I recently saw a remark that implied that Stephen Batchelor no longer meditates or at least not very regularly.

If true, this seems important. Batchelor is prominent, even central, in the contemporary, so-called Secular Buddhism movement. He has a long history of different phases of belief and practice, from Tibetan, to Zen, to a form of agnostic/secular "Buddhism" that he has almost come to define on his own.

Can anyone supply a pointer to that assertion or related material? I did not capture it at the time.

  • i always thought more of a scholar than anything
    – user2512
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 22:40

3 Answers 3


Found it! (Admins -- should I delete this now superfluous question?)


Batchelor said [in 2003] he no longer meditated every day. "I am a meditation teacher who doesn’t meditate any more," he said, smiling sheepishly. Although he once found meditation "extraordinarily valuable," over time it came to seem like "a kind of evasion, really. It was a cutting off from experience, rather than a full-blooded engagement with all of its ambiguities and messiness." He tried to cultivate his existential awareness through writing now more than through meditation. "I write and think and struggle with questions. That’s my practice.

  • 2
    I think it's cool, let's keep this.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 21:34
  • Studying and thinking distances one from actual fundamental, nonconceptual experiential reality. What cuts one off from experience is not meditating on one's own experience as it happens moment by moment. It's not very complicated.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 17:20

Yes, I know Stephen Batchelor , we both practiced zen in Rochester, N.Y. He always appeared as a very intelligent person, to me. I think that one must understand the goal of Buddhist practice, to be able to judge whether or not one should indulge in any particular practice. Some schools of Buddhism do not "meditate" per se . For example , some Ten-dai schools in Japan, and the Jodoshinshu school in America and Japan. Let's look at the six paramitas , dhyana being the 5th perfection. Wisdom follows that , as the sixth. If one looks closely Dhyana needs the support of the first four Paramitas ,and the connection with the sixth, Prajna. The basic term is Bhavana for cultivation. This term includes many aspects of Buddhist cultivation. Why would one ever use one daily behavior to judge if someone was a good Buddhist or not. Please refer to you own personal Guru , or Zen master, to see what is good for you. finally, the main goal is awakening, so if you have the prerequisites to awaken , go on. Let's not judge others as to their outer appearances. so , my main point is if we are developing the correct concentration, we can dispense with the daily activities, which are more outer, than inner. My answer is , if one has a good practice of keeping the precepts, and not indulging excessively , in Greed, hatred and stupidity, with the mindfulness and concentration conducive to absorption in the correct awareness. Carry On. Sarvamangalam

  • I share your caution about being judgmental. In fact, I tried really hard to word my question and answer to avoid exactly that, especially by using mostly Batchelor's own words in the answer. If I failed, please point to specifics. Thanks. Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 1:07

I cannot quite agree on his reasoning. Meditation is best done while being secluded, however, it does not mean that one escapes from the world. When we meditate we "become" more and more our aim of meditation (bhavana). If one practises friendliness then one becomes slowly and gradually more friendlier. If one does not cultivate in seclusion the past cultivations will atrophy and then it's more or less random in which direction one is cultivating. I find his direction quite unsatisfying but to each their own. He twisted dhamma as he liked and is subject to western materialism which is undoubtedly also with its drawbacks

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