The Parable of the Lute

I have this mini acoustic guitar I bought for $10 at Value Village (which is a second-hand store, for all you non-Canadians). It has a small neck and is easy to play except it’s very hard to keep it in tune.

Last summer I brought it to a friend’s cottage and it’s tunelessness made everyone mad who tried playing it.  I’ve played it a lot and grown accustomed to it, so I can make it sound alright – it just takes time to recognize how to make it tuneful.

When I play this guitar I’m often reminded of the Buddhist Parable of the Lute.

“Tell me, Sona, in earlier days were you not skilled in playing string music on a lute?”

“Yes, Lord.”

“And tell me, Sona, when the strings of the lute were too taut, was your lute then tuneful and easily playable?”

“Certainly not, O Lord.”

“And when the strings of your lute were too loose, was then your lute tuneful and easily playable?”

“Certainly not, O Lord.”

But when, Sona, the strings of your lute were neither too taut nor too loose, but adjusted to an even pitch, did your lute have a wonderful sound and was it easily playble?”

“Certainly, O Lord.”

“Similarly, Sona, if energy is applied too strongly it will lead to restlessness, and if energy is too lax it will lead to lassitude. Therefore, Sona, keep your energy in balance and balance the Spiritual Faculties and in this way focus your attention.”

“Yes, O Lord,” replied the venerable Sona in assent.

Afterward the venerable Sona kept his energy balanced, balanced the Spiritual Faculties and in this way focused his attention. And the venerable Sona, living alone and secluded, diligent, ardent, and resolute, soon realized here and now, through his own direct knowledge, that unequaled goal of the holy life.

(Adapted from the Annutara Nikaya, translated by Nyanaponika Thera)
From The Teachings of the Buddha, by Jack Kornfield

Each day I try to live as Sona did, not too taut not too lax, keeping my energy in balance.  Living life this way each day can become “tuneful and easily playable”.

Electric Car Wheels

Browsing the Technology Pioneers section of the World Economic Forum blog I came across a brilliant invention – electric motors in car wheels.

In the words of the developers, “What we did was turn the motor inside out – the outer hub of the motor actually spins so you can bolt the wheel directly to the motor.”


The amazing thing is that this technology can be added to existing vehicles, increasing fuel efficiency and giving greater control and performance. It will also allow manufacturers to design cars without bulky engines and drive trains which constitute the heaviest and most complicated parts of current automobiles.

According to the manufacturer, Protean, prototypes will begin to be manufactured this year with volume production on tap for next year.

This invention has the potential to revolutionize how new cars are built as well as give new life to older cars that might otherwise have just been trashed.