Secular dharma is not a ‘school’ of traditional Buddhism


Secular dharma can be seen as a recent, emerging practice that uses the teachings of the Buddha (the dharma). It is a broad, worldwide movement that offers a space where the dharma can have relevance to modern practitioners. Secular dharma has no orthodoxy, separate canon or official institutional presence.

Secular dharma practice doesn’t require us to adopt the metaphysical beliefs or activities generally associated with Buddhism, such as chanting or praying. A secular space is one that is open and tolerant, and does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, gender, ability, beliefs or faith.

As a community, we are developing forms of practice and thought that harmonise with our own culture here in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its more progressive values.

[Secular Buddhism is] trying to switch the focus from traditional religious concerns ... to the suffering that we experience in this world, on this planet that is circling this sun where human beings and other forms of life have evolved over millions of years and, as far as we know, it’s the only place in the universe like this.
— Stephen Batchelor

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 without the need to adopt metaphysical beliefs.

If you’re interested in finding out more about a secular approach to the dharma, take a look at the Secular Buddhism in Aotearoa New Zealand website.