Tag: Buddhist Modernism

BuddhismPhilosophy

Buddhism, Marxism, and Negating Self-centeredness — Preliminary Remarks on the Philosophy of Neville Wijeyekoon

summary — In 1943, S.N.B. (Neville) Wijeyekoon published a book under the pseudonym Leuke aiming to compare Buddhism and Marxism. It starts out doing so indeed, but the second half of the book presents his own philosophy focused on achieving mental harmony by negating self-centeredness through “merging one’s self in social welfare”. Wijeyekoon’s wrote two more books, and in one of those he further developed aspects of this idea, while eliminating the overt Buddhist and Marxist influence. This long blog post summarizes and comments on two of Wijeyekoon’s books (namely, his first and third). I do not have access to...
BuddhismPhilosophy

Pop-Stoicism as Ideology

Stoicism was a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium around 300 BC. Stoic philosophy consisted of logic, (meta-) physics, and ethics. There has been a bit of an upsurge of interest in stoicism recently among widely different segments of society, ranging from right-wing extremists and male supremacists to Secular Buddhists and self-help gurus. Typically, this resurgent “stoicism” ignores most of Stoic philosophy and focuses on a simplified version of selected ethical doctrines. (And that selection, moreover, depends on the interests of the group that does the selecting.) The most prominent doctrine of this “pop-stoicism” is the idea...
Buddhism

Is Secular Buddhism Possible?

The question whether secular Buddhism is possible might seem absurd at first. Varieties of what has been, or could be called “secular Buddhism” have been around for well over a century, and there is a sizable group of people who consider themselves “secular Buddhists”. So, of course, “secular Buddhism” is possible. So, let’s be a bit more precise. My question is not really whether there are “things” (in a rather broad sense of “thing”) that could be or have been called “secular Buddhism”, but whether there could be something that is genuinely secular and simultaneously genuinely (a variety of) Buddhism....
Buddhism

Nan-in and the Professor — A Western Zen Parable

“A Cup of Tea” is a short Zen story that is quite famous and popular among Western (Zen) Buddhists. It’s a bit of a peculiar story, however, as I hope to make clear in the following. Before we turn to that, let’s start with the story itself: Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.The professor watched the [cup] overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”“Like this...
Buddhism

On Secular and Radical Buddhism

In a number of influential books and articles, Stephen Batchelor has proposed, developed, and defended something he has called (among others) “secular Buddhism” and “Buddhism 2.0”. The idea of such a secular or scientific or naturalistic or otherwise not traditionally religious kind of Buddhism isn’t new – it has been especially popular among 20th and 21st Western converts to Buddhism, but there have been Asian precursors as well. Nevertheless, the idea is also somewhat controversial. Adherents of “secular Buddhism” like Batchelor typically consider it a return to the roots of Buddhism and to the original teachings of the Buddha, but...