Essential elements and key ideas of secular Buddhism

Adhering to the pragmatic and ethical guidelines for human flourishing taught by the historical Buddha, Gotama, secular Buddhists set aside the cultural and supernatural overlays that Buddhism has acquired as it has traveled around the world. We do not pretend that ours is the definitive version of Buddhism, but we do regard it as having its foundation in Gotama’s original teachings, and being in tune with key progressive values in the modern world – democracy, social justice, and equality.  

On this page, you will find recommended reading that will introduce and explore this subject, as well as articles by a number of writers that will help you to dig deeper.


Stephen Batchelor on coming out as a secular Buddhist 

When Stephen Batchelor first self-identified as a secular Buddhist in 2012 he said that ‘I see the aim of Buddhist practice to be the moment-to-moment flourishing of human life within the ethical framework of the eightfold path.'

By Stephen Batchelor

The core concept of secular Buddhism: a fourfold task 

The core teachings and insights of Gotama are not ‘truths’ to be believed but a ‘fourfold’ task to help us live our lives in a mindful and compassionate way.

By Stephen Batchelor

An introduction to secular Buddhism 

For those who are curious about or interested in secular Buddhism and want to learn about this relatively new trend within Buddhism, this article will provide a helpful starting point for exploring a secular approach to the dharma.

By SBN Editor

Flowers in a field by Jim Champion

Budismo ¿secular? 

Secular dharma lowers the moon of nirvana down to our reach. It is no longer treated as a metaphysical reality distinct from everything we could conceive, or as a goal farther than far: it is about living each moment of our life from that place of non-greed, non-aversion and non-confusion.

By Bernat Font


Re~Collective: online meetings for secular dharma community organisers

By Ramsey Margolis

A review of Evan Thompson’s ‘Why I am not a Buddhist’

By Mike Slott

After Buddhism: a workbook – an accessible commentary

By Ramsey Margolis

Heidegger for dharma wallahs: the granddaddy of existentialism

By Winton Higgins

A review of After Buddhism – focussing dharma for years to come

By Winton Higgins

Teaching the dharma, avoiding ‘the ego trap’

By Alex Carr

Creating community – or meditation as a contact sport

By SBN Editor

Lockdown reflections: transmission, transformation and ‘secular Zen’

By John Danvers