What is “secular Buddhism”? – The roar of the lion

Illustration by Nolan Pelletier.

You could say this is an attempt to bring the Enlightened Enlightenment. Secular Buddhists re-examine Buddhism through a rationalist and humanistic lens in order to eliminate the superstition and religiosity added later and bring it back to the original teachings of the Buddha. They see the Buddha as a human being who has discovered a way to end suffering, which he teaches us in the form of the Four Noble Truths. Buddhism is from and for this world, and there is no need to believe in anything beyond it. Stephen Batchelor, a former Buddhist monk, has laid out this approach in his books Buddhism without beliefs and Confession of a Buddhist atheist.

The point is that many modern Buddhists have doubts about various traditional beliefs. As in all discussions of innovation from tradition in Buddhism, the question is which beliefs are essential and which are optional. Topping the list of debates is the rebirth and existence of different realms and ways of being, both unenlightened and enlightened, in addition to our own. Without them, is Buddhism just modern humanitarianism plus the Four Noble Truths? And if it does, maybe it doesn’t matter. To discuss.


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