Informal Talk on Information Tech
Thoughts Q & A Kalama Hermitage Books

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Eight Precepts | | To Have and To Own


Informal Talk on Information Tech

Within only a few months, I have heard news of deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. The Nargis typhoon in Myanmar, the violence in Tibet, the earthquake in Sichuan, the departures of many well-known people in and outside of the Buddhist community, including the familiar faces in society in this modern time. From a personal angle, all deaths are the same, but in wider social scene, some deaths are big losses. Because following the loss of a life is a series of left over emotions, of unsolved problems, of unfinished projects. I was stunned to received the bad news of two very elderly persons, though not unexpected. Anyone who gets pass 80 years is already considered lucky. But then, so what? A funeral with long obituary, announcement, eulogy and band music; or one with not even a piece of cloth to cover the corpse; both are painfully similar: the dead has no idea what is going to happen after he's gone. The people left behind are free to take over his affairs.

Then somehow I recalled, from the vault of my semi-senile memory, a piece of online information, some bizarre engraved words on two tombstones. I didn't know whether to cry or to laugh. I wondered how simple life, and this human realm, had become. On one tombstone of a possible IT pro was a brief

"Run-time error at 17:05:07".

On the other

"System halted at 03:05:08. Please press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart!"

These were really jokes, created for fun, but truly, I could not laugh. Who knows when it is your own time to be taken to the crematorium so someone can press that "restart" button. It's pretty horrible to think about it. Because, who knows? That time just may well be next week!

But would that be it? Jovially comparing the life of a human with that of a computer. Is that too harsh? In my meandering thinking, it is not really far off. Those with minimal understanding of Buddha's texts know that death is not the end, and a life is not defined by the number of months and years someone can last, before or beyond 60. Even if you considered your life's end as the end of a game, or the switching off of a computer, you must not forget what the game was about, or for what purposes the computer was used. These days there are lots of people become billionaires or prisoners by spending just few minutes on the computers. I myself knows nothing about computing technology, but by accident I found the similarities between theese two things (human life and computer life) interesting, very weird but very fascinating.

Whoever had done C-drive cleanup should have seen this line: Disc Cleanup is calculating how much space you will be able to free on [C:]

I enjoy this advice very much. Just take some time to really look at your life, your health, time you have left, your finance, your brain, and see how much free space left for more decent items and worthy businesses. Having too much rubbish leaves you with not much space for more useful stuffs. Not to mention that the rubbish in your hard drive or your brain will slow you down, because of its sheer weigh. Not only a person, but a community or even a nation can be in a similar situation. Just with those tiny trivial similarities who would say you can't liken a computer to a human life.

Busily working all day or leisurely playing for a few minutes, there will come a time when we have to leave or turn off the machine. In poorer countries, you may have it turned off for you because somebody switches off the power supply to your region. Our lives can be like that, suddenly wiped off by something, if not you then someone else, departing at the death bed, crumbling away from living. Very transient, but undeniably existent. There is nothing is nothing!

The places and situations we have been through in our lives are like the websites we accidentally enter while surfing aimlessly on the internet during some sleepless night. Happiness, sadness, good, bad, all sorts of stuffs. And with one click, those things will be flipped off and be gone. What can be significant is how the person deals with the information while watching, reading it on the screen and how he carries on dealing with them as images in his head, his heart - after the screen had changed. How good is his machine, how much does he know about computers, where does he use the computer, ... those are the important factors in operating a computer. Our lives are just the same. What baggage we carry, how we continue, these factors help decide our goals, our contributions to the world, and help dictate our final destinations.

But it does not end there. There are more similarities between a computer and a human life. Anyone who ever uses a computer must know the term "password". If you forget or do not know the password you cannot do anything. In human world we too use passwords. With all the people in the world why would a couple find and stay with each other, and not with another person? They must have known some kind of password between them so that only with one click they get together and fall into each others love nests. A practitioner who does not know the pass codes of the saints will struggle forever only to be a bookworm on the mountain of suttas. There are reasons why we do not know each other's passwords. If not because of bad vibes then it is because of hindrances, be it political, cultural or religious. It can be because of a person's living conditions, his stubbornness or his ignorance that he cannot find the path to communicate with society. Billions of the people on this planet are right now fighting each other because they do not know the passwords of the others. They see but do not meet and then they meet but cannot see... the tragedies of the missing password. We are sinking deep in the ocean of suffering and are so lost without a way out, only because we do not know the password. On the subject of spiritual liberation, to me, practising Buddhism is study the passwords of our selves and of the saints. The further we expand our knowledge of the Buddha's texts, the more passwords we discover, to define ourselves and our world. Once we get to sainthood, all will be unlocked.

I am useless with IT , but I can say one extra thing about it. Internet search. Having a good machine or being good at using it do not mean you can find anything you need. First you must have an idea of what search and from there work out the keywords required. If you have a large general knowledge, the internet will expand it multiple times. Without some level of general knowledge, you would muck around and ending up with downloading movies, music and play some games. Buddha's wisdom and life are like that too. You can only receive good lessons if you have in your mind appropriate and necessary tools. If you have poor knowledge and narrow mind, you can hear and read a lot of many good things in life, but to you they still remain but strangers on the street.

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