Josh and I have gotten some interesting feedback doing presentations about hacking work.
From “anarchists” to “rule breakers” to “heretics” — because everyone knows at least one story about Black Hat Hackers, baddies who are out to steal credit card numbers or worse, they see all hacking as a malicious act. Not so.
Hacking is merely the pursuit of knowledge, trying to understand how something works by taking it apart and putting it together in ways the original creator hadn’t thought of. In business, that’s called innovation and systems-thinking. In life, hacking is actually quite Zen.
Badhidharma is considered the first Patriarch of Zen, who left India for China around 460AD. He said “In order to see a fish you must watch the water.” That is what hackers do. They observe with what Zen Buddhists call a “beginner’s mind” — freeing oneself of preconceived ideas of how things are, how they must be, and exploring all possibilities.
Hackers are men and women who go where they must go to learn what they must learn.
Often portrayed as rebellious heretics, hackers are in fact faithful followers of three gods:
• Odin, who hung cold and alone in a windswept tree for nine long days and nights, sleepless and single-hearted, in order to seize the knowledge of the Runes. The Runes were symbols of what the Greeks called logos, the creative power of the Word, the magic of consciousness acting on inanimate matter and making it plastic.
• The trickster Coyote, who some call Pan, his wry humor a grin in the shadows, his appetites and passions a firestorm of Dionysian ardor.
• Jesus the man, the earthy Jew, a real mensch rather than a dreamy-eyed Nordic nanny-of-the-planet, who refused to knuckle under to convention or the suffocating constraints of the lowest common denominator of the crowd.