G. Eos Amaterasu

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    Eos and I met early, in a cozy setting at Commonwealth Island in Second Life. I first remembered Eos from morning sittings at the zendo there, but until Play as Being, we had not had a chance to speak. As I was to find out in this interview, Eos's simple phrasings belie a wealth of study and experience with the kinds of ideas quite new to many of us. The truly nice thing is that one gets the sense that they are still 'new' to Eos as well. :)

    In fact, in this context it might be said that one reaches beyond concepts like 'new' or 'old' completely.

    Eliza Madrigal: Hello :)
    Eos Amaterasu: Ah, comfortable chairs and a fire :-)
    Eliza Madrigal: So I'm obviously an early bird...lots of energy in the mornings. You?
    Eos Amaterasu: I tend to get up around 7 am usually
    Eos Amaterasu: No matter how late I've been up
    Eliza Madrigal nods... conditioning :) Me too
    Eliza Madrigal: Not to mention a cat who thinks he is an alarm clock...
    Eliza Madrigal: Okay. Ready?
    Eos Amaterasu: Sure.

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    Eliza Madrigal: I was really happy when Adams asked me to interview you for The Chronicles, Eos. You are
    such an interesting voice in the group, and I always enjoy your perspectives on whatever we happen to be discussing. :)
    Eos Amaterasu: Thnx :-)
    Eliza Madrigal: So I have an obvious first question...
    Eliza Madrigal: What brought you to Play as Being?
    Eos Amaterasu: Coincidence, but a happy one. Widget Whiteberry, who organizes things here on  Commonwealth
    Eos Amaterasu: had some kind of event where Kira had a  presence, so I followed that up by visiting Kira Café
    Eos Amaterasu: I was amazed to find a Phenomenology seminar - you don't find them too often in RL, let alone in a cafe
    Eos Amaterasu: I'd had a background in that, having studied Phenomenology in College, so that was right up my alley
    Eos Amaterasu: And then when I found the reference to Play as Being, that was an immediate connection
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, that's fantastic! I didn't realize you found PaB through Phenomenology, though I did know that was a particular interest of yours
    Eos Amaterasu: And have been very grateful to find such a community of people from all over the world interested in this, even though I think each person has to kind of intuit what it really is or could be
    Eos Amaterasu: I haven't actually been able to do much of the phenomenology part (schedules)
    Eliza Madrigal: Hopefully that will change. I think there are things/events in the works as we speak :)

    The Intuition of Being

    Eliza Madrigal: I also didn't realize you'd studied so formally. Did the interest in Phenomenology come from an existing Buddhist practice, or?
    Eos Amaterasu: It preceded it.
    Eos Amaterasu: The first connection was actually through a book my father gave me when I was in high school, A Preface to Metaphysics, by Jacques Maritain, who was a French Catholic philosopher in the Aquinas tradition.
    Eos Amaterasu: In it he talks about what he calls "the intuition of Being", which is a direct experience/appreciation of the existence of things.
    Eos Amaterasu: I was naive enough to do/follow this practice :-)
    Eliza Madrigal smiles
    Eos Amaterasu: Then when I went to college I started out in math, but I found that the types of questions I was asking were more the kind philosophy dealt with, so ended up studying that quite a bit
    Eos Amaterasu: especially including Heraclitus, Aquinas, Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty
    Eos Amaterasu: and did some graduate work in that, before "dropping out" of school in the midst of radicalism and counter-culture
    Eliza Madrigal: So in essence, you found in college, supports for what you were already deeply interested in... until life shifted...
    Eliza Madrigal: Hm, Was that a detour, or a needed leap?
    Eos Amaterasu: I think it was part of a general wave, or path, that many people participated in - a wave of Being, perhaps
    Eos Amaterasu: I ended up in Berkeley, which was a kind of Athens, with a lot going on in terms of politics, counter-culture, and also technology, education, ecological concerns
    Eliza Madrigal: oh, yes... quite the center of things
    Eos Amaterasu: I met a couple who were offering a Free University course on Herman Hesse's Bead Game :-) 
    Eos Amaterasu: They had a computer terminal in their apartment - we used the game of Go as an exploration of the Bead Game
    Eos Amaterasu: plus I got into things like Buckminster Fuller's World Game
    Eos Amaterasu: and learned software/programming in the context of creating what turned out to be the world's first public computerized bulletin board system, Community Memory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_Memory
    Eliza Madrigal: So this wasn't a detour at all then...
    Eliza Madrigal: Also, it helps me to understand your sense of trust in Being, in a way :)

    Seeing Through Projections

    Eos Amaterasu: No, it wasn't a detour. I found that a lot of the "radical" political activities were hampered by the fact that we, people, were often acting out projections
    Eos Amaterasu: On the exploration of mind/world front, the conclusion seemed to be that "the trip is, _this_ is the trip"
    Eliza Madrigal: :)
    Eos Amaterasu: Ie, the question was how to manifest, in this very world, in everyday life, a kind of depth appreciation of it
    Eliza Madrigal: What an important realization
    Eliza Madrigal: So phenomenology, counter-culture, work... all became ways of appreciation then...
    Eliza Madrigal: all of life
    Eos Amaterasu: ongoing inquiry, and appreciation: life has a bit of celebration, hopefully :-)
    Eos Amaterasu: as well as care.
    Eliza Madrigal: That's a wonderful outlook, incredibly inspiring to me personally, and exactly what I love about Play as Being
    Eos Amaterasu: Heidegger's "Care is the Being of Human existence" really resonated
    Eliza Madrigal: Say more about that if you would?
    Eliza Madrigal: Care IS the Being... quite an idea
    Eos Amaterasu: I think that's basically the sense that it's not just abstract mind, but mind with a kind of intentionality, expressed as care
    Eliza Madrigal: So, as fundamental as one can get?
    Eos Amaterasu: There's a good segue there to buddhist notions of sentient beings
    Eos Amaterasu: as being characterized by knowingness and compassion, indivisible
    Eliza Madrigal nods.... equanimity

    No Escape from the World

    Eos Amaterasu: So at that time in Berkeley (1972), I ran into the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa on buddha-dharma
    Eos Amaterasu: that was a direct hit not so much because he was buddhist, but because he seemed to be able to manifest how to "be", so simply, ordinarily, powerfully
    Eos Amaterasu: which gave tangible life to the buddhist teachings, and practice of how to be
    Eos Amaterasu: It also seemed that people like Dogen Zenji were sitting right in the kind of question that the phenomenologists were posing, re how the unity of time is experienced, for example
    Eos Amaterasu: At any rate I took a detour from Berkeley early cyber culture (microcomputers were just starting), and ended up spending 3 years in Vermont at the Tail of the Tiger (Karme Choling) meditation center, doing a lot of practice and study, but also dealing with the practical levels, finances, of having that place survive
    Eos Amaterasu: (it was no escape from the world :-)
    Eliza Madrigal: ah, nods... yes definitely out of the abstract.

    Playful Yet Serious

    Eliza Madrigal: Okay... so let me skip forward a bit...
    Eliza Madrigal: You've found yourself at Play as Being...
    Eliza Madrigal: Did you immediately meet Pema, or had you met him at Kira before?
    Eliza Madrigal: Your interests and focus are so similar, it must have been refreshing :)
    Eos Amaterasu: I think I did a few PaB sessions before meeting Pema at one of them, and then heard him at a Kira event
    Eos Amaterasu: PaB has become the main thing I do in SL
    Eliza Madrigal: Yes, me too. :) I'm really glad you've felt at home...
    Eos Amaterasu: It's been very inspiring to me
    Eliza Madrigal: And you've been good for Play as Being, also...
    Eliza Madrigal: Was that immediate, or did we grow on you?
    Eliza Madrigal: hah
    Eos Amaterasu: :-) I've gradually got to know some of the players - it's still amazing to me how you can get to a close personal relationship with people
    Eliza Madrigal: Maybe because the idea is to 'start' with Being?
    Eos Amaterasu: I find doing this kind of playful yet serious exploration great -
    Eos Amaterasu: yes, let's jump in, or explore directly where we are, and how we experience that
    Eos Amaterasu: Also it's a "secular" exploration
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, inclusive
    Eos Amaterasu: respecting and learning from religious and philosophical traditions, but being direct, experiential, and developing its own language
    Eos Amaterasu: Learning both how to "practice" and how to talk about it

    A Mischevious Question

    Eliza Madrigal: If I were someone with no knowledge of Play as Being or Phenomenology, and was given a link to this interview, I might ask "What do they mean by Being?" I know it is a little unfair... and impossible to pin down, but how would you answer that question?
    Eos Amaterasu: :-)
    Eliza Madrigal grins widely
    Eos Amaterasu: Let's pause for 9 secs....
    Eos Amaterasu: the crackling of the fire (we're sitting in chairs around a campfire), its red flames, moving,
    Eos Amaterasu: my sense of expectation, watching and listening, thinking of something else and then coming back here,
    Eos Amaterasu: all these are the rich aspects of sense of life, "be-ing", presence 
    Eliza Madrigal: Thank you so much for your description. Yes, not lofty or flighty... but what is....
    Eliza Madrigal: and we can compare/share notes :)
    Eos Amaterasu: Yes, there's being with others, being open with/to others, experiencing the little back and forths, sometimes afraid, sometimes hesitant
    Eos Amaterasu: all kinds of emotions
    Eos Amaterasu: sometimes feeling that we're sharing the space in-between
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, the space in-between.... this is something you've talked about which I really get a sense of in the way you describe it....
    Eliza Madrigal: and in fact an idea you brought to the surface for me in talking about the notes between spaces and visa versa. :)

    This Kind of Practice is Enough

    Eliza Madrigal: This brings me to ask you about an experience you've recently returned from...
    Eliza Madrigal: The first Play as Being "first life" retreat!
    Eliza Madrigal: Would you share a bit of your experience there?
    Eos Amaterasu: I'm very glad I was able to do it - a dozen people in all, 6 men, 6 women, ages from early 20s to 70
    Eos Amaterasu: all had met, played as Being in SL, and then spent 4 days in a quiet, powerfully beautiful environment (redwoods, blue sky)
    Eliza Madrigal: MMM
    Eos Amaterasu: Spending more time doing variations on suspension, in a group circle
    Eos Amaterasu: One thing I'm more and more convinced of is that just doing this kind of practice is enough
    Eos Amaterasu: if you do it often enough it, or Being, or things, start speaking back
    Eos Amaterasu: you can find that you're not just going "into" a pause, into suspension, but you're coming back from or out of it, or you're still in it :-)
    Eos Amaterasu: The group RL dynamic is powerful - that "sense" in the middle, in the space around which we're sitting, can get pretty tangible
    Eos Amaterasu: Plus it's really amazing the variety of different approaches people have to working with themselves, perceiving themselves
    Eos Amaterasu: It was a revelation to me: some people work much more with imagery, such as dream imagery, than I do
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, nice! When you speak about suspension... the imagery I have is one of holding a door open...for everyone/with everyone...
    Eos Amaterasu: Yes, it's also interesting how you can "Frame" that practice of opening, adding some specific details
    Eos Amaterasu: and even though that's a tiny bit artificial, it's very helpful, it really opens things up even more in ways you could not have expected
    Eos Amaterasu: Pema would give some specific instruction, such as for example to watch the arising, or appearing, of thoughts/perceptions
    Eos Amaterasu: a slight shift in attention can bring a lot
    Eliza Madrigal: Yes, some are hesitant to jump into exercizes, but almost invariably, they enjoy it once they have. I know that's been true for me.
    Eliza Madrigal: I don't think you've hesitated at all :)
    Eliza Madrigal: And in a face-to-face setting, wow :)
    Eos Amaterasu: Sometimes I feel "I don't know how to do that", or "what does that really mean?"
    Eos Amaterasu: but that's part of the exploration
    Eos Amaterasu: and part of it is the richness and variety that other people bring in that I would never have thought of or experienced
    Eos Amaterasu: Going back and forth, SL to RL and back, which we do anyway, but including that as part of PaB, is really interesting

    A Different Dimension

    Eliza Madrigal: Did you find people much different in person from how you'd experienced them in SL?
    Eos Amaterasu: Not fundamentally, I think generally, as a friend of mine said, in SL you meet people from the inside out
    Eos Amaterasu: the manifestation in SL is a bit different than in RL, so sometimes there are certain mannerisms, or communications, that you get in one that you don't in another
    Eos Amaterasu: getting to know people's RL bodies and histories gave a different dimension
    Eos Amaterasu: sometimes RL seems more vulnerable
    Eos Amaterasu: but sometimes you can say more in SL
    Eliza Madrigal: Hm, that's lovely

    Not Finding it There

    Eos Amaterasu: PaB is still young, but growing, so will keep changing, and have challenges
    Eos Amaterasu: I've found that there's a certain buzz you get with people at the start of things
    Eos Amaterasu: which is almost independent of what those things are
    Eos Amaterasu: just being on the edge attracts certain kinds of people, and a kind of open energy
    Eos Amaterasu: which then becomes associated with the "thing" that the activity is/was about
    Eos Amaterasu: but you don't necessarily find it there
    Eos Amaterasu: It's like people trying to find the hippie spirit in the Haight Ashbury, and not finding it there
    Eos Amaterasu: you have to create, co-create it fresh, yourself
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, yes!! Thank you for that
    Eliza Madrigal: This is true... when we try to capture it, it eludes us...so we need to enjoy and play in 'not capturing'?
    Eos Amaterasu: Yes, we might have to give up
    Eliza Madrigal smiles

    Starting at the End

    Eliza Madrigal: This has been a real pleasure, Eos, and I think this interview provides a bit of the dimension you describe also... to see a bit of your background, etc. I do have one more question...
    Eliza Madrigal: Is there something you might ask, which I've not thought of?
    Eos Amaterasu: Hmm.... there's the open questions of doing what we do in RL as well as in SL, and how to do that in various ways
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, it would be wonderful of you to say a bit about that :)
    Eos Amaterasu: and I think there's also the ongoing question of growing, the PaB group evolving further
    Eliza Madrigal: How do you see this?
    Eos Amaterasu: I'm not sure what to say now beyond just posing the question. It relates, for example, to how "starting at the end" relates to acting in the world
    Eos Amaterasu: (maybe that's the wu wei question)
    Eos Amaterasu: how concern for society, for planet, for sustainability of us, for example, can be affected by this kind of practice
    Eos Amaterasu: I thnk it can and does make a difference, and maybe is part of some paradigm shifts taking place
    Eos Amaterasu: For example, the quantum view of physical reality has implications that maybe are just beginning to permeate our society
    Eliza Madrigal yes, definitely...
    Eliza Madrigal: even just in surprising people that their  views can be opened/turned upside-down/put in question with small discoveries....
    Eliza Madrigal grins widely, yes... Interesting and appropriate to close with open questions.
    Eliza Madrigal: Thank you so much for sitting down with me this morning :)
    Eos Amaterasu: Thank you, Eliza, this was very enjoyable, nice to be here with the fire, the sparkling of your shoes :-)
    Eliza Madrigal: And thank you for all the heart you bring to PaB explorations and sessions in general too :)

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