2008.06.25 07:00 - Touching a Hot Stove

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    That morning, when I walked up to the pavillion, I found Adams sitting there already.

    Adams Rubble: Hello Pema
    Pema Pera: Morning, Adams!
    Pema Pera: How are you?
    Adams Rubble: I am very good thanks. It is a beautiful morning here
    Adams Rubble: How are you?
    Pema Pera: Beautiful day is what we just had here in Japan
    Pema Pera: even though it’s officially the “rainy season”
    Pema Pera: in fact there is less rain here than there is in my native Holland, typically
    Pema Pera: :)
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Adams Rubble: Thank you for your warm note

    Adams refered to a few emails that we had exchanged. In my last email was a response to what she had written on her blog “My “self” is badly bruised and humiliated this morning.” I had written:

    Don’t worry about the badly bruised, since you’re not your self.
    Even so, good to be kind to your self :-).

    You quoted Paul:
    “Faith, Hope and Love but the greatest of these is Love”
    Let me quote Augustine:
    “Love God and do what you want.”

    There is nothing that prevents you to love fully.

    There is nothing that prevents you from seeing.

    Even when you think you’re not seeing and you’ll never see fully,
    you are already seeing fully.

    Mysteries of mysteries.

    Love God.

    You’ll see.


    Our conversation continued.

    Pema Pera: you’re very welcome!
    Pema Pera: I’m just delighed that you’re so sincere in your quest
    Pema Pera: an inspiration for us all!
    Pema Pera: How do you feel now about your second koan?
    Adams Rubble: I was thinking that I have answered what I need for now
    Adams Rubble: That I have, in some ways, gone full circle
    Adams Rubble: but have learned much at the same time
    Adams Rubble: I started out asking howe do I live the Buddha way
    Adams Rubble: I now am asking how can I live compassionately?
    Pema Pera: that’s a wonderful circle indeed, Adams
    Pema Pera: and I fully agree that it is fine to let your second koan rest for now
    Pema Pera: it was an extremely difficult one
    Pema Pera: at the heart of Play as Being
    Pema Pera: in the sense that it touches upon what I think we will grapple with in a few years
    Pema Pera: as a group
    Pema Pera: frankly it would have been amazing if you would have found a way to really get in their so quickly
    Pema Pera: but since you naturally gravitated to that koan
    Pema Pera: I did at least want to mention it as a fruitful place to inquire.
    Pema Pera: Perhaps it will grab you again, in a few weeks
    Pema Pera: or months
    Pema Pera: or years
    Pema Pera: if and when, let us know!
    Adams Rubble: Did you have any idea that I would find the answer so painful?
    Pema Pera: that is something I can’t predict in any way
    Pema Pera: but painful and blissful are just two sides of the same coin
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Pema Pera: of really delving into something
    Pema Pera: either one would be a sign that you’re getting involved
    Adams Rubble: But in some ways it is like the pain of touching a hot stove

    Fael and Sky joined us.

    Pema Pera: Hi Fael!
    Fael Illyar: Hi Pema, Adams
    Adams Rubble: Hurts at the time but the lesson is important
    Adams Rubble: Hi Fael
    Pema Pera: Can you say a bit more about what is so hurting about it?
    Adams Rubble: Oh my
    Pema Pera: Hi Sky!
    Adams Rubble: Just the discovery of how much my “self” was inserted into my search
    Fael Illyar: Hi Sky
    Adams Rubble: Hi Sky
    Pema Pera: but perhaps a second discovery is waiting, Adams
    Adams Rubble: Oh
    Sky Szimmer: hi all.
    Pema Pera: perhaps the pain you feel is the pain of the “self” still thinking it is real, and feeling the pain of seemingly having to give up its pride of place . . . . .
    Faenik: could be
    Adams Rubble: Ohhh
    Pema Pera: do you see where I’m driving at?
    Adams Rubble: yes, I think I do
    Pema Pera: like a bandaid that you remove slooooowly . . . ouch!!!!!
    Pema Pera: ouch in the middle, not in the end
    Pema Pera: the self struggling against giving up the self . . . .
    Pema Pera: but when you see that you can laugh at both selfs, the self watching the self being dethroned, both
    Sky Szimmer: ah. but it is hard to remove the “reality”
    Sky Szimmer: or to see clearly about “reality”
    Pema Pera: ah, but Adams is starting to lose her being glued to the self
    Sky Szimmer: what is reality
    Pema Pera: and it is painful
    Pema Pera: so that is half-way
    Pema Pera: a great sign
    Sky Szimmer: certainly :)
    Pema Pera: but just pulling off the bandaid completely
    Pema Pera: is in fact easier than slooooowly continuing
    Pema Pera: :-)

    With Maxine entering, there were five of us.

    Fael Illyar: Hi Maxine :)
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Pema Pera: Hi Maxine
    Adams Rubble: Hi Maxine
    Pema Pera: but Adams, I don’t want to put words in your mouth
    Pema Pera: does all this ring a bell in some way
    Pema Pera: or would you phrase it differently?
    Pema Pera: I’m just guessing here
    Adams Rubble: The thing I’m not sure of is that because I am still feeling pain
    Pema Pera: pain tells us something
    Adams Rubble: Have I resolved it
    Adams Rubble: or just put it under the rug
    Adams Rubble: I liike the idea of the self watching the self
    Adams Rubble: In a way I may have done that in my dream
    Pema Pera: touching a stove gives pain: tells you to withdraw your finger — good advise!
    Pema Pera: so that we can agree upon
    Pema Pera: that was easy
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Pema Pera: now in your case you feel similarly strong pain
    Pema Pera: question is then:
    Pema Pera: what is the wisdom of the pain
    Pema Pera: what does it want to tell you?
    Pema Pera: I gave a guess
    Pema Pera: but in my words and from my angle
    Pema Pera: may or may not be helpful
    Pema Pera: what do you think the pain wants to tell you?
    Adams Rubble: yes, I see, I may have been giving up too quickly
    Adams Rubble: on finding the answer to that
    Adams Rubble: maybe assuming too quickly
    Pema Pera: what was the answer that you found (perhaps too quickly)?
    Adams Rubble: simply that my “self” was in the way and that I had to remove it
    Adams Rubble: simple answer
    Adams Rubble: yours is far more complex
    Adams Rubble: your “conjecture”
    Adams Rubble: or guess
    Faenik loves wells!

    Adams and I were both trying to find words for how to deal with the self, and Fael gave her angle.

    Pema Pera: The self can never remove the self
    Pema Pera: if the self tries, the self feels the pain of an impossible task
    Pema Pera: and let us be grateful for that pain, as a warning signal!
    Fael Illyar: yes, no reason to remove self, just have it stay out of the way.
    Pema Pera: yes
    Adams Rubble: Yes, I stand corrected in my wording :)
    Pema Pera: :)
    Fael Illyar: self can make itself stay out of the way but removal is quite hard :)
    Adams Rubble: The battle of the Selfs
    Pema Pera: hahaha, yes
    Adams Rubble: would make for an interesting dream
    Pema Pera: so Fael, the question then is — yes, Adams! — what “staying out of the way” means
    Fael Illyar: Yes, that is not all that simple :)
    Pema Pera: perhaps we can find an even more accurate description
    Pema Pera: yours is an improvement but still it seems the self has to “do” something, staying out of the way . . . . .
    Fael Illyar: well, staying out of the way can be active but I think I meant it in the passive way :)
    Pema Pera: ah, I see.
    Pema Pera: If I can use a traditional example: imagine that you walk in the dark, and see a tree, but think the tree is a dangerous robber
    Pema Pera: you may become very scared
    Pema Pera: but when you get closer and see that it is only a tree
    Pema Pera: all is well
    Pema Pera: but the robber did not have to stay out of the way
    Pema Pera: the robber was never there in the first place . . . .
    Faenik: なるほど^^
    Maxine Walden: Fael and Pema, are others seeing that or is it just computer?)
    Fael Illyar: what?
    Sky Szimmer: you mean about Faenik?
    Maxine Walden: I am seeing flashing images in the place of Fael and Pema…guess others are not seeing them, must be my computer
    Fael Illyar: probably your computer then
    Adams Rubble: That often happens to me…but not now
    Fael Illyar: never happened to me.
    Maxine Walden: did not mean to interrupte the flow of the conversation
    Adams Rubble: graphics card?
    Pema Pera and Fael Illyar are trying to stay out of the way
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Maxine Walden: yes, Adams!

    Where is the self, is there a self, and what is the self?

    Sky Szimmer: so it is about seeing that the self if not there in the first place
    Adams Rubble: But Pema, my self was there
    Pema Pera: How do you know, Adams?
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Pema Pera: in a way, Sky, . . . .
    Sky Szimmer: oh?
    Fael Illyar: how do you know what you call “self” is self?
    Pema Pera: one way to think about the self is like a shutter of a camera
    Pema Pera: is the opening of the shutter there or not?
    Faenik: could be
    Sky Szimmer: i am not sure i get you pema
    Sky Szimmer: not familiar with camera operatons
    Pema Pera: in order to take a picture, you have to create an opening for the light to fall through
    Pema Pera: in some sense, as a metaphor, perhaps what we call “self” is like the opening of a camera
    Pema Pera: but only a metaphor
    Pema Pera: not some thing, also not exactly nothing
    Pema Pera: in a way nothing, but a very helpful nothing :)
    Sky Szimmer: well, there is the self that is composed of memories, forms and thoughts, and then there is being
    Sky Szimmer: both of which can be alluded to as self
    Pema Pera: Fael, what I call “self” is what I think most people call “self” — nothing esoteric there
    Pema Pera: and Sky, yes, normal self, not Being :)
    Sky Szimmer: so it is not
    Adams Rubble: Let me try this in different words. I have a goal of living compassionately. But part of me gets sidetracked by other things that seem important at the time. desires. fears. for example. I am assuming they come from my “self”. Are they coming from somewhere else?
    Sky Szimmer: so it for Being to see there is no self
    Pema Pera: yes, Sky, Being has no trouble seeing there is no self :) it is us, as long as we think that we are not quite Being, that we seem to have problems, but only seem
    Pema Pera: but to respond to Adams
    Pema Pera: they cannot come from your “self”
    Pema Pera: your self does not have that much power

    I tried a metaphor that Stim had once told me. He and I had discussed the limitations and danger of confusion in using that particular metaphor, but what the heck, it seemed to fit in here.

    Pema Pera: let me try a different metaphor
    Pema Pera: that of a handpuppet
    Pema Pera: Very roughly speaking
    Pema Pera: you could say that Being is like a hand playing a person
    Pema Pera: in the form of a puppet
    Pema Pera: like a kind of glove in the form of a person
    Pema Pera: now Being is getting so involved
    Pema Pera: and playing so well
    Pema Pera: that Being forgets being Being
    Faenik: why not?
    Pema Pera: and identifies with the person being played
    Pema Pera: so it now SEEMS as if the handpuppet is coming up with ALLL kind of questions:
    Pema Pera: how do I meditate?
    Pema Pera: how to be compassionate?
    Pema Pera: how to wake up?
    Pema Pera: and so on
    Pema Pera: but all that is Being talking
    Pema Pera: the handpuppet cannot talk
    Pema Pera: completely powerless
    Adams Rubble: and “self” is the handpuppet?
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: in this metaphor
    Pema Pera: not 100% precise
    Pema Pera: but indicating a direction in which to look

    Adams reached an important conclusion.

    Adams Rubble: Then I have been using the wrong words
    Adams Rubble: wrong lesson from the stove
    Pema Pera: yes?
    Pema Pera: in what way?
    Sky Szimmer: which part if not precise?
    Adams Rubble: well it is “fear” and “desire” and maybe a few other things that are in the way then, not “self”
    Adams Rubble: other things
    Pema Pera: yes!
    Sky Szimmer: which part of the metaphor is not precise Pema
    Adams Rubble: not
    Pema Pera: the stove is not the problem, but the hand — which is a puppet and cannot feel heat . . . ..
    Adams Rubble: oh my
    Maxine Walden: have to go all, will read the rest of this lovely conversation on the blog
    Maxine Walden: bye
    Adams Rubble: bye Maxine
    Pema Pera: bye Maxine!
    Adams Rubble: the puppet can;t feel the heat!!!
    Pema Pera: and what can feel is not the puppet
    Pema Pera: and is already free

    Maxine left, and we continued talking about the self.

    Fael Illyar: The only chains that bind your mind are self made.
    Pema Pera: yes
    Fael Illyar: self sounds like one of these :)
    Pema Pera: and no
    Pema Pera: but yes, in first approximation
    Pema Pera: in the sense you meant it :)
    Pema Pera: in this context
    Pema Pera: You see, our ordering is wrong, our priorities
    Sky Szimmer: so the puppet sees the other hand which is yet another puppet, thinks it is another entity but all the while it is the same Being
    Pema Pera: We want to wake up, and then in order to do so we put the hand inside the hand puppet and THEN we ask: how can we wake up? The hand puppet ponders and ponders and sits and sits and wonders and wonders, but the only thing to do is to take the handpuppet off, or even better, see that it is only a puppet, not even a need to take it off
    Pema Pera: yes, Sky, that would be an extension of the metaphor, yes
    Pema Pera: like the first one, not 100% precise, but good pointers
    Faenik: could be
    Sky Szimmer: i want to know from what part if not precise
    Pema Pera: seeing that it is only a puppet is Fael’s staying out of the way
    Sky Szimmer: what part is not precise
    Pema Pera: Oh, Sky, words can never be precise
    Pema Pera: words are misleading
    Pema Pera: but differently so for each individual
    Pema Pera: :-)
    Pema Pera: so if I were to describe what is misleading about them
    Pema Pera: that would be even more misleading
    Pema Pera: so I won’t
    Pema Pera: :-)
    Sky Szimmer: ah.
    Fael Illyar: :)

    Adam summarized here new insight.

    Adams Rubble: Like me starting a long conversation on self
    Adams Rubble: when I meant to be talking about fear and desire
    Pema Pera: YES ! ! !
    Sky Szimmer: it is all the same, no?
    Pema Pera: ?
    Sky Szimmer: self, fear, desire
    Sky Szimmer: stemming from the same source
    Pema Pera: what kind of source, Sky?
    Sky Szimmer: Being
    Pema Pera: that is a very very interesting question, Sky
    Pema Pera: absolutely fascinating
    Faenik: indeed?
    Pema Pera: and I’m not sure I know the answer
    Sky Szimmer: no why not?
    Pema Pera: what I’ve said so far is what I can see myself clearly
    Pema Pera: here I have to be more hesitant
    Pema Pera: better ask Stim :)
    Pema Pera: in fact
    Sky Szimmer: it wasn’t a question pema.
    Pema Pera: it is related to Adams’ second koan
    Pema Pera: it was a statement?
    Sky Szimmer: but now that it
    Sky Szimmer: but now that is has been made a question, i have to think about it
    Sky Szimmer: yes. it was a statement
    Pema Pera: you said “it is all the same, no?”
    Pema Pera: with a question mark :)
    Sky Szimmer: ah. a rectorical question.
    Sky Szimmer: : )
    Pema Pera: or did I misunderstand?
    Pema Pera: ah!
    Sky Szimmer: never mind.
    Sky Szimmer: :))
    Adams Rubble: ;0

    A funny misunderstanding. I had refered to Sky’s comment about “self, fear, desire stemming from the same source, Being”. Does anything stem from Being? To take that literally would be wrong. Being is not a producer, a creator, creating something outside itself that wasn’t there before. Yet everything in some sense is given in and as Being. Each appearance is all of Being already . . . and I don’t know how to describe or clarify that further. It is something to be seen directly.

    Pema Pera: the problem with Being is
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Pema Pera: it does not fit in any this-vs-that logic
    Pema Pera: so anything we say about it is already wrong
    Pema Pera: and this is not meant as a trick statement
    Sky Szimmer: but from my understanding of this conversation started by Adams, and your response, that you seem to state that all stems from being
    Pema Pera: so one part of the “not 100% right” of the hand puppet metaphor
    Sky Szimmer: and that would include desire, fears, and all else
    Pema Pera: is Being as the hand
    Pema Pera: it is not quite that simple . . . .
    Sky Szimmer: all is Being
    Pema Pera: Shall I try to answer . . .oops, . . .respond to your statement?
    Pema Pera: My best guess would be:
    Sky Szimmer: where as would desire, fear come from?
    Pema Pera: from our perspective, yes, but from Being’s perspective (which is not a perspective) no
    Sky Szimmer: Oh. I think I see.
    Sky Szimmer: from Being, there is no desire or fear
    Pema Pera: from Being’s perspective there are no reasons, no source from which things come
    Pema Pera: that is our logic
    Pema Pera: as long as we want answers that way
    Pema Pera: or statements
    Sky Szimmer: it is only the self that generates those perspectives causing the desire and fear
    Pema Pera: we fool ourselves
    Pema Pera: and hurt ourselves
    Pema Pera: at a VERY hot stove
    Pema Pera: yes, Sky, you could say so
    Adams Rubble: nOW i AM VERY CONFUSED
    Pema Pera: but then again there is no self :)
    Sky Szimmer: yes. but the capacity to have to feelings comes from Being
    Pema Pera: great, Adams, wonderful!!!!
    Pema Pera: that’s working with a koan
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Sky Szimmer: so I see.
    Pema Pera: nothing comes from Being
    Pema Pera: Being is ALL
    Pema Pera: and is ONE

    At this point I had to leave, and there was no time to respond to Sky’s interpretation, which was a very interesting one. To sum up, the self as such is powerless and cannot even feel pain, it is like a handpuppet in that sense. And for Being there isn’t what we normally call pain and confusion either. Where then, does pain come from, who feels it, and where is the power to deal with it??? This is a great koan. And without trying to “answer” the koan, we can guess what the problem is: the koan cannot be answered in the way it is posed. If we really look into pain, and into notions of power and cause and effect, then we will see the solution to the koan. But as long as we take pain and confusion and questions of power at face value, without REALLY seeing what they are, we are walking around with wrong ideas about them, and for questions based on those ideas there are no solutions . . . .

    Pema Pera: and, alas I have to go in one minute
    Pema Pera: to my astro meeting
    Fael Illyar: Bye Pema :)
    Faenik: ah :)
    Pema Pera: but we should continue this
    Sky Szimmer: well. Pema. the capacity to feel come from Being
    Sky Szimmer: OK>
    Pema Pera: I’m so pleased that we can talk about this
    Sky Szimmer: ciao
    Pema Pera: it feels absolutely and deeply special
    Pema Pera: to get so deep into the question of reality
    Pema Pera: thank you all!
    Adams Rubble: thanks. Pema. bye :)
    Pema Pera: and good luck, Adams :-)
    Sky Szimmer: thank you
    Pema Pera: and everyone!
    Pema Pera: and Pema too ! :)
    Pema Pera: he is also chewing on this . . . .
    Pema Pera: the question of Being
    Pema Pera: see you all

    [I don't know whether the discussion continued -- stay tuned, in case someone can add a further piece here soon]

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