The computers at our fingertips, the computers in our heads
In my recent journey to fix my wounded computer, I became deeply absorbed and fascinated with the insights I gained into how a computer works. Using the Terminal in Ubuntu to enter commands reminded me of using MS DOS on my old Tandy and learning basic programming in grade school on even older computers. This got me thinking and reading about the history of the personal computer. It is amazing to think how a series of simple on/off circuits can be used in conjunction with Boolean logic to produce such complicated phenomena as we are now able to experience on our computers. Of course, we take it for granted and usually don't think about exactly how a computer works, as long as we can use it to get what we want, to entertain ourselves or access information. But behind all that are many, many lines of code.
Our experience of reality is very similar. I recently listened to a talk by John Daido Loori where at one point he was talking about our conditioning, how it starts right after we are born. We store each new experience in our memories. The programming, the conditioning becomes more and more complex until we take it for granted. We experience the operation of this programming as a seamless whole. Everything seems so simple and yet we don't realize how complicated this subjective experience is, how many programs are running in our heads based in so many lines of code.
One way Shakyamuni expressed his realization was by saying,
"House builder, you are seen!
You will not build a house again!
All the rafters are broken,
The ridgepole destroyed;
The mind, gone to the Unconstructed,
Has reached the end of craving!"
(Dhammapada, Gil Fronsdal translation)
In the twenty-first century, he might have said,
"Programmer, you are seen!
You do not run me any more.
The operating system has crashed,
The lines of code are plainly visible.
The mind, gone to the unprogrammed,
Has broken the circuit of the self."