Volume 13, Number 1 - Winter 2004/2005


Letter from Barbara

From the Board President
Ann Barden

Post-Election Wisdom
Excerpt from Spiritual Inquiry Class
Barbara and Aaron
November 10, 2004

In This Difficult Moment, Where is God
Aaron and Jeshua
Whistler Advance
July 22, 2004

The Horsefly
Barbara and Aaron from a private session
August 24, 2004

Lessons from the Appalachian Trail
Part 1: Generosity

David 'Raven' Coupland

The Warrior in the World
Craig Brann

The Riddle
Excerpt from a Dharma talk at DSC
Ajahn Thanasanti
October 3, 2004

Excerpt from Spiritual Inquiry Class
Barbara and Aaron
September 15, 2004

Realization of Oneness—Whistler Advance
Mary and Aaron
 channeled by Judith Coates and Barbara Brodsky
Sunday, July 25, 2004

Art as Spiritual Practice Workshop
September 25, 2004

Aaron Quote

Letter from Barbara
November 2004

Dear friends,

I seem to write many letters while waiting in airports. Hours ago I left a cold, wet, November morning in Michigan and now sit under a palm tree at a Florida airport, awaiting pick-up when others arrive on later flights. "Waiting" is an odd word. It can convey relaxed presence or expectation, tension and impatience. The first months after my last letter to you, after the wave knocked me out, I spent some time waiting in the latter way, holding expectations for healing, counting the weeks until arrival at some new state the medical authorities suggested might come. Six weeks: bones should be healing. Ten weeks: pain should be going. Twelve weeks: time for muscle strength to return. Of course, nothing happens on schedule, and as we hold to how things "should be," we lose touch with things just as they are.

Based on doctors' statements, I viewed six months as a time when life would return to normal. By four months I was almost there, feeling more free of pain, more energetic and flexible. Then a new dish was served to the table. I awoke one morning with blurry vision. An examination by a retinal specialist diagnosed major bleeding in both eyes, partially a result of the broken facial bones in the accident.

The next course was fear, with anger and frustration as seasoning! "I don't want this!" Want it or not, here it is. The last two months have been a time of major learning, or really more a remembering of faith, of dharma, and of the strength of practice that shine through when we allow it, even when fear and discomfort are strong. Below is part of a letter to a friend, two weeks into this experience.

This is hard. At 3 AM I awake with fear, despair, you name it. To be deaf and blind, that fully cut off. The practice is strong; awareness knows fear as fear, despair as despair. The stories do not run for long. Mostly, I've let go of past (how the vision "should" be) and future, both hope and despair, and am just with it as it is in this moment. But yes, despair does come to visit, and hope is just as cruel and untrue, all stories.

Last Sunday dawn, at the cabin, I went out to sit on the deck in the woods, a favorite spot. But the trees were all blurred. Anger and despair came. Fear. I sat and cried for awhile, then meditated. Into awareness came the lovely smell of wood smoke, sweet apple I had just cut, burning in the stove. Hal brought me tea. I looked out again and it was not as it used to be, but it was lovely, the blurred edges softening the trees as dawn sun filtered through. Just this moment, perfect in itself!

I find myself very humbled, aware that all we work so hard to build in the world does crumble in a minute. This cabin we renovated last winter, imagining years of summer sun, fall colors and winter's snows out all the added windows-it means nothing. My family, husband, three wonderful sons and a lovely daughter-in-law, will grow old and die. Even the dhamma center I have worked so hard to nurture and develop, what is it? The dhamma doesn't fade but the center will someday.

All wholesome things, and fine to give our energy and love there, but they'll all crumble, this century or the next. All that we can truly hold is liberation. All that we can take with us is love. I know this is the Buddha's wisdom. I never before fully understood it.

I have been letting go, not depressed really, and not resigned to blindness, which may or may not come, but letting go of so many attachments, learning how to live with things as they are. I'm just beginning to understand how to continue to live passionately, even though nothing matters. It doesn't and it does, and I see how we must hold that balance.

Almost two months have passed now. Treatment with steroids has reduced the inflammation and bleeding. Vision is improving. Long-term prognosis is unknown but the doctor is optimistic. I have just been given permission to travel; hence this trip with family to visit my mother. Right now I sit beneath a graceful palm tree, surrounded by glorious flowers of every shade. Do they look as they "should"? I have no idea, but they're beautiful. This is how it is today. Tomorrow will bring its own clarity or blur.

I am truly humbled, left with the deep realization of impermanence and the need to be passionately alive in this moment, for this is all we have. We do not control the future, but whatever that future brings, it will also be perfect, maybe a tough perfect, unpleasant and difficult, maybe easy, beautiful and joyful, but perfect all the same. However it is, it will change.

From where do I get the idea that I can teach and live the dharma better seeing than blind, better hearing than deaf? Life will bring what it will, and I can learn to taste all the courses that are offered, and still invite that which feels most wholesome and joyful, invite it passionately but without fear.

I hope to see (literally) many of you this spring in retreats in Michigan and elsewhere. Meanwhile, my wishes for a new year of peace and happiness for us all.

With love, Barbara

From the Board President
Ann Barden

Dear Deep Spring Sangha,

By the time this newsletter arrives, I will no longer be the President of the Board of Deep Spring. It has been a rich and full two years in that role, and it is now time to pass it on to someone else. It is important for our stability as an organization that a role not be too identified with any one person.

The current Board has nine members. Each year three members complete their terms of three years and three new members come on. This process helps ensure continuity and sharing of what we have learned in this work together. I have said to many of you, "… when it is your turn to be on the Board …" and that is the way it works. We take our turn at the work around the business of this organization. That turn brings a wonderful benefit for each of us as an individual. It is an opportunity to practice bringing Presence and Lovingkindness to what we do with each other in a forgiving and loving atmosphere. That opportunity has certainly deepened my practice. But there is also a benefit for the organization. We each have unique skills and understandings about what the work is and how we can best do it, and sharing that enriches us all.

The new President of the Board will be Corty Cammann. He has two years' experience on the Board and also has professional experience with helping organizations be clear about goals and processes. His presence has been invaluable. He has agreed to undertake the Presidency for one year, in close partnership with Sandy Wiener as Vice President, who will plan to assume the role of President after one year. We on the Board all like this model of partnership and hope we can continue it in the future. I will continue on the Board and will be able to focus more on some of the other work that arises as we are growing. I look forward to whatever that brings.

In metta, Ann Barden

Post-Election Wisdom
Excerpt from Spiritual Inquiry Class
Barbara and Aaron
November 10, 2004

This is an excerpt from a class transcript immediately following the presidential election. For space reasons we have excerpted the main talk. The question and answer part of the transcript bring additional clarity; see the entire 041110 transcript.

Many of you have asked me to speak about the election. "What do you think of it, Aaron?" you've asked me.

I don't want to step on any toes here, politically. I will certainly not assume that you all supported the same candidates. I don't want to speak of the candidates in terms of good guy and bad guy, but to understand the sambhogakaya level of both candidates. Here is one reflection you might do; I thank Thich Nhat Hanh for this particular reflection. Look at Kerry and look at Bush. Can you see that Kerry also contains within him some Bush elements? Can you see that Bush also contains some Kerry elements?

Some of you are not fully understanding. Think of a bed, just a wooden frame. Place a box spring on it, also with wood and metal springs, and some upholstered surface. You put a mattress on that. Then you cover it with a soft featherbed layer, sheets, blankets, pillows. The whole is the bed.

We could say the bed has a number of elements: it has the frame element; it has the softness and warmth elements; it has the gentle firmness element of the mattress; it has a springiness. These are all the factors that make up a bed.

Now, think of a pallet on the floor. A mat on the floor. And a bare blanket. It's lacking many of the factors that create great comfort. And yet we would certainly say it has some bed elements. There is a soft mat, even if it's only an inch thick. There is a covering for warmth, even if it is threadbare. When we look at the pad on the floor, we can see that it also contains bed elements. When we look at the plush bed, we can see that it contains pad-on-the-floor elements, such as perhaps a bed-board to make the mattress more firm, and a blanket, one thick and one threadbare, but nevertheless both have a blanket.

When you look at the bush outside your door, you can see sky elements in it because without the sun and rain it could not grow. You can see earth elements in it because without the soil it could not grow. When you look at President Bush, can you find the John Kerry elements in him? He is going to be the president of the whole country, not only 50% of the country. He has certainly heard the dissatisfaction expressed with some of his policies, the concerns expressed, and he knows that a good portion of the population opposed him. In that statement, in that vote for Kerry, you have given Bush a big piece of Kerry element that he must carry with him, whether he likes to carry it or not.

Kerry, as he campaigned, had to look at all the situations that might face him as president. He had to understand President Bush's thinking, and in doing so, he had to incorporate many Bush elements. So I think it's important that you reflect on the place where these two men come together. If you supported Kerry, it is important that you continue to have a voice, so that Bush is constantly requested to hold that Kerry element within himself. And if you supported Bush, it is also important to maintain your voice so that he may continue to see the Bush element within himself.

The other candidates are also there. Nothing is lost. Please reflect on this so as to find the place of peace and harmony rather than the place of contradiction and polarity. This does not mean you do not make a firm statement against those policies which disturb you. Then President Bush will also have your elements within himself, his loyal opposition.

Let me take some thoughts about the election a step further. I have sensed in talking to many of you that many in this class, at least, were in support of Kerry, and are quite upset with the results of the election. My intended talk on consciousness would have come in handy as a preliminary, but we'll get to it next class or the following one. Suffice it to say that there are many levels of consciousness. When you speak to a 2-year-old, you don't try to explain things rationally all the time. The 2-year-old is very much in a magical consciousness. He can't always hear logic so well. If you explain to him why it is bedtime, that he'll be tired the next day if he doesn't get to bed, it doesn't really register. But if you tell him when the big hand points here, then we jump in bed, that's part of his magical consciousness, a ritual he can follow.

But the 12-year-old has outgrown magical consciousness. Often young adolescents are in what we call mythic consciousness. Here I am borrowing Ken Wilbur's terms. There are many ways of elucidating these levels of consciousness, different articulations of it. But Ken Wilbur has done a remarkable job of naming levels of consciousness. Although his articulation is not the one I am most used to, I would prefer not to bring in a new terminology when his is clear.

Mythic consciousness is caught in beliefs, black and white, right and wrong, good and evil. Much of what you term the religious right in this country is caught in mythic conscious. It has not yet evolved into rational consciousness. Those who still take the Bible literally would be an example.

Much of this country is in rational consciousness, but beyond rational consciousness is what we would call vision-logic consciousness. These are the visionaries who are still grounded in logic but able to see with a bigger perspective.

At the time of my final lifetime 600 years ago, much of the earth was still in mythic consciousness. Rational consciousness was just beginning to become more common, though not yet a norm. You've made tremendous strides since then.

Vision-logic consciousness yields to psychic consciousness, psychic consciousness to subtle consciousness. These are the levels at which one can perceive beyond the ordinary senses through clairaudience, clairvoyance, and beyond that, simply with intuitive awareness and with sensing of energy. Those of you who practice energy work are working with subtle consciousness. Beyond these we have the higher supramundane consciousnesses. I will not go into detail tonight.

The whole earth is in process of growing through from the lowest level of consciousness, which has a very heavy vibrational frequency, to a higher and higher and higher consciousness. Just as you cannot rush the 2-year-old into the next level of consciousness, but must allow gradual transition, you cannot rush the earth and the sentient life upon the earth. But, just as your willingness to explain to the 2-year-old even though he doesn't yet understand, to hold the door open to the next level of consciousness is vital to his shifting into that higher level of consciousness, so your willingness to hold the door open is essential to the shift in consciousness in the earth.

So this election was in a sense, Barbara begins to use the word battle, and that is not an accurate word. This election was in a sense a teach/learn situation between those who are still in mythic and early rational consciousness, and those who are more firmly grounded in vision logic and higher consciousness. It is one of the first elections to have been so radically a statement of this consciousness vs. that one. More often in your elections, both candidates are of a more similar consciousness.

I want to make it clear that these levels of consciousness are not like floors in a building; rather, they are intersecting planes. So I am not suggesting that President Bush is simply at childlike mythical consciousness. He has areas of vision-logic consciousness and areas of mythic consciousness, and areas of rational consciousness. Kerry I would say has passed beyond most mythic consciousness. When it arises in him, as it does arise in all of you, he recognizes it as such and doesn't get caught up in those early beliefs. He touches more on vision-logic consciousness, though he is mostly based in rational consciousness. Occasionally he also extends himself more into psychic and subtle consciousness, is much more intuitive.

This is how I saw this election, not as these two forces in opposition to each other, but really the higher consciousness inviting the lower consciousness. Higher consciousness was making the clear statement, "You cannot stay hidden there in such early childhood consciousness. You must move out." Mythic consciousness was resistant.

I know I may be offending those Republicans amongst us. Please note I am not saying mythic and rational consciousness are inferior to vision-logic consciousness, only they have a different vibration. It is the view from the bottom of the mountain, not the view part way up the mountain.

Remember that the person who has not developed the pole that we've been looking at, the sambhogakaya, and who moves into the highest supramundane consciousness, you certainly would not want such a person for your president! Not without grounding also in rational consciousness. The president has to deal with very real life issues, but hopefully to deal with them from this place of higher consciousness, as well as with openness to the everyday mundane dirt swept in on the rug. But you also do not want to trust as leader the person who is attached to beliefs so he/she cannot see the larger picture.

You know I do not predict the future. What I say next is what I simply see as a very real possibility. This goes beyond President Bush himself and into some of the election tactics used with or without his knowing. I have not looked to see what he knows; that would be an invasion of his privacy. But there were some very dishonest tactics used in the elections. Note that this is true of most elections.

There are certain deceits, certain lies, that are likely to come forth in the coming years, I think. There is likely to be much turmoil. It is important that those of you with the wisdom to see, understand that the Kerry elements exist in Bush and the Bush elements exist in Kerry. The contracted elements exist within the Uncontracted, and the Uncontracted exists within the contracted.

I think that if Kerry had just won, there would have been a lot of dissension from that 50% whose candidate lost. Without the ability of that group as yet to sufficiently raise the consciousness, there would have been contraction moving into defensiveness, into narrowness. This is not what the earth needs. I think that those honest supporters of the current president are going to be strongly invited to look at their attachments to their beliefs in the coming years, as certain truths come to light, in a way that will bring forth a powerful transition; maybe in 4 years, maybe not for 8 or 12 years. But that the aspiration to honesty, clarity and love will bring forth this move into a higher vibration, into higher levels of consciousness, in the same way that the 2-year-old matures into a 12-year-old and into a 20-year-old.

I hope it will not take so many years. I realize that right now people are dying because of decisions made by the current administration. I am not condemning those decisions, only saying that they are based on a certain belief system. It gives some of you much sadness to think about those people dying, and yet you might consider the possibility that this, really we could call it sacrifice, is one of the things they came into incarnation for. There is a songwriter, Bob Dylan. His song's words state the question, "How many deaths will it take till we know that too many people have died?" How many deaths will it take? But this is the only way that those beings with blinders, living in a fear-based, mythical, belief-structured consciousness, can outgrow their attachment to beliefs and begin the shift into the higher consciousness, which is necessary for the entire transition of the earth. This level of consciousness with fear and attachment to beliefs is not just true of the supporters of the president but of the adversaries too.

Enough words. Let us pause here for you to stretch and then we will speak to your questions. Thank you for hearing me, and I ask the forgiveness of any staunch Republicans in the crowd if I have spoken in a way that leads you to feel hurt! That is all.

Q: I appreciate Aaron's perspective. In the last week [it's] about the only ray of hope that I have heard. I've gone in the same direction he suggests, but it's a little more convincing coming from him. I wish I could trust that learning can take place.

Aaron: I am Aaron. There was a lifetime in which the human that I was served as a teacher to mentally handicapped individuals, beings who had a very difficult time understanding new information. These were people that many had given up on. That being I was, was a nun living on the outskirts of a large city. These were orphans who were cast out of their homes, who were unable literally to speak or care for themselves, and in that culture so many ages ago, they were simply abandoned to die.

The sisters with whom I lived invited these children in. What is amazing to me as I reflect back on that lifetime was not how retarded they were but how they well they could learn given a situation that supported learning. Certainly some of them did not learn a lot, did not learn how to care for themselves, nor even how to talk. But a certain radiance began to shine through these children who had lived as animals and been treated as animals, when they were treated with kindness and respect.

One of the beautiful things that happened in that lifetime was as the developing orphanage for handicapped children eventually became quite overcrowded, people in the city began to pay attention to what we were doing. New living places were set up for these children. As the children became adolescents and adults, supportive living situations were created for them, places where they could do whatever kinds of work they could do in the world and be treated with respect.

There was a couple who had given birth to such a child. They had other children. They could see no way to care for this child and they had literally abandoned him. We had raised him. For his first four years he was treated as less than an animal, literally tied in a corner of the home and fed scraps of food. This treatment was not from unkindness but from need, the only way to keep him safe, but also grew from fear, anger and frustration. With us, he learned to speak. He was more articulate than many, able to talk about his childhood. Finally as a teenager he asked to have the opportunity to meet his parents. There were some records that enabled us to find them. Another sister and I went with this boy. I'll never forget his words as he faced these people who had been his tormenters in his early years, given him a loveless life and then thrown him out. And he looked at them and he said, "I have learned to love you and I forgive you because I see how hard it was for you. You didn't know what to do with me."

This was the invitation this couple needed. The boy of his own choice continued to live in the orphanage and as he matured, to work with the younger orphans. But he visited with his parents frequently. And they came to the orphanage quite often. They began to take some of the children who were less needy of care back into their homes for visits, to help acclimate them to the outside world. They began to ask their friends to do so.

There is no way that this couple could have been led to that movement in those early years when their fear led them to abuse and then abandon their son. No amount of shame could have converted them, only love.

I think this is the way it is for your world, that you who see deeply are asked to have the courage to forgive and to forgive again, to have compassion, and yet also to remember that compassion is strong, and that it is vital that you continue to take a stance, continue to state what you find to be true, to support the ability of politics, media and so forth to bring truth into the world. You cannot abandon this world. The trick is learning to do it without attachment to immediate results, because, as with these parents, the results will come gradually. But my experience is that love always wins, and that the nature of consciousness is never to go downward but is to rise.

Yes, there will always be new souls coming into the earth plane, coming in with a lower level of consciousness. And yet, so many beings who are just beginning third density now come in with a higher level of consciousness because they have related to the higher consciousness around them in 2nd density, as pets, as plants, and so forth. The soul energy that was in these animals and vegetation has been surrounded by a much more loving, higher vibration than was true many hundreds of years ago, so that even the newer young ones are not so young, are not so deeply set in lower consciousness. There are many more who come into their first human lifetime with much higher consciousness. I pause.

In This Difficult Moment, Where is God
Aaron and Jeshua
Whistler Advance, July 22. 2004

A Channeled Dialogue: Aaron, speaking through Barbara Brodsky, and Jeshua, speaking through Judith Coates Whistler Advance, July 22, 2004

Aaron: You are unlimited, radiant, and all-powerful. Why then do you create the myth of limit? The younger soul aspires toward power, but with growing maturity, you reach a point of seeing how you may do damage through misuse of power. But negative thought still arises; you don't trust yourselves to hold that unlimitedness and power for fear you will misuse it.

The stories of anger, fear, greed, and so forth will still come, at least for a while. There can be equanimity about them. That means there's a certain wisdom that sees, "This has arisen," and attends to it appropriately but without contraction. When you learn to attend to the difficult arisings in the mind and body with kind attention, ease arises naturally because spaciousness is the essence of your being.

If you have a garden, weeds will grow. When you see a weed in your garden, you don't hate the weed. If there's open soil, a weed will probably grow in it. You just get out a trowel and remove it; no problem. If you have a two year old, a bit tired and whiney, he may come into the kitchen and shout, "I want a cookie!" while you're cooking supper. You don't hate the child. You understand that his whining and neediness has arisen out of conditions. You don't think, "This is a bad child, a whiney, dreadful child." Simply, in this moment, this child is having this difficult experience, and you attend to it. You hug the child; maybe you offer a carrot, and ask if he would like to help you stir the soup.

When you learn to attend to the difficult arisings in the mind and body in this way with kind attention, equanimity arises naturally because this is the essence of your being.

The trick is to stop believing that you must get rid of fear, impatience, jealousy, or whatever, before you can come to that divine center. Instead, know that the divine center is right there with these somewhat heavy density expressions. Don't look elsewhere for love; right there in the anger is love.

Jeshua taught me this deeply. I came to seek him out, just after my beloved wife had died in childbirth. I was heartbroken, angry. On the way to see him, I fell off a cliff and broke my leg. Thus I came to Jeshua. He had the power to heal. I wanted him to magically heal that leg. He saw deeper. He knew me well enough to see the agony I felt from my wife's death, how I blamed myself although I was really blameless.

Each day he came and talked to me. I was angry. "Why don't you heal the leg?" He would put his hands on it and say, "It will be better in time." He knew that what I needed was to find the infinite source of love within myself, right there with my anger and pain, not to go elsewhere, to some place of artificial peace contrived out of denial, to find it. If he had healed the leg, my heart would not have cracked open as it needed to, allowing grief and love to mingle, allowing the profound letting go of how I thought things ought to be, into the present moment of how things were.

While my leg healed, he helped me find space for the anger so that the love underneath could shine through. I became my true self again and released the idea of the one who was broken.

This was a beautiful experience offered with the support of Jeshua. But each of you has that support within yourselves, since the divine is there within you. The deepest knowing of who you are is always available. Look for it especially when you are troubled, angry, or fearful. Stop and ask, "Right now in this moment, where is love? In this very difficult moment, where is God?" And you will find it because where else could it be but right there? You only have to be willing to look.

Jeshua: "Where is God?" How often have you said that in moments of despair? "Where is God? God! Where are you? Why don't you come and make everything right for me? I sorrow. I hurt." You cry out to God and you cry out to me to have some greater power to fix things for you. And yet, in the midst of you is God, the Love that heals. And yet, as you are in the midst of whatever is going on, all you can see is so close to you, you do not have the wholly vision, the vision of the w-h-o-l-e.

Where is God? It is in the place of love. And you find God, you find your divinity, as you will step back a moment or so into the place of the beholder. At first it is for a moment or so. Later it becomes a way of living. You step back from the drama that is right in front of you, all around you. You take the deep breath.

In the simplicity of the deep breath there is an opportunity for peace. There is an opportunity to see things differently, to behold with non-attachment, to be in the place of pure love, the place of God. It is as easy and as simple as taking the deep breath, and allowing new vision. The first thing you do as individualized energy of incarnation is to take the breath. The last thing you do as you are releasing the body is to breathe your last breath.

Any time you want to move beyond the attachment to what is going on, allow yourself the deep breath. Come again into that place of peace where there is not distortion, where there is not drama. Yes, you do not deny that there is drama, but you step back from it to observe and to feel the peace of the beholder.

All of you are great lights. All have chosen one more time to bring that light to this plane of reality. All of you wrestle with challenges of human life, as I did in my lifetime, and as Aaron did in that lifetime, to know what it means to have the human experience.

I came as an infant. I grew in wisdom and in stature, as you have it recorded in your Scriptures. I knew the emotions of human expression, as did Aaron; as you do. I and Aaron are not different from you. You are the Christ incarnate in this moment. And what you are doing in this lifetime is to realize-to make real in your experience-the oneness of the Christ, to behold the Christ of each of you, to behold the radiance of the aura, the energy which activates the body, and to see how it intermingles with the next one's aura. It is one. One.

Judith Coates channels and teaches through Oakbridge University in Tacoma, WA. She may be contacted at Judith@oakbridge.org, or see their website, www.oakbridge.org/index.html.

The Horsefly
Barbara and Aaron from a private session
August 24, 2004

Aaron: Let us address the rage at the horsefly. You were enjoying the boat, enjoying the lake, but did not want to be bitten and he kept returning, attacking as you felt it. You understood that he was merely being a horsefly. There was mindfulness about the anger he brought up. Yet you would have killed him if you could, so you could enjoy your lake in peace. How can there be peace at the cost of killing a bit of the divine?

You are about to say, "do I just sit there and let myself be eaten?" No, nor do you need to kill. Here we get to vibration and sound. The angry cells literally give off a vibration that says "prey" and invites the fly to bite. The high, centered vibration gives a very different message. One says no to negativity, but with no fear or hate.

To say no in this way, it is not necessary there be no fear, but that there be no self identity with fear. In the same way, in the healing of the body, it is not necessary there be no cellular distortion, but no self-identity with that distortion. When you hold the mirror of the ever-perfect as truth, even while the cells still express some distortion, and embrace both the distorted and the ever-perfect, it is that openness that gives the highest vibration. The cells will heal as they are able. On the relative plane, the distortion still may exist. But as it is embraced it is transmuted. What expresses out is the highest level of being.

Lessons from the Appalachian Trail, Part 1: Generosity
David 'Raven' Coupland

It was cloudy with occasional light rain as I walked from Muskrat Creek Shelter down to Deep Gap, NC, on the morning of April 11, 2004. I was one week into my Appalachian Trail thru-hike, feeling excited by the unknown adventure ahead, just beginning to learn about life on the Trail. As I neared the Gap I heard voices and saw blue tarps set up. Good smells wafted my way. Several hikers were standing around or sitting while other people were cooking food on Coleman stoves. By great good fortune I had arrived at Deep Gap on Easter morning, just in time for the 13th Annual Easter Breakfast on the Appalachian Trail.

I was given a menu and had my second breakfast that day cooked to order, with a turkey sandwich and homemade bread to go. I received a massage in a massage chair from a professional masseuse. Our hosts were Jerry, who thru-hiked 15 years ago, and his family and friends. I thanked them profusely, but they just smiled and said they got more out of this than we did.

Two months later I arrived at the hiker's hostel provided by the Holy Family Church in Pearisburg, VA. The hikers already there were piling into a van. When I asked where everyone was going they said "dinner," so naturally I got in too. The van took us to the home of Ray and Stephanie Smith, where about 12 hikers were treated to a southern-style barbeque with a whole table of home-cooked food and scrumptious desserts. They also let us use their phone, computer, and washer/dryer for free. They had been doing this every Saturday for the past five weeks, after picking up a thru-hiker hitchhiking and bringing her home for dinner.

This was "trail magic," the unexpected generosity of strangers, a hallmark of Trail culture. Those who offer trail magic are called trail angels. I was blessed to receive trail magic in many forms throughout my 2174-mile journey.

We found bags of food hanging from trees near road crossings. Boxes of donuts perched on road signs. Coolers of pop beside the trail. People waiting at road crossings to drive us into town. A man stopped his car as I was walking through a state park in Pennsylvania and offered to take me to his house for dinner, a shower, and a night indoors. A woman in Duncannon, PA, drove five of us to an outfitter store 15 miles away in her 1980s' station wagon. Countless people picked us up hitchhiking into town. College students on orientation trips fed me dinner.

This outpouring of care and generosity had its effect on us hikers. Feelings of "I might not have enough" were replaced with "here take this." I felt a certain loosening, a relaxing into trust and openness.

In central Virginia I met a young man named Fred during a mid-day stop at a shelter. Fred was 19. As we talked he told me his parents were meeting him in six days for a family vacation, but unfortunately he only had enough food and money for four days. He shrugged and said that fasting for two days wouldn't hurt him. I immediately pulled out my billfold and gave him $20. Fred protested but I insisted, telling him this is how the trail works. He promised to return it to me but I just smiled.

Two months later in Vermont up walks Fred! He had driven to Maine with his family and was "flip-flopping" south for the second part of his hike. Smiling broadly he gave me the $20 back. Reflecting on this incident I wondered if it is really ever possible to give something away. When we give, things return to us boomerang style, though perhaps in different form. Each act of generosity has a profound effect on the world and the future.

I found that participating in generosity as both giver and receiver opened my heart in the most wonderful way. The Buddha said that if we understood the power of generosity, we would never sit down to a meal without sharing it. I didn't really understand this before—but now I do.

David Coupland, senior Deep Spring Teacher, has arrived home from the Appalachian Trail. He will grace us with several articles about this awesome experience over the next several DSC newsletters.

Thanks, David! Welcome Home!

The Warrior in the World
Craig Brann

The Warrior in the World

The warrior in the world

            The warrior out there in space

The warrior renouncing

All barriers, all obstacles,

                   All aggression, all chase

The warrior seeking opportunity

For daring to be

       To rest in basic goodness

   To speak from the heart

To be gently open to the world

of dead car batteries, of sick roommates,

of morning sunshine,

of stinking kitty litter,

of skeptical, self-conscious mind.

I am not these things

They are just experiences

  groan, sigh . . . . . . . . experiences

smile-laugh experiences

And the warrior in the world

steps forward into them

             walks through them

    and learns how to be with them, uplifted

         because of them

Craig Brann 
January 31, 1995 

The Riddle
Excerpt from a Dharma talk at DSC
Ajahn Thanasanti
October 3, 2004

Our journey through life is a pilgrimage. It is filled with uncertainly, conflicting emotions and blessings. Opening the heart to the fullness of the journey, working with things as they arise and resting in the still, vibrant loving heart is the goal.

I heard a puzzle I want to share with you. It's a good puzzle. I heard it when I was at Zen Temple Peace Camp. We were on the overnight sitting around the campfire. The riddle goes … 

You are in a room. There are two doors in this room: one is the door to life, one is the door to death. And there are two computers in this room: one computer always tells the truth and the other computer always lies. You are allowed one question. What question can you ask? That's the riddle. 

It's a good riddle. I would invite each of us to consider that riddle if you feel so inclined. I tend to get obsessed with riddles. I love them. My mind is totally locked in to riddles and I can't let go until I figure them out. It took me a whole day, a whole 24 hours, to work it out. I remember enjoying it. 

One of the reasons I like this riddle is because on many levels it's a metaphor for our lives. We are in a room; we are in a space. Our mind-body is our room; it's our space. And in this room, there are two doors. There's the door to life and the door to death. The door to life is that which supports awakening, supports integrity, supports honesty, supports authenticity, supports embodiment, supports respect. The door to death is the door that supports denial or depression or disconnectedness or disembodiment. We have these two doors. And we have two computers: one that always tells the truth and one that always lies. We constantly have thoughts going on and judgments going on and opinions going on and habits that are running through our heads. Some of them are truthful. Some of them have discriminating wisdom and are based in truth and are clearly seeing things the way they are. Other things are based on fear or based on habit or based on limited self-identities of who we are; and they are never true. They never are. They might have some grain of truth somehow in it somewhere, but mostly it's not true. 

So we have these two computers: one always tells the truth and one always lies. How do we know? How do we know which one is speaking, and how do we ask good questions so we figure out whether we go through the door of life or the door of death? It's a relevant metaphor. This is what we live with every day of our lives. It's worth figuring out the answer to the riddle. 

The answer to the riddle doesn't necessarily mean that we have an answer. How do we work it out when we are hearing things that are based in non-truth? How do we have a place of reference where we can find something truthful that we can know that against? How do you know? Thoughts are thoughts. Some are truthful; some are not truthful. How do you know? It's an important question. How do you know? 

I can't answer it for you. What I can do is share what works for me. When things are based in truth they are not coming from anger, they are not coming from fear, they are not coming from jealousy, they are not coming from aversion. Those are not the places that it is coming from if it is based in truth. Truth tends to speak clearly and not in double-messages. When I have something that looks like fear or looks like habit or looks like aversion; it can be extremely clever. It can come in mixed messages. Sometimes it can be clear but it doesn't have to be clear, and there's always panic or urgency or something like that that is the tone behind it. Or judgment—a very critical judging mind. So when I find my mind is going into this habitual pattern of trashing myself or somebody or something else: that is not the voice of the Buddha. We don't need to listen to that as being truth. 

We need a reference point, because if we don't have one, how do we know? So the whole point of meditation is actually to get us in contact with not only a skillful way of living and bringing about a greater sense of balance in our lives so that we can bring brightness into our bodies and minds and be able to live with more joy, more sense of fullness, and more sense of ease, which is incredibly important, but also so that we touch this reference point of knowing, where we have a place that we can use as contrast when we have these two different kinds of thoughts going through our heads and we can't always know which is telling the truth and which is lying. 

The answer to that riddle to me is the way in which we live in pilgrimage as practice. That's the answer. when we embody that riddle at such a level where we are able to discern the difference between the thoughts and the feelings and the habits and the moods and the judgments which are based in skillfulness or not skillfulness. When we are able to do that, then our lives are an embodiment of walking on a sacred path as blessings for the benefit of all beings. That is how we embody pilgrimage as practice as far as I can tell.

Ajahn Thanasanti is a senior Theravadan Buddhist nun from the forest tradition of Thailand. She is currently on a 4-6 month pilgrimage-traveling to sacred sites of India, returning to the elders of Thailand, and revisiting places where she lived in Australia.

She carries the prayers and blessings from us and from all of her friends in the form of prayer flags, which she will place at appropriate sites during her journey. In the Tibetan tradition, there is the understanding that prayers, when they are flown in the wind, release their power and are carried by the wind to the four corners of the world. And so we carry Ajahn Thanasanti in our hearts, wishing her well on the journey, and looking forward to seeing her upon her return.

Excerpt from Spiritual Inquiry Class
Barbara and Aaron
September 15, 2004

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. It is a joy to come together with you in this way for what you have termed "spiritual inquiry." What is spiritual inquiry? You are spirit. It is an inquiry into your true nature, and the ways to more fully manifest that nature in the world, even when that which superimposes itself upon that nature, which is the ego and fear, comes to the fore.

You have heard me call you "angels in earthsuits." We are not going to neglect either, but to focus on the point of their coming together, knowing your own divine nature, your innate radiance and beauty, and regarding the earthsuit and its many challenges: the challenges of the physical body, of the emotions. The challenges around the health of the body, around the sexuality of the body, around creating abundance for yourselves, around giving and receiving, and the ancient fears that one's needs will not be met. Around death itself, the cessation of the body.

My intention is to focus deeply on these tools of learning, for they are just that, tools of learning. The ego regards them as self: my job, my relationship, my body. Of course, on one level it is your job, your body, but who are you? We come into that meditative experience that recognizes the small self simply is a collection of aggregates. These cells that compose bone, flesh, muscle, blood vessels, nerves, they come together and create what we call a physical body. Then we jump into the idea, "This is my body," and fear comes that the body will not be well, will not function properly, will experience pain or even its demise.

I know it is conceptual to most of you, but when I say, "Whose body is it?" can you find somebody who owns this body? Let us use the example of those chairs. There are legs, there's a seat, there's a back, there's a cushion. Are the legs the chair? Without legs it wouldn't be a chair, just a cushion on the floor. Is the seat the chair? What is the chair? Can you find any one thing you can point to and say, "This is the chair"? It is a collection of aggregates, with a name, "chair" if it has the right assemblage of those aggregates. This body is an assemblage of different parts, too, and we call it a body. The body is not you. You cannot point to any one part and say, "This is me."

Likewise, when thoughts arise, can you point to a place from which the thoughts originate? We see the thoughts in meditation and we understand that thoughts and even consciousness arise out of conditions and are not a "self."

There are feelings of pleasantness and unpleasantness. They also grow out of conditions and they are not you. Just as you cannot say, "I am these cells," you cannot say, "I am these pleasant or unpleasant feelings," merely, "These have arisen out of conditions, and this deeper essence that I am participates in the experience of these cells and these feelings, thoughts and emotions." Happy emotions, sad emotions, loving or angry emotions, peaceful or aggravating emotions, all arising out of conditions. The mind runs rampant with thoughts. Planning thoughts, judging thoughts, desirous thoughts, angry thoughts, loving thoughts, fantasies. All arisen out of conditions. And even the stream of consciousness itself, which is what most of you finally take yourself to be, is merely the outplay of conditions. If you are not the body, not the mind or stream of consciousness, what are you? This discovery is at the heart of our work.

Beyond all of these conditioned elements is what we might call spirit. The pure spirit body, pure awareness. It is a place where when you are there, and I am there, there is no separation at all. We are fully in the same place. So there is no "my" spirit or "your" spirit on the ultimate plane; there is simply spirit, divinity itself. Each being participates in that divinity and expresses it out in the world through these aggregates, these expressions, such as the body and the thoughts, the words and actions.

I hope to guide you deeper into the direct experience of that spirit essence, and also to see the ways that that deepest essence of your being is sometimes laid aside so the life on the relative human plane becomes an expression more of the ego, more of the surface level of your being, than of the deepest self.

Here is the core of the dilemma. While you are spirit, and the essence of your being is this completely uncontracted, centered, expansive presence, you have forgotten that fact and become habituated to the dualistic movements of fear.

On the relative level, there is this body. If some seemingly other body raises a fist to threaten this body, this body will feel it must protect itself. Such protection may seem very appropriate. It is not kind to allow the body to be destroyed! However, with that move toward self-protection there usually are the habit energies of fear, anger, and contraction. Therefore the self-protection does not involve simply stepping back with a compassionate saying of no to that which threatens. The habit energy takes you into contraction; you believe that in order to protect yourself you must barricade and contract. That contraction brings forth further contraction, further sense of threat. The habit energy builds until you come to each of your relationships from this contracted place, expecting danger in all your relationships. Then you say to me, "Aaron, I feel so cut off. I long for intimacy. I feel alone and separate." But you do not see the ways that you create that aloneness through holding to duality because of the habit energy.

This is what I would simply term the habit energy of fear. Fear in itself is simply a thought, an emotion, a physical contraction, part of that physical expression of being. It's not a problem. It's more like the knee-jerk reaction, when the physician strikes below the knee and the leg jerks upward. Something pushes certain triggers and fear comes up. Fear is not the problem; self-identification with fear, so that you become lost in the fear, is what creates your separation.

The same thing is true in different areas of your life. People come to me and say, "I want abundance in my life. I deny lack and scarcity." But there's a certain fear there that keeps inviting scarcity so that the ego self can play with it again and again. It will do so until it's finally finished with it and is able to say, "I put this aside." It is not that you no longer seek abundance; it is simply that you come to know and trust the natural abundance. We could substitute here the terms health or lovingkindness, patience or generosity. You come to know these qualities, the qualities within the self that are sometimes hidden by fear's contractions, and see them through the fear. Then you are able to let go of the see-saw effect, abundance/lack, or patience/impatience, etc. and can cease the practice of fear, loss and negativity.

I would like to give you an example here. Some years ago we had a friend who felt that her body was not strong enough. There was a very loving aspiration to strengthen the body, but there was also a strong self-judgment. She said, "Five years ago my body was strong. I'm going to regain that strength." But she did not do it lovingly. She held an "I should" image in her mind. She came to the work with contraction and force, rather than visualizing the already-strong body and allowing it to come forth. She thought she had to force her body into that strength, and as a result, she pulled and strained various tendons and ligaments until her body was quite weak and in a lot of pain. Then she came to me and said, "What did I do wrong?"

We talked about it at length through the months it took the body to heal, and I asked her, instead of her prior strenuous workout program to find an activity that she truly enjoyed. She decided she liked to walk her dog. So as her body moved past this pain of the strained tendons, I suggested she simply begin to walk with enjoyment, cherishing the body. If pain arose, I said, just stop and sit. Relax the body. Rest for five minutes and get up and walk again.

The effort here was to change the paradigm, no longer to follow that paradigm of fear, force and control, but to begin to rest in one's innate perfection and yet with a recognition on the relative plane that that perfection could not express itself merely by being the couch potato. That the activity was necessary. But from a place of open-heartedness and joy, she invited the innate perfection to come forth. Then the body grew strong.

In the same way, when there is, for example, the movement of fear and greed, a feeling of clinging, and one may have the thought, "I shouldn't be greedy, I should give," one is practicing fear. It doesn't really matter whether one practices fear through the greed, or practices fear through the ultimatum to the self, "Now give": it's still the practice of fear.

The work here is not to learn generosity, not to create a healthy body, not to create abundance, but to open into the highest aspect of your being wherein you know the truth of that being. You invite expression of the health, the abundance, the joy, the generosity and lovingkindness that are always there as the ground of being. You invite them without suppressing the old habit energies, nor warring with them. You merely note their presence. The old habit energies do not need to be hidden in order for the beautiful qualities to emerge. Love is right there with fear. You observe fear, but you do not act out fear's stories. You watch what arises, as excess or contraction, and note, "Here is the movement of fear." You invite health, you invite joy, because they are the core of your being.

So in our work together this year, I want to look at both that angel, that essence of your being, and the very real life situations and how you may work practically with those situations. What keeps you trapped in that paradigm of fear. What allows the shift into a new paradigm, into the expression of the deepest self?

I will not go into detail about this practice tonight but move to a related topic.

This is something that you seldom hear me speak of, but it really is the core of your work, and it is the reason for my work. It's very wonderful that each of you is learning to live with more kindness and compassion and wisdom in the world. Each time you do so, it is a gift to yourself and others. But there is more to it. I seldom get into metaphysics, things out there that are not immediately visible in your everyday life, but I think it's important to keep this bigger picture in mind, lest your spiritual work simply become a self-improvement project.

All of you are what I would call old ones, beings of great spiritual stature. I know you may not regard yourself that way, and that's fine. Some of you feel very young indeed. But without exception, each of you here has come into the incarnation with a very primary purpose to serve the forces of love and of light, and to bring light to where there has been darkness, to bring love to where there has been fear and hatred. Each of you is learning to do this in your own way, and at some level you understand that the foremost place for practice is within the self. But you do not do this work merely to serve the self or to improve the self. There's nothing to improve. Rather, you come into this heavy density with its difficult catalysts because you literally seek the opportunity to practice bringing love and light into those places of darkness and difficulty.

I know that many times you would say, "I don't want this heavy catalyst," and yet at some level you have chosen it. It's easy to love your friends; can you love those with whom there is painful conflict? It's easy to love yourself when you are generous and kind; can you also love yourself when you are fearful and negative?

We can speak of this in terms of contraction of all of the heavy bodies-physical, mental and emotional. The essence of you is uncontracted. To me, the clearest definition of positive polarity is that it carries the expression of uncontractedness, of openness, and as open, therefore connected. As soon as you contract, you close the boundaries into the separate self. In the uncontracted state, energy flows. There is no separate self; no loneliness, no danger.

As Earth moves into a 4th density expression, humans will become increasingly telepathic, increasingly will experience their interconnection with each other. For that to be possible, there needs to be equanimity with the negative thoughts and emotions that arise, and with the difficult body sensations. Equanimity does not mean that we do not work to resolve those difficult thoughts and sensations, but we work to resolve them from a place of love and openness, not from a place of contraction. We co-create from a place of love, not manipulate from a place of fear.

So if I had to give a specific teaching on which we will be working this year, I would call it the practice of non-contraction. What I mean by that is when contraction does arise, there is not contraction around the contraction. You do not end contraction immediately, but change the relationship with contraction. As it is greeted with kindness and openness, there is nothing left to support it. It goes gradually.

You are learning to allow your innate energy to shine through. Personal growth, on the relative level, is a side benefit. You are doing this work because it is the only way that exists to say no to negativity in the universe. And all of you truly are, if I might call you this, teachers of light. It is your highest aim to support the bringing forth of that light throughout the universe so no being may continue to be lost in darkness.

Honor yourself that this aspiration exists. When the going is difficult, when the path is rough, remember you do not do this just for the self. That you do this work literally to invite the expression of light in the universe for all beings, because only in that way may suffering truly be resolved. Only in that way may beings truly find happiness and peace.

I honor each of you for your willingness to carry forth this work, for your commitment to light and to love.

Realization of Oneness -- Whistler Advance
Mary and Aaron
Sunday, July 25, 2004

This talk is from the "Realization of Oneness" workshop in Whistler, BC, offered by Aaron, speaking through Barbara, and Jeshua, speaking through Judi Coates. Judi also channels Mary, who was present for this one session. They have been speaking of the Essene tradition. Here Aaron shares much of his own personal history that he has not shared before.

We begin with several paragraphs at the conclusion of Mary's reminiscences, when she spoke about Aaron.

Mary: Now, the one known as Aaron had a different name in that lifetime, a most sacred name that he had been given. He was older than Yeshua, and yet younger than I, and there was a closeness of friendship, as with all of the family in the Essene community. You have exampled here what has been called the Heart Family, ones who have resonance of the heart with each other, and you come together remembering the family that you are. It was the same in the Essene community. Ones would come from great distances, and they were not, of course, of same biological family. But they were family; we were family. And Aaron was part of that family.

He came from time to time to study, and when he did, I knew him as friend; took him under my wing a bit. But he was not always wanting to be under the wing, for he had his own personality. And as he would be 10, 11, 12, even into teenage years, there was, as you see with your teenagers in this day and time, a wanting to be independent, and yet at the same time a wanting to be in the loving family as well. But there was within him the certain times when he would come to me and we would be friends, or I would be as mother with the wing for him, and other times when he would go (reaches out arms). I pause now for Aaron.

Aaron: My blessings and love to you. I am Aaron. I greet you in love and in light and with enormous joy to share the platform this morning, as it were, with my dear sister, mother, friend, Mary, and my brother Jeshua as well.

Such joy in hearing these stories from Mary, these reminiscences. I would like to add a few memories of my own. So often I've been asked, who was Aaron? I've simply answered, he was a teacher who at some time in his life struggled with many of the issues that Barbara had when she first consciously met me, especially the issue of finding peace with things as they were rather than grasping in fear, wanting things to be different than they were. The human Aaron had to learn that through his own personal struggle. He lived many hundreds of years, as Mary described, and went on to, as Mary put it, awaken the remembrance of love in many other beings. He was trained in the Essene traditions, and of course at 400 years he was an elder, though few knew him to be that age.

There was a beloved friend who was also deeply trained in the Essene tradition, whose primary commitment was to help raise the consciousness of Earth and those who dwelled thereon, to make the world receptive for Jeshua's birth.

There was much fear and … Barbara is bringing forth the word depravity; that is perhaps too harsh a word. Nobody is essentially depraved, but fear may lead them to actions of meanness and hatred—fear-based hatred and greed in the cities, so much darkness. This beloved friend felt that people who lived simply, the shepherds who lived in nature on the hillsides, farmers, simple people who had the deeper connection with the earth, that these people could more easily open to these teachings of love. Most of them were not formally part of the Essene community, although a few were. We offer the teachings where they can be received. Among some of these people there would have even been some discomfort with the idea of the Essene community as something separate or unknown, but they were very open to teachings of love.

My beloved friend felt that it would be valuable to have a son deeply trained to help him carry on this work, and it felt like time for me to let go of this ancient body and the life as Aaron. It was a conscious release and transition, a rebirth into this new life. My beloved friend became my father, as had been planned.

I was given a sacred name, as Mary mentioned, my spiritual name amongst my Essene brethren, but was more commonly known by the name that you might translate as Nathaniel. The boy Nathaniel was first trained by his father and his mother, both of whom had deep Essene training and had lived within the Essene community. At a young age Nathaniel was also sent to Mt. Carmel to receive formal Essene training, although I—when I say I, I mean the being that I was in that lifetime as Nathaniel—traveled back and forth more than most, spending half the year within the community and half the year with my father. For my father felt it very important that I spend a lot of time just being a shepherd, living with the other shepherd boys, getting to know who they were, how they thought and how they understood the world, and that I spend that time also in the silence of the hills, often full days spent in silence, with no one around me but my sheep. It was there at the very early age of six and seven and eight that I learned to love silence.

At eight—for that was the age that many of us were first formally sent to the Essene community for training, at eight as Mary has told in her story—I also came there, not knowing what to expect. It is as Mary has told, that the elders were teachers, but more importantly, friends. Little distinction was made in the ages of people, except to respect that young people did go through different phases of growth. But the divine in each being is not young or old. Because of the wisdom and loving presence of the elders, that divinity is invited forth.

I offer one of my earliest memories of that invitation. Several of us young boys had been throwing rocks at a target, a post, seeing who could hit it, who could knock a rock off the top, in the way of boys forever. It seemed a harmless pursuit, but we did not take care to check around the vicinity of our target before we threw. I threw a rock with much force; it missed the post by an inch, and went beyond it into the brush. We heard a small sound, a screech. I went running up and found that my rock had struck a small bird perched in her grassy nest. She was bleeding, clearly injured.

Mary was one of my first teachers, so I brought the bird to her in fear, shame, and confusion. She said to me, "Hold the bird in your hands." I wanted to give it to her. She said, "No; you hold it." I cried out, "Take it! Heal it. I did not intend to hurt it." I was sobbing. "Hold it in your hands," she insisted, "and envision it perfect. Let it know of your intention that it be well, that it manifest its perfection, which you so clearly hold in your heart and mind." And behold, the bird healed right there before my eyes.

Of course, I had known how to do such healing as Aaron, but Nathaniel the boy did not know how to do such healing, did not believe himself capable of such healing if he had thought about it at all. So Mary took this as a teaching opportunity to reawaken in me the power of holding our innate perfection and the perfection of others, and how that deep seeing of what is, invites it forth. Of course, it was clear to me that "I" had not healed the bird. Then she said to me the words she just said to you, "The soul magnifies the Lord." When you allow the radiance and the clarity of the soul to come forth deeply, then the divine can move through that soul and express itself into the world.

She took the bird into her care then to keep it overnight and be sure it was well before releasing it the next morning. I asked her, "How did I do this?" She said, "Of course, you did not do it." And I understood what she meant. And that was when she said to me, "The soul magnifies the Lord."

"What does this phrase mean, Mary?" I asked.

She understood my training in silence and that while I was only nine years old, I had spent many days and nights alone on a mountain. So she asked me to go to a place of solitude. I was not to bring anything with me: no food, no water, only my thin robe. "Your needs will be met." Now this was new for me because as a shepherd boy, I always had food prepared by my mother and fresh water and warm garments. So nine-year-old Nathaniel, still in wonder about the healing of this bird, went off into the designated place of solitude to ponder these words. She could not have told me the answer; I had to find it within myself.

The first day, the mind was whirring around, trying to conceptually understand. The mind is like this; the nature of the mind is to give rise to thoughts. My body that first day wouldn't settle down but writhed in agitation. There were also worries: what will I eat, what will I drink? But there was a good stream of fresh water, and I found a tree laden with fruit and another with nuts. There was plenty to eat. I found tall grass to wrap around me for warmth when I slept.

It took two days for the surface layers of the self to resolve enough that, while the mind still gave rise to thoughts, I was no longer so deeply identified with the thoughts. This, of course, is one of the first Essene trainings and initiations, to move beyond self-identification with the thoughts of the mind and the tensions or contractions of the body. This is like the sea, which is not the waves that it expresses, but is simply water.

Water is a very direct expression of Essence. You may have noticed a brief pause when Barbara first moves into a channeling space and takes a sip of water. Water is such a deep symbol of your oneness. Water is in everything. It is in the sky, the sea, the earth, even in the element of fire, and of course in the human body. Often as Barbara begins to channel, for which work she must release the personality self, I ask her to focus on the water element in the body. This is one of the reasons why we often take a sip of water when we start to work.

So the boy Nathaniel, who had already been trained to release the superficial elements of the self, needed two days in his agitated state to release those elements and come into this place of knowing, the space of the divine essence of being. The stream helped him to remember, playing to him its song of oneness. And from that space he fully understood—he remembered, yes, but even without the memories of Aaron whom he had been before, he understood—how the clarity of his love and intention for that bird had brought forth the clearest expression of the soul through which the divine could work to support the healing that the bird also sought. And he understood that this force is in everything.

Mary had told him, "When you see it, come back and tell me." I stayed there for several more days simply rejoicing in the silence, resting in my true home as it were. Jeshua spoke of certain aspects of your experience of silence, how you could communicate with one another without the use of words. This is one form of silence, but eventually we wish to go even deeper into the silence, literally to cease to communicate on any conceptual level; not by pointing, not by signs. Again, it is like the sea, each wave expressing itself in foam or froth or as a giant swell in the sea, but there's nothing there but water. The expressions are magnificent, unique, loving expressions of the One. We cherish the expressions, but we must remember that where the expressions are, there is also the essence. Deeper silence allows you to move further into the direct experience of that essence and to rest there.

In that resting you begin to know the divine core of your being without any doubt and to see personality, intellect, the body, as cherished expressions of this core. This leads you to more lovingly attend to these expressions in the outer world, to attend to the body, to train the mind. But you do not do so for an ego-based attainment; you do so because each expression is the outer form of divinity.

In those days, periods of silence were very common, even for young children. I can remember as a two- or three-year-old the father telling me, "Tonight is a silent night." Often on the Sabbath we would have the Sabbath prayers and then no speaking through the whole next day. My father would take young Nathaniel's hand and lead him up the hillside in silence. Often at sunrise he would hold me on his lap, arms around me, sharing the beauty of the meadows, the hills, the morning sun. Many of you will find similar memories of silence if you would look. So Nathaniel rested in the silence and rejoiced, and then returned to the Community to tell Mary, "I have found it." "And was it ever really lost, to be thusly found?" she inquired. "No, nothing is ever lost," responded the boy.

The boy Nathaniel grew, watched from a hillside with his father, through the radiance of that night when Jeshua was born, and had the joy to know Jeshua through his early years; not the earliest years because they were far away, but when they returned to the community, Nathaniel had the joy then to continue in association with Mary and Joseph.

The trainings, the initiations, were challenging, but the intention was always to awaken deeper truth in us. You cannot awaken the truth of one's divinity by creating a situation in which one will be overcome by difficulty. So care was always taken that before initiations were undergone, the person was ready; ready to remember, ready to bring forth this yet deeper expression of divinity, clarity, and wisdom. This is no less true for you today, and that is why you come together in these ways.

My dearest sister, mother, friend, I again pass the microphone back to you with my thanks and love.

Art as Spiritual Practice Workshop
September 25, 2004

Senior Deep Spring Teachers and lifelong artists Dottie Coyne and Dianne Austin led a group of us in a day of exploration with watercolors. At Sunnyside, in the Irish Hills, the day was one of cool autumn breezes, sunshine and creative energy. Letting go of thinking or being someone or doing something allowed oneness with the materials. What flowed from brush to paper surprised us all. No artistic background, training or talent was necessary. When mind was chatty or judgmental we tried another "blind contour" exercise, and let the oneness take over again! We relaxed into the art, allowing the water, the paint and the brush co-create, watching the process with no worries about the final product. The day was joyous and full of fun! All agreed that it was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday.

Look for another Art as Spiritual Practice Workshop this Spring!

Aaron Quote

You are unlimited, radiant, and all-powerful. 
Why then do you create the myth of limit? 
The younger soul aspires toward that power, 
but once there is personal power and growing maturity, 
you see how you can do damage through the ego's misuse of power. 
As you are aware that negative thought still arises, 
that fear still arises, so you don't trust yourselves 
to express unlimitedness and power for fear you will misuse it in some way.

Copyrights © 2004