Seth Zuihō Segall and Winton Higgins debate the meaning and value of secular Buddhism

November 19, 2020


Seth Zuihō Segall’s article, Why I Am Not a Secular Buddhist, began a lively and thought-provoking dialogue on this website between himself and Winton Higgins. In his recently published book, Buddhism and Human Flourishing, Seth laid out his eudaimonic approach to Buddhism. While similar to secular Buddhism, Seth has several objections to the ‘secular’ label and explained them in his article. His primary concern is that the term ‘secular’ connotes the rejection of religion as a whole and negates the sacred dimension of our lived experience in the world.

Winton has contributed numerous articles to this website in which he has presented a secular approach to meditation, the role of sanghas, and the need for social and political engagement based on the values of care and compassion. He is the author of After Buddhism: a workbook (a step-by-step guide to Stephen Batchelor’s groundbreaking After Buddhism: Rethinking the dharma for a secular age) and Refit: selected writings on secular Buddhism (forthcoming, Tuwhiri). In his dialogue with Seth, Winton has explored the nature of secularity, as well as the meaning and role of secular Buddhism in our society.

What follows are brief introductions to their articles, with links to the full article.

Why I am not a secular Buddist

Seth Zuihō Segall considers his ‘naturalized’ and ‘eudaimonic’ approach to Buddhism ‘close cousins’ to secular Buddhism. Yet, he believes that the word ‘secular’ implies a set of connotations he does not wish to affirm.

To read the full article, click here.

Winton Higgins responds to Seth Zuihō Segall’s ‘Why I am not a secular Buddhist’

Winton Higgins asserts that Seth Zuihō Segall mistakenly assumes that all secular Buddhists support a ‘scientistic’ form of secular Buddhism which is hostile to religion. In fact, many secular Buddhists advocate an ‘interpretive’ approach which integrates dharmic insights with modern perspectives to promote human flourishing in this life.

To read the full article, click here.

The dialogue on secular Buddhism continues: Seth Zuihō Segall’s rejoinder to Winton Higgins

Seth Zuihō Segall continues the dialogue on secular Buddhism by offering a rejoinder to Winton Higgins’ response to his article, ‘Why I Am Not a Secular Buddhist.’ Seth discusses the nature of the religious attitude, the role of community and traditions, and his non-dual perspective.

To read the full article, click here.

The dialogue on secular Buddhism continues: Winton Higgins’s surrejoinder to Seth Zuihō Segall’s rejoinder

In his reply to Seth Zuihō Segall’s rejoinder in the debate over secular Buddhism Winton Higgins explores the meaning of secularity, religion, and the everyday sublime. He argues that a secular faith is not opposed to religion but is characterized by a deep engagement, a wholehearted commitment, to living this, our one and only life, meaningfully.

To read the full article, click here.



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