2008.12.30 13:00 - Prehistory of PaB Dialogues #1: Pema and Stim

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    The Guardian this session was genesis Zhangsun, the comments below are hers.  This was the first of a series of dialogues which will take place between Pema Pera and Stim Morane on the Prehistory of PaB.

    Pema wrote the following email the day before the dialogue to the PaB group:

    Prehistory of Play as Being

    Pema Pera & Stim Morane

     The term `Being' is central in our PaB initiative, but where does it come from?  A general historical answer is: a term like this has been used in many contemplative traditions, and a similar term may one day find its use in science as well. A pragmatic answer is what PaB started off with: stop every 15 min. for 9 sec. dropping what you have in order to see more what you are -- and one way to to do that is to play as Being.

    In addition, we can ask a more specific historical question: how did we come up with the particular phrase `Play as Being'? The phrase itself was taken by Pema from a book written by Stim on behalf of his teacher Tarthang Tulku, more than 30 years ago; in "Time, Space and Knowledge," on p. 305, the last full page of the book.  Why did this notion appeal so much to Pema (Piet Hut) and Stim (Steven Tainer), when Stim wrote this in 1976 and Piet read it in 1980?  What kind of background did they have by that time in their respective explorations of the nature of reality? What happened afterwards, before and after they met in 1996?

    The turn of the year seems like an appropriate occasion to reflect on this prehistory of PaB.  Strictly speaking, PaB's roots are unimportant: Being simply is.  At the same time, it is a fair question to ask how PaB appeared, and in what soil. So if you have any questions about the roots of PaB, feel free to ask them during our dialogue, this Tuesday or during the next few Tuesdays.

    P.S.: here is the whole last page of the book mentioned above:

    Every level and facet of our reality is perfectly integrated as Being.  Space, Time, Knowledge, microcosm, macrocosm, subject, object, body, mind, senses, self and other are all beautifully reciprocating, balancing within Being.

    Even if we cannot awaken to this universal synthesis immediately, we can begin to recognize and live in accordance with such an integration on a personal level.  This expressive play-as-Being is always inspiring because it is an infinitely-varied play.  We cannot stagnate while being appreciative of such an unbounded drama.  Nor can we continue to preserve an achievement-orientation, because we find fulfillment in what we are ourselves, in what is at hand.  We are no longer seen as the embodiment of a lower knowing, but are instead the embodiment of Being.  As such, we no longer need an anxious outward directedness.  There is a subtle fulfillment `present' and constantly going on.

    Given Being's endless play, there is no fixed way to `get' this fulfillment, since it is too `near' to `get', and is so ever-present that no particular approach is necessary or possible.  There is no way for us to walk out of this fulfillment -- it is always spontaneously arriving.

    The last paragraph, by the way, sheds some more light on this question of "starting at the end" or better "being at the end" that we have been talking about quite a bit this month.



     I arrived to a full house...

    Adams Dubrovna: Hello gen :)
    Stim Morane: Yes.
    Stim Morane: Hi Gen!
    Adams Dubrovna: Hello Scath :)
    Rajah Yalin: thanks Pema nice to see you all again, has been a while - I stopped in a few days ago really late night here, fell asleep on some new faces (my bad)
    genesis Zhangsun: Hi Stim!
    Pema Pera: The choice of language is important, determining expressiveness and atmosphere
    genesis Zhangsun: Hey everyone!
    Rajah Yalin: hi gen, hi scath!
    Scathach Rhiadra: Hello all:)
    Tarmel Udimo: hi gen, hi scath
    Adams Dubrovna: Hello Maxine :)
    genesis Zhangsun: Hey Tarmel
    Rajah Yalin: hi Maxine
    Rajah Yalin: hi Gaya
    Adams Dubrovna: Hello Gaya :)
    Maxine Walden: hi, all
    Tarmel Udimo: hi maxine
    genesis Zhangsun: Hi Gaya, Adams, Rajah, Maxine, Scath, Storm :)
    Maxine Walden: hi Tarmel
    Scathach Rhiadra: Hi Maxine
    Gaya Ethaniel: Hello everyone
    Tarmel Udimo: hi
    Maxine Walden: hi, Scathach, Gaya, Adams, Gen
    Tarmel Udimo: now I'm sitting beside all the chicks :-)
    Gaya Ethaniel: Have you been well Rajah? Has been a while
    Rajah Yalin: yes I've been great - did some traveling to very rural areas here in Vanuatu - was like going back 1000 years...
    Rajah Yalin: one computer and phone in the village - couple kilometre walk, so I couldn't get around to SL much, that part was bad :/
    Pema Pera: Glad to see you here in our rural part of SL again, Rajah!
    Pema Pera: Shall we get started?
    genesis Zhangsun: Yes

    Dialogue begins...

    Pema Pera: Gen generously allowed us to use her slot
    Pema Pera: for a dialogue between Stim and me
    Stim Morane: Thanks, gen
    Pema Pera: (we are looking forward to other people dialoguing too!)
    genesis Zhangsun: My pleasure :)
    Pema Pera: The topic today is "prehistory of PaB"
    Pema Pera: many of you at different occasions have asked about the notion of Being
    Pema Pera: where it came from and what it meant
    Pema Pera: and there really are two very different answers
    Pema Pera: the most important answer is that the specific way to get there is not important
    Pema Pera: it is like asking what a scientist ate for breakfast before writing down a new equation that turned out to be useful
    Pema Pera: the reality value of the new equation is self-contained
    Pema Pera: but of course as human beings we are curious and we like to know how things happened
    Pema Pera: and also we want to have some more circumstantial evidence
    Pema Pera: to give us some sense whether some approach may be worth spending time on
    Pema Pera: so, for all these reasons, Stim and I are happy to talk about our meandering endeavors over the last 40 years
    Pema Pera: that brought us to consider something that the word Being points to as something central in our explorations
    Pema Pera: Stim, do you want to add something to that introduction?
    Stim Morane: Well, I'm willing to say a few things, but summarizing 40 years ...
    Stim Morane: Where shall we start?
    Pema Pera: perhaps with your transition from academic philosophy to a more direct way of exploring reality?
    Pema Pera: 39 years ago, I believe?

      Stim tell us about his experiences

    Stim Morane: That part is pretty simple. The ordinary view of lifethat so present in academia just seemed dead to me at a certain point.
    Stim Morane: *is so present
    Stim Morane: and coincidentally, a Tibetan master arrived in the United States.
    Stim Morane: so I "jumped ship".
    Pema Pera: was it different from what you expected, to train under him?
    Stim Morane: Studying with a meditation master is very different from attending weekend workshops or something like that.
    Stim Morane: I spent much of my time trying to figure out a way of running away.
    Stim Morane: Is the answer?
    Stim Morane: Is that an answer?
    Pema Pera: sure :)
    Pema Pera: did you actually run away?
    Stim Morane: Once, for about a year. But he found me.
    Pema Pera: you didn't find him again?
    Stim Morane: Well, in the middle of a very cold winter, an New Year's EVe, I decided to leave the remote mountain area I was living in, and went to see a casino in Nevada. My teacher walked in around two in the morning, walked up to me and basically asked if I was coming back.
    Stim Morane: I said "I guess so".
    Stim Morane: :)
    Pema Pera: That must have been quite a surprise, I take it
    Stim Morane: I'm not sure.
    Stim Morane: Anyway, yes, there was a lot of the usual stuff: practice, study, being taken to task.
    Stim Morane: Traditional teachers now living in the West labor under the restrictions of modern culture.
    Stim Morane: So the traditional way of teaching has become somewhat tamed.
    Stim Morane: No Being yet ... how shall we proceed.
    Stim Morane: :)
    Stim Morane: Pema's system may be locked up.
    How Time, Space, Knowledge came into being....
    Pema Pera: Perhaps you can say something about how your studies of Tibetan Buddhism led to the writing of the Time, Space and Knowledge book (TSK for short)?
    Stim Morane: It was an experiment.
    Stim Morane: That teacher liked to push into new territories.
    Stim Morane: And it was obvious to both of us that people living ordinary workaday lives in the West might need something different.
    Stim Morane: I think this is an on
    Stim Morane: -going challenge.
    Pema Pera: yes, very much so
    Stim Morane: PaB is part of the same experiment, I guess.
    Pema Pera: indeed!
    Stim Morane: For you, I mean.

     The birth of "Play as Being" from TSK

    Pema Pera: yes, as I wrote to the group, my inspiration for "Play as Being" came directly from the TSK book
    Pema Pera: I like to look at the last page of a book, in general :-)
    Pema Pera: and there it was
    Stim Morane: Yes, I've noticed.
    Pema Pera: That was back in 1980, a few years after you wrote the book, on behalf of your teacher
    Pema Pera: it just took me a while to figure out how to apply it . . . .
    Pema Pera: . . . .and I am still figuring every day
    Stim Morane: For me, that book was a very small part of my training. And much of what I learned and framed subsequently has also filtered into PaB, with the words and phrases shifting to reflect the special needs and interests of PaB.
    Stim Morane: This is interesting for me to learn from ...
    Pema Pera: Yes, I have found it very helpful to learn from your personal angle on TSK and PaB, since I met you in 1996, and since we started Kira in 1997
    Pema Pera: But the key ideas all seem to have been present in that TSK book already
    Stim Morane: I think the main big shift for me, over further years of retreat practice, was the realization of "Is".
    Stim Morane: I didn't really see that, or write about it, so much in that older book.
    Pema Pera: and yet Being is central, already in the TSK book -- different from "Is"?
    Stim Morane: What that term, which I pressed into service in my own groups, will come to mean in PaB is a key point of interest to me.
    Stim Morane: I'm sure the point was there ... but I was very young and perhaps just didn't understand it well enough to emphasize it in what I wrote. That was mid-70's after all.
    Stim Morane: I probably didn't get all sorts of things my master was trying to say.
    Pema Pera: What is the largest difference between "Is" and how "Being" was portrayed in TSK?
    Stim Morane: For me now, "Is" is far more direct and also beyond any emphasis on just what the ordinary senses yield.
    Stim Morane: But this is complicated ... Being in the book you mention wasn't much developed as a topic. So in a way, it doesn't really work to compare Is to Being as written.
    Stim Morane: We'll see what it is in PaB.
    Pema Pera: It always seemed to me that Being came out on the last page, pointing to a sequel :-)
    Pema Pera: Perhaps your "Is" is that one
    Stim Morane: There were sequel, but nothing that really explored Being in the strict sense. Any traditional understanding of Being would be an extremely advanced topic, not one that lends itself to much discussion or practice.
    Stim Morane: *sequels
    Stim Morane: Starting with Being is intriguing ... it wouldn't be considered in the more traditional world.
    Pema Pera: Yes, that seems to be a key point: not only is it hard to discuss, it is not clear what, if any, kind of practice can be associated with it
    Stim Morane: None
    Stim Morane: Any practice, especially by a person or self, would be simply wrong.
    Stim Morane: Any yet Being, even in the strict traditional sense, is very friendly and accommodating.
    Stim Morane: So there may indeed be room for all sorts of "play", as I think you intuited.
    Stim Morane: Play but not "practice"
    Pema Pera: (Any -> And, above?)
    Stim Morane: Sorry?
    Pema Pera: (Any yet Being)?
    Stim Morane: Oh
    Stim Morane: Sorry
    Stim Morane: *And yet Being
    Pema Pera: Can you say a bit more about Being being very friendly and accomodating?
    Stim Morane: Because It is beyond practice and progress, it is also without prejudice
    Stim Morane: Complete from the beginningless beginning
    Stim Morane: and inclusive of all
    Stim Morane: It is only the narrow perspective of the ordinary self that has prejudices
    Pema Pera: Well, I'd love to continue, but we really should open up the floor (the pond?) for questions, comments, etc!
    Dialogue opens to the floor... the issue of whether if Being is beyond practice and progress, what is the point in practicing?
    Storm Nordwind: A quick question: I see the TSK is still available. Would you recommend our reading it? :)
    Stim Morane: I never recommend it, because it's hard to know what a given person will benefit from.
    Fefonz Quan: If Being is beyond practice and progress, what is the point of practicing?
    Pema Pera: I would, if you are curious; it is certainly not necessary
    Stim Morane: Pema has a different angle, though.
    Storm Nordwind: Thank you
    Tarmel Udimo: Any practice, especially by a person or self, would be simply wrong. - is this because it is just being itself?
    Stim Morane: Frankly, it's hard for me to recommend anything I wrote when I was in my mid-20'-
    Stim Morane: 20's
    Pema Pera: that's why I recommend it for him -- though I was in my 20s too, when I first read it :-)
    Stim Morane: So many clunky things ... but that's silly of me to worry about.
    Tarmel Udimo: and we are at all various stages of development
    Stim Morane: I think for people in PaB, no ... it is too structured and detailed. PaB is more spontaneous!
    Pema Pera: Stim, Fefonz and Tarmel asked about the implications of "no practice"
    Stim Morane: I mean, the book is too ...
    Stim Morane: Yes, I know.
    Stim Morane: Fefonz, what do you think?
    Fefonz Quan: somehow it seems that althoguh the practice doesn't promise the result
    Fefonz Quan: there is still some motivation, or assumption that it "helps"
    Stim Morane: Yes.
    Fefonz Quan: but that sound like a paradox
    Fefonz Quan: giving what you've said
    Stim Morane: And practice itself can be without the heaviness we usually associate with "practice".
    Stim Morane: I don't think there's a paradox here.
    Stim Morane: Practice can itself be the way we learn to let go of that heaviness.
    Stim Morane: The fact that even this "learning" is not strictly needed is important, but perhaps not the only issue.
    Stim Morane: I would be interested to hear what the rest of you feel about this.
    Fefonz Quan: i feel that our language has some limitation here
    Stim Morane: Yes.
    Rajah Yalin nods.
    Stim Morane: that will always be true.
    Stim Morane: But we can be aware of those limitations
    Stim Morane: and in the process, we can use language in a new way
    Emphasis on sincerity of practice...
    Stim Morane: Dogen said that there is no "high" practice or "low" practice, but only sincere practice and insincere practice (which is to say, bogus practice). I think sincere practice already is free of the most toxic aspects of practice.
    Pema Pera: that's a beautiful quote!
    Stim Morane: Again, the appreciative "play" emphasized in PaB seems to be a good balance, a based solution.
    Pema Pera: As for "[13:41] Tarmel Udimo: and we are at all various stages of development" I would say: we are and we aren't -- when we see ourselves as limited human beings, sure, then we are, within that context, that kind of story; but when we see ourselves as we really are, then there is no we/us/I, only Being, and Being has no limitations, no stages of development.
    Stim Morane: *a good solution.
    Stim Morane: Yes, in what I and now Pema call "seeing", there is certainly no paradox.
    Stim Morane: But even without much "seeing", with sincerity I think practice or play is healthy and not contrary to Being.
    Fefonz Quan: yet, on one hand even the "playing" seems to use guidness, on the other hand, guideness is meant to point at something, which seems un pointable
    Stim Morane: you have to start somewhere
    Fefonz Quan: *guideness
    Tarmel Udimo: I agree but we do not always see ourselves as "we really are" and so we must start from the oint where we are...
    Pema Pera: or we can "Play as Being"
    Stim Morane: yes ... this is part of what I meant in saying Being is very tolerant.
    Pema Pera: as if we were Being
    Tarmel Udimo: which is the only place one can start or the rest is wishful thinking
    Tarmel Udimo: *all
    Stim Morane: yes
    genesis Zhangsun: but what does it mean to play sincerely?
    Pema Pera: play is wishful, in a light way :-)
    genesis Zhangsun: to play with a sincere intention?
    Stim Morane: Good question for the group.
    Stim Morane: But perhaps it means "to really just jump in!"
    Stim Morane: without fear or divided mind
    Pema Pera: without showing off, not as a promotion tour for the self
    Storm Nordwind: To do it with or without motive?
    Stim Morane: interesting question
    Stim Morane: What is your view, Storm?
    genesis Zhangsun: a self with a sincere intention=Being?
    Fefonz Quan: can we do it without motive sincerely?
    Fefonz Quan: i think i can't, for now

    The issue of motive...

    Storm Nordwind: It seems to me that everything we do habitually is with some kind of motive. Motive is the hook here, it would seem, and then we leave it behind almost
    Stim Morane: Yes
    Fefonz Quan: nods
    Pema Pera: like crutches or scaffolding
    Storm Nordwind: yes indeed
    genesis Zhangsun: do we ever completely leave it behind?
    Stim Morane: But we can also notice some distinctions: motive is ok if it doesn't involve the grasping that's so typical of the ordinary mind
    Pema Pera: (as soon as we leave "we" behind, Gen :-)
    Stim Morane: This is a classic Buddhist point in fact: intention is not necessarily the same as grasping-type motive
    Storm Nordwind agrees
    Tarmel Udimo: agrees
    Stim Morane: strong and sincere intention can be free of "wanting".
    genesis Zhangsun: could you say intention is a root issue as opposing to grasping which is a fruits issue?
    Stim Morane: the poverty mentality can be dropped, and still there can be sincere intent.
    Stim Morane: yes
    Stim Morane: gen, i think so.
    Stim Morane: This gets into time issues too, a favorite topic of many here.
    Stim Morane: higher time is not becoming/grasping time
    Pema Pera: celebration/appreciation rather than grasping/reaching
    Stim Morane: intent needn't be fettered by grasping-type time.
    Stim Morane: yes, that was always how I saw this
    Stim Morane: I think that was Dogen's point too.
    Pema Pera: so we celebrate Being by acknowledging all as Being -- and when we can't quite do that fully yet, then as a next best thing at least we can play as Being
    Fefonz Quan: grasping-type time is not clear to me (being in the start of TSK...)
    Tarmel Udimo: smiles at pema's remark
    Pema Pera smiles back
    Stim Morane: Fefonz, do you mean you're not sure what is meant by that phrase?
    genesis Zhangsun: linear notions of time, forward going, process oriented
    Fefonz Quan: yes stim
    genesis Zhangsun: is that what you mean by grasping type time?
    Stim Morane: OK. gen, yes ... but of course here the issue is to find things we are actually caught up in, things we assume just in the very way we live.
    Stim Morane: we may not be aware of such assumptions, but they are in the very fiber of our being, our bodies, etc
    Stim Morane: This can be noticed, and relaxed.
    Gaya Ethaniel: Stim, could you say a bit more about 'wanting' in relation to time?
    Stim Morane: in contemplative traditions, everything is concrete. Not abstract.
    Stim Morane: It all comes down to what we ourselves are doing.
    Stim Morane: Very different from physics, for instance.
    Stim Morane: Or maybe not ...
    Stim Morane: It depends on how one looks at it. But my point is that you yourself can answer that question, just be more "seeing".
    Stim Morane: *by
    Pema Pera: it is like "grokking physics" . . . :-)
    Stim Morane: Our ordinary existence is pervaded by subtle "wanting", "reaching" ... and this, for contemplatives, is "time.
    Stim Morane: "time"
    Pema Pera: what a really good physicist does, after many years
    Stim Morane: drop that "reaching" and you find timeless time, Presence.
    Stim Morane: This = the start of Being.

    Being as opposed to existing...

    Stim Morane: So Being is different from ordinary "existing"
    Stim Morane: existing is a run-on affair, bleeding out all the energy of Being ... without Being ever Itself being diminished.
    Stim Morane: Sorry, I'm getting carried away here! :)
    Tarmel Udimo: so in essense we must all give birth to "Being"
    Gaya Ethaniel smiles
    Tarmel Udimo: within ourselves
    Stim Morane: or let go to It.
    Pema Pera loves it when Stim gets carried away . . .
    Stim Morane: Is this an action (practice) or not?
    Tarmel Udimo: giving birth to being?
    Rajah Yalin: the only change needed is the thought of needing to change
    Pema Pera: yes, but just dropping the thought can also lead to lethargy
    Fefonz Quan: (tried it, rajah, 30% success)
    Stim Morane: or seeing that whatever we have, even our mistakes, are within what you call "change" (reformation)
    Tarmel Udimo: he word that keeps coming up is 'grace"
    Stim Morane: Yes, I think so.
    Tarmel Udimo: Being seems to just drp in and out as it feels like
    Tarmel Udimo: *drop
    Stim Morane: we see it that way
    Pema Pera: :)
    Stim Morane: but of course it isn't
    Stim Morane: our vagaries are allowable follies
    Adams Dubrovna: I have to go. Thank you so much Pema and Stim for a wonderful dialogue :)
    Pema Pera: Tarmel's point though, of giving birth: in a very concrete sense you can say that (with the right understanding) we contribute to Being, wouldn't you say, Stim?
    Rajah Yalin: take care Adams
    Stim Morane: Just remember: it's all Pema's fault!
    Pema Pera: I happily take blame!
    Stim Morane: :)
    Tarmel Udimo: yes that's right
    Stim Morane: I should go too.
    Pema Pera: wouldn't you say, Stim?
    Pema Pera: re: Tarmel's point
    Rajah Yalin: okay stim - take care - good listening from you and Pema
    Fefonz Quan: thanks for the talk stim and pema1
    Pema Pera: sorry, last question Stim
    Stim Morane: thanks, Fefonz
    Stim Morane: uh ... I'll try later.
    Do we contribute to Being?

    Pema Pera: [14:07] Pema Pera: Tarmel's point though, of giving birth: in a very concrete sense you can say that (with the right understanding) we contribute to Being, wouldn't you say, Stim?
    Gaya Ethaniel: Thank you Stim
    Stim Morane: oh. Sure! But not in a dualistic way. This is a very interesting point.
    Pema Pera: perhaps a place to start next week :)
    Pema Pera: Thank you, Stim!
    Stim Morane: too hard for me.
    Pema Pera: And thank you, All !
    Tarmel Udimo: thanks stim
    Pema Pera: great fun
    Stim Morane: bye
    Tarmel Udimo: thanks pema
    genesis Zhangsun: thanks Stim and Pema
    Scathach Rhiadra: ty Stim and Pema
    Pila Mulligan: bye Stim
    Rajah Yalin: thank you all - take care
    Maxine Walden: thanks so much!!
    Gaya Ethaniel: Thank you all
    genesis Zhangsun: Bye everyone
    Tarmel Udimo: bye all
    Scathach Rhiadra: bye all
    Pema Pera: c u soon
    Pila Mulligan: bye
    Rajah Yalin: peace
    Fefonz Quan: bye all, good night
    genesis Zhangsun: bye Fefonz
    genesis Zhangsun: bye Storm
    Storm Nordwind: Bye!
    Fefonz Quan: ps - is there another dual talk in 6 hours?
    genesis Zhangsun: yes Maxine and Pema
    Fefonz Quan: by storm
    genesis Zhangsun: 7pm SLT
    Fefonz Quan: ok, tough time...
    genesis Zhangsun: yes for me too
    genesis Zhangsun: can read the log on the wiki :)
    genesis Zhangsun: probably will end up doing that myself
    Fefonz Quan: right :)
    Fefonz Quan: good bye gen:)
    genesis Zhangsun: good bye Fefonz :)

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