Category Archives: Buddhism

Let it go!

Recently, a friend of mine wrote that “desire and attachment are the causes of suffering”. I wanted to pick a nit with that statement, but he’s disabled comments on his blog, so I guess I just need to write about it on my own. 😉

Desire alone doesn’t cause any suffering. I, for example, desire a beer. This causes no suffering at all. I decide to go to the fridge and get a beer. Now I open the refrigerator and find… no beer! Here is where the attachment comes in to play. If I was attached to the idea that going to the fridge would fulfill my desire, then I am now suffering, because my desire remains unfulfilled. How dare the refrigerator be devoid of beer! Such injustice! Who drank the last beer?!?

But if we don’t get attached to the preconceived idea of having our desire fulfilled, if we simply let the desire exist, then the suffering is avoided. So here I am, desiring beer and having none in the refrigerator. I can check to see if there’s some warm beer lying about that I could put in the refrigerator. I can, if the desire is strong enough, get dressed and go to the bar or the party store and purchase beer. I can open a bottle of wine. I can brew a mug of tea and leave my desire for beer behind me. Suffering is, really, a choice that we make.

So why would anybody ever choose to suffer? Good question! I wish I knew, but we certainly do. Even with a firmly stated goal in my head these past several months of accepting what is and making the best of it, I still sometimes fall into the trap of becoming attached to a particular outcome, and the suffering can be mighty.

Observe what is.
Contemplate what you want.
Take reasonable action to achieve your desires.
But accept whatever the result is, and make the best of it.
Choose acceptance, not suffering.
Wash, rinse, repeat.

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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