long before Jesus and the Buddha, there have been those who have not trusted that humankind has this divine potential, that humans can deal with what comes their way and learn from it. 

There is a transcript from many years ago (92.04.07 Ariel) talking about the origins of the fear on the earth plane. The first to express fear was one of the guardian angels who helped to create the ground for this earth plane. Like a parent watching its child and afraid for the child, this great entity's energy contracted contracted in fear, and he became unable to respect the free will choice of each being, and that each being has the ability to learn through its choices, to create pain and learn through that pain, to create joy and peace and learn through that. With fear came the distortion of control. 

So the seeds were planted early. But still there were cultures in the world that were much more fearless, not deeply immersed in those teachings of control. Distortions in many of the major religions shifted into this control bias, in Christianity and Buddhism, in the Moslem faith. They all picked up this fear distortion. 

At the time of Jesus' birth, the Essene community was a large force. For those who practiced in the Essene tradition, man and woman were equal. The strength of a man, of the masculine, and the receptivity and nurturing of the feminine, came together in every human being, male and female. There was deep respect for both male and female. There was deep respect for the earth-mother. God as Father was not separate from Earth as Mother. They were part of each other. 

In the Essene tradition in which Jesus was raised, there were many trainings and what we might call initiations, trials or tests, to see if you had learned what you needed to from the training. Your life gives you these tests constantly. You're running late and you get a flat tire; there's an initiation. Have you learned how to work with impatience, how to recognize patience right there with impatience and fear? 

I want you to read these four pages before I discuss them at greater length, but this series of trainings is the ground on which I have built all of the work at Deep Spring Center through the years. The first trainings are none other than being present with your experience: the physical, the mental, the emotional, and learning not to take them so personally, not to build stories around them. In those days 2000 years ago, young children were trained in this way. 

The second grouping of trainings carries it deeper, so that when a negative thought comes, increasingly it becomes an habitual response to make space for it rather than contract around it. This is what we have been teaching here for all of these years. And then the third grouping of trainings, 11 through 15, these take us to what we are doing here in this class now with the Four Empowerments and Seven-Branch Prayer, and the whole practice of truly living the non-duality of the dharmakaya and nirmanakaya. For those new to the class, I know you will read the transcripts from the first semester and get to understand these terms. They are important to your continuing work. 

So we have dharmakaya, this divine ground of being, this place of full presence, which is uncontracted and radiant, and we have nirmanakaya, the form body, the form of an emotion or physical sensation. If you stub your toe, there will be pain. Contractions may arise. You don't deny the pain or the contraction of energy. These are nirmanakaya expressions. You don't have to contract around the pain or around the contraction. 

When these trainings are mastered, the next logical step is into what Joao is doing with the entities in Abadiania. Before such mastery is attempted, you have to become familiar with the innate lightness of your being. You have to feel the contraction and how it moves through the body, to experience the release of the contraction even while the body is still tight around it, and finally to know the full opening, no more tightness. You have to experience the sensation of high vibrational frequency, of light, of joy. 

I've used an example of a spring bursting out from underground, running down the hillside, and finally forming a stream ten miles away that may have become polluted. Incidentally, near the Casa, there was such a spring-fed waterfall, clear and unpolluted. Barbara found much joy going to sit beneath the falling water. Not a big falls, perhaps only ten feet high, but powerful, made of pure water of a very high vibration. 

But when you get ten miles downstream, the water may be muddy-looking, polluted. You don't drink the water unfiltered; you'll get sick. You also don't die of thirst. You need a filter. You attend to the water and know that which is pure is right here. You don't have to climb back up the mountain to the spring. And you don't have to get a bellyache drinking this; you filter it. 

Your meditation is the filter. It observes the lower vibrational frequency of fear and negativity, and without denying the existence of those, it ceases to find a self-identity in them. What we call Awareness knows that right there with fear is the fearless. Right there with jealousy is ease and joy. Right there with grasping and fear is generosity. It begins to know these beautiful states as essence. The more you come into that knowing, the higher the vibrational frequency. 

This leads us into this coming New Age, often called the Age of Aquarius, the age of Divine Man and Woman. You are that. You are not becoming that; you already are that. You just have not quite fully discovered and trusted it. You are as the child stepping beyond the limits placed by the parent and ready to take responsibility for itself, to choose wisely and with love. 

To make this transition, you must stop living with a belief in the fear vibration as deepest truth. There is always this choice, fear or love, and fear cannot be dispensed with by negativity but only met with kindness until it dissolves. 

This coming semester we're going to go further with our exploration of this high vibration, how we use it in healing of the physical, emotional, and mental bodies, and how we do that while still acknowledging the truth of the Ever-Healed. In other words, there is nothing to heal, and yet we still will attend to it and heal it. There is nothing to fix, and yet we still attend because these negative thoughts and energies still do arise. But it's important not to become a somebody fixing negativity, because then you lose the essence of divinity, of radiance, of openness, which is what you most deeply are. 

We will continue the requirements of this class. The scientist can only see what's on his slide in the microscope if he stops to look. If he just walks through the room, he'll never see what's under his microscopic lens. He'll never understand. So the practice of presence as meditation in some form is important. 

In the two weeks until our next meeting, please read the handout that will be emailed to you on the trainings. Please continue your practice with the Four Empowerments and the Seven-Branch Prayer. At this point I would like you each to bring those two practices together in whatever way seems most suitable for each of you. You may not wish to do the entire Seven-Branch Prayer. You may wish to do more than the Four Empowerments, which is a piece of the Seven-Branch Prayer. I want you to personalize this practice so that when negative emotion or body sensation arises, when there is tension and feeling of contraction, the response becomes almost automatic, seeking support, gratitude for these beings of the past who have come to teach you through their lives and their written words. The compassionate regret for the deep habit energy in which anger or fear or greed still arises. The resolve to learn what is necessary to balance this energy, and the clear seeing of where it is already resolved. It is the mundane-level resolve and the ultimate-level resolution. We focus more on discussion of that in the next class. And finally the bringing in of balances in whatever way is appropriate. 

So we're going to work equally on the mundane level with compassionate regret, resolve, and balance, and on the ultimate level, knowing that which is joyful even when there's sorrow, knowing that which is compassionate even when there's anger, seeing that already existent resolution.

Spiritual Inquiry Class with Aaron
February 25, 2004

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. 

You have read the transcript titled "Trainings" sent from Brazil, and I trust you have been working with your own personalization of the Four Empowerments and Seven-Branch Prayer. I want to start our semester by touching lightly on two areas that are of special importance to our continued work. I know this will be a useful review for those who have met this material before. Each of these two areas involves specific terminology that I want to be certain you understand experientially and not just conceptually. 

The first is about energy and the kyo and jitsu patterns of energy. Those words, for those taking notes, are spelled k-y-o and j-i-t-s-u. These are terms used in shiatsu bodywork. Because they are very precise, I have chosen to use them rather than attempting an English equivalent. 

Kyo is a very still energy, free of contraction or movement. Jitsu has a contraction to it. Think of lake water lying calm on a windless night. The lake very still in the moonlight. That's kyo. Then the wind blows and waves come up. The water becomes jitsu. It's not just that it's active; jitsu has a contracted energy to it. 

You can feel this in your body. Hold out your hand as if I were going to put something in that hand. Try it. Think how it would feel if I said I was going to come around the room and put something in your hand. Feel the subtle contraction of expectation to receive. Now take your other hand and gently place it in the open palm. Feel the tension dissolve with that touch. That which has been reached for is received. 

Of course, your mind may then jump to the thought, "Oh, that was not Aaron, that's just my other hand." Then the tension may resume. But I think you can see the tension/tensionless pattern. This pattern is in all life. We find it in every cell. It is the balanced kyo/jitsu pattern of healthy life. Kyo energy is not better than jitsu nor jitsu better than kyo; both are essential. 

Breathe in a deep in-breath until tension comes up, and wanting to release the breath. Deep breathing in, deeper, deeper. Can you feel it becoming jitsu? Now, at the moment of release, feel the tension resolve. Release. It becomes still. Now breathe out, keep pushing, pushing the air out, feel it become jitsu again. When you cannot push any more air out, let the in-breath begin. The breath becomes kyo and then builds into jitsu again. This is also the pattern of waves pounding on the beach. There is a moment of stopping, and then they pull under, drawing back into the sea. Jitsu. A moment of stopping as they collect into the next wave; then they build up, ready to roll toward shore again. 

Balanced kyo and jitsu is a healthy energy pattern. A kyo imbalance leads to low energy, or lethargy; a jitsu imbalance leads to tension held in the body and mind, restlessness. I would ask each of you in these coming two weeks to observe yourself and watch as to whether for the most part kyo and jitsu are balanced, or if you have a habit of either kyo or jitsu imbalance. If you see that habit of imbalance, just note it. What happens to it when you note it. Does jitsu imbalance arise more at certain times, such as when you're driving your car? How about kyo imbalance? What brings that on? Sleepiness, boredom? How is the breath with kyo imbalance? How is the breath with jitsu imbalance? Is anger a kyo or a jitsu energy? How about frustration? Boredom? You may be surprised at some of the answers. We're not trying to fix the energy, just to attune to it, to be aware of it. 

Now we come to the second review area. We spoke at length last semester about the three kayas. The term kaya means body. The terminology is very specific. Dharmakaya means truth body. The second is nirmanakaya. Nirmana means form. It may relate to physical form, to emotional form, to mental form. It is the outer expression. Your physical body is the outer expression of your physicality. Your thoughts are the outer expression of the mental body. Emotions are the outer expression of the emotional body.  

We can think of the relationship of dharmakaya and nirmanakaya as that spring and river of which I spoke last class. The dharmakaya is as the underground spring, ever pure, ever perfect. It bursts out of the ground and runs down the hillside. Ten miles down, we have a small stream flowing. It contains that pure water. It also contains runoff from the nearby farmer's field, fertilizer, and so forth. Animals have come to drink and churned the bottom. Bits of vegetation have fallen in. And yet, the perfect water is still there. Last class I reminded you, you don't have to walk back up to the spring to get a drink, and yet you do not want to drink directly from the stream or you'll get a belly- ache. So you filter the water. You filter out the additives to find the Ever-Perfect. But you don't go elsewhere for it; it's right there. We speak of this as the non-duality of nirmanakaya, the outer expression, and dharmakaya, the heart essence. 

The third kaya is sambhogakaya. This is given the translation, transition body. In part, it's the process wherein that pure spring emerges out from underground, flows down the hill, and becomes a stream, with the various pollutants that have entered the stream. It's easy to think of it that way, to think of the Ever-Perfect, and the transition into the outer expression. 

But sambhogakaya is not just that; sambhogakaya runs both ways. 

Right there in the stream we find the pure spring. Right there in the pure spring, we know the stream. When you see a blossom on an apple tree, right there in the seed that it bears is a whole apple orchard. The acorn contains the whole oak grove. 

We spent a lot of time on this last semester. I wanted to refresh your memory about the terms. We did a number of exercises, such as one in which I asked you to be the sea, swells gently riding and falling on an almost still ocean. Then we opened the door and had the wind blow in, had you become a wave rising out of the sea. People were almost dancing, raising up their arms, becoming a wave. And then we closed the door, waves dying down into the sea, feeling the ground, the dharmakaya, in this case, the ocean. You saw you were both at once, the depths of the ocean and expressions of that ocean as waves. 

Thoughts will express. Emotions will express. Body contractions will express. Jitsu or kyo imbalance may express. Anger, sadness, joy, bliss. Each will come in its time. The ground remains stable. Your meditation practice is the means to come to know that ground directly. Sambhogakaya is the stage of knowing and holding the non-duality of ground and expression. Another translation of sambhogakaya is wealth body. 

Your mindfulness practice is the means to stay present with the expressions of that ground and to observe the habitual patterns of relating to those expressions. The most familiar habitual pattern for most humans is to create a self and look at the expressions as good or bad. When they are experienced as good, people usually want to encourage them. When they are experienced as bad, people want to cut them down with a sword. These patterns just enhance the whole sense of duality and separate self. This is part of the learned habit energy. People tend to either deny the expressions or act them out. They forget the third and most important possibility, to just rest in awareness, aware of what has arisen, tending to it, but free of selfidentification selfidentification with it. Here the wisdom deepens that everything arises out of conditions, is not self, just the outflow of conditions, arising and passing away. 

If you read the trainings that were sent out two weeks ago, you will recognize that what I'm talking about here is the work that brings us to the level of mastery, where an arising sensation, emotion, or thought, is attended skillfully, but without a lot of stories about it, without getting caught up in it personally. 

If you spill a glass of milk, the story from when you were three years old, "Oh, I'm clumsy," may come. If the story comes, it comes. That story also is simply arising out of conditions. At any stage, we can stop and simply bow to the story, thought, or judgment, smile to it, and let it be. First there is the spilled milk, then the memory of parental judgment, and then perhaps the contraction, shame around that judgment. Each one comes like an actor entering the stage on cue. 

You do not have to get caught up in the drama. You can watch each emerge, see if there's anything that needs to be attended to there, and if so, attend to it, such as wiping up the milk. 

The stories will run as long as there's fuel for them. We don't worry about that; we simply note that it's happening and cease to be selfidentified with it. In other words, we come back to a balanced kyo/jitsu energy. First, there is contraction: milk spilled. And then a further contraction, with the memory of judgment and shame. There is no contraction around the contraction. Nothing keeps it going. The primary experience is simply energy contracting. Remembering. Tension. Knowing it as unpleasant. 

We rest in awareness and watch these old patterns pass by. Like the polluted stream where we drink the water only with a filter, we don't have to take this stream of stories in as continued nourishment. We filter it with mindfulness and with lovingkindness. What you are learning to do is rest in center, however you wish to name it. Dharmakaya is one handy term. The simple terms, that of God within, Buddha nature, or the indwelling Christ, will also do. These are all handy labels. The label is just a label. Each of you must find this experience of center. I can only give you guidelines to that experience. 

We cannot say that the experience is free of contraction. The ocean is an ocean whether or not there are waves. The nature of the ocean is fluidity. When the wind blows, waves come. The nature of the mind is to give rise to thought. Memory may bring forth pain, and therefore contraction, waves. That's all. 

Let us take this summary one step further now. We've been working with the personalized expression of the Seven-Branch Prayer and Four Empowerments. Each of you will have individualized the process for yourselves. To me, the primary steps are these. First, awareness. Let us use a hypothetical situation. You are in your car. You are late for work or an appointment. You left home on time but the streets are wet and traffic is heavy, and now you're late. Tension is building. The car ahead of you has sputtered and died, as the light turned green. A thick line of traffic moves to your right and left, but you're frozen in place. Then the driver behind you begins to honk! Can you feel the tension building? 

Here is unbalanced jitsu energy, as anger, as tension. The first step is to note, "tension." Name whatever is predominant, whether in the mind or the body. Perhaps anger is predominant, felt more as mental than physical tension. Or perhaps you feel the seat of that anger in the belly or the chest. 

However you are experiencing it, focus on the direct experience of anger. You may feel it as heat or as a short, fast breath. You may feel it as pain in a clenched jaw, or notice the outplay of it as the hand tapping impatiently on the steering wheel. Tension, anger. 

The first step in the personalized Seven-Branch Prayer is the knowing that this physical or mental state has arisen. Judgment may come, such as the thought, "I should not be angry, or I don't want to be angry." Or judgment of others may come: Why is he angry?"  If you can slip a bit out of the personalized story into a little more spaciousness, you will invite what we call compassionate regret. Here, there is the clear understanding, this body or mind tension arose because the conditions are present. There are many contributing conditions: the weather, the traffic, the stalled car, the honking horn, and your own personal conditioning. Tension has arisen. For another person or in another time, compassion might arise. Compassion for all the beings stuck at this intersection. But in this moment, what has arisen in this mind and body is tension or anger. 

We come to step two. Without blaming the self, we note with compassionate regret, "This has arisen." We know it arose out of conditions, but we also note the possibility that this kind of energy not arise from this set of conditions. We acknowledge we can change the conditions subtly by bringing kindness rather than more tension to a situation. We take charge of the conditions, but in a way led by kindness, not by fear. 

The most important third step is to remember that there are beings who have learned this, who have learned under highly difficult conditions, to stay present and openhearted, not to move into an imbalanced state of jitsu or of kyo. Imbalanced kyo would occur in that situation if one moved into a place of denial, closing down. It's just the flip side of imbalanced jitsu. 

So we look toward whatever beings model for us a very loving and skillful response to the situation. We call this seeking support. We turn to our teachers who are not only the literal teachers, living or dead, that is, those who bear the traditional label teacher, but to all of our teachers: our children, our pets, our parents, our friends. But here it's most helpful to turn your mind to a teacher who you know could be spacious in this situation, and a model of that spaciousness. 

Fourth, we offer gratitude that such teachers exist. The step of gratitude is an important one. It's impossible to feel continued anger and gratitude at the same time. Gratitude softens and opens the heart. The reverberations of the anger may still be there, but the doorway into  our most centered space, the doorway back to dharmakaya, is opened by gratitude. 

So in brief review, there is reflection of what arose, compassionate regret, the calling up of support and offering of gratitude toward that support. And then the clear statement that we wish to transcend this habitual pattern. It is a statement of invitation to whatever may balance the habitual pattern. It's a statement of willingness to work skillfully with the habitual energy. 

The fifth step is the most complex. On the relative plane, it is the step we call resolve. We resolve to bring in the balance or antidote to what has arisen, and then we do it. For example, sitting in that traffic jam, you might begin a formal recitation of metta, lovingkindness. Or you might reflect on how many beings all over the world face such stressful situations moment by moment by moment. Reflecting on this, we let it touch our heart so that there is a spontaneous movement of compassion offered out. 

Here you must be intuitive. When you express the intention to balance, you ask, "What will balance this tension that I feel?" On this level, we are working on the relative plane and there is still somebody doing something, that is, balancing. There is the nirmanakaya form expression, and the seeing that the expression brings pain. With love and clarity, we attend to the expression, but there's still a self attending. It is a skillful step, and yet one can do it all one's life without ever transcending the sense of a self, me fixing that, the other. 

We cannot ignore that outer expression, so we attend to it. That is the resolve. Simultaneously, we bring forth what I call resolution. This is the place of greatest immediate learning for some of you. It is the finding of the clear spring water in the muddy creek. What are you going to drink down there? After it's filtered, what do you find? 

That which is aware of tension is not tense. We find that Ever-Perfect in ourselves, that place free of fear, free of tension. That which is aware of fear is not afraid.  

Here we are returning to the dharmakaya. We cannot turn to the dharmakaya in denial of the nirmanakaya expression. We know the outer form expression and we know the center. To balance, you use this transition body, sambhogakaya, knowing that this is not a bridge connecting point A to point B. Rather, your situation is like being in a skyscraper. The ground is always there. When you are on the 10th floor, the ground is still under you. People can get so busy on the 10th floor that they forget that there's a foundation under the building. You can become so engrossed on the ground floor that you forget there's a building above you. Sambhogakaya holds both with equal weight. 

The resolution phase of the Seven-Branch Prayer is aware of the dharmakaya but does not hide in the dharmakaya. The resolution phase involves the clear attendance on the form level while still resting stably on the ground. It is a bit like wading across a fast stream. You must take the force of the current into account, and you must keep your footing on the firm earth. Whether there's six inches of water or four feet, you keep your footing and you attend to the current. 

On the ultimate level of the Seven-Branch Prayer, we rest deeply in that which knows that there's nothing that needs balance, nothing to attend. Perhaps, using my skyscraper analogy, it is like being in a building that you know is built to withstand even the highest grade of earthquake. You're on the 10th floor and you feel the building begin to tremble. If you're on the 10th floor and forget the nature of the building, terror may come. If you ground yourself by recognizing the earthquake-resistant strength of the foundation, you won't get lost in the terror. But you still will want to note there's an earthquake, and not stand next to a shelf of books that may topple over on you. Love attends this way, not fear. 

This is the central step of the Seven-Branch Prayer, but all the steps are important. Without the compassionate regret, we do not open our heart to attend. Without gratitude, we cannot find our heart and center there to attend. When  we view the situation with spaciousness, with gratitude not only to the support and the teachers, but even gratitude to the situation, which is also a teacher in its own way, right there is a way of balancing the fear that comes. Then we move into balance. We experience resolve, and application of the antidotes, and the resolution. We see that place of already existent clarity, center, radiance, and perfection. 

We work with those processes of resolve and resolution for as long as it takes. When whatever the condition and reaction have passed, we again offer gratitude that the teachers have been available to us, and their heart has been able to listen. Finally, we offer out the good of this peaceful space to all beings, whoever wants to share it. 

Many of you will find that the observation of imbalanced kyo and jitsu, or the flowing of balanced kyo and jitsu, becomes an early warning system, so to speak. You may not even know you're tense or angry, but as you become more keyed to your body energy, you will start to notice these imbalances more quickly. 

Last week Barbara had a small splinter in her hand. It was round the back side of her hand in a place where it's not so easy to see it, beside her wrist. When the splinter came into the hand, there was a pinching, a small bit of pain, and then the pain went. She forgot about it. The next day, the hand was not painful, but as she scanned her body, she became aware of a subtle tension that precedes pain. That small area of the hand and arm was energetically blocked off. The energy was so jitsu that it had become impacted. We can use the imagery here of logs floating down a river. They're moving. It's a jitsu energy. But then they come to a dam and lock one against the other until no more movement is possible. 

It seems at first glance like a kyo state. We call it hyper-kyo, because when you release one log, all the logs begin to move again. Where there is no contraction, no jitsu energy, if you remove one log, the others do not move, just float peacefully. So there was not any real sense of pain, no inflammation. What she first noticed was as she used her hand, there was energy  locked together there. It brought her attention to the hand. She looked, and then she saw the little black spot of the splinter. "Oh, I forgot! I picked up that splinter yesterday in that stairwell." So she got a tweezers and she pulled it out. 

Of course, a splinter is not so difficult an object to work with. When instead of a splinter entering the hand we have somebody's anger pushed against you, it's more painful. Still, some of you may not know what you're feeling. But you will feel the difference in your energy field. Get to know your energy field at a time when you're alert, at ease, and the energy feels balanced, so that when it becomes imbalanced in any direction, kyo or jitsu, you note, "Ah it's becoming this or that." 

Some of you are thinking, "Aaron, I don't think I can do that." 

Is there anybody in this room who does not know that he or she is hot when hot, or cold when cold? It's no different, only since childhood you've been taught to recognize the experience of heat and coldness. Now, you are going to train yourself to recognize the experience of imbalanced kyo or jitsu. You don't even need to know fear is present, anger is present, jealousy is present, greed is present; only here is kyo energy; here is jitsu energy. Here I am sitting in this traffic jam thinking, "Oh, I'm very peaceful." But the breathing is coming fast and short. The jaw is clenched. And you recognize, here is jitsu energy. You don't need to name the emotion, just work with the Seven-Branch Prayer and that jitsu energy. See that this energy is the habitual arising in this kind of situation, bring forth the compassionate regret for it, and work with it. 

This work is the foundation for everything else we will do this semester. In our small groups I'm going to give you a specific exercise with which to work. Tonight we'll do the exercise here in the large group, and then go into the small groups and discuss it. 

(The exercise may be read in the continuation of this transcript, found on the web site's library.) 

Aaron's Talk to Teacher Training Group
January 24, 2004

Aaron: You have been reading the book Anna, Grandmother of Jesus. Within that book, she speaks of many initiations, and you have asked me what these are, thinking them to be something quite esoteric. I want to begin with a clear delineation of these trainings and initiations. 

You will see the beginning trainings to be no different from what you have been learning from me for years. You have thought of these as "Buddhist" practice, learning to be present with the arisings of body, emotions, and thought. The Buddha, in his infinite compassion for beings, did not emphasize the later trainings. They were available for those who were ready for them, and many were. But the higher trainings are not necessary for release from the cycle of birth and death, from samsara. 

The core of what he taught was all that was necessary for freedom, that is, to end this karmic cycle of birth and death. Those who have thusly learned may choose to come back as bodhisattva, and many do, and are then able to learn and master the higher trainings. This does not mean that you must be a bodhisattva or even a fully enlightened being to move into these higher trainings, but it is more helpful to master the foundation first, so that is where we have started. 

These trainings are in every tradition. They are given different names. The Buddhist tradition would call it training but we do not speak of initiations. What is an initiation? It is the opportunity to practice the skills in which you have been training and see if you have mastered them, offered as a test. If you fail, it simply indicates the need for further practice. Thus, the initiation is a guideline for your readiness to move on to more advanced skills. Your modern-day fraternities and sororities sometimes have initiations with a very misunderstood use of that word. Here they are merely endurance contests. This has little to do with the true meaning of the phrase initiation

I will now delineate these trainings, giving some basic information about each. Trainings one and two may come in either order and usually are learned together. They are the trainings to observe the arisings within the physical and emotional bodies. One notes that sensations and emotion arise out of conditions and when the conditions cease, these sensations and emotions will cease. The end result of the training at this level is a lessened self-identification with what has arisen, and an ability for more spaciousness with difficult body and emotion experience. Training three does the same work with thought. That t-shirt quotation, "Don't believe everything you think," distills the essence of training three. 

As you can see, these first three trainings are the essence of basic dharma practice, but Jesus taught the same thing in a different way. He did not give us the precise steps with which to transform diffi- cult body sensation, emotion and thought, only re-- minded us that when one slaps us on the face we can return love not hatred. In large part, he did not spell it out because it had already been spelled out by the Buddha, by all the practices within the various mystery schools such as those of the Druids and Essenes, and in many traditions. Jesus was speaking to all the people, but I think he felt it was sufficient to remind them to "turn the other cheek," and that those who already knew how to release the anger could do so with this reminder. Those who did not yet know how would seek training. 

These first three were the trainings given to the youngest of children in the Essene tradition. They were taught never to despise even the most negative arisings in the self, but to recognize them as the result of conditions, to make space for them and to allow their release. Actually, even little children moved quickly into the sixth, seventh and eighth trainings, which I will describe shortly. 

The initiations for these first three trainings were freely given in life, through the stubbed toe, the rude remark that brought anger and the restless mind with its judgments, fears and complaints. 

The fourth training was the first opening into the experience of selflessness, no-self. It was the first seeing of the small self as a created mind-object and the first knowing of the greater Self. There was as yet no stability resting in that place of greater Self, only the first glimpse of it. This glimpse changes everything. If one has a deep commitment to nonharm, one can no longer act out of one's ego and fear and still be honest with one's values. Included in this training, are the deepenings of … I am hesitant to use the term sila here because others may not know this term, but there is no other precise English equivalent term. For those unfamiliar with the word sila, it is a Pali language word. It connotes moral awareness, not a "Thou shalt not …" morality but a morality deeply based on knowing the non-separation of self and other. 

The fifth training is the opening into non-dual awareness. It is the fruit of the first four trainings. In the fifth training, one more deeply recognizes relative reality and ultimate reality. Here is the first view that these realities are not dualistic, each to each, but that relative reality is an expression of ultimate reality. This means that when you are present with relative reality, the ground of the ultimate is still there. When you are resting on top of the ocean's surface, rising and falling with the waves, the stillness of the depths is still there. When you sink to the depths, the waves continue to rise and fall far above you. Mastery at the fifth level of training involves a more conceptual understanding. One who has mastered this remembers it but is rarely able to hold both places simultaneously. In Buddhist terms, this person is often at the streamentry level. 

The sixth, seventh and eighth trainings mirror the first, second and third but at a deeper level. Here one is asked to bring in what one understands about the conditioned arisings of physicality, emotion and mind, and to merge those insights with the experience of no-self, and with the, at this point, conceptual nondual understandings. My book Awakened Heart and the practices of the Four Empowerments and Seven-Branch Prayer thought therein are basic tools in the learnings of trainings six, seven and eight. One understands that difficult emotions will arise, for example, and one has learned how to not react to those emotions either by acting them out or by suppression, but just to make space for them. But they still arise. We understand they are conditioned, that this is the outplay of karma, of habit, but they still arise. When the training is deep enough not to react with negativity to their arising, but to bring kindness, then it is time to deepen the fifth training and begin to use it as a tool for the transmutation of the heavier body and mind experiences. 

You understand how the Four Empowerments and Seven-Branch Prayer are useful here. In summary of those practices, you turn to the master for support, and with gratitude that these models of clarity and love exist for you. You see the negative emotion that has arisen, for example. Without a contraction, without a negative feeling about the arising, you experience compassionate regret that it continues to arise. You know it as result of conditions. You understand that for the result to cease to arise, the conditions must change. You understand that you are stuck in this place. Then arise the two levels of resolution: you resolve to clarify this habit energy on the relative level, and on the ultimate level you understand the already existent resolution of the habit. You can see here why training five must precede six, seven and eight. 

Within this ultimate level of resolution, you clearly see the balance or antidote to the heavy energy that has arisen. For example, if there is jealousy, you do not try to push that jealousy aside and force the experience of joy for the one who has received what you wanted, so much as you find that already existent joy and the willingness to nurture it. When there is restlessness in mind and body, you both resolve to allow the release of restlessness and you see clearly the entire resolution of restlessness, which is peace, tranquility and stillness. And you find those already existent in the Self. There is the willingness not to perpetuate the contracted energy of the restlessness but to turn one's focus to that which is more spacious. 

If you see a being act in a brutal way toward another and a strong judgment arises in the mind, right there with the judgment you note the possibility of compassion. You do not hold to the stories of judgment; you note that holding as old habit. Working with either the Four Empowerments or Seven-Branch Prayer, you both resolve to allow the arising of compassion and you see the already existent compassion and that you have the choice to hold on to the judgment or to shift into compassion. You see the nondual nature of judgment and compassion, that judgment is simply a distortion of compassion, a fear-based expression of the inherently compassionate mind. You do not have to get rid of judgment for compassion to be known; judgment will go when it is ready. The question is whether you will focus your attention on the judgment and become caught in its stories or in the negativity of judging judgment, or whether you will know it as a distorted expression and joyfully release it. In either case, you may move to stop the abuser. The judgment mind will attack with negativity. The compassionate mind will stop the abuse with loving energy. It will know how to say no with kindness, without fear or contraction. 

You can see that these trainings are what we are focusing on this year in the spiritual inquiry class, and also in the Tuesday night meditation class. All the people in these classes have sufficiently mastered the first five trainings. They are not yet masters of these, but have sufficient prowess to continue. The initiations will occur in everyday life, as they are ready for them. No special seeking of such initiation is needed. 

The ninth training is a deepening level of understanding of no-self. Here one becomes more stable in opening to that deep interconnection of all that is. When something pulls you out of that spaciousness and integration, you know that you are out. You understand that it is a temporary result of conditions. You do not take it as truth. You work with that experience of separation in the same way that you have worked with difficult body, emotion and mind experience in the sixth, seventh and eighth trainings. Thus, separation and the arising of the small ego self are seen through Awareness. The greater Self is readily accessible. You understand that you go one direction or the other by habit and choice. 

The tenth training is the deeper resolution of duality. One experiences oneself as a pole, feet grounded in the relative, and we could say here the base and lower chakras grounded in the relative, head and upper chakras grounded in the ultimate. The heart is that which holds it all together. At this level, you truly become an instrument of light. I do not want to suggest that those in the lower trainings and with heartfelt intention to transcend negativity are not instruments of light, but they are instruments of light in training. The tenth level is the first of more mature service to the light. It is the first level where the automatic response to negativity is to offer it love, to draw it into the light, to draw the negativity up inward into the light and bring the light downward into the negativity. This is possible because you are touching both. You cannot touch both so long as there is residual aversion to negativity, and so long as there is duality. 

At this point, the vibrational frequency in all of the bodies is in process strongly of transforming. The person at this level is increasingly able to experience negativity as low vibration frequency and to understand experientially the power of light as tool. At this level, there may still be karma to resolve, so there may not be full liberation, but there is the understanding that the liberation is in sight. At the full maturity of the tenth training and initiation, often, in Buddhist terms, is the once-returner. 

The eleventh to fifteenth of trainings and initiations repeat the cycle. In trainings eleven through thirteen the adept is using his/her mastery of light in a continual way to transform negative energy as it arises in body, emotions and mind. The fourteenth training often leads one to a more profound enlightenment experience and the ability to easily hold both the personality self and the ground of being. The fifteenth training and initiation is of the deepening learning to stably hold this light not only into the inner experiences but also into the outer world. Here, of course, we are at the level of non-returner, although many such beings choose to return in service. Karma is resolved to the degree that karma does not force return. There is still some karma, it comes to fruition quickly and is resolved with light. 

Now we move to the higher training. I think you can see where this is going. Once this mastery is in place, anything may be done with light. The being who has done this work, while deeply grounded in positive polarity with deepest intention of the good of all beings, will use these deeper practices for healing. By healing I mean the healing of distortion on the physical, emotion and mental levels, in itself and everywhere in the world, wherever that healing is requested. The entities here are great masters. The tools they use are those of light. All of the practices alluded to in the book are real: cellular regeneration, light conception and so forth. Back in the times of Lemuria and Atlantis, these were common practices, but the beings were higher density, not third density beings. The work now has been to teach third density humans to bring forth these practices that were known and lost because of the heavy density human experience. It is not necessary that they be lost. More clearly put, it is not necessary that just because you have a heavier density body you cannot still work with light. In this process, the earth and all upon it raises in vibrational frequency. All who are ready to sustain that higher vibration will shift into fourth density, including the earth itself. And I think soon after, in cosmic time, into fifth density. Yet this density will all be composed of the basic elements— earth, air, fire, water and ether—and will not have only a crystalline base. 

Some of you are higher density adepts, bodhisattvas really, returned to help carry forth this transformation. Some of you are third-density beings ready for transformation and who have brought this forth through your courage in repeated growths through endless incarnations in this third-density plane. You are all seeking one thing together: the movement of matter into light, without loss of any of the beautiful qualities of matter. This shift has the power to literally transform the universe. That is why darkness so fears it. 

Darkness wishes to keep matter at a low vibration, for darkness itself is a low vibration. It is based on fear, hatred, greed and self-centeredness. Light understands self-centeredness as Self-centeredness, which means holding All-that-Is is at the center. It understands that it is this All-that-Is; "I Am That!" Negative polarity puts the personality self at center. One is constantly at odds with the other; thus, there is constant contraction. 

The entities here are not only assisting with physical healing. That is one gift of their work. But the core of their work is the bringing forth of the light into this earth plane. We who do this work simply call ourselves brothers and sisters of light. You are also brothers and sisters of light, still in training, as we are still in training, all beings going into greater and greater light.