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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
ann gleig 37 Perhaps the best-known secular Buddhist is teacher and author Stephen Batchelor. Batchelor’s secular Buddhism—or Buddhism 2.0, as he also calls it—replaces the ideal of nibbana with the goal of human flourishing, within the context of the noble eightfold path, in this world. He sees this as a shift from belief-based Buddhism to one based in real-life application. Batchelor has long been a controversial figure in Western Buddhism for claiming that belief in reincarna- tion is not a necessary component of Buddhist practice or identity. Tibetan Buddhist Alan Wallace has accused Batchelor of promoting a “distorted vision of Buddhism,” and public exchanges between the two exemplify tensions between traditionalist and secular currents within Western Buddhism. Nowhere are concerns around the secularization of Buddhism more evident, however, than in debates about the secular mindful- ness movement. In the last decade, mindfulness has spread from Buddhist monasteries and retreat centers to mainstream cultural arenas including medicine, education, and business. As Jeff Wilson traces in Mindful America (2014), the secular mindfulness move- ment has its roots in modernist reforms that took place in Asia, but it has been popularized in recent decades in large part through the influence of the Insight meditation movement, the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. In 2011, Shambhala Publications published The Mindfulness Revolution. Edited by Barry Boyce, a longtime Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, the anthology features enthusiastic reflections on mind- fulness from notable Buddhist teachers such as Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Pema Chödrön, and Norman Fischer. Throughout, Buddhist and secular perspectives blend seamlessly, with contribu- tors highlighting the distinction between Buddhism as a group of religious traditions and the dharma as a universal truth. Mindfulness, then, can be offered as an expression of that universal reality, which is available to anyone without need for a specific religious commit- ment or identity. From this perspective, secular mindfulness is a form of upaya. Not all American Buddhists have been as enthusiastic about the secular mindfulness movement, though. In 2010, Miles Neale, codi- rector of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, coined the