Arjan Dirkse wrote:
I am not really saying religious institutions need to become secular institutions, what I'm saying is I like the idea of secular forms of Buddhism, I think having those kind of institutions next to the more religious forms of Buddhism is a good thing.
I'm not defending or criticizing Batchelor since I know little to nothing about him other than that he wrote a book named "Buddhism Without Beliefs".
I agree, it is a good thing, as is the expectation that they conclusively argue their positions
for readers, rather than just painting a straw man of "religious Buddhism". As Supermax pointed out, it's actually the content of what Batchelor says that gets scrutinized typically, not who he is.
For instance if you pour through the threads on here about Batchelor, and read some of the published criticism of him, it's not like anyone is complaining about him being "secular", the issue is with things like historically misrepresenting Buddhism, things like claiming of implying that The Buddha did not teach Karma or Rebirth..which as far as I know, he kind of alludes to. At the least, he implies they are basically cultural artifacts and not necessary. If I recall correctly he even takes some issue with The First Noble Truth, this is a valid subject for debate, and i'm sure he knows that this is quite the claim in the Buddhist world..it would be weird if people didn't
want to debate about a thing like that.There are also many shades of grey here, I'll bet that to some people, i'd be a secular Buddhist, and others would consider me religious.
This really is nothing to do with being prejudiced against all things secular or anything like that, it's just exposing his writings to the same rigor that everything should be exposed to. It might be un-pc to refer to it as Dharma-lite, I don't think that's a good way to put, and I agree it's insulting. I suspect though the reason people do that is that quite often..this is exactly what it is, a very paired down version of Buddhist practice. Now, if that
is a good thing, then it can be argued for as such..but I think it's hard to deny that that is exactly what it is, a form of Dharma that eschews a good portion of the view that's normally consider Buddhism.
Also, i'll again point out, most Buddhist centers are full of people interested mainly in mediation, and not so much in Buddhism as a worldview, and many, many great Buddhist teachers teach to exactly this need. Which begs the question, why is "secular Buddhism" even necessary, unless "secular Buddhists' are simply interested in some sense of ownership, or some sense that theirs is the correct version?
I don't mean to be provocative about it, but honestly it seems like a legitimate question to me, if someone can go and learn what amounts to "Buddhism without religion" at a variety of places already, what is the point in such an entity existing independently? Is the goal just Canonical acceptance of some kind?