CPBD 076: Stephen Batchelor – Secular Buddhism

by Luke Muehlhauser on October 31, 2010 in Buddhism,Podcast

(Listen to other episodes of Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot here.)

Today I interview Stephen Batchelor about Secular Buddhism.

    Download CPBD episode 076 with Stephen Batchelor. Total time is 52:17.

    Stephen Batchelor links:

    Links for things we discussed:

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    { 10 comments… read them below or add one }

    stamati October 31, 2010 at 9:07 am

    I liked this CPBD episode a lot. Batchelor cites the problems I also have with Buddhism. He said that people are very concerned about submitting to tradition when those traditions themselves have evolved to be so different from the traditions they came out of. It seems reasonable that that ought to be able to continue within Buddhism. He also said “people become tied to [the traditions] and are unable to grow up.” Yes. But so many things in Buddhism are conducive to the process of accepting life and becoming more aware of it, that it is a shame people would get caught up in the culturally specific and outdated aspects of it.

    Anyway, I’m glad you did this interview, Luke. I wasn’t really aware of this guy and now I feel like I ought to pick up his books.


    Bill Maher October 31, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Good interview. Batchelor is a very knowledgeable and honest guy.


    Camus Dude October 31, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Great episode. I always love listening to Batchelor so I was glad to see you got to have him on your show! (I highly recommend his “Confession of a Buddhist Atheist”.)

    I do find value in the de-mythologized Buddhism of Batchelor, and I think he argues convincingly Siddhatta Gottama himself. Although I like Batchelor’s Buddhism, I do prefer the Hellenistic philosophies of Cynicism and Epicureanism (and to a lesser extent Stoicism).


    Sabio Lantz November 3, 2010 at 2:55 am

    I have been told many times that my views on Buddhism sound like Batchelor. I have not read him yet, but this interview was like “seeing the movie instead of reading the book”. Thank you.


    Shane McKee November 3, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    This was a really good episode; the Reasonable Doubts chappies did an interview series with Stephen Batchelor a few weeks ago. I particularly enjoyed your brief discussion about what “Secular Buddhism” might mean, and I thought Stephen’s honest response was fantastic.
    I have had my own thoughts in a similar vein about Christianity, and have wondered whether an Atheistic Christianity might be possible, either as a sort of end in itself, or as a stepping stone for quasi-believers to outright atheism or agnosticism. Some of the products of my musings are on The Church of Jesus Christ Atheist, and any feedback is welcome. I appreciate that some folks will not find it to their taste ;-)


    qapla November 6, 2010 at 3:45 am

    @Camus Dude
    I too very much love the Hellenistic philosophies of Cynicism and Epicureanism (and to a lesser extent Stoicism).
    But the Greek/Hellenistic and Indian philosophies are not as unconnected as many may think.

    The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies
    By Thomas McEvilley

    Greek Buddhism Pt. 1 thru 4

    Burke Lecture: Buddhism in a Global Age of Technology


    Greco-Buddhist art

    Buddhism and Christianity

    much respect


    Luke Muehlhauser November 6, 2010 at 6:54 am


    Good links!


    Sabio Lantz November 6, 2010 at 9:58 am


    I recently heard someone else recommend Thomas McEvilley. When I read Amazon book reviews, several reviewers felt his work was a bit sloppy and agenda driven. Do you have any thoughts on that?
    Thanks for the links, I will be watching them.
    – Sabio


    qapla November 8, 2010 at 7:29 am

    @Sabio Lantz
    I would say check out the links above and read the book,
    then decide for yourself.

    much respect


    qapla December 22, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Episode 24 :: Stephen Batchelor :: Secular Buddhism Arising

    Episode 43 :: Stephen Schettini :: The Novice
    Stephen Schettini speaks about his experiences as a Tibetan monk in his book, The Novice: Why I Became A Buddhist Monk, Why I Quit, And What I Learned.

    Episode 29 :: Rick Bateman :: Secular Buddhism Canada Style



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