Q&A: Secular Monasticism and Choppy Videos

| July 6, 2017 | 11 Comments

Mixing things up here, today we’ll get into questions from a couple of viewers. One involves whether there is room for a kind of deep secular Buddhist practice akin to monasticism, and another deals with the way I’ve been editing these videos. Please let me know your thoughts as well in the comments below!

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Doug Smith

About the Author ()

Doug is Study Director of the Secular Buddhist Association. He has a PhD in Philosophy, with a minor in Buddhist philosophy and Sanskrit. In 2013 he completed the year-long Integrated Study and Practice Program with the BCBS and NYIMC. A long time scientific skeptic, he pursues a naturalized approach to practice. He is also interested in scholarship about the Tipiṭaka, and the theoretical and historical origins of the dhamma. He posts videos at Doug's Secular Dharma on YouTube. Some of his writing can be found at academia.edu.

Comments (11)

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  1. Jennifer Hawkins Jennifer Hawkins says:

    I’m so glad you did this video. It’s good to hear that I’m not the only Secular Buddhist who is interested in monasticism. I think Monastic Academy (Vermont) is probably the friendliest place for us right now, but for some reason they are not accepting women full-time right now. (They have in the past and will again in the future – I believe there’s an issue with housing.) Otherwise, there have been more Secular Buddhists who have joined existing monasteries, as you noted. But if we want something that will be more open or focused on our form of interaction with the Dhamma, I think that ultimately, we will have to build it for ourselves. And that is something that, someday, I’d like to be a part of. And again, we’d have to talk about how to support such an institution because I have given thought to it and a monastic (of almost any background) might starve in North America just because of the cultural conditions.

    As for editing, I have no problem with it although the music during your discussion of monasticism was probably a little too relaxing (for a talk instead of a sit or something).

    • Doug Smith Doug Smith says:

      Thanks for the comments, Jennifer. Yes, I think at least secular monasticism is a discussion we should have. It won’t be right for most folks but maybe someday could be a live option for those few.

      As for the music, it’s an ongoing experiment, like all things with the videos. 😁 Unfortunately it’s tough to find much royalty free music, and what there is out there tends to be quite short (couple of minutes long) or totally inappropriate for my video style. There’s also the problem that it takes a lot of time to listen through dozens of different pieces … Upshot is that I’m choosing from an imperfect, limited palette of options, knowing that I won’t please everyone.

      I’ll probably do a Q&A later on asking about the music, see what folks think generally, but not for a few weeks. 🙂

      • Jennifer Hawkins Jennifer Hawkins says:

        Don’t worry yourself too much. People should be more grateful for what you’ve given freely and not seriously nit pick things like your video quality.

        Anyways, if you’re really interested, I know this is royalty free:

        I believe the soundtrack to Oblivion (the game) is also royalty free and is very atmospheric. It’d be fun to meditate to. That said, I agree with redkelpee on the part of not necessarily even needing music.

        Thank you for putting these out for free. <3

  2. redkelpee says:

    The vids are great Doug. No probs with choppy edits – much better taking out ums and ers than reducing content. FWIW, I’m a music-lover but music isn’t really necessary in the vids apart from intros and outros. Unless it’s a video about Buddhist views on music or about music and meditation.

    • Doug Smith Doug Smith says:

      Thanks for the comments redkelpee, eventually I’d like to get to a place where I just say fewer ums and ers, but meanwhile I’ll aim to take out the more egregious examples. 😁

      As for the music, yeah it isn’t really necessary and I may eventually just forego it completely. We’ll see. My thought is that if it keeps people more engaged and watching longer then it’s a good thing. Of course, if it becomes a distraction then not. Consider it a few-month experiment.

  3. Gavin McC says:

    Hi, I like the content of the videos, but I would also massively prefer if they were not edited in this choppy manner, I find it very distracting. Thanks!

    • Doug Smith Doug Smith says:

      Thanks Gavin, I hear you. There are still a number of videos in the can that will be kind of choppy, and anyway it’ll take me a bit more practice to get better, but I’ll be aiming in that direction going forward. 🙂

  4. Gavin McC says:

    By the way, I also enjoy the Secular Buddhist podcasts, but I think these too would benefit from having the music removed at the end. I actually quite like the tune, but I often practice some kind of meditation while listening, and when this very upbeat music comes in at the end, at quite a loud volume too (much louder than the interview volume) it is pretty jarring! I would suspect there may be many listeners who feel the same way. I think there is no need for these jingles in fact, because this is not a radio programme so it is unnecessary to clearly signpost the beginning and end of a show. Hope you don’t mind me mentioning this here, I’m very grateful to you guys for helping to create a more secular approach to Buddhism.

  5. Michael Finley Michael Finley says:

    “Don’t know if this is really relevant to lay monasticism, but 🙂

    My Life in Robes
    After a while/You can’t tell/If it’s missing a woman/Or needing/A cigarette/And later on/If it’s night/Or day/Then suddenly/You know/The time/You get dressed/You go home/You light up/You get married

    The Lovesick Monk
    I shaved my head/I put on robes/I sleep in the corner of a cabin/sixty-five hundred feet up a mountain/It’s dismal here/The only thing I don’t need/is a comb

    —- Leonard Cohen

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