The affinity between hackers and zen

I recently discovered, via Suicide Girls, via Wil Wheaton, the Hardcore Zen blog. I kinda liked the sound of it, so I grabbed an RSS feed and decided to tune in for a while. Yesterday I read an old (March 19th, 2006) entry about Thinking Not Thinking, and suddenly it’s pretty clear to me why so many hackers (meaning “good programmers”, not meaning “bad guys who break into your computer”) seem to have an affinity for zen. It’s laziness.

just this morning I hit upon that sought after state of non-thinking and noticed how it was done. It’s not a matter of trying to add some kind of energy into the equation which somehow stops thought. It’s a matter of subtracting energy.

Expending less energy is often why hackers hack. Their lazy nature compels them to work very hard in the short term at creating something that will save a lot of energy in the long term. Hackers seem to want to do nothing, but they are willing to work very hard at it. Which, in itself, sounds like a paradoxical zen koan. For my own part, I have to say “Not Thinking” comes rather easy to me, and I’ve been doubted more that once when I answer the question “What are you thinking about?” with “Nothing”. I suspect now that I achieve this so easily because I am so naturally lazy. Or maybe I’m just a Buddha reincarnation. But probably the former.

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