Volume 13, Number 2 - Spring/Summer 2005


Letter from Barbara

From the Board President
Corty Cammann

Update on Visioning Process
David Coupland
February 2005

Chakra Exploration
Spiritual Inquiry Class
October 13, 2004

The Pole Exercise
Spiritual Inquiry Class
October 27, 2004

On The Kayas
Excerpt from Spiritual Inquiry Class
November 10, 2004

Levels of Consciousness
Opening Talk, Wednesday Night Group
November 17, 200

From an Anonymous Yogi's Journal
February 2005

Aaron Quote

Letter from Barbara
March 2005

Dear friends,

When David Coupland, one of our DSC teachers, came home from his 2000-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail, he shared a question he had worked with as he walked: "In this moment, why am I not content?" It's a powerful question.

I'm writing you in mid-February from Brazil, where I'm spending 3 weeks at the healing center run by Joao de Deus (John of God). It's a beautiful place, and filled with good people and loving energy. I'm well rested, offered 3 delicious, nutritious meals a day, have spent 10 hours meditating today in a supportive environment, am not in pain, not cold, wet or hungry. I'm sitting on my bed in a clean comfortable room. To top it off, yesterday, in the 1-week review from surgery, the entities told me they can save my eyesight. Much rejoicing, as the retinal specialist in Ann Arbor was not at all optimistic. The hitch: no reading for 40 days! Sounds simple doesn't it?

I came down here knowing there would be no one to sign for me, but trusting that I would talk with a notepad, as I often do. But the surgery was the first day. No reading … For me, that means no talking, or very little.

On the shelf beside me are 8 books I brought and have been wanting to read: 2 per week and 1 each way for the 24-hr. journey. I had it all planned! My idea of a perfect late afternoon is a long swim and an hour with a book. It's not going to happen! I think about the 24-hour plane trip home. What will I do with all those hours?

Today I was up at 5:30, at the Casa at 6:45, and meditated in the "entities' current room" (the room where the entities do their healing, supported by the meditative energy of those who sit there and, in turn, offering energy back to those people) from 7 to noon. I was back there again from 1 to 5:30. These aren't 45-minute sittings. It's one 5-hour sitting! You may leave, but can't return. Someone else will take the seat. I think the entities must do something to lighten people's bladders. No one leaves. The energy is very powerful, and not something I'd want to leave. But 5 hours is a long time!

It was too late to swim so I walked back to the pousada for dinner. My table partners spoke French; one kept telling me, "Oh, we are talking…," but I haven't a clue about what.

Now it's 7 p.m. and here I am in my room. For entertainment I've been taking my pulse to see what it is when I hop on one foot for a minute, and how fast it returns to normal! I've paced off the dimensions of my room and redecorated it in my mind. I'm trying to teach the two parrots in the big cage in the courtyard to say metta. I'm told they talk a lot, but of course I have no idea if they're responding to my prompts. Anyhow, it's a nice form of metta practice. I sit beside their large cage, breathe in "may you be at peace" or "may you have well-being," and breathe out a vocal "metta … metta … metta …" for 10 or 15 minutes. They seem to like it, and come down to cling to the cage wires near me. I have the imagined idea that some day a Buddhist monk will come to this courtyard and, on cue, realizing this is "performance day," they will come to the outer wire and in unison say, "metta, metta."

What can you do without reading? Well, I could meditate! But the 2 five-hour sessions today have knocked me out. I'm ready for a good book, conversation, or game of cards. Even a walk would do, but a thunderstorm rages outside!

Why am I not content with this silence? I ask this with a laugh, noting that in March I'll have 12 days of personal silent retreat and am looking forward to it. It's fascinating to watch the impulse energy and habits, wanting to do something, wanting entertainment, wanting social contact.

Of course, part of the difficulty is watching the people talk around me. This is not a silent retreat. There are many people with whom I'd like to talk. This has always been a part of the deafness, the difficulty to sit with a table full of strangers and converse. Yet I have met people here with whom the conversations have been rich and rewarding. I realize all I'm missing is the social chit chat. Habit energy runs deep! Here is grasping.

I realize how much I've shaped my life to spare myself the situation of exclusion. There are almost always family or friends around to fingerspell to me. And I'm a compulsive writer, always journaling. This is one primary way I talk with Aaron, able to get his ideas down as he talks.

No reading! By now you've noticed I'm typing. But I'm not rereading, and I'm accumulating many typos. Someone else will correct them. There will be no opportunity to review the contents; with trust, I'll just send this out to you.

The Casa days are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. That means I have 4 days of silence alone before going back to the group meditation periods. Where does contentment lie? I think I'll need to put this aside now and finish it on Tuesday. I'll tell you then how it was. Meanwhile, it's time to sit with discontent.

Tuesday morning: There's a first line of a Sufi poem that says, "Pilgrim, first do the purification …" After I wrote the previous section I went to bed. I awoke at midnight with chills and what seemed to be a high fever. It's gone on for 4 days, alternating profuse sweating and shaking beneath a pile of blankets on a summer tropic afternoon. The body aches like a truck has run it down. There is a constant cough, and draining from every body cell. It feels like the body is releasing a lifetime of toxins through skin, sinus, and abdomen. I drink 3 liters of water a day, but have eaten little. I have talked to almost no one.

Needless to say there has been a lot of time to lie in bed, a cool cloth covering my eyes, and reflect on the question, "Why am I not content?" I have been promised vision. Why am I not rejoicing?

Our conditioning toward comfort and away from pain goes deep. It's not just a condition of the physical body. I go to the dining room for meals, sit in silence either alone or with others at the table, and feel the yearning for connection. This is not a personality-level issue; what I'm seeing is the deep separation we have, each in our own skins, each trying to connect but failing so often. I think we each carry a memory of experience on a plane where there was total communication, before we moved into these insulated minds and bodies. We yearn to return there. Where is love? Where is God?

I see the ways I've opened a space apart from that existential pain by loving relationships, deep meditation, service, and connection with spirit. There is much authentic joy and meaning in my life and I honor it.

These experiences are the fruit of skillful choices for the most part, but today I'm also taken back to what I learned in the years after I lost my hearing. I coped very well but my heart wasn't open. Back then, the only way I thought I could cope was to close my heart to the isolation and pain of the deafness. Yes, it's much more open now, and the pain is mostly impersonal, but I also see the habit energy that remains. When the experience is painful, I subtly close myself and move into a meditative space of joy and safety. It's not that such movement is bad, but it releases me from the need to open the heart enough to investigate the pain. I see now that there's possibility to stay more present with pain, no longer "my" pain but "the" pain, and to allow compassion to deepen through that presence.

Aaron has talked a lot this year about a pole meditation, asking us to be a pole, head in the heavens, feet planted on the earth. He emphasizes that we must hold both spaces. This weekend I've seen how easy it is for me to shift to the top of the pole, where there's peace, ease and joy, regardless of what's happening in mind and body. Then the heart abandons the mind and body. These past 4 days I have watched to see when I make that shift. It's an almost automatic reaction to discomfort.

I'm reminded of my experience some years ago when I was in the hospital with a bad leg infection. There was enormous pain, and some fear because the leg would not heal and amputation was a possibility. Even with that pain and fear I found real peace and equanimity. These were real, but there was a price, that of separating from myself and abandoning the human experiencing pain and fear.

Almost 2 weeks into that hospital stay, a woman was wheeled into my room in the middle of the night with several doctors and nurses in attendance. The curtain between our beds was pushed aside, and I could see them working on her newly amputated leg. I began to do metta for her; then my heart opened to all sentient beings who that day had lost a limb through natural or man-shaped violence. Interestingly I was still excluding myself.

My leg was on fire. I watched the pain in her face as she awoke from the anesthesia. Suddenly my heart burst open. My leg, her leg, no difference. One leg amputated; one leg to heal for us all. I realized then that it was unskillful to get lost in the pain and misery and exclude the ultimate experience, and it was equally distorted to hold that space of ultimate peace and to exclude the human experience.

I thought I had learned my lesson that night in the hospital, but here I am repeating myself. The peace, joy, and equanimity I've felt these past days are authentic. They are born of wisdom. But they're incomplete without the compassion that comes when we allow the heart to fully enter the human experience. Then the experience is not either/or, peace or pain. Peace is real and pain is real. They come together.

Lying here on my bed this morning my heart breaks open in compassion for the human experience of isolation, each of us caught in our own skins and our own minds. Wisdom knows this is illusion, for nothing is truly separate, but it's the illusion to which we are all prone. When I become the pole, as Aaron would phrase it, I find a much deeper level of peace because nothing needs to be excluded. I am lying here this morning with a new ease. I finally understand that resting in the ultimate is not a way of escape. Such resting does not end pain, but stretches the heart so there is space for pain and no need to avoid it.

March 7, 2005: I've returned from Brazil. My right eye vision with glasses has improved from 20/100 to 20/40; the left eye from 20/40 to 20/20. There's real joy. There's still the impulse to read and 2 more weeks of restriction. When the impulse arises I find it much easier to pause and ask myself, "Is there any experience the heart wishes to avoid?" The answers vary; there may be tension, aloneness, or body discomfort. Even deep silence sometimes comes as an answer, and wanting distraction from that place where ego dissolves. I find myself better able to make space for these discomforts. The heart opens in compassion. There's far less need to escape the human experience.

My wish for you this summer is that you may also deeply enter the peace of the ultimate realm and the beauty of human experience. I look forward to seeing (literally!) many of you at our Michigan June retreat and in other places as I travel.

With love,

From the Board President
Corty Cammann

I am pleased to greet you all as I craft my first letter as President of the Board of the Deep Spring Center. It has been my pleasure to serve on the Board as we have grown and changed: renting our first space, expanding our range of retreats and classes, and developing the administrative procedures to allow us to function smoothly. We have been continually improving our ability to support people in their spiritual inquiries and to make spiritual teachings available to a broader audience. A lot of people put in a lot of effort to help the Center carry out its mission, and it has been a joy to see the way their energies come together.

It is often the case that when organizations are succeeding, they face choices and changes. So it is with the Deep Spring Center at this time. We have to decide whether to increase the range and type of retreats we offer and the classes that we teach. We need to decide whether to increase the community activities of Deep Spring to complement the spiritual inquiry that is our foundation. We need to decide whether to increase the size of our space and whether to partner with others to create facilities that might better suit our needs.

None of these choices is urgent. They will be made over time. But as a Board, we wish them to be made in the context of a vision of Deep Spring Center that is broadly shared within the Sangha. As many of you are aware, we have been engaged in a vision process to develop the direction that can guide our decisions over the next few years. Our process has involved the development of the vision tree, which is in the Deep Spring Center building. I would encourage all of you who are able to look at the tree and see the ideas that are developing and to add your own ideas as leaves on the tree. Those of you who are reading this letter but are unable to come to the Center are encouraged to send us your ideas of what the Center can be, and we will get them included in the process. You can send them to Deep Spring Center or email them to board@deepspring.org.

We will discuss the vision that is developing at the Sangha meeting on May 22. I hope to see you there.

May joy fill your day.

Corty Cammann

Update on Visioning Process
David Coupland
February 2005

If you have visited the meditation hall this year, you will have noticed a major change in the decor: the visioning tree! This 8 ft. x 8 ft. tree painted on styrofoam, adorned with many leaves, is the embodiment of our Sangha-wide process to create a vision for Deep Spring Center in the coming years.

The tree has six major limbs that correspond to six themes: Purpose, Identity, Programs, Communities, Service, and Place. For each theme, a series of questions is posted on the tree. Members of the Sangha are invited to form small groups to discuss the questions, then write their ideas on paper leaves and post them on the tree. You may indicate your support for an idea already posted by affixing a small colored sticker to a leaf.

During January and early February we worked on the Purpose and Identity themes. Members of the visioning steering committee (Cassie Cammann, Ann Thomas, and I) visited many of the classes and the Sunday sitting to lead visioning groups. Many good ideas came out, and the lower limbs of the tree are covered with leaves.

In late February and early March we are working on the Programs and Communities themes. We invite you to form your own small groups to meet after class, over dinner, or at a coffee shop and contribute your thoughts to the process. In late March and early April we'll work on Service and Place. "Place" means how we envision our meeting place in the future.

In late April the visioning steering committee will meet to organize and connect all the good ideas that are being generated on the visioning tree. If you would like to participate, contact me at david.coupland@gmail.com. We will discuss the results and get further input at a Sangha gathering on May 22 from 3-5 p.m. We hope to see you then!

Chakra Exploration
Spiritual Inquiry Class
October 13, 2004

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

To begin, I want to lead you in a guided meditation, interspersed with silence. I call this the Pole Meditation because we use the body as a pole, quite literally, grounding the feet in the heavy density earth vibration, grounding the head in the heavens, in this higher vibration. The body between the feet and head becomes the transition that holds all, the highest and lowest vibration, there together.

Please begin by grounding yourself in the body. Feel the buttocks touching the chair or cushion.

Breathing in, breathing out (pause)

and then awareness of touching (pause).

Breathing in, breathing out, touching. (pause) (We will not continue to note each pause on the transcript.)

Many of you are floating above your bodies. Come on in! Breathe. Relax. Here we are together in a lovely room, a group of seekers, brothers and sisters in spirit, in this lovely space lit by candles. Be here.

Relax. Breathe, come into the body. I'd like you to take your hands and feel the body. Touch the arms, hand to the opposite arm. Touch the face gently and lovingly. Touch the legs. If you are sitting on the floor, touch the feet; in a chair, touch down as far as the knees.

I'd like to ask you now to contract the body. Tighten the jaw, fists, belly, shoulders. Feel it and know "contracted, contracted." And then, release, noting, "Open. Spacious." And one more time, contracting. Know the experience of physical contraction. And then release.

Feel the energy in the base chakra as it touches the cushion. Feel it as earth energy. The base chakra is the chakra of being, of expression into the world, of life, of energy, physical, mental, sexual. Its primary expressed color is red. Feel the possibility of life pulsating through the base chakra. Here we also may find fear related to survival, which closes the base chakra.

The second chakra, the spleen, is just below the naval. Bring your hands to it, perhaps one hand in the front and one hand in the back. Feel where that energy center might be. This is the human in relationship to the self and other people. It is more the seat of fear than the base chakra is. In the base chakra, we are so basic that there is not as much fear usually held in the base, except for that deepest survival fear. But as soon as there's something to relate to, fear comes up. This chakra is about sexuality, creativity, personal relationships, personal emotions including sorrow. It is also about reaching out to others, about energy and relationship, and embracing life. See if you can soften, literally gently rubbing the belly and/or the back, bringing kind attention to this energy center. You may wish to see it filled with orange light. That is the primary color it carries. Breathing in, breathing out.

Now raise the hands and bring focus to the solar plexus chakra, just below the rib cage. Put a little pressure there. This is tonight's chakra (a presidential candidate's debate on TV) about the human relationship with the world. It is from this chakra that we get politics, and presidential debates. These men may be speaking from their third chakra. We would wish they were speaking instead from the heart chakra.

The third chakra relates to power, control, and societal relationships. Here we find power issues and also discipline and commitment or self-based will power.

As you bring touch to that solar plexus chakra, and perhaps envision yellow light flooding it, feel the possibility of opening, of spaciousness there. For the human, these lower chakras often become constricted, with more focus on the personal self. But this is not the true nature of these chakras. Within these chakras we can experience a oneness with all that is. So on the relative plane, this is the individuated personal, and on the ultimate plane, this is the personal level of this particular being as expression of all that is.

In the solar plexus we may feel constriction around power or control and see it as an individual issue. When we understand that all beings react with the hardening of this chakra when there is fear, that all beings want to be safe and happy, we come to see that hardening more simply, as conditioned experience. We find that we can rest in the uncontracted 2nd and 3rd chakras, experiencing immense compassion for beings who do not feel safe and in control, who do not know the ultimate safety that every being has. That is not the safety of this incarnation but the safety of its wondrous reality as expression of the divine.

So these chakras that are so habituated toward fear, power, and control can become the tools of our opening. We cannot discard these chakras because without them we lose our contact with this heavy density plane.

If you are going to lose that contact, why did you bother to come? You can't be in the incarnation yet avoid the relative reality and still do the work you came to do. So this is the lower half of the pole, grounded deeply in the earth vibration.

We come to the heart chakra. The predominant color is green. The heart is the bridge touching the lower and the upper chakras. Breathing in, feel the energy moving from the heart down to the solar plexus and the second and base chakras, and back up again into the heart. Feel, if you can, the way the heart is grounded into this physical reality you call your own name, and into this density we call earth.

Touch where the heart might lie, pressing against the sternum. Put on a little pressure, but soft, a light touch. Take a deep breath so that the chest expands out into that touch, not hard enough to be painful but felt. And then release, letting the chest collapse a bit.

Be aware of the heart organ, which is not the same as the heart chakra but ties in with it. The heart meridian does run through the heart organ, although the chakra lies slightly below and to the right of the heart organ.

Now please bring your hands up to the throat, a very gentle touch. Just at the place above the collarbone, where the flesh becomes soft. The color here is blue. These next three chakras are the upper end of the pole. The body contains it all. You are angels in earthsuits. The upper chakras relate to that angel, to your true divinity, and help you to recollect that divinity. The lower chakras remind you of your decision to move into human incarnation, for both your own growth and in service to all beings and to the Light, to love.

This throat chakra is about your voice in the world, not just the vocal expression but the voices of all of the bodies: your facial expressions, the acts you do, the expressions of lovingkindness or anger, of fear or fearlessness. When the throat chakra is contracted and not spinning, it is usually because there is some doubt about your ability to send out that voice in the ways that you wish to send it out. There is the intention to know your connection and live that connection, but when the being experiences fear, greed or anger, the throat chakra may seem to close because at some level there is not the willingness to express that negativity. Or, if there is desire to express it, the throat chakra closes because the nature of the spirit plane is love. The throat chakra is within this spirit realm. You cannot use a tool of positivity easily to express negativity.

Gently touch this chakra area while offering loving wishes to yourself and others. Breathing in, "May I have peace." Breathing out, "May all beings have peace." Breathing in, "May I be happy," and out, "May all beings be happy." In, "May I have well-being." Out, "May all beings have well-being." Gently touching this chakra and feeling the blueness of it, feeling how it can open and spin, just through the expression of these loving wishes.

We ascend now to the third eye. It is located about an inch or two into the head, just above the point where the eyebrows would meet. If you feel the forehead, you feel a spot that feels a bit softer, a bit tender. That would be the third eye. Indigo light, blue-violet. Hold your finger there, just one finger against it, and see if you can feel a slight pulsation. It is the third eye that we must awaken for the remembering of our true spirit nature. With the awakening of the third eye, and presence in the base chakra, we begin to deeply experience the feet on the earth, and the head in the heavens. It is from the third eye that you truly know yourself as a divine entity, temporarily within this earthsuit but in no way limited by the human form and expressions.

Touch a finger again on the third eye, and now bring a finger of the other hand to the crown of the head. Again feel for a spot that is just a bit soft and perhaps sensitive. Some of you will feel the energy pulsating there; others may not. The color of the crown chakra is violet, a deep rich violet.

Keep one finger, just one, the forefinger or middle finger of one hand on the crown chakra, and now release the touch of the third eye and bring the hand around behind you to the very base of the spine, one finger touching. See if you can feel the flow of energy. Sit as straight as you are able, back straight, so the energy may flow more easily. As it comes down to the base chakra, send it down to the feet. If you're sitting in a chair, feel it moving through the feet into the earth; on a cushion, simply feel it through the sides of the feet, touching the cushion.

Breathing in, draw energy from the ground all the way up to the crown. Breathing out, let the energy flow down the front of the body and to the base. Breathing in, the energy comes up through this essential meridian, the chakras spinning, to the crown, and then exhale, feeling the energy drop back down through third eye throat, heart, solar plexus, spleen, to the base.

As you exhale and come down to the base, be aware of touching the earth. As you inhale, let go of the touch on the chakras. Literally raise your hands up. Lift your head up. Feel yourself literally connecting with the heavenly realms. You are spirit.

Exhale, lowering the arms, lowering the direction in which the head faces so if the eyes were open, they'd be looking at the earth. Exhale, feeling the grounding. Inhale, raising the arms, lifting the head. Long inhale. Exhale. Lowering arms and face. Coming back to the base. At this low point in the exhale, be very aware of the earth energy.

Inhale. Raising the arms, raising the gaze. Aware of the high frequency vibration that surrounds you. And exhale.

We're going to sit for two or three minutes in silence; then I will continue to talk a bit. As you sit here, please be aware with the flow of the breath. Exhale, you don't have to use your arms here, but exhale, aware of the grounding. Inhale, aware of the rising energy. Aware of how much spirit fills this room, and that you also are spirit. Exhale back to the material body, emotions, and so forth. Inhale, touching again on spirit essence.

After a minute or so of this if you wish, you may simply rest in that high vibration, letting the breath be shallow, not coming all the way down to the base. Or you may continue to come all the way down and up as you prefer. I'll be quiet now for several minutes.

(pause for meditation / bell / stretch)

I am Aaron. Have you ever attempted to do something that was just a bit of a stretch for you? For example, to swim just a bit further than you have previously swum. As you leave shore headed across the lake, you may think, "I'm not sure I can do that," and contraction comes. I'm not talking here of a situation that you know is beyond your ability. We're not talking of swimming the English Channel. It's just a hundred yards further than you have swum before.

Once you begin to swim, there's only swimming. The fear is in thinking about it ahead of time, based on, "Can I control, can I do?" It's based in the lower chakras.

If you are only in the upper chakras, you know you can do it. There's no you to be doing it; awareness knows it can be done. But the upper chakras cannot swim across a lake!

When the chakras are open, you look at the task ahead of you and there may be the subtle contraction of fear that says, "I'm not sure I can do it." Or even, "I don't want this. I don't want to do it." But there is also the connection through the upper chakras with that deeper truth that knows this also is workable. Perhaps hard, but workable.

We just had the joy this week to talk with D. about his long hike on the Appalachian Trail, over 2000 miles. He said some of the time there was no thinking, "Can I do it?" there was just walking. Just the sun or the rain, the rocks or the dirt, the view or the trees. Just this present moment.

Sometimes your lives bring you difficulties: body distortions, the loss of loved ones, financial hardship, or just a difficult person in your life, that negative vortex that somebody mentioned a few weeks ago. The lower chakras say, "I don't want this!" and begin to close up. With this reaction, some of you have the tendency to freeze into the lower chakras and fight. This relates directly to the pushing arms exercise that we will do. Some of you have the habit energy when something is difficult or unpleasant to shift into the upper chakras. There is an imitation of calm, but there's really also a kind of escape because you are not fully in the lower chakras. You are not engaged in this material reality.

Whether it is a small push or a big push, your life is filled with pushes. When you contract, the energy is held in the lower chakras and there's no flexibility and no joy, no connection, but only oppositionality. When you move into the upper chakras and abandon the lower chakras, you may be able to give a convincing demonstration, but the open heart is not there. If somebody pushes hard, you collapse because there is no body, no connection, to ground you. When I say "no body" I don't mean no person (nobody), but no physical body energy to ground. You can't dance with energy unless you are also energized and holding that ground.

What I would say next may seem like an odd perspective to some of you. You are here to some degree as part of a demonstration. What do I mean by that word? We'll return to swimming. We have a class of swimmers. Some have a more refined stroke than others. I might ask the person with the smoothest stroke, "Please would you demonstrate the stroke so others can see how it looks?" You have worked hard to master the grace of this stroke, and so you demonstrate it.

This is a suitable metaphor although not exact. Most of you have come into the incarnation with the intention to demonstrate how to hold peace, to hold love, in the face of difficult experience, difficult pushing. But because you have forgotten the deeper truth of your being, you try to do that demonstration from only the lower chakras. Or, having remembered that truth, and finding the earth plane situation unpleasant, you prefer to abandon the lower chakras.

But think of it, my dear ones, you came here to do this demonstration here, on this heavy density earth, like shining light in the darkness. What you demonstrate by holding all of the chakras open helps to bring this higher vibration to the earth, to bring light where there is darkness. So through your work, through your courageous work, you raise the vibrational frequency of the entire earth plane, thereby making it a much more vital force for love and light.

In so doing, you come to know yourselves as that vital force for love and light, not the small personal self standing alone but the combination of the personal and the higher self.

Sometimes what is asked is difficult. We might think of Jesus in that Garden before the crucifixion saying, "Take this cup from me." It is too much. I don't know if I can hold heaven and earth together in this way, if I can hold the heavy vibration of the earth and the high vibration of divinity and invite them to express as one. But if this be the demonstration given me to do, "Thy will be done."

I am not bringing Jesus into this in a religious way, only that this is an example that we can look at regardless of religious orientation. Here was a man who was asked to do something very difficult and he was afraid. And yet he understood that it was safe in the ultimate sense, and it was to be his demonstration. Not the demonstration to die in that way, but the demonstration of the eternalness of spirit, and that spirit does not die.

Fortunately, most of you are not asked to do such a difficult demonstration. It is enough to be with the difficult boss or in-law, to mutter over the traffic or flat tire. But these are your demonstrations. Do them with love.

We have promised to end this in half an hour so you may go and hear these debates. Please, as you listen to the debates, watch the contraction in the mind and body. "I like this; I don't like that." Please remember that these are two human beings doing their own very difficult demonstrations, caught in their own fears, their own egos, their own stories, and that theirs is a very thankless task, for there is no way to please everyone.

As you listen to them, allow your deepest heart and wisdom to guide you in discernment on which one you feel can most skillfully hold this whole space of chakras, lower and upper. I think that's as good a guide as any, as to who you might wish to elect as your president.

We will work further with this pole meditation in the next class, a second step to it.

The Pole Exercise
Spiritual Inquiry Class
October 27, 2004

Barbara: I am beginning by reading a paragraph from last week's transcript.

"Most of you have come into the incarnation with the intention to demonstrate how to hold peace, to hold love, in the face of difficult experience, difficult pushing. But because you have forgotten the deeper truth of your being, you try to do that demonstration from only the lower chakras. Or, having remembered that truth, and finding the earth plane situation unpleasant, you prefer to abandon the lower chakras.

"But think of it, my dear ones, you came here to do this demonstration here, on this heavy density earth, like shining light in the darkness. What you demonstrate by holding all of the chakras open helps to bring this higher vibration to the earth, to bring light where there is darkness. So through your work, through your courageous work, you raise the vibrational frequency of the entire earth plane, thereby making it a much more vital force for love and light."

Aaron will talk about this.

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

Barbara mentioned the lunar eclipse tonight. I have wonderful memories from many lifetimes in many parts of the world of watching such eclipses, sometimes with a feeling of magic about it. Something is eating the moon! There was no scientific understanding.

At those times, fear would come and one felt very humbled by the majesty of the heavens and the power of the sun and moon. Sometimes beings would create special movements, dances of some sort, or music or some kind of a routine, offered as a prayer. And then it worked! The moon came back! It reinforced the idea. Next time there was such a passing away of the moon, everybody knew just what to do to bring it back, to feel powerful again. Yes, the moon may disappear, but we know how to bring it back.

Then the fear would go and one could enjoy the beauty of the show, because the body relaxed. There was the assurance, "I know what to do when the moon disappears. I'm in charge."

Metaphorically, on a daily basis, our "moon disappears." On a daily basis you feel helpless, out of control, and the first habit energy is for the small ego self to jump in and try to fix it.

Sometimes you truly know what to do. If somebody is choking, you might rap them on the back. If somebody is cut, you know how to wash the wound and help it heal. It's good to look at these patterns and the energy in the body and the chakras. When there is fear, the chakras all close down. With the chakras closed, humans cannot function well. The bringing forth of an assurance, even of a false assurance, helps the chakras to open. Then, if there is truly something to be done, it's much easier to do it skillfully, to be fully present with the situation. If there is nothing to be done, you just relax and watch the show.

Last class we spoke about the role of each chakra. I want to be certain that you understand that each chakra has a closed, fear position and a released position, almost like a water faucet. If it's turned off, the water can't flow.

I spoke of the base chakra as related to beingness, survival, sexual impulses. The great I Am. When the base chakra is closed, we cut ourselves off from the whole stream of life energy. When it's open, that I Am announces itself and you are fully present, alive, passionately so. And thus, with each of the chakras.

The lower chakras relate to the heavier density of being, as we specified in the last class, and the upper chakras more to the spiritual realm. I said that you are a pole, each of you, grounded in the earth plane and carrying the very highest energy of the crown chakra. Sometimes you prefer to be more in the body and avoid the spirit plane, or more in the spirit plane and to avoid the world and the body. The physical body and all material formations of the earth plane do have a lower frequency vibration than that of the spirit realm.

There are many different material and non-material planes, some with a very heavy density, a very low vibration, and some with a much higher vibration. The human effort brings the two together, helps to raise the heavy vibration. I don't want you to think of heavy vibration as bad and high vibration as good. Think of the strings of a violin or cello: there are low strings and high strings. One is not better than the other, but they each offer a different energy.

There is much more discordance in the lowest vibrations. When we speak of raising the vibrational frequency, it's not really the most accurate term. Clarify and raise the vibrational frequency is more accurate.

If you stub your toe, it hurts, and you sit down and hold the foot in your hands, massage it. Offer loving energy to it. The vibration of that kindness changes the nature of the experience of pain. If instead you curse at the pain, you can feel how the whole body further contracts. The chakras close; the whole body moves into a lower vibrational frequency and becomes discordant. The discordancy is really the result of the closed chakras. When the chakras are open, each tunes to the one next to it, just as you might tune a musical instrument by holding your finger on the string, holding the G string here just right so that it plays the D note. And if you have it just right, the D string, left untouched, will begin to vibrate.

When the chakras are open, each one's resonance enhances the vibration of the others until the whole body of the chakras, the entire meridian, is open and radiant, but each chakra still has its own vibrational frequency. They are tuned together.

When you contract in the body or energetically, it shuts down the movement between any two chakras. The energy can't move through because the chakra is not spinning. If it can't move through, then it's very hard for the energy to be harmonic. It becomes discordant. The more discordant it becomes, the more your habit energy leads you to react to that discordancy by closing up more.

All of this is by way of background. I want to do a guided meditation with you now. It uses the chakras as the basic structure.

So we start by opening the chakras. Breathing in and bringing light down to the base chakra. Exhale. Inhale, bringing light down to the spleen chakra. Exhale. You may see these lights as different colors: red, the base; orange. Breathing in yellow light at the solar plexus. Exhale. Green light to the heart. Exhale. Breathing in, breathe it in through the crown of your head and down to the throat, blue light, and release. Indigo light held at the third eye. And release. And violet light at the crown, and release. And then above the head, a very white light, somewhere between 6 and 18 inches above the crown chakra.

As much as possible, feel yourself centered in these spinning chakras. Hold the back erect to open the energy.

Feel the self centered so the energy rests equally in the physical chakras, the heavier density energies, and at the crown of the head and the upper three chakras. Bring one hand to the heart center. Feel it as the fulcrum. Relaxed. I'm not going to ask you to do circus acrobatics. There's nothing here that is not truly easy for you. Relax. If there was tension, notice the tension as it was held in the second or third chakra. Bring the other hand gently to the abdominal area. On one level, offering the release of tension; on another level, knowing that which is already free of tension, and resting in that space.

Now I am going to ask you to think of something that brings feelings of sadness or fear or anger. Hold the heart open to this difficult emotion. As you first bring it to your attention, you may feel a closing in one or several of the lower three chakras. Simply bring kind attention to that closing. Breathe in more of the appropriate color into the chakra, or several colors if several chakras are involved.

See how you can hold the memory of that painful feeling, that painful experience, and simultaneously how the lower chakras can be open. They may not be perfectly open, but when there is not so much self-identification with them and with them closed, you rest in the spaciousness that sees them closed, just as you can watch yourself zip a jacket. It closes; it's not self. So the habit energy may be strong and they may seem to close. Rest in that which is always open. Even there, watching the relative reality closure.

Breathing in. And breathing out. Breathe in deeply into the belly, all the way down to the base chakra until you feel stable. If something is still closed on the relative plane, note it. And without denial of it, rest in that which is open.


Now I ask you to experience the body as a pole, able to be with that lower vibration and closing triggered by fear or sadness or pain or heavy emotion. And at the other end of the pole, that space of clarity and love, which is uncontracted and free. That highest energy cannot descend into the lower vibration. Or if it does, it is invisible there, and it truly creates discomfort. It is up to you who are in the physical body to ground into the heavy earth plane and to hold that space into the heavenly realms.

Let us do this together, then.

Bring into your mind a place of great suffering. Here, not personal suffering, but hold the vision of those whose bodies even right now are being exploded by bombs or bullets, those who are burning in a fire or drowning at sea. This relates a bit to the tonglen meditation you've done, most of you at least have done it, where we breathe in that heaviness and pain, allow ourselves to touch it, to be touched by it. Our usual conditioning is to run past when we see such pain, but here we allow ourselves deeply to touch it.

Breathing in, breathing out. Aware of the enormity of suffering in the world, in the earth, and among sentient beings, and on other planes as well. But here I think it's more useful to you simply to hold it to the earth plane with which you are more familiar. Enormous suffering.


You realize how easy it would be to be ensnared by that low vibration and have the chakras close, because it's uncomfortable. And the closing of the energy field is the conditioned way to create a safe place for yourself. Like the turtle withdrawing into its shell. Watch the impulse there, if there is one, wanting to withdraw. And instead, stay as present as possible using the memories, visual, auditory, even scent and touch.


One of the challenges and gifts of your international news today is that you can literally turn on your television and see people dying. This is a nightmare and yet it is also a teacher of compassion.

Without letting go of that place of suffering, move the attention up into the heart center, touching the heart area with a gentle pressure. Breathe into the pressure and release. And then continue to move up into the throat and the third eye and crown.

In tonglen, we just breathe in and out. Here what you are doing is raising yourself into the highest vibrational frequency of which this body and mind are capable, touching that ground of being at the crown chakra, and then literally breathing it through the body, down into the base chakra. Drawing in the suffering through the lower chakras. Now touch the earth plane, breathing them up through the heart. And here, unlike tonglen, we do not release them but hold them in that highest vibration, just letting them rest there, because at the highest level, it is not your vibration. What you've released it to is that which is, that highest energy of being.

And then breathing in, breathe that energy in. Bring it down through the chakras. Hold the memory again of that place of horror, of pain, offering this higher energy to it. Breathing in that pain up through the charkas, resting in the crown chakra, third eye, throat. Breathe that light and love in and down through the chakras again. Feel it all the way at the base. You may be experiencing the simultaneity of the horror of the experience of beings, injured, maimed, dying, and also the potential for love, for the open heart, right there amidst the horror. Breathing in that pain, bring it up to the higher realm again. You might want to take several breaths with each step rather than one, to spend more time at either end of the pole. Never forget that you hold the entire pole, for that trauma is your trauma also, and certainly at some time you have experienced pain, loss, fear, hatred, greed. And that love is your love, the highest love of which the greater self is capable.

The highest energy is the Unconditioned. You may lose sight of it, but you cannot lose it because it can't go anywhere. The vibration of fear is conditioned. The Unconditioned cannot be stained, so you carry this high energy down into the lower chakras. You carry the pain up, but it cannot distort or stain the higher chakras.

Allow yourself to experience the brilliant radiance of that light at the upper level. And also, even using the imagination, to envision the brutality of which beings are capable. The enormity of suffering, the nightmares of natural disasters. Here not dwelling in stories, but simply directly aware of human anguish, human pain. Feel yourself as the pole that can hold it all together.

I remember a lifetime long ago in which there were terrible rains that brought mudslides. And the mud filled up the well from which the village drew its water. This was water from a pure underground spring, but now the well was filled with mud. People began to dig, and as we got several feet down, there was the necessity literally to climb in the well, scoop out the mud into buckets that were lifted up by those on the outside. Constantly digging our way down through thick black mud until finally the last of the mud was removed and the fresh spring remained there at the bottom.

We scooped out the muddy water, and the spring kept replenishing with water that was free of mud, until we had claimed the bottom of our well and the spring had filled it up with pure sweet water. This is what you are doing in a sense.

As you do this pole meditation, you must remember that the high energy and light and love is not just at the top, but that the lower chakras also can resonate with this high energy. It's still a lower vibration because that is what's natural to the chakra. But the lower chakras are not grounded in fear and the uppers grounded in love; they are all grounded in love and any one of them can become ensnared with fear.

As we do this meditation again, breathing the light, the love, through the open chakras and into that horror, it's like the spring bubbling into the mud. Then you breathe in that horror and lift it up and release it. As you purify that place of darkness and sweep out the dirt, the natural light of that place can come forth.

Let us pick a simple politically neutral place to practice here. Northern Japan has been experiencing terrible earthquakes this week. There is, fortunately, not too much loss of life, injuries, and loss of property, but people are without food, without water, with homes destroyed. People have lost all they have worked hard to create in their lives. People are suffering.

Hold that image in your mind of the rock tumbling and shaking, buildings falling, people caught under the debris, needing to be dug out, in pain and afraid. Try to touch that pain from the most open place of the heart that you can. But then you must also go into the lower chakras. You must be the pole reaching all the way down into that pain through your own intimate knowledge of your own pain and fear and loss. Breathing in, allow that pain to come up through you and into the heart, and further up. And then, just letting it float there until it disperses. Breathing in the life/light of the heavens, spaciousness, kindness, freedom. Draw it all the way through the heart and down into the base chakra, for the possibility to bring love and light to pain and darkness.

Again, breathing in that pain, fear, and darkness. Letting it come up through the chakras, drawing it up, just allowing space for it. Not creating something other than. The pain is just pain. The fear is just fear. No contraction around it. Breathe in light. Breathe in spaciousness and love. Feel the body as a pole connecting to that light and love and drawing it back down. Reaching out again for the image of the earthquake and its victims, and of the stressed earth itself, for the earth is also the victim of the earthquake. Breathing in that pain and darkness and raising it up into the light. Breathing in the light and carrying it down through you into the realm of darkness.


I believe you understand that just as you can do this with a natural disaster, such as the earthquake or with places that are embattled in Iraq, so you can do it within the self, seeing the places that have pain and the places that have light, and coming to the non-dual awareness of the simultaneity of both. Uncontracted around the human pain, extending it light and love.

We will sit in silence for two or three minutes while you practice with this, and then close this portion of the class.

On The Kayas
Excerpt from Spiritual Inquiry Class
November 10, 2004

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. I want to begin with you here with a few minutes of guided meditation, using the pole meditation of our last meeting.

Come deeply into the body, aware of the touch of the buttocks on the chair or cushion, aware of the breath, aware of the sounds in the room, of scent, of movement.

Lift your hands out in front of you. Feel the physical heaviness of the arms, the hands. Perhaps even a subtle ache as the upper arms support the lower arms. The pull of gravity wanting to pull the hands downward, and bring them down gently, resting them back on the lap. Know this physical body.


Please bring the back to a more erect posture, with shoulders and abdomen relaxed. Breathing in, feel the breath enter, the lungs fill. And as you breathe in, breathe in light as well. And then breathe out, releasing the light, coming back to the body. Breathing in, breathe in light. And exhale, releasing light. Once more, breathe in light. Breathe it into the abdomen, into the heart.

(Barbara is turning the light dimmer switch up and down as Aaron talks)

Focus to move into that light. We don't confuse electric lights with that natural light, but the electric lights can simulate natural light to remind you of it.

Bring the one hand in a light touch to the crown chakra. As you breathe out, still holding the finger at the crown chakra, release, coming down into the body. Feel the touch of buttocks on the cushion or chair. Then breathe in, bringing the attention back up to the crown chakra. And as you exhale, bring attention back down into the body and base chakra.

Resting in the base chakra, be in the body. Resting in the crown chakra, be aware of the connection with all-that-is.

We will spend a few minutes in silence. See if you can rest in the simultaneity of the physical plane and this higher plane. Mundane consciousness and supramundane consciousness.


Barbara: Aaron is asking how many of you are familiar with past years' teachings of the 3 kayas? (show of hands) How many are not familiar with it? (show of hands)

Aaron: I am Aaron. We will explain this briefly and ask those of you who have not met this teaching before to read a transcript that contains more information about it.

The word kaya means body. There are many different kinds of bodies. Nirmana means form; nirmanakaya is the form body. Dharma means truth; dharmakaya is the truth body. We spent a lot of time last year looking at the actuality of the form bodies—the physical expression, the emotional expression, the mental expression—and also exploring at the Ever-Perfect level, the dharmakaya. For each of you there is that Ever-Perfect level of each of these 3 bodies.

When your body is ill, experiencing some physical distortion, a very important force for healing is to hold the vision out to the body of the Ever-Perfect level. It's a bit like holding up a great painting so a class of art students can copy it. Think of Van Gogh's "Starry Night." Give the class one glimpse. While the student tries to copy it, the memory may not suffice. But if you put it in front of the room, and they may come up and look at it up close as often as they need to, it's easier to express an individuated manifestation of that beautiful painting.

So the Ever-Perfect level of each of the bodies exists. And the present expression exists, with whatever distortions it may carry. In order to paint that picture with accuracy, you need to come up and look with your eyes, perhaps even touch the textures with your hands. The finished product is your replica but it is very similar to the original.

We might use the process of creation of the replica as an example of the transition body, sambhogakaya. The sambhoga is often translated as wealth, and there is a kind of wealth or richness to it. It is all the process, all the movement, that takes us from that ultimate level into the present. Sambhogakaya contains both the original and the replica, and is the place that holds them together. This is a very encapsulated statement, so please be sure to read the transcripts.

The pole of meditation we've been doing is really the practice of sambhogakaya. You are becoming a bridge. Think about a bridge and how it functions. There's a chasm. The bridge cannot merely touch, just barely touch, at each end: it must be grounded firmly on each side of the chasm or it will collapse.

If the bridge extends 20 feet over onto the earth on each side of the chasm, if you are standing on the bridge with its foundations deep into the earth, are you standing on the bridge or are you standing on the right side of the gap? You walk across the bridge. It extends 20 feet over the earth on the left side also. Are you standing on the bridge or on the earth on the left side of the chasm, or both?

Now turn around and walk back. The bridge is rooted deeply into the earth, with foundation pillars buried deep into bedrock. You are walking on the bridge. As you step past the edge, so there's just the chasm, are you still on the earth on the left side? You're on the bridge and the bridge is on the left side. Are you still on the earth on the left side?

Walk across the bridge. All the way over to where it ends, grounded deeply on the right side. And again walk back to the edge and just beyond the edge, standing on the bridge. Are you still on the earth on the right side? Walk just a quarter of the way out. You're still on the right side. Have you ever abandoned the left side?

Can you see that as long as you stand on the bridge, you are on both the right and the left sides? It must be so. The term wealth body is the statement that you here have all the riches of the ultimate level and all the riches of the relative, mundane level. You have everything.

Here's another example that many of you have heard from me before. Think of an absolutely pure spring deep underground. Of course, this is only a metaphor, because a spring is still a conditioned reality. But imagine this spring. No pollutants can touch it. It bubbles up from deep in the earth, pure groundwater. And then it comes to an opening through rocks and tumbles off down the mountainside. The water runs downhill, cutting away at the rock so it forms a stream bed. Follow it down the stream.

One step away, it's easy to see that this is still the pure spring water. 20 paces. A little frog plops into the stream and he's covered with dirt, so you see a bit of muddiness around him. And yet the pure stream, the pure spring water is still there. A quarter mile down the mountain, cows are wading in the stream which now has a mud, rather than rock, bed. With their hooves they're stirring up the mud. And yet the pure stream is still there. Certainly one will not drink there or one will get a bellyache, but one could filter that water. If you filter out the dust, you're left with the pure spring.

I find this a very clear analogy to your own being. There's a brilliant radiance, this light, this divinity, that is the spring of your being, the essence, dharmakaya. The nature of that essence is to express itself so the physical, mental, and emotional bodies are expressed. They pick up distortion. You can get lost in the distortion level, the mundane level, and completely forget your innate radiance. You can also become lost in that innate radiance, disdainful of the heavier bodies. But there is a place in between, the pole that is deeply connected at both ends. I cannot over-stress the importance of realizing this pole within the self.

I hope you will continue to do meditation practices at home that help you connect simultaneously to the mundane reality and the highest reality. Then you may fully understand that the human that you are carries both realities. It is important that you realize the wonder of this simultaneity.

We as spirit can guide you, can offer encouragement, wise words, but we are not grounded in your relative reality. Certainly it is possible for a spirit plane being to meddle in human affairs, but this violates the most basic rule of positive polarity, which is the respect for free will. You are the ones that came into incarnation. You are the ones that now have the opportunity literally to transform this earth. Then you will be on the spirit plane for awhile, and you will come back and do more transformation.

There is a gradual shift of the earth into a higher vibration, a higher, clearer vibrational level, which is the opening into 4th density. All of the practices you learn, of lovingkindness, of mindfulness, of generosity, of patience, of compassion, all of these are ways of bringing that higher vibration to increased light and radiance. Or, said in another way, of your innate perfection into the earth plane. It's like coming up and looking at the great painting close up, taking a few notes. Not, "How do I express the whole painting?" but just this one star, how did he do it. You go back and you try it. If the results do not seem quite satisfactory, you come back up and you look at the painting again, until you really are standing on that bridge holding both ends together. What you express, of course, is not a painting; what you express is the ability to bring love where there is fear and contraction; the ability to rest in the Uncontracted self even when fear is present in the relative self; the ability to watch difficult emotions arise and pass away, without getting caught in their stories and further pulled off into this lower vibration of fear.

Here at Deep Spring Center, we have emphasized vipassana practice because it is the greatest tool that I have experienced to do this work, to watch what arises in the conditioned experience without being sucked into it and into a fear-based negative vibration. All of you are doing this work to transform yourselves and your world.

Levels of Consciousness
Opening Talk, Wednesday Night Group
November 17, 200

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. I greet you in love and in light. It is a joy to be with you tonight and I hope that you will find some joy also in our presence here together.

Here in the human plane, you spend much of your life with the experience of contraction of the physical body and of the mind. There is a lot of fear; there is physical pain and hardship. Life brings you that which you do not wish it to bring, and you cannot hold onto that which is pleasant and comfortable. So the human experience is often one of contraction.

Think you now of something difficult that happened, some discomfort or something that angered you. I would ask you just to bring it to mind, and allow yourself to feel the body tension that comes with that thought or memory. I do not ask you to remember something horrible, only the unpleasant. It is just a memory, so the tension may be subtle. See if you can feel it, noting it simply as contraction, tension.

Now take a deep breath and consciously release the memory and the tension. Think you now of something very pleasant that happened in the days just past. Allow that memory to arise. Allow yourself to feel joy with this memory. Can you feel the body energy opening, the increased spaciousness, even if slight? Again, it's just a memory, so the sensation of opening may be subtle. What I ask of you here is simply to be consciously aware of the distinction between the contracted state of the physical, emotional, and mental bodies, and the uncontracted state.

Here is another exercise to bring forth the same experience. The participation in this one is optional, but if you wish, turn to the person next to you, designating an A and a B. If there are an odd number of people, three can participate. Let the B's close their eyes and the A's give a definitive push, but not too hard, against B's shoulder, forehead, or chest. If contraction arises, know it as contraction. As you are pushed, can you feel that contraction? If you have a threesome, A please turn to the remaining B and offer that same push.

It's a very common experience. Life offers a multitude of small pushes, and with each one, the habitual response is to contract. Now I would ask the B people to hold out a hand, palm down. I would ask the A's to very gently stroke the back of the hand. Does it elicit a different response in you? A feeling of opening, of ease?

Switch positions now so that the one who was pushed is the pusher.

First, the push, and watching any contraction that comes. No judgment around the contraction, just noting it. This is a mechanism to which the body is deeply habituated. And then the gentle stroking of the back of the hand, and perhaps a sense of ease and spaciousness. My intention here is simply to help you bring conscious attention to these movements of contraction and release, not to change them.

Lay all of this in the background for a moment. You are, each of you, spirit here in this human form, here in a heavy body and with a heavier vibration of the emotional body, and even of the mental body. So it is as a four-stringed instrument: the spirit body with its high vibration, then the mental, the emotional, and then the heaviest, physical bodies all carrying a lower vibration.

Together these three heavier bodies bring forth a certain overall level of vibration, which is the vibration you normally hold. The more fear, the more contraction, the more negativity, the heavier is the vibration. The more openness and ease, the higher is the vibration. But even if fear and discomfort exist, if there is a basic openness to them, the experiences will not lower the vibration in a long-term way.

A major part of the work of the human is to literally elevate consciousness. There is a progression of consciousness that is normal in all sentient beings from the lowest to the highest. These levels of consciousness are not like plateaus, however, but more like intersecting planes, so that at any moment, any given human being may simultaneously experience 3 or 4 or even more levels of consciousness. Only one is predominant, however, as the highest stable level.

There are many studies of levels of consciousness. The work by Ken Wilbur on consciousness comes to mind as a basic text, giving good explanation of each level. The entire Buddhist thought system addresses levels of consciousness quite precisely, especially in the Abhidhamma, the Buddhist text on consciousness. Some of the Christian mystics like John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila do not so much name the levels as describe their experiences in these levels. The Jewish Kabalah tradition defines it using its own terminology but with a very direct correlation to that in other traditions.

In a very brief capsule, we first find the magical consciousness, the young child. The young child doesn't have too much sense of reasoning. If he cries and a bottle appears, he doesn't see the whole chain of events, only feels that by some magic his cry brought forth what he needed. The older child advances into mythic consciousness with a deep set of beliefs, often based on the magic of which he has dreamed. Within mythic consciousness there is a strong sense of good and evil. Everything is in terms of black and white, no grays. The fundamentalists of any religion are often deep in mythic consciousness, unwilling to release belief systems even though experiential understanding brings new information.

The next level is the rational consciousness level. Here we begin to use the physical senses and mind to understand the universe. Rational consciousness is totally empirical, only what the senses can see and tell.

Vision-logic consciousness is still based in the rational, the logical, but it climbs a step up the mountain to a bigger perspective, begins to see with a clearer vision, touches more on intuition. It is not yet ready to open to the subtle energies, but it allows the possibility of data beyond the empirical, both from the outer world and from the self as intuition.

Then we move into psychic consciousness, where the various non-physical senses open: clairvoyance, clairaudience, and so forth. As this level deepens, we open to the subtle level of consciousness in which energy is experienced and exchanged. People may begin to see auras. When you walk into a room, you feel the energy in the room and you trust what you feel. Or when simply talking to another individual, you pick up the verbal cues, as what is said, but the non-verbal cues, including the energetic level of cues, is more important than the verbal.

Subtle consciousness ends in what the Christian mystics call the dark night of the soul, wherein the perceiver begins to see how much all of this observation has come from a personal self as a center of the experience. Within this dark night or, in the Buddhist tradition, the experience of ego dissolution, the experience of no-self, we shift completely out of what has been a mundane level of consciousness, the etheric and astral levels, and into what is technically called a causal level of consciousness. Here we have what is sometimes called Christ consciousness or Buddha nature, the level of living from a place literally of no-self, knowing one's deepest connection with all that is.

Even this is not the end, because in the causal level there is still a self no matter how subtle, as perceiver, as observer. But with the disintegration even of that sense of self, with the full understanding that what we have called self is really a collection of body experience, thoughts, and so forth, there is the breakthrough into non-dual consciousness. This is the highest level of consciousness.

This has been just a very brief map. The reason I wanted to offer it to you is to help you understand that much of that purpose for which you have taken incarnation is to raise the consciousness. As you raise the consciousness, you move out of the personal self and toward the non-dual self, and thereupon begin to be able to relate to the world around you with more lovingkindness, much more wisdom and compassion. Fear falls away. There's really no longer fear of anything, because with the opening of causal consciousness you know that the deepest core of being is indestructible. You still will not stand in the middle of a highway inviting the truck to smash into you. In fact, there may be even greater respect for the body because the body is seen as the vehicle for growth in this incarnation. But there is respect based on love, not on fear.

So there is this basic work of consciousness-raising. And then we must ask, what helps us to raise our consciousness and what gets in the way and keeps us stuck in lower consciousness?

Here at Deep Spring and at my urging we teach vipassana meditation drawn from the Buddhist tradition. This is a form of meditation that emphasizes presence in every moment, deep mindfulness, and it emphasizes kindness, to be fully present with whatever is predominant in the experience but with a basic attitude of kindness and spaciousness.

How do we learn to be spacious with that which is very painful, very unpleasant, very frightening? One cannot just say, "I will have kindness." You can't force it. Slowly we begin to see the expressions, such as compassion, lovingkindness, generosity, peacefulness, and equanimity, as the basic nature of the human. These expressions never are obliterated, but we may not be able to touch them because the clouds blocking them from our experience are so thick, just as the sun is blocked from our experience on a stormy day.

You do not doubt that the sun is there, but you know clouds are present. However, you doubt the presence of these beautiful qualities of the heart. You do not have the experience in the physical world to blow the clouds away and open up the clear sky, but you do have the aptitude to do that within the self. So there are certain tools that are very helpful to bring forth to address the figurative clouds, to cause the sun to break through the clouds so that you may come more fully to rest in this true nature of goodness, joy, and peace. Gratitude is a predominant one of these tools.

All of which has been a roundabout way of coming to my central theme tonight, the theme of gratitude, one of the most powerful forces for dissipating the cloud of fear and bringing us through to that true place of joy, of joyful radiance and peace which is your birthright. While I am speaking here just about gratitude, of course we can equally use practices of patience, of generosity, of equanimity, and of joy, especially sympathetic joy, joy for others' good fortune.

I said you cannot force the clouds away, you cannot say, "I won't be afraid." The wonderful thing is, right here with fear, with anger, with greed, with despair, is ease and well-being, only it's so hidden that it's hard to connect with it. By a conscious practice of gratitude, the heart opens. Not only is that a benefit of such practice but with the practice of gratitude, we literally raise the vibrational frequency of all the bodies; with that raised frequency, the shift in consciousness to a higher level becomes possible.

I would like to share a story with you, a personal story about gratitude from a long distant lifetime. The being I was, was a boy of 12 years and of the Untouchable caste on the continent of India. I had a twin brother and 4 younger siblings, ages 10, 8, 6 and 4: a 10-year-old girl, an 8-year-old boy, and then the two younger ones. Our parents died separately, one of disease and one by accident. There was no social welfare system in India of those days; either my brother and I took care of my siblings or they would die, especially the babies. At the time of my parents' death, we were not yet 11 and the babies were just 2 and 4. The father had died before the birth of the youngest child. The mother died into that infant's first year, never healing of the hardship of starvation during child bearing. What do two 10 year old boys do to earn a living for their family, especially boys of such a lower caste held in contempt by all, with no education and no skills, and in a country wracked with poverty?

But we were creative and found ways to bring in just barely enough to keep our dear siblings alive. One job we had was to get neighbors' water buffaloes at the end of the day of work and take them out to the field to graze. Then we would pick enough grass to feed them overnight and bring them back at dusk. For this small service, we were offered not so much the coin but food: milk from the buffalo, vegetables, and other food to sustain the family.

It was a very hard life for two young boys. Neither of us was large in stature and sometimes we would set out with several water buffaloes, gentle beasts but large, often with a will to go and graze where they were not permitted. So it was hard.

I looked ahead with despair to a life of such literal slavery and hardship. I could see little hint of joy. All around me was suffering, and my own dear family was really better off than many.

I was very closed down, defiant, and angry. I think if things had gone on as they were, I would have become a brigand of some sort, begun to steal, even though I understood the penalty for that could be the cutting off of the hands or even death, which would deeply impact my loved ones. That's all that stopped me from that action. I was angry.

My brother was a bit calmer but angry too. One day as we led the buffalo out of the village to the fields by the river so they might graze, we saw a monk sitting by the river under a tree. There was a radiance about him. His back was to me but I could see in his posture the sense of joy and ease. We both stopped, really riveted. Holy men were not unfamiliar to us, but such practice seemed totally out of our reach as something forbidden, open only to the Brahmans. But here was a monk clothed in simple robes sitting with such ease. I watched for a few minutes and then led the buffalo on.

We talked about it, and the next day, before it was time to go for the buffalo, we came to the same place and looked, and he was still there. We watched him for a few minutes. We thought we were very quiet, but eventually he said, "Don't stand there hiding; come out." Rather sheepishly we came forth. "Sit down," he said. We kept a distance from him. Remember, we were trained in the thinking that as Untouchables, we were truly poisonous to others.

"What are you doing, sir?" "I'm meditating. Would you like me to teach you?" "Yes," we nodded, rather shyly. We had gathered some grass for the buffaloes and were holding it, so he said put it down on the ground and sit on it. We did so, and he began to explain his practice to us.

Part way through, my brother began to cough, and this monk did something absolutely wonderful and terrifying. He brought forth his small basin of water, held it out to my brother and said, "Drink." As he held it out, my brother held back. He could be beaten or even killed for allowing himself to be touched by someone not of the Untouchable caste. "Don't be afraid," the monk said. "But we will poison you if we touch it." " No, not at all," he said, " That is just belief created to keep people in their places, to create a system of control. Drink!"

We drank, both of us, and then he drank, and he did not seem harmed by it. We meditated some more. And then he said, "I will eat now. Have you eaten yet?" "No, we have no food with us." He said, "I have plenty." He opened some fragrant leaves containing rice and held them out to each of us, again, touching us, sharing his food with us. He told us that day, "You may have to act in self-preservation according to the belief systems that are imposed on you, or others could beat and harm you, but you do not have to believe in those belief systems."

Each day for two weeks we found some time to be with this monk. He shared the dharma with us, explained so many things that we were ripe to hear, and taught us to be present in our bodies and with our breath. And then he promised us that although he had to leave the next day, he would be back. "Look for me in the spring," he said. Meanwhile, he asked us to practice every day as he had shown us.

In six months, sure again, there he was. For another two weeks he taught us, and every six months like clockwork, very dependably, he was there, this monk who must have had so many things to attend to. He had the time to give to two small low-caste boys. As the seasons passed, we brought our family. All the children got to know him and benefited by his kindness and wisdom. And he promised us that when we were of the right age we could come with him and become monks. We did this, my brother and I. The next youngest brother was ready to take over the work of supporting the family, and the sister able to prepare the food and make clothing and so forth. And as the family grew up, most of them became monks or a nun, in the case of the sister.

For that boy so deep in despair, so filled with anger, this generosity and kindness touched my heart. It was the first thing in my entire life for which I felt gratitude. Certainly there was much for which to feel gratitude, as I had a healthy body and my siblings also, and we two boys had the ability to provide for all of us, but this was the first thing that opened my heart to the possibility of gratitude because the heart was so clenched in fear and anger. So what he gave me more than the teachings themselves was the possibility to open the heart. He taught me more directly about gratitude, as well. He would stop as we walked and just look at a flower or small insect, help me to see how wondrous it was. And he would express his gratitude for the existence of this small being.

It took six years from the time I first met him until the time I went off with him. In those years I would have probably become a terror to others, a thief or even a murderer. My rage would have been broadcast everywhere. But through the simplicity of the experience of gratitude, he truly opened my heart and allowed that inner radiance to come forth, allowed me to feel my own divinity, my own goodness of intention, my own capability of love.

He taught me to use the loving heart to release negative thought. By release, I do not mean turn my back on it but truly to transcend it. Anger still came but there was not so much self-identity with it. I saw it simply had arisen out of conditions and was not who I was, so I could watch it arise and watch it slowly pass away. Despair still came on occasion, feelings of helplessness, sadness, grief for my lost parents. All of these emotions came. The experience of gratitude gave me something to open the heart and literally to shine the bright light of the sun on those heavy clouds of negativity as they dissipated.

I would ask each of you in the coming week to reflect on what you have in your life to feel grateful for. Some of you may say, not much. No matter how small, find something that you are truly grateful for and repeatedly, through the day, bring it to mind and give thanks for it. The love of a friend, enough to eat, work that you enjoy, even just legs that can walk, ears that can hear, eyes that can see.

Watch how this conscious remembrance of gratitude can release the constriction of fear. Bring it in as a conscious practice when there is fear or negative emotion. In this moment of fear that something will go wrong, in this moment of anger, even of rage, what can you remember to be thankful for? Consciously watch how it affects the constricted energy of negative emotion and allows a shift into more spaciousness.

I said that the levels of consciousness are intersecting planes. When there is a lot of anger, you are generally in the mythic level of consciousness. There is a belief that something is bad, with thoughts such as, "I have been betrayed," and a belief that wants something to blame, and so forth. It's not really rational consciousness, even. That doesn't mean that that is your permanent abiding place. That resting in mythical consciousness is temporary, there with the anger. As soon as you bring forth gratitude, you bring in the higher levels of consciousness. The lower levels of consciousness always will yield to the higher levels, but it's up to you whether you're going to sink into the lower levels by intent or just as habit energy, or whether you're going to notice yourself moving into that low vibration and make a conscious choice to step out of it.

Again, you cannot step out of it by saying, "I won't feel this." That's just more contraction, more negativity. But the conscious practice of gratitude or any of these other practices of high loving energy serve the way sunshine serves upon the mist and clouds, burning it away so that clear sky is present.

Please watch this in your experience and find out how powerful you are to make this choice, to choose love over fear, to choose movement toward higher consciousness rather than the sinking into low consciousness. I thank you all for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you. I will pause now while you stretch and have some tea, and then I'll be happy to answer your questions. That is all.

From An Anonymous Yogi's Journal
February 2005

Seeing is just seeing
hearing is only hearing
emotion is only emotion.
Seeing the desire to be somewhere other than where I am
or to have things different
is where the suffering lies.

Watching the process of the mind, body, and spirit
not the content of it all.
With this intention there can be liberation;
without, i make the choice to continue to be
in the samsara of the relative reality.

Noting it as "unpleasant" when it arises is helpful.
Or seeing that i have been pulled in by the story.
Starting again
without control
without judgment
living life
with as much kindness and gentleness as
is possible
in each moment.

Letting go of whatever expectation I have of myself to be,
however it is that the ego right then wants me to be.

Aaron Quote

The core of spiritual growth is in bringing the heart deeply into your experience.

When the heart is separated even in the subtlest way,
then you are not fully present in the body, not fully present in the human experience.

How can you learn from the human experience if you're not present?

Copyrights © 2005