A lightly edited transcript of an interview given by Stephen Batchelor to Noah Rasheta for his podcast ‘Secular Buddhism’ which was published on 14 September 2017, their conversation makes an excellent introduction to secular Buddhism.
Jim Champion discusses the common view of meditators that they are somehow doing “something wrong” and argues that “what I’ve found so far in my practice of meditation (which most commonly involves sitting quietly, with the intention to meditate, in the morning and the evening) is that however much I want do it right, in fact I can’t do it wrong.
This eight-part course uses recorded talks by Stephen Batchelor and Roshi Joan Halifax in which they rebuild the standard ‘Four Noble Truths’ of Buddhism from the ground up, rendering them as noble tasks.
Using the koan ‘Good snowflakes: they don’t fall anywhere else’, Stephen Batchelor goes on to expand on it – trying to resist attempts at explaining it – using examples from modern, Western culture, specifically from the natural sciences.
In February 2016, BBC radio presenter Rana Mitter had a wide-ranging discussion with Stephen Batchelor for the BBC Radio 3 flagship arts and ideas programme ‘Free Thinking’.
Stephen Batchelor offers a summary of secular Buddhism: “I’m supposed to take a risk and say in 25 words or less what Buddhism is. That of course is a very arrogant presumption on one level. But what I have concluded tentatively in recent years is to identify four points that the Buddha taught that cannot be derived from the socio-historical context of his time, in other words that are distinctively and non-controversially his own ideas.”
Here’s a suggestion – dedicate a couple of weekends to a study retreat in the comfort of your own home, practicing meditation and going in depth into a secular approach to Buddhism.