What is secular Buddhism, or a secular dharma? Recently, Wellington’s secular dharma practice community, One Mindful Breath, ran a successful study group which investigated this question. This is what we did.
Ten people met each week and we discussed the Ten theses of secular dharma, from Stephen Batchelor’s 2015 book, After Buddhism. We met on five consecutive Monday evenings, each meeting being about 75 minutes long. Our sixth and last session consisted of question and answers with Stephen Batchelor via Zoom, and that was followed by a convivial celebration dinner.
Before our first meeting, we gave out two articles and a recorded talk to introduce the topic to participants. These were:
- A Secular Buddhism, from the Journal of Global Buddhism by Stephen Batchelor (2012)
- The Coming of Secular Buddhism: A Synoptic View, from the Journal of Global Buddhism by Winton Higgins (2012)
- The Secular Buddha – What it means to be radicalised, a 40-minute talk by Stephen Batchelor (2015)
Each evening, we discussed two theses and everyone took a turn to facilitate a thesis, preparing two or three questions in advance and presenting them to the group.
We found this discussion of the ten theses to be an excellent introduction to secular dharma, engaging both for beginners and for those with more experience of dharma practice. We intend to run another, similar, study group later in 2017. Sharing questions and ideas in a spirit of generous enquiry was very enjoyable for all participants, at times provocative and always interesting.
If you’re in the Wellington region and interested in taking part in the next ten theses study group, speak to me at an OMB Wednesday evening, contact me on 021 355 255 or send me an email.
If you’re outside the One Mindful Breath catchment area feel free to run this course yourself. We’d love to hear how it went for you. Do please add a comment.