When atheists speak up about the harmful effects of religion, we’re often asked, in effect, what our problem is. How are we so sure we’re right? What about our own dogmatic beliefs? Isn’t it enough for us to reject religion, without actively opposing it? Why are we, as even Stephen Batchelor says, so “humorless’? These charges are even more pointed for those of us who are secular dharma practitioners. When we inveigh against the religious trappings of Buddhist traditions, we are accused of disrespecting the tradition and its teachers, indeed even of threatening the survival of the dharma in the West (see the interview with Tim Olmsted in the Fall 2010 Tricycle for a good example of this). Why don’t we just relinquish this fixed view and be more open-minded?
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This is the second installment in which I discuss ideas presented by Stephen Bachelor in a series of dharma talks in late 2010. You can hear them at dharmaseed.org. The debate about whether Buddhism is a religion or not is a classic case of the futility of dispute. Much heat is generated, little light is [...]