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  1. JustDave on August 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I went from relaxation mediations taught by councilors to Jon Kabot-Zinn to Buddhism to serious Ch’an Buddhism. Then I attended sutra study classes where it looked like the authors ate some mushrooms from the side of the road. The Heart Sutra has some wisdom but many of the others – gibberish – not quite Bob Dylan lyrics but close.

    Buddhism is an Iron Age ….system, for lack of a better and accurate description … and there can be something better. After 2,500 years we have MRI scanners and modern science. Why can’t we do something better? And without the superstition?

  2. NaturalEntrust on August 22, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Dana, I hope I don’t come through as a jerk.
    I know that I am word challenged.
    I must have missed to read some FAQ or About us or
    have reading but not gettng a thing.

    You write

    What tradition did you practice before secular Buddhism?


    I thought secular Buddhism are basic Buddhism what
    the Atheist Buddhist named as “pure” Buddhism to me.

    What id the word “unultered”? Not tampered with.

    As Buddha taught it or something. The only difference
    that I know of is that SBA has decided that some views
    are not necessary but apart from that I see it as same
    Buddhism I’ve always read about and people I talked to.

    Mindfulness and Metta and so on. You guys even sit in lotus?

    What is supposed to be different apart from reincarnation
    and karma seen moment to moment and actions and consequences.

    Maybe my aggressive atheism bias me too much to see any difference?

  3. NaturalEntrust on August 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    JustDave “without the superstition”

    I can only wild guess, I am too remote
    to really know but my best take is that
    it has to do with “Branding”.

    A brand is a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature
    that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those
    of other sellers.”/quote

    Those religions or traditions that fail to chose features
    and ways to present those features that are attractive
    fail to survive.

    Some say there has existed some 5000 or more religions.

    Very few has survived. Buddhism started in India but
    got kind of thrown out? and are now big on SriLanka?
    only? So something about Hinduism makes it more
    attractive to the people of India? One strategy that
    seems to have worked for Buddhism is to adopt to
    each culture it get active in. I came upon this when
    I talked to Swedish Buddhists. They had “Masters”
    from a particular country or culture that they where
    active in.

    AFAIK there is no Shin Buddhist active in Sweden.

    That Buddhist culture failed to find features that
    works here where I live. Tibet and Thai and Zen
    and so on are very popular here but Shin none
    have even heard of.

    I had not heard about it either so I think “Brand names”.
    are very important.

    There are no Unitarian Universalists in Sweden.
    But a lot of Antroposophs and Theosophs. (Spelling? )

    Quakers here are at most 100 in the whole of the country.
    Compare with England or USA. Not that they are really big
    there either but 100 members?

    Something about how they present the brand.

    Ability or talent for to launch a brand is very important.

    I trust that the supernatural features are there because
    they are attractive and a vital part of the brand.

    Do a google on Stephen Batchelor and read the reviews
    of his books made by other Buddhists and you will see
    how difficult it is to launch a different take on the “brand name”
    Buddhism. Some say that he should not name it Buddhism at all.

    Lack too many of the needed features they write.

    But who am I to say anything. I am not a Buddhist
    I only found much help from friendly Shin Buddhists
    and got curious on why them are so looked down upon?

    They are not good at presenting their brand name obviously.

  4. Ted Meissner on August 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Eric, one thing we’ve specifically avoided doing is deciding that some views are not necessary. Many of us don’t think some views are, but to say we’ve “decided” indicates that we have some sort of authority over Buddhism, and we don’t. We’re exploring what we find of value to us, some will agree, some won’t. Those with a traditional point of view may not find quite as much resonance with the more secular and naturalistic outlook we do tend to have here — but it’s not something that we’ve decided, beyond for ourselves in our own practice.

    I’m an out atheist, active in the skeptic community, and disbelieve in rebirth. That conclusion is mine, as it is for many of us. And if God shows up in person to tell us all to be Baptists, we’ll have some questions for him 🙂

  5. NaturalEntrust on August 22, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Ted, that is why I say I am word challenged.

    How does this relate then to this question?

    What tradition did you practice before secular Buddhism?


    I mean what is the difference? To practice secular Buddhism
    is to practice all of them except none?

  6. Candol on August 23, 2012 at 12:17 am

    One thing i think may be different between secular buddhism and say theravada which can be overlooked is the matter of the culture that theravada comes from. Most westerners practising theravada buddhism are engaged with it through monasteries in thailand or sri lanka and then they find themselves fully involved in a that cultures interpretation. Of course i’ve seen some people following it through websites and then i notice quite a lot of blind obedience to ever letter of the sutta, a great deal of what seems to me as affected humility, buying into the venerable this and the venerable that and great reverence for anyone who shaves their head and wears a robe as if that person were a bit of a god already. So even if the teachings are much the same there is quite a big difference in the culture that goes with it. Also secular buddhism of course doesn’t have the vinnaya to get involved with. Its of no consequence whether our chairs and beds are high or low. That said, Goenka’s retreats are quite close to being secular in that he says quite freely it doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in rebirth or karma. But then we have to listen to all the chanting in a foreign language and don’t you dare direct your feet towards the front of the room. So these are some of the other difference that you may not pick up here because we don’t find it necessary to refer to them very often but any visit to a theravada centre will quickly show you that secular buddhism is indeed difference. You can speak your mind openly and debate a point so long as you are not rude about it. I find it very different.

  7. NaturalEntrust on August 23, 2012 at 1:22 am

    Candol you are right. If one visit a Sangha that would
    be very obvious. I did not think of it that way.
    Practice used here in the thread should be read that way.
    then it make sense indeed. I agree with you on that.

    I saw it all from my very narrow point of view obviously.
    I am too self centered in that way.

    Could one say that the main difference is that practice
    in other traditions outside of SBA are very keen on
    to include “supernatural” takes on rebirth and karma
    while SBA hold it open to every individual to decide on
    such thinks and that one should expect that many here
    have a naturalistic view that would be not so common
    at another sangha?

    I do remember that the forum E-Sangha or similar name
    had as a requirment that one agreed to that rebirth and
    karma where literally as the Pali text says?

    So sure that is very different. Thanks for clarifying that.

  8. Rick Gardner on January 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    From the beginning Zen has always been secular for me, so I still practice (secular) Zen.

    • Ted Meissner on January 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Hi, Rick, welcome. Has there ever been chanting or any talk about a Bodhisattva vow where you practice? I’m curious about zen locations, not like those I’ve been to, which may not have that as a component of what they do. Thanks!

      • Rick Gardner on January 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm

        Yes, chanting has been part of every Zen center I have visited. The Heart Sutra, and occasionally in the native language of the tradition.

        Boddhisattva vows were given to members who wanted to become an “official” Buddhist.

    • SNS on January 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      I’m the same as you, Rick. I still practice Zen, and I don’t think it’s inconsistent with secular Buddhism. At least in my experience, Zen is about questioning *all* of your beliefs and concepts – about yourself, about the universe, about rebirth, about a higher power, about politics, or whatever else – and learning not to take them so seriously. In my Zen group, we do chant and do other things that seem religious but (at least to me) they are just practices that help you be aware and present, and take your commitment seriously. I know some practitioners may interpret these things in a supernatural way, but many don’t, and I don’t think that’s required. Actually, I used to have a real aversion to the chanting and other practices that I considered “religious” – and it was a good way for me to explore and challenge my own views about religion 🙂

      • Rick Gardner on January 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm

        I have lived in Alabama for 9 years now, and have no Zen centers local. I don’t chant the Heart Sutra anymore, but I do read it almost everyday. I also say the Four Vows every time I sit, and bow three times when at home. So there a a few things I do, not for religious reasons, but as reminders.

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