I've been reading some of Stephen Batchelor's ideas, and find them quite interesting. Does anyone have references to further reading of secularized Buddhist ideas and literature?


2 Answers 2


I think one of the major proponents of 'Secular Buddhism' was S.N.Goenka, although I doubt if he himself would call his lineage that.

First, let me give a brief idea of the tradition. S.N.Goenka's lineage could be traced back to Ven. Ledi Sayadaw, a Buddhist monk who was instrumental in reviving the practice of Vipassana. In his retreats, S.N.Goenka emphasizes on how the pain and suffering we face is universal irrespective of one's religion. And hence, he stresses, that the path of liberation from this suffering is also universal and not based on one's religion. He famously said at the UN's Millennium World Peace Summit that the only conversion involved in Vipassana is from misery to happiness, from bondage to liberation and from cruelty to compassion. You can also watch him introduce meditation to an audience at the Harvard Business Club here.

A very primary book on Vipassana written by William Hart, one of his students is 'The Art of Living'. In this, he talks about basic Buddhist ideas like suffering, its cause and the path of coming out of it in a very secular fashion. You may look at some other books and CDs here.

At his 10 day retreat, he gives discourses which are also very secular in nature. You can register for the retreat here.


Could I recommend Zen and the Art of Consciousness by Susan Blackmore. It is a personal account of a wholehearted Buddhist practice but framed very much from a secular perspective. Sue Blackmore her self does not identify as a Buddhist at all but this is very much an account of a dedicated Buddhist practitioner albeit with a scientific approach.

It's so secular it refuses to identify even as secular Buddhism at all. That said it is an excellent account in how Buddhist practice is without any identification with supernatural phenomena or any religious overtones and I found it quite inspiring. Just my opinion of course.

  • OK, cool, I didn't know she had written specifically on Zen. But I did enjoy her "Consciousness" in the Oxford Very Short Introduction series (global.oup.com/academic/content/series/v/…) Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 12:44
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    @Mr.Concept she is very interesting in that book. She does talk about consciousness research and figures like Daniel Dennet as well as Buddhist practice. She does practice in a Zen context but there is bits of Tibetan influence as well in some of the Mahamudra stuff she talks about. I really enjoyed it Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 13:01
  • Yeah, she did give Daniel Dennet a lot of discussion in the above mentioned book. After your mentioning "Zen context but there is bits of Tibetan influence as well in some of the Mahamudra stuff", I'm surely going to get a hold of "Zen and the Art of Consciousness"! Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 13:06

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