Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's Not In The Blinky Things

I read a really good passage today from a book called "Zen 24/7" by Philip Toshio Sudo. It was talking about how Zen views security. In this philosophy, security is viewed as a part of self-reliance and individual responsibility. You are responsible for your own security because you, and only you, are responsible for you. In this Zen passage, Sudo says "Lose your money, you still have the means to live. Lose your identification, you still have your identity "

The line about money may or may not apply to people in our world, but it will always be relevant to those who live by the simple ways the book advocates. If you lose all of your money, you still have yourself, and you can make the money again. If you are stripped of all your possessions, you are left naked to the bare substance of who you are. If you know yourself as who you are, as opposed to what you own, this is not a crippling turn of events.

The line about identification is a little more difficult and requires some clarification. Sudo is not talking about identity the way security professionals and the media does, in the vein of identity theft. Instead, he and the Zen philosophies think of identity of who you know yourself to be. From this point of view, the word "identification" in the sentence can be thought of as "identity" the way the western world thinks of it. In other words, "Lose your identity, you still have who you are."

Zen is filled with this way of looking at the world: "You are the only one who lives your life and who is wholly in charge of how it comes out, and you can not live for anyone else." "No matter what happens to you, it is all just another step in the path along the journey that is your life." These are two very different ways of thinking to the way we typically look at life. Sometimes we are more connected to other peoples' lives than to our own -- even going so far as to try to tell others how to live them or to let them tell us how to live. But in the end, no one but us lives through the ramifications of our decisions and behaviors. And we cannot live through those that others make.

We tend to think of security as someone else's responsibility, and that is how most voices on the Internet talk about it. It is Amazon's responsibility, or Visa, or the government. But it's not their responsibility to take care of us, it's ours. We can change our behavior so that we only use disposable credit card numbers online or just pay cash to an actual person. We can drive instead of fly, or walk rather than drive. Security always comes at its own price, whether that is money, convenience, or privacy.

So keep these things in mind when you are thinking about security. Not all ways are right for all people. You have to decide what is right for you because you have to do it and live with the results. As Sudo tells us, "The security lies not in the money, the credit card, or the license. It lies in you."

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