log (2006/04/28 to 2006/05/04)

So tonight I'm doing to press some email into service as most of a log entry, because I think it'd made a not-bad one.

I wrote recently to a friend:

I'm reading "The Eight Gates of Zen"; it's a fun read, but the whole "eight gates and ten stages" stuff seems sort of (what?) overly conceptual without acknowledging the paradoxes much. Which is I guess my feeling about Loori in general; Zen isn't that straightforward, darn it! *8)

("The Eight Gates of Zen" is John Daido Loori Roshi's book about the course of training at Zen Mountain Monastery, and it talks about the eight different kinds of practice that they do there, and the ten stages through which students pass on the way from starting out to being a master and all, and I found it, well, as I said awfully conceptual and (unintentionally?) funny.)

My friend replied that I should look up "Buji Zen" in the glossary of that book, and I did, and I wrote this extensive essay back:

"Buji Zen: Free-styled, non-conformist attitude toward Zen training that arises out of an intellectual misunderstanding of Zen practice and enlightenment."

That's wonderful! I proudly embrace my Bujiness. *8)

I am strongly reminded of the whole Watts v. Kapleau, Dharma Bums v. "aching legs", battle-of-the-footnotes thing. Very endearing all around!

For me the heart of Zen is the meme that the universe (THIS) is far more than anything we could ever capture in words, and that (keeping that first phrase in mind) we are all of us perfect as we are, whatever we do is the Buddha's practice, wherever we are is the Pure Land. Closely wrapped around that heart is zazen, the thing that we do to most immediately remind ourselves of that, by experiencing THIS as directly as we can. (We do it sitting, because that works and that's what we're used to, but we also acknowledge standing Zen, eating Zen, typing Zen.)

And that's it. From that basic heart there are all sorts of things you can do. The Eight Gates and Ten Stages and Monastic Life thing is one thing that you can do. It's a sort of elaborate (and I'm sure sometimes quite effective) psychotherapy, aimed at mindfulness, not being mastered by one's habits and emotions, and all that sort of thing. The whole Crazy Logic, up in the mountains dancing naked with the birds and bursting into the zendo to throw strawberries at roshi is another thing you can do, and that's all good also.

But at least for me a key part of all this is that none of the stuff that you do once you've got the basic meme (or even if you don't!) is required or correct or 'misunderstanding' relative to that meme. There isn't anything that you 'should' do, since you're perfect aready, you're enlightened already. You're enlightened if only you could realize it, but you're also enlightened even if you *don't* realize it.

So when Loori writes, as he does somewhere in the Gates book, that we are all perfect as we are, and therefore "we should..." something or other, he's clearly neck-deep in paradox; a perfect being has no "should" in any ordinary sense. Should in order to what? To make himself better, or more in accord with the dharma? Clearly not!

Not that all these mistakes aren't wonderful. *8) But I still enjoy teasing at them as mistakes. My own favorite reaction to the meme is to say that yes, marvelous, the monastery is a great place, the liturgy should be followed, the buddha-nature is here. But the Buji-folk are no less great, no less in accord with the dharma, no less accurately expressing their own unique buddha nature. We need both (all) of these things, whichever way the pendulum happens to be swinging any given decade.

Why do people always have to disapprove of each other? Of course I shouldn't disapprove of the disapproval, either! Or of my own disapproval of the disapproval. Or... Mu! *8)

This is something I'd love to ask Daido-roshi about and see what he says. If I could express the thought clearly enough to be comprehensible. Of course he might well say "that's quite correct; there's no point in your ever coming back here then". That would at least be interesting! I don't recall seeing anything along those lines in his writing so far.

(See, of course, December.)

And then, synchronicityfully enough, I just happened to pull an old copy of Camden Benares' "Zen Without Zen Masters" from deep in some teetering pile of books, and within seconds of opening it I was full of the familiar old spirit of Buji Zen, and this cloud of blues (which I've been distressed and fascinated by for a little while now, but I guess haven't really mentioned in the weblog because it's hard to say anything sensible about from this perspective) vanished like the morning dew.

Nice universe you've got here!


And that got me googling around and reading about the original Discordians and Camden Benares and all them. This led me to here (memories and a memorial to Camden Benares, who may no longer be wandering around as such, which is sort of too bad), and to this person in general (who among other things uses the word "cisgendered", which is great), and finally (thread convergence) to the National Anthem in Yiddish (see Monday).

Everything is indeed circular!

Oh, and from roughly the same place we wander about some more and stumble across the First Edition of the Principia Discordia. w00t!

Some life soon, I definitely want to be a Flower Child, a disciple of Alan Watts in his prime, a Dharma Bum, an early Discordian, a hardcore SF fan, a prankster, and like that.

In the meantime I'm just glad some other people are (were, will be).

Buji on down! *8)

Well, so, let's see. I read the scotus decision in Marshall v. Marshall (the latest Anna Nicole Smith case), on the theory that any case this steamy must be worth reading about and oooooooh I can highly recommend it as a sleep aid. It's all about exactly how broad the "probate exception" to the usual pattern of Federal jurisdiction is, and it doesn't mention exotic dancing even once. I still intend to read Stevens' concurrence, though, just for completeness. If I can keep my eyes open. (See scotusblog for pointers.)

Stumbling around in some of the dustier recesses of my mind, I came across the phrase "The Darkness on Diamondia", which turns out to be the title of an A E Van Vogt novel. My memory of it has a fascinating and indescribable feel to it; I must have read it, or intended to read it, or something, at a pretty interesting time in my life. Similar (but not identical to) the feel of my memory of "A Wrinkle in Time", although that's a book that I actually remember, and that I've read and reread over the years; whereas I don't recall and may never have actually read "The Darkness on Diamondia". Its title just has this wild memory-flavor.

I like wild memory-flavors.

Apropos of nothing:

Of course, if you want to get rich, it's not enough merely to be determined. You have to be smart too, right? I'd like to think so, but I've had an experience that convinced me otherwise: I spent several years living in New York.

Philosophical Theory o' the Day: Meinongian ontology. This theory (or class of theories) holds that there are nonexistent and impossible things. Not that nonexistent or impossible things exist, but that even though they don't exist they are. Whatever that might mean.

Thinking about this kind of stuff too much tends to lead to whimsical paper writing:

What follows is an exercise in hunter-gatherer ontology. More precisely, the region of space and of spatial objects will be adopted as a happy hunting ground for the purposes of Meinongian metaphysics. Meinong, notoriously, struggled against the prejudice in favour of the actual and fought on behalf of the ontological rights of incomplete, impossible, and indeterminate objects. A parallel struggle, as we shall see, can be waged in the domain of spatial objects. Meinong's ideas can in this way be seen to have relevance for studies of the philosophical foundations of the theories of land-surveying and of international law.

(I highly recommend Figures One and Two in the above-cited paper.)


Meadow Thayer


goin' straight to hell, well above the speed limit

Lesser Path and Greater Path are Buddhist in origin? Wild! I knew them as D&D paradigms, with the latter as the usual boring Magic Users and the former as the folks who understood (and used) the dangerous underpinning of magic. Rather like Engineers and Physicists. Remind me to talk to you about it some time.

The time derivative of your location. That's so derivative!

Ongoing! Ongoing! Ongoing! Ongoing lovers embracing by an ongoing fountain! Ongoing! An ongoing soft warm sponge with ongoing fragrant oils! Ongoing!!!

I guess that payload-less "spam" messages are people testing their newly acquired spam tools


Segway speed



Oh, not Dave Eggers, please

Today's Google Quote of the Day is: "Information is temporarily unavailable." How true!

Indeed! All sorts of political and religious baggage around "Lesser Path" and "Greater Path" (and/or "Vehicle") in Buddhism, whether it's ever polite to say "Hinayana" even if you aren't suggesting that it's a synonym for "Theravada", etc. Looking it all up is left as an exercise for the reader. Engineers and physicists, though: that's funny!

On the payloadless spam, I suspect that's about right. In a funny coincidence just the other day I got another instance of exactly the same payloadless form-spam that I commented on back in March, except this time it had embedded in it a single link to some stupid commercial site trying to sell me something. So maybe this is Phase Two of the test? Funny that it had exactly the same oddly-phrased message, since that'd make it hard to do targetted googling for. But then if these people were bright they wouldn't be spammers I guess.

I think I read something by Dave Eggers once, and I have a vague memory that it was annoying. But I could be wrong. (Information is temporarily unavailable! Labia?)


Amanece, lo veis?, a la luz de la aurora?
lo que tanto aclamamos la noche al caer?
sus estrellas sus franjas
flotaban ayer
en el fiero combate
en señal de victoria,
fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertad.
Por la noche decían:
"Se va defendiendo!"

Oh decid! Despliega aún
Su hermosura estrellada
sobre tierra de libres,
la bandera sagrada?

I gotta admit I completely don't understand the whole broo-ha-ha about this Spanish version of "The Star-Spangled Banner".

I mean yeah, I'm not actually all that crazy about this particular translation or this particular cover, but if I were the United States of America, I'd think "cool, a Spanish version of the National Anthem!". And I'd hope there'd be a Latvian version, and a French version, and an Urdu version, and a Latin version, and a Klingon version, and remixes of all of the above in reggae, blues, banjo, steel-drum, and waltz styles. The more the merrier!

That's, like, what the country's all about.

But even in just googling briefly around for the lyrics and the mp3 after hearing Our President's whiny little "well, I think everyone should only sing the national anthem the way that I sing it" on the news, I came across what appear to be vast reams of right-wing Shock and Horror, nasty mean-spirited attacks on the people who did it, and general predictions of the End of Civilization This Time For Sure.

Some people are just So Insecure!

But anyway...

Aside from that, we'll pass along three links from the mysterious HTML o' the Day, and then dash back to the mysterious Real World.

That's it! Sleep soundly, and dream about vegetation.

Well, w00t! DiskWarrior seems to have fixed the corrupted directory structures, recovered more of the vanished files than I'd expected it to, and made fsck all happy again. I also found a program that makes it easy to suck music files off of the iPod back onto the iBook, and used it to get back some of the most inconvenient of the files that DiskWarrior didn't recover. The little daughter and I also both re-ripped a couple of CDs, and I think she actually re-bought a track or two from the iTunes store.

And everything seems to be all better! (We even have a few hundred MB of free space that we didn't have before.)

So that's nice.

Weekly World News headline o' the week: "Amusement park owner builds world's first emotional roller coaster!"

(I just thought that was funny, and since I was recycling the WWN that it was in I thought I'd stick it here in the weblog for safe keeping.)

A reader asks "Do you use MATLAB?" (probably wrt the MATLAB virus that I logged last weekish). Nope, I don't. I think I may have once, sometime back in the mists of time, but I don't now. I may even never have.

Subject: full sheet of ice, but that didn't

Subject: regeneration snuggle

So we've whined at least once before here before about how complex Europe is, with countries that are subsets of each other, and that all have the same names (or one country with multiple different ones), and like that. Our latest datapoint on the subject comes from following the referer log to testing range dot com, and thence to this page, which describes (inter alia) some pieces of the Netherlands (or "Holland", where the "Dutch" live), which are entirely surrounded by parts of Belgium (the country that Flanders is in), which are in turn entirely surrounded by the Netherlands!

As each house is deemed to pay taxes in the country where its front door is located, it is an old tradition in Baarle to move the front door some meters if that is profitable for the taxes, especially for shops.

Especially for shops.

Today's Featured Reader Contribution:

It's time for another round of Pangrammatize the spammer! This time I'll use spamtext I received myself rather than one of yours. I was rather fond of this sentence:

"The woman had cut off his foot with an axe and his thumb with an electric knife, and here she was with a pile of caviar big enough to choke a warthog."

But it's missing j, q, y, and z. Therefore, I propose:

"The woman had cut off his foot with an axe and his thumb with a quirky jigsaw, and here she was with a pile of caviar big enough to choke a zebra."

And that's the way it is.