Religious v. Secular — the Current Schism


photo by alexander mueller (creative commons)

Twitter spit out this very thoughtful article by the Ven. Bikkhu Bodhi, at Secular Buddhism: Aotearoa | New Zealand. The article is titled, “Facing the Great Divide”, outlines clearly the differences between secular and religious Buddhism. Bodhi is more than qualified to weigh in on the topic — his Amazon author page brings up 11 titles. The article opens:

“As the winding river of Buddhist tradition flows beyond the boundaries of its Asian homelands and enters the modern West, it has arrived at a major watershed from which two distinct streams have emerged, which for convenience we may call ‘Classical Buddhism’ and ‘Secular Buddhism.’ The former continues the heritage of Asian Buddhism, with minor adaptations made to meet the challenges of modernity. The latter marks a rupture with Buddhist tradition, a re-visioning of the ancient teachings intended to fit the secular culture of the West.”

What followed is a measured, well reasoned, well informed treatment of the topic, and if you’ve read this far I recommend you read it for yourself.


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Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

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