Zen and The Art of Trading

Discussion in 'Psychology' started by martys, Sep 16, 2004.

  1. I am starting a new thread to discuss the book "Zen and the Art of Poker" written by Larry W. Phillips. Some of you might have read my thread on Marty Schwartz where I post highlights on parts of his book "Pit Bull." This is not going to be the same deal. I hope there will be open discussions on the poker rules put out by Larry Phillips for the mutual benefits to our trading. No book report. No money involved. No guruism. No B.S.

    POKER RULE #1: Learn to use inaction as a weapon.

    I am going to tangent off a little to get the context right. Please be patient.

    First what the hell is Zen? I think Buddhism uses many many different words to describe the same thing that is undescribable - our innate natural state of mind. Why is it undescribable? It's nature is beyond the grasp of our conceptual mind yet can be directly experienced. They DO NOT call it a higher conciousness - they call it the ORDINARY consciousness because afterall it is the natural state of mind. When people said they are "touched", often they felt it a little but don't know what to make of it.

    A lot of people think Buddhists are pessimists because they talk about impermanence of things and cycles of suffering but to the contrary the main message of Buddhism is that in the expanse of innate wisdom, everybody in nature is already Buddha free from all suffering. We cannot make our Buddha nature better or worse, it is already prefect as it is but the problem is we cannot recognize our own mind's nature. Buddha scriptures explained how we are like people stricken with proverty living in a house not knowing there are measurable treasures buried underneath. The keys to that are limitless (in scope) compassion and wisdom. OK that's enough on Buddhism.

    Everybody knows Buddhists practice meditation to enhance their recognition of one's innate wisdom. Actually the practice in general comes in two stage: tranquility meditation and insight meditation. Different lineage traditions have different approaches for the same names. I am not qualified to give any instructions but simple tranquility relaxation exercise cannot be harmful.

    A representative meditation of the first stage would be counting one's breath say from 1 to 21 repeatedly. Start off the exercise with the intention to better yourself and others. One can just sit comfortably, straight back, keep relax the arms and legs. You can put the palms of your hands on your knees. Breathe naturally and mentally counting the breath from 1 to 21. You don't need to push thought away. Just simply disengage from the chain of thoughts when you are aware you were distracted by them and go back to the counting. Do that for 5 min, 10 min or longer depends on your personal preference. Do not try to force things to happen. Or expect the practice to turn out one way or the other. More thoughts, less thoughts do not matter. As one of my teachers advised "nothing to do" - just relax and be natural. At the end you can dedicate the merits of the exercise to the freedom from suffering for all beings.

    I will not say anything about insight meditation because that one you really need direct personal transmission from a qualified teacher of a "live" lineage. A lot of people confused that tranquility meditation is the Zen. Actually the tranquility practice is simply setting a conducive stage for the recognition of the nature of mind. When the mind is tranquil, it is more "like" its innate state. So I think even though we are a little fall short, with experimenting the counting breath meditation above, we should get a sense of direction.

    I think the first POKER RULE # 1 "Learn to use inaction as a weapon" is absolutely utmost important to traders' survival. That is why it is rule #1. Most of the time, market is indeed random, one can only win consistently by avoiding activity most of the time and trade only the few times during the day when a high probability trade occurs. It is our job as a trader to wait more than we trade.
  2. Anyone who has read Herrigels "Zen in the Art of Archery" would be well served to read the academic review of it (from Japan) ... http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/jjrs/pdf/586.pdf

    One interesting review on Amazon said:
  3. Kiwi, I read that review awhile ago. To each his own I guess. It seemed to also be written by a man who found a guru of his own (kinda like you and Woddie). So, I got what I like out of it. But, people are all different. So what one person loves, anther will dislike. What one person states is a must, another will state it's not even necessary. It's like martial art styles, trading styles etc. I thought the book was a short, simple and fun book. It's not a bible and anyone who thinks that with it you'll have enlightenment is nuts. If you read it, you will at least understand that true Zen cannot be found in a simple book, but lies in oneself . So I guess it accomplishes that much.
  4. Good response privateisland. You might want to read the professors work as well as the Amazon review.

    You do make one mistake. I don't regard Woodie as a guru, just another trader who tries to teach some stuff to people and enjoys it. And I don't have the regard for him that I would have for my guru. My spirited defence of Woodie is because:

    a) many of the attacks are by folk who are just attacking for the sport (been there) and not because they really know anything about woodie. Many here are just a wee bit nasty and fight for the fun (???) of it ... so am i at times on et ... something in the water here.

    b) some are by people who once placed woodie in Guru position and when they failed to succeed blamed it on Woodie.

    I like to defend truth particularly when some of the falsehoods are such blatant self deception. Perhaps I am just as much a shxt stirrer as many of the attackers. One of the best posts in the recent threads was by dbPhoenix with whom I war from time to time ... but whos intelligence is sharp ... actually I will quote it for its zen like character :)

    How is that zen like? Zen requires a great deal of discipline and taking responsibility for ones outcomes (success). Also, Buddha told his followers not to believe anyone (including himself) unless they could test and prove something for themselves.

    He might have been a great trader :cool:
  5. mind


    regarding meditation my guru says:

    "an ounce of practise is worth a ton of theory".

    it is really amazing how effectively meditation can change ones perception. again and again amazing, amazing, amazing ...

  6. Everest


    Interesting thread.

    During any big market, I always find I get totally lost. It's as if there is one big blank period for that day, or part of it. I know I went in to the office at a certain time, but then, at least for a few hours after it's all over, there is just a big hole with nothing in it.

    Then for a while, again when it;s all over, it's just like I can't separate myself from the market. It's like the market is this big globe spinning round and round in all different directions and I'm in the middle. But then it's like the globe becomes solid. I am the globe and the globe is me. I am in it, and it is in me. I don't think about putting trades on, they just happen. I don't think where am i going to get out, I just feel my way and the trades just come and go. It's like there are all these rivers of information and they all through through me.

    These days don't happen very often, but when they do, it makes trading one of the most beautiful things. It seems the money is just a by product.

    hardly the great philiosophy you were probably hoping for, buyt just my sad little effort.

    lovely day here.
  7. Actually the book is about poker rules with an eastern twist. It is less about Zen. I have not read the archery book. I did study Zen Buddhism a little but I felt it gets a little fuzzy as I get more into it so I ended up with Tibetan Buddhism later in life. Anyway the book is not about altered state of consciousness and I hope Buddhism is not about that to people. Zen, Mahamudra, Great Perfection are more about recognizing the nature of the innate mind... about coming home. Leave the altered state of consciousness to the self-claimed mystics. One of my most repected teacher said "If you see your mind as empty, let it be empty. If you see your mind as full, let it be full." You don't try to alter thing or make believe.

    POKER RULE #2: Don't get irritated or angered by long session of folding.

    We are all playing probability over a long run. Understand it. Accept it. Mentally prepare for it. Keeping our head makes all the difference. It is on the top of my list.
  8. This is exactly what the book is about. Wonderfull to hear that ppl really experience this 'flow' in trading. I personally have only experienced slight tastes of it. At these moments you're not worried or happy about directional moves, they're just there, like the waves in the sea.

    The 'flow' happens with ppl that are good AND experienced in their job and as far as I heard from friends it can be experienced in all kinds of jobs, artists doing a new painting and having it finished in the middle of the night; or computer programmers developing a big application module in one 24-hour run, with hardly any bugs in them.

    If it happens to you I think it is safe to say you found your talent.

  9. Typo in my first post:

    "Buddhist scriptures explained how we are like people stricken with proverty living in a house not knowing there are immeasurable treasures buried underneath."

    Everest, thank you for sharing. As Ursa mentioned, I think they have a book on this type of peak performance experience - the Flow.

    Is Flow Zen? I think we probably have to include everything - the Good, the Bad, the Ugly, Moral, Immoral are all Zen. A Buddhist principle like Mahamudra ("the Great Seal of a King") is really all prevasive because mind is all prevasive. We filter our world perceptions with our concepts, which is very useful in our day to day activities but the appearance and conceptual imputations are different from how things really are.

    POKER RULE #3: If you've been folding a lot, for a long time in the game, and you're starting to think that maybe it's time you got in and played a few hands again -- that's not a good enough reason. Keep folding.

    Don't worry too much about missing a play. Any one trade sequence is not supposed to make or break our trading career. But not waiting for the high probability setup will put us against the law of large number which is ALL WE HAVE - then we are really all alone in Vegas.
  10. dbphoenix


    Thank you for this thread . . . :cool:
    #10     Sep 16, 2004