Today we find ourselves in the grip of a scary epidemic. Ours is due to the coronavirus (aka Covid-19). Some great creative writers have used these occasions to plunge into their deeper human meaning, particularly Albert Camus’s The plague (1947), which bristles with dharmic resonances.
Bodhi College’s Secular Dharma course takes a secular rather than a religious approach to the teachings of the Buddha. The course emphasizes the humanity of Gotama and the practical applications of his teaching in this world, and encourage each student to find his or her own way of practice within the secular/religious spectrum of their own lives.
Yale University Press has just released Stephen Batchelor’s new book, The Art of Solitude. In this book Stephen turns his attention to solitude, a practice integral to the meditative traditions he has long studied and taught. He aimed to venture more deeply into solitude, discovering its full extent and depth.
The Tuwhiri Project and the Secular Buddhist Network have created a free online course which explores the key ideas and practices of secular Buddhism. This course is mainly based on Stephen Batchelor’s book, After Buddhism: rethinking the dharma for a secular age, and the companion book published by The Tuwhiri Project, After Buddhism: a workbook, by Winton Higgins.
Our challenge is to remain lucid, aware, and present. This is Gotama’s injunction and one of his main teachings. To understand this reality means, in traditional Buddhist terms, to understand the middle way, emptiness and not-self. It means entering the stream of the river of life to go against the current.
Upcoming courses, workshops, and retreats led by Stephen Batchelor and other teachers which focus on issues essential to developing a secular dharma.
Secular Buddhism doesn’t need to be understood as a new ‘Buddhism’ but more as a different approach to practice. This approach starts from our perspective as modern people, and thanks to this lens, revises the meaning of the teachings of an ancient tradition so that they can speak to human beings today.
Stefano Bettera offers his reflections on the two year course on the Secular Dharma at Bodhi College and what the next steps are for the course participants. He asserts that it is the ‘creative, adaptable, non-dogmatic and unorthodox characteristic of the secular Dharma that is an opportunity’ for contributing to a culture in which awareness and compassion are predominant.
Bodhi College is an educational organisation dedicated to contemplative learning. It has as its focus an exploration of the dharma as found in the earliest Buddhist texts through courses combining study and retreats.
While secular Buddhism is not a ‘school’ of Buddhism with a set of orthodox beliefs and established institutions which represent this trend, secular Buddhists do share some common perspectives.