- 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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Tag Archives for dharma talks
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this stance arises from their institutions’ heavy reliance on royal or other powerful patronage, which could be withdrawn if dharma practitioners translated their ethics into political convictions, let alone action.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.
Using the koan ‘Good snowflakes: they don’t fall anywhere else’, Stephen Batchelor goes on to expand on it – trying to resist attempts at explaining it – using examples from modern, Western culture, specifically from the natural sciences.
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?
Well, you asked for it: a commissioned talk on that notoriously impenetrable philosopher, Martin Heidegger, whom I’ve mentioned on various occasions as someone who can help us express something that’s foundational to the dharma, but rarely articulated.
This evening’s topic brings together a relatively recent current in the dharma world – secular dharma, aka ‘secular Buddhism’ – with the much older practice of insight meditation. Let’s first up get clear what each of these terms means before exploring their relationship.
Helping you to put the notion of a secular dharma into practice, here are some talks given at a retreat led by Martine and Stephen Batchelor at Gaia House, Devon between 18 and 24 July 2015.