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Lions Roar : September 2019
What is “secular Buddhism”? You could say it’s an attempt to bring the Enlightenent to enlightenment. Secular Buddhists reexamine Buddhism through a rationalist and humanistic lens in order to strip away superstition and religiosity added later and return it to the Buddha’s original teachings. They see the Buddha as a human being who discovered a path to end suffering, which he teaches us in the form of the four noble truths. Buddhism is of and for this world, and there’s no need to believe in anything beyond it. Stephen Batchelor, a former Buddhist monk, has laid out this approach in his books Buddhism Without Beliefs and Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. The fact is that many modern Buddhists have doubts about various traditional beliefs. As in all discussions of innovation versus tradition in Buddhism, the ques- tion is which beliefs are essential and which are optional. Top of the list for debate are rebirth and the existence of different realms and modes of being, both unen- lightened and enlightened, besides ours. Without them, is Buddhism just modern humanitarism plus the four noble truths? And if it is, maybe that’s okay. Discuss. As a queer person, I’d like to read some dharma books written by and for people like me. Can you recommend some books on Buddhism by LGBTQ teachers and practitioners? There is a wide range of excellent dharma books by LGBTQ teachers. Among those we recommend are: The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender, by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel (Wisdom); Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, by Rev. angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens (North Atlantic); Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusiv- ity and Community, by Larry Yang (Wisdom); Most Intimate: A Zen Approach to Life’s Challenges, by Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara (Shambhala); and Whole- hearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up by Koshin Paley Ellison (Wisdom). For memoirs by LGBTQ practitioners, check out Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home: A Memoir, by Natalie Goldberg (Shambhala); My Buddha Is Pink: Buddhism for the Modern Homosexual, by Richard Harrold (Sumeru); and The Narrow Way: A Memoir of Coming Out, Getting Clean, and Finding Buddha, by Chris Lemig (Mantra). WHO WHAT WHERE Tell us what you’d like to know about Buddhism and meditation at email@example.com DHARMA DRUM RETREAT CENTER DHARMA DRUM RETREAT CENTER in Pine Bush, New York, was founded in 1997 by the late Master Sheng Yen (1931–2009). It is affiliated with the Chan Meditation Center in Queens, New York, as well as with temples and centers in fourteen countries, from Canada to Australia. A leading Chinese Buddhist teacher, Master Sheng Yen was a dharma heir in both the Linji (Japanese: Rinzai) and Caodong (Japanese: Soto) schools of Chan (Japanese: Zen). Combining the two traditions, he created the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism, and went on to establish a spiritual, cultural, and educational foundation that he called Dharma Drum Mountain. Based in Taiwan, it’s now one of the most influential Chinese Buddhist organizations. Dharma Drum Retreat Center, nestled in woods and meadowland, lies below the ecologically protected Shawangunk Ridge in Upstate New York. When weather permits, sitting and walking meditation, as well as dharma study, are often held outdoors. Meditation retreats balance serious, strict practice with flexibility and gentleness. Retreats geared toward beginners focus on preliminary methods, such as fol- lowing the breath and recitation, while those for more seasoned practitioners focus on advanced Chan meth- ods such as silent illumination (Japanese: Shikantaza) and huatou (similar to koan practice). Dharma Drum Retreat Center also hosts Family Chan Camp, allowing children and their parents to explore practice together through yoga and meditation, the art of tea, nature hikes, and arts and crafts. MINJAEHONG LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2019 29 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE