week 1

The first week in our Play as Being adventure was characterized by the initial players meeting each other, and starting to report a bit about their initial explorations. We have seen 18 participants, of whom 9 came more than one time, with 5 of them dropping by at least four times, so already we are building up a significant core of regulars.

Among the many interesting topics that we touched upon are the culture of Second Life, the notion of Being and of a ground of being, the idea of trading duration for continuity and frequency, and the surprising similarities between our immersions in Second Life and in Real Life. Below I present brief summaries for each day, starting with Tuesday, our first day here.

2008, April 1, Tuesday
We started with general introductions of the participants, followed by discussions about the main ideas behind playing as Being, as a way of treating your own life as a laboratory. During the evening session we started off equally seriously, but toward the end good cheer dominated, leading to SL magic, song and dance. Our neighbor in Rieul, Storm Nordwind, shrouded us in a derwish-like storm, and what is more, he started his own blog in response to the one you are now reading. That day we had on average five participants per session.

2008, April 2, Wednesday
We talked about the merits of blogs and wikis, and the ways in which to capture the atmosphere and content of our dialogues on this blog. Later we talked about some initial lab reports reflecting the 9-second practice, which led to a discussion of what Being may be, and the role of play. We reflected on the nature of RL and SL, and concluded that the similarities are larger than the differences. That evening we discovered that there were actually many different ways to do the 9-sec practice while in SL: you can drop what you are doing temporarily and shift your attention away while stilling remaining immersed in SL; or you can shift to other applications on your computer; on your can look away from your computer screen altogether — and in fact, there are other variations as well, comprising various degrees of freedom. After our meeting, Friedrich Ochsenhorn would write a blog page commenting on our adventures. We had four people attending each session, on average.

2008, April 3, Thursday
On this third day, the discussions deepened further. We heard various reports of how the 9-sec practice was working out, and we also talked about what to do in between the 9-sec intervals, in the intervening 891 seconds. The main idea is to keep a lightly held focus on playing as Being. We considered alternatives to the usual `living in our head’: centering in the body in our hara/belly; and seeing with the heart rather than the eyes. The notion of `ground of being’ came up, and the limits of language in talking about that ground. How to be playfully serious and seriously playful? Like the day before, there were four of us per session, on average.

2008, April 4, Friday
The morning and afternoon discussions centered around some patterns that we saw emerging in our explorations of playing as Being. We talked about grounding and about phenomenology. That evening we looked back on the process of immigrating into SL and the role of mentors. We had three participants, on average, per session.

2008, April 5, Saturday
For the first time since we started, there were quiet sessions without visitors: both morning and afternoon found me visiting the tea house by myself. It was actually quite nice to spend some time silently watching the pond and the meadow and the buildings here in Rieul. It continues to amaze me how `real’ life in SL is. Then in the evening two neighbors dropped by, and we talked about impermanence, continuity, and Monty Python. That day there were two participants per session, on average.

2008, April 6, Sunday
That Sunday morning, with a group of four, we talked about the central notion of stopping, a necessary step to take to appreciate Being. I wasn’t there in the evening, but Caledonia and Friedrich met and talked. Interestingly, they had seen each other’s names on the Play as Being blog, but hadn’t met yet in real (second) life. They thus changed from virtual acquaintances in a virtual world to real acquaintances in SL. This day, too, we had two visitors per session, on average.

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