Warning!! Remember the Diamond sutra Warning!!.

Prajna Z-Quest on a Secular Path

A Secular Path?

Intro - Does secular mean path?

Recently zandtao has been watching Stephen Batchelor in clips. When he studied the Art of Solitude in Viveka-Zandtao, he had not realised that Stephen was a key figure in what is termed “Secular Buddhism”; in fact the title of Stephen’s book “Buddhism without Beliefs” had previously attracted zandtao, but he had not engaged with it because of what he perceived as Stephen’s intellect. Initially he had felt that intellect was too strong, the kind of strength that is often egoic; previously zandtao has not engaged in a z-quest with intellectual egos because of his experience throughout his life in education with similar egos.

What Stephen is doing could be full of intellectual ego, he is attempting to build a secular Buddhism. This is a task of monumental egoism, basically to tear down the walls of tradition, assign much of that tradition to the realm of belief, and develop a Buddhism without Beliefs. But zandtao knows of one other person who has done some of that – Ajaan Buddhadasa, and Buddhadasa is his teacher. Zandtao definitely does not think that Buddhadasa has a monumental ego otherwise he would not be his teacher. As yet zandtao is unsure of Stephen’s ego, but to be fair he thinks he recalls Stephen questioning his own ego – a good sign.

Zandtao does not wish to join in a process of secularising Buddhism, he does not even wish to promote any process of secularisation. Eckhart has his two mysteries of consciousness – being and evolving, that in the Prajna portal zandtao simply describes as consciousness. Zandtao has a relationship with consciousness, zandtao wants to reconnect with Dhamma seeing that as the 4th foundation, and he has faith in the path.

This is a real relationship, it is substantive but of course it is not tangible. It is also not subject to description by language, and it is this weakness of language that leads zandtao (from Buddhadasa) to talk of two truths – absolute and relative truth. When he speaks of having faith in the path, this has great meaning for zandtao, but how much meaning does it have for seekers? Does it have meaning for Stephen or would he include it in metaphysics?

Would Stephen include the 3 memes in his secular Buddhism? What zandtao understands and advises through the 3-memes is essential to zandtao. If this were to be dismissed by another, it would be a dismissal of truth based on zandtao's experience, and because the 3-memes is based in experience such a dismissal at best would be questionable. For any seeker the truth of their genuine experience cannot be dismissed.

Zandtao has not discussed his own personal truth with Stephen, and he is unsure as to whether Stephen would include zandtao’s own personal reality within secular Buddhism. If he were to understand that reality and not include it, this would cause zandtao to have many questions – and emotionally be tempted to reject Stephen’s own secular Buddhism.

But such a position of rejection can only arise after much study – and even then might be too emotional; too full of ditthupadana. Such a rejection would be part of confrontation between views – zandtao’s views and Stephen’s views, and this confrontation of views is not at all constructive. Zandtao would not call his relationship with the Dhamma as being a view, the relationship is in a permanent state of change – anicca. Zandtao avoids ditthi, and as such zandtao has no beliefs; at this point in time zandtao's path could be called a Buddhism without Belief. If the path is described it is a description based in experience – not theoretical constructs such as beliefs.

So we come to what this z-quest is concerned with. It has 2 themes – clarifying my own relationship with the Dhamma, and building a process for seekers to develop their relationship with the Dhamma – the Path. This might possibly be called a Path story – similar to the Seeker Story.

To clarify his own relationship zandtao will use z-quest on Stephen’s book Buddhism without Beliefs; he notes that Stephen is an easy read – from The Art of Solitude. Maybe this will lead to other of Stephen's books; who knows? In clarifying his relationship with the Dhamma, zandtao hopes a Path story will arise.

As this z-quest developed zandtao found himself more and more in disagreement with Stephen; zandtao has found himself critical of Stephen often. Writing as z-quest is so detailed and is very unfair. No writer should expect such meticulous consideration. Usually this doesn't matter as zandtao's choice of z-quest books is usually supportive of the writer but this z-quest ended up being critical of Stephen. This is an apology.

Spoiler Alert - Within section 1 there is a specific style of approach of this z-quest relating to Stephen's book approach. At the end of section 1 zandtao reached a position of end of squirming and the reason he is noting that here is that the style of writing changed from section 2 onwards. The squirming was not fun writing.

[Note about References - zandtao uses Calibre (donation-ware) as his eBook reader, his references can only be found through Calibre.]


Books:- Zanshadtao/Viveka-Zandtao/Treatise, Pathtivism Manual, Pathtivism Companion/ Wai Zandtao Scifi/ Matriellez Education.
Blogs:- Zandtao, Matriellez, Mandtao.