Author Archives: Winton Higgins

A dharmic understanding of evil

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.

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Not-self and the narcissism epidemic

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.

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Democratic secular sanghas

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.

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Sanghas R Us

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.

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Kookaburra Sangha – Australia’s newest secular Buddhist community

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.

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Dharma and community for meditators

Like all practices worthy of the name, every form of meditation is informed and moulded by a tradition – the Buddha’s tradition (‘the dharma’) in our case. So what is community, and what is it not?

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Awakening in the real world

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?

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Review of Steven Batchelor’s After Buddhism

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.

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Heidegger for dharma wallahs

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.

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A secular approach to insight meditation

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.

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