Other Interests

Buddha pointing the way to a discipleAs a Buddhist practitioner I naturally like to explore how to apply canonical teachings to today's social contexts.

The design of Social Networking Sites

Facebook, LinkedIn and now Google+. They're popular, but I see serious drawbacks to their design, so propose alternative architectures.

Holographic interpretations of the Buddha's teachings

I spend some time reading suttas, mainly in translation, and over a period of 10 or so years attended a little local group about once every 3 weeks. We usually would have more than one translation for any given passage and the interpretations can vary quite considerably. However, what is common to many is the deliberate avoidance of repetition, but I think some of this is not merely formulaic, but quite deliberate and sometimes crucially dependent upon someone's mental state at the time...

I started investigating a little the early records of the Buddha's teachings; if you read through these texts, you can find interesting characteristics in their structure and form. Contemporary philoligists who analyse these texts often cast doubts about authenticity when there is a great deal of repitition or words appear too brief or fragmentary. In contrast, I believe that much of this is accurate, indeed deliberate to reflect the way the Buddha transmitted teachings to particular listeners, well aware of the mind's inner workings. Thus, I'm tentatively coming up with a thesis that what is recorded is analogous to interference patterns of holographic film, so that by 'shining the right light' at the words, the analogue of the 'reference beam' as it were, one can generate a representation of the original Dhamma being taught. So I'm interested in how the mind creates visuals from language and then how we might represent the ancient texts in graphical ways that might reveal how words and phrases act similarly to the interference patterns in holography.

The impetus for this came from a particular evening class I attended being led by Prof. Richard Gombrich, in which doubts were raised concerning the authenticity of what's recorded as the First Sermon of the Buddha; I wrote an essay about kamma's role in interpretation in response and started blogging, with one image being of a 3D crystal radio. I also started reading 'Wholeness and the Implicate Order' by David Bohm, just in case I might discern something in quantum physics that could help derive these non-textual representations.

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