Thursday, June 21, 2012

An idea whose time has come

It was a conversation with Stephen Batchelor that led to me starting this site. He said to me 'it's an idea whose time has come'. This obviously resounded with me personally but today the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its first lot of data from the 2011 Census and the figures provide support for the idea that 'secularising' the dharma is the way to go if we are to adapt it to this time and place.

A full 22.3% of Australians are 'nones' - up from 15% five years ago - that's a 47% increase! Christianity continued its steady decline. Interestingly, if you look at the Christian religions separately, Catholicism  is the only one with more adherents than 'No Religion' - with 25.3%. Buddhism is the largest non-Christian religion. (If you click on the link above you'll need to scroll about half way down the page.)

From the site:
Since the first Census, the majority of Australians have reported an affiliation with a Christian religion. However, there has been a long-term decrease in affiliation to Christianity from 96% in 1911 to 61% in 2011. Conversely, although Christian religions are still predominant in Australia, there have been increases in those reporting an affiliation to non-Christian religions, and those reporting 'No Religion'.


RELIGIOUS AFFILIATIONS

>







Population

Proportion born 
overseas(a)
Religion
'000

%

%





Christian
13 150.6

61.1

22.9

Catholic
5 439.2

25.3

24.0
Anglican
3 680.0

17.1

17.5
Uniting Church
1 065.8

5.0

11.4
Presbyterian and Reformed
599.5

2.8

26.3
Eastern Orthodox
563.1

2.6

43.6
Baptist
352.5

1.6

28.8
Lutheran
251.9

1.2

24.5
Pentecostal
238.0

1.1

32.6
Other Christian
960.7

4.5

31.0

Non-Christian
1 546.3

7.2

67.0

Buddhism
529.0

2.5

69.4
Islam
476.3

2.2

61.5
Hinduism
275.5

1.3

84.3
Judaism
97.3

0.5

48.9
Other non-Christian
168.2

0.8

57.2

No Religion
4 796.8

22.3

22.5

Total(b)
21 507.7

100.0

26.1





(a) Proportion of people reporting this religion who were born overseas.
(b) Total includes inadequately described (supplementary codes) religions and people who did not state a religion.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sutta Central launched!

I'm really pleased to announce the launch of Sutta Central. I've posted up the first sutta from Stephen Batchelor's selection (To the Kalamas) along with questions for reflection and some answers offered.

The idea is to make available to all, the kind of knowledge a small number of us are lucky to have ready access to. In my case I've been lucky to have easy access to the mind of Winton Higgins (see the US web site for a podcast interview with Winton) in getting my head around the core concepts in the dharma, as well as periodic access to Stephen Batchelor. So the idea of this section of the web site is to share the informed secular perspective on some suttas that are key to this perspective so that people who may not have access to their own walking dharmic encyclopedia can do some assisted study themselves.

Check it out and if you have any questions, post them on our Forum under Canonical discussion. I might even be able to convince Winton to answer them for you! It does take a bit of work to put these together so I'd really like to know if people find them valuable. If so, I'm very happy to keep doing them.

More great stuff coming soon!
Warm regards (on a cold, rainy Sydney day)
Lenore

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Share your favourite heart-movers

Secular Buddhism needs you!

What are the movies, poems, songs, Youtube clips, cartoons, pictures or other inspirations from the arts, that move your heart in dharmic ways?

While logic and rationality serve us very well, it's our emotions that move us. Indeed they are what make our decisions. There are lots of resources for the mind on many of our sites (and more to come soon here) but equally important is to feel and experience the dharma. This is also going to be an awesome way to adapt it to our western culture - to clothe it in our way if you like. So come and be part of it!

I've recently posted the first few submissions on Resources for the heart. Even just the first few ideas are exciting - some movies I've never heard of and will now have to see! Have a look and please, take a few minutes to submit your own favourites. (As they accumulate I'll collapse them down and have links to a page per theme.)

Also, if you have other email lists, blogs you follow or web sites you contribute to, please spread the word and link to the Resources for the heart page. This is open to contributions from anyone and here to benefit everyone.

More exciting things coming soon!

Warm regards

Lenore