2008.07.29 13:00 - White Elephants

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    Solobill was the guardian; subbing for Gen this session.  The comments and meanderings are his...

    I arrived just before 1PM, and Wol wandered up from the lawn to the North.  Jeremiah followed within seconds, whom I was certain I had not met before.  

    Wol Euler: ah, hello Jeremiah
    Solobill Laville: Hi, Jeremiah!
    Jeremiah Nacht: Hello Wol, Hello Solobill
    Solobill Laville: Nice to meet you, Jeremiah, and I believe you too, Wol, though perhaps we have met once or twice?
    Wol Euler: yes, I've been here a few times, I think we overlapped.
    Jeremiah Nacht: No I was only here once before, back at a different place

    Must've been the "old" tea house days...

    Wol Euler: ah, yes, not actually "here" :-)
    Wol Euler: socially not physically here.
    Jeremiah Nacht: There was a funny monk there and a woman with a cat on her shoulder

    Oh, boy - classic PaB, if there is such a thing! Wol and I both instantly knew who Jeremiah was talking about...

    Wol Euler: lol, Fael and Faenik.
    Solobill Laville: hehe, that would be Moon and Fael
    Jeremiah Nacht: Yes that is it
    Solobill Laville: yes, and faenik
    Jeremiah Nacht: Both were very funny
    Solobill Laville: So, are you familiar with the idea of PaB then, Jeremiah?
    Jeremiah Nacht: Yes, I have read a bit
    Solobill Laville: Ah, OK
    Solobill Laville: Great
    Solobill Laville: It has been getting quite exciting lately
    Jeremiah Nacht: oh yes?
    Solobill Laville: Yes, more and more folks seem to be dropping by
    Solobill Laville: And Pema, the group leader, has offered a suggested practice that has gotten some interesting results
    Solobill Laville: The idea of You Seeing, Being Seeing

    Here I was referring to a practice that Pema was suggesting folks trying out (see:


    Wol Euler nods.
    Solobill Laville: Which is actually the first "formal" practice that really has been offered here so far
    Solobill Laville: Very organic and supportive
    Solobill Laville: Have you tried this Wol?
    Wol Euler: I must admit at this point that I haven't, nor the PaB intervals either.
    Solobill Laville: That's fine
    Wol Euler: I started coming here as a discussion group, on belief and being and meditation, and have become interested in the prarctices.
    Wol Euler: But havent actually applied them as such :-)
    Wol Euler: the discussions have been very interesting.
    Solobill Laville: That's still a good reason to come, yes some good discussions indeed
    Wol Euler: Solobill, you may not know that I have become a guardian, as of the weekend. Still feeling my way slowly into the role
    Wol Euler: and very glad that you took the lead today.
    Solobill Laville: Ah, great, I didn't know!
    Solobill Laville: I thought I was subbing for Gen today (she is taking an important test)
    Solobill Laville: Is this your spot??
    Wol Euler: no!
    Solobill Laville: hehe, OK
    Wol Euler is horrified.
    Jeremiah Nacht: :)
    Solobill Laville: Ah, no problem!
    Solobill Laville: It is interesting as well to read the individual blogs that folks are writing
    Jeremiah Nacht: I will have to read some more :)
    Wol Euler: ah, yes, they are listed on the "official" page, I've started reading some of them.

    Wol then returned my serve.

    Wol Euler: Have you been doing the YSBS practice, Solobill?
    Solobill Laville: Ah, yes
    Wol Euler smiles. do tell, please.
    Solobill Laville: It is interesting, so many different folks with different backgrounds and interests
    Solobill Laville: I come from a Zen background
    Solobill Laville: so the PaB idea is not wholly different from what I have been practicing
    Solobill Laville: Just more, and shorter in duration
    Solobill Laville: The YSBS though, is very similar to something that I did a couple of years ago
    Solobill Laville: slightly different
    Solobill Laville: But I think essentially the same
    Solobill Laville: the idea of You Seeing
    Solobill Laville: is that here I sit, either in RL at my laptop, or SL looking at Dakini's table
    Solobill Laville: and I see things in relation to me
    Solobill Laville: me / table
    Solobill Laville: me / screen
    Solobill Laville: me / mats
    Solobill Laville: me / Wol / Jeremiah
    Solobill Laville: lol
    Wol Euler nods
    Jeremiah Nacht: May I interrupt to ask a question?
    Solobill Laville: Sure
    Jeremiah Nacht: What is a Dakini?
    Solobill Laville: Oh, Jeez, sorry!
    Solobill Laville: Dakini is the owner and the founder of the Zen Retreat and a PaB guardian as well

    Oops!  (Sorry again for the confusion, Jeremiah).  But in all seriousness, these kinds of "insider" colloquialisms can unintentionally act to make newcomers feel like outsiders...I'll redouble my efforts to be cognizant of that.

    Solobill Laville: she built most of the Pavilian and its contents
    Solobill Laville: so i was referring to this table in front of us...
    Jeremiah Nacht: Oh, sorry to interrupt your chain of thought
    Solobill Laville: that's OK
    Jeremiah Nacht: So you are in relation to us
    Jeremiah Nacht: and we to you
    Solobill Laville: yes
    Jeremiah Nacht: and Dakini's table
    Solobill Laville: I vs. "it"
    Solobill Laville: or I vs. "you"

    There is a wonderful (and very esoteric) book entitled "I and Thou" by Martin Buber that does a Herculean job of describing these relationships: I and "it", I and "Thou", or ultimately just "Thou".

    Solobill Laville: that, to me, is "You Seeing"
    Solobill Laville: Now Being Seeing
    Solobill Laville: is the Seeing that sees all within itself
    Solobill Laville: Seeing this way, you are a part of the seeing, a vehicle
    Solobill Laville: This touches both on formlessness and non-duality
    Solobill Laville: I remember when I first experienced this, I laughed at the wall!

    I am, and have been, very reticent to really talk substantially about my personal experiences.  For many reasons; firstly I am in RL a sangha of one (sangha is a Buddhist term for one's local group - I have not found a good fit - the closest I one like is 300 miles away), and with this comes the lack of a "wall" to bounce things off of; no true feedback.  Secondly, through my internalization, for right or wrong, of the inherent humility of Buddhism generally and Zen specifically, in tandem with nagging self-doubt, I have not presumed to have any "real" awareness experiences of significance.  These things are supposed to be shared with and confirmed by someone to whom you can defer, and further who knows your personality and history.  And finally...it really doesn't matter.

    Wol Euler: mm?
    Solobill Laville: It was so hard (the wall itself was so hard...physically to the touch), and yet I knew it was no different than that which was also "essentially" me

    This makes no sense, and even if it does in a "yeah, I get it" sort of way, that is still an intellectual way.  I've mentioned this quote before, but Frank Zappa (Roshi Zappa) used to say, "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture".  Much more so is talking about an Awareness experience, or Being.  I feel like I'm walking on a tightrope without a net...

    Solobill Laville: By the way, I am soooo concerned about trying to express this in words
    Solobill Laville: i feel that by even trying the only result is failure to communicate it effectively
    Wol Euler nods. We spoke yesterday at this time about the difficulty of words, how much less than experience they are.
    Jeremiah Nacht: You seem to be doing fine but I have a question
    Jeremiah Nacht: When Being is Seeing and we are part of that, does that include Wol's seeing and my seeing?
    Solobill Laville: I think each of our perspectives "flavor" this Seeing
    Solobill Laville: So it is only from the perspective that I know, I know
    Solobill Laville: But I know that you are a part of it, yes, everything is
    Wol Euler: I would think, Jeremiah, that Being would be "above" what each of us internally sees (thinking out loud)
    Wol Euler: that when we see, we make distincitons: Wol != table.
    Wol Euler: Being would see connections. Wol & table
    Wol Euler: so Being would not actually follow what "Wol" sees. True, Solo?

    I was thinking that actually not "above" as Wol was thinking out loud, but actually within utmost, as well as without, but afraid that I can't express that effectively.  Regardless, we cannot help but see from our perspective, but that perspective is changable (i.e. we can change it), through genetics, or karma, or old-fashioned elbow grease, to "slip" into this non-dual no-substance one-everything-ness.  (Blah, blah, blah.)

    Solobill Laville: Here's where I fall back on practice. Practice practicing.
    Solobill Laville: Talking about it intellectually doesn't work
    Solobill Laville: at least for me ;)
    Wol Euler smiles.
    Solobill Laville: I've been impressed by others taking about these things
    Solobill Laville: And actually reading a passage in a book "triggered" the experience I had
    Solobill Laville: But, that is why I like the practical YSBS practice, it is easily actionable
    Solobill Laville: Then the questions become more focused on your personal experience
    Solobill Laville: But if you'd like more feedback, you could track down Pema at one of these sessions
    Solobill Laville: Or Stim, or Storm

    (Or others too, I'm sure)

    Solobill Laville: http://playasbeing.wik.is/Information/Guardian_Timetable
    Jeremiah Nacht: Would you care to share your passage and experience as an example?
    Solobill Laville: Sure
    Solobill Laville: (wish I had the book handy...)
    Jeremiah Nacht: Thank you
    Solobill Laville: At the time I was sitting about 25-45 minutes every day before bed
    Solobill Laville: and had been for several weeks
    Solobill Laville: So I believe I was "ripe" as they say

    I should add that I also had just visited a Zen Center and had my mind quite filled with the "scent" of Buddha nature, or Being, for many months.

    Solobill Laville: I was laying on my couch reading "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki
    Solobill Laville: who was a Soto Zen master

    ...Which I had read many times before.  (As an aside; The idea of elaboration theory, or spiral curriculum, is that as we grow - intellectually and/or experientially - our personal knowledge grows in a sort of upward spiral through the various domains of knowledge; so that even though we've covered something before, when the spriral comes around again, we're at a different place and can glean different and new things from the same subject matter.  Back to the book...

    Solobill Laville: the passage, and I paraphrase
    Solobill Laville: went something like this...
    Solobill Laville: the small mind sees everything in relation to itself
    Solobill Laville: Big Mind sees everything within itself
    Solobill Laville: Whap
    Solobill Laville: I got it
    Solobill Laville: I ran upstairs and sat for about 45 minutes
    Solobill Laville: then laughed at the walls!
    Wol Euler grins
    Jeremiah Nacht: :)
    Solobill Laville: laughed at myself
    Solobill Laville: was struck by the miracle that anything "is" at all
    Solobill Laville: and that "is" is everything
    Solobill Laville: yet, I hesitate to say, formless
    Solobill Laville: substanceless
    Solobill Laville: (hence the laughing, I think)
    Wol Euler: Perhaps in the way that the universe has no shape because it includes everything?
    Solobill Laville: perhaps
    Solobill Laville: Again, I hope this helps
    Solobill Laville: But I really struggle describing it
    Solobill Laville: and i do it no justice
    Jeremiah Nacht: It seems to be a very good example :)
    Solobill Laville: :)
    Solobill Laville: Truthfully, I didn't really even think it was anything of note
    Wol Euler: oh yes

    Wol brought up Adams, another PaB guardian who had demonstrated and has shared a wonderful effort and determination over the past few weeks.

    Wol Euler: I was quite taken with Adams' description of her practice of YSBS and the results on her blog (Adams Rubble, another guardian)
    Jeremiah Nacht: That is such an interesting passage
    Solobill Laville: Adams' passion is inspiring
    Jeremiah Nacht: and your comment Wol, about the universe
    Jeremiah Nacht: I like the idea of running to meditation, Solobill :)
    Wol Euler: that is an image that came to me while reading her report, wondering whether Being would be unable to see itself?
    Jeremiah Nacht: So Big Mind is Being?
    Solobill Laville: Yes, though my vernacular would be Buddha nature
    Wol Euler understood it that way too.
    Solobill Laville: hehe, running to sit was the only thing that made sense at the time!!
    Jeremiah Nacht: Yes I see the Buddha nature
    Solobill Laville: And I find that the Zen metaphors work for me as well, i.e. the "Ox", if you're familiar with that
    Wol Euler: no, please tell?
    Jeremiah Nacht trying to remember
    Solobill Laville: How 'bout a link? ;)
    Wol Euler: ok, that works :-)
    Solobill Laville: http://www.sanbo-zen.org/cow_e.html
    Solobill Laville: It basically describes the stages of Seeing from a Zen perspective
    Wol Euler reads

    The website has a black background and white text, which is a guarantee to get an honorable mention in the book, "Websites that Suck!", a book that actually exists and which I have...

    Wol Euler loathes and abhors white text on black ground. Bah. Humbug.
    Solobill Laville: Agreed!! My wife said the same thing when she saw that page!
    Wol Euler: it hurts my eyes. Literally, physically.
    Solobill Laville: Absolutely
    Jeremiah Nacht: :)
    Solobill Laville: I like the images though

    (I've included an image below...)

    Jeremiah Nacht: like Christmas tree balls :)
    Solobill Laville: Yes!
    Solobill Laville: lol
    Jeremiah Nacht: but I guess they don't have those in zen
    Solobill Laville: hmmmm
    Wol Euler: or elizabethan miniature paintings.
    Jeremiah Nacht: yes, those too
    Solobill Laville: ahh, yes!
    Wol Euler: "But for those who want only to learn the rationale of Zen I must warn that these pictures and words will be only "white elephants" of no use whatsoever. " lol!
    Solobill Laville: But, I have tried the YSBS, and I have not repeated the experience
    Solobill Laville: yes, sigh
    Solobill Laville: There are as many paths as people
    Solobill Laville: Someone said that during a PaB meeting (sorry I can't quote directly)
    Solobill Laville: (probably quoting someone else anyway!)
    Jeremiah Nacht: :)
    Wol Euler: heheh

    I wanted to circle back to the general idea of PaB, for Jeremiah's sake.

    Solobill Laville: So, each of these sessions are very different Jeremiah
    Wol Euler: oh yes :-)
    Jeremiah Nacht: Yes, that I did gather, thanks. And you can call me Jer or Jerm if you like. Jeremiah is quite a bit to type :)
    Solobill Laville: Jer!
    Jeremiah Nacht: The monk Moon wanted to call me miah
    Solobill Laville: :)
    Wol Euler: lol
    Wol Euler: oh dear
    Wol Euler: well, actually, why not?

    Jeremiah asked me about my avatar name, which only Pema Pera had done, to my recollection, and that was 4-5 months ago.

    Jeremiah Nacht: May I ask about your name Solobill?
    Solobill Laville: Ah, first four letters are the first four of my last name
    Solobill Laville: First name in RL is Bill
    Solobill Laville: = Solobill
    Wol Euler nods
    Jeremiah Nacht: Ah, simple formula. Not flying solo :)
    Wol Euler: ... which is what I had thought.
    Solobill Laville: It has been my hotmail address for like 11 years...
    Jeremiah Nacht: :)
    Solobill Laville: Solo Mio!
    Solobill Laville: not at all

    Something made Wol think of architecture...

    Wol Euler makes a note to search SL for a Shaker meeting house.
    Solobill Laville: Ah, I know of one!
    Wol Euler: ooh
    Solobill Laville: Rats, no, it is Quaker, sorry
    Solobill Laville: my bad
    Jeremiah Nacht: Why the Shaker Wol?
    Wol Euler: oh, no, that's good to. Do you have a LM?
    Solobill Laville: Yes! hang on
    Wol Euler: well, I am an ex-architect in RL :-)
    Jeremiah Nacht: Yes, I was looking for a Quaker myself
    Wol Euler: so interested in design
    Jeremiah Nacht: Ah, nothing to do with the Sangha, then

    I gave Jeremiah and Wol a landmark to a SL Quaker community.

    Jeremiah Nacht: thank you Solobill
    Wol Euler: not as such, no :-)
    Wol Euler: ty!
    Solobill Laville: yw!
    Jeremiah Nacht: Are there many Buddhists in PaB?
    Solobill Laville: There are a few, Jeremiah (Buddhist PaB'ers)

    Wol and Jeremiah speak of SL and RL architecture, which is indeed a genuinely wondrous thing.

    Jeremiah Nacht: Have you seen the Crystal Palace, Wol?
    Wol Euler: no! wow.
    Jeremiah Nacht: The scale is impressive even if you had an idea of how big it was
    Jeremiah Nacht: Sorry Solobill
    Wol Euler: I'll look for that. Have you seen the Ryoanji Temple?
    Wol Euler: one of my favourite places to sit and ponder.
    Solobill Laville: no need for "sorries" :)
    Jeremiah Nacht: Yes I have seen Ryoanji
    Wol Euler: (not the whole temple, just the famous stone garden)
    Jeremiah Nacht: Yes
    Jeremiah Nacht: I can't find my landmark for the Crystal Palace
    Wol Euler: no worries, I can look it up
    Jeremiah Nacht: They have some period shops in the Crystal Palace to fill up some of the space
    Jeremiah Nacht: still much of it is empty
    Wol Euler: ha! it would be a natural match for Caledon.
    Jeremiah Nacht: They have some displays too, reflecting what was originally in it
    Jeremiah Nacht: But it is prim heavy and so lots of lag
    Wol Euler: ah.
    Wol Euler: (channeling Faenik :-)
    Jeremiah Nacht: Have you been to Hancock, Mass., Wol?
    Solobill Laville: could be

    I would speculate that Faenik is the most quoted entity from PaB.

    Wol Euler: lol
    Wol Euler: no, in neither world.
    Jeremiah Nacht: That is where the round barn is
    Jeremiah Nacht: Unfortunately I must go; this has been a very interesting discussion
    Wol Euler: oh, yes, it's getting late. Me too.
    Jeremiah Nacht: Thank you very much for your descriptions, Solobill
    Solobill Laville: Take care, Jer and Wol!
    Jeremiah Nacht: You too. Goodbye :)
    Wol Euler mods. thank you, Solo; and Jer, nice meeting you. I hope you'll come back.

    Jer had quickly vanished.

    Wol Euler: too late!
    Wol Euler: ah well :-)
    Wol Euler: well, enjoy the afternoon. See you anon.
    Solobill Laville: Yes, anon
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