Zoketsu Norman Fischer, a senior dharma teacher at the San Francisco Zen Center, has an interesting article in the latest issue of Buddhadharma magazine (a portion of which is available online). In the article he states that as a teacher, he has a “Plan A” approach in which he teaches Soto Zen “with all the usual bells and whistles,” and a “Plan B” approach in which he teaches meditation in secular contexts, such as at Google, with doctors and businesspeople and so forth.
He also writes “the idea that Buddhism and Buddhist mediation [is] nonreligious . . is considered completely incorrect by most contemporary Buddhist scholars I know and have read.” I’ve read a lot of academic scholarship on Buddhism myself, and I agree that most would consider Buddhism a religion (because it is one), but I’ve never seen anyone assert that Buddhist mediation can have no role in secular contexts. Fischer asserts “they maintain that whatever good might come from mediation practice as a so-called secular activity is pretty superficial.” I’ve never seen anyone express that opinion–I think at the very least Fischer makes a vast over-generalization.