A lightly edited transcript of an interview given by Stephen Batchelor to Noah Rasheta for his podcast ‘Secular Buddhism’ which was published on 14 September 2017, their conversation makes an excellent introduction to secular Buddhism.
Working as a nurse with terminally ill people, Sophie Boyer discovered meditation. After several long retreats, she became a Buddhist nun but disrobed a couple of years later, finding that disrobing came with more challenges than she expected. Born in France in 1972, Sophie is a student of Martine Batchelor.
I met Sonam Tsering at a performance of traditional Tibetan music and dance in Dharamsala. With tan skin and hair tied up in a knot at the top of his head, his samurai looks don’t give any clue to his story. He jokes constantly, exuding ease and directness while showing off a broad and shiny smile; but when a friend of his makes a reference to Buddhist philosophy, he startled me with a confident discourse that is not easy to find in the average Tibetan.
It’s hard to find a quiet cafe in McLeod Ganj, but we did. Likewise, it is difficult to find someone like Karma Yeshe Rabgye. It might not seem strange nowadays to hear a Western Buddhist say you don’t need to believe in rebirth to practice the dharma, that nirvana or enlightenment is not his goal, and that he practices for this life. It is, however, uncommon to hear such words from someone in the red robes of a Kagyu Tibetan monk.