Thursday, 31 December 2009

Stephen and Martine Batchelor - Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? (Parts 10 - 14)

[Cross-posted from IOC.]

Here are the final five parts of this cool series from Upaya Zen Center.

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 10 of 14 – Dharma Talk on Buddhahood & Awakening

Speaker: Martine Batchelor

Martine begins the talk urging us to look at our motivation for awakening. Is it done with wisdom and compassion or perhaps with the goal to escape from the world? She discusses sudden vs. gradual awakening and working with bad habits. She goes on to discuss the role of insight in our lives and how we can use it to change ourselves and the world. When we sit, we should work on de-grasping so that we can let go in our everyday lives.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] | Download [Play]

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 11 of 14 – Session 5

Speaker: Stephen Batchelor

The theme of this seminar is the title of the retreat, “Godless Religion or Devout Atheism?” Stephen tells of how Brahman or God was understood at the time of the Buddha, and how the Buddha rejected this notion. The Buddha, says Stephen, was deeply rooted in the phenomenal world and instructed his followers to pay attention to this world. As Buddhism developed in time and cultures, it added superstructure that looked religious, which we often find today.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] | Download [Play]

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 12 of 14 – Discussion and Q & A

Speakers: Stephen & Martine Batchelor

Stephen begins the Q & A by taking a question on the Tibetan people’s relationship with their land and culture. Other topics include art, impermanence and aesthetics and our relationship to the world; the Buddha’s perspective on ritual; the Buddha as atheist or agnostic; finding mystery in everyday life; music as meditation; choosing the kind of meditation one should do; and “no self” further explained.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] | Download [Play]

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 13 of 14 – Dharma Talk on Love & Compassion

Speaker: Martine Batchelor

How can we cultivate creative, wise love without grasping? One aspect of this kind of love, says Martine, is to create relationships outside of the primary love relationship. Another aspect is not to make assumptions in relationship, but to ask ourselves, “How can I creatively engage with others?” Meditation helps us to open up to others and to such questions, thus making ourselves less self-absorbed. At the root of compassion is deep listening, which sometimes is the most we can do in a difficult situation.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] | Download [Play]

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 14 of 14 – Session 6

Speaker: Stephen Batchelor

The Buddha’s teaching was dialogic: interactive and responsive to the present circumstances. Stephen asks us to find the foundation beneath the superstructure of culture in order to understand the Buddha’s teaching. Stephen goes on to discuss what the Buddha meant by “entering the stream,” including three things that fall away for the stream enterer. He ends the seminar and the retreat by noting principles that are distinctly the Buddha’s, and not found in the superstructure of the Buddha’s time.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] | Download [Play]

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Stephen & Martine Batchelor - Godless Religion or Devout Atheism?

Here is the second installment of the Stephen and Martine Batchelor podcast series, parts 5-9. Originally posted at Integral Options Cafe.

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 5 of 14 – Session 3

Speaker: Stephen Batchelor

In this seminar, Stephen begins deconstructing Buddhism with the metaphor of the poisoned arrow. Buddhism does not deal with metaphysical explanations; instead, it urges us to act. The Buddha gave a template for a better society, not just a personal spiritual practice. Cautioning against the two dead ends of indulgence and asceticism, the Buddha saw a Middle Way for individuals as well as for society.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] | Download [Play]

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 6 of 14 – Discussion and Q & A

Speakers: Stephen & Martine Batchelor

Stephen and Martine take questions on topics including religiosity vs. the spiritual path; the story of the Buddha’s awakening; the way that the Buddha saw the Dharma as a healing medicine; stopping rebirth; and the validity of ancient texts.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] | Download [Play]

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 7 of 14 – Dharma Talk on Grasping & Creative Engagement

Speaker: Martine Batchelor

Martine describes the Buddhist phrase “no mind” not as anti-mind, but as a mind that sticks nowhere. What happens when we experience sense objects? Do we stick at the experience, trying to prolong or push away? At this point, meditation can help us develop the ability to choose whether it is skillful to engage creatively in the experience. Meditation exercises our ability to open up so that we see choice more clearly.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] | Download [Play]

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 8 of 14 – Session 4

Speaker: Stephen Batchelor

Stephen looks at the Buddha’s central metaphor of “awakening.” According to early Pali texts, the Buddha awoke to the Four Noble Truths. Often, we are taught that the Buddha awoke to original nature, or the Truth. The Four Noble Truths are alive, and they challenge our lives to act appropriately at every moment. In this seminar, Stephen also discusses the meaning of “dukkha,” and that the Buddha urges everyone to fully know it, to go directly into the darkness, where we may ultimately know a deep beauty.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] | Download [Play]

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 9 of 14 – Discussion and Q & A

Speakers: Stephen & Martine Batchelor

Martine begins the Q & A humorously with the topic of daydreaming; Stephen explains the meaning of “antaka;” attachment. Other topics in this session include feeling tones of sensation; unpacking sukkha; meditation; and the meaning and role of Mara.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] | Download [Play]

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Stephen and Martine Batchelor - Godless Religion or Devout Atheism?

Upaya Zen Center is posting an outstanding series of podcasts (14 in all) featuring Stephen and Martine Batchelor speaking on "Godless Religion or Devout Atheism?"

Stephen Batchelor is well-known, and perhaps infamous, for his book Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening. I am a tremendous fan of his modern approach to Buddhist practice. Each new culture that adopts Buddhism has adapted the teachings to make sense within its individual context. In Tibet, the Mahayana became the Vajrayana, which is central to all Tibetan lineages, but not identical with Tibetan Buddhism [Al Billings made an important correction on this point in the comments, for which I am grateful]; when Bodhidharma went to China, the teachings became the Ch'an tradition; in Japan, the Ch'an teachings became Zen.

We are now 2,500 years removed from the Buddha's enlightenment. The values and structures of human awareness have changed considerably since then. We are now more rational and less superstitious, so it is appropriate the Buddhist practice evolves to reflect who we are now as students. Progressive Buddhism, from my perspective, acknowledges the profound technology of enlightenment that the Buddha has left for us, but we also acknowledge that the cultural context of the original teachings are no longer appropriate to our current cultural context.

Perhaps unique among the current Buddhist teachers, Stephen Batchelor is offering us a progressive form of Buddhist practice. Enjoy the podcasts - I will post two more groups of five as they become available in the coming days.

Listen to the “Godless Religion or Devout Atheism?” series

For the next 10 days from Dec 18 to Dec 27, we will be sequentially releasing the podcasts from the Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? series recorded in October.

* * * * *

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 1 of 14 – Session 1

Speakers: Stephen and Martine Batchelor

Stephen opens the retreat asking, “What is Buddhism?” Is it devout atheism or a godless religion? Over the next few days, we will individually look at what the practice means to us. The West has begun to look at the different Buddhist traditions and scriptures in a way that has never happened before. We are fortunate in that we have a huge amount of information available to us. Martine discusses the practical set-up of the retreats, and sets the objectives for the meditations.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] [Play] [Play] | Download [Play] [Play] [Play]

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 2 of 14 – Session 2

Speaker: Stephen Batchelor

Stephen deconstructs what we know of Buddhism, offering interpretations and explaining cultural elements of Buddhism that came from the Buddha’s time. This reveals what is left of the Buddha’s original teaching. In original texts, the Eightfold Path ends with the Four Noble Truths, which in turn end in the Eightfold Path. Stephen discusses what society was like at the Buddha’s time and what most people knew about other cultures, histories, and ideas. Therefore, we must rethink the Four Noble Truths and perhaps unlearn what we have been taught about Buddhism.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] [Play] [Play] | Download [Play] [Play] [Play]

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 3 of 14 – Discussion and Q & A

Speakers: Stephen & Martine Batchelor

Topics include the myth of the Buddha vs. what we know to be more certain; the Buddha’s vision of society; unpacking the myth of the Buddha as a real man; the origin of merit in Buddhism.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] [Play] [Play] | Download [Play] [Play] [Play]

Godless Religion or Devout Atheism? Part 4 of 14 – Dharma Talk on Exploring Meditation

Speaker: Martine Batchelor

In Zen generally there are 2 types of meditation: samatha and vipassana, or concentration and open awareness. However, in practicing samatha, we do not concentrate to the exclusion of everything else. In vipassana, we can use the brightness of the mind to inquire, as looking deeply is what causes transformation. Through samatha and vipassana, we experience the diminution of habits.

Podcast: Play in new window [Play] [Play] [Play] | Download [Play] [Play] [Play]

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The future of Progressive Buddhism blog

Hi all,

Quiet isn't it?

The Progressive Buddhism blog has been running since August 2007. There have been 158 posts and we have 107 Blogger followers. There have some really great discussions.

I originally set the blog up because I wanted to be able to discuss Buddhism in an environment of free-enquiry (cough-esangha-cough) and because I wanted to be involved in the process of making Buddhism relevent and accessible for Westerners. From the start I wanted this to be a group thing rather than lone project - I knew I wouldn't be able to carry it by myself. And many people have expressed an interest in contributing but only a minority do - and of those only a very few have done so on an ongoing basis (thanks Justin. Things got a little quiet last year, but fortunately Kyle arrived with and contributed a great deal. But since he left, things have got a little quiet once more.

Under other circumstances I'd take up the challenge myself and try to contribute something at least once a week, and when I started blogging I had loads of time (I was freelancing) and loads of thoughts about progressive Buddhism. But that isn't really the case any more. I'm permanently employed with a long commute, a wife, a son and two dogs. I spend over an hour a day doing my Zen (and/or mindfulness) practice. And I'm a regular contributor to Zen Forum International, and other site. Also, my own attitude have shifted a little - it's not that I've become more of a traditionalist, it's more that with the expansion of secular mindfulness-based approaches I no longer see such a pressing need to 'reform' Buddhism in this regard. Secular and traditional approaches can sit alongside each other quite happily and people can choose which path suits them (apart from awkward people like myself who insist on doing both!).

Anyway it seems that we have three options:
  1. Close the blog
  2. Find new, regular contributors
  3. Simply accept that Progressive Buddhism is a quiet, infrequent blog due to it being a fairly niche interest
What do you all think?

Dharma News

Loading...