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    As I write this ‘first thoughts’ report, still not having unpacked my notes from the time completely, nor compared fully with others as to what their experience seems in retrospect, “Being Seen” is what jumps out to be written about. What does it mean, not to hide? What does it mean, in practice/play, to “show up” directly?

    We began the week with a discussion of appearances, and each person shared ways of working, or in fact, purposefully not working, with specific explorations. What I thought was an extraordinarily complex and very satisfying discussion began to take place about questions, about staying open in those questions, and about “doing nothing”. Doing nothing may be the most advanced practice of all…
    Before we officially began on Monday, Gaya arrived. On the first day we spent time together and I wrote:

    “Sitting in Jackson Square in a chilly breeze. Church bells ring for quite a while and she says laughing “Longer than 90 seconds.” The music in this spot, if not clear, is nicer, more wordless, than where we sat a moment ago. There, a guy with a radio was playing Prince… a song that sounded like just itself over and over again, making little room.

    I can sense so clearly the water just out of sight, and what arises is the phrase “this very land, this very body…” I have come on retreat, but I haven’t gone anywhere. There is no need. I feel quite at ease with Gaya, she working with her studies and I writing… just this.

    I wonder about Pema’s next time chapter (I had questioned the jetlagged author the night before at dinner, while eating the freshest broccoli soup, about the directions he might take, musing myself on the extent to which questions can ever be satisfactorily answered).

    Funny how Gaya and I feel little pressure to talk; there is no catching up to do. Second Life has allowed us that, and I’m reminded of very young children content to play just next to one another for long stretches. Once in a while we turn and smile, noticing the birds, a grand tree. A child chases a dove and the grandparents say “You almost had him.” At another point we wash glasses, standing next to one another, at the sink. She thinks it is funny that for me, this is a deep moment.

    At 3 am I cannot sleep in my lovely room, and sign on to attend a session. Compassion. What stays with me is no effort and the way that one sometimes has to force a large rock off the opening of a Well. "Compassion doesn't mean never causing trouble." Did I say that? Someone else? It doesn't matter, we knock here and the answer comes from there. Or not. I notice that it is my SL rezz day: 2 years. Two years? What does that mean. Already there is a strange sense of time.

    In two different spots, two different bands are playing John Lennon’s IMAGINE. An aged and somewhat eccentric looking couple sits next to me for a while. He gets restless and gets up for a walk. She gently asks “You will come back in a better mood, won’t you?”

    The more I dwell like this, just settle in and notice things, write them out, the more rested I feel… the sun warms my legs and this is it… the sacred ordinary. “Truth loves me” said Sylvia Plath. SO much… so much. Why do we forget?

    Interesting the way the bands are playing bits of music now “Let it be, Let it be, I’m a dreamer, let it be…”

    Flash a few full days forward. Eos and Stim have arrived by then, and Lia. We have discussions of levels and fragments and totality. The ocean in each drop. Nothing Missing. “One level contains all levels.” Stopping. We have a funny conversation about adding on, steps to dropping. We smile a lot. Some of us are feeling mischievous and using service elevators. Eos is searching blues venues on his I Pad. 

    "Strong and dangerous" discussion about joking. "You're a big joke, but don't take it personally." Eos ponders what it means, to be a Guardian, and happens upon a missing piece of the Heart Sutra.

    Pema shares a story about a boy, lovingly tricked into accepting his birthright as the king’s natural son, first getting used to a job in the stables, shoveling...

    As if in the stables, the suite which contains our meeting room, is gotten to by walking through a few other rooms and a parking garage. Inside it is to me, a page of an Austen novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell, and/or dreams in weeks preceeding: high ceilings and large mirrors over fireplaces, tall window doors leading out to a wide balcony. White brick.

    The shutters are for show because they surely don’t keep out the sounds of the bands which get louder as the week goes on. Dynamic energy. We're OK with that.

    Emphasis on Appreciation as staying with what is, without romanticism or aversion. Many things which fall in this category during the week. Deep practice and “Important Work” as comes up for Eos in a dream.

    Indeed. I'm awestruck by group dynamics.

    Many levels of homeless people… women screaming curses in the middle of the night, sirens, strip clubs. Out of another dream a woman wanders, offering beads. Many levels of avatarness… flamboyant masks and hats, thin Frenchmen dancing in fake mustaches. More laughter. Playing with whatever we find, like the musicians on the street corners with their washboards and cans.

    Stim says I'm having entirely too much fun. :)
    Sometimes he "gets to play too."

    One night a darling singer wearing black Mary Janes, twitches and channels another time:

    I never cared much for moonlit skies
    I never wink back at fireflies
    But now that the stars are in your eyes
    I’m beginning to see the light

    I never went in for afterglow
    Or candlelight on the mistletoe
    But now when you turn the lamp down low
    I’m beginning to see the light

    Used to ramble through the park
    Shadowboxing in the dark
    Then you came and caused a spark
    That’s a four-alarm fire now

    I never made love by lantern-shine
    I never saw rainbows in my wine
    But now that your lips are burning mine
    I’m beginning to see the light

    In other accumulations, seems New Orleans is a t-shirt heaven as well.

    A pleasure to meet Lia this retreat, at first quiet and by Friday singing full blown caberet… almost dancing but indeed “the world isn’t ready for her yet.” A person of delights… delighting in big meals, full laughter, and feasting at “Desire”.

    Some nights I find myself treasure hunting through Nagarjuna, reading:

    Even three times a day to offer
    Three hundred cooking pots of food
    Does not match a portion
    Of the merit of one instant of Love.

    So, as for practical matters and what was “learned”?

    Standing and walking meditation makes a different sort of space in a room.
    There is nothing wrong with nothing happening.
    What seems to be happening isn’t always what’s happening.
    Sometimes we ‘classify’ information from ourselves.
    It is Enough to share Company, generating space for one another.

    I liked the little exchanges and dances we did with one another, each taking windows of time, to spend one on one, two with two, or as three friends. Some spoke through color, purple shirts, purple shoes, walking down Royal Street again and again.
    Much time “alone together.”
    Full laughter.

    A Blues band incorporated the audience in a very PlayasBeing way… some stepping in to play and some stepping out, spontaneous collaborations erupting and subsiding… unlikely characters.
    Each expressing each other, dancing with what is.

    Mirroring nothing happening, a funny song: “I got my mojo working but it just won’t work on you.” Tapping into expressions of sheer delight, Pema shares a video:

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    Viewing 3 of 3 comments: view all
    What a marvellous report! Thank you, Eliza.
    Posted 14:03, 3 Feb 2011
    Thank you WOL :)) I guess there are lots of gaps not to fill in here, but that sees appropriate to these sorts of things eh?
    Posted 04:20, 4 Feb 2011
    Such a lively report filled with music & people Eliza. Loved it. Thanks.
    Posted 06:22, 4 Feb 2011
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