New Books Network

Stephen Batchelor

Secular Buddhism

Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World

Yale University Press 2017

New Books in Buddhist StudiesNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in SecularismNew Books in Spiritual Practice and MindfulnessNew Books Network October 22, 2018 Carrie Lynn Evans

As the practice of mindfulness permeates mainstream Western culture, more and more people are engaging in a traditional form of Buddhist meditation. However, many...

As the practice of mindfulness permeates mainstream Western culture, more and more people are engaging in a traditional form of Buddhist meditation. However, many of these people have little interest in the religious aspects of Buddhism, and the practice occurs within secular contexts such as hospitals, schools, and the workplace. Clinical trials show that practicing Buddhist meditation has benefits regardless of whether or not one subscribes to the religion, raising fundamental questions about the nature of Buddhism itself. Today’s book, Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World (Yale University Press, 2017) is a collected volume of Stephen Batchelor’s writings which explore the complex implications of Buddhism’s secularization. He explores questions such as, Is it possible to recover from the Buddhist teachings a vision of human flourishing that is secular rather than religious without compromising the integrity of the tradition? And, Is there an ethical framework that can underpin and contextualize these practices in a rapidly changing world? Ranging widely—from reincarnation, religious belief, and agnosticism to the role of the arts in Buddhist practice—Batchelor offers a detailed picture of contemporary Buddhism and its attempt to find a voice in the modern world.

Stephen Batchelor is a teacher and scholar of Buddhism, as well as a cofounder and faculty member at Bodhi College based in the UK. He trained as a monk for ten years in traditional Buddhist communities and now presents a secular approach to Buddhist practice, having also written the bestselling book, Buddhism without Beliefs.


Carrie Lynn Evans is a PhD student at Université Laval in Quebec City.