Commercialised mindfulness meditation is to Buddhist meditation what McDonald’s offerings are to real cooking, the title of Ron Purser’s book infers. But there’s more to that title – it has antecedents, according to Sydney secular Buddhist teacher, Winton Higgins.
Winton Higgins’ articles and dharma talks provide us with a clear understanding of the development of secular Buddhism and the ways in which a secular approach differs from traditional forms of Buddhism.
Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy (EFMT) is a new psychological approach to addressing internal conflicts like harsh self-criticism. The approach emerged out of a dialogue between Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) and the secular and contemporary Buddhist perspectives of Stephen Batchelor, Winton Higgins and Jason Siff.
According to Winton Higgins, the foundation of Buddhists’ political engagement is the overarching ethical commitment to care, the responsibility to be ‘engaged as a moral agent in what is going on in one’s own life’.
Ramsey Margolis explains how Winton Higgins’ After Buddhism: a workbook, was produced as part of the creation of a new non-profit organisation dedicated to developing a secular dharma: The Tuwhiri Project.
According to Winton Higgins, ‘We meditate to experience this world and this life as vividly as possible. Intensely. The way we experience it reflects back at us – it tells us who we are and where we’re at in this moment.’
Winton Higgins has written extensively about democratic communities and the development of secular Buddhism. In this article Winton offers some defining characteristics of a democratic sangha.
… Winton Higgins writes ‘When western societies imported various strains of Asian Buddhism from the 1960s on, few converts noticed the organisational culture that came with the imports. Rather like the tarantula that arrives in the crate of imported bananas…’
… Winton Higgins traces the origins of secular Buddhism in interpretations of the Pali canon developed by Harold Musson and Stephen Batchelor.
Winton Higgins urges secular Buddhists to be active citizens and contribute to social and political change. Given the crises facing our society, ‘nowadays politics matters like never before!’