Ñāṇa wrote:It seems that many of you folks have more in common with ancient Indian materialists than you do with any form of Buddhism. Why not just say that you are materialists who practice meditation?
As a self-identified secular Buddhist, I'd answer this in a few ways.
Firstly, the place I know in the Suttas where the materialist view is discussed is in the talk by Ajita Kesakambalin in the Samaññaphala Sutta, and there's plenty of things with which to disagree, even as a physicalist. Thus, I'd dispute the claim that at least I have more in common with ancient Indian materialists.
Secondly, I'm strictly speaking a nonreductive physicalist, not a materialist. But I don't personally think that matters for practice, although I would be happy to discuss it further should you find it relevant. One thing my study and practice has told me is that many intellectual pursuits (such as metaphysics) yields little fruit.
Finally, if I think that calling myself "a [physicalist] who practice[s] meditation" would be somewhat misleading. I came to Buddhist practice through a convergence of intellectually studying Buddhism simply to round out my Western philosophical knowledge and also taking a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, and was content with MBSR for a while. To make a long story short, however, I came to realize that mindfulness outside of the Buddhist context was of limited value, and so I started practicing the Eightfold Path.
So, if you'd like to call me "a physicalist who practices the Eightfold Path as primarily laid out in the Pali Suttas and some later Theravadin tradition while not also ignoring the insights of some later Buddhist practioners of Mahayana and Vajrayana as well as some insights of modern science while also valuing strongly the skeptical and philosophical truth-tracking methods of inquiry that the West has developed", then I'd be fine with that. But that seems a bit of a mouthful!
I find "secular Buddhist" to be short enough and get the gist across well enough. But I'm not particularly attached to labels.