Saturday, January 22, 2011


In which I go for the "Captain Picard Gone to Seed" look:

Every time I see myself bald, I think, "Christ-- I have no brain! There's no room for a brain up there!" It's almost as if my hair contained my brains, distributed in thousands of protein strands. Now, with the hair gone, all that's left is a double chin, big jaw, big nose, large ears, large eyes, and large eyebrows. The top of the skull is about one inch above the brows!

Commenter Roy was wondering whether/when I was planning to slap up this photo. Hope you're happy, dude. Roy has an interesting blog, which at first glance appears to be dedicated to Buddhism and music; one post mentions an insight about teachers that's very close to an insight of my own. Roy quotes a dharma talk by Edward Espe Brown on "two basic theories about teaching":

There's two basic theories, you know, about teaching.

One is: “The teachers who are masterful and if you do what I tell you, then you too can be masterful. And don't I look great? And you too could be great. And just do what I tell you and you can be masterful too.”

And the other kind of teacher is: “Oh! You're scared? Me too! I'm scared too! And – you know – I'm not minding. Maybe you wouldn't have to mind either. And we could both be human beings. You know, and we could kind of hang out with each other. And wouldn't that be fun?”

My own theory is similar but different: there are two kinds of teachers. One kind sits on the mountaintop and says to the students in the valley, "It's up to you to climb up here." The other kind of teacher starts in the valley with the students and says, "See that peak? I've been there. That's where we're headed."

ADDENDUM: Something like this dichotomy often finds itself expressed in religion in relation to soteriology. In Hinduism, for example, there's the "cat school versus monkey school" opposition: the cat picks her kittens up (analogous to the divine saving us), whereas the mother monkey waits for her offspring to climb onto her back (human action required for salvation). In Christianity, we often hear of "faith versus works" disputes. In Buddhism, there's what some term "self-power versus other-power," as in the contrast between most Theravada strains (one works diligently toward one's salvation) and, say, Pure Land Buddhism, in which saying the name of the Amitabha Buddha is enough for that Buddha to scoop one up and place him or her in Sukhavati, the Western Paradise.

NB: Obviously, the term "self-power" needs to be used with caution in relation to Buddhism, but the term definitely appears in Buddhist circles, where the self is understood to have only a conventional reality, not a fundamental one.



Anonymous said...

More than I could have hoped for...

Many thanks!

Nathan B. said...

Wow! Well, I think you look somewhat like a Buddhist monk now.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Picard in his post-Borg phase . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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SJHoneywell said...

My friend, your head is not lacking in cranial space--it is merely perfectly ovoid, and will some day hatch some sort of tentacled death-chicken.