- Creating secular
Aotearoa New Zealand
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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Nothing is permanent. This includes the ways we come together as dharma practitioners. Without a dharmic Google Maps to show us the way, we are continually developing our understanding of what it means to be part of a community of secular meditation practitioners.
Doing something a bit different, a Buddhism that’s not Buddhist – not my words – was always going to present a number of challenges. Some of these were to be expected, others unexpected. I would like to offer just three key reflections here. Think of this as part of a conversation that you’ve just walked in on.
I have just met with a group of people to meditate and talk about the dharma, as I’ve been doing weekly for the past two years. I didn’t know any of them before. So where does all this come from?
Sangha is considered one of the three ‘jewels’ or refuges, along with the dharma and Buddha. According to some Buddhist traditions, however, the sangha is reserved for monks or those who have achieved a ‘high level of awakening’. But interestingly, Gotama would have also summoned his monks to leave their monasteries to go and ‘expound the teaching for the good of the many’.
In the U.S., the Secular Buddhist Association has grown organically around Ted Meissner’s podcast, The Secular Buddhist, and its associated Facebook page. The individuals who were frequent participants on Facebook became the core volunteers who would go on to create the Secular Buddhist Association website and, later, the non-profit organization incorporated under that name.
Like all practices worthy of the name, every form of meditation is informed and moulded by a tradition – the Buddha’s tradition (‘the dharma’) in our case. So what is community, and what is it not?
The June 2013 issue of INSIGHTAotearoa, a newsletter for the country’s insight meditation practitioners and communities, is just out and examines a secular approach to Buddhism. Until the beginning of August, you can read it online here.