Notes on a meditation

I went on a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation course in the Goenka school, at Bodhgaya in Bihar province in north India. 

It was a complex event – my emotions and thoughts about it have often changed dramatically in a day.

This blog post is more in note form than a cohesive, final account.

1. Silence

For 9 of the 12 days on site we were silent. Not just no spoken words – also no eye contact, no gestures, no communication with others. 

Just as Burning Man has exceptions to its no money rule – coffee, ice, illegal drugs – there are periods you can ask the teacher questions, and sometimes misunderstandings (problems with the audio equipment, an accidentally stolen shawl, a night terror) force communication. 

It was wonderous and unique. 

It takes away all the primate bullshit we usually wallow in. Who likes who, what does this person think, am I part of a useful group. I’m extrovert enough to love such stuff, yet to have a holiday from it was a relief. So much cognitive load released.

Strangely, this odd relationship makes me feel closer to my room mate because we both honoured it, than if we had talked. Solidarity is subtle, implicit. 

(The technical reason for the silence was interesting – it was the only way to stop us ever lieing so we were following monk rules.) 

I think it would be quite hard to experience this anywhere else. Communication with others is a large cognitive burden we take for granted and almost always have to do.

It was different, just to note, from loneliness. It was deliberate and complete, you couldn’t feel weak or self loathe for failing to initiate communication.

2. Monastic

No writing, no reading, no news, no cars (India! So of course there were l horns echoing occasionally in the distance), no money, no choice of food, no commute, no smartphones, no calendar, no radio, no negotiating, no cameras… 

The only labour cleaning yourself and your things and your rooms. And meditating. 

Butterflies, sunlight, trees, fog, simple food… Enough wonders buried in each moment to fill a life anyway.

I’ve avoided news before at Kentwell tudor recreations for two weeks. This was similar just more extreme and complete. Most news is so much junk.

I cried at the end of breakfast on the last day of noble science, knowing it was about to end.

Why can’t we live a little bit more like this? Maybe always cook one meal a day communally, maybe have some more communities you can live in a year or two with no commute.

3. Attention

Being forced to meditate ten hours a day with nothing else to do is a good boot camp. By far the most efficient way I think I could have learnt more about meditation. 

I’d done little before – used the Headspace app for 20 mins a day for a few months. Tried the hour a day technique in Vinay Gupta’s Cutting Machinery for a few days. 

The first few days were Anapana, a breathing attention meditation.

This done intensely gets you past the very basic distractions the mind creates – planning (I started thinking about what I’d do next time I had agency in 10 days time! Which was helpfully clearly absurd), remembering.

I feel more confident about how to watch them pass away, whatever kind of meditation I do in future.

This attention training isn’t the only purpose of the breathing. It focuses down to the upper lip only to enter the next phase,  see 4 below.

I felt nothing of sensations on/of my upper lip – eventually feeling weird insects walking on my nose and having a crazy hallucination like a red computer visualisation of my central face rotating and animated blue of my breathe flow. 

A bit nervous I asked the teacher about it and he said it was good as I was concentrating hard enough to make such thing happen. It was at least as dramatic an experience as the ones I was “meant” to have later. And there was no religious interpretation for it…

Everyone’s mind is different. 

4. Pain

I didn’t like Vipassana, the main technique, at all at first. It involves dwelling on each part of the body with utter attention and noticing the most tiny sensation – a puff of air or the weight of clothes if you can’t find anything else. Tedious in a hard way and feels meaningless – why the senses, rather than say thoughts?

Goenka has this “adhitthana” concept that three times a day at a big group meditation you must be determined not to move for the whole hour. The pain this inevitably creates then, I think, gives you a handle to take hold and form the equanimity you’re meant to be having about your feelings. 

Alas, at the end of the seventh day I did this too well (by being meta determined at a higher level) and hurt my knee. This combined with Goenka’s tapes going a bit crazy… Put me in a bad place for two days. See next section below. 

On the very very last day after talking to others, I had a couple of really good Vipassana meditations. Managed to not be distracted for more than a second or two or fidget and covered my whole body several times.

It felt useful – I would use it now, especially if in pain or if in need of a non verbal, secular prayer.

5. Sect

The marketing copy and course claim to be secular. They’re not. Goenka’s Vipassana centres are in my view an evangelical Buddhist sect. That’s cool, however I feel tricked because that isn’t made clear.

Constantly the materials say it is all about what you observe yourself. Which it to some extent is, and they have lots to teach on that. 

However in the training audio and daily chatty video of the founder Goenka, he is religious. As a basic example, he assumes reincarnation. A controversial supernatural belief, of which even his view seems naive to me (more like a Hindu soul than a recycled aggregate).

More worryingly, he imposes his beliefs about what we are experiencing on us, and in the case of laggard students like me, does so before I even had the experience. Umm, it’s dangerous to prime me to think an unusual new mental experience has a certain meaning! 

When you do Vipassana long enough – some people on day 7 of their first retreat, others it takes a while longer – you start to sense “subtle sensations” and then experience a “free flow” where your mind rapidly scans your body. This is reproduceable experience, although I got the barest hint of it. Most attendees felt it and describe it consistently.

Goenka interprets this experience as our “sankhara” being cleansed. He gets fervent, it sounds like he thinks that the meditation is removing sins from past lives. He says if you get gross sensations,  that is such sins coming back out and you must work harder, meditate more (with equanimity) to remove them.

The teaching materials got more and more desperate to drive us to work to cleanse ourselves. They claimed this is the only one way to do that. Not just Buddhism, not just Vipassana, but this very specific method preserved in Burma for a thousand years.

I was having technical problems myself at the same time (see “Pain” above) and the combination meant I stopped working on the eighth day. I had to stretch my sore knee all the time anyway. It was gruelling, I felt lonely. I nearly left.

The chanting Goenka does in his abrasive voice was like scratching my ears with nails. (Except for some reason at breakfast!) 

I spent two days doing just Anapana, then just thinking. Which by the end was lovely too. 

6. Community

I was surprised when we came out of silence that everyone else was really happy. Maybe half the people were Indian, half Western.

They enjoyed it, some are on their second or fifth course, others are new and don’t think it was too evangelical. 

Social conditioning kicks in, and I wonder if I’m mad. Did the isolation drive me crazy? 

Later I read up more online, and unsurprisingly find well written, interesting criticisms. This summary of three of them is the best starting point.

Yet… 

The Vipassana people turn out to be lovely and interesting. For various reasons, I spent a few more days than I intended with them in Bodhgaya after the course. 

There’s an instant bond and solidarity. They’re open and kind, from all over the world. People trying to improve themselves. Some with an energy of calm that can’t be faked.

I feel part of them. Even though I still think it’s a religious sect with a cleverly marketed meditation course that causes it to spread.

Not so different from things I’ve seen and done in Christianity?

I feel more deceived than I was there. The evangelism is less honest. I don’t claim to be objective about this, it may be cultural stuff that I misinterpreted.

7. Equanimity

So, the practice is to have detailed attention and to be equanimous about what you observe. Over and over again with no distractions. 

It is great. Especially if you’re prone to anger, or to dwelling on bad things. Useful just at a basic self help level.

Even if you know there is no point being riled by things you’re not going to change, how else do you bake that attitude deep into your soul? 

My big problem with it culturally is the way it devalues the senses and the wonder of the physical world. Isn’t our will to power also glorious? Where is the joy in dancing, in loving, in craving, in living? Can’t a meditation embrace this, not cut it out? 

Finally, maybe just maybe the meditation goes somewhere more. As well as self help, are there useful insights you get? Does the world as it really is unravel before you? Or is it just worship of odd mental phenomena?

And is it really not possible to study these mind phenomena scientifically, methodically, carefully? Why not?

Overall, I’d recommend the course just for the experience of noble silence.

Or just as an intense bootcamp to get you over some very early meditation hurdles. 

Or just as a very personal religion lesson on how spiritual beliefs can spread.

Or just as a way to meet a whole new interesting category of people you haven’t met before.

Or just as a more provocative, engaging philosophy prompt than reading another book. 

So five recommendations from me, probably worth going! Just be aware it may be tough, and Buddhism is a religion, not a philosophy.

Also, other similar traditions run similar courses, although they’ve less centres. Check them out too.
Equanimous.

Hindu holy mountain #1: Pavagadh

He took my hand. “Follow me. Move fast. Don’t stop.”

I’d spent the early morning looking round the tranquil mosques of ancient Champaner at the bottom of the holy hill.

(This is a good guide to them, plus I left a comment on buses which might be useful. It’s in Gujarat, west India, a little north of Bombay.) 

Now it was time to get to the top. Pavagadh. During the Diwali national holiday.

My guardian angel appeared just as I was utterly lost and led me to a crazy place where jeepney hurtle up and down, passengers throwing themselves at them to get in.

Two lads would often lead, running and barging into a moving truck to claim it for the rest of their extended family. A dozen people rammed into each one at all angles.

He was shocked how long it took us. He was a businessman who lived at the top of the hill, running a shop there. He said he was helping me as others had helped him when travelling in Europe, the Middle East and South America, and I can help others in turn.

Somehow we rammed ourselves in and bounded up the hill in jolts like spears fishing. 

Half way up was just as crazy – an endless queue for the cable car. My guide turned out to have an uncle who worked there.

We were whisked VIP to the front and on board.

From the car the thick, snaking pilgrims up the mountain on foot are visible. 

So many people! My first guardian angel introduces me to brothers, cousins uncles in their shops selling food, staged photos, puja materials. 

I say goodbye at his shop, picking up trinkets of Kali, goddess of power and subject of the main temple chaotically perched at the top of the hill. Onwards!

A dressed up cow charges for prayers. 

Shoes everywhere. 

I track up the down path, accidentally skipping the wait, getting away with it as the only European for a hundred miles. A place to tie up my shoes, hop over a bar, and I’m in the temple. 

Oh Kali! 

No photographs – you’ll have to go yourself.

As in all Hindu temples the centre must be experienced in real reality. To have line of sight of the deity for just one short moment!

VIP treatment, the attendant in delight and surprise at my foreignness, pauses to give me extra time. The mark on my forehead of puja to Kali.

The design of the shrine, the materials are ugly. Yet, I am elated. Everyone is elated.

Oh yes and that’s my second guardian angel, a student with his younger brother. Magically Kali makes them appear to go down the hill with.

Although I have a return cable car ticket, the queue is already long, so we decide to go down on foot. It is slow, hours and gets crushed and scary.

At a pinch point of a narrow bridge and the merging of an up and down path with traffic control guards, I can feel why people die regularly at pilgrimage sites round the world.

My new angel gets a tattoo and then finds he can’t pay for it as his brother had 100 rupees stolen in the crush.

I lend it to him, and yes he does pay me back when he meets his cousin at the half way house. His cousin is distraught, crying hysterically as they have lost his father.

They come every year from Ahmedabad, a couple of hours drive away. 

I leave them in a rush to be sure to catch a bus later, and somehow I get into a 4WD back down, sat above the other front passenger at an impossible angle. 

You get no pause to reflect. The mountain – dirty, uncontrolled, raw – sucks me in and spits me out again.

Was it all a dream? 

First, do no harm

A two year old draft blog post I just found, which is too good not to publish. Age leavens its earnest attempts to be ahead of trend.

New computer technology used to be my relaxation, my hope.

As the world has changed, that comfort has gone.

We grew up in a digital village. Now we’re in its seedy metropolis.

Tintin in America 29

A decade or so ago, I used my energy for emotionally hard problems to try and help with international development or democracy or climate change.

All the while, my childhood hobby was getting exponentially more powerful. Wonders appeared each year – the mouse, 3D graphics, buying things online, Python, Kuro5hin, a pocket electronic diary/address book, rsync, Wikipedia…

I now realise that this gave me the strength, the hope to deal with the hard problems.

Yes, there were threats to this nascent information society.

However, by the time I knew about each threat, there were already contervailing forces – free software, TCP/IP, the web. I joined those as they were being taken up by early adopters, missing the long, lonely innovator phase.

So even when our information society was in parlous danger, I was in massive, growing, hopeful communities fixing the problem.

There are three reactions to this. Perhaps we can make them stages of reaction.

1. Just despair

Snowden revelation’s about the routine spying we are all under combine with a certain geek knowledge that even if you love GCHQ, the same backdoors are being used by the Chinese, the Russians, organised crime… Who knows who!

Safe havens such as the Linux operating system no longer feel safe. It’s an age when massive security holes in even open source software are evocatively branded – heartbleed, shellshock.

I can’t even feel safe in the privacy of my once obscure command line. The common command “less” has a severe hole. “less” is the geek word for merely glancing at something on my computer. That should be simple and safe, but now I know it is flawed so attackers could remotely run their own nasty programs on my computer.

What can I trust?

2. Leap to the new fun

Where are the wonders now? It’s much easier to just get excited about them!

Skip the Internet now its tricky… Let’s start learning about augmented reality! Now that Magic Leap has $400 million to commercialise light field displays, let’s read up on our OpenGL and fesnangle a job projecting virtual pets into the palm of our hands.

(My favourite early job was making virtual pets)

That doesn’t have enough roar for you? Space exploration is looking quite fun right now. Let’s brush up on our rocket chemistry, move to LA and help colonise Mars.

Electric cars, blockchain, solar power, DIY bio… So much to pick from!

This summer, I went to Britain’s newish hackerspace festival Electromagnetic Field. The programming of the talks, and the attitude of us attendees, was effectively:

Oh man online privacy is so fucked … Wow shiny! Look at that drone!

Yeah, look at that brilliant quadcopter. Under-regulated, about to crash into aircraft this month, probably used to assassinate someone next.

Jumping to the next good thing is a cute, a tempting attitude. Yet deeply immoral.

Math is hard, let’s go shopping!

3. Be professional

I suspect this swing happens to all professions.

Post-war European architects were on a mission to build housing for everyone in society. Monsterous tower blocks later, funded by South American right wing dictatorships… By the 1990s, they’re building funky sky scrapers for wealthy corporations. Destruction, guilt, complexity everywhere. (See introduction to Radical Cities for a summary.)

Nuclear physicists, it’s obvious why their tech went evil! Well no.

Last week, at an exhibition just across the road from work, I read about three excited Liverpool physicists. They were playing with their radiation in the 1930s, for medical purposes! Using X-rays for the first time to get an invasive object out of a child’s foot. Developing cancer treatments.

And yet, the war comes, they already have one of the world’s few cyclotrons. Before they know it, whisked to Los Alamos for cutting edge refresher courses on quantum mechanics, and leading roles in the Manhatten project.

One of them paid penance for the bomb, spending much of the rest of his life campaigning against it, including founding Pugwash. They’re the organisation which makes the nuclear doomsday clock.

(For a bit more on this, “Why the future doesn’t need us” by Bill Joy covers it, and in its own way much of the ground of this blog post)

So seriously, we’re just whiny. Finally noticing our shiny tool can be used for evil. We had a lovely grace period when computers were innocent. They’re not any more.

Just being sad it isn’t fun any more won’t fix it – professionalism will.

Partly, some of us are fighting a rearguard action – desperately trying to co-opt a few new pieces of information tech, to create new protocols, to boldly reinvent business models.

That’s kinda nice – and you should keep donating to Mozilla, and crowd funding Indiephone. Watch some of my videos over at Redecentralize. Send your first GPG email using Mailpile. Every tiny action adds up.

And it won’t be enough.

I think the missing piece is a code of honour. A hipocratic oath for software.

HippocraticOath

It has to be shameful, humiliating, career destroying to make insecure, anti-human software.

We can sign it with an elipitic curve cryptography pen on the vellum parchment of a block chain, for all I care.

And sign it we must.

First, do no harm.

In praise of temple elephants

They all seem to be called Lakshmi. 

The first one I met at the Virupaksha Temple in Hampi. 

You pay a small coin for a blessing, which he takes with his trunk and passes on to his minder.

Then he touches your bowed head like this woman in Pondicherry. 

That one was at the Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple. An amazingly clean temple, worth visiting to see what Hinduism would be like in a clean India – something I hadn’t imagined possible, but it works!

I hope the elephants are treated well. I daren’t look it up. The one in Hampi had a morning wash in the river and seemed fed well.

Apparently some temples have four elephants. The south of India is the place to head to see them.

I love them. It’s partly rare to get so close to an elephant. Partly there’s a magic to an animal helping you worship.

Mainly they are just graceful and loving.

Scouring pad

I wrote this post two weeks ago before going on a meditation retreat. It felt too negative at the time; it isn’t in that it reflects my mood then.

India is like a scouring pad.

The dirt the dust.

Litter cast uncaringly – except in Pondicherry, as if to show it is deliberate everywhere else.

The highest ambition of the government cleanup campaign is to end public human shitting. By 2019, in this space faring nation.

India scours your flesh down to your bones.

Pavements are irregular motorbike park marketplaces. Walk the edge of the tarmac, dodge the buses.

Horns blare long and loud, rickshaws and articulated lorries warning that they’re undertaking.

Buses and their stations have labels only in the local language. No English, no Hindi – a different alphabet for each state.

India scours your ego down to your soul.

As if not enough, the Government suddenly withdraws 86% of cash.

Every transaction now a game of will to keep the balance of paper money you hold.
When you think you know any rule, it twists and turns spinning you off the foolish notion of a course.

Eventually the strange Indian sideways tilt of the head in conversations, a twist and back, makes sense.

Nods and shakes are too definitive. The way the world is – chaos joy – is the truth.

India scours you to anger, to impatience.

You can’t hide your lack of equanimity, not even from yourself any more.

Maybe this is why it’s from India so many people became enlightened, so many religions are spun.

India scours you to meditate.

Houses like trees

Zenrainman’s house is like a tree.

Grown out of the earth of its own basement on the edge of Bangalore, pressed into bricks. 

Nurtured entirely by water and light from its own roof. 

It breeds, symbiotically, large primates to maintain it. 

Treating their sewage. 

To water a rooftop rice paddy ready to grow enough to feed them. 

The spaces are full of art and light. 

Architecture students come and go, borrowing books.

They’re a means of reproduction, working nearby to design hundreds of similar houses.

The press call to ask a question on water. Bangalore is short of it, a chance at last for change. Sustainable water use. 

An itinerant British computer programmer appears for dinner.

They talk about technology and politics, about when opening data harms the common man, about dark mountains, about stamps, about China, about villages which aren’t on Google maps, about wasted tomato harvests, about building a helpful information society. 

All find Zenrainman in his chair. 

The house/tree attracting the world to one room like flowers to bees.

Just as our cells and our bacteria are equal in number… Is the organism the house or the rice or the human?

I imagine a million years passing, the methods maturing, the earth scattered with these strange complex constructs. 

An alien passes. What are these novel trees? 

Changing money 

Oh India! 

There’s always another surprise, toughening your way through the day. 

This week Modi, the Hindu nationalist PM, announced to the nation that the two largest bank notes were now worthless pieces of paper.

This clamp down on black markets and electoral bribes has a complex set of rules which let you trade in the old notes in limited ways, and heavily restricts use of ATMs. 

As a result, for the last few days banks have turned into queues like these ones in Hyderabad. 

Note the white pieces of paper everyone is clutching, forms to let them pay in the obsolete notes. 

Tourists are hit in an unusual way. India is largely a cash economy. While you can buy long distant bus tickets using various wallet apps, as far as I can tell you need an Indian bank account or credit card to load them up. Many hotels don’t take cards. 

So most tourists get out a lot of cash from ATMs, way more than any of the new limits on available money. 

As a result newly arrived backpackers in Delhi are living moneyless off the beneficence of strangers.

You can read my own experiences on this forum. In short I’m just about getting enough money, have cut my budget, and am now only using guest houses which take Visa. 

A few people have asked me to change notes in the street, and at a chat stall just now somebody explained that he is getting by on borrowing. Local suppliers are giving credit to people they know.

There are also good things. Hopefully India will become a bit more electronic. This bus ticket agent in Nagpur was putting up signs proud that they take credit cards. 

I arrived in Hyderabad near midnight two nights ago. A rickshaw driver was ripping me off, giving me 400 only for one of the old 500 notes.

A boy operating a nearby petrol pump was so upset at this he took out his own wallet and changed the 500 for five 100s. He gave a speech about India’s honour and reputation. Moving! 

In India everyone asks, if you’re a foreigner, to take a selfie with you. This gets gruelling at tourist resorts. In jokey frustration I often pretend to charge 100 Rs for this, making everyone laugh. 

Yesterday at the Buddha statue in the lake in Hyderabad on the spur of the moment I said, “yes, if you’d change an old 500 note for me”. The lovely matriarch of the family smiled and got out her purse. We laughed and all took some nice photos. 

She then offered to change another 500!

Communal pets

India is unusual in having two shared public “pets”.

Dogs are the ones that I’ve seen before in other countries, prowling every street and temple. These puppies with their sore-furred mum are in Pushkar.

Unusually, people feed them. The other day while waiting for a safari at a tiger reserve, I saw a woman feed a whole packet of sweet biscuits to a cute dog with lovely fur. Apparently the last chapati of a batch is reserved for a dog.

These are really friendly dogs. I’m a bit scared of dogs (I was bitten by one in Cambridge a while ago). A guide told me these peaceful ones that roam all Indian streets are nice because they, like many people here, are vegetarian…

The most famous communal Indian pet is of course the cow. Sacred in Hinduism, they really do just walk about by themselves, such as in the alleyways of Delhi.

And block the traffic – this van in Pushka had to wait 5 minutes to get these cows to move. 

This group are mooching on a major road by the station at Vadodara.

Some gangs cownap these free souls and smuggle them across the border to be slaughtered for meat.

In response, pro-cow vigilantes raid trucks at intersections, banging them to provoke any hidden cows to make a sound and sniffing to smell them out.

There’s talk of rounding up stray cows into sheds. Which would be sad to me, as they are a loving presence everywhere. 

Zero marginal cost

The next page I found in the notebook (after the last one) is my own view of the problem of information goods having zero marginal cost, so not functioning within capitalism. Paul Mason describes this in Postcapitalism.

Walking through the diagram…

“Zero marginal cost newtech” is the starting point. A “marginal cost” is a business term for the extra amount it costs to make one more of something. For digital goods, such as MP3s or converted PDFs, this is essentially nothing. This leads to the possibility of cheaper and cheaper, more and more freemium business models, driving the value of the information good in and of itself to nothing. The arrows lead out to four options at this point.

1.”Hard to build small business” means you slowly and tirelessly build up a tiny, global business which eats on the scraps left, the stubborn customers, the niches. This doesn’t make much profit, and is hard work. Look at pay for email companies, as an example.

2.”Monopolies” is when you force the market to have no choice but pay you, such as Windows in the 1990s. Or perhaps where you reduce the cost to zero to gain the monopoly, and use advertising for revenue – such as Google Maps. TomTom’s old business looks weak nowadays!

3.”Low profit” means there isn’t much money in any pure software businesses there are. This leads to “Poor computer security architecture”.

“Corporate privacy invasion” is done deliberately by the zero-charging monopoly to help sell adverts, or to sell your data to insurance companies, or whatever. It is done accidentally by poorly architected security in low margin software businesses, meaning you have data breaches and loss of privacy.

4.”Social info goods (Linux, Wikipedia)” describes the plus side of the zero marginal cost. You can make public goods and distribute them to millions or billions of people cheaply and easily. This is very satisfying.

“Non-market value” explains that the value of these social information goods is not measured by flow of money. Actually, that’s true of the value of zero-charge capitalistic goods too.

“Low GDP” – so the economic productivity of your nation looks much lower than it is. It doesn’t include encylopedias any more, even though people are getting huge value from them, more than ever. 

“Low wages, part time jobs” – finally both the power of global monopolies, their reduction in local services, and the general reduction in visible GDP caused by zero-cost information goods, reduces wages and increases part time jobs.

This is really a variant on the classic “robots will eat all the jobs” argument. It’s a simpler version of it, based on the robot we all have called a computer, which can infinitely replicate a digital good, tirelessly and at no (marginal) cost.

It’s worse than for physical goods, as you can’t even tax these robots to fund a basic income.

Sea. Sunlight. Calm. Trees. Laughter.

I found another oldish notebook. It’s about the edge of chaos.

The more lightly shaded left hand edge is absence, null, non existence. The dark shaded right hand side is total chaos, randomness. The sharp line down the middle is the edge of chaos – where things are balanced, interest lies, life grows.

There are four examples.

1. “Too few forum members” vs “Too many forum members”. If you start a new community, and nobody joins, it’s pointless emptiness. If it goes wild, and too many join, it ends up like a newspaper comments thread. There’s a pure balance, where the community is interesting and viable. (Reddit tries to avoid this dilemma by dividing itself in a cellular way making lots of subreddits)

2. “House alone” vs “Metropolis”. Living completely alone gives you no services no redundancy, living in a metropolis with tens of millions of people gives you slums and impossible property prices.

3. “No tech” vs “Intense tech”. Without any technology you’re impoverished. With too much, too fast, you can’t absorb it, polish it, make it fair, its dangerous side is emphasised.

4. “No customers” vs “Commodity competition”. When choosing a product/marketspace to enter you might pick one nobody will care about until after you’re bust. Or, just as bad, you might pick one where there isn’t just competition, but industrialised competition, where it is a standardised commodity impossible to compete with.

In every case there’s a balance. The question is, how to viably (with tangled hierarchy?) sustain that balance? A simple feedback loop will eventually steer you off into the void or into the white noise.

Everything that is good, everything that is alive, is at such a balance.

Sea. Sunlight. Calm. Trees. Laughter.