These events have occurred in predominantly Theravada Buddhist countries, and have led to an intellectual climate which feels comfortable enough to routinely express sentiments of Islamophobia – an expression that legitimises itself by masquerading as a manifestation of Buddhist wisdom, when in reality it is nothing more than the product of greed, hatred, and delusion.
‘The middle-class, through the use of the Sun newspaper, turns the working-class against itself. It perpetuates hatred, racism, and envy, encouraging unjust action against blacks and ethnic minorities, as well as migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. It attacks the NHS and the Welfare State, pouring scorn and criticism upon those who are required to make use of their facilities and benefits. It once described a young woman defending herself against a baton wielding mounted police officer as ‘scum’, and routinely calls for the working-class to attack the very institutions that have been built-up over the years that were designed to assist the balancing of society.’
‘Of course, the act of physically changing one’s environment for another inevitably has the consequence of a change of mind itself. For many ordinary beings this change of mind through experience is simply the process of the cognising of new sense-data – to be stored alongside similar sense-data previously acquired. For the Buddha himself, the change of physical experience led to the development of the immense urge within him to seek the answer that reconciled all physical experience, regardless of the nature of that experience itself.’
‘To understand this developmental process, an assessment of ‘emptiness’ (sunyata) must be undertaken. It is clear that in early Buddhism emptiness refers to the lack of the presence of greed, hatred and delusion, as well the abandonment of the notion of a permanent self. It is an emptiness that marks the absence of delusion. Delusion is no longer present in the mind or perceived in the environment (in relation to the mind). The mind does not create the conditions that lead to the desire of external entities or attachment to those entities. It is true that no further karma is produced but that the karma relating to the world and the physical body continues until it is fully burnt off (at the point of death), and there is no more re-birth. The nirvanic state has present within it certain powers of the mind, and perfected knowledge. This concept of nirvana exists as an escape from the physical world of samsara. It is viewed very much as an antidote to the suffering experienced within ordinary life.’