The Secular Buddhist Network (SBN) website and our monthly newsletter went ‘live’ two years ago. Supported and maintained by a group of contributors in different countries, we hope to foster dialogue and the critical examination of issues related to secular dharma, while strengthening the bonds of community among secular Buddhists. Through this project, we hope to contribute to human flourishing – both to individual transformation and a fundamental realignment of our society’s priorities. Our goal is for SBN to be a support for practitioners on a shared journey towards mindfulness and compassion.
Has SBN made progress in achieving these goals? As measured by the steady growth in the number of website visitors and the subscribers to our monthly newsletter, it’s clear that SBN has become a useful resource for a significant group of secular dharma practitioners. According to the feedback we’ve received from our readers, the website is well designed and offers a rich array of interesting articles on key topics: the basic concepts of secular Buddhism, meditation, socially engaged Buddhism, and creating democratic communities of practitioners. At the same time, the website highlights workshops and courses of interest to secular Buddhists. Finally, we have strived to promote respectful debate and dialogue over key issues related to secular Buddhism.
SBN has also helped to connect secular Buddhists with each other. We have an interactive map and lists of secular Buddhist groups throughout the world to make it easier for secular Buddhists to find like-minded individuals and groups. Our online course has brought together experienced practitioners with individuals who are just learning about secular Buddhist ideas and practices for the first time. And this year, we’ve created two new groups to foster connection and dialogue: a monthly discussion group which gives participants the opportunity to engage with each other in sub-groups based on specific interests and a weekly meditation group. In all these ways we are trying to nurture connections and ‘spiritual friendships’ among those for whom a secular approach to the dharma strongly resonates.
Two changes… and more to come?
We’ve made some design changes to the website to make it easier for readers to connect directly with other secular Buddhists through ongoing SBN projects. The ‘Network’ box on the home page (below the ‘Latest Posts’) was redesigned to highlight the options for connections and to provide an easy way of joining one of our groups
We’ve also changed the title of our monthly newsletter, which was called Reimagining Community. The new title, Rethinking the Dharma/Reimagining Community, more accurately reflects the overall purposes of SBN: to foster dialogue and debate about key issues related to secular Buddhism and to support practitioners’ efforts to envisage and build new kinds of communities and sanghas consistent with a secular approach to the dharma.
To continue to be relevant, we know that more changes will be needed. Let us know what you think about SBN and our monthly newsletter. How can we improve both? What would you like to see us offer which we don’t now? Please consider commenting on this post or emailing to SBN at firstname.lastname@example.org.