What is secular Buddhism, or a secular dharma? Recently, One Mindful Breath ran a successful study group which investigated this question. This is what we did.
Ten people met each week and we discussed the Ten theses of secular dharma from Stephen Batchelor’s 2015 book, After Buddhism. We met on five consecutive Monday evenings, each meeting being about 75 minutes long. Our sixth and final session consisted of question and answers with Stephen Batchelor via Zoom, and that was followed by a convivial celebration dinner.
To introduce the topic, each participant received two articles and a recorded talk before the first meeting. These were:
A secular Buddhism by Stephen Batchelor, from the Journal of Global Buddhism (2012)
The coming of secular Buddhism: a synoptic view by Winton Higgins, from the Journal of Global Buddhism (2012)
The secular Buddha – what it means to be radicalised, a 40-minute talk by Stephen Batchelor (2015)
Each evening, we discussed two theses and everyone took a turn to facilitate a thesis, preparing two or three questions in advance and presenting them to the group.
We found this discussion of the ten theses to be an excellent introduction to secular dharma, engaging both for beginners and for those with more experience of dharma practice. We intend to run another, similar, study group later. Sharing questions and ideas in a spirit of generous enquiry was very enjoyable for all participants, at times provocative and always interesting.
Would you be interested in taking part in the next ten theses study group? If you might be, send us an email.