Sharing like back in the day...

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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 3183 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

So I had this little weekend party at my house with a few of the DhO founding crew along with a few old meditator friends, and it lead to some of the most fun, interesting, broadening, connecting and expanding dharma conversations I had had in a while.

It reminded me of the best of back in the day, when the early Buddhist Sangha would be hanging out with each other, walking around, eating food together, sharing with each other, teaching each other, each with their strengths, weaknesses, areas of expertise, different perspectives, different techniques, different interests, different levels of development on different fronts, all coming together because that what's fun and useful, some practicing at points, others having dharma debates, others exploring difficult areas to help everyone there, others just walking around talking about the dharma for hours, and hours, and hours, and all with enough foundation to really add to and get something from the exchanges. It was simply an amazing weekend, and we all decided that there should be more of them, though when, where, etc. all need to be determined.

While it was a very strong group of meditators, these kinds of conversations in that depth and for that duration are so rare that even the most advanced practitioners came away with a great sense of satisfaction and enhancement, and we all kept thinking of other members of the DhO that we wished were there.

One of the things we discussed was how to have similar gatherings in the future, as we all agreed that there is something about having actual personal contact and more in depth conversations that were far beyond what ordinarily happens in just about any other setting.

I just thought I should start this topic to see what arises from it. Feel free to add your thoughts.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
great to hear you guys had fun.

in any case, i think this a good way of really exploring the depth and breadth of the dharma, some kind of "open practice" (similar to open source movement in the IT sector). this would demystify the dharma and make it more open to all who care to participate. of course, the tricky part is how to filter the participants and where to draw the line of "openness."

i hope i can participate some time in the future.

~C
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
I visited Vince's Numinous Nonsense site and saw from his Twitter widget that he was having Dharma conversations in Alabama. I was instantly jealous :-D

It makes me happy to see your vision becoming a reality. I really hope you all can continue to meet up for meaningful dialogue. Is there any chance that one of you could write up a summary of what was covered? That is, if you think any of it would prove to be useful for the rest of us. Either way, I'm sure that our DhO conversations will benefit from the gathering.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 20 Join Date: 9/8/09 Recent Posts
Interesting idea Daniel. For those on the other side of the Atlantic: what about a DhO party somewhere in central Europe? any interest?

A carrot: Even the non-alcoholic beer taste great here in Munich!
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Daniel,

This will sound a bit sentimental, but reading about that weekend is confidence-inspiring to such an extent that I now have a small lump in my throat. No, really! All that stuff in the suttas about recollecting the sangha, and the endless field of merit just got that much more tangible. Well done!

How about the other European DhO'ers? I know Duncan dropped hints about being interested in such a gathering.

Cheers,
Florian
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
I'm in. And freshly-baked pretzels! Any hope of vegetarian veal sausages? emoticon

Cheers,
Florian
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Although I have not had the pleasure with this same group I have elsewhere and this IS what it is all about in some ways. There is nothing comparable to the benefits of associating with the sincere and accomplished directly. I'm all for it. In the future if you need a waiter or anyone needs a ride somewhere sometime...
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Your post reminded me of a book I was reading a while ago called 'The World Cafe'. It is a process of bringing people together in small groups for discussions. Typically, at some point, members of one group will go visit or move to other groups and share with them. The whole process is quite open and dynamic. From the forward:

“The World Cafe reintroduces us to a world we have forgotten. This is a world where people naturally congregate because we want to be together. A world where we enjoy the age-old process of good conversation, where we're not afraid to talk about things that matter most to us. ... [A] world where we learn that the wisdom we need to solve our problems is available when we talk together......The World Cafe process reawakens our deep species memory of two fundamental beliefs about human life. First, we humans want to talk together about things that matter to us. ...Second, as we talk together, we are able to access a greater wisdom that is found only in the collective”

It occurred to me that the wandering groups of monks and nuns of the old days were very much like an ongoing World Cafe spread out over time and space. If regional groups overlap or make efforts to also visit other groups – it creates kind of a dynamic interconnected Sangha.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 3183 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I personally would love yet another good excuse to go to Europe, and so perhaps the European contingent should hash who will host the thing and when it would happen, and I'll try to be there, wherever it is. There are also good reasons to hold another stateside, so those who are interested should begin to hash out who and where as well.

A summary of what happened would be nearly impossible for one person to do, as there were so many little one-to-one conversations on the side, but some of the big topics were:

1) the extended jhanas out beyond the 8th jhana and how various explorers there mapped them
2) what reformed, cleaned-up, more pragmatic Vajrayana looks like and how it compares to more Theravada-like methods, techniques, concepts, and maps, as well as how the direct experiences of those practicing each compare
3) a thorough rehashing about some fine points about the challenges at each stage of awakening/path and even the sub-parts of those maps
4) a lot of little things about how people practice and what specifically worked for them at each stage (or didn't) with many first-hand accounts of major breakthroughs the likes of which are rarely heard, even here
5) much about how the dogma of the traditions may be off about various things
6) a lot about what it is like to be a freshly realized stream enterer, as we had one that got it just a few days before the gathering and was still enjoying the aftershocks and synthesis that happens then
7) things about the DhO, like our desire for a more sophisticated wiki for that would do something like what my book does except have the advantages of a wiki and be more collectively generated: we are working on that now: any advice on the best, most powerful, user-friendly engine to drive it?
8) endless thanks to each other for coming together, cooking, sharing our life stories etc

I would love the other participants to add to this list, if they wish.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Point #2 sounds very interesting. I've always been a little weary of Vajrayana, mostly because it seems so exotic and because I don't really understand it. I'd be interested to see what this looks like.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Perhaps in the future consider if and when it is acceptable and unimposing, to simply press record, later rewind, retrieve some jems and pass those on.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
We did actually record a 2-hour discussion that was really fascinating. We'll be posting it on the DhO soon. emoticon
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Looking forward to hearing the recorded discussion and anything more!

I had been thinking about #7 above for these discussion threads, how the gems from some of the conversations on this site could be arranged under the stages of the path headings... in other words, like your book Daniel, but followed by comments/advice from others (wow, almost like a commentary at the end of the base text). Sometimes I hunt the site, trying to recall who said what and in what thread.

Anyway, very cool! Hope I can contribute to a gathering like that at some time. Off to practice!
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 24 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Wow. That sounds so wonderful...! DhO is great too, but you just can't beat that person-to-person contact... Looking forward to the audio and seeing if it can transmit a flavour of the gathering. The brownies looked superb, anyhow...! ;-)
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: -MJ-

All this talk about person to person contact got me thinking.....what's the next best thing? audio...? video...? I think it would be awesome to see and hear someone reflect, elaborate, explain, comment on, laugh at etc... their written response in recorded (or live group conference)audio/video footage. Add an extra element and angle to the whole thing...right? Or just have video dialogue responses back and forth like it's done on youtube. Maybe it would just be a pain in the butt....who knows?..? just a random idea ; )
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Ah, here were a couple other topics I heard discussed that were pretty interesting (in addition to the ones that Daniel mentioned):

- A comparison of Advaita Vedanta type approaches w/ the more gradual models of the Theravada
- An exploration of entities, out of body experiences, lucid dreaming, and psychic phenomenon (powers stuff)
- The difference between "doing it" and "getting it done". In other words, why are so many people "doing it" but not "getting it done" (or making significant progress). This was the discussion that we recorded.

And I would also echo Daniel's sentiments by saying that this was absolutely the most engaging, satisfying, and interesting dharma gathering I've ever participated in. It was also incredibly fun, as pretty much everyone there was willing to push the boundaries of dharma while also being hilarious. That came across in the less well-known topics of "white trash yoga" and the fondling of devas while in "deva realms". :-D

All in all, I think this gathering planted some good seeds and I look forward both to their fruits and to the next one of its kind.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
Vince, are you going to upload the "doing it" vs. "getting it done" discussion? does it feature any white-trash yoga?
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
is this because all who participated are white geeky male Buddhist practitioners? emoticon
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 19 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
"One of the things we discussed was how to have similar gatherings in the future, as we all agreed that there is something about having actual personal contact and more in depth conversations that were far beyond what ordinarily happens in just about any other setting."

Daniel, et al, as much as I personally love the DhO message board and all things online, I would much prefer to attend a conference/convention/gathering/meeting/party/get-together of the folks here plus others with like interests. It's just bound to be a much more powerful, personal, and intimate experience because it's face to face, in real time.

The Wiki is a great idea, too, but my heart is in the face to face.

Just my two cents...
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: BrianLewis

After some gentle goading to get me over the resistance of more computer time, I've finally entered the stream of the DhO!

I was at the Alabama Dharma Symposium of Hurricane Ranch, and everyone kept talking about how great a forum this site is. Daniel and I have been talking for years about the need for practical dharma that is accessible and relatively clean of cultural bias. I'm happy to see such a community bringing that aspiration to fruition.

I have experience in the Vajrayana, Alchemical Taoist, and Western Esoteric tradition, although much of my insight has been gleaned from simple Shamatha and Vipassana methods. Reading over the threads on the site, it appears that there is a recurring theme of frustration with the cultural overlay and seemingly needless complexities of the Vajrayana. I have had to chew on those same questions for years, and will try to offer what I have come to understand and where I have found my peace with the matter. I may not check the site too frequently, but I will offer what I know.

As Daniel and others have said... it is doable, and with consistent practice the process will unfold. I'm glad to be in the mix with you all.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 50 Join Date: 8/17/09 Recent Posts
Thanks a lot, I'm already looking forward to it!

And if there'll be a gathering in Europe, I'd love to join. Munich wood be 'round the corner (almost), but I'd also travel farther.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 20 Join Date: 9/8/09 Recent Posts
I thought about this possible meeting in Europe for some days and here is my proposal:

- Get together in Munich (June or July 2009)
- Possible program:
Friday: Chill out in a Biergarten (literally bier garden, one of those great south-german inventions, where the people eat, drink and enjoy the summer)
Saturday: Venezuelan breakfast and then a possible hike on the german-alps. In the night cooking and party at my place
Sunday: Chill-out, go back home

At my place can stay up to 5 people. Who would like to help me pull this out ?

Suggestions or other possible programs/locations are welcome!

regards,

Guillermo
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I don't know if being white had anything to do with it, but I think the "geeky male" part was definitely a contributing cause... :-D
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Yes, I'll upload it as soon as I get a chance to edit it a tad. No white-trash yoga in this particular discussion... You'll have to ask Brian Lewis about that. :-D
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
For all of those that are interested, I took some pictures over the weekend and posted some of them to Flickr as a set: http://flickr.com/photos/vincenthorn/sets/72157613632039035/

I didn't take pictures of everything or everyone (including Tarin's friend Katy and Daniel's lovely wife Carrol or the 5 or cats that lived there) but there are enough pictures there to get a sense of the place. emoticon
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi Guillermo,

I know I won't be able to make it to Europe this year due to my school schedule, but I already envy those of you who will. I wish you the best of luck with the Munich gathering and thank you for taking the initiative to begin organizing it! This is the kind of leadership that makes for a strong sangha.

Kenneth
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/12/09 Recent Posts
Some comments on the topics you listed here, Vince:

- A comparison of Advaita Vedanta type approaches w/ the more gradual models of the Theravada
COMMENT: Zen and Avdaita Vedanta also have a lot in common, both in terms of strengths & weaknesses. Going straight to the core issue -- the axle of the wheel of rebirth -- they focus on the process of identification which goes awry by imagining separate selves. That's a great strength. The weakness is too little development of life-level context and disciplines. It's great to Realize "no-self." It would be good to have some guidance for what to do next, when one is "off the cushion". It's not so hard for monks, whose lives are heavily circumscribed by rules. Teaching lay / non-monastic folks how to live an Awakened life is another matter.

- "white trash yogis" fondling of devas while in "deva realms"
COMMENT: Sex with goddesses! Was it good for you, too? Did you wear a Dharma condom?

Gozen
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Funny story:

When I was at Sayadaw U Kundala's monastery in Rangoon in '95, my room was next door to a very senior monk who spoke good English. He looked after me while I was there, checking in with me several times a week. I thought of him as my "next-door sayadaw."

One day I went to his room, bowed three times and kneeled in front of him, waiting for him to speak. He asked me, "Have you seen devas?"

"Yes, Sayadaw."

"Are they pretty?"

"Yes."

"Do they play with you?"

"Yes, Sayadaw. And I'm glad you asked, because I have a question about that. Do I have to observe sila (morality) in the deva realms?"

"You'd better talk to Sayadaw (U Kundala) about that."
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Sharing like back in the day...

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/12/09 Recent Posts
...And?!

STAY TUNED for the next episode of "Desperate Devas."

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