Stephen Batchelor

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Stephen Batchelor
Stephen Batchelor.jpg
Stephen Batchelor at Upaya Zen Center in New Mexico
Religion Buddhism
Nationality British
Born (1953-04-07) 7 April 1953 (age 69)
Dundee, Scotland
Spouse Martine Batchelor
Senior posting
Title Buddhist Author and Teacher
Religious career

Stephen Batchelor (born 7 April 1953) is a British author, teacher, and scholar, writing books and articles on Buddhist topics and leading meditation retreats throughout the world. He is a noted proponent of agnostic or secular Buddhism.


Batchelor was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1953. When he was three, his family relocated briefly to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where his parents separated. He returned with his mother Phyllis (b. 1913) to England, where he was raised in a humanist environment with his younger brother David in Watford, Hertfordshire. After completing his secondary education at Watford Grammar School, in February 1972, at the age of eighteen, he embarked on an overland journey which eventually led him to India. He settled in Dharamsala, the capital-in-exile of the Dalai Lama, and studied with Geshé Ngawang Dhargyey at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. He was ordained as a novice monk in the Gelug tradition in 1974. A few months after ordination, he sat a ten-day Vipassana meditation retreat with the Indian teacher S.N. Goenka, which proved a lasting influence on his practice, and aroused his curiosity about other traditions of Buddhism.

He left India in 1975 in order to study Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and doctrine under the guidance of Geshe Rabten, first at the Tibet Institute Rikon then in Le Mont-Pèlerin (both in Switzerland), where he helped Geshé Rabten to establish the Tharpa Choeling (now Rabten Choeling). The next year he received full ordination as a monk. In 1979 he moved to Germany as a translator for Geshé Thubten Ngawang at the Tibetisches Institut, Hamburg.

In April 1981 Batchelor travelled to Songgwangsa Monastery in South Korea to train in Zen Buddhism under the guidance of Kusan Sunim. At the monastery, he met Martine Fages, a Frenchwoman who had ordained as a nun in 1975. He remained in Korea until the autumn of 1984, when he left for a pilgrimage to Buddhist sites in Japan, China and Tibet.

Following the death of Kusan Sunim, Batchelor and Martine Fages disrobed in February 1985 and married in Hong Kong, then returned to England and joined the Sharpham North Community near Totnes, Devon. Over the course of the fifteen years Batchelor lived at Sharpham, he became coordinator of the Sharpham Trust[1] (1992) and co-founder of the Sharpham College for Buddhist Studies and Contemporary Enquiry (1996). Throughout this period he worked as a Buddhist chaplain at Channings Wood Prison. From 1990 he has been a Guiding Teacher at Gaia House meditation centre in Devon and since 1992 a contributing editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.

As a lay Buddhist scholar and teacher, he has increasingly turned his attention to the earliest teachings of Buddhism as recorded in the Pali canon. In August 2000, he and Martine moved to Aquitaine, France, where they live in a village near Bordeaux. He is also a member of the Center for Pragmatic Buddhism's[2] Advisory Board.[3][4] [5] [6]


  • Batchelor, Stephen (editor). The Jewel in the Lotus: A Guide to the Buddhist Traditions of Tibet. Wisdom Publications, 1986. ISBN 0-86171-048-7.
  • Batchelor, Stephen. The Tibet Guide. Foreword by the Dalai Lama. Wisdom Publications, 1987. ISBN 0-86171-046-0. (Revised edition: The Tibet Guide: Central and Western Tibet. Wisdom Publications, 1998. ISBN 0-86171-134-3.)
  • Batchelor, Stephen. The Faith to Doubt: Glimpses of Buddhist Uncertainty. Parallax Press, 1990. ISBN 0-938077-22-8.
  • Batchelor, Stephen. Alone with Others: An Existential Approach to Buddhism. Foreword by John Blofeld. Grove Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8021-5127-2.
  • Batchelor, Stephen. The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture. Foreword by the Dalai Lama. Echo Point Books & Media, 2011. ISBN 0-9638784-4-1.
  • Batchelor, Stephen. Buddhism Without Beliefs. Riverhead Books, 1997. ISBN 1-57322-058-2.
  • Batchelor, Martine. Meditation for Life. Photography by Stephen Batchelor. Wisdom Publications, 2001. ISBN 0-86171-302-8.
  • Batchelor, Stephen. Living with the Devil: A Meditation on Good and Evil.. Penguin Books/Riverhead Books, 2005. ISBN 1-59448-087-7.
  • Batchelor, Stephen. Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. Random House, 2010. ISBN 0-385-52706-3.
  • Kusan Sunim. The Way of Korean Zen. Translated by Martine Fages Batchelor. Edited with an introduction by Stephen Batchelor. Weatherhill, 1985. ISBN 0-8348-0201-5. (2nd Revised Edition: Weatherhill, 2009. ISBN 1-59030-686-4.)
  • Mackenzie, Vicki. "Life as a Question, Not as a Fact: Stephen Batchelor - author, teacher and skeptic." Why Buddhism? Westerners in Search of Wisdom. HarperCollins, 2003. ISBN 0-00-713146-1. pp. 142–62.
  • Watson, Gay, Stephen Batchelor and Guy Claxton (editors). The Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Science, and Our Day-to-Day Lives. Weiser Books, 2000. ISBN 1-57863-172-6.
  • Batchelor, Stephen. "A Secular Buddhism". Journal of Global Buddhism 13 (2012):87-107
  • Batchelor, Stephen. After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age. Yale University Press, 2015.

Translations by Stephen Batchelor

  • Batchelor, Stephen. Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime. Riverhead Books, 2001. ISBN 1-57322-876-1. This is a translation of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way) by Nagarjuna.
  • Rabten, Geshé. Echoes of Voidness. Translated and edited by Stephen Batchelor. Wisdom Publications, 1983. ISBN 0-86171-010-X.
  • Rabten, Geshé. Song of the Profound View. Translated and annotated by Stephen Batchelor. Wisdom Publications, 1989. ISBN 0-86171-086-X.
  • Shantideva. A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life. Translated by Stephen Batchelor. Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1979. ISBN 81-85102-59-7.

See also


  1. Sharpam Trust
  2. Center for Pragmatic Buddhism Archived 20 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. biographical chapters in Stephen Batchelor, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. Random House, 2010.
  4. "Very Good Dharma Friends: An Interview with Stephen and Martine Batchelor". 1996. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  5. "At the Crossroads". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Fall 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  6. "Awakening to Life, Awakening to Death". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 

External links

Interviews and Documentaries

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