Chapter 01: A Personal Quest

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    My Own First Full Week When PaB Was Already Two Months Old

    I was introduced to Second Life in a class on communication technologies for educators. I was more than a little skeptical but decided that working with art images, I should see the Sistine Chapel reconstruction. I made an avatar, learned to walk and fly, and also how to drive a car on to sidewalks and into the sides of buildings. Then off I went to Vassar College to visit the chapel. I went again and again for a few visits. One day, while in the chapel, someone told me about the Dresden Gemaldegalerie and from there I learned to find other art sites. I then figured I had seen everything that Second Life had to offer and left for a few months.

    When I came back to see what else had been created, I began to think that the term second life was suggestive of spiritual concerns. I had lost my connection with my childhood faith and for too many years I had not made time for the spiritual. I also ralized Second Life was for exploration. I radically altered my avatar and spent two weeks shopping mostly in freebee stores. Fortunately I remembered my spiritual quest and began to visit wonderful sites for most of the major religions. One of the most stirring was the opportunity to take the virtual hajj. My main interest though was to learn more about Buddhism. I had developed an interest in Buddhism through art and was familiar with the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path. I had no idea of how to follow the path. What was I missing?

    Like so many of us, I began to visit the Zen Retreat and other sites in Meum. While there I began to notice people gathering around the tearoom. These must be Buddhists I deduced. It took some courage, especially since I didn't think zen was for me. Also I did not like to participate in groups. Finally I asked someone and I learned what times the meetings were held. I attended a session that afternoon on June 5 with Storm as the guardian. I was impressed with the way Storm led the group; he had the ability to include everyone in the discussion without making people uncomfortable. But I was a bit bewildered about the group. The next few sessions show my continuing confusion but I tried the exercises and begin to notice some results. The turning point for me was a session on the following Sunday where Dakini talked at length about meditation. Dakini served me my first real spiritual meat and I devoured it hungerly without even chewing. I had been wondering how to live the Buddhist way. What was I missing? Dakini gave a long explanation about meditation and some of its forms. Pia then turned that on its head by commenting that it may be easier to do PaB without knowing anything about meditation. Here was much to ponder. I resolved to get serious about the 9 seconds stop every fifteen minutes. My blog began the next day and I also began attending zazen sessions at the Zen Retreat. I was trying both methods at the same time. I was hoping that one of them would work.

    The next day I mentioned my blog and received encouragement from the group. I was still trying to learn who was who in the group. Fael, who had joined PaB about a week earlier, befriended me and became my mentor. A few days later my blog inadvertently became public because I had made a link to the main PaB website. I had not met Pema but he asked to keep my blog connected to the website and kindly asked me to be a guardian. I was in a bit of shock and had a long chat with Fael who encouraged me to keep going and to become a guardian. I struggled with the decision to be a guardian because I still did not feel part of the group at this point. I felt ignorant and a bit intiminated. On the other hand I had learned that when I did not stop for the nine-second break, I could feel a difference. I was addicted.

    Looking back, it is interesting that during this first week, I seemed to attend the only meetings in which Pema was not present. It was a full week after my first session when I finally met Pema for the first time and what a meeting it was. Pema had been watching me through the logs and had answers to many of the questions I had about the group.

    • Pema Pera: the idea is that traditionally, you spent first several years of mediation
      Pema Pera: and then many more years to integrate what you have seen into daily life
      Pema Pera: the latter being the more difficult of the two
      Pema Pera: PaB is a rather crazy attempt to do something new for the modern mind :-)
      Pema Pera: it turns the order on its head
      Pema Pera: you start integrating before you have something to integrate
      Pema Pera: or in fact you take an absolutely minimal form of meditationPema Pera: It is a way to combine what traditionally was separate:
      Pema Pera: 1) monastic life
      Pema Pera: 2) lay practice
      Pema Pera: we have the intensity and continuity and availability of monastic life
      Pema Pera: and yet we can all continue with our own work and family
      Pema Pera: a truly novel gift of the internet . . . .

      Adams Rubble: This has been helpful. Much of what you just said is new to me
      Pema Pera: glad to hear I’m not repeating too much :)
      Pema Pera: I tried to address some of the concerns that I saw you bringing up in the previous sessions
      Pema Pera: through reading the blog
      Adams Rubble: Yes, I think you have done just that

    After Pema left I had the pleasure of talking with Gambhira about Theravada Buddhism. Although I had been hooked on PaB and did not know it yet, I was still looking at Buddhism at the same time. We discussed following the path and controlling anger. Gambhira told me that "mindfulness and inner peace can grow within you but I think it takes a long time and alot of practice". Gambhira continued that mindfulness can come from meditation: "it is like exercising a weak muscle to make it stronger". We got on to Pab and I noted "It is pretty easy…maybe good for those us with very weak muscles :). I mentioned that I hoped my blog would help with my ego and Pema left the following note for me on the log:

    "Or better still, see through the illusion of there being a self, or ego, in the first place. Perhaps what we call self/ego is just a way to look at the world, a type of mindset or filter, and nothing substantial that could even be suppressed or gotten rid of — just a tool that we can view for what it is and use it without being distracted by it. To be continued!"

    And that was my first full week in PaB.

    Next: Chapter 2: My First Experience with Nine-Second Stops


    -Adams Rubble

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