2008.07.24 07:00 - What the World Needs Now

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    This morning, when I entered the pavilion, there was nobody yet at 7 am. I sat down and just watched the surroundings, an unusual pleasure, given that we have had such large numbers of people for almost all sessions recently. Then Maxine dropped by, and soon afterwards Doug dropped in as well. For an hour, it would be just the three of us. Sometimes smaller groups allow a more focused discussion, and this was a clear example.

    In fact, this was an unusually intense session. There were two main issues: how to deal with the intense aspects of the new "you seeing Being seeing" exploration, on a psychological level of balance; and how to conduct the exploration itself. Maxine had brought up the first issue, already in an earlier session, and we continued that conversation. It was a valid issue, especially here in SL: what do I know about the real people behind the avatars, without sound and body language and all that -- so in fact I am very much concerned about the question whether our exploration can lead to unbalances. During this session, however, I focused on the second issue: what the exploration really is, for the following reason.

    Unless we can get at least a clear glimpse of what the exploration is, we cannot judge how to keep a healthy balance in our ordinary life, as the human individuals we think we are. Trying to stay healthy and sane and balanced according to the normal psychological conventions most likely will preclude any real spiritual breakthrough. This is not to say that we should simply try to imitate seemingly crazy zen practitioners or Mahasiddhas or love-drunk Sufis; but it does suggest that we cannot know the boundaries of what is and is not reasonable untill we now what the practice is trying to show.

    While doing this, I was rather blunt, starting about half way. It was a totally spontaneous bluntness, not premeditated in any way, really part of the new "you seeing Being Seeing" practice. I do hope to get back to the first issue that Maxine brought up, having now clearly stated the second issue. Hopefully soon!

    Pema Pera: Hi Maxine!
    Maxine Walden: hi, Pema, I see you are Enlightened
    Pema Pera: ?
    Pema Pera: ah!
    Maxine Walden: in your balloon
    Pema Pera: my new label, haha
    Maxine Walden: I'm coming closer, too vast a distance across the room it feels sometimes
    Pema Pera: I had not realized that, yes, always dangerous to accept the default label of a new group
    Maxine Walden: oh, you changed your balloon, easy to do?
    Maxine Walden: hi, Doug
    Pema Pera: Adelene and I stopped by Caspian's new temple
    doug Sosa: hello.
    Maxine Walden: oh, did you. How interesting that must have been
    Pema Pera: and accepted membership in his new group
    Pema Pera: Hi Doug!
    Maxine Walden: oh, really?? Tell us more
    Pema Pera: Well, that was about it -- a very short visit :-)
    Maxine Walden: That was such an interesting discussion with her in several ways, especially her thoughts about Caspian's state of mind
    Pema Pera: The temple looked very nice though, spacious zendo for example, nice te room upstairs
    Maxine Walden: is that where you got Enlightened?
    Pema Pera: haha
    Pema Pera: that's where I got my label yes
    Pema Pera: if you become a member of a new group, then by default to start wearing the label of that group -- but you can change the default
    Pema Pera: You see, now I am "Go Player"
    Pema Pera: for example.
    Maxine Walden: oh, thanks for the correction, yes, I realize how easy it is to concretize a label as a truth. Yes, I see that you changed the label

    I refered back to a discussion we had two sessions ago, last evening 7 pm SLT.
    Pema Pera: Anyway, shall we continue the discussion yesterday about perceived differences?
    doug Sosa: "enlightened" is such a funny word. always implies getting rid of weight. But then also too much light, avoiding the yin.
    Pema Pera: :-)
    doug Sosa: "differences".
    Pema Pera: It seemed, Maxine, that you feel that I want to get rid of some aspects that you think might be better kept -- is that a good short summary?
    Pema Pera: or too short?
    Maxine Walden: yes, after you left Pema and I, or actually I mentioned the wish to clarify some differences I have had ...yes, maybe I like your 'shorter' version
    Maxine Walden: well, let me see if I can gather my thoughts simply:
    Pema Pera: perhaps the main difference is that I advocate wearing any and all properties lightly, like clothes, not like skin, as I sometimes said -- and often that is interpreted as if I want to get rid of them, or as if I don't take them seriously . . . .
    Maxine Walden: (am erasing what I just was texting because I do like your summary just now very much)
    Maxine Walden: yes, maybe I don't see the 'hold lightly' aspect of your recommendations
    Maxine Walden: as much as you are just saying
    Pema Pera: can you pick a concrete example?
    Maxine Walden: what actually comes to mind is the example of the 'pulling down the temple pillars' of the other day, which I can see as an expression of enthusiasm and perhaps excitement, but guess it dips me into my caution
    Maxine Walden: It feels to me that we all are exploring territory in the emotional realm that we may not know a lot about, and that we can destabilize ourselves in our enthusiasm

    Maxine refered to an email that I had sent to the guardian email group
    Pema Pera: That example was actually a Christian parallel with the Hindu story in the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna has to kill his relatives (rather than his enemies, even closer), who stand for his attachments.
    Pema Pera: It is not a psychological exploration
    Pema Pera: it is a metaphor, in both cases a rather emotionally strong metaphor, for ruthlessly giving up attachments
    Pema Pera: letting go is hard is something is really stuck to you to the point of you identifying with it
    doug Sosa: I have mulled that story a lot - why do you say it isn't "psychological"? The story si that he has to lead his side, so it is about the need for attachement, no?
    Pema Pera: What I mean is that it is not a story that is meant to have an interpretation that you can find by just looking at it at face value, without the cultural context and interpretation that has been given for milenia -- in other words, treating it in the same way as a story that you might hear in your practice as psychologists, given that you are both psychologists,
    Maxine Walden: my understandings are that there are generally reasons for these attachments, often defensive or protective and it is valuable to understand what is being protected against before striving to give up the attachment. I am cautious about ruthlessness in reshaping the psychic landscape
    Pema Pera: might overlook the background of the Bhagavad Gita
    Pema Pera: within the relative realm of the ordinary mind, I completely agree, Maxine
    doug Sosa: let's travel light but not overdo it.
    Pema Pera: so as a psychologist, trying to help people, I think that is a wise thing to do
    Pema Pera: but we are talking about finding a way of seeing that is beyond the ordinary mind
    Pema Pera: from the movie to the projector light
    Pema Pera: and there are different rules for that kind of transformation
    Pema Pera: than for healing withing the movie
    Pema Pera: very different rules
    Pema Pera: that are not rules at all from the point of view of the movie
    Pema Pera: they don't make sense within the movie in any way at all
    Maxine Walden: ah, and here is where I may have to be careful, in trying to learn what you are trying to convey but also not give over my understandings without careful assessments
    Pema Pera: yes, we all have to be careful in trying to find mutual understanding of what coordinate frame we are talking in
    Maxine Walden: if I jettison my ways of having understood I may be losing aspects of myself too soon
    doug Sosa: i personally think the psychotherapy idea is not "help" but clarify, then the person does the helping for themselves. Understanding that the movie is not the whole thing helps, providing that we do not forget that we also are in a movie, and the movie has real attachments and feelings.
    doug Sosa: within that movie, the play as being approach is very helpful.

    At this point I was groping for ways to bring the discussion back to the essential point of "seeing", as something concrete and experimentally distinct from psychological explanations for our usual way of functioning. Both are valuable, trying to understand better psychological aspects of how we normally deal with life, as well was "waking up" from normal ways of functioning. The difference is that this "waking up" is not something that is happening to a self in the ordinary picture -- so we can't use the psychological language of the world we normally think we live in . . . .
    Pema Pera: well, Doug, the important thing for me is to communicate about "seeing" which is a very specific way to see beyond the movie, beyond the self . . . we can use many different words, but it really is something very specific, and relatively easy to see whether someone else is talking about the same thing
    Pema Pera: if and when we're talking about the same thing, THEN we can try to find the best words to communicate optimally
    Pema Pera: if not, trying to find different words may not help, may further confuse the situation, most likely
    Pema Pera: it's like in physics: words are like using theories
    doug Sosa: yes, i agree.
    Pema Pera: but if we are talking about different experiments, without knowing we do, our theories get very confused
    Pema Pera: and we can't even begin to share and compare them
    doug Sosa: onward.
    Maxine Walden: in trying to glimpse reality it seems we do have to not lose touch with ourselves...
    Maxine Walden: and finding the intersection of our realities may be important in terms of each remaining authentic within oneself as we proceed in our mutual learning
    Pema Pera: To sum up: psychological approaches to Buddhisms for me have a plus and a minus side: the plus side is that they can help pointing to aspects that may be beneficial nad recognizable; the minus side is that those are all side effects WITHIN the realm we normally find ourselves, while they can obscure the real point, namely to wake up to something OUTSIDE that realm, wider than that realm, something that embeds our ordinary realm but cannot be found within it, since our ordinary realm is a qualitative narrowing of the wider realm.
    doug Sosa: I agree, but... isn't that also psychological, the ability of the psyche to be open to the beyond?
    Maxine Walden: and what happens then if I leave a part of myself aside in trying to join you in understanding this wider realm? I think I have been hampered recently in losing a part of myself without realizing it
    Pema Pera: no, not in any way that I have seen the word "psychological" meant, Doug
    doug Sosa: we;;, speaking of words, what does that one mean to you?
    Maxine Walden: oh, here we are: we have different understandings of the term psychological, I think
    doug Sosa: "we;; should be "well"
    Pema Pera: Maxine, what you just said is still squarely within the logic of the ordinary realm, that is what needs to be dropped to get a chance to see beyond that realm
    Pema Pera: Doug, same for you too
    Pema Pera: when we can share seeing beyond, we can find words for that together
    Pema Pera: if we don't then finding better words doesn't help

    This was the crucial point I was trying to emphasize.
    Pema Pera: I don't think we have different understandings of the word, Maxine, I think we have different experiences
    doug Sosa: what happens to me in the nine sec is that the immeidate becomes more so AND less substantial.
    Maxine Walden: just a moment, Pema, please, are you asking me to join you in a wider realm without bringing my previous understandings ?
    Pema Pera: no
    Pema Pera: let us now go very slowly
    doug Sosa: yes.
    Pema Pera: there are several points into your once sentence that show clearly that you are not talking about the experience I have in mind
    Maxine Walden: it may be helpful for you to just expand on 'different experiences re psychological', Pema
    Pema Pera: 1) "me to join you" is incorrect
    Pema Pera: the you you think you are cannot join the me you think I am, there
    Pema Pera: this very logic does not apply to the experience I talk about
    Pema Pera: 2) bringing my previous understandings
    Pema Pera: this is similarly incorrect, for similar reasons
    Pema Pera: If I may rephrase the question:
    Pema Pera: "when seeing more, what about my previous understandings"?
    Pema Pera: and in an example of the movie:
    Pema Pera: "when seeing the light of projector, what about my previous understanding of the psychological interactions between the players in the movie?"
    Pema Pera: then there are two answers I can give:
    Pema Pera: on the one hand, the psychological structure of the plot of the movie is unchanged
    Pema Pera: but on the other hand, switching your attention for scenes in the movie to the light that constitutes it all is NOT a psychological move
    Pema Pera: even though for the person that is sitting in the seat in the theatre, it can be felt as a deep psychological experience

    So the difficulty here is that "waking up" can be (but doesn't have to be) a very powerful experience, and as such it has psychological echoes, reverberations in our body and mind as well, interpreted in the usual sense -- but as long as we don't have a clear experience of that, then trying to describe it in psychological terms is bound to be heard as applying to elements in the movie, and the in-movie kind of psychological experiences is definitely not was is involved in waking up.
    Pema Pera: but when someone does not yet see that the movie is not real
    Pema Pera: then talking about the transition as psychological is bound to be confusing
    Pema Pera: seemingly asking the characters in the movie to "see" more
    Pema Pera: they can't see more
    Pema Pera: it is Being that sees more
    Pema Pera: the person in the seat in the theatre
    doug Sosa: Who is doing switching? If it is us in the audience watching the movie, the switch is psychological (perceptions and interpretation). If the peeople in the mvie were to do the switch, seeing the ground of their being, that surely is also psychological. No big deal psychological, but certainly a move "switching" that one can make both for the audience and within the movie.
    Maxine Walden: yes, but if we are exploring aspects of reality there are several realities in this scenario: the views of the characters in the movie and those wathcing the movie, but both are aspects of reality
    Pema Pera: If you want to use the term "psychological" for both changes, doug, it can get very confusing. But from the way you write it, it strikes me that you are using the word "psychological" in the within-movie way, even applying it to the outside-movie metaphor. Before going further, we really have to compare notes to see whether we are talking about the same experience -- probably we are not.
    Pema Pera: Same for what you said, Maxine
    Pema Pera: we probably should first focus on experience, to check to what extend we are talking about the same thing; I think we are not
    Maxine Walden: it may be that Doug and I, but only speak for myself, have a different idea about 'psyche' than your are suggesting. My notion is that the unconscious regions actually allow the wider and wider perspectives you are suggesting,
    Pema Pera: within the movie, within the ordinary ways of talking about a world with individuals and psychological interactions, I don't think we are talking about different things, Maxine
    Pema Pera: What I am talking about is the way in which a seeing can present itself that see the ordinary realm, but in a much wider light
    Pema Pera: one that is not "our" seeing
    Maxine Walden: and that we can access these more and more in ourselves, expanding our psyches...is that not similar to what your ideas are, Pema
    Pema Pera: one that has a completely different logic
    Pema Pera: no, Maxine
    Pema Pera: it is totally different

    I said this in the spirit of the whole conversation, in which my number one priority was to move from words to experience, first comparing the latter before trying to hone the former. If we would have had more time, and if the conversation had been one-on-one, Maxine and I could have gone more slowly, to compare notes about her use of the word "unconscious regions". Perhaps such language could be used to talk about "waking up" -- but again, first things first: what experience are we comparing notes about?
    doug Sosa: But as a person in my own movie, i can "switch"to seeing the projector. To me that is well within the terrain of the psychological. I understnd I think that by psyche you mean character and plot.
    Pema Pera: What I am pointing at is what Adams is struggling with, what Fael is intuiting more and more, what Stim is trying to share with his students in RL and with us here in SL, what Storm just wrote about . . . . it is very different from what you just said, Doug
    doug Sosa: I am hoping this is helpful. lets keep going.
    Maxine Walden: I think Pema may be saying that Being does not have to do with our psyche, Doug
    Pema Pera: let's first see what the experience is we are talking about
    Pema Pera: yes, it is very helpful Doug

    At this moment, I took a deep breath, and made a very difficult decision. However, I felt I had no choice. In the spirit of the acceleration that I have felt in the last five days, starting with the new "you seeing Being seing" practice, I dropped all attempts at politeness.
    Pema Pera: May I be blunt?
    doug Sosa: yes.
    Pema Pera: We are talking about an extraordinary transition, which really is not a transition, but does seem so very much from the ordinary point of view
    Pema Pera: an extraordinary experience that really is not an experience (by an experiencer, in time) but does seem so very much from the ordinary point of view
    Pema Pera: and frankly, and very bluntly,
    doug Sosa: onward.
    Pema Pera: I have a strong sense that neither of you have had a very clear experience of what I am talking about
    Pema Pera: and I say that with great trepidation
    Pema Pera: since I consider you both to be dear friends
    Pema Pera: and I am well aware of sounding very arrogant
    Pema Pera: but not saying this would not be honest
    doug Sosa: so either there is a difference whcih is not yet experienced or an experience that..
    Maxine Walden: I would put it differently, Pema,
    doug Sosa: has been but isn't showing.
    Maxine Walden: I think that I have had some experience of what you are describing, my early enthusiasm into the practice and our early discussions, but
    Pema Pera: there is a third possibility, doug: that it is not an experience -- what you just said is exactly the type of hint for me that you have not clearly "experienced" for lack of a better word what I am pointing at
    doug Sosa: good. more.
    Pema Pera: or more accurately, that "seeing" this
    Pema Pera: is something that hasn't occurred to you consciously yet
    Pema Pera: and therefore you project what I am saying onto the experiencer-experienced structure

    I was very glad to hear Doug's response, since that give me the chance to point out where our paths diverged. I wanted to respond to Maxine too, but couldn't address both at the same time, so I focused on what Doug had said, him having been the first to kindly respond to my blunt statements.
    Maxine Walden: that in doing so I somehow lost a part of myself or something happened so that I had to come back to find and integrate that
    Pema Pera: that is fitting for the logic of your experience so far
    Pema Pera: both of you HAVE had experiences
    Pema Pera: both of you have had STRONG experiences
    Pema Pera: which are connected with what I am saying
    Pema Pera: I don't want to deny that in any way
    Maxine Walden: and that it feels important to proceed with as much of an integrated self as possible
    doug Sosa: but?
    Pema Pera: but the difference is that when you have those experiences
    Pema Pera: you tend to connect them back to the logic of this realm
    Pema Pera: and then we get stuck in talking about it further
    doug Sosa: Interesting. what i thought i was doing was letting the nine sec experience of opening the door in space-time to the realm beyond has now taken over all my "ordinary" experience.
    Maxine Walden: Pema, are you the same person as you go forward in Being as you were years ago, or months ago?
    Pema Pera: yes, doug, I do not want to interpret it in a black-and-white way,
    Pema Pera: sorry, Maxine, can't answer both of you at the same time, just a moment
    Maxine Walden: Not an important question, please let it go, not creative to ask at this point
    Pema Pera: Doug, I have a sense that what you describe in your experience of the 9-sec exercise is very helpful
    Pema Pera: in two ways
    Pema Pera: both for finding ways to live better, deeper, more clearly, for yourself and for others, within the framework of the ordinary mind
    Pema Pera: and that is very important, and in itself very gratifying; I'm really happy that I've stumbled upon something that can be helpful on that level
    Pema Pera: but at the same time, that kind of improvement completely pales in comparison with the type of seeing that I am talking about, that goes beyond the ordinary realm
    doug Sosa: and yet..
    doug Sosa: Imay be stuck on "ordinary."
    Pema Pera: so I am not denying or short changing anything you have experienced -- I'm saying that there is something totally different, something that when seen, will explain itself.
    Pema Pera: No, doug, you are not stuck on words
    Pema Pera: every sentence you type shows that you are talking about something different that what I am talking about
    Pema Pera: again, sorry to be so direct
    Pema Pera: but I feel I owe this to you by now

    This again was difficult to say, but I felt that I had to say it, in the light of the greater clarity that started that has opened in our group in the last five days. Here I was not claiming that Doug's experiences and shifts over the last months have not been valuable; on the contrary, I'm very pleased with those and with similar shifts that have been reported by many participants in PaB. What I addressed was the need to "see" all those experiences in a new light. Once that is seen, all those experiences can be brought to bear in far more powerful ways -- then nothing has to be given up.
    Pema Pera: Sorry, Maxine
    Pema Pera: shall I go back to a particular thing you said?
    doug Sosa: yes.
    Maxine Walden: please, though I have about 5 min and then must go
    Pema Pera: meanwhile, Doug, we should have this conversation with you and Stim, with you and Storm, with you and Fael, for example, to see how they phrase what I am trying to say in different words

    I had this vision of all of us comparing notes: Caledonia's way of reporting on nothingness as a real resource, Dakini in talking about Mahamudra as the ultimate resource, Avastu in talking about `am' only what is real, and others as well. After three months of exploratory introductions to Play as Being, the time has come to begin to focus more on what exactly we are talking about.
    Pema Pera: which sentence, Maxine?
    Maxine Walden: will have to go in a minute or so. Am feeling a bit sad, for it may be that what I feel is important in terms of exploring aspects of reality means keeping an integrated sense of self and that may differ from what your are proposing, Pema
    Pema Pera: That sadness is misplaced, Maxine
    Pema Pera: though I can of course understand why you feel that way
    doug Sosa: I too must go and Pema, keep going with this "bluntness"in future conversations.
    Maxine Walden: I will want to think carefully about this,...need to go and will read the rest of the log. Need to talk more about this, and will think about it til next time
    Pema Pera: I hope I can clarify myself better -- an hour of text-only is probably by far not enough to address, let alone solve such a deep issue as what was brought up today
    doug Sosa: awkwardly i bow and bye.
    Maxine Walden: bye, for now
    Pema Pera: Maxine, it is not a matter of "careful thinking" really
    Pema Pera: is a matter of seeing
    Pema Pera: if you go off and carefully think about this for a long time, that may make things more difficult to understand and communicate -- though of course there always is the possibility that carefully thinking will trigger a leap beyond thinking
    Pema Pera: I think the real solution is to talk more directly
    Pema Pera: to identify what is different beyond the framework you are using now
    Pema Pera: "carefully thinking" is likely to further strenghten that framework . . . . .
    Maxine Walden: maybe so, sorry, Pema, I have to go but will not go far, yes, let's talk more...will come to as many sessions as possible before being away for a week on the weekend...no don't want to strengthen distancing at all, just clarifying...have to go for now. Thanks for the candor, back soon
    Pema Pera: believe me, I full well know that right now you do not understand what I said
    Pema Pera: but I cannot magically share this seeing
    Pema Pera: we have to use words . . .
    Pema Pera: so let's continue soon!

    How to point out these things without sounding patronizing? How to be honest without being too blunt? I still don't know. This was my best shot this session. I hope to find ways to be more clear, since I was left well aware of many shortcomings in what I was trying to say. Even so, I was relieved to be able to speak my mind in ways that I hadn't dared to do earlier, concerned that I would likely be misunderstood. And I felt very grateful to both Maxine and Doug in giving me the benefit of the doubt in talking in what must have sounded like a very brash, if not downright pretentious way . . .

    Right now, writing these comments, a couple hours later, I see myself simultaneously from two perspectives. Here I am, sitting in a coffeeshop in Berkeley, just before meeting Stim (Steven) for lunch, listening to the song "What the world needs now is love":
    What the world needs now is love, sweet love
    It's the only thing that there's just too little of
    What the world needs now is love, sweet love
    No, not just for some but for everyone

    And I see myself as a limited human person, with limited body and mind, reflecting on how I have just seem to have insulted two of my friends, in some way, by telling them both effectively "you just don't get it yet", which is preposterous. Both of them have a full life experience at least as rich as mine, and who am I to tell them which experiences and insights are more valuable? From a human perspective it seemed my behavior can only be viewed as shameful.

    And at the same time I let Being see. I feel tears of gratitude in my eyes for having had the good fortune to stumble upon ways of opening for letting Being see. My heart grows silent, the flow of time becomes no more than a charicature, across time all who have gone before us and all who will come after us see face-to-face, the presence of my most inspiring teachers thus makes itself felt, and I smile at those limited attempts of creature Piet playing avatar Pema trying to tell others about glimpses he has seen . . . I just hope he doesn't get more brash, since that could easily become counter-productive; but then again, it's a play and nothing can go wrong, in any ultimate sense.

    Another song:
    Don't let it bring you down
    It's only castles burning,
    Find someone who's turning
    And you will come around.
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