Bodhi College’s Secular Dharma course takes a secular rather than a religious approach to the teachings of the Buddha. The course emphasizes the humanity of Gotama and the practical applications of his teaching in this world, and encourage each student to find his or her own way of practice within the secular/religious spectrum of their own lives.
To experience ourselves – our breath, the sensations in the body, the pain in the knees, the feeling of the wind or the rain on our cheeks – all of this is utterly pertinent to the question I am suggesting you ask: ‘What is this?’ But please remember that ‘this’ refers to what is so close to you that you tend to completely overlook it.
Yale University Press has just released Stephen Batchelor’s new book, The Art of Solitude. In this book Stephen turns his attention to solitude, a practice integral to the meditative traditions he has long studied and taught. He aimed to venture more deeply into solitude, discovering its full extent and depth.
A moment of freedom is a freedom from something, but it’s also a freedom to something. It’s not just that you’re freed from something, let’s say, attachment or anger or self-centredness, but that that freedom clears a space to act in a way that is not conditioned by your anger or self-centredness.
The community of practitioners – the sangha – is a crucial aspect of the dharmic path for secular Buddhists. But what do we mean by community? How is a community different than other forms of collective organizations? How do we create a true community of practitioners that help each other develop their practice and contribute to a ‘culture of awakening’?
In his 2015 book After Buddhism: rethinking the dharma for a secular age Stephen Batchelor offers ten theses of secular dharma, summing up his overall perspective on secular Buddhism.
Bodhi College is an educational organisation dedicated to contemplative learning. It has as its focus an exploration of the dharma as found in the earliest Buddhist texts through courses combining study and retreats.
Stephen Batchelor explains how ‘community is not something you join or something that you find. It’s something you create. Community is a practice of … forging and developing connections and friendships and relationships.’
According to Winton Higgins, the foundation of Buddhists’ political engagement is the overarching ethical commitment to care, the responsibility to be ‘engaged as a moral agent in what is going on in one’s own life’.
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.’