Zooming in from Christchurch, zen teacher Arthur Wells will make a case that the Buddha was a ‘proto-scientist’ who was strongly drawn to asking empirical questions and weighing evidence. In this his teachings have a strong affinity with humanist values.
However, there remains a troubling conflict with humanist values insofar as Buddhism denies reality to the self, creating curious contradictions around moral agency and the valuing of each unique individual.
For many years Arthur taught in universities, first in English (1969–74) and then in Religious Studies (1981–87). After that he became a social worker and counsellor, focussing on suicide prevention, family violence and work with refugees.
He was appointed to teach zen in the Diamond Sangha lineage in 2008 and made a Roshi (senior teacher) in 2013. He is also an active Quaker.