Secular Buddhism: An interview with Stephen Batchelor

Stephen Batchelor at Upaya Zen Center in New Mexico, by Ottmar Liebert

Secular means “of the times.”  It is a spirituality for our era.

Today, we begin our late winter theme “Order and Structure”, with an interview with Stephen Batchelor, author of Buddhism Without Beliefs and Confession of a Buddhist Atheist.  Stephen talks with B.T. Newberg via Skype about the intersections between Secular Buddhism and Naturalistic Paganism.

Click above to listen.

What is Secular Buddhism?  What does it mean to be Buddhist in this fashion?  What can Naturalistic Pagans and Secular Buddhists learn from each other?

These are just a few of the questions engaged by controversial author Stephen Batchelor, praised by some and condemned by others.

With characteristic calm and even-handedness, Batchelor responds to probing questions about his thoughts, practice, and projects as he attempts to articulate a naturalistic form of Buddhism appropriate to our era.

Finally, at the end of the interview, Batchelor explains what he means by the powerful and potentially inflammatory remark in the opening chapter of his Confession of a Buddhist Atheist:

“Never before had I encountered a truth I was willing to lie for.”

Discover all this and more in this engaging audio interview.  Click above to listen.

The interviewee

Stephen Batchelor

Stephen Batchelor is a contemporary Buddhist teacher and writer, best known for his secular or agnostic approach to Buddhism. Stephen considers Buddhism to be a constantly evolving culture of awakening rather than a religious system based on immutable dogmas and beliefs. In particular, he regards the doctrines of karma and rebirth to be features of ancient Indian civilisation and not intrinsic to what the Buddha taught. Buddhism has survived for the past 2,500 years because of its capacity to reinvent itself in accord with the needs of the different Asian societies with which it has creatively interacted throughout its history. As Buddhism encounters modernity, it enters a vital new phase of its development. Through his writings, translations and teaching, Stephen engages in a critical exploration of Buddhism’s role in the modern world, which has earned him both condemnation as a heretic and praise as a reformer.

His work, including audio, video, and publications, can be found at

Bio text and bio photo courtesy of

This Wednesday

This Wednesday, we continue with the intersection of Naturalistic Paganism and Eastern Religions with “Shinto Intertwined” by Ken Apple.

3 Comments on “Secular Buddhism: An interview with Stephen Batchelor

  1. I loved the book “Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist, his story resonated deeply for me. I urge anyone on this site to read his book.

  2. Pingback: Mysteria Misc. Maxima: February 7th, 2014 | Invocatio

%d bloggers like this: