2008.06.18 01:00 - AWOL

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    That night, at 1 am SLT, I should have been present as the main guardian. Alas, I found myself in a coffee shop, working furiously trying to catch up with my job of editing PaB blog entries. And ironically, in the middle of all that busyness, I completely forget to actually go into SL to attend the PaB session I was supposed to lead. My first failure since we started, eleven weeks earlier . . .

    I had two reactions, almost simultaneously, and then a third, soon thereafter.

    My first reaction was one of deep disappointment. I had been working so hard to guarantee a continued presence in our tea house at Rieul, four times a day, no matter what. I remembered what Bunan had told me, in a conversation we had in the evening of April 5, just four days after we had started Play as Being, fifteen sessions into a still rather uncertain future. Here is a snippet of our conversation; we were talking about the zen sitting group led by Dakini.

    Bunan Bosatsu: I enjoy how the mix of the crowd/group that sits flows and ebbs and changes from day to day…..
    Pema Pera: yes!
    Bunan Bosatsu: … it is a concrete example of the law of impermanence…
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: I would have come more often, were it not for me being here three times a day now in my play version of things
    Pema Pera: I very much like the way Dakini runs the show
    Pema Pera: going with the flow
    Pema Pera: respecting people
    Pema Pera: yet helping them
    Bunan Bosatsu: You know… In Zen, we try to avoid beating on ourselves when we are not able to do something… or to be where we ‘think’ we should be….
    Pema Pera: yes!!
    Bunan Bosatsu: I think you are doing a great deal of work…… something has to bend… or it will break….
    Bunan Bosatsu: ..this is what it is to be human.
    Pema Pera: not necessarily
    Pema Pera: this is what I wanted to do my whole life
    Bunan Bosatsu: We all pitch in…. we all do our part….
    Pema Pera: so now I can finally do it — seriously
    Pema Pera: it feels like everything in my life has led up to this — strange as it may sound
    Bunan Bosatsu: As a clergyman… it is my drive to always be *available* …. many times, I am sitting in the Zendo… and I am the only one there…. cold…. uncomfortable…. alone…..
    Pema Pera: SL or RL?
    Bunan Bosatsu: BUt if I am the only one for a million sittings… and nobody else comes… *I* am still practicing… (RL)
    Pema Pera: yes!
    Pema Pera: Like Shantideva
    Pema Pera: who wrote a book for himself
    Pema Pera: and hoped it might be useful for a few others too
    Bunan Bosatsu: BUt…. if only *one* time a student comes…. and nobody is there for them…. this is an act of violence perpetrated against their consciousness…
    Pema Pera: I feel the same
    Pema Pera: even though I am not clergy in any official way
    Pema Pera: with what I am doing here
    Bunan Bosatsu: So…. I make sure that I am there….

    And now, having missed my watch, I realized I had committed an act of violence, and it really felt that way. I knew that several others had missed their watch, even just in the last week, but that didn’t make any difference. My responsibility is my responsibility.

    At almost the same time, I had a second reaction which was totally different. I also felt clearly how in the light of Being there is ultimately no difference between right and wrong. It was a deeply peaceful feeling. It was as if I was simultaneously present at the surface of the ocean, in my first reaction with wild waves of regret and disappointment splashing me in the face, and also present deep underneath the waves, in my second reaction where I felt floating freely and completely unencumbered by whatever surface phenomena were playing out far above me.

    That last point is very hard to put into words. It may sound as if I did not take my responsibility seriously. It may sound as if the notion of Being can be used as an excuse to whitewash any mistake or lapse. But that is not the case, on the contrary. The more there is a felt sense of being grounded in Being, the more we can in fact take our responsibility seriously, without feeling a need to close our eyes or to chastise ourselves. We tend to overdo, either escaping into denial or into self-flagellation, but a grounding in Being can help us to just watch and see what we did wrong — and then learn from our mistakes.

    Feeling those two reactions simultaneously and tasting them for a while, a third reaction came up. I just had to laugh at myself, seeing my own human frailty. There was something strangely comforting in seeing myself making the type of mistake that I had been warning others about so much, week after week. I then took up my computer and sent the following email to the group of guardians:

    Hi Guardians!

    Well, I hate to admit it, but today I forgot to attend the June 18 1 am SLT meeting . . . I was so happy to finally find some time to catch up writing the PaB blog that I forget that I also had to be at the PaB session . . .

    I checked with Fael and Moon and Hotaru, the usual suspects, but they happened not to be there. Did anyone else make it to the 1 am SLT meeting, by any chance, today, June 18?

    So you see, much as I tried to be perfect, I didn’t succeed, and I can’t very well reprimand any of you now if you skip a session :-). Still, let a us keep trying hard, me included, to keep continuity!


    Japanese emoticon for Pema bowing deeply, hands next to his face, eyes cast down to the ground.



    It turned out that none of the twenty guardians had been there at that time, so we may never know where anyone else showed up during my AWOL glitch. Interestingly, the Japanese emotican was interpreted by some of the guardians in which that I could have never guessed . . . . I will close this report with the next few emails that were exchanged between the guardians.

    Storm responded:

    > Perhaps you are perfect after all! :)
    > And is the emoticon as viewed from the front or the back? >;-)
    > Storm

    I innocently tried to explain, thinking I had just not been clear enough:

    > Perhaps you are perfect after all! :)

    ah, you blew my cover, Storm! Okay, I admit, I just did it to make all the other no-shows feel better :>). Group Spirit!

    > And is the emoticon as viewed from the front or the back? >;-)

    In m(_._)m you are looking at my bald head, the top that is lowered down to the ground, eyes cast downward. The hands with three fingers each are touching the ground at both sides of the head. Most extreme Japanese way of apologizing, like, you know, when a nuclear reactor leaks its radioactive coolant after an earth quake, stuff like that.


    Storm tried once again to let me see the light:

    Sure. I realise all that! And perhaps it looks perfectly innocent in the font you wrote it in. The problem with these more complex emoticons is that they can often be seen as quite different from what the writer intended. (There’s another one commonly seen on this mailing list that I’ve yet to work out whether it’s a view from the side, front or back!) Anyway, yours could be viewed from the back, in which case the underscores could be the soles of your feet, and the full stop/period could be… :)


    Finally I got it! Who could ever have imagined the non-standard (Anglo-American?) interpretation of a common Japanese emoticon . . . . I would have liked to say “words failed me” but that wasn’t quite true. I wrote back:

    Let’s call it “Storm’s fertile imagination”


    And Storm was not the only one; when Riddle sent it his chat log, soon afterwards, he added:

    BTW - the emoticon email exchange was hilarious. I thought it was a “moon”ing.

    Well, another occasion to be reminded of both aspects of our name, Being as well as Play . . . .

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