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February 25, 2008

Buddhism in Finland

Just when I thought there was no Buddhism in Finland, I made an exciting discovery…

It happened while ice skating outdoors as the snow was falling heavily from the sky above. There is one guy who maintains the outdoor ice rinks all day long. He drives around in this special tractor that sweeps the snow off the ice. When he finishes one ice rink, he moves onto the next. But even before he has finished one, the previous ice rink is already covered in snow again. And so it goes on…


January 09, 2007

The bird and the monkey

Writing about web page http://www.suanmokkh.org/archive/arts/ecology1.htm

In one story, the Bodhisatva, who represents everyone on the path of Buddhahood, was a tree spirit. A monkey and a bird lived in this particular tree. One day the bird laughed at the monkey for not having a house, saying “why don’t you build a nest like I do? We birds have such nice, comfortable nests to live in.” The monkey replied, “you’re crazy, we monkeys don’t need such ridiculous things.” The bird laughed at the monkey who got angry and ripped the bird’s nest to bits. So the bird lost its nest because of its foolish tongue. It tried to teach technology to the monkey, but the monkey would have none of it. The Bodhisatva as tree spirit had a good laugh at this episode of the sassy bird teaching technology to a monkey. A wiser being would consider what is correct for the monkey and what is appropriate in this situation.


November 20, 2006

Dewey quote

“Open-mindedness is not the same as empty-mindedness. To hang out a sign saying, ‘come right in; there is no one at home’ is not the equivalent of hospitality.”—John Dewey


September 11, 2006

Jean–Jacques Rousseau the closet Buddhist

Lacking everything, he is never less miserable; for misery consists, not in the lack of things, but in the needs which they inspire.

Reading Rousseau’s famous book on education entitled Emile, I cannot help but think that this man was secretly a Buddhist. Some of the passages in this book look like they are taken from straight from the scriptures.

Absolute good and evil are unknown to us. In this life they are blended together; we never enjoy any perfectly pure feeling, nor do we remain for more than a moment in the same state. The feelings of our minds, like the changes in our bodies, are in a continual flux. Good and ill are common to all, but in varying proportions. The happiest is he who suffers least; the most miserable is he who enjoys least.

Every feeling of hardship is inseparable from the desire to escape from it; every idea of pleasure from the desire to enjoy it.

An insect or a worm whose strength exceeds its needs is strong; an
elephant, a lion, a conqueror, a hero, a god himself, whose needs exceed his strength is weak. The rebellious angel who fought against his own nature was weaker than the happy mortal who is living at peace according to nature. When man is content to be himself he is strong indeed; when he strives to be more than man he is weak indeed.

I am disappointed that googleing “Rousseau” and “Buddhism” returns nothing specifically related to both subjects— there must be some scholarly types who have noticed this before.


April 27, 2006

To take the tube or to walk?

In London, as in life, there are at least two ways of getting anywhere. Either you concentrate on the destination and getting there as quickly and efficiently as possible. Or you can give yourself up to enjoying the journey.

The London Underground is clearly designed for the former attitude by transporting you to your destination as quickly and efficiently as possible. It is fairly easy to use, you follow a procedural predescribed route devised from an abstract representation, and although the map has little relation to physical locations, still, it enables you to get to the destination. After a few journeys, there is little to enjoy about the journey itself, it is simply a means of getting where you want to go. It is not pleasant going underground on dark, dingy, fume–filled trains. How difficult it is to observe smiling faces on the tube. But people do it everyday in order to get to that destination, where they will start another journey.

There is another way to get around London. It is not as quick and efficient, but it is more healthy, for both body and mind. You can walk. Instead of following the procedural "tube" method for getting to your destination, you just head in the right direction. You will see and experience each place that you pass through. Each place will be different, unlike the stations that you pass on the tube. There is more to be experienced by walking. Each and every journey will be different. You will learn about the places that you pass through, you may even discover things that you did not know existed. You might not get to your destination as quickly, but what does it really matter, for you will probably go somewhere else after that anyway. At least you have enjoyed the journey.

And so it is with life. You can rush to achieve a goal as quickly as possible, and potentially miss many places on the way. Or you can head off in the right direction and let your experience guide you from place to place. Slowly, but surely, you will make your way towards a greater goal: discovering that life is all about the journey.


April 07, 2005

The ego–less programmer

"The competent programmer is fully aware of the strictly limited size of his own
skull; therefore he approaches the programming task in full humility, and among
other things he avoids clever tricks like the plague."
— Edsger Dijkstra

Quote of the day Go to 'Quote of the Day'

Milton Berle
"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."

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