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I’d like to address both questions in one article, because they tend to roll into one another in conversations. To define a secular Buddhist is not easy, and anything we come up with that may fit one person is not going to apply to many others.
However, we do have some commonalities, but again, these are not going to apply to all secular Buddhists: What do they believe? I could go on, but I’m hoping you’ll see that defining secular Buddhists is difficult and perhaps unnecessary.
The one thing we do share is an interest in Buddhism, the practice, and we want to suffer less or not at all.
People are coming to secular Buddhism from many walks of life from Christianity and Judaism, from Atheism and Humanism, to many of the various established Buddhist traditions. Many Buddhists, if they have worked with meditation and mindfulness much, get to the point where they are good at discovering their own beliefs, dissecting them, and letting go of them where appropriate.
Secular Buddhism is new on the block compared to our sister traditions, and secular Buddhists’ approaches to practice is almost as varied as the people themselves. In doing so, we’d create a stereotype that simply wouldn’t fit many secular Buddhists, and frankly secular Buddhists and Buddhism does not exist in and of itself any more than anything else. Belief, after all, is simply an idea that one clings to, in some cases with compelling evidence, and in other cases with no evidence at all. It’s how human beings form world views, but this Buddhist practice is wonderful in helping us examine them.
If Secular Buddhist appeals to you, then have at it.