Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Biographical Entry

I don’t usually write directly about myself. Most of the people that read my blog (on either my domain or on Livejournal) have known me in person at one time or another. From time to time, I realize that some people reading my blog really may not know that much about me personally. This is an opportunity to rectify that to some degree. I’m not going to take an hour to write this entry so it won’t be as long as it could be… (thankfully, I am sure).

Warning: This may be extremely boring. You should probably just go read Boing Boing.

I’ve recently turned 35. My second anniversary with my wife is on Monday. I call her ‘R’ on the blog though quite a few of my readers know her. I war married before (in 1994) and separated (to eventually divorce) in 1997. My first wife and I had a daughter, Madeline, who turned ten earlier this year. She lives in Seattle with her mother. Until I moved a few months ago, I normally saw her every other weekend and my ex and I are on decent terms.

I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. I spent five years of my childhood (from age nine to fourteen) living near Salt Lake City in Utah. My mother still lives there today. I lived with her parents for high school and my undergraduate years in Seattle until I graduated, moved out, and got married, all within a year of each other (this is not a good idea for anyone taking notes).

I have a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Washington. I’m currently beginning my thesis work (after a year and a half of coursework) for a MA in Humanities with an official focus on Philosophy. My thesis is relating to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a not terribly obscure late Victorian pseudo-masonic fraternity which focused on magical thought and practice. I expect to have my thesis written by the beginning of the spring in 2007 and my MA awarded by that summer. I’ve debated getting a doctorate off and on but I am going to take some time off after my MA to focus on other matters, such as my Buddhist studies and possibly writing a book or three. If and when I decide to get a doctorate, it will probably be either Religious Studies with an emphasis on East Asian Buddhism (Japanese) or a Buddhist Studies degree.

I work in computer technology. I don’t have an engineering degree but joined the Internet boom in 1994 because I had been a computer hobbyist in my teen years and knew my way around. I wound up working at Microsoft in 1997 and only quit in May of this year. I did that because my wife and I wanted a change of scenery and to do something different. We moved from Seattle to Oakland in order to be in the Bay Area, where R was raised. I started working at a startup in, roughly, the middle phase of its growth. At Microsoft, I worked in software testing (or “Quality Assurance” if you like) until the last six months before I left, where my role was a bit more nebulous. While at Microsoft, I did testing work mostly on Internet Explorer and went from being an individual tester to a lead of a team to doing other roles for the test department. In my current work, I am largely doing testing directly again.

Outside of my work interests, my personal interests are generally an odd mix of technology, social issues and philosophy (I was originally majoring in Political Science), history, and religion or spirituality. The latter has been of a particular focus. When I was 18, I became involved with Neopaganism through Wicca. This is where I met my first wife. I meandered in a typical course through Neopaganism and, through happenstance, wound up involved in a form of Hermetic magical practice ultimately derived from the Golden Dawn mentioned before. This was during the 90s. I continued a variety of practices for quite some time. In early 2001, I joined the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), which is a fraternal order for Thelemites. Thelema is a philosophy, religion, or spiritual system (depending on whom you ask) deriving from the work and vision of Aleister Crowley. Its adherents are called “Thelemites” generally. My wife and mother are both such and members of the OTO. I met my current wife through mutual friends, some of whom are also in the order. My activity level with the order has varied quite a bit over time but I maintain my membership. That is more than can be said for my original Neopagan involvement, which today involves more of a cultural affinity than anything else. The Golden Dawn derived group that I was a member of originally, the Companions of the Stone, suffered a typical and stupid breakdown due to all of the normal and petty politics that one sees in small groups constantly. This resulted in the fracturing and effective disbanding of the organization in 1998.

While I was in college originally, I developed an intellectual interest in Buddhism but did not actively pursue it. That changed in 2002, when I took refuge vows at a local Tibetan Buddhist center in Seattle (the Sakya Monastery). I had the good fortune to meet a number of Buddhists with a background similar to mine and found that Buddhism, especially Tantric Buddhism, contained all of the things that had ever drawn me to Neopaganism or Hermetic practice but was also much richer in history and intellectual or philisophical depth. It was especially richer when it came to the relationship of the tradition to one’s own ethics and the ultimate goals of practice. Over time, my Buddhist inclinations have come to dominate more and more. At this point, I am a Buddhist with strong Thelemic and Neopagan interests and history but still a Buddhist. At the beginning of this year, I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of a teacher within the Tendai tradition of Japan. Tendai is the mother tradition of Japanese Buddhism and the one from which the later Japanese schools of Zen, Pure Land, and other sects derived. Tendai is also one of the two traditions in Japan (the other being Shingon) that contain much the same tantric Buddhist teachings (Vajrayana) that I had found in Tibetan Buddhism. In July, I went through the Jukai ceremony in Ohio, which involved me taking refuge again within the Tendai tradition of practice and receiving the five pratimoksha vows. My overall goal at this point is to be ordained within the Tendai tradition when I have completed the necessary study and practice.

All of this should help explain the variety, often seemingly random, series of things that I post in my blog. I’m a former Witch and member of the OTO but also a practicing Buddhist working towards ordination within my particular tradition. I am also a complete and utter geek who finds shiny things and neat hacks to be rather cool. I read books on Mayan History or about 19th century esoteric organizations for fun and I spend my days working at a startup on cool Internet applications. I’m a recent transplant from the Pacific Northwet to the Bay Area as well as being twice married with the mileage to prove it.