In response to the article by Slott, de Kadt, and Struhl on ‘The core life tasks and beliefs for a radically engaged Buddhist,’ Winton Higgins expresses his agreement with the authors’ perspective, but points to a missing piece in the article: the lack of any discussion over a pathway or transition from our present morass to a socially just, future society.
Mike Slott, Katya de Kadt, and Karsten Struhl offer an account of the core tasks and beliefs for radically engaged Buddhists who seek not just individual transformation but the dismantling of social, economic, and political systems which cause harm and suffering to all beings.
Jonathan Golden uses Kuhn’s notion of a ‘paradigm shift’ to discuss the issue of ‘truths’ and ‘tasks’ in secular Buddhism. He argues that Kuhn’s perspective is consistent with Mike Slott’s view of truths and tasks; while there are no absolute truths, our beliefs (provisional truth claims) are a necessary precondition for our practice, and practitioners should not be required to make a binary choice between truths and tasks.
Mike Slott, Winton Higgins, Stephen Batchelor, and Jonathan Golden discuss the relationship of truths and tasks in a secular approach to the dharma.
Stephen Batchelor continues the dialogue on ‘truths’ and ‘tasks’ in secular Buddhism by framing the discussion from a broader, historical perspective. Stephen argues that the Buddha’s radical move was to depart from the truth-based perspective of Brahmanic, Indian culture to teach a fully committed ethical life that is not underwritten by any ultimate truth.
Responding to Winton Higgins’ criticism of his view of the relationship of tasks and truths in secular Buddhism, Mike Slott argues that in rejecting metaphysical truths as the basis of Buddhism, we don’t need to reject entirely the notion of truth as correspondence. The beliefs of secular Buddhists are provisional and conditional truth claims about our lived experience and the universe in which we are inextricably embedded.
In response to Mike Slott’s article on truths and tasks in secular Buddhism Winton Higgins argues that Mike’s critique of Stephen Batchelor’s formulation is misconceived; the issue is not the epistemological status of truth but about how we should live and practise. Dharma practitioners do have to choose: they can’t wish-wash over the truths/tasks distinction.
While Stephen Batchelor’s emphasis on the pragmatic and ethical meaning of the Buddha’s teachings has been crucial in the development of a secular approach to the dharma, Mike Slott argues that Stephen has not adequately addressed a legitimate concern about the role and meaning of truth in his approach. The secular dharmic path challenges us to assess constantly both our ‘tasks’ and the ‘truths’ on which they are based.
In an interview with SBN, Linda Modaro, a meditation teacher, discussed a course that she has developed and taught on ethical reflecting for meditation teachers and dharma group leaders.
Registrations are now open for the Spring 2022 class of SBN’s free online course on exploring a secular dharma. Participants in the course will go through the course modules, discuss the topics in each module with each other, and meet on Zoom every two weeks with the instructors for the course.