Winton Higgins

Our returning guest, Winton Higgins, speaks with us about some key challenges facing secular Buddhists in contemporary society.

Hi, everyone. Before we get started with today’s episode, I want to remind the listeners that we’ve started a new podcast which may also interest you. It’s called Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science, and appears every other week, alternating with The Secular Buddhist. You’ll find many of the same guests you’ve enjoyed and learned from here, as well as new researchers, teachers, and practitioners. You’ll find Present Moment in the Science & Medicine section of iTunes, in Natural Sciences, or just do an iTunes Store search for Mindfulness, and look in the results in the Podcasts section. You can also visit the website, Thanks for checking it out, and if you like what you hear, please feel free to share it with others.

Secular Buddhism is new, and growing on a daily basis. Just this week, Practice Director for the SBA Mark Knickelbine and I have had wonderful conversations with those passionate about our particular approach to the tradition, and refreshed our understanding that there are many doors and paths to take. The secret of how this effort has grown is really no secret at all — our culture is fertile soil for secular Buddhism, and people in it have an appetite for open learning and practice, guided by what we experience in this life.

Of course, there are still challenges, and our understanding of those also grows on a daily basis. How we relate to others that are more traditional than ourselves, how we communicate skillfully about our practice, are ongoing and evolving areas for exploration, and learning.

Winton Higgins began meditating and practicing the Dharma in the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO) in 1987. In 1994 he became an active supporter of Wat Buddha Dhamma, where he began to lead meditation retreats in 1995. Since then he has led retreats for the Wat, the Blue Gum Sangha and Sydney Insight Meditators, and taught many courses for the Buddhist Library in Sydney. He follows the western insight tradition and is particularly interested in the convergence of Dharma practice and progressive western values such as democracy, feminism and critical inquiry. Winton is a writer and social-science academic; he and his partner, Lena, have two grown-up daughters and a grandson.

So, sit back, relax, and have a nice Nilgiri Chamraj tea.

Web Links

Music for This Episode Courtesy of Rodrigo Rodriguez

The music heard in the middle of this podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. You can visit his website to hear more of his music, get the full discography, and view his upcoming tour dates.

No Comments

  1. Ramsey Margolis on November 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Those who appreciate Winton’s approach to secular Buddhism, as I do, may like to know that more than 25 pieces of his writing are available on the Aotearoa New Zealand secular Buddhist website here:

    and even more by entering Winton’s name in the search box:

  2. Anagarika on July 25, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I enjoyed listening to this podcast yesterday. One issue bothered me a bit, and that was the assertion that while Ajahn Brahm was responsible and praiseworthy for the proactive ordination of Bhikkhunis, at the same time he was somehow responsible for the Buddhist Society of Victoria’s exclusionary policy for teachers at the BSV:

    The BSV was established in 1953, when Ajahn Brahm was two years old. Policies are usually set by a Board of Directors, and not by advisors, Ajahn Brahm being the Spiritual Advisor of the BSV. My exposure to Ajahn Brahm’s sensibilities suggests that he is not likely behind, nor even outwardly supportive, of the BSV “Teaching Requirements” policy. This curious policy seems out of sorts with the fairly progressive, friendly, and inclusive attitudes of Ven. Brahmavamso. I may be wrong on this issue, but the podcast linked AB rather directly to this policy, and I feel there is a decent chance that he has little to nothing to do with its origination.

    Just as a good university thrives on a diversity of ideas, and has the courage to invite teachers who may be even heretical, the Dhamma is strong enough to withstand any measure of scrutiny, and I would urge the BSV to reconsider the requirement that teachers on that 71 Darling
    Road, Malvern East, Victoria premises sign an agreement of endorsement of various teachings. The policy of restricting teacher-student fraternization is fine (that point should always be made clear), but much of the rest of it seems peculiar and anachronistic for a modern center of teaching.

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