2009.10.01 - Being, Suchness, and what Is

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    Here is the text of a dialogue held by Piet Hut (in SL: Pema Pera) and Steven Tainer (in SL: Stim Morane), in Second Life on October 1, 2009.


    P: Yesterday we talked about idealism, and at the end I mentioned how
       the notion of Being may come across at first as the most extreme form
       of idealism
    P: it may sound like an idea without any grounding, without any
       application, in some sense even more vapid than the notion of "God"
       or "Tao"
    P: and yet the (seeming) paradox is that when working with Being,
       getting familiar with it, it turns out to be in some sense more
       concrete than anything else
    P: is that a fair summary, so far?
    S: The poison of idealism lies in its seductiveness. It pushes
       peoples' buttons in powerful ways, appealing to slightly confused
       notions of rightness, etc. "Being", by contrast, doesn't mean much
       to people.
    P: at first not, that is right.
    P: in contrast to, say, communism, which has a clear message, the
       notion of Being is hard to grasp
    P: but looking from the outside, it seems like an idea, and exploring
       it extensively, wouldn't that seem like a form of idealism?
       certainly not a form of realism
    S: I don't know ... I have always thought it would seem like nothing
       much ... There's nothing "idealistic" about it.
    S: This is a dictionary issue, perhaps.
    P: we came upon the notion of idealism when you talked yesterday about
       "giving people a motive" in ways that are too idealistic to be
    S: Well, like I say, it's a question of definitions, not important for
       us, probably.
    P: so in our case, when talking about the question of a motive, it is
       clear that you and I are interested in this notion of Being, that
       Play as Being talks about -- would you say that Being somehow
       figures in your motive for practice?
    S: "Being" is a word ... It can and has meant whatever someone with a
       certain philosophical or abstract bent wants it to mean. And it was
       briefly mentioned in a book I worked on a long time ago, too. As a
       translation of a Buddhist term, it might mean something close to
       "great enlightenment" as opposed to standard enlightenment. I would
       not presume to talk about such a thing.
    P: you are playing your cards tightly to your chest, it seems, Steven
    S: No, I have never talked about it.
    P: but you wrote about it in the TSK book
    S: For someone else, yes
    S: The main thing I talk about to my groups, and that I mention to new
       group members as the centerpiece of what I'm doing, is Suchness or
       "Is", "what Is". I never teach anything about "Being".
    S: I doubt that Being, as mentioned briefly in TSK, is much of a
       motive thing.
    S: But again, the word can mean something else to someone else.
    P: What do you see as the main difference between "Is" and "Being"?
    S: I see Being a la TSK as beyond "Is" ... But I don't know how to say
       much about the difference. We are very far beyond "talkables" here.
    S: I was wrong to say I never say anything about Being, because I
       recall now that I did make a few comments about it in Second Life
       with you a long time ago ... But I shouldn't have, probably. I
       certainly admit that I am not "strangely, greatly enlightened"
       ... :)
    P: :)
    S: To put this in context, in Tibetan traditions, the TSK "Being"
       would refer to things that almost all of the greatest lineage
       holders of relevant schools would say they had never experienced.
    S: So no, I don't think it's much of an issue, certainly not a
    S: But if you interpret it as meaning something DIFFERENT from what
       they had in mind, then sure, it could be a great focus for PaB,
    S: I think the PaB version is rather close to "Tao" in Taoism and
       Chinese thought generally.
    P: what I like about PaB is how open it is.  When starting with the
       very first suggestion "drop what you have to see what you are" we
       find an invitation to explore for ourselves what we really are --
       and then when we realize that perhaps there is no capsule-self that
       is separated from everything else, the "what we are" necessarily
       move to "what Is" . . . .
    P: but everyone will have a different trajectory and will find
       different insights along the way
    S: Yes, that's true
    P: speaking personally, just for myself, my sense of what Is, of Being
       (so far I'm not using those two words differently) is close to what
       I understand the TSK book to mean
    P: but that's just me, I'm eager to see what others stumble upon, or
    P: and yes, it may well be the "Tao" for some
    P: or the Christian Trinity for others
    P: or suchness for Buddhists
    S: Yes, you use "Is" as I explained it to you in our many
       conversations. But "Being" in that book was actually about
       something else. And everyone, including you, is free to give it
       whatever meaning you wish. Or even leave its meaning open ...
    S: But I think Tao is very different from the Trinity, and Suchness
       ... :)
    S: Different traditions really do find things that are real and
       important, but not the same ...
    S: I mean, they COULD be the same, but aren't necessarily the
       same. There is plenty of room for significant differences.
    P: Many fascinating threads here, Steven!  Let's pick a few tomorrow,
       to continue.  Just for now, one question for clarification
    P: when you talked about Tibetan practitioners, how they may interpret
       TSK's Being, were you thinking about Samantabhadra in dzogchen?
    S: This is difficul to really say ... After all, I'm guessing about
       the traditional Tibetan Buddhist analogue to TSK's "Being" ...
    S: But I would guess it's related to something like Samantabhadra,
       yes. "Is" does not equal Samantabhadra.
    P: Let's start with that tomorrow!
    S: Sorry, I'm afraid that sounds like something that I couldn't follow
       up on.
    S: These matters are too advanced ...
    S: :)
    P: We'll see how far we get . . .  and where :)
    S: I teach "Is" and "what Is" and Suchness.
    P: /me wondering about variations on PaB, as PaI or PawI or PaS . . . .
    S: ?
    P: Play as Is, or Play as what Is, or Play as Suchness
    S: Oh ... Well, this is supposed to be what _you_ come up with! :)
    P: oh, I don't hold the monopoly of playing beyond having!
    S: Hmm . I think I'm too sleepy to track you
    S: Sorry
    S: Anyway, see you!
    P: I meant PaB starts by dropping what you have to see what you Are --
       and that "Are" can take many forms
    P: Yes, thank you, Steven, and see you tomorrow!

    The next day we did not have time to meet, it turned out, so we then decided to meet four days later, the next Monday.

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