Gen: How to Play as Being

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    On the fourth day of the real life retreat in San Francisco we had a great discussion about how to “Play as Being?”

    To sum it up briefly, “Play as Being” is about the possibility of starting at the end of the spiritual path. Can we move beyond the usual linear path progression established by many wisdom traditions and live in a way that goes beyond the small sense of self, while without denying this small self. Can we use “starting at the end” as a resource in a daily life, and bring this theory of reality into practice?


    What does it mean to “Play as Being”? I realized for the first time during the retreat that the approach/philosophy aspect of PaB and the community have been two very separate things for me. Perhaps it is because of the way I entered into the community, from the “outside,” brought into the online community only after meeting Piet and Steven serendipitously in a Berkeley coffee shop.  It seems really strange to me that I could see the approach and the community as two completely separate things.


    I think very early on my engagement with the approach and the community were not so separate. I did feel that I was developing together alongside other members who had found the group around the same time as I did. During those early days, the whole thing was still so new to me. I was glowing with the newness, I may have been much closer to “starting at the end” then, than at other points in the past two years, precisley because I was “starting” and I had very few preconceived notions of “the end.” At some point however, swimming in the dark began to feel like just that.  A tremendous feeling of uncertainty and a lack of clarity about where I was going, where I had come from, and who I was now emerged at some point and could not be ignored. I felt like I had been swimming in the dark for an eternity at some point and that I was losing all sense of who I was. So I look for some grounding again, a shore to land on, an island somewhere to get some perspective. And so began my regular formal sitting practice.

    “My practice” felt like exactly that “mine” and there was something safe and secure and solid about taking a more linear path approach. So I retreated into a practice. Meanwhile, during that time I did not see others doing the same.While at the core, PaB offers the "9 second" practice, focusing on frequency, consistency, and integration of meditation with life, I felt that many of the people I met in the group were not really interested in really engaging in the practice.   It appeared to me that many people were more interested in talking about spirituality then doing a regular practice. I know looking back, that this reaction must have come from the sense of feeling threatened by the idea of people just talking about spirituality and believeing that this was “starting at the end.” That “starting at the end” meant no practice necessary when I had begun to see that this clearly was not the case. I felt more certain that in order for a 9 second to be effective, one had to have some grounding in a formal meditation practice.  Perhaps it was not necessary to mantain a formal practice forever, perhaps 9 seconds could be enough, but I found at least for me this was not the case.

    As I got deeper into my own meditation practice, my sense of engagement with the PaB approach decreased.  Sometimes during sessions I felt a sense of boredom and impatience as I would see lively chats about an incredible variety of topics some serious and many light hearted. Occasionally I would feel incredibly touched by someone sharing their experience with the practice, often these were people newer to the practice, and I could feel their lack of preconceptual notions of what they were supposed to say, what they were supposed to do. It was refreshing. Other times, I would jus tune out, sometimes multi tasking, which was not very difficult default to, given that I was working for Kira fulltime and had many other things to atttend to on email or inworld. At some point I think I must have burned myself out on Kira and PaB and I felt obliged to go to sessions without much real joy in attending. I think others could sense this too and I felt friendships that I had built earlier, fading away. Many of these friends, I could tell were facing their own issues, unable also to feel the joy of “playing as being” for their own personal reasons.

    After I stopped working for Kira, my participation slipped. I continued to be active with the organizational side of things, feeling committed to sticking with what I had started. When I found out that the PaB retreat was in San Francisco and that I would just miss it, I was a little dissapointed but also relieved. In a way I had no idea how I could contribute to the discussions as I had been so out of touch with the community. I wasn't sure if it was even appropriate for me to come.

    Then as chance would have it, I was delayed from returning to my new job as a result of the volcano that erupted in iceland. All flights were grounded for just a week, that week happened to be the week of the PaB retreat. As I result I could attend and two others, Wol and Gaya, were unable to make it, as they were both coming from Europe. This made the group very small, just me, Piet, Steven, Mark, and Stephanie. My feelings of being out of touch and inappropriately there faded away in the small group setting. I knew each of the group relatively well, Mark and Stephanie from the working group, and they both understood, knew something about my drawing back from the PaB community.

    On the fourth day, now returning to the beginning of my story, we began talking about what it was to “Play as Being” and again the division between the approach and the sessions returned in my mind. I was clearly processing, somewhere in the back of mind this issue without really noticing it and it was now all the processing seemed to be coming to the surface.  Included in this processing was a prior conversation about the power of “treating others as fully enlightened beings, who are the 'end”'" and Steven's comment that the sessions themselves could be a very valuable sort of practice.  It seemd possible that treating one another as fellow enlightened beings could be a valuable daily practice even from a traditional point of view.

    Finally it made sense to me, the sessions were practice...and I wasn't showing up, precisely because I had lost sight of  myself and others at the “end” of the path. I was too impatient, to busy, to stuck in my own issues and problems to see, to remember, that we truly all are at the end of the path.

    The sessions, I realized could provided the ethical, working with others, worldly practice compontent to the “high view” of starting at the end, a teaching that I was missing in my own practice. Where was the connection of "starting at the end" in my life, with working with others?


    Modern day life is demanding, and hours for practice seem limited, but if the practice is to "start at the end" with others, there really is no limit. Endless amounts of potential practice hours await.


    I am still not sure whether the PaB commnity is the right way, right place for me to express starting at the end. It may be in work, in my family, with my my RL friends.  But where ever it might be, the point, for me is the message, the reminder that we can create our own reality: if we can all start at the end with one another, then we will be at the end together.


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    Originally written on 18:12, 02 May 2010
    So moved!
    Thank you Gen, for sharing so personally/authentically.
    Posted 13:47, 5 May 2010
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