Scholar Cen Xue Lu (1882-1963) – Xu Yun’s Editor.

‘Cen Xue Lu led an extraordinary life. He was directly involved within the Nationalist political and military movement that sought to end the imperial order and establish a modernisation of China very much in the Western model. He developed a reputation for sound and accurate scholarship, and later in his life became very interested in the Buddhist religion. He participated directly in the war against Japanese imperial aggression inHong Kong, and after 1949 assisted in the preservation of the Xu Yun biographical text. His diligence in the task of developing it allowed a Chinese readership to remember and learn about Xu Yun – at a time when Chinese traditional culture was being destroyed. This text, when translated into English (and other European languages) swept through a receptive Western world, bringing the life of Xu Yun to a new audience. Cen Xue Lu not only edited the Xu Yun text, but also protected it from external attack. His contribution to the preservation of Xu Yun’s memory is pivotal and vital. Without Cen Xue Lu’s presence in the world, it is unlikely that the Xu Yun text would have survived as it has to the present day. In this achievement, Cen Xue Lu should be remembered with respect.’

Master Zhao Bichen (1860-1942) – Daoist Immortal.

‘Once beyond the initial barrier of potentially bewildering terminology, Zhao Bichen’s approach involves the cultivation of awareness throughout the ‘inside’ of the body, together with an actual awareness of qi as it is distributed throughout the system. In this respect, the inside of the body is perceived (through meditation) as a number of cavities, or vacuous spaces. The breathing mechanism maintains the inflating and deflating of these cavities with qi. Awareness becomes so subtle that even the smallest of movements within the body is clearly sensed. The qi passes around the body through the action of the inward breath and the outward breath, travelling with the blood through the arteries and veins.’

Richard Hunn (1949-2006) – British Sinologist.

‘In the meantime Richard was pursuing an academic career in Chinese Buddhist studies, and for a time ran the Chinese Buddhist Association at Essex University. This part of his life is rather diverse, involving an Oxford University sponsored research programme about the famous psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, which involved a trip to Zurich and a meeting with Jung’s grand daughter. At this time Richard was shown a document written in Jung’s handwriting apparently expressing his belief that reincarnation might well be a real phenomena. This, and similar work was kept from the public by the Jung family because they thought that its content might diminish Jung’s academic standing. Richard’s interest with Jung arose because of Jung’s contact with Charles Luk. In 1961, when Jung was on his death bed, he was reading Luk’s first volume of Ch’an and Zen Teachings. Jung had his secretary write to Luk and explain that when Jung read what master Xu Yun taught, and when Xu Yun explained the realisation of the mind – Jung felt that he himself could have said just that! Much later, whilst living in Japan, Richard stumbled upon Jung’s entire published works in English in a small bookshop for a very small price. Before this, however, Richard had settled in Norfolk founding the Norwich Ch’an Association. Many people would visit Richard’s home and seek Ch’an instruction, and on occasion Charles Luk would even send one or two people, notably Chinese students from Malaysia.’

Charles Luk (1898-1978) Ch’an Buddhist Scholar.

‘In the mean time Charles Luk was training in the Tibetan Buddhist (Vajrayana) lineages of Kagyu and Gelug under one teacher – the Tulku of Xikang – namely the Venerable Hutuktu, who was of Mongolian ethnic origin. Xikang is of course Xikangsheng (西康省) which is sometimes written as ‘Sikang’, and translates as ‘Western Abundance Province’. Now no longer in existence, it was once a province of easternTibet(Kham) controlled by the forces of the Republic of China. Today, part of this former province is in eastern Tibet, whilst the other part is in the western Sichuan province. This area, although comprised of a Tibetan majority, is known for its small Mongol ethnic grouping. During this time, Charles Luk was initiated into the secretive technique known as Phowa – or the method of the transference of consciousness at the point of death, to a Buddhafield (i.e. rebirth) of one’s choice. His other great Buddhist teacher was Ch’an master Xu Yun (1840-1959) – from whom he inherited the dharma of the enlightened lay-person which is believed to go back to Vimalakirti – an enlightened contemporary of the Buddha.’

Master Xu Yun (1840-1959) – Present Awareness.

‘Buddhism was tolerated however, despite some historical ups and downs, but leaving home to become a monk has always been a difficult affair. It still was in 1858 when master Xu Yun decided to leave home and pursue the Buddhist monastic path. As his father was a government official, Xu Yun was expected to follow in his footsteps, get married and produce a son to keep the family name of Xiao going. Even though he had expressed spiritual inclinations to his father, his father would not give permission for him to leave. Instead his father arranged for a Daoist teacher to come to the family home and teach Xu Yun internal and external qigong – or ‘energy work’.’

Bill Hicks: The View From Within.

‘In 1992 much of his output centred on the defeat of George Bush Jr, in the US Presidential elections following his successful invasion of Kuwait and southernIraqin the first Gulf War. Through such material Hicks described his political stance ‘as a little to the Left’. He says that he did not vote for Bush because the recent Republican administrations had sponsored genocide in South American countries – whilst the US media limited the issue to whether a new Democratic President would raise taxes. The natural Rightwing bias within theUnited Statessystem is so prevalent that any legitimate notions of Socialism are treated as if they are a crime of immense immorality, stupidity and the product of extreme mental illness. Hicks detested the mainstream media – and along with corporate advertisers – viewed it as a product of Satan’s seed. In this respect he could be very forceful in his opinions – surprisingly so when his style of delivery is taken into account. The passion manifests suddenly within a meandering narrative about this or that. Regardless of the raw human emotion, he never abandoned the principle of considered opinion gained through intellectual analysis. The intelligence of Hicks – and his intelligence was as able as any renowned thinker Western civilisation has produced – never abandoned an accompanying morality that moulded ideas and directed actions.’

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