Mindfulness has expanded enormously in the West since the big popularity of Jon-Kabat Zinn’s MBSR-training (mindfulness-based stress reduction). But that is not the whole story, also the Buddhist inspired mindfulnesstraining with a more religious background has grown quite substantially.
Stephen Batchelor, trained as a monk in both Tibetan and Korean Buddhism, has become one of the main voices defending a secular, non-religious form Buddhism in the West. By that, he advocates, the value of the Buddha as a pragmatic ethicist is done justice in the best possible way. And so the Buddha’s practical approach of mind and living can best inspire us in today’s world.
According to Batchelor finding the truth is not our central problem but developing a vision on the flourishing of man and mankind. Can that be done without compromising the integrity of the tradition? And will the ethic that sits within the practice of mindfulness be able to inspire our world? Those are questions and themes from his books After Buddhism. Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age and Secular Buddhism. Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World.
During the interview we will talk with Stephen Batchelor about the development of his vision and his relation to religious Buddhism and its doctrines. Also we will touch upon criticism of his work. And last but not least, we will talk with him about the role of secular mindfulness in times of pandemic and climate crisis. On this last subject he wrote a penetrating article in Tricycle, titled: Embracing Extinction. Will Buddhism change to face humanity’s impending peril?
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