INSIGHTAotearoa on secular Buddhism

The June 2013 issue of INSIGHTAotearoa, a newsletter for the country’s insight meditation practitioners and communities, examined a secular approach to Buddhism.

Co-editor Christine Dann gives a good overview as to why the focus is relevant to practitioners, Doug Smith looks at Buddhism, thin and thick, there’s a short piece of mine on building supportive communities of learning and practice, and Ron Dubin offers a thoughtful review of the book Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World.

Your thoughts?


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One Comment

  1. Jan Rivers
    Posted June 17, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    I liked Christine’s article and, like her, was at the weekend with Winton Higgins which I really enjoyed – hugely thought provoking. One of my foremost thoughts at the end of the weekend was how diverse the attendees’ relationship with Secular Buddhism was.

    For me the obvious question is: why Secular Buddhism rather than just a “mindful” life?

    I haven’t got any answers to that yet but I have noticed that mindfulness has become a word of the moment in spheres well beyond Buddhism – very zeitgeisty! For example Wallace Chapman used it when he was interviewed by Kim Hill the other weekend about his new book “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There” and Oliver Burkeman gets to Secular Buddhism via the Stoics and contemporary psychology in “The Antidote” which he called an ‘anti self-help’ book – a best seller from last year

    The latter book describes a kind of Buddhist practice for personal use but I guess what is missing from that book is the parts of Buddhism that relate to the development of a community.

    Organised religion is very good at developing bonds – of community, mutual trust and of obligation. I think the interesting work of secularists – associated with whatever tradition – is to think about how to build community through a practice rather than a belief. If the set of practices doesn’t connect you to anything bigger that yourself then what is it for? Community is one of the most powerful human needs there is. There is a particular paradox in trying to build a community of practice where one of the guiding principles is relinquishing attachment.

    Just thinking aloud – and with no particular conclusion yet.

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