I first encountered the idea that consciousness may not exist during a course I was studying through Oxford University around 2005. At the time this
White people are not – and cannot be – the victims of racism! The political right-wing and far-right attempts to propagate the false propaganda that
The US has been engaged in an overt attack upon Socialism and Communism for decades. Although this certainly intensified after WWII, the antagonism certainly existed
Instead of acknowledging that distinct human populations are the product of diverse manifestations of adaptability within different climatic and geographical conditions, the myth is perpetuated that the ‘differences’ are in fact directly related to skin-colour. Human groupings are then encouraged by an exploitative socio-economic system to perpetually conflict with one another to see which racial grouping is ‘superior’.
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 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.