Essential elements and key ideas of secular Buddhism

Adhering to the pragmatic and ethical guidelines for human flourishing taught by the historical Buddha, Gotama, secular Buddhists set aside the cultural and supernatural overlays that Buddhism has acquired as it has traveled around the world. We do not pretend that ours is the definitive version of Buddhism, but we do regard it as having its foundation in Gotama’s original teachings, and being in tune with key progressive values in the modern world – democracy, social justice, and equality.  

On this page, you will find recommended reading that will introduce and explore this subject, as well as articles by a number of writers that will help you to dig deeper.


Stephen Batchelor on coming out as a secular Buddhist 

When Stephen Batchelor first self-identified as a secular Buddhist in 2012 he said that ‘I see the aim of Buddhist practice to be the moment-to-moment flourishing of human life within the ethical framework of the eightfold path.’

By Stephen Batchelor

Key elements of secular Buddhism – a framework 

While secular Buddhism is not a ‘school’ of Buddhism with a set of orthodox beliefs and established institutions which represent this trend, secular Buddhists do share some common perspectives.

By SBN Editor

Secular Buddhism is not an attack on religion or God 

Despite the claims of some critics, secular Buddhists are not anti-religious and the goal of a secular dharma is not simply stress reduction but a radical transformation of individuals and society.

By SBN Editor

The core concept of secular Buddhism: a fourfold task 

The core teachings and insights of Gotama are not ‘truths’ to be believed but a ‘fourfold’ task to help us live our lives in a mindful and compassionate way.

By Stephen Batchelor


After Buddhism: exploring a secular dharma

By SBN Editor

From meditation retreats to dharma path immersives

By Mike Slott

Secular Buddhist meditation: cultivating virtues and insights to promote human flourishing

By Mike Slott

After Buddhism: a workbook – an accessible commentary

By Ramsey Margolis

Three marks of existence, or three factors of human experience?

By Mike Slott

Buddhism and Hellenistic philosophies: secular wisdoms on the Silk Road

By Stefano Bettera

Meditating in a secular world

By Stefano Bettera

Jim Champion on meditation: what if I’m doing it wrong?

By Jim Champion