Periscope Tip #3 – use a mic

The mic used by your phone may depend on whether you are using the front or rear camera. If the rear camera (the one facing away from the screen) is used the mic may be the one facing away from you also. To improve the quality of the sound of your speaking voice use a mic to override this. 

Periscope Tip #2 – choose a good informative title

Titles are important. They tell us what your scope is about, even if it is just a chat. Viewers want to know what they are coming to see. So make sure it is not left blank. It will also help you focus on your content (and viewer’s perspective) as well.

Periscope Tip #1 – don’t get burnt out

Do not set unrealistic goals time schedules for yourself. Scope because you have something to say, not because you have fans to please. Do not make promises which you cannot keep (example: do not say “I will scope everyday” unless you can).

My thoughts on 10 years of sustainability dharma

Has it been that long?

sustainability dharma started ten years ago on 17 February 2006. It was a critique of our lifestyles and a call to sustainability and a sustainable lifestyle. I still believe in these values but I myself have not achieved that. I am not even close. But this, as a log of who I am, is invaluable.

To live sustainably would mean to give up many things and to change my way of life. Blogging would most definitely be one. My work as an assistant professor would be another. They both use more energy than necessary. A lot of wastage.

But that is not a reason why I should quit. One must look at the overall situation. Do I lead an overall sustainable lifestyle? No, I do not. But perhaps the most sustainable part of my life is the farming, the growing of food. My wife estimates 80% of our vegetable come from our garden. It is grown organically and we probably have room to increase capacity.

My spiritual practice also has gotten better. More than anything my giving up of alcohol (for health rather than spiritual reasons) has made me a better and more controlled person, less likely to blow up and react inappropriately.

During this time I have watched my children grow up, grown older together with my partner, become a father and husband of sorts. I have taken on many more responsibilities, chosen to do things I have believed in, learned more than perhaps I have imparted.

Blogging is not easy. You need to have something to say in order to blog. You could say a lot but whether they are worth saying is a different matter. Which is why I have less to say today than I did ten years ago.

Another difference is that the internet landscape has changed somewhat. Blogs made it easy for everyone to have an online voice. But it was relatively static. It took a long time to reach an audience and to get comments. In 2016, we have Twitter but I think more importantly we have Periscope. No other time have we had life broadcast with an interactive audience to boot. Anyone can show their world to an audience and get realtime feedback and interaction. Once I have done my live broadcast, my scope, I am finished. No more is necessary. No editing is needed. It is different and efficient. It is the future of communication.

So is there a place for traditional blogs? Can we call them traditional even though they are no more than 15 years old? The time length for anything to become traditional has become shorter. These are stressful times. I would hate to be my son’s age. I would hate to be born now. It is so confusing and at the same time exciting in a strange kind of way.

We no longer surf the net with notebook or desktop computers. We go online with our mobile devices – our smartphones and tablets. The landscape has changed a lot. I no longer read about this morning’s protest at this afternoon’s website, I can now see it from four people’s perspective in realtime and even react to and with those people who are scoping.

But somewhere in there, still, is room to write these posts, albeit only once in a while rather than on a daily basis like in “the old days” when I had no other means.

2016 New Year’s resolutions

That time of the year again.

Reflecting on what I have done. This year I went back to my old temple to visit my teacher, Harada Tangen Roshi after a 25 year absence. Unfortunately, he has been weakened with age and I was not able to meet him. I hope to go back again soon and continue my practice. His disciple (I ashamed to say I have forgotten his name) met us and looked after us.

Zen is an important part of me. It has influenced my life and outlook. I even gave a talk on Zen and language learning this year. They are not so different. Indeed, Zen is part of everyday life, part of the ordinary. And this is what makes Zen extraordinary. I am still in awe of the understand of Zen.

So I guess that is why my resolutions always revolve around Zen.

This year, I resolve to focus like I (am supposed to) do in Zen. What happens on the cushion is no different to what happens off it. That is what Zen is about. If you think meditation is something done on the cushion that is a misunderstanding.

And because I shouldn’t make too many promises, too many resolutions, I will end it with just one.

Happy New Year and I hope 2016 will be more peaceful one for all. Let’s try to make the world a better place.

Lessons on Right Speech from the Miss Universe 2015 Contest

Long ago, a pretty girl lived next door:
She used to pick mulberries in a distant grove,
Returning with her white arms full of
Gold and silver branches.
She sang with a heart-rending voice
And sparkled with life.
Young farmers put aside their hoes when they saw her,
And many forgot to return home when she was around.
Now she is just a white-haired granny,
Burdened with the aches and pains of old age.

Ryokan (1758-1831)

We spend our time idealising beauty and youth. And sometimes we forget even our jobs when in the presence of such. Even more we spend time pitting the beauty of one country with the next as though they are comparable, measurable.

Putting this point aside for the moment something more problematic is literally the wrong speech, the mistake or slip-of-the-tongue perhaps even wishful thinking on the presenter’s part. The expectations as well combine to the subjective, non-existant pain of losing even deeper. What we say and do have consequences. It is important that we be mindful of ourselves to speak correctly and know when to refrain from speech. Much of the outrage of having both Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines’ moment of glory stolen really carry pain that will last longer and deeper than we think.

Nuclear versus fossil fuel power

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident Japan had gone quite literally all non-nuclear for a while. The country had switched off all of its nuclear power plants in what amounts to a knee-jerk reaction to the disaster that still is happening now and will for many more decades to come. In its place we turned back to using coal importing more than we ever had. And all of the sudden nobody in Japan cared much about climate change and global warming anymore.

The question should never have been about whether we choose nuclear or fossil fuel for our energy needs, but rather how we can reduce our energy usage in the first place. Whichever we choose to use we are still using too much energy for the good of the planet.

And now that the dust (or is that nuclear dust) has settled from Fukuyama we have turned on the nuclear tap again to quench our nuclear thirst.

Nothing ever changes, does it.