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    Relaxing with what 'Is': Interview with Zen Arado

    I met with Zen Arado for this interview at his home in SL. Zen has been attending Play as Being sessions since January of 2009, his first session is here: 2009.01.17 13:00 - Dreams, meditation, everything in between.

    Zen and I sit down at his home in SL...

    SophiaSharon Larnia: hi Zen!
    Zen Arado: Hi Again :)Zen Arado.jpg
    Zen Arado: lets have a seat
    SophiaSharon Larnia: ohh what a nice area! I love it here
    SophiaSharon Larnia: ok, thank you!
    SophiaSharon Larnia: this is lovely Zen.
    SophiaSharon Larnia: your pet cat looks like my real life cat, a tuxedo cat :)
    Zen Arado: I had a cat like that when I was little
    Zen Arado: only with a white chest too
    Zen Arado: I hardly ever use the place
    SophiaSharon Larnia: nice to have, a place to get away
    Zen Arado: yes - but I seem to spend all my time in meetings
    SophiaSharon Larnia: can be in two worlds at the same time, so to speak, or listen to podcasts etc
    Zen Arado: true and in Facebook and Twitter :)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: that's a good thing, I spend a bit of time alone here
    SophiaSharon Larnia: laughs, yes
    Zen Arado: I should do more of that
    Zen Arado: even just meditate here
    SophiaSharon Larnia: :)
    Zen Arado: I have a meditation hut I should put up again
    SophiaSharon Larnia: nice thing about sl places, is you can put things up, take them down, and move them around, unlike in rl :)
    Zen Arado: it's also a disadvantage though cos you always keep changing things:)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: yep
    Zen Arado: never happy with what I build
    Zen Arado: keep fiddling with it
    SophiaSharon Larnia: me either ;)
    Zen Arado: or moving someplace else
    SophiaSharon Larnia: maybe we are both perfectionists
    SophiaSharon Larnia: yes :D
    Zen Arado: maybe :)


    First finding Play as Being, and Zen's experience in SL...

    SophiaSharon Larnia: I found your first session at Play as Being, it was January 17 of 2009, wow!
    Zen Arado: I first heard about PaB from Fael and Delani at a Buddhist meeting
    Zen Arado: but I only went there because a friend invited me

    SophiaSharon Larnia: it's great to be there with a friend present
    Zen Arado: she was a guardian but left pab
    Zen Arado: it wasn't quite what she wanted
    Zen Arado: but I must have liked it :)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: we look for different things in contemplative-type practices.
    Zen Arado: true
    SophiaSharon Larnia: yes I think you must've! :))
    Zen Arado: I was in lots of Buddhist groups
    SophiaSharon Larnia: in SL?
    Zen Arado: yes
    Zen Arado: but don't spend much time with them now
    SophiaSharon Larnia: smiles
    Zen Arado: I spent nearly 5 hours in PaB meetings yesterday
    SophiaSharon Larnia: oh wow Friday is a busy day at the Pavilion!!!

    Zen Arado: yes - Pema’s Time meeting, then Eliza's then Yaku's happy hour and the meeting after that
    SophiaSharon Larnia: a lot of us see each other quite a bit

    SophiaSharon Larnia: What kind of explorations or practice did you have before finding PaB?
    SophiaSharon Larnia: there is a lot of joy in seeing each other frequently like that :))
    Zen Arado: well, as I said - I went to Buddha Center, Kannonji, Skeptical Buddhists groups
    Zen Arado: Skeptical Buddhists was the first
    Zen Arado: still go there sometimes
    Zen Arado: as the name suggests they have a kind of scientific approach to Buddhism
    Zen Arado: don't like anything too 'religious'
    SophiaSharon Larnia: and the 9 second practice is quite different.... Play as Being has a scientific focus too
    Zen Arado: some similarities - yes


    Experience with the 9 second meditations....

    SophiaSharon Larnia: What were your first impressions of the nine seconds? The explorations?
    Zen Arado: Pema encourages a more open approach that can encompass many diverse traditions
    Zen Arado: I think anyway

    SophiaSharon Larnia: yes!
    Zen Arado: I saw the 9 second techniques as a useful technique for helping people to return to the present moment and not get so caught up in mind-generated abstract thoughts. But since I already had a Zen practice that emphasized meditation and living in the present moment and had read about and tried all sorts of spiritual techniques already, the 9 seconds technique did not seem so special to me as (possibly) to someone who had not had these experiences. Also, I have been attending 2 or 3 intensive zen retreats every year for the past 6 years.
    SophiaSharon Larnia: oh wow, yes, so you are very immersed in this experience
    Zen Arado: there are so many paths leading to the same thing
    SophiaSharon Larnia: yes I've been taken aback by this idea so many times
    Zen Arado: but Pema's idea is good because it is open to many who might be put off by the idea of Buddhism or Eastern philosophy
    SophiaSharon Larnia: room for everyone on the square cushions ^^
    Zen Arado: yep: )
    Zen Arado: though it is probably more Buddhist oriented than anything I think
    SophiaSharon Larnia: It seems that way sometimes, it’s hard to find the words to express our experience and buddhism has some words there, ready to be used (imho)
    Zen Arado: the same ideas crop up in different formats

    SophiaSharon Larnia: oh yes, patterns
    Zen Arado: yes - like no-self, which is very important I think
    SophiaSharon Larnia: yes!

    Zen Arado: it's what got me into the Buddhist, Non-Duality area from philosophy
    SophiaSharon Larnia: interesting
    Zen Arado: i came across the idea in philosophy as 'personal identity'
    SophiaSharon Larnia: you don't seem to have any difficulty in using words when you attend sessions
    Zen Arado: no? I am not as fluent as some of you women I think :)

    SophiaSharon Larnia: hahah
    SophiaSharon Larnia: maybe more practiced at talking about it
    Zen Arado: I need to practice conveying emotions more I think :)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: well, I do remember seeing some of your art pieces not long ago

    Zen Arado: as a substitute for body language
    SophiaSharon Larnia: there is a lot of emotion expressed there
    SophiaSharon Larnia: ah! interesting
    Zen Arado: you should look at my gallery some time
    SophiaSharon Larnia: yes! please? I haven't been there for a while
    Zen Arado: I'll show you around it if you want


    Zen talks about his art, a bit about what significance it has, and about his Gallery in SL...

    Zen Arado: I will have to put some new stuff up soon
    SophiaSharon Larnia: yes! I'd loved to take some pictures of it and post them with this interview
    SophiaSharon Larnia: I was going to ask, but didn't know how you'd feel about that
    Zen Arado: I don't publicize it much
    SophiaSharon Larnia: nods
    Zen Arado: don't know why
    SophiaSharon Larnia: I understand, I think
    Zen Arado: just never seem to get around to it
    SophiaSharon Larnia: Your art is painting?
    Zen Arado: yes
    Zen Arado: pastel and oil mostly

    SophiaSharon Larnia: Can you describe to me the sort of experiences you have while you are painting?
    SophiaSharon Larnia: I'm very interested, actually ^^
    Zen Arado: never thought much about that :)
    Zen Arado: I just paint

    SophiaSharon Larnia: I didn't mean to come out of left field, asking that
    Zen Arado: used to listen to music while I painted but I don't now
    Zen Arado: no problem Sharon
    Zen Arado: it isn't anything special to me that’s all
    Zen Arado: it's like you cooking a meal or washing the dishes
    Zen Arado: do you see what I mean?
    SophiaSharon Larnia: I do
    Zen Arado: just an activity

    SophiaSharon Larnia: I'm thinking how those activities can occur on a certain level of existence
    Zen Arado: I suppose all our activities should be approached with concentration and mindfulness - no matter how 'menial'
    SophiaSharon Larnia: trying to see the talent in those pictures in that light
    Zen Arado: the main thing is to enjoy the process
    SophiaSharon Larnia: indeed
    Zen Arado: not use it as a means to an end

    Zen Arado: I know some who are always worried if their paintings will sell
    Zen Arado: I never think about that - well almost never :)

    SophiaSharon Larnia: smiles
    Zen Arado: but the same applies to most activities I think
    Zen Arado: we shouldn't use the present moment as a means to something 'better' in the future

    SophiaSharon Larnia: You're answering some personal questions I have about art without me asking them, hard for me to explain that using a few words
    Zen Arado: I think everyone could produce something beautiful from their own personal uniqueness
    Zen Arado: as we have seen in PaB exhibitions
    SophiaSharon Larnia: !! yes
    Zen Arado: instead of trying to emulate some imagined standard of excellence

    SophiaSharon Larnia: nods thoughtfully
    Zen Arado: just daring to be ourselves
    Zen Arado: amazingly difficult to do !
    SophiaSharon Larnia: agree 100%

    Zen Arado: perhaps society conditions us to be 'productive' too much
    SophiaSharon Larnia: that's part of it for sure
    Zen Arado: I heard a radio talk recently where a writer claims that the 'mass-production' era is finished
    SophiaSharon Larnia: I sure hope he's right
    Zen Arado: even the 'knowledge' industry
    Zen Arado: imagination and creativity are what is needed nowadays
    SophiaSharon Larnia: !!
    SophiaSharon Larnia: it sounds to me that you get some joy from this
    Zen Arado: I get more now than I used to
    SophiaSharon Larnia: smiles
    Zen Arado: I used to think I had to churn out at least one painting per week
    Zen Arado: and keep 'progressing'

    Zen Arado: so governed by time, I was
    Zen Arado: from a lifetime of work

    SophiaSharon Larnia: Has Pab changed that? or the concept of 'Being'??
    SophiaSharon Larnia: even away from PaB, I mean in Being in general
    Zen Arado: yes - probably - and so has my meditation practice
    SophiaSharon Larnia: (can't believe I just said Being in general hahaha)
    Zen Arado: :)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: in what way?
    Zen Arado: in the sense that I am becoming more aware of this dimension of being or 'true self' and less identified with my mind and its projections. But the mind and its thoughts are part of being too so I have to be aware making further false distinctions.
    Zen Arado: and just relaxing with what 'is'
    Zen Arado: being content with it


    Sometimes, unexpected experiences in life can show us amazing things...

    Zen Arado: I must tell you Sharon
    SophiaSharon Larnia: smiles
    Zen Arado: I found my recent spell in hospital so... enlightening
    SophiaSharon Larnia: how unfortunate that happened Zen
    Zen Arado: practicing working with nurses and doctors
    SophiaSharon Larnia: the illness that is
    SophiaSharon Larnia: nods
    SophiaSharon Larnia: its a different world
    SophiaSharon Larnia: with a different language and outlook
    Zen Arado: fitting into THEIR schedules and not my own preferences
    Zen Arado: and accepting all the discomfort and pain and inconvenience

    SophiaSharon Larnia: not easy when the bed is hard and you're not allowed to sleep for long
    Zen Arado: I worked with the koan 'The great way is easy for those who do not cling to their preferences'
    Zen Arado: the bed was too soft :)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: nods
    Zen Arado: and I found the nurses not very knowledgeable about my disability and had to almost train them in my techniques for doing things
    SophiaSharon Larnia: oh I’m sorry to hear that
    Zen Arado: but it taught me patience
    Zen Arado: in a way it was better than a Zen session
    Zen Arado: and conversely - having done Zen retreats probably helped me with the boring days in the hospital

    SophiaSharon Larnia: funny how experiences like that can change us, either to interpret it in a enlightening way, it could embitter us too
    SophiaSharon Larnia: oh, thankfully that helps :)
    Zen Arado: yes - but I don't think my training would allow me to become embittered any more
    SophiaSharon Larnia: smiles
    Zen Arado: you learn to see through the self pitying thoughts
    Zen Arado: and you know if you indulge them they only lead to depression

    SophiaSharon Larnia: nods
    Zen Arado: so ...why not make it easier for yourself and select a way that is ....
    Zen Arado: not sure what to put there :)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: Joyful it seems to me
    Zen Arado: yes!
    SophiaSharon Larnia: appreciative, although seeing in that light is startling, in it's own way

    Zen Arado: ah - but I think I start to see life as lessons to be learned
    Zen Arado: and the same lesson will be repeated if we don't pass the first time :)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: interesting, a topic we can talk about in a play as being session :)
    Zen Arado: we have already
    Zen Arado: :)
    Zen Arado: I'm starting to believe in 'synchronicity' though I was skeptical at first
    Zen Arado: kind of like if you can stay in the 'flow' of things the world cooperates with you better - if you see what I mean
    SophiaSharon Larnia: i do, I was thinking of the words :))
    Zen Arado: rather than 'kicking against the pricks' as Jesus said in the bible
    SophiaSharon Larnia: ha

    More about Play as Being...

    SophiaSharon Larnia: Has Play as Being changed in the time you've been there?
    SophiaSharon Larnia: over a year and a half?
    Zen Arado: Obviously it has grown in that time and it is good that it attracts people from lots of different countries. The different time slots help this I think. There are always lots of interesting people showing up, and that hasn't changed. Perhaps the range of topics has increased - with everything from outright silliness to deep spiritual discussions.
    SophiaSharon Larnia: ! I love that... the range of topics, for sure! hahah

    SophiaSharon Larnia: Are there any other ways Play as Being has affected your life?
    Zen Arado: Yes - I have become involved with people I met in pab and joined other groups through them. I have been opened to new interests in areas like phenomenology, dreams and poetry. Pema's Time explorations have given me a different perspective on my Buddhist practice.
    SophiaSharon Larnia: The time explorations have given you a different perspective?
    Zen Arado: or just reinforced certain ideas, or have seen things from a slightly different angle
    SophiaSharon Larnia: nods
    Zen Arado: I like to look at things from many perspectives
    SophiaSharon Larnia: why sessions are great to go to :)
    Zen Arado: yes - others see things in different way and it sheds new light on a subject for us

    SophiaSharon Larnia: do you mind if I take a picture here?
    Zen Arado: that's why I keep going there probably - because there are so many interesting people
    Zen Arado: no go ahead
    SophiaSharon Larnia: :D me too Zen
    SophiaSharon Larnia: you have a fabulous sunset view here, I'm trying to find the right angle to include you, it, and your cat
    SophiaSharon Larnia: lol
    SophiaSharon Larnia: Can I take some in your gallery?
    SophiaSharon Larnia: please ??
    Zen Arado: yes sure
    SophiaSharon Larnia: with you in them?
    Zen Arado: we can walk there
    SophiaSharon Larnia: oh really??? cool!


    Then! Zen shows me his Gallery of paintings that he has created in real life... in second life. I know I seem effusive in this interview, but I am stunned. Zen says he may even have an opening and party there!?

    Zen has kindly shared the url to his Flickr display of these paintings and more: You can visit the Gallery in SL by following this slurl: (Buyeo 240, 35, 30).

    SophiaSharon Larnia: wow wow
    SophiaSharon Larnia: Zen!!
    SophiaSharon Larnia: oh my
    SophiaSharon Larnia: stunning
    Zen Arado: ty
    Zen Gallery3.jpg
    SophiaSharon Larnia: this is incredible Zen, I mean it, seriously
    Zen Arado: you’re very kind
    SophiaSharon Larnia: I want to take a picture of every one
    SophiaSharon Larnia: i want to go back there too
    Zen Arado: np to me :)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: really?!?

    Zen Arado: of course not
    Zen Arado: be my guest
    SophiaSharon Larnia: thank you for your patience
    SophiaSharon Larnia: :)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: thank you thank you
    Zen Arado: thank you

    Zen Arado: I should have an opening hereZen Gallery1.jpg
    SophiaSharon Larnia: I'm looking around
    Zen Arado: a party :)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: YES!!!!

    SophiaSharon Larnia: anything I've made in or out of sl pales to this, not that I mean to say it diminishes me
    SophiaSharon Larnia: but really now!!!

    Zen Arado: nonsense - you have made beautiful buildings
    SophiaSharon Larnia: pfft
    Zen Arado: this is pretty basic
    SophiaSharon Larnia: to someone with the talent maybe
    SophiaSharon Larnia: and i dont even know about that
    SophiaSharon Larnia: i dont think i even meant that

    Zen Gallery2.jpg









    SophiaSharon Larnia: thank you for meeting with me today Zen!
    Zen Arado: thank you for taking the time to do it :)

    SophiaSharon Larnia: thank you Zen, I'm so thrilled to be able to post this to the wiki
    SophiaSharon Larnia: that sounds funny, but i cant help that
    Zen Arado: ok feel free to come and look at gallery any time
    Zen Arado: or contact me
    SophiaSharon Larnia: ok
    SophiaSharon Larnia: bye for now Zen!
    Zen Arado: bye Sharon :)

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