Most stories about zen masters, gurus, or other paragons of wisdom follow a similar pattern. The pupil discovers a problem. He or she struggles with it. The problem gets more and more overwhelming. Solutions are elusive. Finally the pupil goes to the master and pours out his heart, whereupon the master offers a pearl of insight that radically reinterprets the problem.
There’s a reason why this narrative exists in every culture: human beings need the insight that comes from synthesis, pared down to its essence. We crave the simple but profound:
- Less is more.
- Do unto others as you’d have others do unto you.
- A watched pot never boils.
- Freedom isn’t free.
The software industry desperately needs this sort of insight, but far too often I see us operate in the stage of the narrative where the pupil misunderstands the problem, struggles, and makes things worse. Continue reading