Secular Buddhism – An Online Study Course


Use the material on this page as an online study course on your own or to run, with others, a face-to-face study course in your community.

Led by Stephen and Martine Batchelor, the study retreat where these talks were given ran over 15 days at Gaia House in Devon, England during July 2013. Christine Johnson saw the possibility of running a study course using Stephen’s talks and created study guides for each talk. She used these and the document that retreatants were given to run a course at Upaya Sangha of Tucson from September through December 2014, at which everyone listened to the talks and discussed them.

To run your own study course, download the study guides and stream or download the talks. If you’ll be bringing together some friends to do this, take 90 minutes to go through each talk as a group. As you listen to and work through the questions, in addition to your ‘answers’ make note of anything else you’d like to discuss with your group. Treat this as a series of conversations in which opinions are the currency of your exchange. There are no right answers.

After completing each study guide, highlight the questions you believe to be the most interesting, perplexing or ridiculous. You probably won’t want to march through the questions sequentially, rather discuss those that each person has highlighted, addressing points that are of the most interest in the time you have together.

When you have gone through the course, let us know how it went – and don’t forget to organise a small celebration at the end.

¶ The resources

Introductory Talk

Download the audio file

Part 1 – A Secular Vision

Download the audio file
Download the STUDY GUIDE for A Secular Vision

Part 2 – Solitude

Download the audio file
Download the STUDY GUIDE for Solitude

Part 3 – Aridity

Download the audio file
Download the STUDY GUIDE for Aridity

Part 4 – The Ultimate

Download the audio file
Download the STUDY GUIDE for The Ultimate

Part 5 – How to Live a Life Without Opinions

Download the audio file
Download the STUDY GUIDE for How to Live a Life Without Opinions

Part 6 – On Emptiness

Download the audio file
Download the STUDY GUIDE for On Emptiness

Part 7 – Buddhist Scepticism?

Download the audio file
Download the STUDY GUIDE for Buddhist Scepticism

The Four Eights
This document contains the four eight-verse poems from the Aṭṭhakavagga of the Sutta Nipāta (Sn. 772-803) as well as other translations from Pali by Stephen Batchelor that he referenced during the talks.
Download the reference material – THE FOUR EIGHTS 

¶ Offering your thanks and support for this course

Stephen and Martine Batchelor follow the Buddhist tradition of not charging for the teachings they give, and the organisations that host their retreats and seminars generally only cover their travel expenses. In return for their teaching and instruction, Martine and Stephen gratefully accept donations which enable them to continue doing this work. If you would like to support them you can do so using your debit card, credit card or PayPal here:

We thank Christine Johnson for sharing the study guides she created for this course. If you have any questions or wish to thank her yourself send her an email.

Dharma Seed welcomes your donations to enable them to continue providing the service of enabling talks by Buddhist teachers to be freely downloaded and streamed. These talks are hosted at

To find out how you can support Secular Buddhism Aotearoa New Zealand, visit this page:

A Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 New Zealand License applies to all material from this course.