2008.06.02 19:00 - Addiction to Addition

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    That evening, Thorberg was the main guardian, but since I was there too, he left the commenting of the text to me. Soon after I walked in and greeted him, Pia dropped by as well.

    Thorberg Nordlicht: hello, Pema
    Pema Pera: Hi there, Thorberg!
    Pema Pera: How’s life?
    Thorberg Nordlicht: hello Pia; welcome!
    Pia Iger: Hi, you two,
    Pema Pera: Hi Pia!
    Pia Iger: just started?
    Thorberg Nordlicht: yes
    Pema Pera: Yes, just arrived one minute ago.
    Pia Iger: good to see Thor’s avatar
    Thorberg Nordlicht: thanks
    Thorberg Nordlicht: good to be here
    Pia Iger: only read your name on blog
    Pia Iger: everyone has different looks!
    Pema Pera: haha, yes, it must be a surprise!
    Thorberg Nordlicht: yes; mostly people want to be different from their RL personas
    Pia Iger: very refreshing..
    Pema Pera: Thor, Pia told us that she has been reading many of the blogs, before coming in here for the first time, just a few days ago
    Pema Pera: It must be like reading a book and then seeing a movie based on it . . . .
    Pia Iger: I had some preassumptions:-)

    Thor brought up some drawbacks of using text.

    Thorberg Nordlicht: i find it difficult to read the blog transcripts of our conversations
    Thorberg Nordlicht: text chat is a different media than RL conversation
    Thorberg Nordlicht: for one thing, in many text chat conversations, many people speak at once
    Pema Pera: in RL too, and in SL it is easier to disentangle . . ..
    Pia Iger: but I can pace myself when reading blog, Here I have to read chat quickly
    Thorberg Nordlicht: when i read all that in the transcript it’s a challange to match up responses with original points being responded to
    Pema Pera: it is an acquired art
    Pema Pera: the more you do it, the more natural it becomes
    Thorberg Nordlicht: also, the problem of “reading” vs. “typing”
    Pema Pera: Pia, do you know that you can open the “local chat” window?
    Pema Pera: where all the text arrives too, besides reading the little balloons above one’s head?
    Pia Iger: Yes. I am reading it. but the font is not appealing to me
    Pema Pera: yes, but it helps to read back what someone said a minute ago or so
    Thorberg Nordlicht: there are options in Edit > Preferences to control the word balloons
    Pia Iger: Yes. I check both way.
    Pema Pera: on my Mac the font is the same, in balloons and in chat window
    Pema Pera: but PCs seem to be more handicapped — also in Japanese
    Pia Iger: good. I will check Edit menu later.
    Pema Pera: for me Japanese is very readible, for some PC based people much less so, they tell me.

    We talked about the pros and cons of being forced to use short sentences.

    Pia Iger: I found hard to talk a long sensence by typing, or a complicated idea.
    Thorberg Nordlicht: i agree
    Pema Pera: yes, and that is at the same time a challenge, not only a problem
    Thorberg Nordlicht: i always try to type too much; too complex a thought for this medium (text chat)
    Pema Pera: the challenge is to say in a very distilled way what is essential
    Pema Pera: like in poetry
    Pia Iger: Yes. I think by practice, I can talk more clearly what I mean, and faster,
    Pema Pera: In Hinduism, there is a kind of tradition
    Pema Pera: where at least some of the full-time practitioners
    Pema Pera: give up talking
    Pema Pera: or they don’t talk for one day each week
    Pema Pera: and only use pen and paper
    Pia Iger: what was the purpose?
    Pema Pera: I had been curious about that, reading that a long time ago
    Pema Pera: but now I can understand it much better
    Pema Pera: I think, and that is just my guess, that an important reason is to not get lost in too many complicated thoughts and words
    Pema Pera: the point of practice, in the sense of trying to look deeply into reality
    Pema Pera: is to see
    Pema Pera: not to think
    Pema Pera: thinking can help initially
    Pema Pera: to some extent . . . .
    Pia Iger: Silence has power!
    Pema Pera: yes!
    Pema Pera: very much so
    Pema Pera: practice is subtraction
    Pema Pera: not addition
    Pema Pera: speaking in voice tempts us to walk the path of addition . . . .

    I came back to one of my pet concerns, addiction to addition, and the need to focus on subtraction.

    Pia Iger: I like that you keep saying subtraction, hopefully one day I can understand it.
    Pia Iger: Voice can be distraction, annoying,
    Pema Pera: each time you do the 9-sec practice, you’ll see a bit more of it — like walking in a very light rain and slowly slowly getting wet :)
    Pia Iger: I like this metaphor too.
    Thorberg Nordlicht: :)
    Pema Pera: may I ask, Pia, do you have some experience with other kinds of meditation?
    Thorberg Nordlicht: hello, Bertrum
    Pia Iger: Yes, at cafh, we do discursive meditaion.
    Pema Pera: hi Bertrum, feel free to join us!
    Pema Pera: that sounds interesting, can you tell us a bit about it?
    Pema Pera: Hi Terri!
    Thorberg Nordlicht: hello Terri; welcome

    Bertrum entered, soon followed by Terri.

    Pia Iger: there is 3 steps. First, ask a question to “Divine”, then wait , then answer the question as per “Divine”, each step 3-5 mins.
    Pema Pera: Good seeing you again
    Pia Iger: Hi, Terri,
    Terri Holrych: hi all
    Pema Pera: Hi Bertrum!
    Terri Holrych: thank u
    Pema Pera: please take a seat!
    Pema Pera: Have you been here before, Bertrum?
    Bertrum Quan: not to the teahouse. i’ve visited the grounds.
    Terri Holrych: why are the balls so big
    Pema Pera: The cushions are “ruthing” :-)
    Terri Holrych: oh
    Pema Pera: they will become flat soon
    Terri Holrych: am i ruthing too
    Terri Holrych: geez
    Pema Pera: they start out round somehow :)
    Thorberg Nordlicht: ((why are the balls so big)) something probably hasn’t fully rezzed yet
    Terri Holrych: so how is all
    Pema Pera: Bertrum, we get together here four times a day
    Terri Holrych: me and bertrum have big balls
    Pema Pera: to talk about the nature of reality, but in a very playful and informal way
    Terri Holrych: my ball just got smaller
    Pema Pera: http://playasbeing.wordpress.com/ is a blog where you can find background information
    Terri Holrych: :)

    I tried to steer the conversation back to forms of meditation.

    Pema Pera: Pia was just talking about some of her meditation practice
    Terri Holrych: cool
    Pema Pera: in three steps
    Pema Pera: Pia Iger: there is 3 steps. First, ask a question to “Divine”, then wait , then answer the question as per “Divine”, each step 3-5 mins.
    Pia Iger: sorry, just want to complete my answer to Pema. The discursive mediation was useful for any specific or general quesition you have.
    Pia Iger: the waiting period is crucial. Basically, you stay silent for 3-5 min and step out of normal you.
    Pia Iger: then you can give answer like from someone else or higher you.
    Pia Iger: It is detachment
    Pema Pera: That strikes me like a wonderful practice, Pia!
    Terri Holrych: sorry i missed it
    Pema Pera: You didn’t miss, Terri, I repeated the one previous sentence that Pia wrote
    Pia Iger: yes. I always want to do it everyday. but even 9 min (3 min per step) is too hard for me.
    Pema Pera: ah, 9 seconds may be an alternative :)
    Pema Pera: but different of course
    Pema Pera: complementary
    Pema Pera: Hi Atha!
    Pia Iger: now 9-sec is easier and I can do it more often, and feel a bit accomplished:-0
    Pema Pera: Atha, Pia was just talking about her own meditation practice.
    Athalicus Brimm: Namaste, all. A pleasure to be able to be here
    Pia Iger: Hi, Athalicus.

    Athalicus walked in, sat down, and I took the opportunity to get all of us focused again.

    Pema Pera: Let me repeat Pia’s words, if that’s okay, so that we can all see what she said, including Athalicus
    Pia Iger: sure.
    Athalicus Brimm: I am about in and out, as I get things settled for the night.. I will read over the log for things I miss, and if I do not respond, presume I am brb. :)
    Pema Pera: Pia Iger: there is 3 steps. First, ask a question to “Divine”, then wait , then answer the question as per “Divine”, each step 3-5 mins.
    Pema Pera: he discursive mediation was useful for any specific or general quesition you have.
    Pema Pera: the waiting period is crucial. Basically, you stay silent for 3-5 min and step out of normal you.
    Pema Pera: hen you can give answer like from someone else or higher you.
    Thorberg Nordlicht: do you think of “divine” as someting within yourself or something outside of yourself?
    Pia Iger: can be anything. Everyone has different image.. I like “divine mother”, you can say “God” too.
    Pia Iger: can be Being, in Pema’s case.
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: yes, but with one footnote
    Pema Pera: My main idea of introducing Being was to go beyond dualism
    Pema Pera: and while it is fine to start with dualism
    Pema Pera: the idea is then to go beyond it

    This is one of the tricky aspects of the notion “Being”: in a first approximation, it can be seen to point to something like Emptiness or God or Oneness or Tao or similar notions in various systems of practice; but at the same time it is also different, it is not meant to be a cover-all term that ignores the important differences between different traditions. And while it is certainly compatible with a devotional attitude, “Being” goes beyond a distinction between devotee and object of devotion. What was so nice about Pia’s Cafh example is that there, too, both sides of the duality relation are being probed, in a step towards release of the seperation.

    Pia Iger: I think Divine mother is connected to me.
    Pema Pera: but that is certainly compatible with what Pia described
    Terri Holrych: oneness
    Pia Iger: Yes. Oneness.
    Terri Holrych: er emptiness
    Pema Pera: In Pia’s mediation, you play both roles
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: both sides
    Pia Iger: Terri!
    Pia Iger: both sides are not that separated. But the devine part is more detached from daily you or normal mentality… reaching out to somethng more
    Pia Iger: It is to answer your own question from outside of normal you.
    Pema Pera: The 9-sec practice is also meant to step outside of normal you
    Pema Pera: to find more of the real you
    Pema Pera: that we normally cover over
    Pia Iger: yes. I agree and feel it works.
    Terri Holrych: the real u is nice
    Pema Pera: actually there are many layers of “you” that you can find
    Pema Pera: each time you open up more, you get a wider sense of “you”
    Terri Holrych: yea
    Pema Pera: Being is the ultimate vanishing point, so to speak
    Pia Iger: If I do more than 9 sec, I can go deeper, explore more, sometimes

    Moving in the direction of going beyond duality can take many forms.

    Pia Iger: vanishing?
    Pema Pera: vanishing point is an expression, for a painting for example
    Pema Pera: the point the horizon where parallel lines seem to cross
    Pema Pera: I used it as a pun
    Pema Pera: since the sense of you vanishes in Being
    Terri Holrych: oh yea we learned that in art history
    Terri Holrych: haha
    Terri Holrych: the vanishing of the ego
    Pema Pera: and of any duality whatsoever
    Terri Holrych: my ego is seizing hold atm
    Terri Holrych: i wonder if there is such a thing
    Pia Iger: Can I share? actually when I was in park yesterday and looking at sunset, I suddenly feel I am not that different from the river, the sky. I can be the river, cloud, the sky , too.
    Terri Holrych: :)
    Pema Pera: That’s a beautiful form of awareness you shared with us, Pia, thank you!!
    Terri Holrych: bery sweet
    Pia Iger: And the thought I can be river or cloud did not feel that weird at all.
    Pia Iger: quite natural and soothing
    Pema Pera: At first, 9-sec practice seems very short, but if you keep doing it, the rest of the 15 minutes can get affected, infected as it were, and the whole 15 minutes can become a type of meditation . . . . including a sense of you being not different from what you seem to be surrounded by
    Pema Pera: in space and even in time
    Pema Pera: the past is not the past
    Pema Pera: the future is not the future
    Pema Pera: not separated

    We talked about our different forms of practice and different backgrounds.

    Pia Iger: honestly, 15 min is very frequent. Hard to catch up, sometimes.
    Pema Pera: yes, and no need to force yourself
    Pema Pera: just an hour a day, or a few hours a day is fine
    Pema Pera: then, the more you like it, the longer you can do it
    Pema Pera: until it becomes so natural you want to keep doing it the whole day
    Pia Iger: are you doing whole day?
    Pema Pera: more or less — in the sense that when I’m in a very busy situation I’m happy to drop it for a while — the 15 minutes is not meant to be precise, more a suggestion
    Terri Holrych: i recite buddhas names all day
    Pema Pera: That must be very powerful, Terri!
    Athalicus Brimm: as one who wanted to be a member of a buddhist monastery, I can easily identify with wanting to just meditate, study and counsel/teach dharma all my life
    Terri Holrych: i was in a buddhist nunnery before too
    Terri Holrych: what monastery
    Terri Holrych: it would be weird if it was the same one
    Terri Holrych: it was hot
    Terri Holrych: i just got my own place again
    Terri Holrych: i am back in illinois
    Athalicus Brimm: I do like having in the back of my mind, percolating .. “Namo Amida Butsu” :)
    Terri Holrych: nice
    Terri Holrych: :)
    Pema Pera: Athalicus, you talked the other day about your struggle between Christianity and Buddhism, would you like to say a bit more about that?
    Athalicus Brimm: lets see.. Pema.. it is the common problem I have seen with others growing up in the west, trained from birth to fear hell, and God
    Athalicus Brimm: if we stray from his teachings, we anger him and will find eternal suffering in hell of fire

    Having been raised in a Dutch reformed church environment, I am quite well versed in both the old and the new testament.

    Pema Pera: In the bible there is a very powerful sentence “In my Father’s house are many mansions”
    Pema Pera: are you familiar with that one?
    Athalicus Brimm: yes.. and most ministers I have asked about it, says it means it has room for many christians who will find heaven. I have read the bible, Qur’an and the Torah/Tanakh.. I have studied theology myself, for about ten years now. as a vocation.
    Pema Pera: of course, ministers _would_ say that . . . . .
    Pema Pera: how do you read that sentence?
    Athalicus Brimm: I have the many passages of the bible which color that sentiment.. “No Gods before me” “I am the way, truth, light, no man comes to God but by me” I could spout quotes from various monotheistic faiths for a good time
    Athalicus Brimm chuckles
    Pema Pera: let us take one of them
    Pema Pera: how about
    Pema Pera: I am the way, truth, light, no man comes to God but by me
    Pema Pera: that for me is perfectly compatible with Jesus talking about Being
    Pema Pera: or any other really deeply realized aspects of other religions
    Terri Holrych: in my fathers house are many mansions could mean many hearts or many different kinds of religious institutions
    Pema Pera: yes Terri
    Pema Pera: indeed
    Pema Pera: the “I” and the “me” there is reality
    Pema Pera: I can say this a bit more technically, if you like . . . .
    Terri Holrych: ok
    Pema Pera: . . . in parallels with Buddhism
    Pema Pera: In Buddhism there are nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, dharmakaya
    Terri Holrych: :)
    Pema Pera: and they roughly correspond in Christianity with Son, holy Spirit, God the father
    Athalicus Brimm: part of the Trikarya?
    Athalicus Brimm: Buddha in heaven, physical buddha and spirit of Buddha as it were
    Pema Pera: that may be, I’d have to look that up

    I tried to point out that Atha’s bible quote “no man comes to God but by me” can be read in two ways. It can be seen in a literal and narrow way as saying that unless you are a Christian you cannot reach God. But it can also be read in a quite different and broader way. When a person with a deep realization speaks about himself in a really fundamental way, he is likely to talk not about himself as a limited human being, located in space and time. Rather he may see himself as the local representative of the whole form realm that we find ourselves in, Nirmanakaya. God then, in that sentence, would stand for something like the realm of emptiness and openness, Dharmakaya.

    Pema Pera: So to translate the text from the bible which you just quoted
    Pema Pera: we can equally well say:
    Pema Pera: you cannot reach Dharmakaya without a real understanding of Nirmanakaya
    Terri Holrych: thats not true really
    Terri Holrych: you can get instantly enlightened to the dharmakaya
    Athalicus Brimm: Pema, when you have anxiety/panic attacks, making each second its own minature eternity.. I have turned a lot of this over in my mind many many times. :) too, this is why I have come online. to seek those who are outside myself, who can give their thoughts.. and it has been a blessing so far.. yet I find few who want to engage the person personally
    Terri Holrych: but you probably have to be in a nirmanakaya body to do it
    Athalicus Brimm: best to just think loving thoughts, yet not truly get the hands dirty helping to relieve suffering of another
    Terri Holrych: just you might not know u are in a nirmanakaya body
    Terri Holrych: well suffering comes from the mind atha and online you mostly deal with the mind
    Terri Holrych: all of SL in its creative beauty, and all of the dharma kaya comes from the mind
    Pia Iger: Atha. sometimes. people simply don’t know how to relieve you or even themselves.
    Pia Iger: not they are not willing.
    Athalicus Brimm: most forget, that just listening to being there is a very nice therapy to give another.. speaking with seniors, I know this first hand
    Athalicus Brimm: they do not need to be able to say this or that.. just listen and offer thoughts
    Athalicus Brimm: most, I have met, SL or otherwise, think it is a contagious thing
    Athalicus Brimm: “if I talk with him, I might get ‘the depression’ myself”
    Terri Holrych: u work with senior citizens?
    Pia Iger: no, I don’t think so
    Terri Holrych: omg atha dont listen to those kinds of people
    Terri Holrych: there is a teacher who has really helped a lot of ppl with depression
    Terri Holrych: i can give u his website if u want it
    Athalicus Brimm: my problem is not depression anymore.. I probed the depths of my anxiety and depression.. I found it was rooted in a fear of hell and death itself
    Terri Holrych: who goes to hell?
    Athalicus Brimm: I got past the fear of death, recently. yet the nagging parts about not pleasing God or going against him
    Athalicus Brimm: is what remains.
    Terri Holrych: nothing remains of You after you die… it is delusion and ignorance that makes you think there is a you
    Pia Iger: Atha, what is the reason you believe you will go to hell? besides the early teachers? maybe you can question that. or halfly believe that, then you can see differently.
    Terri Holrych: www.tsemtulku.com
    Terri Holrych: sorry for the ad
    Terri Holrych: but i really think he can help u
    Athalicus Brimm: I mean you no disrespect Terri.. but I went through 12 books since january, seeking from all sorts of men and women who might offer their aide
    Athalicus Brimm: that just made me a few hundred dollars poorer..nothing more
    Athalicus Brimm: I find the most aide, from just having dialog with others, real time

    At the risk of having no occasion during this session to expand upon a core idea, I mentioned it nonetheless.

    Pema Pera: many great points to respond to — thank you for sharing — let me just start with one bottom line, if I may, in two parts: true compassion means to really see that there is ultimately no suffering, and then to share that insight with others.
    Terri Holrych: well like the dalai lama said in the movie kundun… “i can only liberate myself”
    Terri Holrych: ok pema
    Pema Pera: same thing, Terri
    Terri Holrych: ?
    Pema Pera: and even more radically: liberation is no liberation
    Pema Pera: there is nothing to be liberated
    Terri Holrych: exactly
    Pema Pera: but we have to be VERY careful
    Terri Holrych: lol
    Pema Pera: with such a statement
    Pema Pera: accepting that too early
    Pema Pera: without really seeing what that points to
    Pema Pera: can easily become a hindrance
    Pema Pera: so let’s keep each other honest here!
    Athalicus Brimm: we can speak in platitudes all day long.. yet seeing the suffering in the old, as well as over anxiety stressed teens.. the actual work of aiding with suffering, is a very complex and long term commitment
    Terri Holrych: i admit i let my hair down and get a little wild
    Athalicus Brimm: speaking from over eight years experience there
    Pema Pera: yes, Atha, we have to take suffering completely serious, in full respect
    Pema Pera: and really deeply looking into it
    Pema Pera: only then do we have a right to speak
    Pema Pera: the problem is that the deepest insights may look like platitudes . . . .
    Pema Pera: . . . . until you see what they are pointing to

    Even with all the pitfalls of language, that can so easily lead to misunderstanding, friction, or worse, I was glad to see that we were somehow avoiding those, even while touching upon these very delicate points.

    Terri Holrych: yes people speaking from experience might sound flaky
    Terri Holrych: especially if its me thats speaking
    Athalicus Brimm: oh yes.. we speak in quotes and thoughts, as a means to point to the moon.. yet it takes a long time for the person to look up and see it for themself
    Terri Holrych: lol
    Pema Pera: haha, Terri, not to worry
    Pema Pera: our two core elements here are play and Being
    Pema Pera: Play as Being
    Terri Holrych: hawt
    Pema Pera: let us be free to say what we want, playing
    Pema Pera: but then let us also be free to steer, correct, point to Being
    Pema Pera: both
    Terri Holrych: :)
    Pema Pera: and based on seeing
    Pema Pera: not on words or thoughts
    Athalicus Brimm: what was the quote from the buddha on it.. “out of fear of suffering, death and pain.. men rush to sacred mountains and offer prayers to Gods”
    Pia Iger: from my personal experience, I had severe depression before, now it is really hard for me to get depressed fully. just no good reason
    Pema Pera: what changed, Pia?
    Pema Pera: fear may be a good initial motivator, for a while . . . .
    Pia Iger: the reason of depression is enough for me anymore, it is not true
    Pema Pera: like any motivator that gets you going
    Pia Iger: I mean “not enough”
    Pema Pera: how did you see that, what you didn’t see before?
    Pia Iger: The way I see fear or difficulty is changed.

    I tried to point to the many ways in which we can escape from our normally so narrow view of the world and of ourselves.

    Terri Holrych: the lamrim speaks of fear like that as a motivator but i cant quote it right now
    Pema Pera: seeking pleasure can be an equally good motivator
    Pema Pera: carrot and stick
    Terri Holrych: carrots?
    Pema Pera: sure, bliss!
    Terri Holrych: i have some carrots in the fridge… u can have them
    Pia Iger: what is bliss?
    Terri Holrych: lol
    Pema Pera: Stim talked about Being the other day, like walking in a Divine Realm, seeing everything as divine
    Terri Holrych: everything is divine
    Pema Pera: you can also see everything as a reminder of how terrible everything is or seems to be, letting it help you to wake up!
    Pema Pera: A matter of temperament and background
    Terri Holrych: i have been working with the 8 verses of mind transformation a lot
    Pema Pera: I like the bliss path — devotion — but I am aware that it can become a trap too, easily
    Pema Pera: the nice thing about the 9-sec practice is that it is neutral
    Pema Pera: no carrot
    Pema Pera: no stick
    Pema Pera: just stop

    The conversation went to Karma and Bhakti yoga, but we did not have enough time to go deeper into all that.

    Athalicus Brimm: many crutches.. I think, even the Nembutsu, with its promise of the pure land can make me lax
    Terri Holrych: i was taught to combine the bhakti dharma with ch’an so it helps with the getting stuck in a rut
    Terri Holrych: because you use the recitation to calm your mind and then you use it as investigation later
    Athalicus Brimm: I do love karma and bhakti yoga
    Athalicus Brimm: “you act, but can not own the fruits of your action”
    Terri Holrych: so u recite and are devoted to the buddhas name and then you ask who is reciting the buddhas name
    Terri Holrych: its good stuff
    Pema Pera: wow, we’ve covered a lot of ground in one session!! Thank you all for joining and sharing. Alas, I have to go to lunch now, here in Tokyo. Feel free to stay here and continue — in which case I would appreciate it if you’d send me a chat log of the rest of the conversation, at piet@ias.edu
    Terri Holrych: ok Pema have some noodles
    Thorberg Nordlicht: sorry i missed the last few minutes; had connection problems
    Pia Iger: bye, Pema, enjoy the talk.
    Terri Holrych: oodles of noodles
    Thorberg Nordlicht: good night, Pema
    Terri Holrych: thats what they eat in japan
    Pema Pera: hehe, yeah, either that or rice
    Terri Holrych: haha
    Pema Pera: by Bertrum
    Pema Pera: bye Atha
    Pema Pera: bye Terri and Pia and Thor!
    Thorberg Nordlicht: good night, everyone
    Pema Pera: Great talking with you all
    Bertrum Quan: thank you for allowing me to be a part of the conversation.
    Terri Holrych: peace
    Pema Pera: oh sure,
    Pema Pera: and please come back any time, Bertrum
    Terri Holrych: i have to go now ya’ll

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