2008.05.22 07:00 - Life as a lab

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    That morning in Rieul, Maxine had taken her seat already in the tea house, when Pema walked in.

    Maxine Walden: morning…evening Pema
    Pema Pera: good day, Maxine! :-)
    Maxine Walden: yes, it has been…will be hopefully a good day but the moment is all there is, really
    Maxine Walden: evening of course where you are…end of the day
    Pema Pera: Did you get a chance to see the email I wrote to the PaB group — perhaps not yet, since my day was your night ;>)
    Maxine Walden: the one about the gentle..vs more aggressive practice?
    Maxine Walden: Dakini’s thoughts? I had a chance to see the first half or so of that message before coming here
    Pema Pera: yes, indeed
    Maxine Walden: I would love to hear a bit more about those two practices or the comparison/contrast…
    Maxine Walden: of approaches
    Pema Pera: it will be a new type of dynamic, to exchange ideas via email, in addition to the conversations we have here — I have no idea how that will work out
    Maxine Walden: perhaps a new threshold..via email…of contact…
    Pema Pera: yes, we’ll see!
    Maxine Walden: but somehow at least at this moment the teahouse contact or SL contact seems to carry a bit more ‘contact’ at least as I see it at this moment

    We talked about polarities in approaches to contemplation.

    Maxine Walden: can you tell me a bit more about the gentle approach Dakini was mentioning?
    Maxine Walden: approach to the PaB practice?
    Maxine Walden: or maybe the contrast between the two approaches, gentle and aggressive
    Pema Pera: I used the two names for the sake of making distinctions and responding to Dakini’s remarks. In practice, there is a fluid continuum between the two poles.
    Pema Pera: Somehow schools have sprouted around different orientations
    Pema Pera: Like Soto and Rinzai in Zen
    Maxine Walden: I can imagine…even perhaps a continuum between the states of mind each of us brings to each practice
    Pema Pera: or like protestant and catholic in Christianity
    Pema Pera: yes, exactly, Maxine
    Maxine Walden: yes, (nods in agreement)
    Pema Pera: at some days we may need more of a gentle reminder, and some days more of a kick in the ass
    Maxine Walden: LOL, yes, know what you mean…
    Pema Pera: some days the Catholic approach of rituals and immersion may fit better
    Pema Pera: and some days the protestant sparseness and direct contact with God through reading and prayer might work better
    Maxine Walden: it is interesting that the pivotal issue may be our state of mind at the moment
    Pema Pera: and of course different individuals have different temperament
    Pema Pera: yes
    Maxine Walden: yes, and sometimes we feel we need an intermediary (Catholic) and sometimes we feel we can do the more direct contact, take responsibility and use our own voice (Protestant)
    Maxine Walden: in the practice…was actually thinking about that earlier this morning

    Having grown up in the North of Holland, less than a hundred miles north of the Protestant-Catholic boundary line running through Europe and passing straight through Holland as well, I commented on that curious historical situation.

    Pema Pera: isn’t it hilarious that Europe is divided into two halves, protestant and catholic, while each seriously practicing individual Christian has both affinities in his or her heart?
    Maxine Walden: I think it is amazing…
    Pema Pera: it makes you feel that the whole world is a stage, a game, a play
    Pema Pera: so much is playing out on so many scales
    Maxine Walden: like this morning…I could feel a bit of me rather wishing for an intermediary to get me out of the comfort of my bed and could smile a bit and then take hold of my own volition
    Pema Pera: in the heart of each of us, in groups, in countries, in the whole world . . . .
    Pema Pera: yes, alone and together, self and other, all those polarities . . . .
    Maxine Walden: yes, we really play with ourselves, insisting that ‘we are too tired’ etc or that we gently really can take responsbility for ourselves…shifting senses of where one’s authority…center of being may be…and in my experience
    Pema Pera: and the wonderful thing about Being is that It is both beyond all those polarities and at the same time makes them available — for play
    Maxine Walden: we also project onto others what we are feeling about ourselves
    Maxine Walden: (want to make sure I see what you have just said)
    Pema Pera: we’re getting quite experienced here in weaving out texts together, hey? (^_^)
    Maxine Walden: yes, Being encompasses perhaps compassionately all these states, yes it is so lovely to be able to weave texts and
    Maxine Walden: as it were carry on interweaving conversations even like here
    Maxine Walden: that is one of the really lovely dimensions of the SL interplay
    Pema Pera: familiarity and trust are important ingredients for that to work
    Pema Pera: which is part of our budding community
    Pema Pera: and SL provides the right medium and setting
    Maxine Walden: oh, yes, so basic familiarity and trust…yes (nodding agreement) I agree SL facilitates so well

    It is hard to believe that we had both come to be so familiar with this texting environment, Maxine having only a couple months experience in SL and me about half a year.

    Maxine Walden: need to ask you something about how you manage your practice amidst the ’swarm’ of detail you must face, as do I…
    Pema Pera: Being
    Pema Pera: is the answer :-) in one word
    Pema Pera: or in a few more words:
    Pema Pera: the “top-down” orientation that starts with Being helps me — viewing the world as Being
    Maxine Walden: how do you manage the 9 sec ’stopping’ etc that you were mentioning to me;
    Pema Pera: that part is relatively easy, the 9 sec stopping — I use my laptop which I have under arm’s reach much of the time
    Maxine Walden: yes…and does that top down view cut through the ‘grip’ of the detail?
    Pema Pera: yes, the top down view is very radical, something I have not spoken much about yet … radical to the point of showing a world without beings and without time . . . . . I don’t know whether I can even begin to give a sense of that here . . . . .
    Pema Pera: “without” here means also “beyond”
    Pema Pera: allowing the appearance of but not buying into
    Maxine Walden: I would be very willing to try to grasp if you wished to try…
    Pema Pera: Oh, I wish!! :-)
    Pema Pera: well, imagine
    Pema Pera: imagine a world without beings
    Pema Pera: no beings who are needy, feel limited, are anxious
    Pema Pera: and without time
    Pema Pera: without past and future to be bounded by and without even a present to be stuck in
    Pema Pera: but I’m not sure what that may mean for you, when I ask you to imagine that — for me it took years to get a sense of even the direction of what that could possibly hint at . . . . and yet, once you get a taste it is so remarkably amazingly simple . . ..
    Pema Pera: do you have any associations or resonances with what I tried to point out?

    Talking about Being ain’t easy . . .

    Maxine Walden: I think so, what comes to mind is the image of looking at not the world but looking at perhaps from a cosmic view which appreciates
    Maxine Walden: but does not give much credence/attention/delimitation to the various sensory/temporal ‘things’ by which we measure/define our experience in everyday experience…it is difficult to find words to fully capture an image here
    Maxine Walden: but this is what first comes to mind re what you were mentioning
    Maxine Walden: and it feels important to mention that it is not looking down from any attitude of superiority or arrogance upon the ‘pettiness’ of the world, that seems important
    Pema Pera: But the remarkable thing is that this very world we think we are part of is exactly what is real, what is given in/as Being, we don’t have to move away or take a special stance — THE MOST REMARKABLE THING IS THAT NO SPECIAL ESOTERIC POWER OR CLEVER STANCE OR SPECIAL ABILITY IS NEEDED AT ALL — that is so stunning and so unbelievable — it flies in the face of just about ANY spiritual/contemplative approach I now — and this is the very core of Play as Being . . . . I think it will take time for this to begin to unfold over the months to come . . . .

    I was glad I could summarize that part, the nothing-needed bit.

    Pema Pera: yes, the not looking down is very important, I agree!
    Maxine Walden: maybe I am missing something in my agreeing with your emphasis on ‘no special stance needed’ but I think I do see that as we talk (tho it seems to slip away between our discussions) so
    Maxine Walden: it likely is not as clearly ‘in place’ for me as it is for you…
    Maxine Walden: here may be an interesting point for me…that the mind can/does easily slip back to familiar ‘ways of perceiving’
    Maxine Walden: which can include worries, ‘being a citizen of this or that’, having such and such responsibilities (the swarm of detail for example), but the point here
    Maxine Walden: being that the mind easily slips back into familiar ways apart from just the awareness of Being as beyond all the rest
    Pema Pera: well, in this very radical orientation (too limited a word) there is no mind . . . and nothing to slip . . . and no time to slip in . . . it is so different from what we normally think we are dealing with AND YET it is EXACTLY what is here, what we have been walking in the midsts of our whole life! But you see, words are so tricky here. One really has to see this, at least begin to see this . . . . and it is not that hard, surprisingly — yet another surprise . . . .

    Totally other than what we have always thought, and yet not elsewhere in any way . . . and then Caledonia dropped by

    Maxine Walden: ah, yes, maybe this is something I am not yet in touch with, because I am still ‘in my mind…or awareness’ perhaps trying to open to Being but still looking from my eyes/mind/efforts and you are
    Pema Pera: Hi Cal!
    Pema Pera: Great to see you here!
    Caledonia Heron: hey there :)
    Maxine Walden: suggesting that we need to get beyond that…Hi, Cal, good to see you
    Caledonia Heron: nice to see you also
    Caledonia Heron: hi Maxine
    Pema Pera: what a great dialogue you had, Cal, with Gen, I was bowled over while reading it and simultaneously commeting it for the PaB blog . . . . Maxine, you probably didn’t get a chance to read it yet? http://playasbeing.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/jamming-around-to-dont/
    Caledonia Heron: :)
    Caledonia Heron feels shy for a moment
    Pema Pera: The way you expressed your experience of going beyond bliss was so recognizable and clear to me
    Maxine Walden: no, I will go and look. Thoughtful people Cal and Gen
    Caledonia Heron: really?
    Pema Pera: ((I’ll make you even shier, hehe))
    Pema Pera: ((shyer? more shy?))
    Caledonia Heron: lol…a degree of shy

    I filled Maxine in on what Cal and Gen had been talking about.

    Pema Pera: you see, Max, I’ve been trying today to talk about how radical Being is
    Pema Pera: and Cal did that too in a more poetic way
    Maxine Walden: ah…
    Pema Pera: you’ll see when you read it
    Maxine Walden: yes, looking forward to it
    Caledonia Heron: feeling awkward
    Pema Pera: sorry, Cal
    Pema Pera: actually I recognize that very well
    Pema Pera: I find it hard to deal with being praised too ;>)
    Caledonia Heron: nah, it’s ok, awkward is fine, feels good when it done :)
    Maxine Walden: (smiling about Cal’s modesty amongst her significant capacities)
    Pema Pera: often don’t know how to respond
    Caledonia Heron: yes, Pema, not good at blowing own horn….
    Maxine Walden: it is difficult to know just how to respond amidst praise and appreciation, isn’t it?
    Pema Pera: playing a flute is fine!
    Maxine Walden: flute fine, horn not so?
    Caledonia Heron: just keep putting forth best effort
    Caledonia Heron: lol, another symphony soon :)
    Pema Pera: I guess one reason I feel awkward being praised is that I feel I don’t deserve it
    Pema Pera: that the praise should be directed to something/someone else, whatever it is what flows through me
    Caledonia Heron: for me I don’t care for being the center of attention so much
    Caledonia Heron: a player not the play :)
    Maxine Walden: that’s sort of funny, isn’t it, we each probably are very accomplishing folk and yet feel shy about that being recognized…wonder why that is?
    Pema Pera: I can’t be proud of what happens to express itself through me — but I can be glad, grateful, excited, many things!

    How nice to be able to have this kind of conversation, gently poking fun at each others reactions to praise.

    Caledonia Heron thinks… could explain career trajectory, ha ha
    Pema Pera gets curious
    Maxine Walden: as if we are being arrogant or something to just allow that appreciation
    Pema Pera: long and winding road, Cal?
    Caledonia Heron: yes Maxine, don’t care for arrogance or puffed upness :)
    Caledonia Heron: although, there is a saying…it ain’t braggin if it’s true :)
    Caledonia Heron: yes, Pema, long road….choices made :)
    Pema Pera: Well, Cal, as for my praise: I do hope that we can come back to what you and Gen talked about, and zoom in to the core of that further, with more people — would be so wonderful if we could begin to create a road map . . . . .
    Pema Pera: . . . develop vocabulary, sing posts, markings . . . .
    Caledonia Heron: sure, it just kind of unfolded - Gen and I synched up for a piece of time, really interesting
    Pema Pera: yes, and that then can be fuel for a lot more
    Pema Pera: a single dream or poem can change the world
    Pema Pera: yes, I could sense the syncing, just reading the transcript, isn’t that amazing in itself!
    Caledonia Heron: assuredly, an idea or vision is very powerful to the heart
    Pema Pera: allowing the heart to open
    Pema Pera: and to let more vision come through
    Caledonia Heron: I’m glad - it was a light yet meaningful exchange - that was my experience anyway
    Pema Pera: I think we can start there, Cal
    Pema Pera: and make it more radical, hehe
    Caledonia Heron: lol
    Caledonia Heron: I’m game
    Caledonia Heron: I’ll try about anything once

    Inspired by the flow of ideas, we wound up at the notion of life as a lab — in more than one way.

    Pema Pera: really beginning to drop time and identity — but that sounds too philosophical — let me try more directly . . . .
    Pema Pera: I asked Maxine to image a world without beings
    Pema Pera: without beings that are needy and feel they have to worry . . . .
    Pema Pera: and without time
    Pema Pera: enclosing you in a small present in between past and future
    Pema Pera: so imagine
    Pema Pera: no worries
    Pema Pera: no possibility for worries!
    Pema Pera: only celebration
    Pema Pera: continuous play continous festival of celebration . . .
    Pema Pera: . . . only responsibility to celebrate
    Pema Pera: everything else a play/joke/game, albeit quite serious in a way
    Caledonia Heron: gosh, you’ll thing this silly - it sounds like the life of a well loved dog
    Pema Pera has no idea whether anything like that makes any sense
    Pema Pera: hahaha
    Pema Pera: you know, Cal, haha
    Maxine Walden: everything else to be more lightly taken, perhaps? Love the image of the well-loved dog!
    Pema Pera: that reminds me of a fun exchange I had a few years ago
    Caledonia Heron: all they have to do is show up to eat, lay around, chase squizzles, get loved
    Pema Pera: I wrote a manuscript called Life as a Lab
    Maxine Walden: lol
    Pema Pera: I meant Laboratory
    Maxine Walden: not Labrador
    Pema Pera: but a friend thought I meant Life as a
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: you guessed it!
    Maxine Walden: (laughs)

    We each filled in part of `life as a lab’.

    Caledonia Heron: Life as a Labrador - love it….it’s full of zzzz’s and chomp chomp chomp
    Pema Pera: the circle is closed
    Maxine Walden: tail wags
    Caledonia Heron: woof
    Maxine Walden: ball chasing
    Pema Pera: laying on your back and being scratched to your heart’s content
    Maxine Walden: slurps of a loving tongue
    Caledonia Heron: chasing your tail…over and over…like it’s the first time
    Maxine Walden: ball play forever…
    Pema Pera: looking out of big brown eyes
    Maxine Walden: three balls in the mouth at a time, if possible
    Caledonia Heron: button nose
    Maxine Walden: yes, those seductive eyes
    Maxine Walden: cold button nose
    Caledonia Heron: one ear up, one ear down
    Pema Pera: walking into the sprinlers on the lawn, then shaking it all off
    Caledonia Heron: yes, I get the celebration of no worries….
    Caledonia Heron: lol
    Pema Pera: hahaha
    Maxine Walden: yes, and when you are a kid, you put both ears of the Lab up so he/she can ‘go to the opera’ and the Lab puts up with it patiently
    Pema Pera: what fun
    Caledonia Heron: ha! biting the spray from the hose
    Caledonia Heron: lol - dogs love opera!
    Maxine Walden: oh, yes, they really do

    Alas, it was time for me to get some rest.

    Pema Pera: and then the clock of midnight hit a boiiing in Japan . . . .
    Pema Pera: I should be going to sleep
    Caledonia Heron: ah, Cinderella must run from the castle….we will keep your shoe :)
    Maxine Walden: oh, yes, Pema the bong of time does still intrude
    Pema Pera: but what fun to hang out with you guys!
    Maxine Walden: and I too need to go, do go by the clock as well
    Pema Pera: part of the play, Max :>)
    Maxine Walden: see you all soon.right, bye
    Pema Pera: don’t wanna turn into a pumpkin
    Caledonia Heron: bye Maxine
    Caledonia Heron: :)
    Caledonia Heron: or a pie
    Pema Pera: hahaha
    Caledonia Heron: see ya :)
    Pema Pera: c u !

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