The Difference Between Gong-an and Ko-an Practice

It is bizarre to consider that as Japan descended into fascism and racism prior to WWII – the distorted, nationalistic Zen Buddhism of that time was popular in the West amongst intellectuals, despite a number of its masters expressing openly hostile attitudes toward the Western people. It is even more bizarre to consider that after WWII – many of these very same masters remained popular as they quietly pushed their formerly racist rhetoric into the background, and applied a more ‘neutral’ policy toward the acquisition of Enlightenment.

Camelford Ch’an Week Retreat (North Cornwall)

Numbers vary dramatically, but as we are not a commercial enterprise, this is of no interest. There is always a strong inner core that keeps the teachings of Master Xu Yun (1840-1959) alive in the UK. We have been asked to Hong Kong and China in recent years, and these are invitations we intend to honour in the near future. Our last Ch’an Week Retreat (in the Sai Kung area) of Hong Kong, attracted over 50 participants in 1999, and we had to abandon the building and sit in the beautiful countryside.

The Western Obsession with a ‘Greater Ukraine’

Following Hitler’s rise to power in the early 1930’s, his book of rightwing delirium entitled Mein Kampf (My Struggle) was extensively published throughout Europe and the world. Hitler, however, made sure that each edition was carefully edited and altered to suit the mentality of its intended audience. This policy was deliberately designed to minimise the offense it would cause if the intended audience really understood what Hitler thought about them, and the inferior place they would occupy when his racialised utopia was eventually established in Europe and the rest of the world.

On Seeing Behind the Eyelids – A Marxist Critique of Buddhism in the West

The Christian monastic tradition, as manifest through Western Christianity, has generally combined a stringent discipline with voluntary poverty and celibacy. The idealised image of the Buddhist monk, as it has entered the Western psyche, is one of a man who has abandoned what is here (real material life), for what is over there (imagined religious realms). Of course, as what is over there, by definition, is never here and now, its presence can never be empirically confirmed. The Buddhist rules followed by monastics and the laity take the place of Christian piety in the West, but are adhered to by most Westerners with a similar fanatic attitude that completely misses the point the rule is assumed to be designed to achieve. The physical practice of Buddhist meditation is of course the act of Christian prayer wrapped in saffron robes. Western converts meditate as if they are praying to a divine being, but with the added titillation that the divine being in question is their own imagined self-essence – or god removed from his heaven and relocated into their own head. Chanting mantras – the holy syllables of the East – replaces the singing of hymns and the chanting of monks, and sutra reading is bible study by other means. Just as god in heaven can never be logically verified, enlightenment in the head can not be seen in the environment or known to exist.

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