Since the mid nineties I have had a very keen interest in studying meditation. Around that time I was exposed to a number of philosophies of mainly the new age kind through the bands I was in and through the company I kept.
This created a healthy environment of wonderment and questioning about what life is about and what makes human beings (especially me as I point the finger inwards) do the things that they do. Out of all the books I read, the people I had spoken to and the philosophies I was exposed to, it turns out that for me, Buddhism was the only thing that really made sense.
Now, there were periods of time where I was right into the study and other times where I had let it lapse but if I was ever asked what religion I adhered to, I would answer Buddhism. However, there was always one thing that confused me about Buddhism and my relationship to it. I have never seen Buddhism as a religion but more of a method of living.
Now, some schools of Buddhism seem to have a more religious or doctrinal approach to them while others not so but all I wanted to do at the end of the day was practise this method of living without any of the superstitious or religious overtones. It wasn’t until very recently that I discovered that my “Buddhism without the religion” actually has a name… Secular Buddhism.
Now when asked about my religion (mainly through other religious people who knock at my door from time to time) I can reply “I don’t have one, but I am a Secular Buddhist” (much to the amusement or confusion of the questioner). According to Wikipedia, Secular Buddhism is…
“… a broad term for an emerging form of Buddhism and secular spirituality that is based on humanist, skeptical, and/or agnostic values, as well as pragmatism and (often) naturalism, rather than religious (or more specifically supernatural or paranormal) beliefs.”
It’s also referred to as Western Buddhism or Buddhist Atheism. Once I found a name for my rediscovered path, everything else just started to make sense. Therefore, my Buddhist study would be of a secular nature and my meditation and mindfulness study would come from the disciplined Zen Buddhist tradition of Japan. In future posts, I’ll be writing about what I discover on this particular path but in the meantime I’m just happy to “be” in this very moment.