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Dave Hoover explores the psychology of software development

Dave Hoover

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Thu, 10 Nov 2005

Zen Guitar: Mastery

I've been studying the Zen concept of beginner's mind in order to better understand what it is I'm trying to write about. I was reading Zen Guitar on the train today when I arrived at a small chapter entitled "Mastery":
You have to persist, and out of the sheer frustration of what you've been doing or you haven't been doing you just come out on the other side. Of course, when you come out the other side, you find that there's an even bigger hill to climb than the last one. --Allan Holdsworth

The first rule of mastery is this: Those who think themselves masters are not masters.

There can be no letup of your study, no matter how far you've come. Even the highest priests of zen say to themselves, mi zai: "Not yet." You have not yet learned all you can know. You have not yet given all you can give. You have not yet reached the summit.

Empty your cup and keep going. Same mountain, farther up.

As I read this book, I keep wondering whether I shouldn't just give up on my writing and point people to read Zen Guitar instead. So much of what I want to convey is in there already. But no, rather than giving up, I believe that this book will help me regain my momentum to write From Apprentice to Journeyman.

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