04-06 - Belle Energie Ici

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    photo_100.jpg  January 7th, 2009: Solobill's PaB Scrivery Shack

       Basic Reduction Sauce or Pan Gravy Recipe
       Reduction is the process of thickening or intensifying the flavor of a soup, sauce, wine, or juice by    

       This method requires no flour or thickening agents. Be sure to explore the variations...


    • 12 PaB chat logs
    • 1/2 cup diced shallots
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine (for fish, poultry, tofu, or vegetables) or red wine (for red meats)
    • Minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish

    Pour off all but 1 or 2 tablespoons of the fat (if there are any dark, non-fatty juices in the skillet or roasting pan leave them in there). Turn the heat under the skillet to medium-high and add the shallot and the wine. Cook, stirring and scraping, until most of the wine has evaporated, the shallot is soft, and the bottom of the pan is clean. Taste and season if necessary with salt, pepper, and lemon juice or vinegar.

    Yield: 1/2 cup 


    "Belle energie ici"

    Baby New Year has come. Yet the birth of 2009 feels a bit like Sisyphus pushing his boulder to the top of the hill, only to see it roll down again; the dragon squeaks…and yet…here we are, Playing at Being.

     “Symbology is a language”, and so it is as much in SL as RL. Spinning Dharma wheels and Christian crosses reinforce the differences among the many of us who share open explorations of thought and practice. The symbols of Christmas surround us and clothe our avatars; the symbols of ageless paganism still bleeds through our rituals, like black ink soaking through a paper napkin, as cold dark winter sets in and the evergreen and candle light proffer the promise of spring’s rebirth; a testament, perhaps, to our innate recognition of our human needs succored by nature’s prodigious and powerful gifts.

    winter_small.jpg  Especially in wintertime, Mother Nature’s shrugs profoundly affect
      our moods. As some of us sit in the San Francisco Bay Area, clouds
      and pre-dawn darkness sit outside our windows, while others see
      the crisp glorious January sunshine that “lifts our spirits” on the
      Atlantic coast.

      And as our weather affects our moods, so do we realize that in fact
      there are myriad “me – my weather” relationships going on
      simultaneously. “My” gloomy Monday morning is “your” glorious
      tea-time. I can be the subject of infinite object-storms, object-
      sunrises, object-stills, and also become aware of how the damp fog
      on Russian Hill is aware of, or cares little, about me. The singular
      instance of these innumerable possibilities of all-ness reflects a
      one-ness that contains within it all these subject-object dualities.

    And yet the working mind chitters away. “We see the manifestations, but look for a systems cause”, said one to another. The second chuckled, and said, “We tend to be the center of causes we imagine.”

    It is impossible to see the “other” as your utmost self without side-stepping our “center of causes” image of oneself a bit. I can “play” a spoon, but if I impute a sense of seeing me from the spoon, that “me” is still subject, spoon is still the “other”, and I am playing a sort of parlor trick on myself that quickly becomes a house of mirrors. “That is the problem...when YOU are always the subject”, noted a wise Guardian.

    There is a sublime beauty in the kind of sharing of experience we have at PaB, perhaps drawn from the simplicity of human communion.

    One Guardian stated, “We each "live" in our own "space". We define it and try to share it, but sharing or trading meaning is tough. No one can see through another's eyes. We can try to explain it but...Seeing is a kind of way to understanding, but this word is also about experiencing. Yes, substitute any of several words. Sometimes it is easier to understand as a spoon understands, then to see as spoon sees and/or experience as a spoon experiences. The fun play is sometimes involving the words experimented with, sometimes the acts of thinking, and sometimes the role reversals. I wish these thoughts were clearer. We have two very common threads here; words about the words we are using, those chats are fun. We have other chats about what we are; thinking, being, seeing, experience. Then we come here a couple times a week to chat and compare.”

    Sharing_small.jpgThis sharing – and receptiveness to what others offer us – presents us with opportunities to see things differently than perhaps we otherwise would. Physics tells us that darkness is a lack of light; a child will tell you that darkness isn’t a lack of anything, but something quite tangible. Is she wrong? Is being tired a lack of the thing we call “awakeness”, like a system of health points that gets tapped during the day? Or rather, can we just as legitimately describe tiredness as a thing unto itself, with its own particular energy, that can be released through rest and sleep?

    We can also focus on just the basics, and renew a sense of simplicity to our lives through the practical application of breathing, doing, sharing. This simple practice helps us to drop those things which we so doggedly carry around in our own personal set of invisible baggage, yet by “learning that in dropping them we are finding we can connect more readily with God/Being”.

    From this simple and direct “dropping” approach, our intellectuality also can stand in the way of letting compassion flow more easily: “If we put aside the knowing mind, what we find, or a least I do, is more feeling, the knowing heart”.

    But going beyond the knowing heart, “if I put that aside... the universe goes dark.” This is toeing the abyss; the final resting place of the last vestiges of self that look at no-self and can cringe back in fear of nothingness. What is beyond this? Neither self nor no-self, the sages tell us…

    Throughout all of these opportunities to share, to listen, to engage, we offer collaborative support even through peripheral subjects, talking like old friends catching up over coffee in a café; sharing our expertise, our histories, and our opinions. What is the intention involved in our daily continuity? What happens to continuity when intention vanishes? How long must we bang our heads against the wall before we realize that we can only change how/what we see as opposed to changing the world?

    monty python meaning life_small.jpgWhy are we here in PaB, in SL, indeed even HERE at all? Fingers point to an Ultimate, an “Is”, “Being”, “Godhead”, whose “emptiness” is an inadequate description of that which is beyond the limitations of words that describe describable things.

    Indeed, says Stim, “It's beyond conception ... so in that sense it's "abstract". But in this case, what is beyond conception can also be very much present, hence "concrete"…there really is no such thing as Is, or Being. This is because in the ordinary way of viewing things, they literally don't correspond to anything … and because in clear Seeing they are “empty”. So either way, they’re “nothing”. Powerful nothings. “Is” is a particular facet of reality available to one type of Seeing. Such Seeing, in turn, is revealed through Stopping. So “Is” and Seeing and Stopping are linked to each other and to Being. Maybe we could say “Is” is the entry into Being, where Being is a much broader term.”

    In a practical sense, a “sense of presence” can be described, as Pema reflects, “Right now, for me, the best way to describe how it is to work with this is to describe my own sense of presence like a barrel, for which the hoop around the slats is being removed -- I find the slats falling away, my sense of self falling away and dissolving so to speak into the totality of sheer appearance…it is so hard to describe this…not only falling away of self, but of time and identities in general -- yet such a description sounds as if everything disintegrates, while in fact it is a kind of total integration that can only be seen when all those layers of judgment (including time and identity) drop away.”

    How does anyone “work” with appearance? One way, says Stim, is through PaB “whose 9-second method is a good start; the rest may just be fine-tuning and lots of follow-up.”

    And how can this approach work? Pema offers:

    “The best way to describe it is to try to say how I have learned not to learn :-), but to unlearn. Not to add, but to subtract. Normally we face a problem, and then we try to solve it. We take all that we know, and in a giant effort we bring all that to bear on the problem in a massive assault -- shock and awe and all that. But in fact, our real problems are hidden in the hidden assumptions we make, and the more rigorous radical way to solve all problems, the mother of all problems is to go back, and see what it is that led to all that mess; the assumption of separate individuality, linear time, identifications with only part of what Is. And when you do that, then you are left, it seems what the presence of appearance – the sheer presence of sheer appearance, without any underlying assumptions, judgments, built-in agendas.”

    And words, of course, do this intimate relationship with “Being” little justice, “I wish I could sing a song about the River of continuity of presence that I find myself swimming in these days…like Milarepa or Rumi or Saint Francis…”, says Pema.

    As we move together in 2009 down each of our paths, whatever those may be or mean, we each contribute in meaningful ways to the community that is Play as Being. As a new visitor recently commented, “Belle energie ici!”; there is beautiful energy here.

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