Tuesday, October 02, 2007

herenow Complex Event Processing VII


Further/final continuation (concatenate this blog thread in your head from I through this VII, if you're so inclined):

This column—like my CIR, an “event” in its own right--prompted considerable feedback, some positive, some negative, from the CEP/ESP industry, and the various vendors mentioned. Every one of the CEP/ESP people who responded asked me how much I'm "familiar" with their space--and each of them tried to quote me chapter/verse from the EPTS reference model--which I'd already perused so many times, long ago, that it was starting to appear in my daydreams. I’ve taken additional CEP/ESP vendor briefings since then, and am planning to write some up when they go public—soon, and possibly write up an Advisory Report on this space. And that’s the life of any industry analyst. Filtering a passing parade of events, taking flak, and fending off flacks, like any reporter. You stick your neck out there, and you have to have a tough hide. Cuz it's tough to hide, when you're as published/public as I am.

Which brings me to a thought. People often ask me how I manage this all in my head and heart. As I’ve said before, it’s a bit like being a reporter on a beat—alerted and tuned in and ready to respond to “breaking news.”

But it’s also a bit like meditation—i.e., sitting in rapt attention in contemplation of a dynamic multifaceted multidimensional space, like a kaleidoscopic Buddhist mandala or prayer wheel or gem, focusing on nothing in particular, but aware of literally everything on some level. The following excerpt from one of my recent extracurricular readings (Damien Keown, “Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction,” Oxford University Press, 1996) just jumped out at me as absolutely bang-on brilliant. It’s all a matter of recognizing that one’s own reactions to the day’s events are themselves events that, like the external events themselves, are impermanent, a passing parade, a ghostlike abstraction that shall soon pass, hence underlining the need for the engaged-but-detached observer/analyst to stay supple and adaptive and to roll with the flow of the all-changing:


“To the kind of techniques already described, which in Buddhism go by the generic name of ‘calming meditation’ (samatha), the Buddha added a new one called ‘insight meditation’ (vipassana). The goal of this was not peace and tranquility but the generation of penetrating and critical insight (prajna). Whereas in calming meditation intellectual activity subsides at an early stage (on reaching the second jhana), in insight meditation the object of the exercise is to bring the critical faculties fully into play in a detailed reflexive analysis of the meditators’ own state of mind. In practice, the two techniques of calming and insight are normally used back-to-back within the same session: calming may be used first to concentrate the mind and then insight to probe and analyze. It is impossible to practice insight meditation without having reached at least the level of calm of the first jhana.

“In insight meditation, the meditator examines every aspect of his subject experienced, breaking this down into four categories: the body and its physical sensations; feelings; mood; and mental patterns and thoughts. A typical session might proceed by extending awareness of the rise and fall of the breath to the rest of the body. Every minor sensation would be noted such a twinges, aches, itches, and impulse to move and scratch. The meditator does not respond to these impulses since the purpose of the exercise is to note with bare attention how bodily sensations arise and subside without reacting to them in the normal semi-automatic way. By learning to observe without becoming involved, the pattern of stimulus-response which underlies much human behavior can be broken. Little by little the realization dawns that one is free to choose how to react in all situations regardless of which buttons are pushed. The grip of long-standing habits and compulsions is weakened and replaced with a new sense of freedom. The analysis is gradually extended to the whole body, the intellect being wielded like a surgeon’s scalpel to dissect the various bodily parts and functions. From this the awareness arises that the body is nothing more than a temporary assemblage of bones, nerves, and tissues, certainly not a worthy object to become infatuated with or excessively attached to.

“Next, attention is directed to whatever feelings arise. Pleasant and unpleasant feelings are noted as they arise and pass away. This sharpens the perception of impermanence and gives rise to the knowledge that even those things which seems most intimate to us—such as our emotions—are transient states which come and go. Next, the subject’s current mood and constant fluctuations in its overall quality and tone are observed, and finally the stream of thoughts which passes through the mind. The meditator must resist the temptation to lose himself in the daydreams and fantasies which inevitably arise. Instead, he simply observes with detachment as the thoughts and images follow one another, regarding them like clouds passing across a clear blue sky, or bubbles floating to the top of a glass. From this detached observation, it gradually becomes clear that even one’s conscious mind is but a process like everything else.”


So, then, consciousness is just complex event processing, event stream processing, in an event-driven arc of creation.

As an IT industry analyst, you must do a very focused, sustained form of CEP/ESP, meditating headlong at full tilt, constantly, in bare non-metaphorical prose, deeply engaged and fully exposed, acutely aware of and responding to what others are saying, in a restless, dynamic industry, under deadline.

Not in a sedentary lotus position, or with a fixed object/objective, or in a stable social order, or particularly calming, or profoundly insightful on any given day, or any given industry event.

And that's where the Buddha parallel ends.