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[Sticky] Welcome to the new community
Welcome to the new Secular Buddhist Association discussion forum!
Please introduce yourself, let us know about brings you here, and feel free to ask questions. Watch for new forums to dive deep into discussions in various areas of secular Buddhism.
I'm Dana Nourie, Technical Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, and I work on the site. I'm also setting up these forums, so happy to take suggestions.
I have been practicing/investigating Buddhism on and off for the past two or three years. I have had serious issues with the ‘religious’ elements and the need for beliefs.
From my first read of Stephen Batchelor’s ‘Buddhism without beliefs’ I have been leaning towards secular dharma.
That’s where I am now and hope to develop my practice and knowledge with the help of this site/forum.
I'm Jennifer Hawkins, the Community Director, and shamefully, I kept forgetting to post a new introduction on here after Dana so kindly rebuilt our forums. I'm a nerd who fights for justice with my sidekick, Happy (my dog). Currently, I'm taking an opportunity to start formal meditation teacher training with Linda Modaro as we at various organizations begin to work on formal certifications for Secular Buddhist leaders. When I have time, I record narrations of various Pali Canon Suttas (Listen to the Suttas! on Youtube and Insight Timer). I also pop up in various organizations and am the mod for r/SecularBuddhism (over on Reddit). Along with Doug, I'm also one of our bilingual (Spanish) Directors. So... if you need me, I'll help. (Si me necesitas, te ayudaré.)
I'm aronmindfulman (a.k.a. Ron Stillman). I was a member, starting in 2011, of the hacked SBA website but there was no way to login to the new SBA website under my real name so I changed my name so I can participate in the forums once again. I've been practicing insight meditation since 1999 and have found it to be invaluable in my life.
Hi. I'm new to Secular Buddhism. A long-time atheist, I began meditating in Spring this year, after many unsuccessful attempts going back to my teenage years. I'd read various books on meditation, and could never quite work out what they were on about. (I read Christmas Humphries as a kid, and was just baffled. But even in this century, Andy Puddicombe's Headspace book didn't make any sense to me).
However, I thought I'd give it another go, and came across Martine Batchelor's videos on Tricycle, and found they made sense to me. Searching her name on the web led me to her book on meditation and to Stephen's work, which I've been reading avidly.
My interest in Buddhism has deeper roots, though. Brought up in a Catholic family in Scotland, I was nevertheless naturally sceptical, and began my own search as a teen, and found Buddhism of more interest to me than any other religion. (As well as Humphries, back then I read Walpola Rahula's "What the Buddha Taught", and various other standard books). I ultimately rejected all religions, but always harboured a soft spot for Buddhism. So I was delighted to find that there were people who were leaving to one side the supernatural claims, but finding in Buddhism practical material that can be applied in this life.
So I thought I'd drop in and see what goes on here.
I am Johannes Cairns, from Finland but currently doing a postdoc in Cambridge, UK. I became interested in Zen Buddhism in my teens as a result of martial art practice, and subsequently attended various Buddhist retreats and events in Finland and immersed myself in popular literature on the topic. To understand the relationship between popular Zen Buddhism and history, I completed a master's degree in East Asian (focus on Japanese) Studies, studying comparative religion as a minor subject. During these studies and based on my own experiences, I became disillusioned with contemporary Buddhist culture, as I was introduced to skeptical thinking, academic methods of inference and empiricism, the major role of modernisation processes in how Buddhism is perceived and presented as historical reality, and the prevalence of superstition and social problems in Buddhist communities worldwide. This questioning became further exacerbated as I ventured into natural sciences (currently I study drug resistance evolution in microbes) and began to doubt the biological sensibility in pursuits such as sense restraint and equanimity. I am also not sure about agreeing with Buddhist passivity about social and global issues.
Nevertheless, I similarly have major issues with the lack of wisdom in the main philosophical strands driving contemporary society (namely, that individual and societal welfare spring from accumulating wealth, status and pleasurable experiences, often through outcompeting other people), and find the pragmatic ethical teachings and contemplative practices within Buddhism to offer a very appealing alternative vision. This vision is also consistent with sustainable development on a global scale.
I try to actively practice meditation and Buddhist ethics, focusing on a life philosophy of simplicity and kindness. I am a solitary practitioner as I have not been able to find a sangha of like-minded people. It would be wonderful if this could become such a sangha for me. Unfortunately, I may not be able to participate in the online meetings which take place in the late hours of night local time. I suppose I could be positioned within secular Buddhism based on aligning with those not assuming the following premises: i. that Buddhism offers perfect answers to everything (I rather see it as an imperfect human-derived system); and ii. on a related note, that all problems/superstition etc. in Buddhism arise from later corruptions of the original teachings. I am most inspired by the ethical-contemplative vision whereby the cultivation of a certain measure of equanimity allows one to be content with little and decreases the urge to base one's activities in life upon rampant selfish desires. In this scheme, the active practice of ethical activities (contentment, kindness) and contemplative practice (calmness and mindfulness cultivating equanimity) both reinforce one another.
I am looking forward to sharing thoughts and experiences with like-minded people, and wish you all the very best in your practice. 🙂