Secular Buddhism: an Oxymoron

So it looks like we are heading away from the Theravada tradition and more toward an orientation of nonreligious or ‘secular’ Buddhism. Actually I don’t like either of those terms, and together they seem especially ugly and oxymoronic.

While secular can simply mean nonreligious, it also has a primary definition of ‘having no religious or spiritual basis’ and the dictionary lists its antonym as ‘sacred’. Our work is certainly in the nonreligious realm, if only because we consider the religious aspect of Buddhism as an unnecessary overlay on the original self-sufficient teaching of the Buddha. But our work is also sacred because we are dealing with the fundamental meaning of life and the deep properties of existence and consciousness.

‘Spiritual’ is another label that doesn’t really apply to our work. The Buddha never made a distinction between material and spiritual because from the point of view of the Middle Way, there isn’t any need for such extreme duality. The truth doesn’t easily fit in the convenient categories created in western language to describe it. We are dealing directly with the process of becoming, Dependent Origination or pattica-samuppada, and we explore various applications of this technology in both the sacred and secular realms.

So is The Dharmasar Solution ‘Buddhism’? No, because we don’t accept the orthodox interpretations of any religious Buddhist sect. Plus we take the Buddha’s teaching out of the constraints of the religious context and expand its scope into areas usually considered nonreligious, such as personal improvement and performance enhancement. Then is it ‘secular Buddhism’? Not as it is ordinarily defined, because we include sacred concerns such as the various stages of enlightenment, Four Noble Truths and the complete Noble Eightfold Path in the scope of our work.

None of the ordinary labels apply because what we are doing is not simply accepting parts of the Buddha’s teaching and ignoring the rest. We accept the whole of the Buddha’s original teaching and critically analyze anything that was added later, rejecting anything out of agreement with the Suttas. For example, we accept parts of Visuddhimagga but not all; similarly, we accept whatever agrees with the Suttas in The Secret of the Golden Flower.

The real criterion for The Dharmasar Solution is what works. We prioritize information according to its trustworthiness and practical value according to our experience. What your find here is a collection of the most powerful conceptual tools and practices I have found in more than 60 years of searching for the best in self-realization. Please make use of it to improve your life and reach the highest destiny possible from this planet.

“Be free from perplexity and doubt about this. Just this is the end of suffering.” — Parivimamsana Sutta

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Dev Jacobsen

Musician, author and yogi, developer of Palingenics.

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