Rethinking the Dharma / Reimagining Community #50 November 2023

October 29, 2023

Welcome to our November 2023 newsletter.

This month we highlight new articles by Winton Higgins, Keith Jackson, and Mike Slott/Katya de Kadt.  We also feature a  practitioner's account of her journey to secular Buddhism and a statement on Israel/Palestine.

Buddhist modernism and secular Buddhism

Winton Higgins discusses the differences between Buddhist modernism, which established itself in the west in the 1960s, and a fully secular approach to the dharma. This article is the text of Winton's presentation at an online course sponsored by the New York Insight Meditation Center, called At the Crossroads of Secular and Socially Engaged Buddhism.

Find out more.

Statement on Israel/Palestine

As individuals who embrace a secular or naturalistic approach to the dharma, one that is based on the goal of reducing suffering and facilitating the flourishing of all beings in this world, we feel a responsibility to speak out about the horrific events in Israel and Palestine.

Find out more.

A practitioner’s journey to secular Buddhism: Carmel

Although deeply influenced and inspired by some aspects of Judaism, Carmel Shalev began to lose faith in God and his commandments because they treated women as somehow limited and second best to men. She eventually connected with Buddhist teachers, primarily in the Insight meditation tradition; and then found that Stephen Batchelor's secular approach to the dharma, which brings a shift in gaze from truths with a capital T to tasks in the everyday, resonated deeply with her.

Find out more.

‘Right livelihood’ at $17.3 million a year?

In response to an interview between Jack Kornfield and a Ford Motor executive, Mike Slott and Katya de Kadt argue that the Buddhist notion of right livelihood must take into account the structural role of corporations in causing harm.

Find out more.

A Secular Buddhist Credo

Keith Jackson offers a secular Buddhist credo rooted in the perspectives of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, the young Marx, Thomas Nail, and the Buddha.

Find out more.

Connect with the Secular Buddhist Network

Looking for a sangha?  - To facilitate the development of local sanghas, SBN has established a listing for individuals looking to meet others in their geographical area. When you join the listing, you'll have access to a private listing of individuals who are seeking sangha-mates.

Online discussion group  - meets the third Thursday of each month on Zoom. It’s a great opportunity for secular Buddhists and those who are interested in learning more about a secular approach to the dharma to connect with each other and to discuss key issues.

Online meditation group - Our Sunday group meets every Sunday at 11 am US Eastern Time. After brief meditation instructions, we meditate silently for 30 minutes, followed by a period of sharing our experiences with each other. For more information, click here.

Online reading group - meets the first Thursday of each month. The readings are chosen by the participants and focus on issues related to a secular Buddhism, including basic concepts of a secular approach, meditation, mindfulness, and the relationship between secular Buddhism and traditional Buddhist lineages and practices.

Online group on Exploring aging from a secular Buddhist perspective - meets the last Monday of each month. The group shares experiences of aging and how we can use our practice to respond skillfully to the process of aging.

Online group on Secular Dharma in the Community  - meets the first Friday of every month. This discussion group is for those who wish to share their experiences of and discuss new possibilities for bringing secular Buddhist ideas, ethics, and practices to community groups, social service organizations, and political movements. 

SBN online course on Exploring a secular dharma - Learn about the basic ideas and concepts of secular Buddhism through a free online course.

Upcoming Events, Workshops, and Retreats

SBN's Calendar of Meetings and Courses  - A calendar of SBN sponsored discussion and meditation groups, as well as SBN's courses on secular Buddhism.

Upcoming courses and retreats  - Click here for a listing of upcoming courses, programs, and retreats of interest for secular Buddhists and socially engaged Buddhists.

Workshops by Martine Batchelor on feeling tones and strong emotions -  25 November and 26 November, at the Buddhist Library in Camperdown NSW Australia and online.

Each workshop stands on its own, but they are also complementary as a pair. In the first daylong workshop, Martine will guide participants in exploring mindfulness of feeling tones, which is the second foundation of the practice of mindulness. The second workshop will focus on creatively engaging with strong emotions through the lenses of the 3 characteristics of existence: impermanence, dukkha and not-self. Through insights into the three characteristics, we can connect with a sense of stability, well-being, and confidence. For more information, click here.

Tuwhiri Reading Group on What is this is? Ancient questions for modern minds-  21 Jan to 28 Apr 2024 on Zoom (Timed to suit people in the Americas, Europe and Africa)

What is this? contains a series of talks given by Martine and Stephen Batchelor during a Sŏn (Chan/Zen) retreat in England. Leading us through the practice of radical questioning at the heart of this Korean Buddhist tradition, the authors show how anyone at all can benefit from this form of radical inquiry today. Stephen and Martine show how a practice with its origins in China 1000 years ago can meld with insights from the natural sciences, classical and modern western philosophy, Romantic poetry, and early Buddhism. Facilitated by Gaia House teacher, Tony O’Connor, the reading group will discuss one chapter each week, and Martine Batchelor will take questions during a special session on 5 May 2024. For more info and to reserve your place email

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