A Secular Buddhism

Stephen Batchelor

Abstract


This essay explores the possibility of a complete secular redefinition of Buddhism. It argues that such a secular re-formation would go beyond modifying a traditional Buddhist school, practice or ideology to make it more compatible with modernity, but would involve rethinking the core ideas on which the very notion of “Buddhism” is based. Starting with a critical reading of the four noble truths, as presented in the Buddha’s first discourse, the author proposes that instead of thinking of awakening in terms of “truths” to be understood one thinks of it in terms of “tasks” to be accomplished. Such a pragmatic approach may open up the possibility of going beyond the belief-based metaphysics of classical Indian soteriology (Buddhism 1.0) to a praxis-based, post-metaphysical vision of the dharma (Buddhism 2.0).

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Copyright (c) 2015 Stephen Batchelor

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