June 15, 2010
Over at The New Humanism (TNH), a publication of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, there is a special issue dedicated to Secular Buddhism, featuring, among others—and not surprisingly—Tricycle contributing editor Stephen Batchelor, author of the recently published Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. In "No Future in a Parrot's Egg: Digging into the Humanist Heart of Buddhism" Batchelor writes,
I reject karma and rebirth not only because I find them unintelligible, but because I believe they obscure and distort what the Buddha was trying to say. Rather than offering the balm of consolation, the Buddha encouraged us to peer deep and unflinchingly into the heart of the bewildering and painful experience that life can so often be.
Batchelor goes on to debunk what he considers the spurious argument that it's only a belief in karma that is likely to keep us in line. If anything, he argues, such beliefs only work to diminish our inclination to take on responsibility for our world and the suffering in it.
Other articles include "Meditation in the Lab," by TNH editor Rick Heller; "Drawing Wisdom from the Past: A Humanist Appreciation of Buddhist Sources," by Buddha's Pillow blogger Paul Creedon; "Secular Meditation: Neuroscience and Practice," a TNH video teaching secular meditation; "Black Infidels: Humanism and African-American Social Thought," by writer/scholar Sikivu Hutchinson; and "Freedom from Gods: What Humanists Can Learn from the Soviet Experience," by psychiatrist and university professor Yakov Shapiro.