Doug Smith

Doug Smith

Doug 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. As a long time scientific skeptic, he pursues a naturalized approach to practice. He is also interested in scholarship about the Tripiṭaka, and the theoretical and historical origins of the dhamma.

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Doug Smith's Latest Posts

The Buddha and Blasphemy

| January 27, 2015 | 8 Comments
The Buddha and Blasphemy

With the recent tragedy at Charlie Hebdo blasphemous satire is in the news, and many ask if it should be allowed. There are many different degrees of “allow”, and most discussions on the matter, particularly the more virulent, trade off of these different degrees. First there is the plain issue of legality: should the state allow satire? […]

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Philip Kitcher on Secular Humanism

| January 19, 2015 | 3 Comments
Philip Kitcher on Secular Humanism

One criticism of ‘New Atheist’ books has been that they lack sophistication, that they attack only the most extreme forms of theistic belief without touching its more nuanced, liberal forms. So it comes as a welcome development to read Philip Kitcher’s new book, which takes a more nuanced look at religious belief and practice. As […]

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Impermanence and Emptiness: a Reversal in Perspective?

| January 12, 2015 | 22 Comments
Impermanence and Emptiness: a Reversal in Perspective?

The Buddhist notion of emptiness (suññatā/śunyatā) is famously difficult to get one’s head around. In a presentation this past Saturday Sharon Salzberg described it as a combination of impermanence (anicca) and interconnectedness. This is a good first go at understanding emptiness, although the simple concept “interconnectedness” doesn’t really do justice to the recondite complexity of dependent origination […]

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A World of Impermanence: the Three Marks

| January 5, 2015 | 10 Comments
A World of Impermanence: the Three Marks

The three marks of existence (anicca, dukkha, anatta, or impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and non-self) have always played a central role in Buddhist dhamma. They outline its basic metaphysics, the ground which characterizes lived reality. The Buddha viewed these characteristics as everlastingly true of the world: “Bhikkhus, whether Tathāgatas arise or not, there persists that law, that […]

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Sam Harris Talks Spirituality

| December 18, 2014 | 14 Comments
Sam Harris Talks Spirituality

Sam Harris’s new book Waking Up has a lot to recommend it. Harris is a gifted writer, always clear and engaging, who never seems to talk down to the reader. This is not an easy task when dealing with abstruse topics. Harris picks out salient examples and tells interesting stories that continually bring his points to […]

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Sati and Sociopolitics: Throwing the Buddha Out with the Bathwater?

| December 15, 2014 | 6 Comments
Sati and Sociopolitics: Throwing the Buddha Out with the Bathwater?

With Anderson Cooper’s enthusiastic endorsement on 60 Minutes last night, mindfulness practice is well into the mainstream. Cooper’s segment included interviews with mindfulness gurus Jon Kabat-Zinn and Chade-Meng Tan, Google employee with the job title “Jolly Good Fellow”. As the movement has grown, there has been pushback. Some has focused on the scientific claims, but […]

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Brahmali and Batchelor Debate

| April 8, 2014 | 7 Comments
Brahmali and Batchelor Debate

In my last post I looked at a talk given by Ajahn Brahmali on Secular Buddhism. Recently the Melbourne Insight Meditation Group released a debate that Brahmali had with Steven Batchelor on the same topic, which once again revolved around the central issue of rebirth. It raises interesting questions worthy of a follow-up post. (As in my […]

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