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May 2009

Buddha dog

David began a 30-day daily meditation experiment on April 6, 2009.  The original post is here. David’s progress log is here.

Well, the first official Raptitude experiment has come to an end.  I just got up from my final meditation session. As far as I can tell, I am not enlightened.  I can neither hear the mountain stream nor make the sound of one hand clapping.

But I will never be the same.

If you’ve ever had trouble meditating, you might appreciate this account.

I have wanted to try meditating on a daily basis for a long time and I am glad I did it this way, accountable to you, the reader.  Because let me tell you, if I didn’t tell anybody I was trying this, I would have quit in the first week.  I’ve left detailed entries in my experiment log, but I’ll recap the highlights here.

That first week was rough.  I could not decide on a method, so I tried a few, with discouraging results.  On Day 5, I decided to settle on a (seemingly) simple and well-known method called vipassana. I think I even announced in my progress log that my confusion about methods was over, because I’d found plain instructions for a tried and true method.  Hah! Read More

satin bowerbird

I’ve slowly come to accept that humans are not special.  Or we are, but no more than any other life form.  As much as I like the idea of being a member of a privileged, ‘higher’ species, I just can’t find any clear distinction between us and other animals.

Superficial differences are easy to find: sure we can build cars and write novels and vote in elections, but these are just behaviors we’ve come to engage in; they don’t exactly make us anything different that just a spectacularly intelligent animal.

In school, children are taught in certain terms that animals are a different type of being than people.  There’s Old McDonald, and his animals: the pig, the goat, the rooster.  Even a five-year old playing with farm animal toys knows that the chicken, cow and horse go inside the little white plastic fence, and Mr and Mrs McDonald belong firmly on the outside.

There are cultural and economic reasons for this imaginary line in the sand, and I won’t get into them here, but it seems clear to me now that all organisms on earth are just different approaches mother nature has taken towards the same end.  Life simply insists on living, in whatever way it is able.  In all of its forms, from people to dandelions to mosquitoes, life just stubbornly does its thing, whatever that may be. Read More

Humanity on four laptops

I remember my first real-time online interaction.  It was 1993, and I was navigating through a local BBS on my trusty 2400 baud modem.  Some of you may have used BBSes back in the day, but most of you probably don’t know what that is.  BBS stands for Bulletin Board System, which is just a software program on someone else’s computer, where different users could log via phone line on and read news, play simple games, download programs or leave messages.

Most BBSes only had one incoming line, so you couldn’t be online at the same time as anyone else.  If you attempted to reach the BBS when someone else was on, you got a busy signal.  Even though BBSes had many members, it really was a solo activity, you just explored what other people had left there, hence the monikier Bulletin Board.  Still, they fascinated me.

One day, while I was reading some crude, text-based message board, the screen went black.  At the top, letter by letter, words began to appear, as if I was typing them.  But wasn’t me, it was someone else! My heart started pounding.  Life! There was a living, breathing person using my computer, in my basement, from somewhere out there.  It was astonishing and terrifying, like I was encountering an alien. Read More

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