A couple of years ago I thought that Stephen Batchelor had said what he had to say

He’d loosely but effectively articulated a secular Buddhism and now seemed to be just repeating himself. I was wrong.

In a series of six talks given on a retreat at Gaia House in England in July 2012, I find Stephen articulating a refreshing change of perspective.

Instead of still formulating a broad base for a modern Buddhism he’s now emphasizing the role of a modern dhamma in and on the lives of individuals. He says that meditation – a term he’s not very keen on – is generally articulated as a set of techniques used to attain goals, such as certain states of mind, or of calming the mind.

What is really being pointed to, he says, is a certain sensibility brought to every aspect of our lives; an ongoing engagement with existence. He sees four interconnected tasks that we might undertake:

  • to engage fully with existence [just as we experience it];
  • to experience that our wanting arises as an attempt to hold onto something, in a radically unreliable world;
  • to experience freedom from the wanting through clearly seeing the uselessness of the wanting in bringing a lasting satisfaction; and
  • to walk a life path that is intelligent, values-based and cultivates the practice of the first three tasks.

Stephen says that the above is his quite individual take on a modern dhamma and that a modern sangha will necessarily be composed of individuals working out their own view, rather than an adherence to a set of shared external beliefs; we can through our efforts attain an effective way of living, motivated and sustained by our particular individual way.

Your views?

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One Comment

  1. Gary Schlosser
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Nice comment. Sounds like an excellent review of Batchlor and in tune with my experience listening to him.

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