Zen and Meditation

I am not a Buddhist. I have not signed up to any beliefs, joined any groups, or taken any formal vows. This is mainly because I fear that the memes of Buddhism can be as pernicious as those of any religion and because I dislike dogma in any form. I mention this because nothing I have written should be taken as having the authority of a Buddhist. I do, however, value the Buddha’s insight, the teachings that have been handed down, and the practices I have been taught.

I have been training in Zen for over thirty years. My main practice is in Chan, the tradition founded in China in the first century CE when Buddhism arrived from India. Chan subsequently spread to Japan where it became Zen.

I have done many retreats at the Maenllwyd; John Crook’s retreat house in mid Wales, including some solitary retreats. I presented a half-hour documentary “A Place of Silence” for Radio 4 about it in February 1998. I have also done some training in tantra and mahamudra (Tibetan Buddhism). I have worked with the Bristol Chan GroupWestern Chan Fellowship and have led retreats on meditation and memes.

Over the years I have found that my Zen practice and my scientific work have converged in many ways. This connection is probably obvious in my books The Meme Machine, and Consciousness. I also wrote about its effects in the updated version of the Adventures published as In Search of the Light in 1996. All my books and articles are also listed in Publications.

People often ask me what to read, or listen to, on a particular subject. Here are some suggestions.


Interview on spirituality, self, free will and consciousness with Mel van Dusen, 08.08.2017

Interview on NPR ‘To the best of our knowledge’ December 2012

She won’t be me. Conference on Science and Nonduality, Doorn, Netherlands, June 2012.  YouTube video

also my comments on Alan Wallace’s video “Universal Consciousness” as part of a Dutch TV programme on his ideas.

Ten Zen Questions / Zen and the Art of Consciousness – I talk about the questions.


BBC Radio 4 “A Place of Silence“, 3.2.98 and 8.2.98. A half-hour documentary about the Maenllwyd, a retreat house in rural Wales



Blackmore, S. 2011 Zen and the Art of Consciousness, Oxford, Oneworld Publications, ISBN-10: 185168798X  (previously Ten Zen Questions). Read some of the questions, or listen to me discuss them.

Contributions to Books

Blackmore, S.J. (2002) Zen into science. In Neurotheology: Brain, Science, Spirituality, Religious Experience, University Press, California, 159-160. A note on Neurotheology

Blackmore,S.J. 1999 Waking from the Meme Dream. In The Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Science and Our Day-to-day Lives. Ed. G.Watson, S.Batchelor and G.Claxton; London, Rider, 112-122. Also available in Italian and French at http://zenmontpellier.multimania.com/Meme.html
http://zenmontpellier.multimania.com/Memes.html. Also re-published on the SAND Website, 23 April 2019.

Blackmore,S.J. 1991 Beyond the Self: The Escape from Reincarnation. In: Buddhism and Psychology In Reincarnation: Fact or Fable? Ed. Berger,A.S. and Berger,J. Aquarian 1991 117-129

Blackmore,S.J. 1990 Mental Models and Mystical Experience. In: Space in MindEd. J.Crook and D.Fontana, Shaftesbury, Dorset, Element 1990 66-75

Blackmore,S.J. 1986 Who am I?: Changing models of reality in Meditation. In: Beyond Therapy: The impact of Eastern religions on psychological theory and practice Ed. G.Claxton, London, Wisdom, 1986 71-85 (Reprinted in 1996)


Joy and Jhanas, Mountain Silence, issue 25, summer 2014

Blackmore,S.J. 2002 Meditation as meme weeding. New Ch’an Forum, No 26, Summer 2002, 22-26

Blackmore,S.J. (2002) There is no stream of consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 9, 17-28

Blackmore,S.J. 1999 Meme, myself, I. New Scientist, 13 March, 40-44

Blackmore,S.J. 1998 Sai Baba – is he really the ‘man of miracles’? New Ch’an Forum, No. 18, 19-20

Solitary retreat 1997 The Independent

Blackmore,S.J. 1995 Paying attention. New Ch’an Forum, No12. 9-15

Blackmore,S.J. 1992 The Question is – Who am I? Researcher Profile 7. Exceptional Human Experience10, 167-170

Blackmore,S.J. 1991 Is meditation good for you? New Scientist, 6 July

Book Reviews

Blackmore,S. 1999 Review of The Yogins of Ladakh by John Crook and James Low, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6, 118-119

Blackmore,S.J. 1999 Review of The Authority of Experience: Essays on Buddhism and Psychology. Edited by John Pickering. Buddhist Studies Review, 16, 129-132

Blackmore,S.J. 1999 Art of letting go. Review of Zen and the Brain by J.Austin, Times Higher Education Supplement, May 7, 30

Blackmore,S.J. 1995 Review of Noises from the Darkroom: The Science and Mystery of the Mind by G.Claxton. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 60, 274-275.

Blackmore,S.J. 1994. Demolishing the self: Review of Noises from the Darkroom by G.Claxton. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 1, 280-282.

Blackmore,S.J. 1990 Review of Transformations of Consciousness by Wilber, Engler and Brown and The Psychology of Meditation Ed. by M.West Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 56 98-100

Blackmore,S.J. 1987 Remembering or self-remembering: An essay review of Charles Tart’s Waking Up – overcoming the obstacles to human potentialJournal of the Society for Psychical Research 54 268-272

Conference Papers

She won’t be me. Conference on Science and Nonduality, Doorn, Netherlands, June 2012.  video

CFI 11th World Congress, Beijing, Oct 2007. 
The Illusion of Consciousness in Modern Science and Ancient Chan
. I was unable to give this lecture but here is the abstract.

Blackmore, S. 2003 Now and Zen: A way out of Cartesian Materialism. Toward a Science of Consciousness, Prague, 6-10 July.  TSC 2003  Abstract

Blackmore, S. 2003 A way out of illusion? Enactive Consciousness, Seventh Annual Conference of the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology section of the British Psychological Society, Oxford June 28-9 2003

Blackmore, S. 2002 Look harder: Are you sure you have contents of consciousness? Toward a Science of Consciousness, Tucson, AZ, April 8-12 Tucson 2002

Blackmore,S.J. Dismantling the selfplex: Memes machines and the nature of consciousness. “Toward a Science of Consciousness 4”. Tucson, Arizona, April 10-15 2000 abstract

Blackmore,S.J. On the edge of the real, Perrott-Warrick Conference, Cambridge, April 3-5 2000 abstract

Waking from the Meme Dream The Psychology of Awakening: An International Conference on Buddhism, Science and Psychotherapy, Dartington, 9 November 1996.

Panel Discussion with Guy Claxton, Stephen Batchelor, Thupten Jinpa and Francisco Varela. The Psychology of Awakening: An International Conference on Buddhism, Science and Psychotherapy, Dartington, 8 November 1996.

The revelation of no-self In Symposium Selfless Minds: The Buddhist influence on cognitive science. British Psychological Society, London Conference, 20 December 1994.

The self and reincarnation Buddhism and Cognitive Science; A Sharpham Colloquium, Sharpham, Devon, October 1990

No-self in Buddhism and psychology “Being and Becoming” Colloquium, Sharpham, Devon. April 1990

Dissolving Consciousness; Dissolving Self On the Meaning of the Near-Death Experience, Flora, Norway, June 1989 (Invited Speaker)

Mental Models and Mystical Experience Eastern Approaches to Mind and Self, BPS Welsh Branch, Cardiff, July 1986


Share your thoughts on the Ten Zen Blog,
or visit my Zen blog at Psychology Today,

Joy and Jhanas, Mountain Silence, issue 25, summer 2014 and blog on Psychology Today