Magazine Archive: The Hull Unitarian: April/ May 1995


When I was in Derbyshire l had a time, up until leaving in fact, when I attended the Friends of the Western Buddhist order. They're not in Hull (yet). Having known Anglicanism and Unitarianism, this was like the whole ground rules had been shifted and moved.

The issue of God did not arise there, not even as a point of debate. This was very liberating for me. My interest shifted to understanding the nature of desire and self-liberation. I saw the logical connection between seeing the life of craving "the object" (samsara) as the opposite of awareness. The debate became about what happens if the notion of awareness for clarity is pursued to extremity. Here is where nirvana itself (that state of no desire, no nothingness, no craving, a sort of end point into all beauty) is no nirvana!

lf nirvana is an object in itself, it becomes a craving. lt therefore is not, and cannot be. lndeed, nirvana and samsara become as one; the dharma (the path of journeying) must be no-dharma. Sages and Sutras say as much.

God has no foothold, even as a debate. There is no accommodation, no dialogue. Rather the debate is the fundamentals of reality - no reality, like into the Alice Through the Looking Glass world of sub-atomic physics, where all the rules end up reflected in mirrors and incompatibles happen at the same time but cannot do so.

From this it becomes clear to me just to what extent, however meant, however plural, Unitarianism is at best a sub-group of the same "language game" inherited from (even coming out of) Christianity. Of course it is, given the need for a usable language. God is tied into this language and its overlaps. The only point of Christian and related contact with Buddhism is where non-realist talk of God is driven to its exhaustion.

For me, the debate about God and the hymns about God are like being on a familiar horse down a familiar track. There is no harm in a quick undogmatic canter on a Sunday morning. But the lama and its journeyings are very different! This is why I might be regarded now as the "John Biifen of Unitarianism" - supporting liberality a such but necessarily semi-detached. It asks too much of Unitarianism to go as far as I want, and it cannot. I may be a friend of Unitarianism, but I am not a Unitarian by any definition. My faith journey went through a thorough recategorisation of terms, a wiping clean in many ways and into radical difference. The debate about God, about which I have no more to say than what was said, and which I have exhausted, has been replaced by a needed new broom around awareness and perception. lt is a new language to grow into but I suspect many others would not want it for themselves and see no need for it, something I fully respect.



Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful