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contact: wildthyme at protonmail dot com
bluesky: @pad.bsky.social
letterboxd (run by my manager): laevigata

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translations (~2020)


my opinions on buddhism

i'm writing this here in the hope that when my ideas inevitably change drastically, i'll be embarrassed enough to remember to update it. disclaimer: i'm not any kind of licensed expert, religiously or academically. in terms of sociology and habitus, my engagement should be understood as an extension of western fan theory culture. there's a language-game i like to play, one of locating tensions, trying to come up with elegant hypotheses to reconcile contradictions in material that will never not be somewhat contradictory. if i get something wrong and slander the dharma, i contritely beg the buddhas of the ten directions to look on me with mercy and apprise me of my error.

there are three things i see as afflictions on the history of sinitic buddhism:

  1. the shrinking of horizons of practice towards a nianfo/nenbutsu understood only as chanting, reaching an extreme in the school of shinran
  2. the converse dumbing down of meditative practice which is the trademark of the chan school
  3. the "pure mind" thought initiated by the awakening of faith 大乘起信論, which effectively dooms chan and huayan philosophy

instead, i most admire the founder of the tiantai school, zhiyi, and those who upheld orthodoxy in later ages. zhiyi's work acts as a reservoir of early medieval notions and practices, brought together by a holistic vision that militates against the narrowing reductions i take issue with. moreover, the perfect/sudden teaching of tiantai represents to me the capstone of buddhist thought. it pushes madhyamaka logic beyond itself, and in fact to its ultimate point, its dialectical summit. it grasps the profound intent of all the buddhas, the source of all provisional teachings. every other school fails at nonduality by sneaking in an ontological ground by the back door, something i would hazard they do always for ideological reasons and often because they wouldn't know how to think better if they tried (never attribute to stupidity what is adequately explained by malice). more and more, i'm convinced that buddhahood, as formulated in the tiantai scheme of "six identities," is a real thing that one could achieve a measurable degree of in this very body through dedicated and circumspect practice, but i'm not sure where you could find anyone who understands this the same way i do or an avenue for following up on it.

further, i am

how i generate this site and disorganize my life using one git repo

my desiderata for computer tools are these:

  1. don't make me use some arcane file format, everything should ultimately be in plain text
  2. don't make me store data unencrypted on anybody else's server
  3. chaining simpler programs and scripts together is preferable to all-in-one solutions

following these intuitions has caused me to end up with an eccentric hodgepodge of tools, but it mostly works out.


i keep all of my notes in org-mode format. the format is similar conceptually to markdown: you write in plain text following certain conventions (/slashes/ for italics, etc.) and can then export to html, latex, pdf, et cetera. writing in this way makes it easy to generate pdfs for papers and html for this site.

org-mode as a piece of software is an emacs module. although a natal vim user, i now use emacs heavily, with the doom emacs framework and evil mode for vi-style keybindings. org-mode focuses heavily on outlining and to-do behavior. in practice i use the to-do functions most heavily on my phone (which runs grapheneos btw🤓), thanks to orgzly. another interesting note-taking software that supports org-mode and has a mobile version is logseq, but i've found it a bit janky and not used it in awhile. it's part of a fad genre of note-taking systems based on two-way wiki links that began with roam research. you can get similar functionality within org-mode itself by using a package called org-roam, but again i turned it off after awhile and haven't needed it. maybe i'll try it again for my next research project. the one case where i do use org-mode's to-do functions in emacs more frequently than on my phone is for tracking my reading list, assisted by org-books.

for managing my citations and storing my ebook library i use the software zotero. being yoked to a big gui database is not in line with my ideals, but it's unavoidable in this case. thanks to the better bibtex plugin i can automatically export my library to a biblatex file, then reference that in my org files and let pandoc generate a pretty bibliography for me. my main gripe with zotero is that with the size of my library, it lags out a lot on my laptop, which is a secondhand 2016 chromebook i put linux on.


effectively everything important to me is stored in one git repository. at the top level, i have the files that make up this website. in subdirectories are my personal notes, as well as my massive ebook library; ebooks are kept in the right places thanks to the zotfile plugin for zotero. of course, it's not a good idea to check a lot of big binary files directly into git: instead i use git-annex, which moves them into a content-addressed store and instead does version control on the checksums. this way i can store references to the state of the filesystem without bloating my git repo, checking out only the files i need. git-annex is a very powerful tool for managing multiple copies of files and running backups; i have to admit i'm not currently using it to its full potential. i don't really need to track media libraries and notes together, so in fact the subfolders for books, movies, music, et cetera are separate git branches which appear as subdirectories using git worktree. again, this means i don't need to have those sub-branches cluttering up the directory structure on every clone unless i specifically choose to.

git also serves as my cloud data sync/backup solution. i don't want all my notes sitting unencrypted on somebody else's computer, so before syncing to a github repo i use git-remote-gcrypt to pgp encrypt them. syncing this to my phone is definitely the hackiest part of my setup, as i have to use a termux script and had to make some modifications to git-remote-crypt to get it to run. most of the time it works, though sometimes the remote gets corrupted and i have to wipe and reupload it.

the next step of unnecessary unification i'm ideating is to combine my password-store repo into this one.

this site

this site is created using an improvised static site generator consisting of a pandoc template and a short tupfile (think makefile):

: padma.org |> pandoc %f -c padma.css --shift-heading-level-by=1 --section-divs --template=padma-template.html --toc --lua-filter=padma.lua -o %o |> padma/index.html
: foreach *.org |> pandoc "%f" --shift-heading-level-by=1 --section-divs -sc padma.css --template=padma-template.html --toc --lua-filter=padma.lua --citeproc --bibliography=zotero.bib --csl chicago-note-bibliography.csl -o "%o" |> padma/%B.html
# : foreach images/*.jpg images/*.png images/*.gif |> cp "%f" "%o" |> padma/%f
: foreach *.css *.jpg *.png *.gif *.svg |> cp "%f" "%o" |> padma/%f

this transforms every org file into an html file in the output directory.

the job of the lua filter is to rewrite links so that i can link to the file example.org in my org notes, and in the html it'll become a link to the file html.org. my first attempt at setting this up, it broke all links to websites ending in dot org.

function Link(el)
  el.target = string.gsub(string.gsub(string.gsub(el.target, "%.org/", ".orn/"), "%.org", ".html"), "%.orn/", ".org/")
  return el

now, all i have to do to update the website content is run tup and neocities push the output directory.

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