Friday, 30 January 2015

The Protocol of the Elders of OpenID

OpenID logo
I had a dream the other night, brought on by a rather elusive and stubbornly intractable software problem I'd been tussling with in my mind for some time (for the developer, that's where the issues so often lay), accompanied by questions – indeed pleas – along the lines of “Why me? What have I done to deserve all this grief? For God's sake, beam me up or something! Get me out of here!” which alternated with half-hearted assertions (that are actually true for solutioneers in a majority of cases) that “There must be a solution to, and a logical reason for this. I just haven't found it yet.”

In the dream, I became aware that there was a stream of information or a channel involved that I had not factored in, as I had not appreciated that it was a part of the system that I was attempting to diagnose. In a certain sense (and this is how I pictured it in my dream), there was something “going right over my head” and I'd been oblivious to this reality.

Is there such a thing as free will?

And then my mind turned to the question of whether there is any such thing as free will (following on from me questioning whether I was fated or doomed to tussle with these problems or if I could simply walk away)? And the answer that was presented to me was both “The matter is out of your hands” and simultaneously “The matter is in your own hands”, and “It's all a matter of protocol.”

It's all a matter of protocol

The problem I'd been working on actually involved the OpenID client-server protocol (I had OpenID working with other applications, but in this one instance the server was refusing to return my handshake and redirect the web browser to authorize the identity request), but I got the impression that this careful usage of the word went beyond the dictionary definition to Protocol with a capital P.

We could say that protocol refers to the methods by which procedures are carried out, be they social, scientific, cybernetic (that is, systematic), or whatever. At the lower end of the scale, protocol may be based primarily on miscellaneous rules, regulations and conventions (for better or worse) and sheer habit; and at the other, higher end they are primarily functional and necessary. Even Necessary with a capital N.

Lost Island by jogdragoon

A higher or deeper protocol

There are higher or deeper protocols at work in our lives, then, which we could lump together and call The Protocol, with its own reasons, requirements and way of proceeding. Though we may be largely unaware of the existence of a higher protocol, other than as a possibility or intellectual knowing (remembering that the map is not the territory) or as an emotional urge, feel or buzz, we may become aware of it, become sensitized to it, and make genuine, intuitive, knowing contact with it through accident (such as through the use and abuse of drugs), through the trials and tribulations of life experience, or – in a more determined and hopefully safer way – through specialist teaching and guidance.

It is here, when we truly experience a connection with The Protocol, something larger and more real than our individuality and its stubborn, petty, myopic desires and demands (the donkey we ride, if you like), that we begin to see the Reality and glimpse our relationship to it (so near and yet so far). And what we took to be free will (or its lack), and all those joys, sorrows, trials and tribulations, begin to fall into place in the greater, deeper, inestimably-richer and truly free scheme of things.

Image title: Lost Island.
Image author: jogdragoon.
Image source:

By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

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