2008.05.11 19:00 - A sense of self

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    The guardian at this meeting was Pema Pera and the comments are his.  


    That evening, when I enter the tea house, Solo is there already, Maxine is in the process of rezzing in mid air, and Sky would walk in soon thereafter in her new human form.

    Solobill Laville: Hi Maxine!
    Solobill Laville: Hello, Pema!
    Pema Pera: Hi Max, hi Solo!
    Maxine Walden: hi, guys, not meaning to be dancing in midair
    Pema Pera: nice dance, Maxine!
    Maxine Walden: oh, thanks, end of the weekend dance…
    Maxine Walden: for me, not for everyone I know
    Solobill Laville: Hello, Sky
    Pema Pera: Hi Sky!
    Sky Szimmer: Hi Everyone!
    Maxine Walden: Sky, hi, like your new image
    Pema Pera: It’s nice to have a different image, I like both your fox and human form!
    Sky Szimmer: Thank you Maxine! I realized I missed the group meeting this morning, my apologies
    Maxine Walden: yes, different states of mind
    Sky Szimmer: I am afraid my role as a guardian is going to be quite limited

    Since the email service at my work place had been interrupted that day, I had not realized that there were a couple urgent IMs waiting for me, when I logged into Second Life. I had to briefly address those.

    Pema Pera: If you all don’t mind, I will take a bit of time of to read some IMs about land dealings — my email has been down, and now I suddenly found a few urgent messages I have to deal with. Please keep talking and I hope to be back with you in ten minutes or so
    Solobill Laville: sure
    Sky Szimmer: By all means, Pema
    Maxine Walden: of course,
    Maxine Walden: Sky, what do you mean, limitied re guardian?
    Sky Szimmer: You know, I have to admit that when I first started this SL business, it was profound but somehow things have slipped a bit
    Solobill Laville: Sky, i don’t believe we’ve met
    Solobill Laville: Nice to meet you
    Maxine Walden: oh, sorry, could have introduced you
    Maxine Walden: Sky, care to say more?
    Sky Szimmer: hi solo, nice to meet you finally.
    Solobill Laville: That’s OK, I don’t think you could have known. he he
    Sky Szimmer: well, at first, i was looking at RL with a SL fantasy view. It was great
    Sky Szimmer: but then now, that isn’t happening anymore
    Sky Szimmer: I have to admit I am not doing my 9 sec as frequently either
    Maxine Walden: I find that I am not as regular with the 9 sec as at first either. But are you feeling discouraged, or am I being intrusive?
    Sky Szimmer: oh no Maxine. You are always so sweet!
    Sky Szimmer: yes i am feeling discouraged a bit of late.
    Sky Szimmer: it is rather frustrating. on the one hand, there is nothing to do, but on the other hand there is the context of life that throws me off
    Maxine Walden: not sure I am quite following…the context of RL life or SL life?
    Sky Szimmer: sorry. I mean sometimes, it isn’t easy just to go with the flow
    Solobill Laville: I know what you mean, Sky
    Sky Szimmer: it seems Pema doesn’t get thrown off easily anymore, I don’t know for sure that that is how it seems
    Maxine Walden: I think I know..or what I have experienced at times is a kind of confusion…which for me is a loosening of my RL ’self’ in the midst of SL experiece.
    Maxine Walden: experience
    Sky Szimmer: I am not sure I understand Maxine
    Maxine Walden: oh, I will try to be clearer and it may not be what you are talking about…
    Sky Szimmer: I am sorry. I am often unclear in communicating it seems
    Solobill Laville: Sky, I think there is just great depth to what you are taking about
    Maxine Walden: but I have found at times that RL images etc stay with me when I am in RL, even coming into my RL dreams, and it can be distrubing because I have to function in RL
    Solobill Laville: that is hard to communicate
    Maxine Walden: Sorry…SL images come into RL life
    Sky Szimmer: thanks Solo
    Solobill Laville: yw
    Maxine Walden: and causing some disruption in my RL functioning
    Sky Szimmer: oh?
    Maxine Walden: and it may sound funny, but that is one reason I am so conservative
    Maxine Walden: in my r
    Maxine Walden: in my SL dress, it sort of has to do with holding only my sense of self, the self that I know is me in SL…may be a very minority view
    Maxine Walden: holding on to my sense of self
    Pema Pera: hi everyone!

    I had replied to the most urgent IMs, so I could join the conversation again.

    Pema Pera: Sorry to be absent
    Maxine Walden: hi, Pema
    Pema Pera: back again now
    Solobill Laville: welcome back
    Sky Szimmer: wb
    Sky Szimmer: i see Maxine.
    Pema Pera: I just read the conversation, but I’ll wait for a good point to jump in
    Sky Szimmer: it maybe fun to explore that more Maxine?
    Maxine Walden: we were talking abousure, Sky
    Sky Szimmer: BTW, Pema, I love the squizzle
    Pema Pera: haha, glad to hear that
    Pema Pera: As for getting a bit disappointed or slowing down, Sky and Max
    Pema Pera: that is only natural
    Pema Pera: it would be strange if that were _not_ the case
    Pema Pera: the main point I would emphasize is that the 9-sec practice is totally flexible
    Pema Pera: you can do it as little and as often as you like
    Pema Pera: the main thing is to keep some form of continuity
    Pema Pera: other than that it’s up to you, really
    Sky Szimmer: I like to question you about your personal experience
    Pema Pera: and we can share our experiences even if we do quite different things in different intensities
    Maxine Walden: There may be another kind of continuity
    Maxine Walden: that is important

    Sky asked me about my personal experiences leading up to starting the Play as Being initiative.

    Sky Szimmer: Pema, if that is ok
    Pema Pera: sure, of course!
    Sky Szimmer: there must be a point when you understood “B”eing more
    Sky Szimmer: right?
    Pema Pera: well many many many points . . . over my life time of half a century since kindergarten . . . .
    Pema Pera: and now every day
    Pema Pera: it seems to speed up
    Sky Szimmer: yes… I see, so it is a continuum
    Solobill Laville: Fantastic!!
    Pema Pera: Being can become like a friend, a mother, a lover
    Pema Pera: all and more
    Chawan : Mmmm, delicious green cha made in the ceremonial Japanese tradition, Solobill Laville, so refreshing!
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Pema Pera: you can lose yourself in Being
    Pema Pera: and find yourself in Being
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Pema Pera: devotion, analysis, friendship all of the above
    Pema Pera: all aspects of relgious practices
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Solobill Laville: …is…
    Solobill Laville: ness
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Pema Pera: yes, IS
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Pema Pera: Chawan agrees, it seems ;>)
    Solobill Laville: he he
    Sky Szimmer: I guess, i find that I can never lose myself in Being
    Pema Pera: part of Being
    Chawan : Mmmm, delicious green cha made in the ceremonial Japanese tradition, Solobill Laville, so refreshing!
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Pema Pera: There are many approaches, Sky
    Maxine Walden: never lose yourself in Being, Sky?
    Sky Szimmer: yes.
    Pema Pera: and indeed you cannot do it
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Sky Szimmer: but there is a shift
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Sky Szimmer: no?
    Chawan : Mmm..
    Chawan : Don’t you feel at one with nature now, Solobill Laville so peaceful and relaxed.

    I had responded to Sky saying you cannot lose yourself in Being, and I expanded on that.

    Pema Pera: you as you normally think what yo are cannot do anything, not even lose yourself, but Being can let you lose yourself — show you that you have never been the you you thought — and then you just laugh, in relief ;>)
    Pema Pera: we just have to learn to listen
    Pema Pera: we run and run and run
    Pema Pera: and grasp and grasp
    Pema Pera: and want and want
    Pema Pera: and want to grasp at a method for not grasping
    Pema Pera: and not wanting
    Pema Pera: it is all hilarious!!!!!!
    Pema Pera: so just STOP
    Pema Pera: right now
    Pema Pera: and step back
    Pema Pera: and back
    Pema Pera: and back
    Pema Pera: and then you will see the utter simplicity of it all
    Solobill Laville: a break; an opening; yes don’t try!
    Pema Pera: and smile
    Sky Szimmer: yes, I agree but it isn’t always so
    Pema Pera: we are here to help each other to find our way back
    Pema Pera: not forwards
    Pema Pera: there is nothing to gain
    Pema Pera: only to lose
    Sky Szimmer: for me, I find that I have an underlying current of dissatisfaction which goes against the grain of IS
    Pema Pera: drop that
    Pema Pera: very simple
    Pema Pera: no reason to hold on to that current
    Pema Pera: Dakini wrote a beautiful entry in her blog about that
    Pema Pera: a couple weeks ago
    Sky Szimmer: will check it out
    Pema Pera: let me find the pointer, just a sec
    Maxine Walden: Pema, I am some thoughts that weave in and out of what you are suggesting, and perhaps what Sky is also mentioning: not sure I will be able to say this clearly.

    I had found Dakini’s entry.

    Pema Pera: it was the april 29 entry
    Pema Pera: Dakini wrote: “Insecurity results from a mistaken belief in your own importance.”
    Pema Pera: isn’t that wonderful?
    Sky Szimmer: yes indeed
    Solobill Laville: I wrote her about that….and thanked her.
    Pema Pera: We want to cover over insecurity with a security blanket
    Maxine Walden: I think that the SL experience invites us all to let go of our RL selves and I in some ways that is part of the teaching you are offering
    Pema Pera: but we can just drop the insecurity
    Pema Pera: otherwise we have two blankets, a security blanket on top of the insecurity blanket
    Pema Pera: and when we toss and turn the top blanket can fall off again . . . .
    Maxine Walden: but from my view, we all have a sense of ’self’ which has developed over time
    Maxine Walden: which is a deep part of our sense of who we are, including how we think and feel.
    Pema Pera: yes, Maxine, we have to respect what we have developed for what it is
    Pema Pera: and yet not cling to it as absolute
    Pema Pera: we will die
    Pema Pera: pretty soon
    Pema Pera: and all will be gone
    Pema Pera: of what we have built up in sense of self here
    Pema Pera: while we live we should respect it
    Pema Pera: and use it to celebrate life and IS
    Pema Pera: and also we should be ready to let go of it
    Maxine Walden: Now, it can be very dis-orienting to give that sense of self up, disorienting and confusing…I am not saying absolutes, but I am saying a quiet inner sense of self which gives not a blanket of false
    Maxine Walden: security but a quiet inner sense of security which is vital and orienting.
    Pema Pera: carrying it lightly
    Pema Pera: yes, it ain’t easy ;>)
    Pema Pera: all that is very important, Maxine
    Sky Szimmer: (I am sorry, but I may have to drop off soon)
    Pema Pera: I don’t want to deny that
    Pema Pera: yet it is not the ultimate solution
    Pema Pera: so it is a matter of balance
    Pema Pera: too little comfort and we may get discouraged and give up
    Pema Pera: too much comfort and we get stuck ;>)
    Pema Pera: Sky, does this make some sense?
    Maxine Walden: I have found it important to not let that go, so far in the SL experience, and indeed in the 9sec practice, but to have that quiet …not sure I fully agree, Pema, but it is good to have a clear awareness of where there
    Maxine Walden: may be come disagreement, so that further discussion, perhaps can be illuminating
    Sky Szimmer: (ty solo : ))
    Solobill Laville: yw

    I was curious to hear more about Maxine’s sense of possible disagreement

    Pema Pera: can you say what part you don’t agree with? I would be very happy to zoom in on that
    Pema Pera: we are here to help and hone
    Pema Pera: hone our insights and help each other doing so
    Maxine Walden: yes, let me try:
    Maxine Walden: I agree with the widening, letting go, opening up…all the things you suggest…
    Maxine Walden: but I think that sometimes we …let me look at it differently
    Maxine Walden: you mention Dakini’s note:
    Solobill Laville: If I can paraphrase…
    Solobill Laville: Max, you still find comfort in
    Solobill Laville: having a sense of “self”
    Solobill Laville: what you are
    Solobill Laville: who you are
    Solobill Laville: while you explore things
    Solobill Laville: is that close?
    Maxine Walden: sort of, please go ahead
    Pema Pera: unfortunately, I have to catch a bus and leave in about five minutes . . . .
    Solobill Laville: Then chime in while you’re still here, please
    Sky Szimmer: Is it possible to let go of that sense of “self” that we have come to live with completely?
    Solobill Laville: lol
    Solobill Laville: yes
    Solobill Laville: but hard, as Pema noted
    Pema Pera: hard, actually impossible Sky
    Pema Pera: if we try to do it
    Pema Pera: easy if we ask Being to do it
    Pema Pera: since it has been done already
    Pema Pera: that’s the key point
    Pema Pera: very simple
    Pema Pera: but somehow hard to see
    Maxine Walden: actually I feel that I need to keep a sense of self to have the capacity…
    Pema Pera: and we can help each other seeing it
    Solobill Laville: that’s an interested aspect of faith!!
    Maxine Walden: Being is going to be different for each of us I think
    Pema Pera: I agree Max, and I think in that sense we are using the word “self” differently
    Sky Szimmer: So when one is in the flow of IS, there is no sense of the personal self or the personality?
    Maxine Walden: and each of us is likely to recognize ourselves in the Being we experience
    Solobill Laville: yes, Max, how can we not see with our own eyes, and hear with our own ears?

    There was so much that had been put on the table, it would be impossible to do it all justice in just a few minutes.

    Pema Pera: We will have to go very slowly here, over several sessions: what does Max mean with self, what does Pema mean, what does Sky and Solo mean — if we don’t do that, we create seeming differences that may lead to unnecessary confusion
    Maxine Walden: Sky, I think we do recognize ourselves as Being actually echoes in lovely, lilting ways softly the selves we know,are, are Being…that is close to my current thought
    Solobill Laville: Agreed Pema
    Sky Szimmer: I have to run unfortunately. Thank you for letting me sound off today
    Second Life: We are experiencing issues with the asset server. Please refrain from making any important transactions or rezzing any valuable objects until we have resolved the situation. We will be updating the issue on http://status.secondlifegrid.net .
    Pema Pera: I can completely agree with all that every one of you has said so far, but I have to re-adjust what “self” is in each case.
    Solobill Laville: Great to meet you Sky.
    Pema Pera: so let’s continue talking about that
    Sky Szimmer: Likewise Solo!
    Pema Pera: I am very happy to see these central points being brought up here
    Sky Szimmer: Yes Pema.
    Maxine Walden: bye for now, Sky
    Sky Szimmer: ciao!
    Pema Pera: Bye Sky!
    Solobill Laville: Don’t miss your bus, Pema!
    Pema Pera: don’t worry, I won’t
    Maxine Walden: do you want one of us to do the transcript?
    Pema Pera: So again, Max, thanks for bringing up your concern
    Pema Pera: yes, please!
    Pema Pera: that would be great
    Maxine Walden: I will be glad to take it, you may wish to do the editing?
    Pema Pera: sure, I’d be happy to do so
    Pema Pera: Thank you!
    Pema Pera: okay, see you all next time!
    Solobill Laville: bye Pema
    Maxine Walden: I think it is very important that we be honing these differences, because subtle mis-understandings can occur without our knowing it, due to subtle differences in meaning of the same terms
    Maxine Walden: bye, Pema
    Pema Pera: bye Solo, bye Maxine!

    After I left, the conversation between Solo and Maxine continued. As she has suggested, Maxine would later send me a copy of the chat log. I am using that from here on.

    Solobill Laville: You are right, Maxine.
    Maxine Walden: you think so too?
    Solobill Laville: What concerns me, truly
    Solobill Laville: is that the more you “talk” about some of these things
    Solobill Laville: especially in an environment that can be challenging
    Solobill Laville: the more you end up farther away from things
    Solobill Laville: lol
    Solobill Laville: I think that is what Pema may be going towards
    Maxine Walden: interesting point, if I understand you…that ‘talking’ can create drift away from the experience?
    Solobill Laville: in terms of defining things
    Maxine Walden: yes, defining…is at the heart right now of the issues I think we have been talking about here
    Solobill Laville: Well, there is a saying, that you can’t really “dance about architecture”
    Maxine Walden: I agree that effort to clarify can take you right past the experience
    Solobill Laville: In other words, things can get pretty dicey when words try to describe things that are somewhat indescribable
    Maxine Walden: I have not heard the ‘dance about architecture’ statement
    Solobill Laville: lol
    Maxine Walden: oh, yes, I really agree there; words often take themselves too importantly (awkward phrasing!!)
    Solobill Laville: I will bow to Pema’s skills in that regard!!!
    Maxine Walden: too seriously
    Solobill Laville: I mean in his ability to frame things well metaphorically
    Solobill Laville: You were talking
    Solobill Laville: about the SL / RL
    Solobill Laville: worlds kind of “blending” or overlapping a bit?

    Maxine brought up the fantasy nature of SL.

    Maxine Walden: yes, that has been some of my experience and in order to remain rather clear, to have a clear mind, I have found it best to not go too much into fantasy in SL, such as fantastic dress…it is partly my character, but also helps me with the 9sec practice and really
    Maxine Walden: to be able to think about what others are trying to say, even our discussion here
    Maxine Walden: clarity of thought…
    Solobill Laville: Ah, so are the wings and sparkles and things distracting a bit?
    Maxine Walden: and capacity to listen well to others
    Maxine Walden: they just would not be me, interesting to see what others enjoy, but would distract from my own experience here
    Maxine Walden: For me thinking, but more experiencing clearly at the moment…that is the height of PaB for me right now
    Solobill Laville: I think that’s great
    Maxine Walden: learning from experience and from emotional experience
    Maxine Walden: ah
    Solobill Laville: Learning from emotional experience during the 9 seconds, or around it?
    Maxine Walden: both, actually, and the experience is diffeent during and then after/around the 9 sec. Is that your experience
    Maxine Walden: ?
    Solobill Laville: hmmm
    Solobill Laville: To me, the 9 seconds is more of a refocusing
    Solobill Laville: “wiping” the dust off my mind
    Maxine Walden: nice image
    Solobill Laville: Trying to re-remember to be big Mind
    Solobill Laville: more of a Zen approach
    Solobill Laville: That is what I consider myself
    Solobill Laville: SO that is my approach
    Maxine Walden: not too different from mine, the 9 sec is sort of taking a deep breath
    Maxine Walden: and checking in with myself, observing where/who/what the perhaps deeper experience I am embedded in…something like that
    Solobill Laville: Great
    Solobill Laville: Have you
    Solobill Laville: practiced any other types of sitting
    Solobill Laville: meditation
    Solobill Laville: concentration
    Solobill Laville: visualization?
    Maxine Walden: not really, I am rather new to this, but have been in a self-observing, evolving, meditative path for a long time, no formal training though
    Solobill Laville: Wow, that is great then
    Maxine Walden: just evolving experience, searching…things like that, and you?

    Solo talked about his own practice.

    Solobill Laville: I think you’d be amazed at the results
    Solobill Laville: I’ve been studying Buddhism for 15 years
    Solobill Laville: Practicing for about 10
    Maxine Walden: ah
    Solobill Laville: REALLY practicing for about 3
    Maxine Walden: REALLY meaning…
    Maxine Walden: seriously?
    Maxine Walden: something else?
    Solobill Laville: Committing to sitting every day (though that has been difficult lately)
    Solobill Laville: Right mindfulness
    Maxine Walden: sitting for how long each day, how long a session for you?
    Solobill Laville: 20 - 45 minutes, usually 30
    Solobill Laville: When i do 45 it sometimes feels like I could go all day
    Solobill Laville: he he
    Maxine Walden: ah, yes, that does convey a level of concentration, concertedness too perhaps, and I can glimpse
    Maxine Walden: what you say about …45 min and feel you could go all day…I know that state as well
    Solobill Laville: not so great on the knees though!
    Maxine Walden: hehehe, oh, yeah, know that feeling too!
    Maxine Walden: the aching knees
    Solobill Laville: Have you read any books that you felt inspiring?
    Maxine Walden: not in the area of meditation, I have been impressed with the writings about emotional experience of Wilfred Bion, a British psychoanalyst steeped in Eastern thought…his notions of learning from emotional experience and remaining open to the new idea…
    Solobill Laville: hmmm. that is interesting.
    Maxine Walden: and to the awareness that nearly all of our reality is fantasy, illusion…similar probalby to others
    Maxine Walden: the notions, also , now in physics, the mind of the observer which is part of ‘what is out there…part of the data…all of that is very interesting….our minds as central in nature
    Maxine Walden: Mind as central
    Solobill Laville: Yes, as in quantum physics?
    Solobill Laville: The observer changing that which is observed?
    Maxine Walden: so, what readings are of interest to you? yes, quantum mechanics, physics

    It was a flashback for me to see Solo mentioning the Three Pillars of Zen, my first really serious zen book, that I had started reading at the very end of high school, a few years after it had come out.

    Solobill Laville: Well, again, I have a Zen bias, but
    Solobill Laville: the Three Pillars of Zen is very applicable to Westerners, written by a Westerner
    Solobill Laville: Not accepted by a lot of “formal” Zen folks
    Solobill Laville: because it kind of combines the best of the two main schools
    Maxine Walden: the author?
    Solobill Laville: Roshi Phillip Kapleau
    Solobill Laville: founded the Rochester (NY) Zen Center
    Solobill Laville: Also, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
    Solobill Laville: By Shunyu Suzuki
    Maxine Walden: Oh, yes I have heard of Suzuki…
    Solobill Laville: There are two Suzukis though
    Maxine Walden: oh,
    Solobill Laville: DT Suzuki is very intelllectual and metaphysical
    Solobill Laville: I wouldn’t recommend him as a basics person
    Maxine Walden: ok, thanks
    Solobill Laville: Shunryu though, quite the opposite
    Solobill Laville: very direct
    Solobill Laville: very practical
    Maxine Walden: thanks, I will try to look into those resources.
    Solobill Laville: yw
    Maxine Walden: I have enjoyed our talk very much, will need to go soon
    Solobill Laville: I should go to be soon too
    Solobill Laville: ha!
    Maxine Walden: yes, and I will take the transcript and send it to Pema. One question, if I may, how did you come to PaB?
    Solobill Laville: When I first explored SL
    Solobill Laville: I searched for “Zen”
    Solobill Laville: this was my first place I explored
    Solobill Laville: Storm’s gardens
    Solobill Laville: Dakini’s ponds
    Solobill Laville: So in a sense this is my “home”
    Solobill Laville: I met Pema about a month and a half ago just walking around
    Solobill Laville: as I often do here
    Maxine Walden: now very nice! nice to find ‘home’ isn’t it…walking around in SL? met Pema?
    Maxine Walden: great!
    Maxine Walden: Should go, now, very nice to talk and i look forward to more!
    Solobill Laville: bye Max!
    Maxine Walden: bye, Solo.

    Yes, I well remember meeting Solo near the zazen spot, and hitting it right off. In fact, our very first exchange had been about Shunryu Suzuki, whom Solo had just mentioned to Maxine. That was in the evening of April 11, exactly one month ago, it turned out :-).

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