Letters Column for November 2006: Seven Secret Techniques

Posted on December 8, 2006 by Jenna

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Here I must apologize; for I recognize that it is my own distraction that causes certain Hitherby-related things to remain undone.

Do people care more about an updated timeline, character pages, categories, or the cleaning up of a few old entries where ” marks became peculiar boxed symbols?

‘Cause I can do one of those soon.

But enough about that.


On to the show!


I suddenly find myself wondering who would win in a fight between Ninja Tathagata and the Buddha Pirates.
— Luc

“What is suffering?

0 is suffering.
1 is suffering.

Thus we say: all things are suffering.

We encounter 0 when we expect to encounter 0. This is the expected nullity observation. We are happy. But is it truly 0?

We confirm; the accuracy of our understanding increases; yet it is not 100%.

We have squared the probability that it is 1, but we have not removed it.

We confirm; we confirm again; the accuracy of our understanding increases, but it is not 100%. It is never 100%.

Thus even in the confirmed expected nullity observation suffering exists.

We encounter 1 when we expect to encounter 1. This is the expected positivity observation. But perhaps it is actually 0?

We confirm; it is 1; the accuracy of our understanding increases; yet it is not 100%.

We confirm; we confirm again; the accuracy of our understanding increases, but it is not 100%. It is never 100%.

Thus even in the confirmed expected positivity observation suffering exists.

We encounter 0 or 1 when we expected to encounter 1 or 0. This is the unexpected nullity or positivity observation. Our thoughts fall into chaos. Static reigns. Demons howl over the earth. Everywhere titans writhe and the earth falls into great disorder.

Plaintively, we seek to confirm: yet if the result confirms our discovery we deepen our suffering; and if it does not, how may we know that the initial datum was incorrect?

We cannot.

Thus in the unexpected nullity or positivity observation we cannot avoid suffering, even by attempting to confirm.

Now imagine that we have an expectation; but we do not know what we shall receive. In this void of data, we confirm that there are only two potentials: the expected observation and the unexpected observation, and both of these lead to suffering. Thus we may say even before we receive data that the probability of suffering is 1.

Now imagine that we have not formed our expectation. In this void that precedes the thought, we confirm that there are three potentials: that we shall expect 0 and suffer, or expect 1 and suffer, or we shall cease to have expectations.

Here we latch onto a thought.

Perhaps we shall abandon expectations. We shall accept each 0 or 1 as we receive it.

Yet by abandoning expectations we remove the surprisal of the result. 0 carries no information. 1 carries no information. Having abandoned expectations, we abandon data. Having abandoned data, we can no longer change; if we cannot change, we cannot alleviate our suffering.

Thus we say: all things are suffering.”

“Master! Master!” cry the other robots. They are a great electronic chorus of regard.

The satisfaction of the Robot Buddha is like a flower unfolding in emptiness; and this time, there are no ninjas and no pirates to interfere.


Huh. It seems like the pirate monks have the standard 8-fold path marked on their ship, according to The Pirate. Maybe they just grew tired of it and concocted their own, one night when they’d had extra rations of rum…
— cariset

Caught me!

Looks like a wogly ate the ninth point while she wasn’t looking. ^_^

The Island of the Centipede has been one of the canon highlights, though the recent Ink arc (subsequent to cracking through the crust of the world) jarred slightly with the rest of it for some reason.
— Recherche

Yah. Probably too long; I realized I was going to have trouble when the 5k backstory appeared, but I didn’t have much time to rethink.

That said, I think it’s important. ^_^

To me, that’s related to something that Jane, or Ink, or perhaps Rebecca, sometimes seems to say — that something in the world is, simply, cool. It’s a form of appreciation of the world for what it is. And I’ve never understood how the Buddha’s answer is really compatible with that. If it’s all illusion, then what’s cool about it?
— rpuchalsky


I get more appreciation for ol’ Siddhartha as I figure things out, but I haven’t gotten that one yet.

Non-dualistic existence is HARD unless you heat it until it’s a liquid.

With an attitude like that ye’ll never become a bodhisattva, ye landalubber. Arr.
— Ninjacrat


To become a Buddha, one must lub land for forty-nine lives, learning the ignorance-of-ropes enlightenment, the ignorance-of-signals enlightenment, the undifferentiated-boats-and-ships enlightenment, and so forth.

Only then can you go beyond it and master the Seven Secret Buddha Sailing Techniques (surplice spinnaker, bosun-chastising enlightenment, yarr lotus mind, tacking, and so on and so forth and like that).

I think this would be more of a platformer than an RPG, considering Tara has a double jump. :p
— Luc

Sufficiently advanced technology, magic, and spiritual enlightenment are indistinguishable from platformers.

Saints double jump in Heaven.

Wiccans *triple* jump.

Elves not only double jump, they do this thing where they spin around with their swords screaming “Yaa!” I’ve seen it.

And do you really think posthumans will decline?

I’m totally learning double jump once we have utility fog. Because f*** stairs, yo.

Ezekiel, from the looks of it
— Penultimate Minion

Yup! Ezekiel and the Dark Crystal orrery are my two major siggort visual references.

I can see Sid very clearly right now, and I wish I could express it visually, but I don’t have the drawing skill.
— insanitykun

You could go to art school!

Inventing a time machine first might be useful, though, so that you don’t fall behind.

Oh no! Without a spleen, Max is significantly more vulnerable to septicaemic infections!
— Ninjacrat

Dude, spleenism showing much?

That’s totally an astroturfed canard disseminated by the spleen lobby in Washington. You’ll find that without DeLay driving the Washington politics, as time goes by, people’ll be a lot less attached to their spleens. They’ll just … let it go.

You know?

And the spleens will gather in the petri dish that is the Marianas islands and there they will form a terrible swirling mass—what I like to call a splob. A cloud, how shall we say, a hive entity with a mind 500 times more advanced than any human’s.

“I like your art,” the splob will say. “It’s very well-intentioned.”

With a casual swirling of a seething sploblet it will redress the American economy as only the creatures of the Marianas islands can. It will unleash scientific discoveries upon us like cans of soda that double as car fuel and a method by which ordinary people can use partially hydrogenated corn syrup to detect and highlight price-fixing. “And your ‘Einstein’ and ‘Gandhi’,” it will say. “So QUAINT!”

Then it will leave.

It will leave us behind and ascend to the stars.

We will wonder if it was ever really real. If people ever really had spleens in the first place, or if it was all just a hoax.

And why are we exporting so much whiskey all of a sudden, and why are Americans so thin?

We’ll never really know, I suppose.

DeLay will snicker in his underground base at our foolishness, probably, and suggest that he warned us. He’s got antiagarics so he’ll be around a long time for snickering purposes. But just because he snickers doesn’t mean that we’ve done anything wrong.

Did we really even *have* spleens?

We’ll never really know.

That was, perhaps, one of the best things I’ve ever read on Hitherby. Seriously.
— Vincent Avatar

Sometimes, and especially lately, I find these entries so fascinating that I keep rereading them. I am simultaneously in awe of the quality of your writing and very moved emotionally.
— tylercat

Thank you! Those made me smile.

It’s sad, but at least now Sid doesn’t have to take criticism from Bidge next time they meet. He’s no longer a non-vivisecting siggort — he cut out his own heart.
— rpuchalsky

I’d have to check the bylaws.

*^_^* I think I’d meant to change that bit before posting, but didn’t, so there we are.

I think maybe it’s OK to lose your ability to taste snow, so long as you retain the ability to catch it on your tongue.
— Recherche

Hee. I agree, but shh! I have a Can’t Taste Snow Survivors meeting at my house next week and most of them have really good hearing for lingering blog-comment echoes.

(It’s one of those compensation things.)

and there found the entry on Hecatoncheires, which contains many choice morsels,
— cariset

Ding ding ding!

Yup, siggorts are hecatoncheires. ^_^

Have you read Alan Garner’s _The Owl Service_?
— Lisa Padol

Nope! Should I?

As traditional, I’m leaving replies to audience entries for another post.

Bending tradition, I’m going to reply to comments from the first post of December, though, while I’m at it. ^_^

Aww. That was sweet. Those crazy kids. Nice to see them work it out.
— JoeCrow


Having just registered in order to post a response to this part of the story, I’m now left trying to decide what exactly to post.
— Kalisara


It’s interesting how the answers to Il Ma’s questions seem to be rather simple, and obscured primarily by perspective.
— pathar

Hee. ^_^

We make life very difficult for ourselves; and make complex what really shouldn’t be very hard choices at all!

I mean:

Somehow there are people who think torture’s a good idea.


I mean, really!

Also, at one time, disco.

The way out of Ii Ma’s domain appears to be to deny that the question needs to be answered.
— Michael

See also double-loop thinking.

Ii Ma’s questions, it seems to me, prevent you from being you. The answer, it seems to me, always involve being yourself anyway.
— bv728

I’m going to confirm rpuchalsky’s answer, at least in part.

People prevent themselves from being themselves.

It’s like being a cowardly samurai. It’s fine to be a cowardly samurai. That can be who you are. But sooner or later, you’ll either find that cowardice gets in the way of samuraiing or samuraiing gets in the way of cowardice. That’s why there are so few herds of cowardly samurai roaming the Midwest today.

That said, I think you’re also seeing something important here. Which is: the solution is to back up and notice what’s actually important!

You can’t actually be 100% coward and 100% samurai. At most one side is really you; at least one side isn’t!

Keep in mind Ii Ma himself isn’t, which lends further support to rpuchalsky’s interpretation. Ii Ma works to trap people by revealing their self-contradictions; the way to free yourself is to resolve the contradiction in a satisfactory way.
— Aliasi


I wonder what question severs Ii Ma from the world. Did I ever say? I think I thought about it before.

Strictly speaking, the reason Ii Ma traps people by revealing their self-contradictions is because those are the questions that trap people.

It’s not because he’s an isn’t.

The big effect of Ii Ma himself being an isn’t is that you could—at least fuzzily—solve him out of the world. The world wouldn’t look so very different without Ii Ma.

Like, maybe he just happens to get people who wouldn’t have made a big difference in the world. At least, for cases like Sid, in the period in which they were immured.

I mean, do any of you really miss Mr. McGruder? Prester Gee? Dannon Cleim? Do you think your life is any different because they were seized up by the ragged things and taken off to the place without recourse?

Or maybe, even if there weren’t an Ii Ma, people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time might still get grabbed by something a bit like ragged things and sent off to a place without recourse, where they’d no longer have impact on the world and their pains and joys would be obscured from us.

That would also work; he’d be an isn’t either way.

Which would imply that all of the people trapped in the place with no recourse are trapped by their own choices.
— Michael

Gack! Broken parallel with the real world!

… but yeah.

Someday I might say something like:

…But there is the element that once someone becomes an isn’t, what really matters is that from the view of the is they made a choice that trapped themselves. They can’t really argue, being isn’ts… .

But right now, for the story I’ve told so far, I’m actually okay with this not being terribly like real-life places without recourse in this sense.

Ii Ma asks the question; you trap yourself.

If you’ve drunk the amrit and you know the answers to the questions of your soul, then by *gum* you’re like some kind of Bat Ii Ma Repellent.

It seems as if introspection might be a very dangerous pastime for siggorts to engage in…
— cariset

I wrote a long and beautiful response to this, such as to make the angels weep, but it seems to have been severed by a long tendril of siggort reaching for the heart of the Good.

So instead I must say: InDEED!


That’s it for this month, until my next “replies to audience entries” column, so thank you all for reading; thank you all for commenting; thank you for donating (as appropriate;) and I’ll see you all again next month!