The Secular Buddhist Network online group held its second meeting 18 February. There were 39 participants from eight countries: Costa Rica, Ireland, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Canada, and the U.S.
The focus for most of the meeting was a discussion of Stephen Batchelor’s ‘ten theses of secular dharma,’ which appears at the end of his 2015 book, After Buddhism: Rethinking the dharma for a secular age. Stephen offers in the ten theses a summing up of his perspective on a secular approach to the dharma.
The discussion occurred in six breakout groups on Zoom. While the general consensus was that the ten theses do provide us with a good overview of the key elements of a secular dharma, the participants raised some important questions which we need to further explore:
- How can meditation practices inform our understanding of the structural violence which Stephen identified as a source of suffering in thesis #9?
- What other, non-Buddhist perspectives, both spiritual and secular, can contribute to the ‘culture of awakening’ mentioned in thesis #10?
- With respect to thesis #8, how does an ethics of care lead to social and political activism?
- Do we need to have a stronger role for spiritual transcendence in a secular version of the Eightfold Path?
- How do we confront death (and the fear death) in a secular context?
- How has mindfulness practice been corrupted in various social contexts?
- What is the role of compassionate anger in individual and collective transformation?
- Is there room for people with religious beliefs in secular Buddhism?
In addition, there were brief breakout sessions based on various topics. Unfortunately, those sessions were too brief to enable an adequate discussion.
At the next meeting, which will be held 18 March, we will have one breakout session and participants will choose among the following topics:
- Exploring secular meditation and psychotherapy in everyday life
- Political Activism and Secular Buddhism
- Exploring Key Concepts in secular Buddhism
- Building secular Buddhist sanghas and organizations
If you are interested in becoming part of this group, please email to email@example.com.