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In 1947 I was in Hue, living and studying at the Buddhist Institute at Bao Quoc Temple, not too far from my root temple where I had been ordained into monastic life and where I normally lived. This was during the French Indochina War.

At that time the French army was occupying the whole region and had set up a military base in Hue. We often heard gunfire around us between French and Vietnamese soldiers. People living high in the hills had set up small fortresses for protection. There were nights when the villagers shut themselves in their homes, bracing themselves against the barrage. In the morning when they awoke, they found corpses from the battle of the previous night, and slogans written in whitewash mixed with blood on the road. Occasionally monks would travel the remote paths in this region, but hardly anyone else dared pass through the area—especially the city dwellers of Hue, who had only recently returned after having been evacuated. Even though Bao Quoc was situated near a train station, hardly anyone risked going there, which speaks for itself!

One morning I set out from Bao Quoc for my monthly visit back to my root temple. It was quite early; the dew was still on the tips of the grass. Inside a cloth bag I carried my ceremonial robe and a few sutras. In my hand, I carried the traditional Vietnamese cone-shaped straw hat. I felt light and joyful at the thought of seeing my teacher, my monastic brothers, and the ancient, highly venerated temple.

I had just gone over a hill when I heard a voice call out. Up on the hill, above the road, I saw a French soldier waving. Thinking he was making fun of me because I was a monk, I turned away and continued walking down the road. But suddenly I had the feeling that this was no laughing matter. Behind me I heard the clomping of a soldier’s boots running up behind me. Perhaps he wanted to search me; the cloth bag I was carrying could have looked suspicious to him. I stopped walking and waited. A young soldier with a thin, handsome face approached.

“Where are you going?” he asked in Vietnamese. From his pronunciation, I could tell that he was French and that his knowledge of Vietnamese was very limited.

I smiled and asked him in French, “If I were to reply in Vietnamese, would you understand?”...

When Thich Nhat Hanh Met a French Soldier - Lion's Roar

Eighty Thousand Flies


If you kill out of anger,
Your enemies will be never-ending;
If you kill anger,
That will kill your enemies once and for all.

In one of his past rebirths, the Buddha was a giant ocean turtle. One day, while he was far from any land, he saw that a ship carrying some merchants had been wrecked and was sinking. The merchants were about to drown, but the turtle rescued them by carrying them the long way to the nearest shore on his back. After carrying them to safety, he was so exhausted that he fell asleep on the beach. But while he slept, eighty thousand flies began to eat their way into his body. The turtle awoke in great pain, and realized what had happened. He saw that there was no way to be rid of all the flies; if he plunged into the sea, all of them would die. So, being a bodhisattva, he stayed where he was and let the flies eat away his body. Filled with love, he made the prayer, “Whenever I attain enlightenment, may I, in turn, consume all these insects’ negative emotions and actions, and their belief in true existence, and thus lead them to buddhahood.”

As a result of this prayer, when the Buddha turned the wheel of Dharma for the first time in Varanasi, the former flies had been reborn as the assembly of eighty thousand fortunate celestial beings who were present. Had the turtle killed the insects in anger by diving into the sea, however, there would have been no end to his sufferings. The result of killing a single being out of anger is to be reborn in the hell realms for the duration of five hundred human lives, or a great kalpa.

Excerpted from “The Heart of Compassion” in The Collected Works of Dilgo Khyentse: Volume One, page 303
Two years ago, at the age of 26, after years of floundering in the depths of a debilitating depression and trapped in an endless cycle of isolation, envy, and desire, I decided to seek inner freedom and happiness by treading the Buddhist path.

I have Asperger syndrome—a developmental disorder at the mild end of the autism spectrum. I certainly have a personality that many would consider unique, yet Buddhism provides even me with a path and gives me the courage to lead a compassionate life.

My Asperger’s has long been something I consider to be both a blessing and a curse. I was gifted in languages and humanities at school, but would obsess over my assignments and spend far too long on one paper to the detriment of another. Fixation and the lack of moderation became problems that would blight many aspects of my life. When I somehow made it to college, I remained very much a loner. I yearned for friendships but felt unable to initiate any. Social events caused me great anxiety and threatened to expose my awkward disposition, tendency to be didactic, lack of concentration during moments of idle chatter, and inability to cope with the sensory overload brought on by a room full of people. Usual social venues like pubs and bars terrified me: the thumping bass and blaring synths of the background music, the clinking beer bottles, the beads of sweat on people’s foreheads. Overstimulation was sure to tip me over the edge and induce panic attacks. It was all too much.

After several unbelievably tough years of receiving psychiatric help, I eventually became disillusioned with Western methods. Drugs such as Citalopram did little for me other than to take the edge off, while cognitive behavioral therapy proved about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. At my lowest ebb, I looked to the East for a solution to my suffering and found Buddhism. Indeed, it allowed me to apply my obsessive-compulsive disorder and autistic traits to concentration and the cultivation of positive mind-states instead of the negative ones that were threatening to destroy me...

An Unconventional Path to Enlightenment | Tricycle

Classical Duke

'Listening to Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington play a spot of classical on the CBC, whilst sipping a dram of sake by the sparse Autumn moonlight after a flash storm of depression. That cleared up a mite after sending an e-mail off to the Senate, GSA, and CUPE4600 regarding the ongoing Carleton finances scandal. It can be uplifting to get a wee something done that needs to be done.

Yesterday, software developer John Brooks released what is clearly a work of pure love: the first update to an operating system for the Apple II computer family since 1993. ProDOS 2.4, released on the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Apple II GS, brings the enhanced operating system to even older Apple II systems, including the original Apple ][ and ][+.

Which is pretty remarkable, considering the Apple ][ and ][+ don't even support lower-case characters.

You can test-drive ProDOS 2.4 in a Web-based emulator set up by computer historian Jason Scott on the Internet Archive. The release includes Bitsy Bye, a menu-driven program launcher that allows for navigation through files on multiple floppy (or hacked USB) drives. Bitsy Bye is an example of highly efficient code: it runs in less than 1 kilobyte of RAM. There's also a boot utility that is under 400 bytes—taking up a single block of storage on a disk...

After 23 years, the Apple II gets another OS update | Ars Technica
Wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of what we think of as traditional Japanese beauty. It occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do the Greek ideas of beauty and perfection in the West. Wabi-sabi can in its fullest expression be a way of life. At the very least, it is a particular type of beauty.

The closest English word to wabi-sabi is probably “rustic.” Webster’s defines “rustic” as “simple, artless, or unsophisticated… [with] surfaces rough or irregular.” While “rustic” represents only a limited dimension of the wabi-sabi aesthetic, it is the initial impression many people have when they first see a wabi-sabi expression. Wabi-sabi does share some characteristics with what we commonly call “primitive art,” that is, objects that are earthy, simple, unpretentious and fashioned out of natural materials. Unlike primitive art, though, wabi-sabi almost never is used representationally or symbolically.

Originally, the Japanese words “wabi” and “sabi” had quite different meanings. “Sabi” originally meant “chill,” “lean,” or “withered.” “Wabi” originally meant the misery of living alone in nature, away from society, and suggested a discouraged, dispirited, cheerless emotional state. Around the fourteenth century, the meanings of both words began to evolve in the direction of more positive aesthetic values. The self-imposed isolation and voluntary poverty of the hermit and ascetic came to be considered opportunities for spiritual richness. For the poetically inclined, this kind of life fostered art appreciation of the minor details of everyday life and insights into the beauty of the inconspicuous and overlooked aspects of nature. In turn, unprepossessing simplicity took on new meaning as the basis for a new, pure beauty...

Wabi-Sabi For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers - Lion's Roar
Does he get the linguistics right? That’s the question many may expect a linguist to answer about Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech, a chronicle in high Wolfean about — to put it narrowly — a debate between linguists about sentence structure.

Sound dull? On one level, it’s an intermural academic catfight — one that I confess I never expected to see cast in the behind-the-music format of Wolfe’s classics Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers. But the debate is considered by some linguists to be one of the most important in the social sciences — with implications for evolutionary theory, neuroscience, and "human nature" itself.

To put it slightly more broadly, Wolfe’s topic is Noam Chomsky’s proposal that all humans are born with a sentence structure blueprint programmed in their brains, invariant across the species, and that each language is but a variation upon this "Universal Grammar" generated by an as-yet unidentified "language organ." In other words, we are born already knowing language.

Wolfe mounts a grand debunking — attempting to take down not just Chomsky-the-linguist but, as collateral damage, Chomsky-the-left-intellectual. Unfortunately, while Wolfe, as always, certainly keeps you reading, he barely scratches the surface of the rich topic of linguistics, and winds up caricaturing both the man he wants to knock off the pedestal as well as the insurgent academics who have questioned the very premises of his approach to language...

The bonfire of Noam Chomsky: journalist Tom Wolfe targets the acclaimed linguist - Vox
The first meeting with oneself, with aloneness, is meeting one’s real ego without clothing—naked ego, assertive, distinct, clear, definite ego. The experience of loneliness is from ego’s perspective: ego has no one to comfort itself, no one to act as moral support. This kind of aloneness is simply the feeling of being nowhere, lost. There is tremendous sadness that there’s nothing around you that you can hang onto. But it is your own ego acting as the voice of sadness, loneliness, so you cannot blame anybody or even get angry. That starting point is very useful and valuable. It was the inspiration to go into retreat in Milarepa’s case, and in our case as well.

Taking part in a retreat is a way to express aloneness, loneliness, desolation. We might experience fear in retreat, but that fear is purely an expression of that loneliness. We are trying to entertain ourselves, so we manufacture fear. We might go back to our mental notes of the past, or our scrap books, but that becomes boring. We are back to square one constantly. Cooking, sleeping or walking might become a source of entertainment. There is so little to do, we are thankful there is something to do. But even that comes back to square one. We tend to get disillusioned with that, too.

Such experiences of being in retreat are not exactly wretched. There is a very faint, subtle sense that you are falling in love with something. You begin to appreciate the desolation. A subtle romanticism is happening completely. Because there is nothing to entertain you, everything comes back to you. The songs of Milarepa, at the early stage of his being in retreat, are love songs. They praise the terrain, the mountains, his cave, his desolateness, his solitude, and the memory of his guru. Those are his love songs...

Find Your Heart in Loneliness - Lion's Roar

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