Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Network

Now reaching the end of my PhD work, I am starting to become more and
more conscious of networking. Initially I felt very hesitant about
these kinds of "business-like" behaviors, but in fact my experiences
with networking have turned out to be very positive. For a (budding)
scientist, networking is simply about sharing your data and ideas with
other people, going to visit them, talk to them at conferences, and
more recently, interacting with them through Facebook. I really enjoy
being part of this social enterprise that is called science, meeting
really amazing people and sharing thoughts with them. And then the joy
and enthusiasm that is transferred during these interactions is in
fact one reason why they are so enjoyable. In the documentary href="">Monte Grande,
Francisco Varela says that he feels like the troubadours in mediaeval
times, who would go to a place, sing their song, get food and lodging,
and move on. That's what scientists do when they go to conferences,
where they give their talk, and then go their way.

But in a deeper way, a network is also the way we interact with
people. According to my teacher Sogyal Rinpoche, one should ideally
see other beings as another "you", and interact with them according to
this deep sense of connectedness. After all, how do we really know
where we end and where the other begins? And we are so dependent upon
one another. Magically, this way of seeing dramatically changes how
you interact with the world; it makes it much more relaxed and
compassionate. Moreover, networking in the business-sense becomes way
easier, because you do not have to worry as much about you, and
whether you are doing it right, and what your impression is going to
be, etc., etc. Instead, you can focus on the other and be much more
connected. So seeing ourselves as part of a network really helps
us to network!

This picture is from a DVD that my brother Floris and I made this
winter, a dance that illustrates a song about the 10 Oxherding
Pictures (a famous Zen story).

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