The Sangha Kommune (僧伽公社) Defined

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Ch’an Master Caotang siad:

There is nothing special to leadership – essentially it is a matter of controlling the evils of biased information and autocracy. Do not just go by whatever is said to you first – then the obsequities of petty people seeking favour will not be able to confuse you.

After all, the feelings of a group of people are not one, and objective reason is hard to see. You should investigate something to see its benefit or harm, examine whether it is appropriate and suitable or not; then after that you may carry it out.

True Record of Sushan (Song Dynasty)

The Chinese Buddhist monastic community is referred to as a ‘Sangha’ (Sanskrit for ‘spiritual community’), whereby men and women form a voluntary association premised upon following a strict set of rules known as the ‘Vinaya Discipline’. Within this community, there is ‘equality’ between all members, with the leaders being those who have followed these rules for the longest times. This is because such people are thought to have more experience at adhering to the Vinaya Discipline (which includes celibacy and vegetarianism), and are therefore able to effectively advise all others through the difficult times they my face in their practice. As those with little experience have less to share, they are not considered leaders whilst more experienced practitioners live in the vicinity. Of course, this is a relative matter depending upon the size of population of a community, and the length of time it has existed, and the quality of the masters (male or female) that have led it. Those who cannot keep the Vinaya Discipline (of over 200 rules) generally choose to leave on their own accord, with those who confess breaking the major rules being asked to leave and expelled from the monastic community (due to the bad example they set). However, the term ‘Sangha’ is often more loosely applied to the devout or dedicated lay community, the members of which follow at least 5, 8 or 10 vows as a life routine, and who regularly visit the local temple and volunteer their time in worthwhile social or charitable activities. In this manner, the monastic Sangha teach and guide the lay Sangha, and the lay Sangha applies the Buddha’s teachings of compassion, loving kindness and wise action to the outside the temple, and thereby expand the Buddha-Dharma beyond the temple. As the Buddha originally taught that there is no ‘difference’ in enlightened essence between the monastic and lay community, the monastics do not consider themselves ‘superior’ and the lay community does not consider itself ‘inferior’ to one another. The principle of ‘Sangha, therefore, denotes a sacred space defined and maintained through the principles of psychological and physical self-discipline and learning, premised upon a general attitude of mutual respect. The Sangha, in both essence and function, is a model for a ‘commune’ operating through the vigorous principles of  equality’, ‘discipline’ and ‘wisdom’. These are the principles embodied within this blog – regardless of the scope of its subject matter.

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The term ‘Kommune’ is taken from the German word for ‘Commune’, and is directly related to the principles of Scientific Socialism, as formulated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Indeed, within German language editions of the works of Marx and Engels, the term ‘Kommune’ is often encountered. This type of ‘Kommune’ is also a voluntary association, albeit distinctly ‘modern’ in origination, and designed to serve the Revolutionary needs of the Proletariat – or the mass of peasants forced to work in the industrialised factories produced by the oppressive capitalist system. Working 12 to 16 hours a day, strictly by the clock, whilst being dictated to by brutal managers and the movement and operation of monotonous machines, these peasants were transformed into self-disciplined and highly exploited automatons of industry, waiting for the right historical epoch to free themselves from their endless toil for little reward. Just as the collective mind is ‘dulled’ by endless hours of repetitive toil, it is ‘freed’, ‘activated’ and ‘expanded’ when encountering the strictures of Scientific Socialism, and a non-resisting ‘false consciousness’ is replace by a resisting ‘true consciousness’. Generally, when the mind is freed from the straitjacket of oppression, the body soon follows, even though it is equally true that if the body is freed by a Revolution caused by others, then the mind soon follows! In these post-modem times, proletariat ‘true consciousness’ is much more amorphous in manifestation, particularly as factory work becomes ever less prevalent in the West. Although the modes of capitalist exploitation change with the epoch, the nature of capitalist exploitation (and class distinction) remains exactly the same. Striving for the establishment of a ‘Kommunistic’ society remains the duty of all right-minded working class people across the globe, with the Marxist principle of ‘Internationalism’ replacing nationalism and racism, etc. The point is that the ‘true consciousness’ of the working class is premised entirely upon non-hatred for one another, as this hatred has been imported into the working class by the very capitalists that exploit them! By rejecting capitalism, the working class is rejecting the greed, hatred and delusion that underlies all capitalist thought and action. This working class mission is no less ‘sacred’ than its Buddhist counter-part, and shares exactly the same essence. The author of this blog strives to agitate for the peaceful achievement of both inner and outer Revolution amongst by any means necessary (to quote Malcolm X).

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Having defined two interpretations of ‘Kommune’, it is important to also emphasis the pivotal notion of ‘education’ and the training of the human mind to discern a relevant ‘truth’ in any given situation or circumstance. Learning in a classroom, through a book, encounter groups, political meetings, protest marches, meditation sessions, or the internet, are all crucial aspects of ‘refining’ the memory and ‘honing’ the intellect. The thought processes (and emotionality) must be ‘calmed’ for the sake of ‘wise’ action and non-action when young, so that avoidable errors and mistakes are reduced to the minimum, and progressive activity increased to the maximum (to selflessly benefit humanity).  This is not always easy, and the ability to recognise non-efficient thought-patterns and behaviours should also be cultivated as a means toward achieving self-forgiveness, and the forgiveness of others. The important point is that the mind should be kept in a positive frame of operation, so that the body can be used for various types of ‘enlightened’ political, cultural and social action. The physical body must be clearly (and cleanly) directed by the mind (the seat of volition), and kept physically fit through appropriate activities. This psycho-physical training sets the stage for the refined individual to understand the frequency and quality of inner and outer energy, and immediately understand the best action (if any) to take, or instantly ‘know’ when others are ‘lying’, or presenting ‘untruth’ as ‘truth’. This ability can be further used to generate ‘correct’ work that counters the lies of a society motivated entirely by greed, racism and an indifference to the suffering of humanity and other life forms. Therefore, this ‘Sangha Kommune’ blog is a work in progress that covers a bewildering array of topics, opinions, and research data. By taking a step back away from its content – the general reader will begin to understand the underlying (and motivating) paradigm. This is essentially a ‘Kommunist’ zone where all beings are automatically ‘freed’ at the point of contact. The need for money is already ‘transcended’, and the energy frequency of the Sangha Kommune should be used by all to achieve a state of permanent ‘freedom’ in all circumstances. This is a space of permanent Cyber Kommunism, and ongoing Revolutionary activity in the form of ‘exposing’ and ‘dissolving’ the bourgeois system and its redundant mode of capitalist organisation.

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Ch’an Wuzu said:

The Ch’an community is a place for the moulding of Sages and ordinary people, and for nurturing and developing potential ability. It is a source of teaching,. Even though many people are living together, gathering in kind, they are guided and made equal. Each has a transmission from the teacher.

Now in many places they do not strive to maintain the standards of the Sages of the past. Biased feelings of like and dislike are many, with people bending others to what they personally think is right. How should later students take an example?

Records of Equanimity (Song Dynasty)

Paul Robeson: Communists Should Not Apologise!

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Communist China’s Success and its Misinterpretation

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Production by the masses, the interests of the masses, the experiences and feelings of the masses – to these the leading cadres should pay constant attention.

Mao Zedong 8th Route Army Headquarters – Yenan – 24.11.1943

When it comes to emancipating our minds, using our heads, seeking truth from facts and uniting as one looking to the future, the primary task is to emancipate our minds. Only then can we, guided as we should be by Marxist-Leninist and Mao Zedong Thought, find correct solutions to emerging as well as inherited problems… Just imagine the additional wealth that could be created if all the people in China’s hundreds of thousands of enterprises and millions of production teams put their minds to work. As more wealth is created for the state, personal income and collective benefits should also increase somewhat… Otherwise, we won’t be able to rid our country of poverty and backwardness or to catch up with – still less surpass – the advanced countries.’ 

Deng Xiaoping – Emancipate the Mind, Seek Truth from Facts and Unite as One in Looking to the Future – 13.12.1978

Communist China is a Socialist State founded in late 1949. At that time, the Communist Party of China (led by Mao Zedong) over-threw the Western-supported government of Chiang Kai-Shek, eradicated feudalism and over-threw the bourgeoisie and the predatory capitalism they represented, and seized the means of production. Chiang Kai-Shek and his capitalists invaded the island of Taiwan and seized power there (committing many atrocities in the process), with the remnants of his US-supported regime still occupying that island today, with its exploitative class system still intact. Taiwan is the only part of Mainland China where US-style capitalism still holds sway. Within Taiwan, the small middle class dominates and oppresses the masses of workers – who are forced to eke-out a living in oppressive conditions – whilst this rogue regime is held together through US Christian missionary work (that converts the masses and turns them against Chinese culture by stating it is evil and backward), and by continuous US threats about invading Mainland China, or false US fears about Communist China invading Taiwan. This is the standard ‘divide and conquer’ tactics used by the Eurocentric forces of imperialism for centuries. Add to this the fact that the US government uses billions of dollars of its own tax-payer’s money to artificially prop-up Taiwan’s ‘false’ economy, and the true ‘fake’ status of Taiwan is revealed, showing it to be nothing but a US colony.

Every utility and business in China is ‘nationalised’ and owned by the Communist Chinese State. In other words, the Communist Party of China (CPC) – as the organised representative of the working class – having ceased full control of the means of production in 1949, now administers the entire business and service economy to benefit the people. All generated profit is immediately fed back into building a stronger and more efficient Workers’ State. This includes a fully comprehensive Welfare System, and free at the point of use National Health System. China uses both Western and Chinese medical systems provided free by the State. Science and technology is given unlimited funding to progress human understanding of the universe, and to develop advanced technology, medicines, treatments, communication systems, satellites and space travel. The Chinese legal system guarantees ‘equality’ throughout China, and unlike its bourgeois counter-part, a Chinese person receives full and free legal support. Communist China has rapidly developed both psychosocially and materiality since 1949, and has not only caught-up with the capitalist US, but is now surpassing this ruthless and capitalist country that uses its massive prison population as a form of slave labour.

The US has initiated a relentless anti-China campaign since 1949, bearing all the hall-marks of that country’s predictable ‘anti-Communist’ propaganda. Common accusations without any evidence include bizarre allegations that China is despotic, undemocratic, an invader of Tibet, a deceptive ‘capitalist’ country, and a dog-eating abuser of human rights, etc. What is remarkable about these views and many similar misrepresentations of China, is that they are shared equally across the Western political spectrum – both left and right. Underlying all these views are Eurocentric racist interpretations of the Chinese ethnicity, its political system, its history and its culture. These derogatory ideas about China are just as likely to manifest in India, as they are in the US, and often serve as the basis of both Western fascist and Communist critiques of China. The Western mainstream is just as racist as the fascist rightwing – but the Communist and Socialist left should know better. The problem with the left is that it has become riddled with Trotskyite racialised rhetoric that seeks to undermine any and all Marxist-Leninist regimes. Trotskyism dove-tales nicely with fascist ideology and is nothing but a racist misrepresentation of the leftwing perspective. Trotskyism also serves as the basis for the British Labour Party leftism – with even Jeremy Corbyn criticising China’s Yulin Dog Festival in Parliament in 2015 – with no Chinese-based evidence informing his views. This is the same Labour Leader who says nothing in Parliament about 24 hour slaughter houses in the UK, etc.

Communist understanding should be a continuous process of dialectic development and should not be stuck in the past, or congeal around a set of dogmatic ideals. When a Communist government seizes control of the means of production, capitalism is over-thrown with exploitative capitalist market forces replaced by working class representative Socialist market forces. Whereas in the former all profit is concentrated into the hands of a small and privileged group, in the latter all profit is radically re-distributed throughout society to directly benefit the majority of the ordinary people.  Obviously China has rejected the former and embraced the latter. Today, China seeks to master and over-come the Western capitalist system by learning its method from a Socialist perspective, and turning its method against the capitalists. The Western powers dominated China for hundreds of years and in that time ruthlessly exploited its people and stole its considerable wealth – leaving China thoroughly impoverished by 1911. By engaging the capitalists and beating them at their own game does not make China a ‘capitalist’ country – as even the USSR traded with the capitalist West. What it demonstrates is not the failure of Marxist-Leninist ideology, but rather its success. In just over 60 years, a backward and impoverished country has been completely transformed through the leadership of the Communist Party of China. This fact flies in the face of the false US propaganda that Socialism equals poverty. What capitalists and fascists either conveniently forget, or just do not know, is that Karl Marx stated that Socialism (and then Communism) emerge out of a very well developed and successful capitalist system – he never taught that Socialism is ‘anti-capitalist’. Marxists are anti-bourgeois and anti-exploitation, but they take economic market forces and re-define their uses so that society is benefited rather than oppressed. In 1949, 90% of China’s population were impoverished and illiterate – today, after just over 60 years of CPC guidance, this situation has been completely reversed, with 90% of the population being able to read and write, and live a life of greatly improved economic circumstances.

ZSL – London Zoo (23.9.2017)

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ZSL London Zoo

We travelled up the Northern Line Tube and alighted at Camden Town. We walked about 20 minutes down Camden High Street and crossed the Regent’s Canal (near Regent’s Park), before finding the entrance to the Zoo. Gee and myself probably visited London Zoo around 13 years ago – but this was the first time that our daughters (Mei-An 5 and Kai-Lin 1) had visited. (My mother tells me she visited with her school from Oxford – in the late 1950’s – at a time when visitors could still ride on elephants around the compound!). The letters ‘ZSL’ stand for ‘Zoological Society London ‘ – the official body that founded the Zoo in 1828 and which is responsible for its continued administration, maintenance and development. Surprisingly, London Zoo has never received any government support, and so has to charge an admittance fee to visitors, although certain supermarkets are offering tickets in exchanges for shopping points accrued upon loyalty cards. Elephants and Rhinos are no longer at this north-west London site – but now live at ZSL Whipsnade (in Bedfordshire) which has far more space for them to roam. Nevertheless, London Zoo is still sizeable and offers all kinds of interesting creatures to marvel at. This visit was part of our ongoing policy of empowering our children through education and positive learning experiences.

 

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Zero-Hours – Labour’s Failure – and Modern Slavery

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A friend of mine has said that since Labour lost the last election – things have got far worse for most ordinary workers on ‘zero hours’ contracts. He is continuously threatened with the sack if he doesn’t turn-up at a moment’s notice (day or night) for a well-known super-market chain. The management have made it clear that should he exercise his right of taking time off – he will be sacked. Since the election, employers have started demanding ‘unpaid’ over-time – again, threatening to sack any workers refusing to comply. In the accounts – the management enters this as ‘voluntary’ activity on the part of the worker – falsely implying that it is the worker who has insisted that they work for ‘nothing’. I pointed-out that all the managers have proper employment conditions with contracts, rights and a substantial salary – no manager in their right mind would work for ‘nothing’ – so why should workers? Even in Victorian times – when the industrial revolution was in full-swing – and even taking into account the generally hideous conditions and long hours and low pay that workers were forced to endure – I have yet to find an example of workers toiling for absolutely ‘nothing’. Of course, working for ‘nothing’ is the definition of ‘slavery’. The British government and bourgeois establishment are getting away with this because the Labour Party is riddled with riightwingers and Trotskyites that do not care about the working class – with a Socialistic minority view expressed by Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Labour Party Socialism is not Marxist-Leninism, or the insistence upon a ‘Socialist’ Revolution – far from it – the Labour Party simply seeks to make things appear ‘fairer’ within a society that remains ‘capitalist’. The problem with this is that as soon as the Tories or LibDems get into power – they immediately remove all the safe-guards and direct the UK back toward a predatory free market economy (in line with the brutal and uncaring US system). Finally, the New Labour Party was a hideous incarnation of Labour-inspired ‘anti-worker’ policy – and a sure sign that as a political movement, (and regardless of an occasional charismatic leader), it cannot be trusted by the workers to represent their own best interests. At the moment, many people within the Labour Party want to either stay in the rightwing and fascistic EU – or at least remain in the Single Market upon Brexit (which amounts to the same thing). The Labour Party should abandon its Blairite and Trotskyite tendencies and develop a true Marxist-Leninist and working class consciousness.

London Zoo: How ‘Ming’ (明) the Giant Panda Resisted Nazi Germany!

 

Yesterday (24.9.2017), we visited London Zoo situated in North London. One exhibit we had not seen before was the statue of ‘Ming’ (明) – commemorating the giant panda that lived in London Zoo from 1938 to her death in 1944. This statue (and plaque in the Chinese and English languages) was presented to London Zoo (as the chosen representative of the British people), by officials representing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on October 21st, 2015 – to mark the 70th Anniversary of the end of WWII – and Britain’s victory of Nazi Germany. As we had never heard of this panda – or that statue and plaque – I was inspired to research this story on the Chinese language internet. As usual, the current wikipedia page covering the history of London Zoo is incomplete and inaccurate, and omits any mention of Ming the giant panda. This is peculiar when it is considered that Ming the giant panda received an ‘obituary’ in the London Times Newspaper at the time of death – so loved was she by the British people!

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Ming the giant panda – during her stay in London Zoo – brought both courage and joy to the British people, both locally and nationally. The BBC would routinely mention this bear in their radio broadcasts, and often film her in her enclosure at London Zoo for the old newsreels shown throughout the UK (in the cinemas). The antics of Ming also made their way into the local press around the British Isles, and she became a symbol of British anti-fascist resistance. As the bombs fell on London, (many deliberately targeting London Zoo and its environs), Ming was presented as continuously going about her day undisturbed. She was shown to be a very peaceful and happy bear, and never became agitated by the bombing – or disturbed by the constant stream of visitors – which at one time even included Princess Elisabeth (who would eventually become Queen Elizabeth II).

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According to Chinese language sources, in 1938, five giant panda bears from China were illegally smuggled into the UK (by Japanese-American explorer Floyd Tangier-Smith) – with London Zoo purchasing three for its animal collection. One extraordinary photograph shows Ming the giant panda pretending to take a picture of the son of Bert Hardy:

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After the founding of New China in 1949, there were three ways a giant panda bear could be sent abroad – these methods lasted from 1957 – 1982:

a) As a gift from the People of China.

b) As a symbol of co-operation and friendship.

c) Scientific purposes.

Since 1982, the convention of presenting giant panda bears as ‘gifts’ was discontinued, primarily over concerns for welfare and preservation (the other famous giant panda bear – Chi Chi – for instance, was often fed chocolate and refused to eat enough bamboo).

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The two other giant pandas that arrived with Ming – named ‘Tang’ and ‘Sung’ by staff at London Zoo – did not live very long (Sung died in 1939, and Tang in 1940), but Ming being the youngest and the most playful, became very popular, even if by today’s scientifically-led standards of giant panda maintenance, the manner of her care in 1940’s London would be seen as highly inappropriate. Indeed, evidence suggests that upon her death, her health had suffer terribly from the war-time ‘Blitz’. Although Ming (who was born in Sichuan province in 1937) was very calm and playful before the war, her exposure to war-time conditions (and regular travelling) did in fact take its toll on her health, which led to a nervous disorder and loss of fur. Although evacuated during the war to Whipsnade Zoo (another larger part of London Zoo situated in Bedfordshire), she was continuously returned to London Zoo (near Camden in Northwest London) as a means to boost British morale. Ming the giant panda died whilst suffering an epileptic seizure on Boxing Day, 1944. The Times wrote:

‘She could die happy in the knowledge that she gladdened the universal heart and, even in the stress of war, her death should not go unnoticed.’

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Ming suffered terribly en route from war-time China in 1938 – along with five other giant panda bears. One of her colleagues died during the journey, and another died waiting to clear Customs, as they prepared to entered the UK.  A third colleague was then sold to a collector (ironically, in Nazi Germany). The fact that Ming was born ‘wild’, and yet wandered around amongst other animals and humans without ever a thought of violence, is quite extraordinary in itself. Particularly so considering the inappropriate conditions within which she had to live in London. Although her health definitely suffered as WWII progressed, prior to this she was a very happy, tolerant and deeply caring giant panda that seemed quite legitimately to be friendly toward children. Today, the attitude in modern China is one of high regard and immense respect for Ming the giant panda – who is viewed as an ‘ambassador’ of the Chinese people during very difficult times. Ming was able to fulfil her ‘diplomatic’ mission of bringing two countries together, and served an important part of boosting the morale of the British people. This is why a group of conservationists and artists from Shaanxi and Sichuan provinces collaborated to design and construct a statue of Ming, and as a symbol of ‘friendship’ and ‘anti-fascism’, present this statue to the British people in 2015. We, as British people must do our part in remembering this little bear with a kind heart.

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Chinese Language Source Articles:

http://esb.sxdaily.com.cn/sxrb/20151120/html/page_10_content_000.htm

http://news.163.com/15/1219/04/BB62FUHV00014AED_mobile.html

http://roll.sohu.com/20111226/n330284120.shtml

Buddhism: Karma, Dukkha and Dependent Origination Contextualised

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The Buddha’s system of analysis is premised upon the existence of ‘matter’ (rupa), even if matter as the Buddha conceived it, is defined as impermanent and insubstantial. The Buddha also stated that the reality as human-beings experience it is also premised upon the agency of ‘mind’ (citta), which is also an organ of perception (manas), and a means through which humans are ‘consciously’ aware (vijnana) . The Buddha defines reality as an ‘entanglement’ or ‘integration’ of physical and psychological processes. This means that for the Buddha’s system to remain philosophically coherent and logical, he has to reject what might be termed ‘hard’ materialism (ucchedavada), whereby a physical universe is believed to exist forever in an unchanged state, and the school of thought that taught that a theistic entity (atma), rather like the Christian soul theory, existed permanently outside the world of matter – linking the realm of materiality to an imagined ‘heaven’ or some other post-mortem and disembodied paradise (sasvatavada). For the Buddha the material world exists (but not in the manner conceived by a certain school of materialists in his day) and any notion of a soul theory was replaced with a schematic of clearly defined psychological processes. Therefore, reality as defined by the Buddha is a plurality of insubstantiality that involves the organic functioning of mind and body within the external, material world. The mind (like matter) is impermanent, and is clearly the consequence of conditions extending from material existence.  This suggests that the Buddha’s conception of the mind is that it is a temporary extension of matter, but as both mind and material circumstances are impermanent, and given that the human mind is prone – through a changeable body – to interpret the world through greed, hatred and delusion, existence as experienced by ordinary human-beings (through its full range of pleasant, neutral and painful sensations), is termed ‘dukkha’ by the Buddha. Until the mind is cleared of its delusion, and the body disciplined away from destructive modes of behaviour, the entirety of non-enlightened existence is considered ‘dukkha’. This is not just ‘suffering’ in the conventional sense, but includes all modes of pleasurable living in the deluded state, and would apply equally to a opulent life-style, as it does a destitute life-style. Dukkha, strictly speaking, refers more specifically to a profoundly inadequate and non-satisfying mode of existence which includes the entirety of existence and its experience in the unenlightened state. Defining ‘dukkha’ as ‘suffering’ is therefore describing only half of its meaning, and is incomplete. The Buddha is defining existence in the deluded state as being highly ‘unstable’ (dukkha) and not conducive to inner or outer peace and tranquillity.

The Buddha defined the tiniest specks of matter (paramanu) [synonymous with ‘atoms’] to be occupying (and moving about within) time and space, whilst flickering in and out of existence. This is how the Buddha redefines matter (rupa) as being both ‘existant’, and ‘insubstantial’ (or non-existant). This means that with regard to the ‘chain of dependent origination’ (pratitya-samutpada), the conditionality that the Buddha teaches, cannot be properly associated with the cause and effect of modern Western science, as the latter assumes a closed system of events. Within science it is understood that the ‘effects’ of an event lie dormant in the ’cause’ in a never ending and predictable chain of unfolding events. However, as the Buddha teaches that each atom is flickering in and out of existence all the time, creating a false world of apparent material stability, it is not the case that he is employing the ‘closed system’ of Western science. The Buddha states that it is is the human capacity to generate ‘willed’ or ‘volitional’ actions in the mind (vedana-samna-samskara) that ‘projects’ moral (or ethical) meaning upon a morally neutral world of matter. It is this agency of ‘willed’ actions that divert the world of matter into directions of manifestation that might be termed positive, neutral or negative – it is not the material realm itself that is inherently positive, neutral or negative. The Buddha’s notion of cause and effect’ (karma) is not a closed material system that allows for one cause to lead to one effect, but is rather the product of a dynamic interaction of mind, body and environment. There is the ‘willed’ direction in the mind, the consequential bodily application of that willed direction in the environment (i.e. ‘action’), and the eventual consequences (i.e. ‘re-action’) of that ‘willed’ action, experienced through the body and mind. As ‘volition’ is the product of a deluded mind, the Buddha advocates its control, limiting of function and eventual uprooting through meditation. When there is a ‘cessation’ of volition premised upon greed, hatred and delusion, then the mind becomes calm and all delusion is extinct. In this enlightened state all volitional action ceases and karma is nolonger produced. As reality is understood in its correct formulation, there is nolonger any attachment to an impermanent world and all ‘dissatisfaction’  (dukkha) ceases. In this rarefied state, material reality is clearly reflected by a permanently peaceful and tranquil mind.

Finally, the Buddha’s understanding of reality as mind-matter, action-re-action conditionality, is very suggestive of certain philosophical speculations surrounding the subject of quantum mechanics – namely the assumption that human observation influences the material processes being observed. Furthermore, although the chain of dependent origination is not strictly speaking a ‘closed system’ of material cause and effect (as it is mediated through the agency of ‘mind’), the Buddha did teach elsewhere that not all experiences in the world are related to ‘willed’ or ‘volitional’ actions-re-actions (i.e. ‘karma’), but are in fact the product of ‘natural causes’. An example of this thinking could include the analysis of a cancerous cell in the human-body. This cancer could be considered the karmic product of a destructive and highly negative life-style (i.e. part of the chain of dependent origination), but equally it could just be the product of a malfunctioning body-cell – or the natural product of ’cause and effect’ within the material environment (the experience of which lies outside of the ‘willed’ action-re-action nexus). In this respect, it seems that the Buddha does allow for the type of cause and effect found within mainstream (modern) Western science – albeit in a natural format, not controlled or mediated through a ‘closed system’ of laboratory-oriented observation. The Buddha, therefore, allows for two distinct types of cause and effect, a) occurring through the mind and the matter it observes (i.e. utilising the operating principles of ‘volition’ and ‘karma’), and b) manifesting independently (of the mind’s conditioning influence) within the material realm. An individual is subject to both kinds of cause and effect – but is only personally responsible for the mind-body nexus manifestation (as defined in example ‘a’). Through meditation (bhavana) and behaviour modification (sila), the mind’s conditioning capability is brought under control and eventually uprooted (thus ending all karma-producing thought patterns and actions). Beyond this state there is no further conditionality – but the mind and its rarefied states of awareness (dhyana) remain firmly with the realm of matter – which according to the Buddha is comprised of existence and non-existence – or emptiness and structure. Although these two states seem to alternate continuously without end, it is also clear that the Buddha’s analysis suggests that both emptiness and form also occur simultaneously (rather suggestive of Schroedinger’s cat), This means that ‘sunya’ does not refer to a dead ‘void’ or vague ‘nothingness’, but rather suggests a ‘relative’ state of non-substantiality (i.e. a material condition ’empty’ of permanency and yet subject to change). Sunya is then that realised state of being that acknowledges that all material reality arises within a sea of emptiness – free of any eternal (and unchanging) material substance, or theistic conceptualisation.

Begging, Dignity and Respect

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A Beggar in China Bows to the Ground to Eat

When China suffered under imperialist rule, 90% of its people were illiterate and lived in abject poverty. Today, and since the Communist Revolution of 1949, this figure has been reversed, with literacy rates and wealth distribution directly benefiting 90% of the population. Begging still occurs in Communist China, but a compassionate Socialist State exists to help the individuals concerned to change their lives for the better. The over-riding reality if that life in Communist China today, is much better than prior to 1949.

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This article contains a series of photographs about begging in the US from a Chinese language article discussing the agency of ‘respect’ and the differences between the capitalist West and Communist China. The upshot of it all is that in China the Socialist State does everything possible to relieve poverty and guide people toward resources with a compassionate attitude. Many Chinese beggars act with the utmost respect and dignity and do not ‘demand’ or ‘presume’ (acting very much like selfless itinerant Buddhist monks). Chinese beggars keep themselves clean and tidy and tend to bless everyone. The Socialist States has dramatically reduced begging in China because their is now ample resources for ALL Chinese people to live with dignity.

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However, although the capitalist West controls immense wealth, it is all focused into the hands of a privileged few. Poverty in the West is (falsely) presented as the ‘fault’ of those who are poor – rather than being a natural consequence of a highly unjust and unequal system. The capitalist system only begrudgingly helps those in need in an undignified manner and provides them with the barest of resources to fend off hunger and death. Within Communist China – people are treated wit respect and ‘gently’ guided toward settling down. Where mental illness or disability is involved, the Socialist State takes immediate control – providing housing, income, clothing and food.

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Human labour has the potential to change the world – this id true – but conditions are not always conducive for continuous or effective labour to be carried-out, particularly in capitalist countries where workers are oppressed and exploited as the norm. Although many Westerners suffer terribly under this system, the weak and the vulnerable are pushed aside by those who misuse the agency of begging for purely selfish and frivolous reasons. Chinese beggars respectfully ask for food, water and soap, whilst high-profile Western beggars use their intelligence not to ‘work’ – but rather to ‘entertain’ their way to generating income. In the meantime, starving Westerners die of hunger quietly in their homes or behind dumpsters, or of medical neglect. When the Western State does act – it tends to be in an oppressive manner – with ordinary people’s rights being violated. Unlike in Communist China – where we all have rights without having to’pay’ to prove it  – in the capitalist West, the people only have the rights they can ‘afford’ to prove they possess. As poor people have no money in the capitalist West, they have no access to the bourgeois legal system – and subsequently rich people exercise all their legal rights (usually against the defenceless poor). Even begging in the West has a bourgeois element to it!

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Chinese Language Source Article:

http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_8065f7eb0102wiem.html

Debunking the Global Consciousness Project (USA)

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The Global Consciousness Project Meaningful Correlations in Random Data

Working from the simple scientific observation that human bodies move physical objects – but that disembodied notions of ‘mind’, ‘consciousness’ and ‘spirit’ do not, it is obvious that any Western attempts at ‘proving’ the existence of a disembodied consciousness are doomed to failure (despite the resources spent upon trying to establish this notion), and that the entire exercise is is in reality not ‘science’ but in fact an attempt of re-establishing the primacy of certain medieval theological constructs within mainstream modern society – namely that of a Judeo-Christian concept of ‘soul’ – which correlates in modern thought to a vague and poorly defined concept of ‘mind’.  In the case of the Global Conscious Project (GCP), a development within the USA, I would highlight the a priori presence of a disturbing ‘Eurocentricism’ that seeks to find White bourgeois significance in random events. This assumption invariably finds and confirms ‘meaning’ that appears to support the current domestic or foreign policy of the United States government, or ‘privileges’ the experience of the White American Establishment with a significance it does not possess. So much for ‘objective’ science. If you doubt this, why does the GCP not ‘predict’ in its observations, the sheer terror that non-White populations of the world ‘feel’ when facing the prospect of US bombing, or invasion from US ground troops? Why are the thoughts and feelings of non-White populations subordinated to those of their White counter-parts? Just as the politicised church is racist – so is its secular expression – politicised science. My personal view is that existence is unified in the sense that everything is comprised of energy (and matter), and anything above and beyond that observation is pure speculation. The following video is an advertisement for the GCP and contains some interesting sleight of hand. The Soviet Union was premised upon the exclusive use of the scientific method throughout society, and did not, as a rule, encourage belief in ‘spiritualism’. Everything observed in the USSR (if confirmed as actually happening), must be treated as ‘nothing happening’ (or ‘fake’), until proven otherwise. In the case of Uri Geller – his supposed abilities were clearly ‘debunked’ by James Randi (I will add another video about this), but as Geller is an ardent Zionist – the Zionist community, for quite sometime, attacked James Randi’s work and attempted to protect Geller from his own scandel. What the GCP video omits to mention is that Geller ‘failed’ on the Tonight Show due to experimental protocols established by James Randi. James Randi’s exposure of Geller exists in the mainstream for all to see. In 1975, the United Nations (UN), following a consultative period, declared Zionism a form of ‘racism’ (i.e. a form of White supremacy) – because it was founded by White middle class secular Jewish people in the late 1800’s in Europe – and has nothing to do with the Jewish religion per se. In this regard, many Jewish people reject Zionism – but the holding of this type of attitude should demonstrate something of the character of Uri Geller. As the US and Israel are ‘allies’ the GCP video presents Geller’s case in a highly sympathetic light. Finally, as it would be immeasurably easier to move physical objects with the mind – rather than by manual labour – it is extraordinary that humanity has not ‘evolved’ this ability species-wide, simply through the environment pressure to do so. The lack of any such ability suggests that it is not possible. As technology improves, and labour-saving devices become common-place, it is less likely (and not more likely) that such an evolutionary ability would develop. It is technology produced by the human mind (through science) that is now making life easier for many people – and not an ‘imagined’ ability to move physical objects with a disembodied ‘intention’ alone.

Buddhism: Pali Bhavana and Chinese Ch’an

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In 1996, I spent a short but fruitful period studying under the Theravada Buddhist monk named Mangala Thero – who was then the Head Monk of the Ganga Ramaya Temple in Beruwela (Sri Lanka). He was not particularly interested in the Mahayana Buddhism of China (or anywhere else, for that matter), but when I explained what Chinese Ch’an (禪) was, the venerable monk thought for a moment, and then explained that he would explain this approach as an exclusive focus upon the development of ‘bhavana’ (Pali: भावना). Broadly speaking, Mangala Thero stated that ‘bhavana’ begins and ends with ‘reigning in’ the mind, so that it is nolonger ill-disciplined. When a mind is disciplined (through concentration upon the breathing, or upon generating loving kindness, etc), the habitual thoughts calm-down and eventually ‘cease’. When the mind is ‘stilled’ in this manner, the ‘thought formations’ (i.e. the fourth aggregate) nolonger arise in their delusive form and ‘pure consciousness’ (i.e. fifth aggregate) can be clearly ‘perceived’ (third aggregate) as the body continues to ‘sense’ (second aggregate) the material environment (first aggregate), and the mind is ‘aware’ of the absence of thought. After this, it is a matter of deepening and enriching the experience through further meditation practice performed within a conducive environment. When I asked my main teacher Richard Hunn (1949-2006) about ‘bhavana’, as usual, he knew the Chinese translation for this Buddhist technical term – which is ‘修習’. Chinese transliterations and translations are useful as the early Chinese scholars had to understand the Indian Pali and Sanskrit terms before they could be rendered effectively into the Chinese language. Obviously, some of the early transliteration of Indian Buddhist terms are purely ‘phonetic’ in nature and in themselves do not convey much meaning as ideograms. This represents an initial process of a slow, careful and gradual building-up of knowledge in China about a thoroughly ‘foreign’ Indian philosophy that had to develop an ‘interface’ with existing Chinese culture. As understanding grew, literal transliterations often gave way to more ‘exact’ translations and I suspect this process happened to the Pali and Sanskrit term ‘bhavana’. Today, within Chinese Buddhism, ‘bhavana’ is not a commonly used term, but it is written as ‘修習’ (xiu2 xi2). The ideogram ‘修’ (xiu2) carries the meanings of ‘repair’, ‘to mend’, ‘construct’, ‘to cultivate’, and ‘to sharpen’ – whilst the ideogram ‘習’ (xi2) carries the meanings of ‘training’, ‘habit’, ‘custom’, ‘repeat’, ‘cultivation’, ‘to follow’ and to ‘learn’. When ‘修習” (bhavana) is taken together, it does appear to be a very good Pali definition of the Ch’an (禪) method. The ideogram ‘修’ (xiu2) contains the left-hand particle ‘攸’ (you1) which depicts a person ‘expertly’ fording a river with a pole (and ‘travelling far’) – whilst the right-hand particle ‘彡’ (shan1) signifies ‘writing’ as used in the act of of committed ‘developmental study’. The ideogram ‘習’ (xi2) carries the upper particle ‘羽’ (yu3) which refers to feathered ‘wings’ that ‘uplift’ (with flying associated with ‘progression’ and ‘advancement’), and the lower particle ‘习’ (xi2) which directly refers to the act of ‘disciplined study.’ Bhavana (修習), therefore, refers to a committed and uplifting Buddhist meditational practice that requires dedication, expert guidance, repetition, and a suggestion of ‘transcendence’ if practised correctly. In other words, ‘bhavana; is a means to get ‘from here’, to ‘there’ – but these two ideograms suggest that it is not an ordinary path of ‘mind culture’. Scholarship, study and expertise are extolled activities and characteristics within Chinese culture, and ‘bhavana’ is a prime example of this activity. A bow of thanks to Mangala Thero and Richard Hunn (Upasaka Wen Shu). Finally, ‘bhavana’ (भावना)) appears to be linked to ‘भ‍वन’ (again, pronounced ‘bhavana’) which is used in the sense of ‘constructing’ a material object such as a building or a shelter, etc. In this context ‘भ‍वन’ (bhavana) suggests a very firm grounding in the material world, with the training of the mind in Buddhist though being considered a part of, or extension of that material world. The ‘mind’ within Buddhism is not a spirit that stands in opposition to the physical world – but is an integral part of it. This means that ‘भ‍वन’ (bhavana) can also be used to denote ‘physical existence’ (or its ‘arising’), with the term ‘abhava’ (अभाव) referring to the ’empty’ nature or ‘insubstantiality’ of physical existence – which is void of any permanency.

The Bravery of Mr Paul Aladdin Alarab (1958-2003) RIP

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If the US-Zionist propaganda is to be believed, the 911 terrorist attacks on New York in 2001 were carried-out by 17 Saudis and 2 Egyptians – but as both countries are allies of the US and friends of Israel – and given that Israel represents US interests in the Middle East – no military action was taken against either Saudi Arabia or Egypt. Add to this the bizarre fact that at the last count at least 10 of the alleged suicide bombers on 911 have subsequently been found to be ‘alive’ – then the ‘irrationality’ and the ‘illegality’ of the US-led invasion and destruction of Iraq in 2003 is made patently clear. This blatant act of Western neo-imperialism has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands (some estimates state ‘millions’) of innocent Iraqi men, women and children, and paved the way for the development of a disastrous Islamofascism in the formerly Arab Socialist State. There were no weapons of mass destruction in an already impoverished country that had suffered under unjust UN Sanctions for over a decade. Furthermore, all legal experts agree that this ‘invasion’ was illegal under International Law. Saddam Hussein – the Iraqi leader who had resisted Western imperialism for decades – was tried by a puppet court comprised of Iraqi collaborators and traitors and hung (with his death being filmed and immediately released across the internet). I remember millions of people protesting this grotesque war in London – and the then criminal British Prime Minister Tony Blair just ‘laughing’ in Parliament! I also recall news bulletins that told of Westerners who had travelled to Afghanistan (that other victim of Western neo-imperialism) and Iraq – and deliberately blowing themselves up at Western military check-points in protest to the aggressive actions of their respective governments. American-Iraqi Paul Aladdin Alarab did not carry-out any action that directly inflicted violence upon anyone else – despite his heartfelt resistance to the US invasion of Iraq (the country of his ancestors). However, despite having a family (and all to live for) he decided to end his own life in protest to the illegal military action the US was taking against Iraq. Paul Aladdin Alarab (44) ended his own life by jumping to his death from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge on May 19th, 2003. To my mind, it is not the trained military thugs of the US military that are heroes, (after-all, anyone can kill innocent people with fire-arms), but rather people like Paul Aladdin Alarab (and those Westerners who protested the illegal invasion of Iraq in numerous ways). In fact, a good measure of this man’s selfless attitude can be gleamed from the fact that he protested on behalf of the elderly and the handicapped in the US in 1988 – when he accidently fell-off the bridge in question – but remarkably managed to survive the plunge. America must throw-off the shackles of capitalist oppression and develop a Socialist State that renounces all ‘aggressive’ war.

Find a Grave – Paul Aladdin Alarab

2nd Bridge Fall Kills Foe of War

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