Secular Buddhism is not a ‘school’ of Buddhism with a set of orthodox beliefs and established institutions which represent this trend. However, secular Buddhists do share some common perspectives.
The core teachings and insights of Gotama are not ‘truths’ to be believed but a ‘fourfold’ task to help us live our lives in a mindful and compassionate way.
Despite the claims of some critics, secular Buddhists are not anti-religious and the goal of a secular dharma is not simply stress reduction but a radical transformation of individuals and society.
Stephen and Martine Batchelor’s retreats explore key ideas in secular Buddhism, including the fourfold task, the importance of doubt and uncertainty on the path, and the need to create a culture of awakening.
The consummate guide to Stephen Batchelor’s After Buddhism: Rethinking the dharma for a secular age. Run a course or deepen your understanding.
One indication of the growing interest in secular Buddhism is the large number of books and articles that have been recently written on the topic or which discuss issues related to secular Buddhism.
Helping you to put the notion of a secular dharma into practice, here are some talks given at a retreat led by Martine and Stephen Batchelor at Gaia House, Devon between 18 and 24 July 2015.
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.
Mike Slott identifies three trends or paths within secular Buddhism: 1) a dharmic-focused effort to reconstruct Buddhism, 2) bringing a secular form of Buddhism into the mindfulness movement, and 3) integrating secular Buddhist perspectives and insights into projects for radical, political transformation.
Mike Slott contends that, from secular Buddhist perspective, it is more appropriate to view impermancence, not-self, and dukkha as aspects of our experience rather than ontological characteristics of reality.