Labels are invaluable as a tool in human communication. How we refer to ourselves and to our practice can help us find fellow students, and helps others understand what our point of view might be. But they can also hinder us as we either become to attached to our designations, or as we misunderstand one another’s intent in label use.
Linda Blanchard founded the Skeptical Buddhists’ Sangha in Second Life in 2007 to get her questions about Buddhism answered, and there discovered friends and community, along with a better understanding of the dharma. She is currently, very slowly, learning Pali, the language of the oldest Buddhist literature.
“What you’re saying, though, when you say you’re an atheist is that you really don’t have any expectation of ever having a belief in god.” — Linda Blanchard
Dana started her exploration of Buddhism in 2004 when she crushed her foot and a friend recommended Googling mindfulness. It may have been her friend’s way of telling her to watch what the hell she’s doing, but it brought up her discovery of Buddhism.
From there she took a course locally in Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, but became disenchanted with the rituals, prayers, and what seemed like very religious nonsense, and quit the course. She then explored Zen and Theravada Buddhism, and took a short course on the English translation of the Pali Canon. It was at this time she discovered the Skeptical Buddhist group in Second Life, the way they scrutinized the teachings, and based much of their attitude on Stephan Batchelor’s book Buddhism Without Beliefs.
She ended up dropping from the local sanghas as they are all based on a specific tradition, and instead Dana has stuck with the core teachings and a critical mind.
Dana does not label herself a Buddhist, though she does practice Buddha’s teachings and associates with Secular Buddhists. She feels that Buddhism should not be connected to any cultural or religious ties per say, and doesn’t care for the way some cultures have introduced superstitions and rituals, some stuff that is very “unbuddhist”.
“The thing is, it’s very difficult for us to label ourselves because we are in constant change and growing and morphing, and labels just don’t do us justice when we try to pin ourselves down like that.” — Dana Nourie
- Facebook — Skeptical Buddhists
- Dana’s Blog — Calling Yourself Buddhist Isn’t Buddhist
- U of MN Study — Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority
- Stephen Batchelor Article — Deep Agnosticism: A Secular Vision of Dharma Practice
- Agnostic Ascetic — Sanjaya Belatthaputta
- Meetup — Faith Club Minneapolis
- Richard Dawkins — Non-Believers Giving Aid
- William James
- Sam Harris and Michael Shermer debate Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston on Nightline (3/23/10)
- Bethel University Interreligious Symposia
- Podcast — For Good Reason
Music for This Episode
The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. The tracks used in this episode are:
- Traces of Truth
Category: The Secular Buddhist Podcast