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‘Secular meditators remain inquisitive and critical toward all meditation approaches,’ according to Rick Heller. His new book Secular Meditation: 32 Practices for Cultivating Inner Peace, Compassion, and Joy has been reviewed by Sylvie Vanasse, a coach, counsellor and facilitator who is a member of Beaches Sangha.
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.
Meditation originates and culminates in the everyday sublime. I have little interest in achieving states of sustained concentration in which the sensory richness of experience is replaced by pure introspective rapture.
When an article in the Otago Daily Times last year described mindfulness as ‘the new black’, the writer’s tongue may have been in her cheek, but the fashion reference is a reminder of how the West can strip rich traditions of so much meaning that they risk becoming yet another fad.
I still remember my excitement on encountering, in Sam Harris’ first book, The End of Faith, the suggestion that it would be possible to enjoy many of the benefits which people had traditionally sought from religion without the need to embrace religion itself. Buddhist meditiation was one of the practices Harris mentioned as a specific example of wisdom that could be extracted from its religious context. “I wonder if anybody is actually doing anything like that?” I remember asking myself.
Sam Harris best known for being part of a group of four who beat a very loud drum against religion. What is less known is that Harris a very experienced meditator and he’s about to publish a new book, Waking Up: A guide to Spirituality Without Religion.