Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery

Al - Black and WhiteHi. I'm Al Jigong Billings. I cover a lot of different topic areas here. This is more of a "you're sitting in my living room with me" (aka random) kind of blog rather than some hard hitting tech blog, political punditry site, or the like. Be warned. I'm a geek and I like geek stuff (hackerspaces, science fiction, role-playing games, you get the idea...). I'm also an active Buddhist and most of what I post tends to focus on the Dharma. I have a second blog these days, less active, called "Make Hack Learn" where I post the more technological and geek oriented stuff (computers, electronics, hacking, science fiction), leaving this blog largely for Buddhist related topics.

I'm a professional technology worker in Oakland, California. My employer is Mozilla. The Mozilla Community is the proud creator of the Firefox web browser, along with many other projects, as guided by the Mozilla Manifesto. I work as a program manager on the Security Assurance Team.

Previously, I worked as a Quality Assurance Lead at Mozilla focusing on security releases. I also worked at Microsoft for nine years doing QA work and some customer facing work with feedback and blogs as a project manager on the Internet Explorer team. All of my professional experience in technology has been in the space of the Internet focusing on web browsers as well as web communities. I worked on Internet Explorer versions 4 through 7 (with a stint working on MSN Explorer) as well as every version of Firefox from 3.0 through to the present. I've been working professionally in technology since hired in 1994 about a year after I finished my undergraduate degree (in Cultural Anthropology!).

I've been on the Internet since back in 1989 when we had to hack into a local dial-up at the University and work out from there through telnet via intermediate university unix boxes. I once ran a UUCP node, pagan.UUCP, back in the golden days, in order to get Usenet and e-mail. I ran two different Seattle area modem-based bulletin board systems in the late 80's and early 90's: Revelstone and The Sacred Grove.

I also have an interdisciplinary Master of Art's in Humanities from California State University, Dominguez Hills. My concentration was Philosophy, specifically in the space of Philosophy of Religion. My thesis focused on the late 19th century "Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn" and its beliefs and teachings concerning the nature and structure of the human soul. You can download the entire PDF of my thesis or preview 24 pages of it online at the ProQuest page for it.

Prajna Institute

After receiving my MA, I joined the Prajna Institute, a non-denominational Mahayana Buddhist seminary established in 2008, first as a student and later as an instructor, following my graduation. I teach a number of classes within it on aspects of Buddhism, Buddhist texts, and meditation. I am a Buddhist practitioner with a background in Tibetan Vajrayana and other forms of Mahayana Buddhism with connections to both Japanese Tendai and Korean Zen (Sŏn). I am an ordained priest within the Great Cloud Zen Society, a modern order in the Korean Sŏn lineage of Zen Master Sŭngsan (also known as "Seung Sahn"). My ordained name is "Jigong" (Ji Gong) or "智空," which means "Wisdom of Emptiness." (I've previously had other Dharma names, as they tend to accrue, but this is the one I currently use.) Our lineage follows the model of "lay priest" common with some Korean orders so I am a householder, not a celibate monastic. I live in the world, just like everyone else, and deal with the same problems and struggles.

I am also the former president and a former board member of Ace Monster Toys, a hackerspace established in 2010 in Oakland, California. We are a California non-profit organization with a pending federal 501(c)(3) application. I served as the president from January, 2011 to June, 2012 and was on the first two boards, from June, 2010 through June, 2012. When not engaged in various Buddhist things or my work, much of my time is spent focusing on Ace Monster Toys during the week.

I live in the Oakland, California with my wife, R, to whom I was married in 2004. I have a sixteen year old daughter from my previous marriage who lives in Seattle with her mother.

If you need to contact me, e-mail me through 'albill' at this domain. (Be warned, I get a lot of e-mail and may not immediately respond to unsolicited contacts.)