In a dharma talk given to the Community Meditation Center (New York City, USA), Stephen Batchelor emphasized that nirvana should be understood as an experience of the cessation of reactivity rather than an end state or experience of complete and ultimate freedom from the poisons of greed, hatred, and confusion.
We can practice pulling bigotry out by the roots every day in our own worlds. Identify who you treat as ‘other’, be kind to yourself about it, then focus your attention on commonality of experience – of basic human needs. Practice it again and again and again. This is wise attention.
We have to choose between the freedom that is the condition of an open, awakened mind or to defend any kind of orthodoxy, traditional or not. If we choose the former, we need a wisdom that is capable of capturing every moment of wonder and in the next instant letting it go without any sense of regret or bewilderment.
Ted Meissner has been interviewing Buddhist practitioners and writers involved in a wide range of lineages and approaches on his podcast, The Secular Buddhist, and is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association (USA). Ted offers his views of how secular Buddhism has evolved, its current status, and his hopes for its future development.
Upcoming courses, workshops, and retreats led by Stephen Batchelor and other teachers which focus on issues essential to developing a secular dharma.
A secular version of Zen, taking account of the disciplines and traditions of mindful meditation practice but also grounded grounded in a creative, democratic and dynamic educational ethos, can play an important role in an emerging culture of awakening in which all beings, and the environment in which we live, are valued and cared for.
Whether we like it or not, to reduce Buddhism to a detached and repetitive liturgical religiosity, means to keep our heads turned towards the past and also means losing the potential for a sensitive engagement with tradition. A vibrant and living spirituality must be known, lived, and experienced in our bodies, our practices, and our way of being.
Even though secular Buddhists share a common framework, there is a wide variety of beliefs and practices among secular Buddhists. The same diversity characterizes the paths that led individuals to become interested in secular Buddhism and committed to a life based on cultivating compassion, care, mindfulness, and wisdom in the here and now.
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.
To integrate contemplative practice into life requires more than becoming proficient in techniques of meditation. It entails the cultivation and refinement of a sensibility about the totality of your existence—from intimate moments of personal anguish to the endless suffering of the world.