Stefano Bettera

Resolving the secular versus religious dichotomy: a new approach for secular Buddhism
Stefano Bettera offers an interpretation of a secular approach to the dharma which he believes is a third way, inclusive and conciliatory, which avoids the dichotomy between the ‘religious’ and the ‘secular’. This approach is based in the primary experience of the ethical dimension of awakening, called nirvana.
The Buddha on the Orient Express: cultural encounters in the development of Buddhism
The oldest Buddhist monument was discovered in 2021 in the ancient Pakistani city of Barikot in the Swat Valley. Stefano Bettera discusses how this finding is part of an ever growing body of evidence that the development of Buddhism has been profoundly shaped by its encounter with various cultures.
Dharma EconomiX
Stefano Bettera offers a spiritual perspective on social reconstruction – Dharma EconomiX – that goes beyond the anthropocentric model and focuses, instead, on practices, languages and imagery capable of healing the social and ecological wounds that we face today. Such a perspective provides us with an opportunity for a revalorisation of the individual and of the community. 
Healing together
We must rediscover a view of the other that is not dominated by fear, but courageously puts friendship back at the centre, as a sincere opportunity to get to know each other, to compare notes, to build an identity that is the beginning of a process of imagining a new collective identity.
The God of the Buddha
The historical Buddha, Gotama, is not properly characterized as either an atheist or agnostic. He does not deny or affirm, but chooses silence, a ’strategic‘ silence which affirms a precise idea: any discourse on the absolute is inadequate. It is not a question of arguing that this dimension is unthinkable or unrealizable. It is about rejecting any attempt by language to establish a definitive truth in one sense or another.
Laughing is a serious matter on the secular Buddhist path!
The lightness of laughter can help us to break the connected dualisms of right/wrong, true/false, internal/external, and us/the others. These standards ways of viewing the world keep us hooked to our ego and hold us back from the freedom to experiment, to be open, to enjoy the time we have and all our experiences, including the negative ones.
Take on the challenge of the unknown
We have to choose between the freedom that is the condition of an open, awakened mind or to defend any kind of orthodoxy, traditional or not. If we choose the former, we need a wisdom that is capable of capturing every moment of wonder and in the next instant letting it go without any sense of regret or bewilderment.
Buddhism is dead! Long live ‘Buddhism’!
Whether we like it or not, to reduce Buddhism to a detached and repetitive liturgical religiosity, means to keep our heads turned towards the past and also means losing the potential for a sensitive engagement with tradition. A vibrant and living spirituality must be known, lived, and experienced in our bodies, our practices, and our way of being.
Wise advice for uncertain times
The coronavirus emergency is a great opportunity to cultivate patience, care and integrity and rediscover what is truly ‘urgent’. When it is fragility that becomes the predominant characteristic in our lives, the superfluous becomes less urgent and the need to rediscover a more authentic, more intimate dimension becomes apparent.
Buddhism and Hellenistic philosophies: secular wisdoms on the Silk Road
Counter to the stereotype that sees East and West as two distant worlds, with entirely different cultures and value systems, the Buddha and the ancient Greeks spoke a very similar language and provided us with wise insights that we can rediscover today for our secular practice.
Swimming against the stream
Our challenge is to remain lucid, aware, and present. This is Gotama’s injunction and one of his main teachings. To understand this reality means, in traditional Buddhist terms, to understand the middle way, emptiness and not-self. It means entering the stream of the river of life to go against the current.
Meditating in a secular world
Meditative practice enables us to develop a more present, lucid and conscious connection with what surrounds us, in the precise moment and place where we find ourselves. Meditative practice does not take us beyond that present moment in its totality. If anything, it leads us deeper, to union with it.
Defining secular Buddhism: beware of certain traps
Secular Buddhism doesn’t need to be understood as a new ‘Buddhism’ but more as a different approach to practice. This approach starts from our perspective as modern people, and thanks to this lens, revises the meaning of the teachings of an ancient tradition so that they can speak to human beings today.
What next? two years of path in the Secular Dharma with Bodhi College
Stefano Bettera offers his reflections on the two year course on the Secular Dharma at Bodhi College and what the next steps are for the course participants. He asserts that it is the ‘creative, adaptable, non-dogmatic and unorthodox characteristic of the secular Dharma that is an opportunity’ for contributing to a culture in which awareness and compassion are predominant.