SBN’s online discussion group: meeting summaries

August 23, 2023


Discussion Group Meetings – 2024

15 February 2024

27 participants from five countries participated: the UK, Canada, Croatia, Costa Rica, and the U.S.

Here are the key points of the discussions in the four breakout groups:

Secular Buddhism Meets Western Psychology – The group used the meeting to identify topics for upcoming meetings. They will focus on connections between secular Buddhism and various forms of Western psychology, including psychodynamic perspectives, mindfulness-based therapies, and other approaches.

The Open Investigation of Secular Buddhism – The group focused on a question posed by Martine Batchelor in a recent talk: How can we make the sangha a key part of the path? They came to a consensus that a secular Buddhist sangha should be a safe space in which practitioners can challenge each other in a respectful and compassionate way as part of the open investigation of dharma issues. Open investigation is the essence of secular Buddhism.

Political Action and Secular, Socially Engaged Buddhism – The group discussed a reflection by Luis-Daniel Gonzalez on the issue of suffering and the need for political engagement. While some suffering is unavoidable (sickness, aging, death, etc.), the suffering due to social institutions can be reduced through mindful political engagement. The group discussed various political projects that can have a meaningful impact in challenging and transforming social institutions.

Exploring Key Concepts in Secular Buddhism – The group explored the second of the Four Noble Truths, that craving is the source of suffering. Participants discussed the role of equanimity as an antidote to craving and the need for experienced practitioners to serve as a model for younger people.

18 January 2024

29 participants from five countries participated: the UK, Canada, Croatia, Costa Rica, and the U.S.

This month we started a new format for the meeting, which we will do every three months. Instead of having breakout groups for our four sub-groups - Secular Buddhism Meets Western Psychology,The Open Investigation of Secular Buddhism, Socially Engaged/Political Action, and Exploring Key Concepts in Secular Buddhism –  one of the subgroups facilitated a presentation of an issue and the whole group discussed it.

For the January meeting, the Socially Engaged/Political Action subgroup offered a presentation on 1) how we apply our secular Buddhist principles and practices to engaging socially and politically in the world and 2) how we can practice right speech in the context of the Israel/Gaza crisis.

The presentation and the subsequent discussion was rich and informative, particularly regarding the issue of practicing right speech in this complex and difficult situation. While the participants had a range of political views, we all agreed on the need to speak with mindfulness, receptiveness, and compassion when we talk to those we agree and disagree with about this crisis.


Click here for summaries of the discussion group meetings in 2023.

Click here for summaries of the discussion group meetings in 2022.

Click here for summaries of the discussion group meetings in 2021.


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