About :: Mission
While plotting and planning the podcast, it quickly became apparent that focus was going to be a problem! So I borrowed a little-cared-for buzzword from the corporate world, finally finding use for it: The Mission Statement. Though, in all fairness, I'm sure upper management finds use in quantifying the Mission. And since that's kinda the role I'm in this time around, it makes some sense. Though it pains me to say it.
So, bearing that in mind, here are a few points to use as the Mission Statement for The Secular Buddhist podcast:
- Share accurate information, clarify misperceptions, and critically examine the teaching and practice of early Buddhism of interest to a secular audience.
- Distinguish cultural accretions from that teaching and practice, and discuss secular Buddhist culture.
- Discuss other topics and skills, like critical thinking, of benefit to the practice of secular Buddhism.
- Discuss issues pertaining to separation of church and state, as they impact both traditional Buddhism and secular practice.
Notice some redundancy? Yeah, me too. Some of that is a nod to the repetitive nature of the Pali discourses, part of it is a very real desire to not lose sight of who the audience is as times goes on. Here are a few explanations of what you find in the Mission Statement above:
- Share accurate information/Clarify misperceptions: Two sides of the same informational coin, what is accurate and what is not. Accurate is not meant to be taken in an absolute sense! It is merely an indication of our best understanding of what early Buddhism presents.
- Teaching and practice: Teaching without practice can very easily become toothless conjecture; practice without teaching is like driving without a map. Both are necessary for positive growth.
- Early Buddhism: The Pali canon is a common root in Buddhist thought, and offers practical insights to leading a tranquil, happy life without dependency on anything but oneself.
- Interest to a secular audience: With the qualities of a philosophy and a religion, Buddhism's empirical practice can be hidden by trappings not part of the actual teaching. This podcast intends to sift through these religious aspects to focus on early Buddhism's secular structure.
- Critically examine: Critical thinking is an indispensible tool in the pursuit of understanding. Far from rejecting the impartiality and intellectual honesty of critical investigation, Buddhism is itself a methodology for "seeing things as they really are," and invites it with the principle "come and see."
- Distinguish cultural accretions: In the same way that religious practices can obscure a teaching, cultural manifestations can also be confused for that teaching. Will will wade through some of these cultural additions, teasing culture from doctrine.
- Discuss secular Buddhist culture: That being said, we find ourselves in a culture! Contemporary Western Buddhism can sometimes be a perplexing mix, due to its background of Eastern ways blending with Western people and tastes. The podcast will talk about this newly forming culture, and how it may (or may not!) take into account a secular world view.
- Discuss other topics and skills, like critical thinking: Buddhism is about seeing things as they are, but unfortunately this often gets lost under the more mystical leanings some traditions may encourage. Developing one's critical thinking skills is helpful both on and off the cushion!
- Separation of church and state: You don't have to be a political activist to be impacted by this hot topic. Small, seemingly innocuous additions to our legal systems and even just our government buildings are attempted every day, affect your right to the faith, or non-faith, of your choice.