2008.04.27 19:00 - How it All Started

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    This evening, for the first time in two weeks, nobody else came into the tea house. At the end of the first week, there had been a few weekend sessions that saw no visitors, but during the following weeks attendance had increased and it was a rare opportunity by now to just sit by myself and reflect.

    I thought about what Dakini had told me the day that we met, which itself was only one and a half months ago, on March 12. I had come to her zen sitting group, and afterwards some of the participants remained to chat. Dakini talked about her Tibetan practice, with a Kagyu teacher, and I mentioned that the very first Tibetan I ever met was the 16th Karmapa, the head of one of the main Kagyu lineages. It was right that evening that I mentioned my crazy idea, after the other participants had left.

    Here is the relevant part of our conversation, after we first talked with each other about the kind of practice each of us had been doing over the years.

    Dakini Rhode: I only recently started meditation practice at the zen retreat, would love to sponsor teachers and other activities here
    Pema Pera: We really should talk, when you have some more time. My key suggestion is to trade duration for frequency
    Pema Pera: It may sound crazy, but I’m thinking of 9 seconds every 15 minutes
    Pema Pera: nobody can then say “I don’t have the time”
    Dakini Rhode: not crazy
    Dakini Rhode: lol
    Pema Pera: but they need to develop discipline

    While we were talking Dakini showed me the tea house. Little would I know how much time I would spend there, starting only three weeks later! I first asked about her activities here.

    Pema Pera: Is this your place?
    Dakini Rhode: yes
    Dakini Rhode: for now, i thought i could offer 20 minutes every night
    Dakini Rhode: for anyone who wants to sit with me
    Pema Pera: it is such a neat idea!
    Dakini Rhode: :)
    Dakini Rhode: not original, but… a different time from some of the groups
    Pema Pera: are there other groups like that?
    Dakini Rhode: the 20 minutes is becoming an hour, i see that people want to discuss
    Dakini Rhode: Peacemaker Institute is one group that sponsors daily meditation practice
    Dakini Rhode: the time is more suited for the West Coast I think, I have trouble with the time
    Pema Pera: you’re a boddhisattva, helping people so kindly ;>)
    Dakini Rhode: :)
    Dakini Rhode: no separation… i help myself too
    Pema Pera: when does the peacemaker group sit?
    Pema Pera: yes, i know
    Pema Pera: is that a larger group?
    Dakini Rhode: i think, our time 11AM and 11PM
    Dakini Rhode: it is sometimes larger
    Dakini Rhode: lately, they have done tai chi, i think instead of meditation
    Pema Pera: how many people do you get on average?
    Pema Pera: and how long have you been doing this?
    Dakini Rhode: i just started this, and the largest group i’ve gotten has been 10
    Dakini Rhode: 6 is a good number for me
    Pema Pera: and are you here most of the time or really every day?
    Dakini Rhode: i do this every day, unless for some reason i can’t make it
    Dakini Rhode: 6PM SLT (9PM our time) every day
    Dakini Rhode: I have my own group, the Zen Retreat group, for announcing the meditations and other activities, should some arise
    Pema Pera: that’s a wonderful gesture
    Dakini Rhode: thanks, Pema

    I then mentioned again what my plans were for my activities, somewhere in SL.

    Pema Pera: my plan is to start on April 1, foolsday seems appropriate, and then to come in three times a day, if possible
    Dakini Rhode: I needed to do this for my own practice
    Pema Pera: I know
    Pema Pera: I feel the same
    Pema Pera: with my plans
    Dakini Rhode: very good :) If I could do 3 times a day, I would
    Dakini Rhode: what do you plan to do?
    Pema Pera: I’m thinking of offering a time every six hours, and then depending on the time zone I am in, I can make 3 of the 4
    Pema Pera: the idea is then to be with the others for 10 minutes or so
    Pema Pera: with the understanding that if interesting questions come up
    Pema Pera: they will be deferred to the next session
    Pema Pera: my work is flexible enough to take 10 minutes every 6 hours ;>)
    Dakini Rhode: good for you :) I have SL only at home, I won’t allow myself to put it on the work computer, I would be too distracted :)

    Yeah, good for me, haha, hope springs eternal! It has been more like half an hour to an hour every six hours . . . but it has been extremely rewarding, so I don’t mind, for now at least. In the long run I hope that we can spread the load over more people — and indeed, we will start doing some of that in a week already. In any case, I had to laugh just now rereading these optimistic words of mine, from last month.

    Dakini Rhode: i like your plan - do you have a place for this?
    Pema Pera: not yet
    Pema Pera: I’ve been thinking about several options
    Pema Pera: good arguments for different settings
    Dakini Rhode: Would you consider having this at the Zen Retreat?
    Pema Pera: It had not occurred to me to use a more traditional looking practice place, but now that we met here today, it would seem appropriate ;>) Thank you very much for the offer!
    Dakini Rhode: if it seems right to you, this is the type of activity i would like to see happen here
    Dakini Rhode: the retreat is very simple now, there is also another place much more formal
    Pema Pera: wonderful!
    Dakini Rhode: i like the simple place best :)
    Dakini Rhode: the retreat is free and open to the public at all times
    Dakini Rhode: so far, i haven’t had a scheduling problem with groups wanting to use it :)
    Pema Pera: I have been thinking and talking with various people about where to hold my meetings
    Pema Pera: during the last few days
    Dakini Rhode: SL Buddhists group is available for announcing activities of interest
    Pema Pera: It is great to meet you today
    Pema Pera: so yes, let’s use your place

    It clearly did not take me long to decide :-)

    Dakini Rhode: I’m glad we met today :)
    Pema Pera: and we should talk about how to announce things, in a week or so I guess
    Dakini Rhode: the Zen Retreat group, i started for announcing events at the Zen Retreat
    Dakini Rhode: with the thought other things would come
    Dakini Rhode: I figured, when the students are ready, the teachers will appear “)
    Dakini Rhode: thanks!
    Pema Pera: the times I had in mind are 4 and 10, morning and evening
    Dakini Rhode: anyone who joins the group can send announcements
    Pema Pera: so that does not conflict with your 9 pm (everything in East Coast time)
    Dakini Rhode: good :) good times :)
    Dakini Rhode: you will make it easier for some of the Europeans to join in
    Pema Pera: and Japanese and other Asians
    Dakini Rhode: yes

    Well, we clearly met at the right time at the right place.

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