Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What is a Secular Buddhist?

Well here's the definition of "secular" from Websters:

  1. of or relating to the worldly or temporal
  2. not overtly or specifically religious
  3. not ecclesiastical or clerical
Now, what exactly is a "Buddhist?"

That's hard to define. One definition of a Buddhist is anyone who has studied the teachings of the Buddha. That's not a bad definition, since the teachings of the Buddha are often contradictory and very often too difficult to extract one firm understanding. In the schools of Buddhism one of the schools is the school of Zen. One of their teachings would be shocking to anyone who wants to view Buddhism as a religion. That teaching is that if you "see the Buddha on the road, kill him." This is a very subtle teaching What it means in essence is that if you've created some "image" or some "view" of the Buddha, then if you see it kill it. In other words, stop living in your mind and be free from what it says to you.

So, a "secular Buddhist" is someone who is not overtly or specifically religious. For many, it doesn't mean they are atheists. However, for others the "worldly or temporal" part eliminates any possibility for denying the existence of God.

Regardless, being "secular" or "Buddhist" mean many different things to many different people. This blog is meant to embrace them all. The definition is inclusive as opposed to exclusive. It can mean different things to different people.


  1. Interesting.
    Why is it that you choose to call yourself a secular Buddhist, as opposed to a secular humanist ?
    Which Buddhist teachings or books do you feel are important to you ?

  2. Just found your blog, I don't know if you're still interested in secular buddhism in Houston, but I am, and I'm looking for people to network with, maybe get a meetup thing going. I've been writing up some stuff on my own blog, if you're interested.