Vastness, Not Holiness

One of the zen stories most often cited by my Zen Master was “Vastness, Not Holiness”. He would often speak of his experiences back country skiing as an activity that drives this story home. It was standing in the midst of the vast mountains that he experienced kensho.

In the story, Bodhidharma (the barbarian monk from the West who brought Zen to China) met with Emperor Wu. Their exchange went something like this:

Wu: I’ve built hundreds of Buddhist temples and made Buddhism the official religion. What merit have I accumulated?

Bodhidharma: No merit.

Wu: What then is the holy buddhist teaching?

Bodhidharma: Vastness, not holiness.

Wu: Who are you to be saying such things?

Bodhidharma: I don’t know.

And with that Bodhidharma left the capital and went to Shaolin temple to sit in a cave for nine years.

This story encapsulates the difference between Buddhism as a religion versus Buddhism as a practice. There are a lot of people who go to the temple to pray, they make donations, and live according to lay or monk precepts — and they have no realization, no liberation. They are running around in hopes of accumulating merits, in hopes of burning off bad karma. They think that enlightenment is somehow a real thing that can be grabbed in their hands instead of the hands themselves.

“If a Zen student is sufficiently alive, he can practice the Way in the simplest activities of daily life.”
- A First Zen Reader

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RIP Ewheat


“Whatever comes up in the the sky after 5 is the reason is why we live.” We’ll miss you brother.

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Pushing Yourself to the Limit – 1994

My dad uncovered a video that I made for a school assignment when I was 15 years old. It’s an embarrassing if not wonderful time capsule of sorts. I still enjoy kung fu, rock climbing, and film making all these years later. It was edited linearly with two VCRs and a Videonics Thumbs Up Home Video Editor.

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Performance issues with Crucial SSD and OS X Mavericks – Solved!

A year ago I brought new life to my 2009 Mac Book Pro by doubling the RAM, installing OS X Mountain Lion, and replacing the internal HDD with a SSD (Solid State Drive) by Crucial.

Everything was just – faster – it felt like the future was now, it truly was a new lease on life for my aging laptop.

But, after installing Mavericks my system’s performance plummeted. I waiting patiently for the first update, installed it, no change. It became increasingly frustrating to use my system as any task related to the hard disk (opening an application, saving a document) now took up to minutes to happen whereas it was nearly instantaneous before the “upgrade”.

I was lamenting my situation to some friends at the cafe serving as my office today and then was hit by the realization that all of the performance loss seemed to involve hard drive read/write speed. I did a quick search for “Crucial SSD Performance Mavericks” and saw a thread comment mentioning the “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” option… of course! A SSD has no moving parts so there’s not much point to putting it to sleep and further more, since this was an aftermarket part there’s is a good chance that sleep mode isn’t implemented properly.

So I went into the System Preferences / Energy Saver options and changed three check boxes in the hopes of an improvement.

  • I set the “Graphics” setting from the default “Better battery life” to “Higher performance”
  • I unchecked the “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” option under the Power Adapter tab
  • I unchecked the “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” option under the Battery tab

I then logged out and experienced the fastest log-in that I’ve had in the past two months! We’re back on track! Applications are opening nearly instantly once again and I’m feeling a little less jaded as I was starting to suspect that this whole free Mavericks upgrade was just a trick to get people to buy the latest hardware.

Posted in Mac, Tutorial | 2 Comments

DX-3: Design is Delicious


My third design exchange event will be held on November 20th at Cargo Bar here in Saigon, Vietnam!

Join the facebook group or sign up for the mailing list for more information.


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Shattered Sound – 15 Year Anniversary

In the summer of 1998, members of cyber gang Lotek took a weekend and a now totally obscure music composition tool named Buzz Tracker and collaborated on an album. It featured six artists, twelve tracks, and is now avaiable for free.

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I Want To Be A Gardener

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in love and relationships. I’ve caused and felt more than enough suffering. When a relationship is in termoil, or terminates, it can feel like the end of the world, but it’s actually just the beginning of a new one. In time, the ashes of our past fertilize new plants that will grow, and may even bloom if we take care of them.

I want to be a gardener.

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On Place and Belonging

Alone: somewhere between LA and SF

For most of my life I was very opinionated about place. For a while I was like “I have to live in SF, I could never live in LA.” Later I was like “I have to live in Saigon, I can’t even imagine ever living in the USA again.” But after a recent trip back to the USA I now feel that I can find happiness and a sense of belonging no matter the place.

This is in large part due to the social interactions possible, regardless of location.

So here is a heart felt “thank you” to all friends — past, present, and future — who have shared and will share their good times and bad times with me, giving me a place of belonging.

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Eulogy for Lovers

Even players fall in love, opening themselves up to the opportunity to have their hearts broken. When you play with fire you expect to get burned but that’s part of the excitement too.

I knew what we had wouldn’t last forever but I always wanted it to last just one more day.

We didn’t care about the rules of society; it was all about communicating honestly. Being happy when we were together and learning to deal with complex emotions when we were not.

You triggered my enlightenment with your words “I’m happy when I’m next to you” and for that I am eternally grateful.

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On Feeling Bad

It is hard to keep balance in life while trying to meet all expectations;
Disappointment and sadness are inevitable when we overextend
and probable even when we don’t.

I wish I were better at life and responsible for less suffering;
Avalokiteshvara vows to save innumerable beings with her 1000 arms
but I only have two and wasn’t there for you.

Simplify, closer, simplify; Embrace, further, embrace;
The path to eternity is to die 1000 times today
and to find your smile in time to die again tomorrow.

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