- Creating secular
Aotearoa New Zealand
Bhikkhu Bodhi faces a great divide
Prominent U.S. Pali translator contrasts 'Classical' and 'Secular' Buddhisms
A fruitful start for meaningful discussion perhaps?Find it here
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Author Archives: Winton Higgins
The mythical figure of Mara in the Pali canon provides us with an obvious starting point for understanding evil. He appears again and again to the Buddha and his advanced disciples, preferably when they’re meditating. He’s disguised as a well-meaning stranger offering friendly, banal advice, the import of which would throw the hearer right off course if s/he heeded him.
Western countries accord their citizens the freedom to practise the religion of their choice. But also as harbingers of the narcissism epidemic, they give Buddhists an extra incentive to practise ardently, in order to remain in good non-narcissistic health and so live skilful, fulfilling lives – including the nurturing of deep relationships.
When western societies imported various strains of Asian Buddhism from the 1960s on, few converts noticed the organisational culture that came with the imports. Rather like the tarantula that arrives in the crate of imported bananas.
We SIMians could render the traditional three jewels of Buddhism as the potential for awakening; the dharmic wisdom, compassion and practice that helps us realise this potential; and the practice community (sangha) that supports and guides us as we work towards awakening.
A new insight meditation sangha has formed in Sydney’s inner-western suburbs, naming itself the Kookaburra Sangha to evoke a spot of dharma joy. On Monday 1 May, the sangha started to meet weekly at the Genki Centre, 1 Arundel St, Glebe (just across the road from Sydney Uni), and will meet there each Monday from 7–9pm.
The Buddha left us with some invaluable pointers about how to direct our spiritual ambition so we recognise what’s important and don’t drive it into dead ends. The four great tasks, and the eightfold path in particular, articulate these pointers to awakening. But was the Buddha ultimately concerned not so much with individual awakenings as a communal development towards a new civilisation based on a shared awakening?
After Buddhism: Rethinking the dharma for a secular age by Stephen Batchelor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 381 pp.) will focus discussion around a secular Buddhism and dharma renewal for years to come. Anyone with an interest in these subjects will need to know it.
Well, you asked for it: a commissioned talk on that notoriously impenetrable philosopher, Martin Heidegger, whom I’ve mentioned on various occasions as someone who can help us express something that’s foundational to the dharma, but rarely articulated.
This evening’s topic brings together a relatively recent current in the dharma world – secular dharma, aka ‘secular Buddhism’ – with the much older practice of insight meditation. Let’s first up get clear what each of these terms means before exploring their relationship.