2008.05.26 19:00 - Riding the Tone

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    That evening, it was Thorberg’s turn to be the guardian for that session. The comments are Pema's.

    When I walked in, Dakini, Rajah, Hiroshi and Thorberg were already gathered in the tea house, and Maxine was just arriving as well.

    Rajah Yalin: hi maxine
    Dakini Rhode: Hi Maxine :-)
    Rajah Yalin: hi pema
    Maxine Walden: hi,all
    Thorberg Nordlicht: here’s Pema!
    Dakini Rhode: hi PP!
    Thorberg Nordlicht: hello folks
    Pema Pera: Hi there!
    Dakini Rhode: Has everyone here met?
    Thorberg Nordlicht: it’s Monday night at 7 PM in the tea house
    Thorberg Nordlicht: and I’m your greeter
    Rajah Yalin: i dont think i’ve met maxine
    Thorberg Nordlicht: so, looks like everyone here so far is a regular
    Maxine Walden: no, hello Rajah
    Dakini Rhode: Maxine, you’ve chosen the tinies cushion tonight
    Thorberg Nordlicht: so, without further ado, anyone care to report on their 9 second per 15 minutes practice?
    Rajah Yalin: hi there :)
    Thorberg Nordlicht: hello jonni!
    jonni Thor: Namaste
    Holden Henig: I was holding my breath for 10 seconds, then 4 seconds a lot
    Thorberg Nordlicht: welcome
    Maxine Walden: ah, not sure what was available might come to one of the blue ones
    Rajah Yalin: hi jonni, Namaste
    Thorberg Nordlicht: have a seat
    Rajah Yalin: i see you have prajnas gesture jonni
    jonni Thor: lol yeah he gave it too me
    Dakini Rhode: hi Jonni!
    Rajah Yalin: he’s a good friend of mine
    jonni Thor: hi all

    After the greetings and cushion rearrangements, Thorberg again focused on PaB. He then gave a great one-liner summing up the whole spiel.

    Thorberg Nordlicht: anybody want to report on their 9 second per 15 minute practice?
    Rajah Yalin: i will say
    Dakini Rhode: for those who are new, maybe we can explain about it briefly :-)
    Rajah Yalin: 9 seconds is such a short time that i find myself wandering off into longer periods
    Rajah Yalin: no longer than 30 seconds though
    Thorberg Nordlicht: every day at 1 AM, 7 AM, 1PM, and 7 PM, there’s a discussion here (with different folks who show up) about a meditation technique of taking 9 seconds out every 15 minutes for a quick “micro meditation” period
    jonni Thor: oh ok
    Dakini Rhode: wow that about sums it up :-)
    Pema Pera: http://playasbeing.wordpress.com/ is the web site
    Thorberg Nordlicht: we talk about our experience with the technique, and meditation in general, and often get WAY off topic, and that’s ok too
    jonni Thor: i know a gong meditation that can be done in that time
    Thorberg Nordlicht: yes?
    Rajah Yalin: hi bill
    jonni Thor: its not one that i use but it comes from dzogchen practice in mahyana budddhism, you hit the gong and bring our aareness to the sound
    Dakini Rhode: hi Bill!
    Solobill Laville: Hello!
    Solobill Laville: Hello!
    Pema Pera: Hi Solo!
    jonni Thor: you watch listen and look for the direction that the sound goes
    Maxine Walden: hi, solo
    jonni Thor: bring your awareness to it so to speak
    jonni Thor: so i suppose its a form of mindfulness
    Rajah Yalin: interesting
    Dakini Rhode: hi Steve!
    Thorberg Nordlicht: hello stevenaia
    Rajah Yalin: hi steve
    Thorberg Nordlicht: have a seat
    stevenaia Michinaga: hello, please continue
    stevenaia Michinaga: while I rezzz
    Pema Pera: Hi there Steve!

    The tea house was now really getting crowded.

    Thorberg Nordlicht: yes, we were talking about a quick form of meditation that lasts for just 9 seconds
    Thorberg Nordlicht: Jonni was suggesting using a gong or bell and riding the tone down to a meditative state
    Thorberg Nordlicht: in the Zendo where I practice, a period of meditation begins with a single delicate “ding”
    Thorberg Nordlicht: I always watch the sound as it trails down to…
    Hiroshi Zhong: I think there are only a meditation, but different ways to achieve this goal
    Thorberg Nordlicht: many paths to “the single-minded effort”?
    Hiroshi Zhong: yes
    Hiroshi Zhong: effort is the meditation
    jonni Thor: sure at the end of the day what most practices are aiming towards is mindfullness yes
    Thorberg Nordlicht: mindfullness, yes; the effortless effort
    Maxine Walden: Afraid I will need to leave soon, having another meeting to go to
    jonni Thor: indeed i think thats why people find zen meditation so hard because it almost seems simple not chants no mantras no paraphenalia just simple being and sitting had for a western mind
    Thorberg Nordlicht: ((no problem, maxine; glad you could join us))
    jonni Thor: bye :)
    Solobill Laville: Bye, Max
    stevenaia Michinaga: bye maxine
    Maxine Walden: bye all, see you all soon, I hope
    Rajah Yalin: by maxine

    After Maxine left, there was a discussion about a Zen book, by one of the two Suzukis.

    Holden Henig: Can I ask question?
    Thorberg Nordlicht: sure
    Holden Henig: I heard about the book An introduction to Zen by Susuki
    Holden Henig: I walked to a nearby university and borrowed it
    Holden Henig: today
    Holden Henig: I was wondering if it is a good starting book
    Thorberg Nordlicht: yes, do you mean Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind?
    Solobill Laville: One of my favorites.
    Thorberg Nordlicht: ((or is it Beginner’s Mind, Zen mind; can never remember which way that goes))
    Holden Henig: No, An introduction to Zen by Susuki i think. and his Collection of Essays
    Holden Henig: Maybe that is one I should get
    Solobill Laville: (Thor, the first one)
    Holden Henig: Isen quoted from the book I mentioned
    Thorberg Nordlicht: is it Shunryu Suzuki or D. T. Suzuki?
    Thorberg Nordlicht: anyway, actually any book by either author would be good if it works for you
    Rajah Yalin: its DT
    Solobill Laville: I think Holden is referring to DT’s book.
    Rajah Yalin: an introduction to zen buddhism
    Rajah Yalin: i own it but have not read it
    Solobill Laville: That is DT, yes.
    Holden Henig: yes
    Holden Henig: DT Suzuki
    Holden Henig: He had many at the university
    Thorberg Nordlicht: D.T. Suzuki would be older, more academic stuff (with the assumption that actual Zen practice may be too hard for Westerners)
    Thorberg Nordlicht: Shunryu Suzuki would be from the 60’s and much more Zen practice” oriented

    By that time I was getting ready to leave.

    Pema Pera: It’s great to see you all here, and thank you Thor for being our guardian for this evening! I have to get back to RL soon, my day job here in Tokyo for now — but I just want to make sure, for people who are new here: we included part of what we discuss here on the blog http://playasbeing.wordpress.com/ — if someone prefers not to be mentioned there, please send me an IM and I will make sure to take that off then.
    Holden Henig: An introduction to Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki
    Holden Henig: “Essays in Zen Buddhism First Series” by D.T. Suzuki
    Thorberg Nordlicht: Yes, Holden, that would be a fine book; it’s all a matter of whether you find it interesting
    Holden Henig: Yes, i like them both
    Thorberg Nordlicht: he’s a well respected author
    Holden Henig: Great!
    Pema Pera: me too, but for inspiration I think Shunryuu’s book is the best one.
    Solobill Laville: Strongly agree!
    Holden Henig: name?
    Holden Henig: title?
    Solobill Laville: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind - Shunryu Suzuki
    Holden Henig: thanks!
    Solobill Laville: yw :)
    jonni Thor: have any of you ever come accross a book my a zen monk called roar of the tigress
    jonni Thor: its written my a master Jiyu kennett founder of the OBC
    Thorberg Nordlicht: no, tell us about it
    Rajah Yalin: not sure
    Holden Henig: I will go now. Thanks!
    Holden Henig: Have a great night, all. Thank you.
    Solobill Laville: Bye!
    Pema Pera: Bye Holden, thanks for dropping in!
    Thorberg Nordlicht: good night
    Holden Henig: Thank you for helping me, all
    Holden Henig: I will see you tomorrow at 9 :)
    jonni Thor: Master Kennett i believe founded mount shasta in california and was responsible for much of the bringing zen buddhism to the west
    jonni Thor: she studdied in japan
    jonni Thor: and has a number of things published
    Pema Pera: I’ll have to take off now too, great seeing you all here!
    Solobill Laville: Take care, Pema
    jonni Thor: bye
    Thorberg Nordlicht: ok, Pema, thanks for stopping bye
    Pema Pera: bye everybody, and thanks for taking care of this meeting, Thor!
    Pema Pera: see y’all soon again!
    stevenaia Michinaga: later pema
    Pema Pera: hello and goodbye for now, Dakini!
    Pema Pera: off to work :)

    I left, and I would later get a copy of the remaining chat log from Thorberg. I then added further comments to that, following below.

    Solobill Laville: Jonni, it’s an interesting claim, the idea of bringing Zen Buddhism to the west…
    Solobill Laville: There are several who have been attributed that
    Dakini Rhode: bye pema - i got back in time to say goodbye
    Dakini Rhode: :-)
    Solobill Laville: But it is really all for the academics as far as I’m concerned! lol
    jonni Thor: not that she brought it in its entirity just was one of those responsible for spreading it she founded the OBC order of buddhist contemplatives one of the major zen buddhist orders in the west
    Solobill Laville: Yes, I agree.
    jonni Thor: her books on zen teaching are quite remarkable
    jonni Thor: i found them highly interesting
    Solobill Laville: I must admit I haven’t read any of her’s yet…I’ll remedy that! THanks!
    jonni Thor: if you probably find more out through the shasta abbey website
    jonni Thor: or the throssel hole temple website
    jonni Thor: i think you can still download some of her lectures there for free on mp3
    jonni Thor: sadly she left her body several years ago
    Rajah Yalin: sorry i had a phone call RL
    Solobill Laville: Thanks, Jonni. great info. I used to travel to Mt. Shasta every year, unbelievable place!
    jonni Thor: i have never been to shasta
    Rajah Yalin: where is that?
    Solobill Laville: Nothern California.
    Rajah Yalin: oh okay, i dont know much bout america
    jonni Thor: i have had some lenghtly stays at throssel hole which is the equivelant monestry in the uk
    Thorberg Nordlicht: I cheated and looked it up in Wikipedia: Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey is a Buddhist monastery and retreat centre located in Northumberland, in northern England. Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey follows the Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition, similar to the Sōtō Zen sect in Japan.
    Thorberg Nordlicht: love the internet :-)
    jonni Thor: its a great place
    Dakini Rhode: Folks, I hope you will excuse me, I need to leave :-)
    Solobill Laville: lol, yes!
    jonni Thor: np ty
    Solobill Laville: Bye, Dakini.
    Thorberg Nordlicht: thanks for stopping by, Dakini; see you again soon
    Dakini Rhode: Namaste
    Solobill Laville: Peace.
    jonni Thor: namaste

    Dakini left as well, and the discussing continued to focus on Zen groups.

    Thorberg Nordlicht: How long were you there, Jonni?
    jonni Thor: yes i do love staying there i have been there for up to a month at a time
    jonni Thor: or as little as a few das
    Thorberg Nordlicht: is there a daily routine like Soto Zen monastic forms?
    jonni Thor: yeah there is and lay people take full participation in that along with the periods of zazen
    jonni Thor: formal meals etc,
    jonni Thor: teample cleaning,
    jonni Thor: daily work,
    Thorberg Nordlicht: I’m surprised at how many monastic settings there are to choose from. At one time all I knew of was the San Francisco Zen center Soto practice for lay people and “guest students”
    Thorberg Nordlicht: but as I meet more and more buddhists in both real life and online, i keep hearing about more and more Busshist practice centers I never knew about before
    Thorberg Nordlicht: suprprising how many
    jonni Thor: i have visited quite a few such places over the years i grew up in a series of ashrams and communes with my folks
    Thorberg Nordlicht: oh, now that’s interesting
    jonni Thor: i wuld still consider moving back into one if i found the right one
    Thorberg Nordlicht: hope you find what you’re looking for
    Solobill Laville: There is a strong and equally aged (1960s or so) east coast US Rinzai/Soto hybrid based in Rochester, NY and Vermont, Thor, just FYI…
    Thorberg Nordlicht: oh?
    Thorberg Nordlicht: the Zen Retreat group should start a list
    Solobill Laville: Good idea!
    Thorberg Nordlicht: of real world buddhist practice centers group members know and frequent

    Solo brought up an important point concerning our growing PaB community.

    Solobill Laville: What also is interesting are the non-Buddhists who are interested in PaB! Many search / feel for the ultimate!
    jonni Thor: the other major center i have visited is the sami ling monestry in scotland
    stevenaia Michinaga: I must go, thank you all
    jonni Thor: ty namaste :)
    Solobill Laville: Wow, I didnt’ realize there was a Scottish monastery, great!
    Solobill Laville: Bye, Stevenaia
    Thorberg Nordlicht: thanks for stopping by Stevenaia
    jonni Thor: they have quite a large community
    Solobill Laville: Wonderful!
    jonni Thor: look them up on the internet i am sure that they have a website
    Solobill Laville: I will, there’s a wee bit o’ Scottish blood in my veins, too!
    jonni Thor: lol
    Solobill Laville: Thor, have you been playing with the PaB practice?
    Thorberg Nordlicht: yes
    Solobill Laville: How is it going for you?
    Thorberg Nordlicht: I assume you addressing me and not “Jonni Thor”; sorry ’bout that Jonni
    Thorberg Nordlicht: yes, it’s going well for me
    Solobill Laville: Yes, sorry Jonni, I’d call you by your first name!
    Thorberg Nordlicht: i have a regular formal practice also and i find the 9 second practice is a way to carry my formal practice into my daily life
    jonni Thor: cool

    Thorberg then gave an eloquent description of how the 9-sec exploration is working of him.

    Thorberg Nordlicht: in the 9 seconds, i instantly return to the “still point”
    Thorberg Nordlicht: the “still point” that I have cultivated in my formal practice
    Thorberg Nordlicht: it’s always available
    Solobill Laville: I find the same thing.
    Thorberg Nordlicht: the 9 second practice just reminds me to go back there occasionally and “start over” from that point
    Thorberg Nordlicht: ride the sound of the bell alllll the way down :-)
    Solobill Laville: he he
    Solobill Laville: I think there is an interesting point - the relaltionship between “regular” practice, and PaB…
    Thorberg Nordlicht: yes, it has come up in tea house discussions before that one’s experience with the 9-second practice will depend a lot on whehter one also has a formal practice
    Solobill Laville: yes
    Thorberg Nordlicht: when there is no other more formal practice, then the 9 seconds *is* the practice
    Solobill Laville: yep
    jonni Thor: well gang i have to go too now
    Rajah Yalin: same here
    Thorberg Nordlicht: and as with the beginning of any new meditation practice, often the first thing to come up is “all this stuff” (as in where did *that* come from?)
    jonni Thor: thank you all for your time
    Thorberg Nordlicht: ok, Jonni; thanks for coming by
    Solobill Laville: Bye, Jonni
    Thorberg Nordlicht: see you again soon
    Rajah Yalin: i’ll see all of you tommorow
    Solobill Laville: Bye, Rajah
    jonni Thor: i certainly hope so
    Rajah Yalin: take care everyone
    Rajah Yalin: Namaste
    jonni Thor: namaste peace and happiness
    Solobill Laville: Peace
    Thorberg Nordlicht: Jonni, some time I’d like to hear more about “i grew up in a series of ashrams and communes with my folks”
    jonni Thor: no worries i would be happy to share, i grew up in the baghwan communes mostly but we stayed at a few others
    Thorberg Nordlicht: look forward to seeing again soon and hearing about your experiences
    jonni Thor: by for now al
    Thorberg Nordlicht: good night
    Thorberg Nordlicht: interesting discussion tonight
    Solobill Laville: Sorry I only caught the back end.
    Thorberg Nordlicht: no problem
    Thorberg Nordlicht: it’s difficult to keep track of all the coming and going :-)
    Solobill Laville: Oh, yes - that’s because there is interest! lol

    Thorberg then made a fascinating observation concerning silences, which are unfortunately not visible in these transcripts.

    Thorberg Nordlicht: i don’t know when you dropped in, or whether you noticed this, but earlier there were some long periods of silence, but everyone seemed ok with that
    Thorberg Nordlicht: it’s different from the “everyone talking at once” discussions
    Solobill Laville: I did, and I do think that is great.
    Solobill Laville: It shows comfort, and not needing to “fill the void” with talk
    Thorberg Nordlicht: so i wonder whether it was just the inevitable “lull in the conversation”
    Thorberg Nordlicht: or whether our group conversational style is actually evolving
    Solobill Laville: Perhaps a little of both, but I do feel it is evolving

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