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.
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 – use it to run a course or deepen your own 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.