Author Archive: Doug Smith
Doug has practiced meditation on and off for many years. He chose to do a PhD in Philosophy rather than Buddhist Studies, pursuing a minor in South Asian Studies alongside. He is also a long-time scientific skeptic. Reading Steven Batchelor's Confession of a Buddhist Atheist turned him around to the possibility of a secularized Buddhist practice, one that would not require belief in the supernatural. He's now getting back into a more thorough study of what interested him most about Buddhism back in school: the Pali Canon.
The Shorter Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra (Heart Sutra) When Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva was practicing the profound Prajñāpāramitā, he illuminated the Five Skandhas and saw that they were all empty, and crossed over all suffering and affliction. “Śāriputra, form is not different from emptiness, and emptiness is not different from form. Form itself is emptiness, and emptiness itself [...]
The early Canon gives us two very different pictures of the Buddha, reflected in his early life. The first I will term the “human Buddha”: it’s a narrative of a real person, Siddhatta Gotama, and his path to enlightenment. The second I will term the “divine Buddha”: it’s a narrative of a superhuman being. These [...]
What really makes us happy? In a New York Times online post, Catholic philosopher Gary Gutting looks with a somewhat jaundiced eye on the nascent discipline of “happiness studies”.* He gives four conditions for happiness, which make for interesting reading and contemplation, particularly from a Secular Buddhist perspective. They are: good luck, fulfilling work, sense [...]
There is an important split in the way many of us approach Secular Buddhism. Some of us want a “big tent” form of Secular Buddhism that welcomes believers from any and all faith backgrounds who are looking for a way to incorporate meditative practice within the context of their own views about religion, salvation, God, [...]
The self is perhaps one of the most fraught and confusing elements of the dhamma. The Buddha considered it an advanced teaching: it’s not something he brought up in discussions with laypeople. Indeed, the great lay benefactor Anāthapiṇḍika was apparently not aware of any of the doctrine of non-clinging until his deathbed, and urged that [...]
We should all be looking for ways to help alleviate the dukkha of the world on a larger scale than just our own minds. But doing so is a much bigger program than sitting on the cushion, one that requires money and coordination. As secularists we would prefer that these projects be done without sectarian [...]