Thank you for your questions GBPG
Yes, I have chosen Buddhism. Or, more accurately, as you put it: "aspects thereof".
As with everything else in life, Buddhism is not for everybody. It's like "horses for courses"- you gotta find what works for you individually. And when you do it will resonate so strongly that gravitating towards it will be effortless.
I have been scared of identifying too closely with any kind of "Group Religion" pretty much my whole life. I detest fundamentalism of any sort, and am opposed to All-or-Nothing / One-size-fits-All solutions.
Having said that, there has always been a spiritual aspect (and need) in my life. But up until now I've pioneered ahead on my own, cherry-picking the best fruit from various different orchards, including, amongst others: Western Philosophy, Taoism, Gnosticism & Shamanism.
But a shift came about after my diagnosis 2 years ago. Two aspects of that shift were: I acknowledged that I am suffering and will probably, because of my condition, suffer for the rest of my life. The second thing I realised is that besides the chemical balance in my brain being out of kilter, the way I had lived my life up to that point was also faulty.
You can liken it to software I suppose. The life software I was born into was "Priveleged, White, Wealthy Male". And clearly my software was not working well. It was riddled with viruses. Don't get me wrong, PWWM software is not always buggy (for some it works perfectly well) but my system was crashing all the time, probably largely due to hardware incompatibility issues (i.e. imbalanced bipolar circuits). I knew this for a long time, and was continually uploading the latest patches to try smooth the workings of the system. And when it was evident that patches weren't working completely, my loner/pioneer disposition kicked in and I tried to write some of my own software. FROM SCRATCH.
I always knew that there were large, established alternate software programmes out there that I could have tried, but I wanted the totally customised (and control freak, in retrospect) solution that only Start-from-scratch programming could provide. Phew, I didn't realise what an almighty job I'd taken on.
So one day, I heard about this new Operating System from the East, and went to some presentations. Like the Operating System I had been born into and using my whole life, this Operating system had been developed over 1000s of years by some of the best software architects in the business. And I started to see how fckn ludicrous it had been for me to assume that I could ever write my own system in a 1000 lifetimes, let alone one.
So I loaded the new Eastern Operating System and gave it a whirl. Long story short: it resonates with me. Sure I'm having to get used to it (not easy after using another interface for so many decades). But as I become more familiar with it, I am finding it has way less bugs for my own particular hardware configuration. It runs smoother and allows me to be far more efficient in my daily life.
Having said this, as Mrs M asked on the way back from our Buddhist retreat: "Will I be taking the Buddhist refuge vow anytime soon"? (a kinda equivalent of Christians getting "confirmed")
No. I can't see myself doing it. I remain an Open Source advocate. I like the freedom to add plug-ins from other developers and customise my own settings. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely some modules that don't work for me, as they were designed more for the lifestyles of Asian peoples 500 years ago. But the openess of the system allows the OS to work without loading those particluar modules.
And so far I've had plenty freedom to tweak it to my likings. In fact, the irony of it is that I have more time now to research and experiment with various plug-ins, as I'm not completely immersed in binary Machine Language, trying to write an OS from scratch.
Standing on the shoulders of Giants always lets you see further.
Yeah, these are interesting questions and I can see a mini-series coming up with Part 2, 3 and maybe more...
(Joel, I'll respond to your valued comments in one of those parts)
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Thank you for your questions GBPG