2010.01.28 07:00 - A revolutionary act

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    The Guardian for this meeting was Storm Nordwind. The comments are by Storm Nordwind.

    I laid out just eight cushions for this inimate session, and we used only four or them.

    Storm Nordwind: Good morning Eden :)
    Eden Haiku: Good morning Storm.
    Eden Haiku: Smaller mandala for the retreat?
    Storm Nordwind: Possibly! You know... I'd never really thought of it as a mandala before... but you're right of course!
    Eden Haiku: Eliza said so I think, seeing this place as a mandala. ;-)
    Storm Nordwind: I like it. I am forever learning new ways to look at things. :)

    Eden recalls a recent past conversation in which I mentioned a text of only eight verses, each verse only four lines long, written by a monk around 900 years ago, and called originally Lojong Tsig Gyema. The practice is now often called (a little ominously in my view!) "Training the mind".
    Eden Haiku: The 8 verses of Geshe Langri Tangpa are amazing Storm. Thank you for pointing them to me the other day.
    Storm Nordwind smiles
    Storm Nordwind: You are most welcome
    Storm Nordwind: I find they can be a lifelong practice just on their own
    Eden Haiku: You know, I realized I had them on 4 tapes by the Dalai-Lama for years. Had listened very little of it. But I found the eight verses in a summary form on Google after you told me about them and then it clicked.
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Storm and Eden! :)
    Storm Nordwind: Good morning Eliza!
    Eden Haiku: Good morning Eliza!
    Eliza Madrigal: We're all in white/black today
    Eden Haiku: Yes we are ;-)
    Storm Nordwind: The loose ends are resolving for you Eden. Like a denouement. :)
    Eden Haiku: I agree with you: this practce for training the mind seems to be a lifelong process...
    Storm Nordwind: I have found it works in the most (apparently) difficult circumstances
    Gaya Ethaniel: Hello Eden, Eliza and Storm :)
    Storm Nordwind: Good afternoon Gaya!
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Gaya :)
    Eden Haiku: The first verse is easy: Cherish all living beings. hello Gaya!

    Gaya arrives, and Eliza tells us that the old WoK group has gone on to discussing the very same topic!
    Eliza Madrigal: Storm and Eden were talking about mind-training... 8 verses....
    Gaya Ethaniel listens :)
    Eden Haiku: Love your haircut and glasses Gaya!
    Eliza Madrigal: Which is such a nice collaboration since we've begun reading/studying lojong :)
    Eden Haiku: In a meditation group Eliza?
    Eliza Madrigal: We're just beginning a workshop in Kira which is an offshoot of the Ways of Knowing group
    Eden Haiku: Oh, how nice!
    Storm Nordwind: Oh I didn't know that. How excellent!
    Eliza Madrigal: Thank you. When you return you'll have to come
    Gaya Ethaniel: :)
    Eden Haiku: I would like to, yes.
    Eliza Madrigal: Yes Storm, Though Stim isn't able to lead anymore, we kind of loved the dynamic of the group...
    Eliza Madrigal: so trying to work together :)
    Storm Nordwind: But you have moved to a weekend, right?
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, early Sunday mornings
    Gaya Ethaniel: :)
    Eliza Madrigal missed last weekend unfortunately... timing wrong ... eek
    Gaya Ethaniel nods :(
    Storm Nordwind: Ah... I would have loved to have come. It is such a precious practice and wonderful to discuss. I could have come at the old time, but not on Sunday.
    Eliza Madrigal: Well it seems you are on the same page with us anyway!
    Gaya Ethaniel: Shame ...
    Gaya Ethaniel: :)
    Eliza Madrigal: The eight verses link you gave is so timely... am enjoying going over it, pausing with it
    Eliza Madrigal: http://www.buddhadharma.org/EightVerses/
    Gaya Ethaniel: :)
    Eliza Madrigal: or maybe you just mentioned it and I found this link... hm...
    Eden Haiku: yep, that is the one I have been reading .
    There's a book in front of me... and the mention I give to White Tara is linked to a series of celebrations now happening weekly in Second Life that Eliza and I have attended.
    Storm Nordwind: I have a book - actually in front of me now - that is a commentary on the Eight Verses, called "Eight Steps to Happiness". It has a wonderful picture of White Tara on the cover (!), though I don't know why as she is not referred to anywhere in the book!
    Eliza Madrigal: hmmm
    Gaya Ethaniel: Don't know much but think Tara helps with overcoming obstacles ... maybe that's why?
    Storm Nordwind: She is known as the compassionate mother of long life, and as the embodiment of the ultimate wisdom of all the Buddhas. But apart from that... :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Well then she surely would help with obstacles to happiness.... :)
    Gaya Ethaniel: ah ok, just something I picked up while researching 8 fears & Tara ...

    Eden asks me for an example of putting the eight verses into practice. So - taking a deep breath - I recount, in some detail, a story from recent personal history.
    Eden Haiku: Would you share one of your experiences of this practice Storm?
    Storm Nordwind: OK Eden. I can give you one example of the practice...
    Eden Haiku: yes!
    Eliza Madrigal listens happily
    Storm Nordwind: A fairly recent one too, so still fresh in my mind
    Eden Haiku: listening
    Storm Nordwind: When I was still living in Scotland, I was working as an educator in a software company
    Storm Nordwind: And at some point towards the end of my time there, I was assigned to a new boss
    Storm Nordwind: Well... it appears that boss did not like the way I did things...
    Gaya Ethaniel: :(
    Eden Haiku: ;( also
    Storm Nordwind: other people actually pointed out to me (at least in their opinion) that he just did not like me!
    Gaya Ethaniel: :((
    Eden Haiku: :((
    Storm Nordwind: And that was strange, because I was apparently loved by everyone else in the company...
    Storm Nordwind: Maybe I wasn't the best technically....
    Storm Nordwind: but that wasn't the point really about educating...
    Storm Nordwind: my idea was to make myself more and more dispensable - like any good teacher
    Storm Nordwind: and so make people feel good and confident about their new skills as they learnt with me
    Storm Nordwind: However this wasn't what this new boss wanted
    Storm Nordwind: and he found any excuse to put little black marks in his appraisals
    Storm Nordwind: As it happened, the senior management felt constrained to agree with him as they didn't want to undermine his authority
    Storm Nordwind: even if they privately disagreed
    Eliza Madrigal: very common unfortunately, sigh
    Gaya Ethaniel: Need to protect the system ...
    Eliza Madrigal nods
    Eden Haiku: hmmm
    Storm Nordwind: So when it came to appraisal time, and disagreements and (yes even) disciplinary action (the first and only time it has ever happened to me in my very long career)...
    Eliza Madrigal: Oh :(
    Eden Haiku: ;-(
    Storm Nordwind: I just remembered the Eight Verses
    Storm Nordwind: and especially Verse 6
    Eden Haiku: Oh yes..
    Storm Nordwind: "When others out of jealousy...
    Storm Nordwind: Harm me or insult me...
    Storm Nordwind: May I take defeat upon myself...
    Storm Nordwind: And offer them the victory"
    Storm Nordwind: And I did just that. And the effect was miraculous.
    Eden Haiku: How did you do it?
    Storm Nordwind: It didn't change my boss's attitudes
    Storm Nordwind: But everyone else had never ever before experienced anything like it
    Storm Nordwind: and the effect on all of them was profound
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah!!
    Storm Nordwind: They kept shaking their heads...
    Storm Nordwind: amazed at my attitude...
    Storm Nordwind: non-plussed at my constant happiness...
    Storm Nordwind: perplexed at my smiles...
    Storm Nordwind: and they very often used the word "gracious" about me...
    Storm Nordwind: while casting side-long glances at my boss! ;)
    Eliza Madrigal: :)))
    Gaya Ethaniel: :)
    Eliza Madrigal: You were a display to them, to their great benefit perhaps ...
    Eliza Madrigal: That's wonderful
    Storm Nordwind: Perhaps yes.
    Eden Haiku: You just accepted the disciplinary action and kept smiling? How gracious, indeed. Thanks Storm, it was a very good example. Teaching example ;-)
    Storm Nordwind: There was no need for any emotional response from me
    Storm Nordwind: I pointed out, simply and factually, that I disagreed with the assessment, and that for every bit of evidence that was presented, I had many other counter-examples. But that I was quite happy and accepting of the situation.
    Eden Haiku: Oh, that clarifies the example even further.
    Eliza Madrigal: Seems an important crossroad... a moment which could have played out in many ways...
    Storm Nordwind: Yes. Actually probably more important for all witnessing it than it was for me
    Eliza Madrigal nods
    Storm Nordwind: I could not help but have compassion for this man who was deeply screwing up his own future.

    End of story. I'd talked enough, so I stay quiet for a long while. My friends now think and tell of some of their own experiences. Gaya begins.
    Gaya Ethaniel: It ties well with something I've been thinking about. Acting appropriately with changes ...
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, accepting change graciously, Gaya?
    Gaya Ethaniel: A lot of people like that tend to be in fact very confused though they think they are 'right'.
    Gaya Ethaniel: I guess so Eliza ... things change, one often forgets about the process.
    Eliza Madrigal: Sure, and the fact that others loved you can bother some in a way they don't see if they aren't used to asking themselves certain types of questions...

    And Eden candidly tells us of an occurence in her life.
    Eden Haiku: Something similar happened to me. But I was not so gracious: I took the blame, kept silent about the abuse and felt sorry for myself. But at least, I did not fight them. Your example shows me how I could have acknowledged the unjustice and still accept the disciplinary action.
    Eliza Madrigal: :)) yes that's more my line too Eden....
    Eliza Madrigal: haha... we'll get there :)
    Eliza Madrigal: to be honest/fearless/AND kind
    Storm Nordwind: That's an elegant summary Eliza! :)
    Eden Haiku: Yes: honest, fearless and kind. All three of them ...
    Eliza Madrigal: Radical

    "Honest, fearless and kind" was at this point going to be the title of this session's chat log. But I changed my mind later! Meanwhile, Gaya continues and raises an interesting question.
    Gaya Ethaniel: I had a boss who is [my ex-colleagues tell me situations haven't changed] difficult and I didn't respond as Storm illustrated. It definitely taught me to consider a different course of action in the future.
    Eden Haiku: :-)
    Gaya Ethaniel: I don't know how far one should push the idea of 'standing up' for oneself though.
    Eden Haiku: I like that part. Have to work on that one a lot...
    Gaya Ethaniel: "Drive all blames to oneself" in Logong can be understood in different ways.
    Eliza Madrigal: There is something to be said for the non-avoiding element of this... to be, in a sense, compeltely open in whatever the situation...
    Eden Haiku: You don't think standing up for oneself is so important Gaya?
    Gaya Ethaniel shrugs ... it's a complex question.
    Eliza Madrigal: we avoid by reacting in the usual ways, or by hiding... retreating...

    Gaya's quote is from another text by the 12th century monk Chekhawa, who was moved to his own study of Lojong after reading Langri Tangpa's Eight Verses. Chekhawa's Training the Mind in Seven Points includes the line "Gather all blame into one", meaning we should blame our mind of self-cherishing for all our problems and suffering, rather than blaming others. The 8th century Shantideva makes the same point... but more of that perhaps another time!

    Eliza continues by mentioning the radical element of surprise!
    Eliza Madrigal: Another part of the lojong is "Don't be predictable"
    Gaya Ethaniel: :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Storm's response was unpredictable for sure
    Eden Haiku: Yes, very complex. Especially for women I would think...
    Gaya Ethaniel: People who know Storm well may not have found that unpredictable ...
    Eliza Madrigal: :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Well happiness in the face of 'persecution' is a radical move...
    Gaya Ethaniel: Non resistance to evil :)

    Talking of how complex it can be to respond as a woman, rather than as a man, we digress briefly into a perhaps surprising gender comparison.
    Eden Haiku: When I first got in touch with Tibetan buddhism I could not believe my ears about the fact that coming back as a male human being was on top of the list if one had to reincarnate...
    Gaya Ethaniel: I guess that probably needs to be understood in its cultural context. Education is more availble to males than females in Tibet traditionally.
    Gaya Ethaniel: As an example ...
    Eden Haiku: Yes, you are right Gaya about context.
    Eliza Madrigal: I think the Dalai Lama has suggested an idea of coming back as a female... things are changing a bit....
    Gaya Ethaniel: :)
    Eliza Madrigal: And of course, we started off talking about Tara :)

    Eden remarks on an important lesson from my story.
    Eden Haiku: I like the fact that standing up for oneself and accepting injust defeat with grace are possible together in Storm's example.
    Eliza Madrigal: yes that they aren't mutually exclusive
    Eliza Madrigal: One can be strong and gentle :)
    Gaya Ethaniel: Like Gandhi?
    Eliza Madrigal nods... a radical if I ever saw one ;-)

    And a quick reversion to gender matters...
    Eden Haiku: wonders if the Dalai Lama he come back in Second Life in a female avatar?
    Gaya Ethaniel: Standing up by non-resistance ... :)
    Eliza Madrigal smiles
    Storm Nordwind chuckles
    Gaya Ethaniel glances sideway to Storm :)

    ...before Eliza wows us with a quote!
    Eliza Madrigal: as a coincidence...
    Eliza Madrigal put a quote in her profile this morning: "To be truly happy in this world is a revolutionary act! (snip) It is radical change of view that liberates us so that we know who we are most deeply and can acknowledge our enormous ability to love." S. Salzberg
    Eden Haiku: Wow!
    Eden Haiku: Checking your profile...
    Eliza Madrigal: in the first life part... I found a notecard and it hit me so strongly....
    Gaya Ethaniel: mm ... what's (snip)?
    Eden Haiku: yes?
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, well let me see that part.... didn't fit in the profile...hehe
    Gaya Ethaniel: ah :)
    Eliza Madrigal: yesterday Storm used a phrase about happiness spontaneously arising... and then it seems to come up a lot lately doesn't it?
    Storm Nordwind: I think Sharon Salzberg has got it absolutely right. Thank you for the quote. :)
    Eden Haiku: Yes, I agree.
    Eden Haiku: A revolutionary act.
    Eliza Madrigal: To be truly happy in this world is a revolutionary act because true happiness depends upon a revolution in ourselves. It is radical change of view that liberates us so that we know who we are most deeply and can acknowledge our enormous ability to love. We are liberated by the truth that every single one of us can take the time and pay attention. That is our birthright. Our own happiness can change history, and it does. - Sharon Salzberg, "Lovingkindness"
    Eden Haiku: That can bring us more occasions to practice the 8th verses...
    Gaya Ethaniel: :)
    Storm Nordwind: The full quote is even better!
    Eliza Madrigal: Indeed! happiness not dependent on causes...
    Eden Haiku: Thanks Eliza! Copying it in my notes...

    Storm Nordwind: And you know what? People are afraid of revolution. They are even skeptical of it. That is why happiness is greeted the way it is by so many people.
    Eliza Madrigal: suspiciously!
    Storm Nordwind: I have even seen that suspicion is this pavilion (though, thankfully, not today!).
    Gaya Ethaniel: I think partly it's because a lot of us struggle and can't see a 'way out' easily ...
    Eliza Madrigal nods...
    Gaya Ethaniel: So I can see people being baffled by Storm's reaction in the example :)
    Eliza Madrigal: yes definitely
    Eden Haiku: yes...unfortunately, happiness brings up jealousy...
    Eliza Madrigal: its part of conditioning perhaps to fear when things seem too good...
    Gaya Ethaniel: One can stop at being baffled ... no need to take it further to jealousy :)
    Eden Haiku: Could be yes
    Eliza Madrigal: maybe we can drop that...a revolutionary idea :)
    Storm Nordwind smiles
    Eden Haiku: Was talking about my own experience with my sister Gaya...;-)
    Gaya Ethaniel: :)
    Eliza Madrigal: sibling relationships can have many layers and elements, too...

    "What goes around, comes around"... and will keep doing so... unless we choose otherwise...
    Storm Nordwind: Who wants the sticky ball of karma to keep rebounding between people for ever? If one person can catch it and smile, what communal blessing does that bring?
    Gaya Ethaniel: Ending suffering when we can however small ... nice :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Oooh! Yes, indeed...
    Eden Haiku: A very pragmatic approach of liberation, yes.

    And we depart happily.
    Gaya Ethaniel: Need to get back to RL. I think I need to host 1 pm today so maybe see some of you later. Enjoy your day!
    Eden Haiku: Bye Gaya!
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, I think that's me Gaya... we'll see...
    Eliza Madrigal: Bye though, Good to see you :)
    Storm Nordwind: Bye Gaya. Thanks for being here! :)
    Eden Haiku: I will also have to leave. Thank you for this beautiful morning session Storm and Eliza (and Gaya!) Bye for now.
    Storm Nordwind: Bye Eden! :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Bye Eden, Storm! Nice to have this time with you both!
    Eliza Madrigal: Again, an inspiring session. Thanks so much Storm!
    Storm Nordwind: Bye Eliza! :)
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    87.07 kB21:01, 9 Apr 2010Storm NordwindActions
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    Originally written on 14:57, 29 Jan 2010
    **Eden Haiku: Eliza said so I think, seeing this place as a mandala. ;-)**
    Oh, I don't think it was, but yes what a wonderful way to see! :)
    Posted 14:01, 9 Apr 2010
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