Secular Buddhism is not a ‘school’ of Buddhism
It has no orthodoxy, no separate canon and no institutional presence.
A secular space is generally one that is open and tolerant, and does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, gender, ability, beliefs or faith. It doesn’t require that we adopt metaphysical beliefs or get involved in activities that are generally associated with religion, Buddhist or otherwise, such as chanting or praying.
A secular dharma stands for a developmental direction that is typically Buddhist in its open-minded scepticism and its desire to let the dharma speak most effectively, that is in culturally available terms.
Focusing largely on early Buddhism, with an emphasis on the teachings of conditionality (known also as dependent origination), and the four great tasks (sometimes called the fourfold task) that Gotama – the man we know as the Buddha – set out, the practice of meditation and a secular dharma offers a framework for a more mindful, ethical and compassionate life.
Awakening in the context in which we find ourselves – 21st century Aotearoa New Zealand – this framework is in essence a pragmatic programme for human flourishing which allows us to ignore metaphysical beliefs and religious truth-claims.
As a community, a group of friends, we are developing forms of practice, community and thought that harmonise with our own culture and its more progressive values – kicking off with egalitarianism, inclusiveness and democratic self-rule; Wellington’s secular Buddhist community in fact.
The Buddha’s Four Great Tasks
1 - Embrace LIFE
2 - Let Go of instinctive reactivity
3 - SEE THE StopPING of that reactivity
4 - Act, respond, say
If you’re interested in finding out more about a secular approach to Buddhism, take a look at the Secular Buddhism in Aotearoa New Zealand website.