2008.04.26 13:00 - Slowly Stepping Back

    Table of contents
    1. 1. 3 responses so far ↓

    When I came to the tea house, I saw Isen and stevenaia talking with each other, across the bridge. Isen, like Bunan, is a zen monk. The both live here in Rieul and Mieum, the neighboring sim.

    Isen Enzo: Hello Pema.
    stevenaia Michinaga: hey pema
    Pema Pera: Hi Isen and Steve!
    stevenaia Michinaga: come here often?
    Pema Pera: good to see you here
    Isen Enzo: Playing at being?
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: it’s 1 pm
    stevenaia Michinaga: ..smile
    Pema Pera: I’m here every 6 hours
    Isen Enzo: Hi Stevenaia…
    Pema Pera: except when I sleep ;>)
    stevenaia Michinaga: awww how was breakfast
    Isen Enzo: Yes, I’m often here..
    Pema Pera: great
    stevenaia Michinaga: hi Isen
    Pema Pera: Yes, I see you often Isen
    Isen Enzo: Yo
    Pema Pera: Good breakfast with a good friend in a good coffeeshop in wonderful Berkeley ;>)
    Isen Enzo: aha
    stevenaia Michinaga: love those moments
    Isen Enzo: I travel each fall to SFO..
    Isen Enzo: and then to marin.
    Isen Enzo: to Green Gulch Zen center and farm..
    Pema Pera: ah, wonderful spot
    Isen Enzo: for a couple weeks..
    Isen Enzo: yes.
    Isen Enzo: Never been to the Zendo in Berkely, but hear it is beautiful..
    Pema Pera: yes it is
    Pema Pera: I went there regularly while I was teaching at U Berkeley here, in the astronomy department
    Isen Enzo: ah

    I turned to stevenaia, who had been present during our morning session.

    Pema Pera: Steve, thanks for being such a good sport this morning!
    Pema Pera: It must have been a bit odd, dropping in in the middle like that
    stevenaia Michinaga: it was interesting, I didn’t look at the blog yet
    Isen Enzo: I’ve yet to participate…
    stevenaia Michinaga: walked in to stranger conversations here
    Isen Enzo: unless I am now…
    stevenaia Michinaga: lol
    Pema Pera: haha
    Isen Enzo: an un-witting participant…
    Pema Pera: didn’t get a chance to put up the blog
    Pema Pera: will do so very soon
    Isen Enzo: an un-wit…
    Pema Pera: breakfast took longer than I thought
    Pema Pera: haha, Isen!
    Pema Pera: un-wit, sit!
    Pema Pera: is that what your teacher says?
    Isen Enzo: sit down, be still, pay attention!!
    Pema Pera: but seriously, Isen
    Pema Pera: I am really grateful for your presence here
    Pema Pera: and that of Bunan
    Pema Pera: and Storm
    Isen Enzo: the whole program in a nutshell…
    Pema Pera: and Dakini
    Pema Pera: it makes all the difference for what I am trying to do here
    Pema Pera: in turn
    Isen Enzo: still sitting attention..
    Isen Enzo: Well, thanks…

    Isen showed the new pair of glasses he was wearing, which made him look very scholar like.

    Isen Enzo: I got some eyeglasses…
    Isen Enzo: they were free…
    stevenaia Michinaga: well i appreciate the invitation
    Isen Enzo: do I look like Trotsky?
    Pema Pera: hahaha
    Pema Pera: don’t know what he looked like
    Pema Pera: but I hope you won’t get assassinated soon . . . .
    Isen Enzo: Maybe more like Lenin…
    Pema Pera: but looks good, yes
    Isen Enzo: (I’ve only seen photos)
    Pema Pera: so we can build statues for you here?
    Isen Enzo: Sure!!
    Isen Enzo: Woo Hoo!!
    Pema Pera: okay, Storm can do that, I’m sure
    Pema Pera: has lots of practice
    Isen Enzo: need a BIG pedistal…
    Pema Pera: haha

    We continued chatting out there, next to the tea house. After a while, though, I had to leave, since I had made an appointment with Maxine, to talk with her one-on-one. Isen had already left, and stevenaia and I wrapped up our conversation. He had asked about my astronomy activities in SL, and I had mentioned how by and large the people I interact with in SL form separate groups, with little overlap between them.

    stevenaia Michinaga: everyone has their focus, interesting as with you when those worlds collide
    Pema Pera: yes
    stevenaia Michinaga: creates interesting perspectives on things
    Pema Pera: indeed
    Pema Pera: sometimes confusing
    stevenaia Michinaga: perhaps even new ones
    Pema Pera: sometimes fascinating
    Pema Pera: always fun
    stevenaia Michinaga: people find it hard to understand how long the roead is to simplicity
    Pema Pera: YES!
    Pema Pera: that’s the KEY
    stevenaia Michinaga: as a designer I do,and I’m sure for you as a thinker
    Pema Pera: that’s interesting!
    Pema Pera: Would love to talk about that more
    Pema Pera: but now have to run, I’m afraid
    stevenaia Michinaga: a mess is the easiest creation to make
    Pema Pera: yes!!
    Pema Pera: I can see that
    Pema Pera: Let’s keep that as a rain check!
    stevenaia Michinaga: ok, enjoy your day
    Pema Pera: sorry to have to leave so quickly
    stevenaia Michinaga: I understand
    Pema Pera: but there will be many other opportunities
    stevenaia Michinaga: take care
    Pema Pera: you too!
    Pema Pera: Thanks for stopping by

    I then joined Maxine in Ryoanji, where she had just arrived. We looked out over the zen garden there. First we spoke about the talk that Maxine is scheduled to give in our Qwaq Forums, a week from Sunday. After that, I told her about this morning’s session.

    Pema Pera: you know
    Pema Pera: I have an idea
    Pema Pera: if you have a bit more time
    Pema Pera: I suggest that you read the blog that I wrote about this morning’s session
    Pema Pera: one of the most wonderful I’ve been in so far
    Pema Pera: about insecurity . . . .
    Pema Pera: and then I would love to hear your response here
    Pema Pera: I think you will like it
    Pema Pera: and we can then talk right away about the differences
    Pema Pera: that there may well be between our views
    Pema Pera: it will probably take only twenty minutes or less to read
    Maxine Walden: oh, that would be fine, shall I read it now and come back wit my thoughts or are you suggesting I come back with my thoughts later; I do have time now, just wanting to understand your suggestion. Actually I have thought a lot about insecurity, and certainly experienced it a lot
    Pema Pera: yes, please read. We can stay here. I will do something else and watch the screen regularly
    Maxine Walden: OK, I will go and read it, be back right after.

    I got another latte, worked on my email, and in due time I saw that Maxine had returned.

    Pema Pera: hi Maxine!
    Pema Pera: how was it?
    Maxine Walden: interesting and tender, the blog, I thought
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: I thought so too
    Maxine Walden: for me, one way to understand insecurity is that
    Maxine Walden: we all feel insecure as we face the unknown
    Maxine Walden: because we have lodged previous experience that was too much to bear
    Maxine Walden: out in the unknown, to protect our vulnerable selves
    Maxine Walden: but is so doing we feel potential dread from those hovering dislodged aspects of our unbearable experience
    Maxine Walden: and the way to gain security is to have the faith (as you were mentioning I thought)
    Maxine Walden: to face all of ourselves, faith and trust that what may have felt unbearable
    Maxine Walden: is not beyond the realm of human experience
    Maxine Walden: I have found it useful to think of our ‘humanity’ and ‘inhumanity’; those things we have felt to be unbearable generally are lodged into the realm of the ‘inhumane’ and then we fear them
    Maxine Walden: and re-patriating those previously feared aspects aids our integration and trust and faith in ourselves and the universe.
    Maxine Walden: One further thought: when Dakini saw you as so secure, I was reminded of how we
    Maxine Walden: all at times idealize another, which makes us see them as ‘having all the things I so wish I had’ but that idealization makes us then feel very small; one way leaders are created and can be elevated.
    Maxine Walden: It seemed your way of speaking to everyone really aided their recognition of their own ‘being’ as sufficient, easing that sense of insecurity. Lovely transcript, really
    Pema Pera: thank you so much, Maxine, that means a lot to me, all that you said.
    Pema Pera: Yes, I’m trying . . . and I’m so grateful to see that things are turning out so well . . .
    Pema Pera: but let’s see whether I can add something to all that you said (and I agree with!)
    Maxine Walden: please
    Pema Pera: You spoke about “to face all of ourselves, faith and trust that what may have felt unbearable, is not beyond the realm of human experience”
    Pema Pera: I would add:
    Pema Pera: but we are beyond the realm of human experience
    Pema Pera: what we really ARE goes beyond being human
    Pema Pera: without thereby diminishing our humanity in any which way
    Pema Pera: but we are even more . . . .
    Pema Pera: . . . don’t know whether that makes any sense
    Pema Pera: ?
    Pema Pera: What do you think?

    I knew that I had brought up a very hard-to-talk-about topic, but it seemed that a one-on-one conversation would be the best setting to do so. It really went to the heart of the notion of “Being” that is half of the title of our PaB, Play as Being, encounters.

    Maxine Walden: yes, this is an area in which it would be very interesting for me to have a close thoughtful comparison of views…
    Maxine Walden: of our views, because I think you are probably speaking
    Maxine Walden: of a wider reality than I am, and here I could learn a lot, but
    Maxine Walden: I also think that my focus on the need for bounded thought as a way to
    Maxine Walden: convert our unknowable into knowable experience may emphasize something
    Maxine Walden: different from what I infer you are focusing on…
    Maxine Walden: I sense that you suggest that we let go of thought, perhaps, in our seeking Being
    Maxine Walden: and I am still at a place in which I find it important to protect inner space for thought as very meaningful
    Maxine Walden: is this search to articulate possible differences in our views making any sense?
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: very much so
    Pema Pera: and let us go very very slowly
    Pema Pera: so that we don’t miss forks in the road
    Pema Pera: let me start
    Pema Pera: with the image of a movie
    Pema Pera: Here is how I view us sitting here right now
    Pema Pera: talking about reality
    Pema Pera: as two people sitting side by side in a movie theater
    Pema Pera: you prefer to focus on the content of the movie, the scenes, the way it is set up, the reactions of the players, the way they play, all that is happening
    Pema Pera: and I totally agree that that is fascinating
    Pema Pera: and important too, and very meaningful
    Pema Pera: but in addition to that
    Pema Pera: not as an alternative
    Pema Pera: but really in addition to all that
    Pema Pera: I also want to make sure that we both realize
    Pema Pera: that the movie is not ultimately real
    Pema Pera: since if one thinks the movie is real
    Pema Pera: THEN it is almost impossible to analyze
    Pema Pera: understand
    Pema Pera: appreciate
    Pema Pera: then it is all so scary
    Pema Pera: and we are then vulnerable
    Pema Pera: to the bone
    Pema Pera: to the core
    Pema Pera: not matter how nice others are to us
    Pema Pera: any moment it all can drop away
    Pema Pera: it is totally absolutely terrible
    Pema Pera: that is “life is sufferring” of Buddhism
    Pema Pera: but once you see that a movie is a movie
    Pema Pera: or even begin to really seriously consider that possibility
    Pema Pera: but really
    Pema Pera: and really seriously
    Pema Pera: not as a thought or an idea
    Pema Pera: but something you are willing to try out to live
    Pema Pera: THEN there is the possibility of seeing through it
    Pema Pera: and THEN you can really do all the things you like so much doing
    Pema Pera: analyzing
    Pema Pera: appreciating
    Pema Pera: understanding
    Pema Pera: Sorry for the long story ;>). But that is the main idea. Does that make some sense? It is in no way an alternative to your path — I honestly think it is that which makes your path possible, if I may be so radical in saying so.

    I realized that it was going to take some time to step back, and at the risk of talking too much. I continued, encouraged by Maxine’s reaction.

    Maxine Walden: Actually, I do feel now that I understand your view, and that
    Maxine Walden: you are suggesting that we not take our experience (the movie) as ‘reality’ and in holding that
    Maxine Walden: realization that we then have the perspective needed
    Maxine Walden: to appreciate the wider context, and observe as it were the ‘movie’ we may have felt we were just living as if that ‘living’ were the true reality…is that somewhere close to your view?
    Pema Pera: well . . . .
    Pema Pera: did you want to add something first?
    Maxine Walden: to appreciate the wider context and observe the ‘movie’ as part of reatliy not as its whole…and thus wider and wider contexts, views
    Maxine Walden: are possible
    Pema Pera: well, let us go really slowly . . . . .
    Pema Pera: the problem in trying to express what I want to express in words
    Maxine Walden: (I seem to be going to rapidly at this and will try to slow down)
    Pema Pera: is that we have to go way way back
    Pema Pera: oh no
    Pema Pera: you are not too fast at all, Maxine
    Pema Pera: please keep going as you do!
    Pema Pera: The only thing I meant was going slow in the following sense
    Pema Pera: slow on walking together on our path of exploration.
    Pema Pera: The question is where to start
    Pema Pera: IF we start from the human condition, from the way we see each other and ourselves and the world, then. . . . .
    Pema Pera: . . . . what I said before does not make any sense at all.
    Pema Pera: Cannot make any sense
    Pema Pera: Would be foolish
    Pema Pera: silly
    Pema Pera: wishful thinking at best
    Pema Pera: delusion at worst

    I tried to summarize our predicament.

    Pema Pera: But . . . . .
    Pema Pera: how to say this.. . . .
    Pema Pera: IF we start as seeing ourselves looking at our experience
    Pema Pera: and THEN we consider our experience as being about something that is not real, like a movie
    Pema Pera: THEN we are COMPLETELY missing the boat
    Pema Pera: and then we misconstrue those ancient teachings TOTALLY
    Pema Pera: and yet that is what we ALL start out doing at first
    Pema Pera: we have no choice
    Pema Pera: because we start with seeing ourselves as who we think we are
    Pema Pera: human beings with human bodies and human minds and thoughts and feelings and needs and worries and so on.
    Pema Pera: So
    Pema Pera: Starting from scratch,
    Pema Pera: we dress ourselves in all that
    Pema Pera: and THEN we look around and ask :
    Pema Pera: what is the world like? What are we like? All kind of philosophical questions.
    Pema Pera: But then I see: we are going WAY too fast
    Pema Pera: Have gone WAY too far
    Pema Pera: we have to go back
    Pema Pera: start from scratch again
    Pema Pera: Don’t put on those clothes yet
    Pema Pera: those roles
    Pema Pera: stay naked
    Pema Pera: and ask yourself:
    Pema Pera: all those human characteristics
    Pema Pera: are those what you are or what you have
    Pema Pera: and when you begin to get a taste of what it could be to have them
    Pema Pera: and to feel that you have them
    Pema Pera: then at the same time a taste appears of what you ARE
    Pema Pera: little by little
    Pema Pera: that taste grows
    Pema Pera: and THEN the movie metaphor can begin to make sense
    Pema Pera: then it is not the fully clothed role playing you that is watching your experiences and proudly declares them to be not real
    Pema Pera: (that would be blasphemy, delusion, or worse)
    Pema Pera: no
    Pema Pera: it is what you ARE
    Pema Pera: that can begin to see that BOTH you AND the roles you are playing are unreal
    Pema Pera: that the you you have always thought you were is equally unreal (and equally richly fascinating too!) as your experiences and all and everything in this world).
    Pema Pera: Does that make some sense?

    I was really glad we could go slowly over these key ideas. I knew how difficult it was to let them sink in, having literally spent decades myself slowly seeing their contours rise up from among the fog of our preconceptions.

    Maxine Walden: I think so, (I pause, re-reading what you have said)
    Maxine Walden: this last part…it is what you ARE that can begin to see that BOTH you AND the roles you are playing are unreal
    Maxine Walden: that the you you have always thought you were is equally unreal.
    Maxine Walden: I think I need to try to really understand this last part, as it seems so central and yet seems also like a fly-by thought.
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: and there is a big question as to what it means “to understand” that last part
    Pema Pera: again
    Pema Pera: we tend to run ahead
    Pema Pera: and then use “understanding” as a tool
    Pema Pera: without trying to understand what “understanding” can do
    Pema Pera: so before trying to understand what I just said
    Pema Pera: let us first look at understanding
    Pema Pera: the key is really to backtrack
    Pema Pera: going back to square one time and again
    Pema Pera: So
    Pema Pera: what we normally call “understanding”
    Pema Pera: is the way we, as a human subject, understand something, something that is the object of our understanding — whatever it is
    Pema Pera: but this can’t do
    Pema Pera: will not work in our case
    Pema Pera: since the whole point is to start BEFORE there is the appearance of the human subject
    Pema Pera: BEFORE Being has taken on the role of a human person, so to speak (metaphorically and in a loose and limited way — can’t really catch that in words)
    Pema Pera: so understanding, as we normally understand understanding, is by definition deaf and dumb
    Pema Pera: but instead of understanding, we can see
    Pema Pera: see directly
    Pema Pera: see as Being
    Pema Pera: playing as Being, we can see as Being
    Pema Pera: not that hard, really
    Pema Pera: in fact, surprisingly non-hard
    Pema Pera: not easy either
    Pema Pera: beyond hard and easy
    Pema Pera: anyway
    Pema Pera: as soon as we learn to see
    Pema Pera: (the we is then already beyond what we normally think we are)
    Pema Pera: THEN we can see how we as Being play the role of Maxine, of Pema, and so on.
    Pema Pera: And THEN we can use the type of human understanding that Maxine and Pema know and love
    Pema Pera: as tools
    Pema Pera: in their proper domains
    Pema Pera: and not outside their domains.
    Pema Pera: Does that make some sense?

    I kept checking whether we were talking on the same wave length, knowing how easy it is to use the same words in different contexts and hence with different meanings.

    Maxine Walden: I think so, makes sense, and appreciate better the cloister that ‘understanding’ can be…
    Maxine Walden: re that which precedes that sort of mentation…
    Maxine Walden: at the outer edge, or prior to becoming the complex humans with trappings of thought..is that the focus you are suggesting? that which comes before our complex ‘human’ selves?
    Pema Pera: yes, prior and before in an atemporal sense — as that what we really are; the hand in the hand puppet that we call “human being” — the puppet cannot do anything at all
    Pema Pera: (just an image of course, a metaphor, you shouldn’t take that too literally; no dualism intended here!)
    Maxine Walden: or that which links us with the ‘beyond’…I like that image of the hand in the hand puppet
    Maxine Walden: you may be hinting that link with life, but as I say that it may be beyond life as we generally think of it, as there was alot going on prior to life as we know it (actually as I write this the notion of life seems a bit thin in terms of what I think you are trying to suggest)
    Maxine Walden: Being is a better term in that it relates better to the universe
    Pema Pera: prior to life prior to the universe prior to time . . . .
    Pema Pera: right now we ARE Being
    Pema Pera: and Being is playing as if there were time . . . and a Universe . . .
    Pema Pera: but there ain’t
    Pema Pera: and we ain’t
    Pema Pera: but Being IS
    Pema Pera: and Being can see that
    Pema Pera: we can’t
    Pema Pera: ;>)
    Maxine Walden: not sure what to say other than we do circle back to your often stated (and it does seem to need re-statement at least with me)
    Maxine Walden: the oft-stated Being IS, but think that this notion of Being playing as if there were time…and a Universe…this deserves my pondering a bit more
    Maxine Walden: in terms of fully grasping what I think you are trying to suggest…that all there really is is Being
    Pema Pera: actually, seeing; but pondering may help — cannot help in seeing, but pondering can help in removing some of the barriers to seeing . . . .
    Pema Pera: we cannot grasp what I said Maxine
    Pema Pera: attempts to grasp lead away from Being
    Pema Pera: I’m not trying to be difficult
    Maxine Walden: pondering…allowing something to roll over in the mind, in and out of awareness
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: sticking to it
    Pema Pera: keeping it in mind
    Pema Pera: instead of grasping
    Pema Pera: grasping seperates
    Pema Pera: positing as it does a distance, a gap
    Pema Pera: across which something has to be attained
    Pema Pera: the key is there is no gap
    Pema Pera: and by making one, we lose
    Maxine Walden: and I am not feeling that you are at all (being difficult); the notion of pondering rather than grasping (which trying to understand can be)

    I was very happy to see that we could get this far, just using words, just sitting there as avatars in a Japanese zen garden in a virtual world . . . but at the same time I could also see how it might have been easier to have this conversation in real life with more body language and more ways to express oneself.

    Pema Pera: If we would be in RL now, I would probably hit you over the head (^_^) or do something, whatever, totally unexpected, hahaha, whatever it would take to shake you (and me) out of our conceptual thinking . . . but a bit hard to do in SL — have to use words here to shake us out of words . . . .
    Pema Pera: . . . tempting to write a really bad street slang expression in fat capital letters . . . but don’t wanna scare you (*^_^*)
    Maxine Walden: the notion of pondering may be helpful…are we caught up in conceptual thinking? grasping at understanding?
    Pema Pera: yes
    Maxine Walden: oh, I know a lot of slang please don’t feel I am a fragile being…
    Pema Pera: the moment you stop grasping, but REALLY STOP grasping, you see — it is impossible to then not see
    Pema Pera: hahaha
    Pema Pera: FUCK YOU!
    Maxine Walden: what does the Fuck you shake us out of? Prim and proper attempts to understand?
    Pema Pera: well, most attempts don’t work
    Pema Pera: and I probably made the mistake of announcing what I was going to do ;>)
    Pema Pera: If I would have typed that a couple days ago in the middle of our conversation, it may have been effective ;>)
    Pema Pera: would probably have shaken you more, hehe
    Pema Pera: see, I just can’t play the role of a zen master . . . . too friendly, or better said: too timid, I’m afraid
    Maxine Walden: you feel the startling effect might have a creative shakeup…yes, a couple of days ago I would have been more shaken…but then sometimes I have been during these conversations, like when the party went on down the street the other day…but that had to do with divergences which were unexpected
    Pema Pera: yes, and in many ways that was a spontaneous example of what zen masters may want to do, in shaking people up — and I’m very glad you took and take it that way!
    Maxine Walden: oh, yes, that is something I am learning more and more, that differences from ‘my view at the moment’ — how I relate to those differences has more to do with me (and my narcisissm) than anything else
    Pema Pera: the startling is one way (and only just one way) to see how caught up we are in concepts — really, we are all fucked up, totally . . . . . as long as we are trying to analyze and understand. And when we finally grow completely exhausted and give up, at that moment we can see. In general, it seems we need to meditate many years to do so, or live till age ninety or whatever it takes . . . .
    Pema Pera: so I’m trying to point to a shortcut . . . .
    Pema Pera: not ten years meditation
    Pema Pera: not ninety years living
    Pema Pera: but just right now
    Pema Pera: seeing
    Pema Pera: why not?
    Maxine Walden: yes, exhaustion can play a significant role, and I do appreciate the ’shortcuts’
    Pema Pera: poking holes every quarter of an hour
    Pema Pera: our conceptual mind may “die”, killed by a thousand small cuts . . .
    Pema Pera: . . . not a pretty image
    Pema Pera: but then again
    Pema Pera: life is not pretty
    Pema Pera: at all
    Pema Pera: we are dying
    Pema Pera: already

    Maxine was about to go, but then got caught again by the ongoing conversation.

    Maxine Walden: I will need to go soon to attend to RL things. At some point soon I would like to speak more to you about the 9 sec/15min practice
    Pema Pera: sure
    Pema Pera: by the way
    Maxine Walden: in that …your thought about our dying all ready catches my attention
    Pema Pera: I am REALLY happy that we could talk this way
    Pema Pera: yes, Maxine
    Pema Pera: we are dying
    Pema Pera: there is no hope
    Pema Pera: at all
    Maxine Walden: what do you mean, no hope?
    Pema Pera: for us as human beings
    Pema Pera: we will die
    Pema Pera: and that’s it for Maxine, for Pema, for any human being
    Pema Pera: so a good reason to look more carefully and to see
    Pema Pera: that we are not who we think we are
    Pema Pera: what we ARE does not die
    Pema Pera: cannot die
    Pema Pera: is beyond life and death
    Maxine Walden: Oh, Pema, I am in agreement about ‘what we ARE does not die’ and in that there is hope; you know, I think that one reason I came looking for you, for this, is a hope that engaging in such efforts as this could have a beneficial effect (likely in ways we would not be aware of) for the world…
    Maxine Walden: not sure how, but somehow help to get some of the tragedy, pain, suffering…shifted in some way…
    Pema Pera: yes, not some, all of it, in one fell swoop; that’s the only way
    Pema Pera: can’t possibly be piecemeal
    Pema Pera: nothing can be preserved, and most of all not “you”
    Pema Pera: since there never has been a “you”

    Until then, it had been our understanding that our private chat would remain just that. However, I realized that what we had covered so far may well be of interest to the other players in our PaB group, so I asked Maxine about the possibility of making our conversation available.

    Pema Pera: btw, before you go, one thing: we set out this conversation as a private one, but now I am wondering whether it might not be interesting for others to see it too . . . what do you think? Your call.
    Maxine Walden: I have no problem with publishing this conversation
    Maxine Walden: and just before going, once gain want some time soon to discuss the epxerience with the 9 sec/15min experience…I am finding no difference now in terms of either part of the practice
    Pema Pera: I’d be happy too.
    Maxine Walden: parallel thoughts. I really have appreciated the chance for this private talk…it allows more focused attention
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: definitely
    Pema Pera: we need that sometimes
    Maxine Walden: and that feels very precious to me right now.
    Pema Pera: for me too
    Maxine Walden: I am so glad it goes both ways
    Pema Pera: oh yes, I am learning from all this as much as you do
    Maxine Walden: so nice that it may be symmetric
    Pema Pera: seeing is not a all-or-nothing thing
    Maxine Walden: right
    Pema Pera: once you begin to see, anxiety lessens
    Pema Pera: to the point of (almost) dropping away
    Pema Pera: but then there are deeper ways to see
    Pema Pera: and see more . . . and more . . . and deeper . . . .
    Pema Pera: it seems endless
    Maxine Walden: deeper and deeper ways to see…what a lovely, hopeful thing to hold in mind and heart
    Pema Pera: each day you realize that you see more . . . .
    Pema Pera: I feel that seeing speeds up
    Pema Pera: learning a language or skill of any type shows saturation
    Pema Pera: the further you get the harder to get significantly further
    Pema Pera: but in seeing
    Pema Pera: the more you see
    Pema Pera: the easier it is to see more
    Pema Pera: it is like an exponential curve . . . . .
    Pema Pera: totally amazing
    Pema Pera: shockingly so

    Maxine then told me about a recent RL experience.

    Maxine Walden: what a fascinating thought…and again nice to hold in mind and heart. Thank you so for this opportunity, Pema. I would just close by sharing an extraordinary experience today:
    Maxine Walden: as I was cycling to the weekend place, where I am now, I had to cycle
    Maxine Walden: some distance from downtown Seattle out to the ferry to Vashon Island (about 9 miles, not difficult) and then up from the ferrydock on Vashon Island — and it is a hill that has been pretty steep for me…but today
    Maxine Walden: I was thinking of our upcoming discussion and I did not notice the steepness at all, whereas before
    Maxine Walden: I have become pre-occupied with the steepness, body yelling, breathing labored, etc. And when I got to the top of the till I just felt, golly, it has to do with what I was attending to
    Maxine Walden: what was the focus of my attention. Our discussion was in mind, not the hill.
    Maxine Walden: Attention defining one of the realities of the moment.
    Pema Pera: we tend to think of challenges as uphill battles . . . but they don’t have to be (^_^)
    Maxine Walden: right…
    Maxine Walden: I have new and different things occupying the center of attention. Appreciate it
    Maxine Walden: OK, better go. oh, you probably are not at the 1pm tomorrow?
    Pema Pera: no
    Pema Pera: I won’t be there
    Pema Pera: would you be able to be there?
    Pema Pera: I will be in a plane
    Pema Pera: on the way to NYC
    Pema Pera: I have asked Storm and Cal to come
    Pema Pera: but I generally like to ask three people
    Maxine Walden: Actually, yes, I could be there,
    Pema Pera: so that if one can’t be there after all at the last moment
    Pema Pera: there are still two to talk with each other
    Pema Pera: Oh, thank you!
    Pema Pera: That is very nice
    Pema Pera: I appreciate it.
    Maxine Walden: right, glad to. Have a good flight. Probably talk on Monday 7pm
    Pema Pera: Okay, I’ll let you go!
    Pema Pera: see you!
    Maxine Walden: good talking
    Maxine Walden: Bye

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