The Secular Buddhist

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

The Secular Buddhist

Postby Moggalana » Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:05 pm

The Secular Buddhist is a podcast about Secular Buddhism. So what's Secular Buddhism about?

Secular Buddhism :: Definition wrote:Secular Buddhism is concerned with the practice of Siddhattha Gotama’s four noble truths in this world. It encourages a naturalistic and pragmatic approach to the teaching, seeking to provide a framework for personal and social development within the cultural context of our time.
http://secularbuddhistassociation.com/about/guiding-principles/


It's very similar to Secular Humanism but with an emphasis on the Buddha's teaching instead of the greco-roman philosophy:

Secular Humanism, alternatively known as Humanism (often with a capital H to distinguish it from other forms of humanism), is a secular philosophy. It embraces human reason, ethics, and justice while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism


There are some very interesting interviews with Secular Buddhists (like Stephen Batchelor), Buddhist Sceptics (like Susan Blackmore) and scientists (like Rick Hanson, Britta Hölzel and others) who are studying the effects of meditation on the brain, mind and health.

So, if you are interested, do check it out!
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
Moggalana
 
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:31 am
Location: Germany

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby plwk » Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:26 pm

Groovy...is that the latest club in town? :tongue:
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
VSM VMM WBB TBHT WTBT My Page
plwk
 
Posts: 1165
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:14 am

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Moggalana » Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:59 pm

Buddhism is evolving ;-)
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
Moggalana
 
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:31 am
Location: Germany

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Justsit » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:23 pm

"a framework for personal and social development..."

Ah, Buddhism-Lite.
More like "Buddhism devolving."
Justsit
 
Posts: 257
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:41 pm

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Moggalana » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:15 pm

Or maybe it's Buddhism without all the unnecessary baggage? A Secular Buddhist is interested in the Four Noble Truths and developing sila, samadhi and panna in this very life. He doesn't belief in literal rebirth or supernatural powers because it is of no concern for his practice and life. But I'm not really interested in a debate, I just wanted to call attention to this podcast because I know there are at least some people here who hold similar views about this kind of things :)
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
Moggalana
 
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:31 am
Location: Germany

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:28 pm

Is Secular Buddhism interested in accepting rebirth as a working hypothesis? or is it only interested in what agrees to its secular preferences?
and how does it know what to leave in and take out?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5846
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby daverupa » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:38 pm

Thai
Burmese
Sri Lankan
Cambodian
Laotian
Indian
Chinese
Japanese
Vietnamese
Secular(/Western?)
---

All of these are extant iterations of Buddhism. Certainly there are more (Nepalese, etc.). They all seem to know what to leave in, what to leave out, but there isn't perfect accord here.

Let's be wary of false dichotomies.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4270
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Moggalana » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:59 pm

Cittasanto wrote:Is Secular Buddhism interested in accepting rebirth as a working hypothesis?

I guess one can choose it as working hypothesis if one feels inclined to do so. At the moment, no one can disproof rebirth just as no one can proof it (scientifically). You have three choices: accept it, reject it or put it aside. Whichever one you choose is a personal thing in my opinion. The question is: Does it make a difference? Or would it make a difference if you could be sure it was either true or not? And why do you need to belief in rebirth?

Cittasanto wrote:or is it only interested in what agrees to its secular preferences?

It looks at the teachings from a certain point of view. But so does every interpretation. In the case of Secular Buddhism, the lenses through which the teachings are understood are science and sceptical thinking. An orthodox interpretation on the other hand might be influenced by certain metaphysical views of a certain time or specific cultural conditionings.

Cittasanto wrote:and how does it know what to leave in and take out?

I don't know, I'm not a scholar but I think that a good place to start would be to look at those elements of the teachings that are shared by all traditions. Teachings like the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and so forth. Those key teachings which survived the various translations and interpretations relatively unchanged are probably more important than teachings whice are modified through cultural conditioning.
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
Moggalana
 
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:31 am
Location: Germany

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby ground » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:57 pm

The way leading to the cessation of all buddhisms is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view... right concentration.

:anjali:
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 2592
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Buckwheat » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:24 pm

TMingyur wrote:The way leading to the cessation of all buddhisms is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view... right concentration.

:anjali:


I agree. I'm not going to cry over secular Buddhism even if that does sound like a ridiculous oxymoron (Military Intelligence?). As long as those practicioners agree that they must continually reassess their assumptions and eventually transcend the title "Buddhism" they should at least move forward down the path.

Does taking refuge and having conviction that the Buddha had genuine nirvana fit into secular Buddhism? Is it really just a form of Secular Humanism with a statue of Buddha as their figurehead? That could be construed as theft: stealing a carefully protected symbol of enlightenment and highjacking it for "worldly" purposes. Or not.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
Buckwheat
 
Posts: 937
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 12:39 am
Location: California USA

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Kare » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:29 pm

Moggalana wrote:It looks at the teachings from a certain point of view. But so does every interpretation. In the case of Secular Buddhism, the lenses through which the teachings are understood are science and sceptical thinking. An orthodox interpretation on the other hand might be influenced by certain metaphysical views of a certain time or specific cultural conditionings.



The different traditional interpretations of Buddhism are influenced by different local cultures - Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, Thai, etc. It only seems fair that Western people should be allowed to do what Asians do: interpret the Dhamma in the light of their own culture. And science and sceptical thinking are among the noblest strands of Western culture. Therefore I think that this Secular Buddhism is just what we need here in the West.
Mettāya,
Kåre
User avatar
Kare
 
Posts: 684
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:58 am
Location: Norway

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Justsit » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:50 pm

Then we're right back to the beginning of the rebirth debate, no?

Think about it...if there is no karma and no rebirth, then the only "life" is this one. All actions/consequences will play out in one 70+/- year period. If that is the case, then the only chance of enlightenment is right now, right in this very life, yes?
If you don't "get it" now, you're done.

The name "secular Buddhist" is misnomer. In what way does the group follow the Buddha's teachings?
Does the SB propose the end of suffering in one lifetime?
Justsit
 
Posts: 257
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:41 pm

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:06 pm

Greetings,

TMingyur wrote:The way leading to the cessation of all buddhisms is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view... right concentration.

Well said, TMingyur!

"Is this the Noble Eightfold Path, which leads to benefit, and is good in the beginning, middle and end?"

"Or is this attachment to rites, rituals, and ceremonies, which binds one to remaining a worldling?"


Regardless of external forms, these are the sort of things that ought to be considered when assessing such things for ourselves.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14747
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Ted Meissner » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:18 pm

Many of the questions being asked might be answered on the Guiding Principles page:

http://secularbuddhistassociation.com/a ... rinciples/

In essence, we are following the eightfold path, and are finding ways to engage with the teaching and practice that may resonate with contemporary culture. For many of us, that is a non religious approach in which assertions require evidence in order to allow a common point of reference. We're perfectly willing to accept rebirth, but as we also question the assertions of other religious traditions about what happens after death of the body, we equally should question our own in the spirit of sincere, honest, free inquiry.

Please note, it is not in any way a denial of traditional practices -- most of us come from traditional, religious settings. We simply find pragmatic application of the Buddha's teaching can be done quite well, providing beneficial transformation in how we release the causes of suffering, without an adherence to ideas from a cultural context not our own.

Thanks for the discussion, this is wonderful to see lively talk and sharing!
Ted Meissner
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:09 pm

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Justsit » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:22 pm

Ted Meissner wrote:... without an adherence to ideas from a cultural context not our own.


There's a difference between not adhering to cultural context and not adhering to religious context.
How does SB delineate that difference?
Justsit
 
Posts: 257
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:41 pm

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Ted Meissner » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:32 pm

Good question! I would suggest that cultural context is rooted in the particular social environment of the time. A religious context is rooted in the teachings and practices of the tradition. So, for example, lighting incense may be a cultural manifestation that many practitioners do, or may not -- it is not "critical path" to the dhamma. Right Speech is religious context, but that doesn't mean it's therefore not done as part of secular practice. Secular is a reference to that which we find in this lifetime.
Ted Meissner
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:09 pm

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Justsit » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:00 pm

Well, that's an obvious example - the Buddha never taught using incense and he did teach Right Speech.

So does SB consider the teachings on rebirth as a cultural manifestation?
Justsit
 
Posts: 257
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:41 pm

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:01 pm

Greetings,

Ted Meissner wrote:So, for example, lighting incense may be a cultural manifestation that many practitioners do, or may not -- it is not "critical path" to the dhamma.


It's a good point... and if it's unquestioning assumed to be the 'correct' thing to do, it would never be questioned in the following context....

7. Nacca-gita-vadita-visukkadassana mala-gandha-vilepana-dharana-mandana-vibhusanathana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics.

The critical path is the Noble Eightfold one.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14747
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Buckwheat » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:09 pm

I think I could stand behind the following model: a western school of Buddhism that values both tradition and innovation. Tradition by study of Pali suttas and history, upholding the highest ethical standards without relaxing them for "modern convenience". The school would value innovation by an open discussion of how to apply those traditional teachings to the modern world and creating new works of commentary, literature, and art. But the roots in tradition must be firm and legitimate. From a preliminary reading of their site, it seems this is what Secular Buddhism is aiming for, but I'm not sure I completely agree with their level of compromise (seems kind of weak on tradition). I think many on this board can attest that the traditional teachings are rather timeless and do not require much more difficulty than they did 2600 years ago. Food, sex, power.... they are still powerful desires. I can stand back from the "fast pace of modern life" a little bit and it's not difficult except for my own tendancy to jump back in.

Mahaparinibana Sutta wrote:"There is the case where a monk says this: 'In the Blessed One's presence have I heard this, in the Blessed One's presence have I received this... In the presence of a community with well-known leading elders... In a monastery with many learned elders who know the tradition... In the presence of a single elder who knows the tradition have I heard this, in his presence have I received this: This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.' His statement is neither to be approved nor scorned. Without approval or scorn, take careful note of his words and make them stand against the discourses and tally them against the Vinaya. If, on making them stand against the discourses and tallying them against the Vinaya, you find that they don't stand with the discourses or tally with the Vinaya, you may conclude: 'This is not the word of the Blessed One; this monk has misunderstood it' — and you should reject it. But if... they stand with the discourses and tally with the Vinaya, you may conclude: 'This is the word of the Blessed One; this monk has understood it rightly.'"


Thanissaro Bhikku (Into to Dhammapada) wrote:The true test of the reading — and the resulting translation — is if the reader feels engaged enough by the verses to put their principles into practice and finds that they do indeed lead to the release that the Buddha taught. In the final analysis, nothing else really counts.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
Buckwheat
 
Posts: 937
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 12:39 am
Location: California USA

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby daverupa » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:27 pm

Kare wrote:
Moggalana wrote:It looks at the teachings from a certain point of view. But so does every interpretation. In the case of Secular Buddhism, the lenses through which the teachings are understood are science and sceptical thinking. An orthodox interpretation on the other hand might be influenced by certain metaphysical views of a certain time or specific cultural conditionings.



The different traditional interpretations of Buddhism are influenced by different local cultures - Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, Thai, etc. It only seems fair that Western people should be allowed to do what Asians do: interpret the Dhamma in the light of their own culture. And science and sceptical thinking are among the noblest strands of Western culture. Therefore I think that this Secular Buddhism is just what we need here in the West.


:group:

:thumbsup:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4270
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Next

Return to Theravāda for the modern world

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bhikkhu Cintita and 7 guests