Lifting the curtain

January 4, 2022

Happy new year everyone!

Nga mihi o te tau hou katoa

This Tuwhiri newsletter is a little longer than usual: a steady increase in subscribers since the last one suggests that it’s a good time to look back at what The Tuwhiri Project has achieved, and lift the curtain to give you a glimpse of some of what’s coming next.

Set up in 2018 to publish books and produce educational material around a secular approach to the teachings of Gotama, the historical Buddha, Tuwhiri has accomplished heaps with meagre resources.

Our editorial board consists of Suzanne Franzway in Adelaide, South Australia, Winton Higgins in Sydney, New South Wales, and publisher Ramsey Margolis in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Also in Aotearoa New Zealand, our very part-time paid administrator is Pete Cowley in Gisborne, while Erin Colane supports us on Twitter (@tuwhiri) and Instagram (@creative.dharma), and Rose Campbell is about to start looking after Tuwhiri, our authors and our readers, on Goodreads (both are in Nelson, and volunteers). In Wellington, Rick Dempsey will be volunteering his time and skills to support Tuwhiri from January 2022, in particular our fundraising efforts.

Our books are published globally. They’re printed in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia for readers in these countries, while for those of you elsewhere we print on demand in the UK, Europe and the USA.

After Buddhism: a workbook

Our first book, After Buddhism: a workbook, is a series of dharma talks given by Winton Higgins to three Sydney insight meditation communities, along with questions for study contributed by Jim Champion, who’s in the UK. It continues to interest people around the world, and sales have been good.

Running a prepublication crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter allowed us to publicise the book, find people around the world who were willing to support this project (and Tuwhiri in general). Selling books prior to publication was useful, and with what we raised, we not only got the book out and promoted it, but kept Tuwhiri ticking over while books were being sold.

Online course

Created by Mike Slott with support from Tuwhiri, an online course based on Stephen Batchelor’s book After Buddhism and Winton Higgins’ After Buddhism: a Workbook has been running through the Secular Buddhist Network website since February 2019. Participants can go through it on a self-paced basis or join a group that is following the course.

What is this?

Our second book was published in May 2019. What is this? Ancient questions for modern minds by Martine and Stephen Batchelor contains talks they gave as two highly experienced dharma teachers on a Sŏn retreat in England.

Expectations of good sales hit the brick wall of Covid-19 in 2020 when bookshops around the world shut their doors, and everyone hunkered down at home.

Nevertheless, two reading groups have picked their way through What is this? and a third will be meeting during 2022. Sales of the book are slow, and steady.

The Workbook – auf Deutsch

In Germany, Buddhastiftung published a translation of After Buddhism: a workbook. You can buy kularer Buddhismus Arbeitsbuch zu Stephen Batchelors Jenseits des Buddhismus online at


Although we published no new books in 2020, we did produce some really nice t-shirts. These ran out pretty quickly, and we intend to produce more in 2022. Let us know if you’re interested.


Did you know that Tuwhiri has a YouTube channel? If you’ve not done so already we encourage you to subscribe and hit the bell to be notified when new videos become available.


Activity on our blog at in 2020 included making available a set of audio recordings from a session at the Sea of Faith’s 2002 ‘Bonfire of Certainties’ conference in which Stephen Batchelor exchanged views with two Christian theologians – Don Cupitt and Lloyd Geering – in Timaru on the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Definitely worth a listen.

Also, ophthalmologist and dharma practitioner Marc Lieberman, who died last year, allowed us to embed his film ‘Visioning Tibet’ in a Tuwhiri blog post. It’s well worth watching. Marc very generously supported Tuwhiri’s crowdfunding campaign for What is this?

Creative Dharma, a newsletter

Responding creatively to the lockdown, we launched a Substack newsletter, Creative Dharma in May 2020. Put together by Ramsey Margolis and Brad Parks in Santa Barbara, California, the newsletter is successfully building an international community around the intersections of making art, meditation and creativity, something we think the world really needs.

Initially free to all, readers are now asked to show their generosity by voluntarily paying for their newsletters, with all subscription income being given away to artists with a meditation practice and communities that engage their members with a creative approach to the dharma. You can read back issues and subscribe at

This year

Tuwhiri published our first non-dharma book in January 2021 – Love you: public policy for intergenerational wellbeing by Girol Karacaoglu. While it made no claim to Buddhist inspiration, the editorial board felt it directly served the core Buddhist ethic of care by advocating coherent socioeconomic policies that will benefit people alive now, as well as those who will succeed us.

To everyone’s surprise, for five weeks Love you was in the list of top 10 bestselling books in Unity Books, Wellington’s major bookshop, and it continues to sell in bookshops around Aotearoa New Zealand.

Revamp: writings on secular Buddhism

In May 2021, we published Winton Higgins, Revamp: writings on secular Buddhism. After an initial burst of interest from secular Buddhists around the world, sales slowed down until Secularizing Buddhism: new perspectives on a dynamic tradition (Richard Payne ed.) hit the bookstores.

Tricycle published Winton’s review of Secularizing Buddhism and editor-in-chief James Shaheen then interviewed him on Zoom about Revamp, and secular Buddhism in general. You can watch their conversation on the Secular Buddhist Network website.

Revamp then sold more copies in November than all previous months put together, by the way.

Revamp in Thai

Interest in a secular approach to Buddhism has spread beyond the Anglophone world, beyond Europe, and into Asia – the heartland of the dharma. Samyan Press in Bangkok is preparing a Thai edition of Revamp and Tuwhiri is asking you to help them produce this book by offering a donation:

Crete 1941 – an epic poem

At the end of October, we published Crete 1941, a 2475-line epic poem by Bernard Cadogan. As a life-changing reflection on the virtue of good, small nations, on the contribution of indigenous peoples such as Maori and Cretans to international developments, and on the fragility that both peace and its disruptors share, Crete 1941 is the only epic long poem in English since Derek Walcott’s ‘Omeros’.

More than just a war story, Crete 1941 brings women back into the historic struggle for Crete. The culmination of the poem sets out the entry of the 28th (Māori) Battalion as an active combat force.

A stunning piece of writing, we felt that the book serves to make all who read it even more aware of the wrongs perpetrated by those who colonised Aotearoa, not to mention other major sites of settler colonisation. The importance of settling claims that have arisen from this process is clear.


Tuwhiri books are available at your local bookstore, though you may need to ask it to order the book for you. They are also available in our online store in digital and printed formats, with cost of postage included for printed books no matter where you live.

Why Tuwhiri? – check the blog, again

If you’re curious about why we chose to name ourselves Tuwhiri, you may like to look at this blog post:

And after Crete 1941?

Secular Buddhism is a trend in contemporary Buddhism that highlights care – the fundamental ethic in the teachings of the historical Buddha – in all its aspects. Secularity calls on us to express this ethic of care in ways appropriate to our time and current predicaments.

In the face of humanity-induced catastrophes – not least today’s climate emergency and intensifying social injustices – we owe a special duty of care to future generations to overcome them, and to leave our successors with a safer, fairer world in which they may thrive.

No, there is no Planet B – Photo Markus Spiske (Unsplash)

We need to express our care for coming generations in many ways, from changing our own personal lifestyles, through accounting for our history, to choosing political representatives who advance long-sighted policies in aid of a better world.

Tuwhiri was set up to produce books on secular Buddhism. Expect a broader range of books from us in the years to come, books that express the dharma in different ways.

Now for the exciting part

Three secular Buddhist books are currently being worked on, and we hope to be able to publish them during 2022, or perhaps 2023. To ensure these books can be published we will need your help – practical and financial.

The first brings together talks given to Wellington’s secular dharma practice group, One Mindful Breath. We will be crowdfunding on Kickstarter to enable us to produce this book. Do please support this campaign when it launches.

The second book draws on emotion-focused psychology and Eugene Gendlin’s philosophical and psychological practices for deepening experiencing. In it, Bill Gayner will explore how meditators can turn the places where we habitually get stuck into gateways for living more fulfilling lives.

He will be showing how, in the secular dharma practice of Stephen Batchelor and Winton Higgins, a lot hinges on letting go of chronic forms of emotional reactivity that interfere with us embracing suffering in transformative ways, and cultivating our lives with care.

As for the third book, you’ll have to wait a little before we let this cat out of its bag!

poetry & polis

In the newest Tuwhiri newsletter, author Bernard Cadogan examines how to write and read poetry, do politics and geopolitics, and to think political philosophy. It goes out weekly with technical support from Ramsey Margolis.

From 14 February 2022, poetry & polis will go out twice a week, with one of these newsletters going to paying subscribers. You’ll find more on this at

Style guide for Tuwhiri authors

A style guide for authors has been posted on the Tuwhiri blog. Sharing it in this way ensures it’s not set in stone and can be easily updated.

Gift cards

On sale now in our online store, you can buy a Tuwhiri gift card for NZD $25.00, $35.00, $60.00, $100.00 or $125.00.

Get some for friends, your dharma community, and the people in your dharma book reading group. It’s a great gift for those in another place, far away.

Recipients will be able to use their gift card to get what they want from the Tuwhiri online store. And remember – postage is included on all purchases, wherever they are in the world.

Thank you for suggesting that we offer gift cards, Gloria!

How we operate

As a social enterprise, Tuwhiri is profit-conscious rather than profit maximising. (Our thanks go to Tuwhiri author, Girol Karacaoglu, for verbalising this distinction while he was working at the Cooperative Bank of New Zealand as chief executive.)

Rather than striving to make a profit, our intention is to not make a loss, and with no shareholder owners expecting a dividend, surpluses are used to produce more books and other materials.

Thanks largely to our initial Kickstarter supporters and the fact that the authors of our first two books chose to donate the royalties they would have received to The Tuwhiri Project, we have survived through the Covid years, so far. However…

We are asking for your support

Do please support Tuwhiri. Revenue from sales will enable us to keep our head above water, but we won’t thrive. Whatever you can offer – whether it’s $5 a month, or a one-off gift of $1000 – will be put to good use.

To discuss what your support might enable us to do, please email and we’ll connect you with an editorial board member.

New Zealand taxpayers will receive a tax receipt for your donations. Please let us know that you need one.

Kati ake nei, ka kite ano

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