The Ideal Job

After so many years working in the same still-young field, certain themes have become apparent as prerequisite for an enjoyable and most successful contract.

  • Self-less purpose
    It may sound self-righteous, silly, or naive, but true commitment is based in self-belief, and money alone does not buy this. Self-less does not necessarily mean saving the planet by throwing oneself in front of bulldozers – it could mean creating a better working environment. In any case, it is strictly the opposite of selfish.
  • Like-minded folk
    An office of complaints, constant gripes and grievances, and perpetual unhappiness leads to badly written, poorly maintained code, which leads to an office of complaints, ad nauseum.
  • New technology, when necessary
    …and not just for the fun of it. If there is a reason to use a new technology – software, management technique – it must be tested, understood, and thoroughly embraced.
  • Everything is a compromise
    Ideal coding does not exist in reality: to paraphrase Plato, ideals do not exist in the world of forms. Equally, not everything in the client or business owner requests can ever be delivered within the time they will allocate. Everyone has experienced this, our shared reality, and so everyone needs to admit to the necessity of pragmatism to achieve any progress. This is the foundation of Agile.
  • Communication
    Rambling meetings and waffling e-mails annoy everyone eventually, even if, being British, they are too polite to admit it. Such events are the first signs of weak management, and should be redressed with the adaptation of informally formal channels of communication, that follow an established and commonly-understood model, which can be tightened as required. That is Agile, again.
  • Freedom of expression
    Another seemingly wimpy idea, but unless in the office staff feel free to question and doubt, to suggest and engage with all levels of a project, then they will do so out of the office, which will lead to either riotous pub scenes and work-place subterfuge, or a high staff turnover.

On the Science of Enlightenment

Whilst trying to find a way out of a terribly tedious and frustrating contract with an online retailer, the whole having almost no human contact with other workers or managers, I have been listening to the audio book, The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young.

After what turns out to be some decades of practicing meditation, and occasionally reading around the subject, I still have very little time for formalities, instructions, histories — most are partisan, or worse, ‘New Age.’ But Mr Young is a pleasant revelation, being down-to-earth, well educated in science and the English language, and an initiate into several Buddhist schools, he offers a rare perspective which was at once informative and reassuring. It does seem there is hope that scientific research into the benefits of meditation is really taking off, this past decade: the work that Mr Young explains, that His Holiness the Dalai Lama encourages, especially that of The Mind Life Institute, all lead me to conclude that I ought to return to university and study.

Not to mention this cheap brain scanner, described on TED.

Of particular interest are the chapters on ‘The Realms of Power’ – the trikaya. He presents personal experience in a way only possible for a, for want of a better term, professional practitioner. Although elsewhere in the text, there is a profound comparison of various Buddhist ideas and those of עץ החיים there is no comparison with the trikaya — something I hope to take up with Rabbis shortly. The closest I can think of is not in the Sepher Yetzirah, דעת, Da’art, but then that might better be the source itself, אין סוף, Ein Sof.

Notes on Zen Buddhism Through Popular Culture: building a list

The novels of Samuel Beckett: the trilogy and As It Isnothing to do with his mother.

Northern Exposure — large tracts of the show, but the Joel Fleishman’s final episodes (S06E01-S06E06) contain several Buddhist phrases amidst constant references to loss of a troublesome ego.

I stick my neck out for no-one.

— Rick in Casablanca, whilst he helps everyone rightful he can. One day I will put here a quote to sustain the argument that no-one who adheres to Shakymuni would ever claim to do anything.

Heidegger in Sein und Zeit: The dimension of space is irrelevant, the dimension of time is of critical importance — most define themselves by their relationship to the past and objectives for the future, in so doing missing the present. The individual must tear free from this aspect of social convention, to become “not ‘one’ but ‘I’.” The former is a fine depiction of samsara, and the latter, despite its language being in superficial opposition to the Buddhist creeds, in actuality perfectly reflects the reality of the practice of zen on Eight-fold Way.

Fredrich Nietzsche in Beyond Good And Evil describes Pratityasamutpada, specifically the dependent origination of Good and Evil, the dependency of one on the other, and thus their negation. ‘Faith’ is described as “peace of mind” (cf the chán poem, Faith In Mind). Nietzsche echoed Bankei in his view that the creation and appreciation of music allows the transcendence of “mundane reality.” Human, All Too Human is more explicitly zen: the “path of wisdom” is “forgive yourself your own self” and “throw off your own discontent at your own nature” to allow self-realisation. The words could have been written by Bodhidharma or Linji.

Avoid blinding anachronisms by removing Nietzsche’s Übermensch from the Nazis, to find justification for the sangha: “my principle article of faith … [is that] one can only flourish around those with an identical frame of mind.” The “trans-valuation of all values” stands for itself.

Barthes (in and around Death of the Author) and Saussure (Course in General Linguistics) both emphasise the lack of intrinsic objective value in words: cf Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita, the Diamond Sutra.

Bathes: To try to write love is to confront the muck of language: that region of hysteria where language is both too much and too little, excessive and impoverished.” “I cannot write myself. Who, after all, is this “I” who write himself?” – A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (1990). Lots of references from the summer onwards in Barthes’ notes on the death of his mother, leadin gto The Neutral.

Lady Ga-ga: of whom Stephen Fry writes in the FT, ‘That message, “Find out who you are and be it,” clearly means a great deal to her.”‘