Chapter 03: the Beginnings

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    The following is a very brief summation of the highlights related to the founding of Play as Being, and a few sources for more information. Once one starts following links, one finds there is a tremendous amount of material. I think one could spend days reading, watching YouTube videos and looking at photos. That, of course, is most interesting, rewarding and engenders great globs of awe and admiration. Once one becomes deeply involved in Play as being, however, one finds there is already much to read and so I chose to keep this part simple.

    A Tibetan monk came to the United States and took on a young student. The teacher, Tarthang Tulku, was interested in adapting the tradtional teachings of Tibetan Buddhism to modern culture. The young student wrote a book for the teacher toward that goal. The book was taken up and read by a young astrophysicist who was thinking along similar lines. Eventually, the young student, Steven Tainer, met the reader, Piet Hut, and began a long collaboration. They are a formidable team. Piet Hut is a visionary with a tremendous energy while Steven Tainer is more measured, carefully choosing words. There were a number of initiatives before Play as Being.

    The book was Tarthang Tulku, Time, Space & Knowledge: A New Vision of Reality. The phrase "play as being" came from the book.

    Piet Hut has manged to mix an interest in virtual words, astronomy, interdisciplinary studies and Being, finding common ground in exploring communication among scholars, academicians, students and lay people. One of the means to do this is the Kira Institute, founded by Piet and Steven and a few others, which began with summer "camp" for students and scientists and now is the umbrella organization for all the initiatives.

    Pema's first venture in virtual worlds was Videoranch at the beginning of 2007 where he gave some talks. That lasted a few months until he concentrated on QWAQ. Piet was to begin parallel groups in each of the next two worlds: MICA (Meta-Institute for Computational Astrophysics) and what he termed an "interdisciplary group".

    Before Play as Being, Piet and Steven had started a web site "Ways of Knowing" (WoK,, in 2006.  A year later, when they branched out into virtual worlds, WoK was their main web site to coordinate and report their activities.  For about a year, their main virtual world was that of Qwaq (  Qwaq is specialized on producing office environments, where it is easy to import presentation materials.  It includes white boards and web browsers in-world, and is technically superior to SL as far as organizing workshops, but SL has the great advantage of having vast people networks. For a time, the avatars were rectangles with squares for heads above and voice was the main venue of communication although chat was used to ask questions that could be answered when the speaker was ready.

    In some sense, Qwaq was a laboratory in which some of the basic ideas for Play as Being were worked out further.  The one new idea was this stopping every fifteen minutes for nine seconds.

    Most of this story is told in a document by Piet Hut, an interview and three PaB sessions in which Pema (Piet) and Stim (Steven) discussed their thinking as these events unfolded. [see links below]

    Second Life

    Pema Pera came into Second Life toward the end of 2007, about ten months before he had time to explore the medium. Not surprisingly, one of his first ventures was to found a liason group called Qwaq-SL Liaision with Kat Limeaux, a Director and Founder of The International Space Museum in Second Life. This group grew rapidly and had three meetings a week as well as field trips.

    The date was March 12, 2008. Pema had attended zazen at the Zen Retreat and fell into conversation with Dakini Rhode who just happened to be looking for a group to meet in the teahouse she had built on the site. Pema explained his new idea of stopping every 15 minutes for nine seconds. Dakini had just started her zazen group. Pema explained his idea of meeting every six hours three times a day (depending which time zone he was in) and that he could afford to take ten minutes off from his work to attend! Dakini told Pema that she would be there three times a day if she could afford the time. Pema told her he planned to start April 1 (April Fool's Day). The Dakini asked Pema if he had a place for this and generously offered the Zen Retreat. And so Pema and Dakini struck a deal that day to begin the grand adventure of Play as Being in the cozy, little teahouse at the Zen Retreat.


    For Background Before Second Life:

    See Virtual Laboratories and Virtual Worlds by Piet Hut


     see Ways of Knowing Website

    Pema and Stim discuss the Prehistory in the following three sessions:

    Prehistory of PaB Dialogues #1: Pema and Stim:

    Prehistory of PaB Dialogues #2: Pema and Stim:

    Prehistory of PaB Dialogues #3: Pema and Stim:

    Piet Talks about his Entry into Second Life and other Virtual World Experiences and Entry into Second Life leading up to Play as Being. The interiew includes the authors own expereinces with QWAQ.

    Exploring Reality in Virtual Interview with Piet Hut by Tara5 (Tish Shute) on UgoTrade

    How PaB started:

    Life as a Lab (written by Piet for Kira in 2004):

    Next: Chapter 3a - Riddle 

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