"“And what is the result of stress? There are some cases in which a person overcome with pain, his mind exhausted, grieves, mourns, laments, beats his breast, & becomes bewildered. Or one overcome with pain, his mind exhausted, comes to search outside, ‘Who knows a way or two to stop this pain?’ I tell you, monks, that stress results either in bewilderment or in search. This is called the result of stress.”—AN 6.63
"Many people who come to the Buddhist group with which I am involved, and I am sure this applies to other groups too, say when they start meditation that they want something “secular”; they do not want “the trappings,” or “Buddhism as a religion.”—Sarah Shaw
The SBS News article was interesting, particularly the section on how religions are trying to adapt.
What made me smile was the Anglican church introducing afternoon services because teenagers like to sleep in on a Sunday morning.
I’ve met quite a few people with a secular orientation to Buddhism, interested in meditation and mindfulness, but not so much in what they regard as the “supernatural” stuff like rebirth and realms.
Buddhism has adapted to many different cultures over the centuries, so the emergence of secular Buddhism could be seen as the latest adaptation, in this case adapting to increasing secularisation in some societies.
With regards to Buddhism, the religion is taking a hit when it comes to retaining gen Z who come from Buddhist immigrant parents whose main Buddhist practice basically boils down to rituals and “I donate this, for a good rebirth” mentality.
Rituals have a place in Buddhism, but when Rituals have taken over everything about Buddhism, the more educated and less superstitious gen Z will reject it. It also doesn’t help that when it comes to learning about Buddhism most parents are forcing it down kids throats and making us do standardised tests at Sunday school which includes a large portion of Abhidhamma.
The way Buddhism is presented to kids from Buddhist backgrounds needs to change.
Generation Z (aka Gen Z, iGen, or centennials), refers to the generation that was born between 1997-2012, following millennials . This generation has been raised on the internet and social media, with some of the oldest finishing college by 2020 and entering the workforce.
This is to satisfy the need for the mysterious and unknown and presented in a scientific format, because some Buddhist sutta concepts are subversive to the western scientific view and therefore avoided.
This is a really good point. I attend a wat in the United States founded by the Thai immigrant community and which also attracts members of the Lao immigrant community. The older generation for the most part speak Thai and Lao and are very devoted to the Buddhist traditions they brought with them to the United States. The younger generation born in the United States prefer to speak English. The school-aged children in particular are much more interested in the things teenagers and pre-teens in the United States are into such as sports, video games, pop music, and popular culture. They come to the wat with their parents and grandparents but it’s like Christian kids in the U.S. who make the obligatory church visits for Christmas and Easter.
The good news is that I have noticed that when the American-born children of Thai and Lao immigrants get married and start having families of their own, all of a sudden they become more interested in coming to the wat to make sure their own children have an experience with Buddhism, even if much of it is focused on the ritualistic aspects of the religion.
Yes, I think secularism is due in part to better scientific education, but I’ve also noticed a reaction against the orthodoxy of organised religion. Like people want to be “spiritual” in a more individual way.
Maybe and maybe not. I see that science has become just another religion, and scientists a form of priesthood. Most of the interesting science and research is still “indie-science”, available for scientists that just don’t give a damn about money or success, or they have retired and become free from the machine.
But there might be some hope with how education has changed so it fits a larger degree of whole-brain thinking and living, not just the left-hemisphere and explicit mechanical violent way we have got ourselves stuck into.
The title of a linked article “secularism is not atheism” pretty much nails what I have to say.
I think it is a kind of laziness. People were born into a religion, it didn’t really speak to them as a contemporary person, they never bothered to learn more, and they have a popular media image of that religion in their mind which is mostly likely incorrect.
When economic times become hard enough, interest in religion goes back up.
Still, I think secularism – really consumerism distracting people from religion or atheism – is better than having more religious people around who
who are literalists about the writings of their religion
who have not read the writings at all but trust preachers to tell them what is there
people who use the religion to promote foolish behaviors
I don’t see secularism as an “adaptation” rather as a distortion. Buddhism teaches the 8 Fold Noble Path, which includes meditation and mindfulness, but also and more importantly includes right view, right speech, right action, and so on. I have met no end of secular millenials ( and younger) who want to skip past all that pesky ethical stuff and straight to the meditation because they aren’t interested in a spiritual system, they are instead interested in a panacea. Meditation has become another commodified narcotic to alleviate stress, etc, never mind the fact that actual meditation in a Buddhist sense includes all aspects of the 8FNP as a prerequisite.