Rick Heller

Rick Heller returns to tell us about Secular Meditation: 32 Practices for Cultivating Inner Peace, Compassion, and Joy — A Guide from the Humanist Community at Harvard.

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, PresentMomentMindfulness.com. Thanks for checking it out, and if you like what you hear, please feel free to share it with others.

Secular Buddhism is a concept which has, as a natural outgrowth, secular meditation. Still with more than a passing relationship to its Buddhist background, secular meditation nonetheless is finding appeal with a wide audience of Secular Humanists, atheists, skeptics and scoundrels like us.

Rick Heller is the editor of the online magazine, The New Humanism, a publication of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University. He is also a facilitator of the Humanist Mindfulness Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has guided mindfulness and loving-kindness meditations at Occupy Boston. He is the creator of Seeing the Roses, which offers free videos on mindfulness and shows how mindfulness can be an antidote to the excess consumerism that drives climate change. Rick’s writing has appeared in The Humanist, Tikkun, Free Inquiry, UUWorld, and Buddhadharma magazines, and in the Boston Globe and Lowell Sun. His short stories have appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine. Rick holds a Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School, a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University, and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from MIT.

So, sit back, relax, and have a nice Boston Tea Party Light.


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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. Jennifer Hawkins on January 26, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    Tara Brach: “Hey, Heller… what’s good?!”
    Rick Heller: ::pounds chest:: “Come at me, Brach!”

    In all seriousness though I’m glad that your book is so wildly successful. I hope Tara Brach and others keep calling you out.

  2. Doug Smith on January 27, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Thanks, Rick and Ted, enjoyed the podcast. FYI I’ve volunteered for the Center for Inquiry for many years and consider Secular Buddhism to be a version of Secular Humanism.

    You note that religion does provide a certain (one might say) psychological and social support network which may be lost in our ongoing process of cultural secularization. It is just this sort of concern that leads me towards Secular Buddhism as a form of practice over the more typical version of Secular Humanism which, let’s face it, is pretty much just doctrine.

    As to the practice, I think you outlined some of it very well with your discussion of mettā. One thing I would add though comes with the issue of nibbāna. I am equally agnostic about its full achievement, but I don’t think it’s best to think of it (whatever it is) as a form of experience, e.g., the experience of no-self, or in Sam Harris’s understanding as non-dual awareness, or some such thing. Rather I think it is better approached as a kind of psychosocial training or transformation that minimizes greed and hatred. That is, it’s the sort of training that constitutes an optimal achievement of the support given in a traditional religious framework without the necessity of false doctrine.

    Such achievement may be associated with certain supranormal experiences, but I don’t know that it needs to be. The role of non-self, I think, is best seen as a de-nourishment of egoism and conceit.

    If this is correct then the path provides both psychological and social benefits.

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