Monthly Archives: January 2009

Python Design Philosophy and the Principle of Playing

Read of Python’s Design Philosophy on python Python’s BDFL’s blog.

Below I quote those lines that clearly embodies the principle of playing.

BTW, from that blog post, I can see why python succeeded where abc didn’t.

Do one thing well (The “UNIX philosophy”)–this is exactly the principle of playing.

A large complex system should have multiple levels of extensibility. This maximizes the opportunities for users, sophisticated or not, to help themselves.

“Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.” — surely the essence of principle of playing. This is very important for people to be able to play together.

Borrow ideas from elsewhere whenever it makes sense.– the principle of playing emphasizing on playing with each other. Borrowing ideas is an extended form of playing with each other.

Don’t try for perfection because “good enough” is often just that.

(Hence) it’s okay to cut corners sometimes, especially if you can do it right later.

Don’t bother users with details that the machine can handle (I didn’t always follow this rule and some of the of the disastrous consequences are described in later sections).

Support and encourage platform-independent user code, but don’t cut off access to platform capabilities or properties (This is in sharp contrast to Java.)


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Don’t waste your life on anything including Buddhism

I have been to many Buddhism centers in New York. What I saw is that very often the teachers were the confused ones. The teachers learned a lot of words. So they threw the words at the students. But the teachers didn’t really understand the teaching, and they mixed different things together, just making students more and more confused. (It is ok for the very beginners since they never heard of Buddhism. So it is good for them to hear something of Buddhism that they rarely heard of. But if those beginners come back with the same questions after one year’s practice, these teachers will not be able to answer them.) I guess the worst thing for a Buddhism practitioner is to encounter a wrong teacher. When you feel you are following a wrong teacher, you should leave immediately. Stay away from those lost talkers.

I used to think it was ok for them to follow those wrong teachers as long as the practitioners felt they were learning something. But recently I realized that many students were just wasting their time. If they are learning anything, they are learning it very slowly. Since they wasted so much time learning Buddhism from a wrong teacher, they don’t have time to explore other opportunities of learning. Have they had the time to be exposed to other things especially the wonders of life, they will realize they are wasting their time with the wrong teacher. But since they are trapped with the wrong teachers, they might just waste their whole life without realizing it until it is too late.

Furthermore, when this kind of teachers and this kind of students meet each other, they reinforce each other’s stupidity. It can be quite deceiving because what they are talking about sounds a lot like truth. But it is quite the opposite. Thus it is not difficult for religions to find a large following. (On the other hand, of course, any kind of religion has to make some kind of sense.)

Thus, don’t be afraid of pains of life. Keep expanding your horizon. It is ok for you to stop practicing Buddhism for a while if you haven’t encountered a good teacher and if you are not making much progress anyway. After a few years, you will come back and understand Buddhism more if you have kept on growing and hadn’t wasted your time.

What I said here applies to those teachers as well. You don’t have to trap yourself in teaching Buddhism. You could have learned much more if you didn’t waste too much of your time wasting other people’s lives. It is difficult to do no harm, right? If you are wasting your own life or wasting other people’s lives, you are doing harm as well. How big is the harm of wasting other people’s lives? In my view, it is only second to killing people.

When I was in college, there was a Nobel Prize scholar who came back to campus to give a talk. He said college life is important time of your life because this is the time of your life that you can learn a lot of things. His point was that we should focus on our study in school, treasuring the opportunities of learning in school. I agreed that college ages are the time of life to learn tremendously. But I thought I could have learned much more if I wasn’t trapped in school. It was the golden time of my life and I learned tremendously. But I felt if I was not bound by the school, I could have learned much more.

So if you are not learning with your fastest speed, you are wasting your time. When you feel you are wasting your time, just look around and see if there is something else you should do.

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Filed under Chan/Zen, What is Learning

Bush declared war on geese

Thought about this today. Then googled internet, found some other people also thought about this. Below is a good one:

During his last days in office, Bush declared the war on geese. Bush called the geese the axis of evil and declared them terrorists. In his speech, Bush said the geese took down our airplane because they hated our freedom (to fly in their sky?).  Bush called for a preemptive strike on all the geese around the globe. “You are either with us or against us. Any country that harbor geese is the enemy of Unites States”, Bush said in his speech.

Obama did a follow up after Bush’s speech. Obama said he was not against wars. But he was against the war on geese because it would cost too much. He said he was not concerned of geese being killed. However, he was concerned that American people’s tax dollar being squandered. We should focus on the war in Afghanistan and he wold keep all options on the table against Iran including nuclear weapons, Obama said. Obama was speaking to a large crowd of people cheering for change and hope with signs like change you can believe in. At the same time, it was reported that MLK was crying in heaven.

war on geese

war on geese

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No Self?

If there is no self, what kind of mind do you have right now?

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Buddha’s teaching

When I read of Buddha’s sutra, it is always very clear.

For example,

“Like smelting gold ore, the gold does not exist as the result of smelting. Though it regains the original golden quality, it is perfected only after the process of smelting. Once it becomes true gold, it cannot become ore again.”

So our Buddha nature is like the gold ore, it is within everyone of us. It is just not pure yet. Thus we need the process of smelting to purify it. But you don’t say you obtained anything, because the gold is there already.

Although Buddha said it is not the student’s fault if the student is fooled by a wrong teacher, I think in the our modern time the student needs to bear certain responsibility as well since there are already so much human wisdom accumulated in our time in various human civilizations. You should know that the popular books you are reading today no one will read them in one hundred years.

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Why I am here

I came to the states for the cause of education/learning. I have identified the education as the most important thing for China, as the thing that will make the real change. I recognized that for the macro-environment, it is better to do it in America. I believe what I am doing here will eventually benefit China greatly. So I came here.

But here in this foreign culture, I am limited by my micro-environment. I have been trying here for about 9 years. When I first came here, I made my decision that if I could not speak English like Americans (I don’t mind accent. As long as I can express myself freely and people can understand me without any problem, it is ok.), I will definitely go back. Now I already passed the deadline I had set for myself. The restrictions the US government put on foreigners make it very difficult for me to have free time to make the breakthrough. Chomsky says language is what makes human being human being. Many times when I look at the cats, I feel I am in a state between the cat and the human being. Yes, not only are the immigrants/foreigners slaves, they are also not human being. I wouldn’t go to graduate school if I stayed in China. To come to the states, I chose to go to graduate school and wasted a lot of my time there. I came to the states for the purpose of unschooling. But to come here, I need to put myself into school. How ironic is that?

I surely had my fun here, and it is always good to learn new things and meet new people. But my life is limited. I have to choose where I am going to base myself.

People who believe in national border is very short-sighted and lack of knowledge and imagination. I thought America is about Equality.

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Filed under Foreign Experience, Natural Learning, Random Thoughts, unschooling

Buddhism in the west

There is always this issue of how the pop culture receives Buddhism. It is very difficult for most people to understand Buddhism. In every generation, there were only a couple of people who truly understand Buddhism. In the east, traditionally Buddhism had played a very important role in shaping the culture. Although the pop culture always understand Buddhism in a somehow twisted way, Buddhism did play a very positive role in influencing the baseline of a culture.

In the west, Buddhism is going to more base itself on a scientific foundation, thus there is going to be more certainty in the public’s perception of Buddhism. It is going to be more connected to the physical world. So it is more ok to “talk” about Buddhism in the west, as long as the talk is directed at more clearly explaining the teaching of Buddhism using the scientific system.

But this doesn’t mean Buddhism has to rely on science. Or you have to know science in order to understand Buddhism’s teaching. Science is still just a convenient way human beings come up to understand the world. To give Buddhism a scientific foundation is to help build a better shaped pop culture and thus improve the baseline of a culture. For people who want to really understand the teaching of Buddhism, the practice is still utmost important since Buddha nature is what we have originally. Having a good baseline of culture, we can hope that there are more people who will be able to really understand the teaching of Buddhism.

This is totally a random thought.

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