A weekend retreat organised by the Bristol Chan Group
September 29-30 2001.
Memes are ideas, habits, skills, stories, or any other kind of information that is copied from person to person. All your favourite songs are memes; so are all the words you know and all the habits you have picked up from someone else. Memes use our clever brains to get themselves copied, and in the process build our cultures. In the words of philosopher Dan Dennett, we humans are a special sort of ape infested with memes.
The idea of this weekend is not to go in depth into the science – and the many controversies – of memetics, but to use the idea of memes in our practice. Seeing our thoughts as memes can weaken their power; understanding ourselves as memeplexes can undermine our clinging to the fantasy of a permanent self.
With a mixture of short lectures and discussions, and sitting and walking meditation, we will explore how the idea of memes can help us with letting go. Meditation and mindfulness can act as ‘meme-weeding’ techniques, leaving our minds clearer and less cluttered with memes. The retreat will be silent (apart from the discussions) and mindfulness will be encouraged at all times.
No prior knowledge of memetcis or evolutionary theory will be assumed but if you want to read something beforehand I suggest ‘Waking from the meme dream’ at
Or my book The Meme Machine, see http://www.uwe.ac.uk/fas/staff/sb/publicat.htm
Or explore our memes website with many links and other papers at http://www.memes.org.uk
10.50 kin hin
11.30 Talk: Introduction to memetics
2.50 kin hin
3.30 Talk: Waking from the meme dream
5.00 kin hin
10.30 Talk: Meditation as meme-weeding
12.00 kin hin
2.00 Talk: Mind the memes
3.20 kin hin
Short description for flyer
Seeing our thoughts as memes can weaken their power; understanding ourselves as memeplexes can undermine our clinging to the fantasy of a permanent self. The idea of this weekend is not to study the science – and controversies – of memetics, but to use the idea of memes in our practice. We will explore meditation and mindfulness as ways of ‘meme-weeding’, leaving our minds less cluttered by memes.
Sue Blackmore is a lecturer, writer and broadcaster and lives in Bristol. She is author of several books on parapsychology and near-death experiences, and of the best-selling ‘The Meme Machine’. She has been practising Ch’an for twenty years.