These are notes from TEDxMelbourne #2 that I attended yesterday. I tweeted them, but then someone asked for a link to my notes. Since I don’t have a page up to capture them, I thought it’s not so bad to capture them here as a blog post.
Firstly, I would like to say this:
When you stand at the center of the truth, nothing contradicts. Everything compliments.
10:00am Karen Armstrong, charter for compassion
- “Let’s revive the golden rule” // TED Video // Karen Armstrong
- This talk is a visionary one – Karen talks about unity through compassion, where religion should be a key contributor in this area and yet religion, as we know it, is one of the problem that actually separates us, rather than unites us.
- Karen wish to point out that religions are a means to an end, and that end if always universal: love and compassion.
- This talk reminds me of a link that I stumbled upon just the day before (Is God a Taoist?)
Where at the end of the long dialog between God and Man, is a poem by the Zen poet Seng Ts’an:
If you want to get the plain truth,
be not concerned with right and wrong.
The conflict of right and wrong
is the sickness of the mind.
- Which is quite true, a lot of times we bicker on and fight amongst ourself between the christian camp, catholic camp, hindu camp, buddhism camp, muslim camp (and so on) about which religion is right and true, and which one is not. In fact, it doesn’t matter. It never was. What matters is how can we show love and compassion to one another. What matter is that we don’t do unto others we we don’t want to be done unto us.
- This talk by Karen is a cry for help. It’s a call for everyone to hop on the compassion train – regardless of from which camp you come from.
- The discussion (after the vid) then progresses to scepticism as to the effectiveness of the approach. getting people to come in and sign the charter and so on. Personally I felt that it doesn’t matter how it’s done. The vision is what counts and more importantly than exactly what is the right way to spread the word, spreading the word is most important.
Interestingly, this is very related to the talk by Benjamin Zander about ‘the long flight of the bird that bypasses the fences below on the ground’
- When a vision of this caliber gains momentum, it will take a life of its own, and by then it matters not what is the right way or the wrong way to spread the word. The word will travel round the communication network and the idea will take root in people’s head. That is what counts.
11:00am Benjamin Zander, you will love classical music
Definitely one of my favorite vid. Very, very, inspiring!
- “On Music and Passion” // TED Video // Benjamin Zander
- Benjamin shows the importance of how a message is delivered, as well as the importance of the message in itself.
- Benjamin shows the true path of a teacher, that does not preach to the uninformed, but rather stoop down to their level and guides the uninformed through the journey that enlightens them to the beauty of classical music. (interestingly, very related to the talk later about the tribal leadership)
- Positive spirit changes the whole perception. “How would you walk, how would you talk, if you think that EVERYBODY loves classical music, but they just don’t know it yet?”. How would it be if Martin Luther King goes “I have a dream – but I don’t know if they will be up for it?”. Positive spirit, an unbroken spirit, is the way forward in many things. This spirit is shown in the last talk by an old lady who so bravely puts the light back on the forgotten theory of the aquatic apes.
- Classical music vs pop music is a matter of appreciation. We can only like what we can understand, and we can only understand what we can appreciate. Pop music to classical music is like what a comic strip is to a great novel. Classical music doesn’t have vocal, similar to how novel doesn’t have pretty pictures in all of its pages. And yet there is something so deep and engaging about instrumental music.
- I saw this tweet the other day:
“Technically, I’m not a guitar player, all I play is truth and emotion”
– Jimi Hendrix
- Indeed it can’t be further from the truth. People who can appreciate Classical Music does not listen to the melody or the tones spewed out from the music they hear. They hear the deep emotion expressed by the music. This is why when people say that classical music is boring, I reckon they must be insane. Classical music IMO is UP THERE with heavy metal – it’s VERY emotional, and is VERY, VERY powerful. <– so much so that I have to type ‘VERY’ in caps.
- Benjamin wraps his message in many forms – through jokes, through an inspiring play of Chopin’s piece, and there are many message bundled in there. There’s message about leadership, about vision, about classical music, and so on. Interestingly, I think he delivered the message in a similar style to how a classical music is actually played. That is, he does not recite the message piece by piece directly like a pop music would, but rather he delivered it in a way that allows the audience to actually experience the message.
- Indeed, what we listened from Benjamin’s talk was not the words uttered by Zander, nor the Chopin piece played through his hand over the grand piano, but rather the message that he is trying to convey through his talk. And WHAT an amazing experience that was. Definitely going to my bookmark.
12:00 Gregg Smith – Unsustainable Growth from commodities statistic analysis
- Live Talk // Gregg Smith
( I’ll cheat and dump his pics from Flickr instead. source via dreaded_thommo)
- This is one very worrying talk. Finite biosphere. Finite resouce. Finite planet. Finite everything. And yet, we are wishing for, working for, and currently in a path of – infinite growth. No matter from whichever way you look at it, it’s an issue. Our way of life is simply unsustainable.
- But to me, this series of statistical nightmare is more than just raising the awareness of the actual issue at hand. It is also pointing to a much more fundamental issue.
- We are a now a global community because of the problem we face. We face problem at a global scale – and yet human being as a race haven’t got any framework, mechanism, strategy, or anything of the sort on how to formulate and agree on a way forward at a global level.
- I’m not talking about coordination to execute the solution, I’m saying that to make agreement at a global scale in itself is still a challenge that we can not face. And here we are bickering left right and center about what is the right way forward, and which one is the wrong way forward. While in fact we are not moving anywhere AT ALL. We stay stationery, indecisive. Choked by our own ineffectiveness.
- Personally I find that the way forward is to educate people. To enlighten everyone and bring their game to another level. Like what Karen Armstrong says, religion SHOULD be a big part of this. Through religion enlightenment is found. Through religion we should be able to transcend humanity. And when we do, there is no Me or You. There is no We or Them. There’s only Us, and the problem we have to face. Again, here I would like to quote yet again the poem from the great zen poet Seng Ts’an, because it is applicable not only in religion, but in anything, as it is a universal truth:
If you want to get the plain truth,
be not concerned with right and wrong.
the conflict of right and wrong
is the sickness of the mind
- Indeed, to face this global problem, we need to be an expert at resolving difference and functioning as a single united entity. Now go back to work on Monday and ask yourself, how far are we from this? What can I do to make a difference?
- Unsustainable growth is only one of the battle we are fighting in the global warfare against our own demon. We make the cause, and so now we must bravely face the effects.
- As a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism, and a member of SGIA I cant help but to be reminded of the core teaching of this branch of buddhism:
“In order to help others to see the light, you yourself must awaken your buddha nature” – and here I would like to quote a piece of text from ‘Is God an Taoist?’
You remind me of the Mahayana Buddhists! Each one says, “I will not enter Nirvana until I first see that all other sentient beings do so.” So each one waits for the other fellow to go first. No wonder it takes them so long! The Hinayana Buddhist errs in a different direction. He believes that no one can be of the slightest help to others in obtaining salvation; each one has to do it entirely by himself. And so each tries only for his own salvation. But this very detached attitude makes salvation impossible. The truth of the matter is that salvation is partly an individual and partly a social process. But it is a grave mistake to believe — as do many Mahayana Buddhists — that the attaining of enlightenment puts one out of commission, so to speak, for helping others. The best way of helping others is by first seeing the light oneself.
- The concept of awakening one’s buddha nature, in SGIA/Nichiren Buddhism is called Human Revolution. I think it is fair to say that before we revolutionize the way the world works, we should revolutionize the way we work as an individual. Through the light we see after the journey that we took ourselves, we can help to guide others through the same journey.
14:00 David Logan – Tribal Leadership: models for segregation by varying level of awareness
- “Tribal Leadership” // TED Video // David Logan
- Tribal leadership is a model of how people segregate to form groups that represents varying degree of awareness.
- There is actually a very similar teaching in Nichiren Buddhism about the model of people’s varying degree of awareness called the “Ten Worlds” which I would not go into. But basically the teaching says that people at varying degree of awareness are bound to find attraction to one another. Therefore they form groups. However it doesn’t mean that you are forever cast into a given level of awareness. In fact, we switch from one level to another constantly, all the time. It’s just that the level where we spend our times most defines our primary level.
- The tribal model of varying segregation through awareness in my opinion is incomplete and pales in comparison to the model described in buddhism that very accurately represent not only the varying degrees of separation between one level of awareness from another, but also the characteristics, the way forward, as well as the various pitfalls that we should be aware of at each level.
- A point was raised in the discussion that the talk is useless, that it’s only another fancy naming to a concept that is already known, and this sort of scheme will be used mostly by consultant to penetrate the management level of corporation to leech their money away.
- I offer a different perspective: I think a model is like a map to a territory. Without a model, it will be very difficult for us to talk about this concept. It’s very hard to say that land down under , and it’s much easier to say ‘Australia’. Similarly here, the talker have presented us with a means to identify and the varying tribal groups at these different levels, and through it we can now easily identify association between people and their respective conceptual trial group.
- However, instead of bickering about whether the model is right or wrong, or whether using the model is right or wrong, we should ask ourselves what can we do with this model to make a difference. Right or wrong does not matter. And here again I would like to quote the poetry which I have quoted two times, but I guess it’s pointless to keep doing this.
- Instead of lamenting and bashing the idea let’s use it and see the message that is really in the video. What can we do to make a difference? Well, for starters, let’s quickly learn our way to be a stage 5 tribal leader, and help others to gain the same insight and ability.
- As highlighted by the commodities live talk (Gregg Smith) we are facing global issues. And if we don’t lift our game very quickly, we won’t even have any hope of countering this problem with any concentrated and meaningful effort at all. If there’s a devil out there driving the forces of darkness towards us through these global crisis, they will be ROFLing our puny disjointed little efforts. Unless of course we can stand united.
16:00 Elaine Morgan – shedding light on the Aquatic Apes hypothesis
- “Reviving the Aquatic Ape Theory” // TED Video // Elaine Morgan
- Now isn’t this one very energetic old lady, full of youthful spirit! Similar to the Benjamin Zander video, the delivery of the message is as important as the message itself.
- Here Elaine Morgan puts forward the aquatic apes hypothesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquatic_ape_hypothesis) and she puts it in such light that it does not sounds ludicrous at all.
- However Elaine also pointed out an aspect of the scientific community that is very ‘church-like’. The priesthood of the scientific higher ups, is the way she frames it. We ask ourselves through the discussions, why is this so? Shouldn’t science be, well, scientific? That is, looking at conclusions and hypothesis in a very objective manner?
- I would say that scientist, no matter how scientific-like they want to be, are still human. I would say that the same thing also applies to machines and computer programs. We’d like to think that machines and computer programs are infallible, that they are incapable of making mistakes. However we know that machines do fail from time to time. Mainframes crashing down, Windows Operating System blue screen of death, Linux operating system and Macs trashed through incorrect configuration or incorrect commands, the list are just too many.
- I think that as humans, we do what we do, and we express our characters into our world. All of our strength, all of our personality, including our own weakness, insecurity, and err will also be expressed in our work. This is why, even though science, engineering, machines, and computer program should be subjective, clear, transparent, and free from errors, are not so. Because to err is human.
- However, instead of bashing science and computer programs, we should see it as it is. Elaine is trying to shed a light on this. We should take into consideration the alternative theory, and keep an open mind into what is possible. And move on.
- Because seriously, there are bigger problems at hand. And myself (and the TEDxMelbourne2 gang) is getting thirsty from all the talking. it’s beer-o-clock, afterall !
Thus conclude my notes for TEDxMelbourne.
I apologize for not enabling comments on my blog, as a programmer I sincerely believe that Twitter is the means for public communication, so if you want to talk about this, just tweet your thoughts away in twitter and tag it with #tedxmelbourne.
also if you’ve got this far, it means you’ve read this long post thru. Thanks for reading 🙂