- Creating secular
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
Something that goes by the name ‘mindfulness meditation’ is a hot commodity these days. You can find many models on the market, some are more or less expensive, and of varying quality (like cars and dishwashers). The brands that are on the market either claim claiming origins in the Buddhist tradition, which lends them the kudos and the aura of ancient wisdom, or studiously avoid doing so.
What were the expectations of people living in the Buddha’s era (5th century BCE) about meditation practice, and how do they compare to our own?
In a number of Buddhist traditions political activism is discouraged. Almost certainly this stance arises from their institutions’ heavy reliance on royal or other powerful patronage, which could be withdrawn if dharma practitioners translated their ethics into political convictions, let alone action.
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?