Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I talked with my supervisor today about my dissertation. I don't think he realizes it, and he'd probably laugh if I pointed this out to him, but he's a Buddhist. Everything he said to me can be summed up as the Three Characteristics:

unsatisfactoriness: There is no way to make this document perfect.

impermanence: No matter how good my measurement, how precise and elaborate my conclusions, someone else--probably, in my case, very soon--will do a better experiment.

non-self: It's not me my committee will be evaluating: it's just this document.

This last Characteristic is in a lot of ways the hardest to get one's head around--but it's liberating. The work I do is not self. The judgements other people pass are not self. The heart that grieves is not self. The body that dies is not self.

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