2008.04.27 13:00 - Working or Slowing Down

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    At the time of the afternoon session, I was not able to visit Rieul, or anywhere in Second Life for that matter. I was in an airplane midway between San Francisco and New York, alas without any internet connection. Storm kindly captured the log of what was discussed, and provided his own narrative. So the rest of the text below are his words.

    I (so this is now I, Storm) arrived a few minutes early outside the tea house in Rieul having walked over from my orchards. I met Jobe there and we went inside. We didn’t have long to wait before Cal arrived and a little light banter ensued.

    Jobe Nurmi: Hello Storm
    Storm Nordwind: Hello Jobe!
    Storm Nordwind: It’s 1pm SLT and time for Play As Being at the Zen Retreat Tea House
    Storm Nordwind: Sounds like a theatre announcement!
    Storm Nordwind: Welcome Cal. Come join us!
    Caledonia Heron: hey there :)
    Jobe Nurmi: Hello Cal!
    Caledonia Heron: hi Storm, hi Jobe - how are you today?
    Jobe Nurmi: wonderful, thank you!
    Jobe Nurmi: And you?
    Storm Nordwind: Well I’ve been very busy in RL and it’s now mid-evening here in Scotland!
    Caledonia Heron: good!
    Storm Nordwind: Pema is mid-flight I expect between SF and NY.
    Caledonia Heron: ahhh, a wee bit o’ the scot, eh?
    Storm Nordwind: A very we bit. The only Scot about me is the whisky!
    Caledonia Heron: lol, good enough :)
    Storm Nordwind: It can be. Like all things, quality is what matters. And so single malts are my only tipple
    Caledonia Heron: makes sense, after a while you know what you like :)
    Storm Nordwind: Yes indeed. Doesn’t stop one from having an open mind to new experience and ideas though! :)
    Caledonia Heron: true enough

    I wanted to raise the subject of journalling experiences with Cal.

    Storm Nordwind: I wonder Caledonia, have you been recording your Play as Being impressions in any kind of log or blog?
    Caledonia Heron: every now and again, I have to admit I have not been very thorough about it
    Storm Nordwind: I can understand the thing about thoroughness!
    Jobe Nurmi: It can be time consuming.
    Storm Nordwind: Yes it can
    Storm Nordwind: So I go to by blog only when I’m ‘near’ it so to speak
    Caledonia Heron: I’m not really one to blog so it all goes in a little book I got from this Brazilian gal in San Jose

    At this point Maxine materialised in Jobe’s lap!

    Storm Nordwind: Greetings Maxine!
    Caledonia Heron: hi Maxine
    Jobe Nurmi: Hello Maxine!
    Jobe Nurmi: So happy you could make it!
    Maxine Walden: hello Cal and Storm, nice to see you all
    Storm Nordwind: The reason I ask Cal is so that - if you had some kind of log online - I could maybe link to it
    Caledonia Heron: I see..no sorry, no online log atm
    Storm Nordwind: no problem

    We settled back into our topic, exploring how one can feel when exposing private thoughts in public. Yet it seemed that others were really appreciating the effort and risk taking.

    Jobe Nurmi: We are talking about blogs
    Storm Nordwind: There’s all sorts of different personal styles
    Storm Nordwind: I know Pema encourages recording, but I suspect that, in the end, it’s what each individual gets out of the exercise that’s important
    Storm Nordwind: And that varies between people
    Caledonia Heron: I would agree with that Storm :)
    Jobe Nurmi: It is really helps to share our experiences though
    Caledonia Heron: and…I do tap into y’alls blogs now and again
    Maxine Walden: yes, I would agree, and some feel hesitant to document their experience, it can feel so private
    Jobe Nurmi: I find it invaluable
    Storm Nordwind: It can Maxine, and I must say I am so grateful for your risk taking in sharing your thoughts on your blog - and in Pema’s today
    Jobe Nurmi: I will echo that Storm!
    Maxine Walden: oh, thanks. I did have some second thoughts about yesterday’s blog as afterthoughts can often trigger doubt, which may not have been there to begin with…strange..
    Jobe Nurmi: I agree, Maxine. It is a problem I have a great deal.
    Storm Nordwind: You mean on Pema’s blog Maxine?
    Maxine Walden: yes, Pema’s blog
    Jobe Nurmi: Anytime you share so publically, I think it is scary!
    Jobe Nurmi: But it so helpful to others!
    Jobe Nurmi: At least it was to me.
    Storm Nordwind: And Pema had second thoughts too. But if you are willing to keep it there, I think it is invaluable. I have learnt more from that discussion between the two of you than I would have dared hope for
    Jobe Nurmi: Again, I echo that
    Maxine Walden: I agree, not sure how you will read by others; even so I can also see the benefit…oh glad it has been useful
    Jobe Nurmi: I have reread it 2 times and gotten more out of it.
    Maxine Walden: oh, my. I felt Pema was trying to get something across to me…
    Maxine Walden: and I seemed rather dense to something which seemed so easy…
    Maxine Walden: that sense of exposure, maybe as we look at ourselves
    Jobe Nurmi: This PaB is difficult for me and reading the blog helped clearify some things.
    Maxine Walden: from new or different perspectives can be helpful but also painful. Storm, I have been moved by your wiritings, and appreciate them.

    Maxine suggested a wonderfully simple remedy to help bloggers:

    Maxine Walden: Maybe we can hold the image of empathic friends as readers in mind when we blog or share our writings
    Storm Nordwind: yes, I believe that really helps!
    Maxine Walden: right!

    We began to discuss a previous interaction between Maxine and Pema (”Slowly Stepping Back“) and how we can consciously or unconsciously find ourselves in teacher/student relationships.

    Storm Nordwind: But what Pema was getting over, or attempting to, is both simple and profound
    Storm Nordwind: It is difficult to do it
    Jobe Nurmi: Well those of us who are sympathetic readers, like myself, appreciate it!
    Storm Nordwind: And people spend a lifetime (at least) attempt to reach a realisation of that essence
    Storm Nordwind: Others, with help, might get there more quickly!
    Maxine Walden: please say more, Storm
    Storm Nordwind: Well, pema was acting as the Zen master I could see!
    Maxine Walden: yes…
    Storm Nordwind: And he was trying to put over the very thing that Zen masters have for centuries tried to impart to their pupils
    Storm Nordwind: But it is hard to do that
    Storm Nordwind: And words fall far short
    Maxine Walden: hard for each, maybe the master and the pupil?
    Storm Nordwind: And in a way, people often need to UNlearn before they can learn
    Storm Nordwind: Yes, hard on both sides
    Storm Nordwind: But the perfect masters are already there
    Storm Nordwind: and know what each needs
    Maxine Walden: that is an interesting thought, that the masters know what the students need
    Storm Nordwind: If you think of it simply as pattern recognition
    Storm Nordwind: Most RL teachers of any kind have very many pupils
    Storm Nordwind: and they know the problems that arise is different types of pupils
    Maxine Walden: yes, I can see that…
    Storm Nordwind: and so they have some idea of where to help next
    Maxine Walden: that does make sense

    The mention of unlearning had reminded me of a hundred year old story where a university professor visits a Zen master. The master served tea to the professor but when the visitor’s cup was full, he kept on pouring. When the professor cried out in alarm, the master said simply that he could not teach his visitor unless he first presented a cup empty of opinions and speculations. Jobe now told us of a previous experience that went beyond the academic.

    Maxine Walden: One thing which I struggle with is the unlearning of hard-won previous learnings
    Storm Nordwind: Ah yes.
    Jobe Nurmi: I have the same problem
    Storm Nordwind: Anything in particular?
    Maxine Walden: Do you, Jobe?
    Jobe Nurmi: To strip aways a survival pattern is so painful!
    Jobe Nurmi: it WAS there for a reason and now it gets in the way
    Maxine Walden: Or a pattern which may feel more than survival, such as something studied for years in school
    Storm Nordwind: yes many of us have built up coping strategies
    Jobe Nurmi: oh yes, of course
    Jobe Nurmi: things hard won!
    Jobe Nurmi: I can give you an example of mine if you like
    Storm Nordwind: sure!
    Jobe Nurmi: it is not a studied thing
    Maxine Walden: things hard won …please Jobe, give us an example
    Jobe Nurmi: it is like I said it was survival
    Jobe Nurmi: and I still deal with it
    Jobe Nurmi: When my feelings are hurt deeply
    Jobe Nurmi: my first response it to run
    Jobe Nurmi: I will close myself off so quickly and actually remove myself from the room
    Jobe Nurmi: That can destroy a relationship
    Jobe Nurmi: or friendship
    Jobe Nurmi: and is of no value to my progress
    Storm Nordwind: But presumably, that habit you now realise you wish to unlearn was originally learnt for a reason?
    Jobe Nurmi: exactly!
    Jobe Nurmi: survival
    Maxine Walden: oh, yes,but when you are deeply hurt all you can think of at that moment, must be to protect yourself.
    Jobe Nurmi: yes!

    We started to look at the possibility of dealing with conditioned responses. Was it possible always to be rational at that point? Cal suggested a way of looking at things that might help some people and that included a familiar metaphor!

    Caledonia Heron: perhaps a way to look at a habitual response is if in that moment before you launch, you choose or choose not to perform the habit
    Jobe Nurmi: Yes, Cal
    Storm Nordwind: Yes. Catching yourself at that infinitesimal pause takes learning!
    Jobe Nurmi: but is such a reflex now
    Caledonia Heron: the more often you catch the more adept you become at *that* choice point
    Storm Nordwind: quite so
    Jobe Nurmi: Storm, does this speak to the “stripping away” to get to your essence?
    Jobe Nurmi: I feel like I am standing naked when do as Cal suggested
    Jobe Nurmi: And maybe that is good thing
    Maxine Walden: it would be such a good thing to be able to do, catch onself beforehand; sometimes in my experience there is no self-observation at that moment, because the hurt sweeps away that capacity…but maybe others have different experiences
    Jobe Nurmi: yes
    Storm Nordwind: I can understand that Maxine and Jobe
    Jobe Nurmi: I agree
    Caledonia Heron: interesting Jobe, I perceive it as consumate intentionality, choosing it when everything is preloaded in the direction of knee jerk reaction
    Maxine Walden: Cal, please say more
    Storm Nordwind: There are many very intelligent people who are neither rational nor linear thinkers. It is harder to pause like that for them
    Jobe Nurmi: Yes I am struggling with that
    Jobe Nurmi: The most irrational I am is when I am deeply hurt
    Caledonia Heron: well, think of it like a jukebox….when x happens record B4 always seems to play….what if x happens and viola, choice occurs and any record is available? Intentional choice
    Jobe Nurmi: But I must say here, that I know those times are opportunities for deep learning.
    Jobe Nurmi: And that is what I use to overcome running
    Caledonia Heron: lol, it’s an opportunity for freedom :)
    Jobe Nurmi: OH yes, nicely put!
    Maxine Walden: Yes, Cal, very nicely stated
    Storm Nordwind: The opportunity therefore comes from a mindfulness?
    Jobe Nurmi: Freedom to BE
    Caledonia Heron: I think that would be so in your vocabulary Storm :)
    Storm Nordwind: smiles
    Jobe Nurmi: hehehe
    Jobe Nurmi: I need lots of courage for this BEing!
    Caledonia Heron: lots and none it would seem
    Jobe Nurmi: true.
    Maxine Walden: Imagine we all do, Jobe…
    Storm Nordwind: And one thing I have noticed is that unless one breaks a cause effect cycles like that, one actually makes it harder to break it in the future. One reinforces the tendency it seems
    Jobe Nurmi: I agree with that totally
    Caledonia Heron: the first acts of choosing seem to have more resistance than the umpteenth
    Maxine Walden: yes, we can get into an automatic type response which bypasses mindful consideration
    Jobe Nurmi: true!
    Storm Nordwind: quite so! And I guess we like to stay with what’s easiest, tried and tested - even at the expense of pain!
    Jobe Nurmi: I am confused about something
    Storm Nordwind: Please go on Jobe
    Caledonia Heron: now I will use your vocabulary Strom and say that is not mindful action :)
    Storm Nordwind: quite so Cal!

    Jobe wanted to ask an important question. Once again the hands of all avatars were busy typing simultaneously!

    Jobe Nurmi: Is this “journey” about working very hard or about giving up?
    Storm Nordwind: Ho ho! What a great question!
    Maxine Walden: for me it is more about slowing down so that I have access to thought rather than habit or impulse, but the slowing down might take attention
    Caledonia Heron: Maybe the concept *journey is something we give our minds to do…a linear progression to mark the way when it’s really in the moment, the nothing, that is the journey
    Maxine Walden: and that can feel difficult at first
    Jobe Nurmi: interesting!
    Maxine Walden: staying in the moment…yes, Cal, that feels so important
    Storm Nordwind: Great answers. My feeling Jobe is that it is not either or but in a way both.
    Jobe Nurmi: wow that is so helpful!
    Jobe Nurmi: but maybe my knee jerk response is to work work work.
    Maxine Walden: I will need to go in a few minutes..just want to say so and not seem to disappear
    Jobe Nurmi: and that is not what I need to do exactly
    Storm Nordwind: ok Maxine - thanks
    Caledonia Heron: lol, I think work is overrated…particularly in this arena :)
    Jobe Nurmi: OK, I will take that in, Cal and really think about it

    I brought to mind the heavyweight articles and books I have seen on on this topic, notably in the Buddhist arena. I shared my view about when this appeared to escalate to abstruse self-indulgence and lose touch with a reader’s needs. (Even using the word “abstruse” is a great example of this!)

    Storm Nordwind: I have a word that I coined about the hard intellectual work people put in, especially in the field of Buddhism
    Storm Nordwind: I call it “Buddhillectualism”
    Jobe Nurmi: I love it!
    Caledonia Heron: lol Storm
    Storm Nordwind: And really can get lost under the weight of it all!
    Maxine Walden: very nice!!
    Caledonia Heron: I thought you might blow raspberries :)
    Storm Nordwind: haha!
    Jobe Nurmi: :)

    We finished by discussing how to record these discussions. I gave a little
    technical help before we broke up.

    Maxine Walden: May I ask before I go, is there a plan to keep this transcript?
    Maxine Walden: the record of our conversation?
    Storm Nordwind: I am recording it. Does anyone object to my sending it to Pema?
    Caledonia Heron: no
    Jobe Nurmi: I do not object at all
    Caledonia Heron: no objection
    Maxine Walden: not at all, Storm how do you save it?
    Storm Nordwind: I will show you how.
    Storm Nordwind: Type Ctrl-P to get your preferences panel
    Storm Nordwind: Then select the Communications tab near the bottom on the left of that panel
    Storm Nordwind: You will see lots of check boxes at the bottom half
    Storm Nordwind: And a directory address
    Storm Nordwind: Play around with those and you get to record things
    Storm Nordwind: But only from the point of you switching it on
    Storm Nordwind: If you want to record a one off I can also show you an easy way to do that
    Storm Nordwind: Click the Communicate blue button at the bottom left
    Storm Nordwind: And click the Local chat tab
    Storm Nordwind: Then click on the conversation and type ctrl-A
    Storm Nordwind: Then Ctrl-C to copy it and Ctrl-P to dump into into your editor of choice
    Storm Nordwind: But that’s a one off
    Maxine Walden: thanks.
    Storm Nordwind: yw
    Caledonia Heron: I prefer that last way - not everything is worth logging that’s for sure :)
    Storm Nordwind: true true!
    Maxine Walden: I will go now, very nice talking, everyone, see and talk more soon, I hope.
    Caledonia Heron: bye Maxine
    Storm Nordwind: Great to see you Maxine
    Maxine Walden: bye
    Jobe Nurmi: Maxine, so happy you could come!
    Storm Nordwind: bye for now
    Maxine Walden: yes, for me too.
    Jobe Nurmi: Thank you Storm and Cal!
    Caledonia Heron: and to you Jobe
    Jobe Nurmi: much ‘food for thought”!
    Storm Nordwind: Thank you both :)
    Caledonia Heron: Storm, always a pleasure
    Storm Nordwind: bows slightly
    Caledonia Heron: I’m off - be well
    Storm Nordwind: bfn Cal
    Jobe Nurmi: you too’!
    Jobe Nurmi: bfn!
    Storm Nordwind: And the session closes at 1:55pm SLT

    And I emerged back into the Second Light, with the silhouettes of temples
    and other holy places all around me, and with Jobe walked the short distance
    back to the orchards in the west side of the Kuan Yin Terraces.

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