An Architectural Template: The Virtual Monastery on the Electric Mountain

Engineering Walden

This is the fruit of many years’ labor.  This project started with the idea that retreat to the wilderness in order to live simply, as Emerson and Thoreau (and countless individuals before them) endeavored to accomplish in their time, may not be necessary.  In fact, such a retreat seems a disservice to one’s family and society who so desperately needs a good person’s involvement.

So, I set about to establish my religious hermitude in the center of modern life.  Rather than avoiding or neglecting modern life’s unprecedented opportunities, I sought to architect a solution such that the burdens imposed by those very opportunities are engineered out; if life’s administrative overhead, as it were, can be removed, one can reap the benefits of modernity while simultaneously maintaining time and capacity for the quietude necessary for the contemplation which is essential to a good life.

Though its development will never be complete, as the movement of life requires, I feel I am finally reaching a point where I may be capable of attaining the peace afforded by the simple living of a religious hermit while simultaneously maintaining my worldly, social obligations and interactions.  I can tend to a vibrant, loving family life in a complex country whose politics, professions, and neighborhoods are the responsibility of every citizen with relative ease, having engineered solutions to the otherwise relatively-unmanageable issues they present (simply remembering one’s list of tasks in need of accomplishment can be sufficient, in my experience, to cast a haze over one’s dedication to the religious life).

I know this is just a little blog in a random corner of the Interwebs, but I hope any others looking for guidance in the creation of similar machinery finds it here.  The major components which I think will be useful for anyone are:

  1. The use of Fedora/KVM/QEMU as a virtualization platform for the creation and implementation of any other modern operating system and associated software in pursuit of training and practice or genuine solutions to one’s challenges, as described above.
    1. The use of FreeBSD and OpenZFS to create an extremely stable and secure platform on which to store the enormous amount of data in need of management by any modern citizen.
    2. The use of Fedora, Higan, and MAME to create for oneself a digital training ground (and occasional entertaining diversion, perhaps..) to hone one’s focus, discipline, and yes, even character; mindfulness and right action in video games is a tremendous spiritual and intellectual tool, if you ask me.
  2. Ideas for the pursuits one may desire, given recognition of a similar, if not equivalent, moral imperative.
  3. Ideas for the support of those pursuits in (2) with modern Free and Open Source Software.

Elsewhere on this blog, one can find instructions for accomplishing nearly any component of the above diagram (everything’s relatively well-organized by category and tag: MAME information, for example, is under the “Gaming” category and the “MAME” tag, Fedora has a tag, and so on). Feel free to leave a comment if you cannot locate information about any of the important components you would like to read more about.

Furthermore, as you may know if you are familiar with the text, I am basing the categories immediately descending from the Kantian Injunction of Autonomy on Sima Chengzhen (司馬承禎)’s famed treatise “Discussing Sitting in Oblivion” (or 坐忘論).  As you may know, Daoism is near and dear to my heart, and it seems to me the understanding expounded in Sima’s treatise is very close to my own.  In using this template, you may find that a different set of descending categories suits your life better (perhaps the Cardinal Virtues, or the Eightfold Path, or the Five Pillars of Islam, etc.), so you can swap that out and make your own diagram, using the above diagram as a template.

I can only begin to imagine what humanity might accomplish if every citizen of every country were so empowered as to create for oneself one’s own temple devoted to one’s pursuit of that same injunction of autonomy that lies before us all.

Now that this is accomplished, it is time to practice.

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This entry was posted in Engineering Walden Project, Gaming, Governing the Body, Information Technology, Religious Studies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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