2008.06.18 13:00 - Meditation and Programming

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    That afternoon, I was again asleep in Japan in the RL. Fael would later send me the chat log. The comments are mine.

    Fael Illyar: Hello Adams :)
    Adams Rubble: hello Fael :)
    Adams Rubble: Helo Trevor
    Adams Rubble: That was a good session we had this morning
    Trevor Berensohn: I’ve missed them for about a week now
    Fael Illyar: Yes, it was nice :)
    Fael Illyar: things are rezzing rather slowly again
    Adams Rubble: I am OK, so far
    Adams Rubble: Tervor you look fearsome :)
    Trevor Berensohn: Haha um, thank you?
    Adams Rubble: I’ve been playing with two meditation styles on my blog today
    Adams Rubble: going back and forth ebtween breath meditation
    Faenik: why not?
    Adams Rubble: and my former exercise
    Fael Illyar: Trevor, have you been reading the logs from the blog?
    Trevor Berensohn: I haven’t, Fael. Just got back online today
    Trevor Berensohn: sounds like I’ve missed some good stuff
    Adams Rubble: A vaery varied week :)
    Adams Rubble: very
    Adams Rubble: We’ve had drunkenparties
    Fael Illyar: Yes, Adams has been progressing fast :)
    Adams Rubble: battles between monsters
    Trevor Berensohn: Ah I’ve been meditating with a Gelupga group, a Karma Kagu=yu group,k and a Dzogchen group
    Adams Rubble: hehe
    Adams Rubble: Can you tell us about the meditation?
    Trevor Berensohn: Ohh wow it all sounds like my speed
    Trevor Berensohn: Well I think ppl say not to do it like I am
    Trevor Berensohn: it’s probably bettr to focus on one lineage
    Adams Rubble: That’s OK, we won’t get tasinted. hehe
    Adams Rubble: tainted
    Trevor Berensohn: But I like the variety
    Trevor Berensohn: haha
    Adams Rubble: I am interested in knowing the variety

    Trevor gave a report about his recent practice.

    Trevor Berensohn: Well lets see
    Fael Illyar: I mostly just do it the way that comes naturally to me.
    Trevor Berensohn: Teh Gelupga have me studying a LOT
    Trevor Berensohn: and I dont have the time or energy to keep up
    Trevor Berensohn: They focus mailny on single point meditation and analytical meditation
    Adams Rubble: I do not know what either of those are
    Trevor Berensohn: The Karma Kagyu’s practice is mainly identification with the 16th Karmapa
    Trevor Berensohn: Single point is focusing on the preath
    Trevor Berensohn: *breath
    Adams Rubble: Ah, OK
    Trevor Berensohn: And analytical is just thinking things trough whil in a calm focused state
    Trevor Berensohn: *through
    Trevor Berensohn: Wow I can’t type today sorry
    Adams Rubble: That is interesting
    Adams Rubble: It’s going around :)
    Trevor Berensohn: haha indeed
    Fael Illyar: interesting, more meditation styles that sound like things I’ve done
    Trevor Berensohn: and the the Dzogchen… well it is focused on “cutting thru” directly to the innate essence of mind
    Adams Rubble: What branch is the Gelupga?
    Trevor Berensohn: Hmmm Geshe Michael roach
    Trevor Berensohn: Roach
    Adams Rubble: Dzogchen, another one
    Trevor Berensohn: Diamond Mountain University near Tuscon
    Adams Rubble: Is that a Tibetan school?
    Trevor Berensohn: The Dzogchen seems to be much like I’ve experienced before
    Adams Rubble: school meaning of thought
    Trevor Berensohn: Yes Michael Roach is a Geshe, Gelupga
    Faenik is a hairy black ball with eyes and ears.
    Adams Rubble: Faenik is a different school
    Adams Rubble: from
    Trevor Berensohn feels he should be in something more europe-an
    Faenik is from a school?
    Adams Rubble: haha
    Trevor Berensohn: Haha
    Fael Illyar: more european?
    Trevor Berensohn: The furball school of meditation

    There you go, Faenik!

    Adams Rubble: I think he is
    Trevor Berensohn: Though I do love my skirt & loincloth, ahem
    Faenik tries to hide. School, no good.
    Adams Rubble: hehe
    Trevor Berensohn: Awww Faenik
    Trevor Berensohn: Only study what you like, Faenik
    Trevor Berensohn: Like wells!
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Trevor Berensohn: So what is your meditation experience?
    Fael Illyar: 2 weeks for me ;)
    Fael Illyar: at least, knowingly
    Adams Rubble: 1 week for me. hehe
    Adams Rubble: except that I have just learned breath meditation
    Trevor Berensohn: O very cool
    Adams Rubble: and found out I have been doing it for yearsd
    Adams Rubble: without knowing what it was
    Trevor Berensohn: Yes my nephew realized he’s been doin analytical meditation for years as well
    Faenik: なるほど^^
    Trevor Berensohn: Many ppl seem to fall into something like this that works for them
    Adams Rubble: It is comfortable for me
    Fael Illyar: I think I might do programming in a sort of meditation

    For me (Pema) too, writing computer code can have a very contemplative quality. The combination of architecture (itself art and engineering combined) with logic and a sense of beauty for the flow of instructions, holding it all in the palm of your hand.

    Trevor Berensohn: Yes your seem very clear, and focused
    Adams Rubble: ???
    Trevor Berensohn: Yes I grew up playing piano
    Trevor Berensohn: it was a sort of meditation for me.. immersive
    Fael Illyar: programming, as in writing instructions for computers so they can do things :)
    Adams Rubble: while meditating?
    Fael Illyar: I never thought of it that way before but it’s close I guess
    Trevor Berensohn: I can see that
    Adams Rubble: hmmm
    Adams Rubble: deep concentration
    Fael Illyar: very
    Fael Illyar: usually takes an hour or two to get properly started

    Yes, during a `sprint’, a period of one or more days of intense focus on code writing, a different mind set seems to emerge. It is especially interesting to do with in `pair programming’ mode, something that ten years ago came up again under a new name `extreme programming’. I learned to do that at MIT, some 25 years ago, and it was for me the most helpful thing I learned, coding wise. Writing code with two people in front of a keyboard can provide a kind of synergy that is very hard to describe, given that it is such a wide form of sharing: logic, beauty, balance, sense . . . .

    Adams Rubble: This is an interesting idea
    Fael Illyar: interesting idea?
    Adams Rubble: I thinking
    Adams Rubble: I’m
    Trevor Berensohn: Yes I like how PaB gets all these ideas “out there’ to talk about and explore
    Adams Rubble: It has been a long time since I’ve programmed so I am having trouble remembering the state of mind
    Adams Rubble: but it must be equivalent to something I do
    Adams Rubble: I’m just trying to relate
    Trevor Berensohn has never programmed computers
    Fael Illyar: Not everyone necessarily goes into meditation when doing that :)
    Adams Rubble: “)
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Adams Rubble: I may have paniced more
    Adams Rubble: that’s not spelled right
    Adams Rubble: went into a panic
    Adams Rubble: ahhhhhhh
    Trevor Berensohn: I sure panic less these days
    Adams Rubble: :0
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Fael Illyar: Oh, yes, I find it rather common that people seem to be sort of panicing when using computers.
    Trevor Berensohn: ;-)
    Fael Illyar: especially when a window pops up unexpectedly :)
    Trevor Berensohn: Though I had a panic attack the first time I was in this teahouse; my first day on SL
    Adams Rubble: Well Windows makes computers do their own thing
    Fael Illyar: panic attack?
    Adams Rubble: When I started computers used to say
    Adams Rubble: Yes boss
    Adams Rubble: I don’t understand boss
    Adams Rubble: OK now I do, I will do it
    Adams Rubble: What next boss
    Trevor Berensohn: haha
    Adams Rubble: now it just decides to do whatever it feels like
    Trevor Berensohn: Yes it was a new environment and I felt the fool & had a panic attack
    Adams Rubble: I want to load this program that you’ll never use
    Adams Rubble: haha
    Fael Illyar: ah :)
    Faenik loves wells!
    Fael Illyar: I use Linux because I get to have more control over the system that way.

    I fully agree! In fact, I (Pema) have used Unix/Linux versions for he last quarter century. It was only a year and a bit ago, when I started exploring virtual worlds, that I reluctantly switched to a Mac, given that Linux versions were either not available or not working properly. In the mean time, the situation has improved, but given that the Mac is just a thin veneer over a Unix system, I’m happy to stay with the Max. At least wireless works right away in every hotel I stay without having to download extra drivers . . .

    Fael Illyar: Hi Quilty
    Adams Rubble: Hi Quilty
    Quilty Bookmite: Hi Fael and everyone.
    Adams Rubble: I am enviouse Fael
    Adams Rubble: envious
    Trevor Berensohn: Hello Quilty
    Adams Rubble: I need to use what other people use
    Fael Illyar: Why?
    Adams Rubble: Oh my goodness, time for me to go
    Fael Illyar: Oh, ok, See you later :)
    Adams Rubble: Why, because we share software
    Quilty Bookmite: Bye Adams.
    Trevor Berensohn: Ah good to see you Adams
    Adams Rubble: bye everybody
    Trevor Berensohn: Look, a flying nun!
    Quilty Bookmite: A flying nun!
    Fael Illyar: :)
    Quilty Bookmite: :-)
    Trevor Berensohn: Hahaha
    Quilty Bookmite: I must stop doing that.

    Whatever it was that Quilty did, after entering, while Adams was departing.

    Trevor Berensohn: OK so we’re not so original heh
    Trevor Berensohn: I wonder if all the nature sounds are annoying the other ppl around me lol
    Quilty Bookmite: As usual I am lat. Looks like this time I have missed most of it.
    Fael Illyar: Pretty much :)
    Quilty Bookmite: I’m also late as well as being lat. :-)
    Trevor Berensohn: Hmmm it’s always good
    Fael Illyar: Well, unless we find a topic :)
    Quilty Bookmite: It just gets worse and worse.
    Trevor Berensohn: Oh was I supposed to have a topic?
    Fael Illyar: No
    Trevor Berensohn: Oh thank goodnesss
    Trevor Berensohn: I think we’ve had a good chat
    Quilty Bookmite: What was the topic before? or wasn’t there one?
    Quilty Bookmite: Fair enough. :-)
    Fael Illyar: Yes, Trevor talked about his meditation practise :)
    Trevor Berensohn: Hmmm we talked about meditative experience, and then abvout computer programming
    Trevor Berensohn: Oh, the bell!
    Trevor Berensohn: Heheheh
    Quilty Bookmite: Are there similarities?
    Quilty Bookmite: I ask as a computer programmer.
    Fael Illyar: I noticed that the state I’m in when I’m programming might be meditative
    Trevor Berensohn wouldn’t know
    Faenik is a hairy black ball with eyes and ears.
    Quilty Bookmite: i would agree with that to an extent. It needs a lot of focus.
    Fael Illyar: I tend to focus on the code to the exclusion of all else. Even food.

    Again, I can’t help but speaking up, having to comment anyway :) and yes, I agree, that’s how it works for me too, when I really dive into coding.

    Quilty Bookmite: In our practice we do work meditation…
    Trevor Berensohn: Oh cool
    Quilty Bookmite: It is supposed to help bring the meditative state into daily life.
    Trevor Berensohn: What practice is yours, Quilty?
    Fael Illyar: I often find myself starving when I stop programming ;)
    Quilty Bookmite: Soto Zen.
    Quilty Bookmite: I used to be like that. I think age has made me listen to my body more. :-)
    Faenik: why not?
    Fael Illyar: Well, I do that less nowadays
    Fael Illyar: Although, I haven’t done much programming since starting daily meditation
    Quilty Bookmite: I’ve never been any good at starving myself anyway. :-)
    Fael Illyar: and PaBs
    Fael Illyar: no idea how it’d change things
    Fael Illyar: the PaB alarms every 15 minutes would either prevent me from being efficient or help me with it … I’m not sure :)
    Trevor Berensohn finds himself wondering about the drunken party he missed
    Quilty Bookmite: There is a difference between programming and meditation - a big one.
    Trevor Berensohn: Hmmm it’s interesting to hear different takes on that
    Quilty Bookmite: The mind has to jump through all sorts of hoops in programming. Although this happens in my meditation it’s not meant to be like that. :-)
    Quilty Bookmite: i think meditation makes me more aware of what is happening around me. The state I go into when I’m programming, less aware.
    Trevor Berensohn: Ah does it work that way for you, fael?
    Quilty Bookmite: I have heard it called a fugue state. It happens in all sorts of situations but isn;t necessarily good or bad.
    Fael Illyar: Isn’t that just a difference in focus?
    Quilty Bookmite: For me meditation isn’t like a fugue state.
    Faenik loves wells!
    Quilty Bookmite: Fugue state is a single minded focus on one thing that is difficult to break someone out of…
    Quilty Bookmite: Meditaiton is more like a focus on nothing… or everything.
    Trevor Berensohn: Hmmm i suppose
    Quilty Bookmite: I think I’m babbling a bit now. :-)
    Trevor Berensohn: ha then you’re in the right place Quilty

    I would have liked to join that conversation! Much as I see of course some differences, I am more struck by the similarities. In zen, there are examples like Archery and other forms of martial arts that can be done in a totally meditative mind set. Coding, or playing the board game go for that matter, can occur with mind sets that approach those of martial arts. The sense of relaxation while doing either coding or playing go can be phenomenal.

    Fael Illyar: Well, for Zen meditation that holds at least. That’s what I do when I meditate
    Quilty Bookmite: I do know that other Buddhist meditation isn;t necessarily like that.
    Fael Illyar: Trevor was just listing several other styles :)
    Fael Illyar: including something called analytical meditation, was it?
    Quilty Bookmite: You probably know much more than me about it then Trevor.
    Trevor Berensohn: I think they are all similar, just a bit different focus
    Quilty Bookmite: In Soto we are told to focus on nothing…
    Fael Illyar: Yes, you keep your mind focused on the same thing for a long time.
    Trevor Berensohn: yeah I’ve been learning about meditation a while 6 months lol
    Quilty Bookmite: At least, you can focus on something for a while if it helps but eventually you have to drop that.
    Trevor Berensohn: =)
    Quilty Bookmite: Yes, but I only really know Soto. :-)
    Trevor Berensohn: yes that seems to be the difference as I’ve heard it described
    Quilty Bookmite: My wife is a Tibetan Buddhist and has other styles of meditation.
    Trevor Berensohn: I wonder does it have different results?
    Trevor Berensohn: Ooops do they have different results….
    Quilty Bookmite: Maybe in Samsara it has different results. I think what is really hapening is the same thing.
    Fael Illyar: In this case, I’d count that “nothing” as a thing as far as focus is concerned :)
    Fael Illyar: Even if it’s a bit harder to keep focus on
    Trevor Berensohn: Hmmmm nonconceptual vs. conceptual?
    Quilty Bookmite: You could put it that way. :-)
    Quilty Bookmite: I think a few days ago someone mentioned that they do meditation for the benefits it brings to their mind.
    Fael Illyar: Could’ve been me :)
    Quilty Bookmite: I also see these benefits…
    Quilty Bookmite: But they are not the aim for me.
    Quilty Bookmite: It could have been. :-)
    Quilty Bookmite: My memory isn;t that good.
    Quilty Bookmite: Probably need to meditate more. :-D
    Trevor Berensohn: Hmmm my aim is to directly perceive emptiness, for the benefit of all beings
    Trevor Berensohn: itsa very Tibetan aim heh
    Faenik: ah :)
    Fael Illyar: :)
    Quilty Bookmite: I think it’s a very Buddhist aim. :-)

    At that moment, the PaB bell rang again.

    Trevor Berensohn: 9 seconds!
    Trevor Berensohn: That was fun
    Quilty Bookmite: One thing my practice and my wifes have in common is what we call in our school the “scripture of great wisdom”.
    Quilty Bookmite: On emptiness. :-)
    Trevor Berensohn: Ah coool
    Quilty Bookmite: I think it is the heart of Mahayana practice.
    Faenik: ah :)
    Trevor Berensohn: Uh oh. I hafta go work
    Quilty Bookmite: Nice meeting you Trevor.
    Quilty Bookmite: I had better go too.
    Trevor Berensohn: Good to meet & talk with you Quilty
    Fael Illyar: I’m interested in seeing what this enlightenment is I’ve read about but that alone wouldn’t be enough to keep me meditating :)
    Trevor Berensohn: We’ll do it again soon
    Fael Illyar: Ok, see you two later :)
    Quilty Bookmite: Bye. :-)
    Trevor Berensohn: Hmmm different pppl meditate for different reasons
    Trevor Berensohn: All good ones
    Trevor Berensohn: Later guys =)
    Trevor Berensohn: See u soon Fael
    Trevor Berensohn: namaste

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