Jonathan Golden uses Kuhn’s notion of a ‘paradigm shift’ to discuss the issue of ‘truths’ and ‘tasks’ in secular Buddhism. He argues that Kuhn’s perspective is consistent with Mike Slott’s view of truths and tasks; while there are no absolute truths, our beliefs (provisional truth claims) are a necessary precondition for our practice, and practitioners should not be required to make a binary choice between truths and tasks.
Mike Slott, Winton Higgins, Stephen Batchelor, and Jonathan Golden discuss the relationship of truths and tasks in a secular approach to the dharma.
Stephen Batchelor continues the dialogue on ‘truths’ and ‘tasks’ in secular Buddhism by framing the discussion from a broader, historical perspective. Stephen argues that the Buddha’s radical move was to depart from the truth-based perspective of Brahmanic, Indian culture to teach a fully committed ethical life that is not underwritten by any ultimate truth.
At Buddha-Stiftung’s fifth study retreat, which was held in October 2021, Stephen Batchelor discussed a secular reinterpretation of the Eightfold Path that is appropriate and helpful for our contemporary world. As part of this reinterpretation, Stephen suggested a different order of the limbs of the Eightfold Path and offered a new interpretation of each limb.
Responding to Winton Higgins’ criticism of his view of the relationship of tasks and truths in secular Buddhism, Mike Slott argues that in rejecting metaphysical truths as the basis of Buddhism, we don’t need to reject entirely the notion of truth as correspondence. The beliefs of secular Buddhists are provisional and conditional truth claims about our lived experience and the universe in which we are inextricably embedded.
While Stephen Batchelor’s emphasis on the pragmatic and ethical meaning of the Buddha’s teachings has been crucial in the development of a secular approach to the dharma, Mike Slott argues that Stephen has not adequately addressed a legitimate concern about the role and meaning of truth in his approach. The secular dharmic path challenges us to assess constantly both our ‘tasks’ and the ‘truths’ on which they are based.
Drawing on the writings of art historians, political activists, philosophers, Christian theologians, and the secular Buddhist Stephen Batchelor, David Patten explores how we might understand the movement away from the egoic self towards the experience of ‘not-self’, a process of secular self-emptying.
From 20 October to 25 October Buddha-Stiftung is sponsoring a study retreat on the Eightfold Path, which will include dhamma talks, meditations, discussions and question and answer sessions. The study retreat will be taught by Stephen Batchelor and held in the English language.
Stephen Batchelor led a meditation and offered a dharma talk to the Community Meditation Center (CMC), an Insight meditation center based in New York City, USA. Stephen’s talk was on the ‘Parable of the Snake,’ a sutta in which Gotama, the historical Buddha, discussed different ways of approach the dharma.
Venerable Tenzin Tharpa discusses his path from Tibetan Buddhist monasticism to becoming a secular Buddhist monastic. He formed the Secular Buddhist Tradition (SBT), an international community dedicated to sharing a practical and accessible presentation of the buddhadharma focused on the positive life-affirming message of the Buddha.