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Question and response – fifth of an eight part study course

  • Wellington Friends’ Centre 7 Moncrieff Street Mount Victoria Wellington (map)

Tonight, One Mindful Breath will be running the fifth of an eight part secular dharma study course titled What is this? and it focuses on the talk Question and response, given by Stephen Batchelor at Gaia House, Devon, on 10 April 2016.

We won’t be listening to the talk on the night, so we ask that you listen to it before you come along, and recommend that you take notes as you listen. During each session, a facilitator will put questions to the group of participants; these questions will be found on this page in due course.

Ending on 26 September 2018, each part of the study course will take place during the One Mindful Breath session on the fourth Wednesday of the month and the evenings will start with a 30-minute meditation.



1. Contemplating the question ‘what is this?’. Batchelor comments that ‘ “this” is what you are experiencing right now’ as opposed to ‘what our teacher [Kusan Sunim] told us, that “this” refers to this sort of mystical citta or shin or mind’. What does Batchelor offer here to support his view, in contradiction to that of Kusan Sunim, that “this” is what you are experiencing right now’? [Q8 on the PDF]

2.  Do you find a resonance with Batchelor’s view that what moves one to practice the dharma is coming to terms with the question ‘that we are’, to ‘pursue the question of what we are’? If not this, then what moves you to practice the dharma? [Q9 on the PDF]

3. Give an example, if you have one, of your having experienced a clear sensation of doubt that was, or is, a source of insight for you. [Q10 on the PDF]

4. Do you share Batchelor’s view that the three streams of dharma he references (the early dharma of the Satipaṭṭhāna sutta, Korean Son and Tibetan Nyingma) assert and so reify a transcendent awareness that is outside the sixfold consciousness (eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, tactile-consciousness, mind-consciousness)? If so, why? If not, why not? [Q5 on the PDF]

5. Just for fun, take the view that there is a breakthrough or a penetration into a state of being that ‘is something else’, the characteristics of which definitively differ from one’s state prior to this breakthrough or penetration. Given such, for one who would point this out to another, how could s/he communicate this experience without being subject to the critique that s/he is reifying what is, in fact, without basis? [Q6 on the PDF] 

Download the complete set of questions here.


One Mindful Breath offers this course to all participants without a fixed fee, and thanks to the generosity of many is pleased to be able to make the resources freely available. We seek your support to enable the community to continue operating in this way, and you can offer your support by making a charitable donation through Aotearoa Buddhist Education Trust by bank transfer to 38 9019 0064662 03.

Stephen Batchelor does not charge for his teaching, and depends for his livelihood on the generosity of students. In New Zealand, you can make a charitable donation to support Steven’s work through Aotearoa Buddhist Education by bank transfer to 38 9019 0064662 01. Donations by debit and credit card can be made through PayPal on his website here.

To get a tax receipt for your donations, please let our treasurer know a) the amount you donated, b) the date, and c) the account number into which it went, in an email.

We are tremendously grateful to Christine Johnson of Upaya Sangha of Tucson for putting together this series of talks, and sharing her participant questions with us. We further developed her work to ensure it fits the shorter timeframe available to us.

Thank you with hanging lights.jpg