In Which I Rant About Buddhism Again
Let it be mentioned at the outset that I loved this diavlog up to the moment it got to Buddhism. These are two of my favorite Blogging Heads. But inevitably it did get to Buddhism, and then the good data went bad.
I'd love for Bob to do a full diavlog with a practicing American Buddhist who has both a scholarly and meditative background in the religion to discuss the question of Buddhism in the west. Bob rightly points out that the traditional Asian model doesn't really work here. In Asia, most people are nominally Buddhist, but have a devotional relationship to the local monastery. The monks and nuns are the serious scholars and practitioners.
In the US, we have created a hybrid where there are no monasteries and the lay practitioners are the serious students who understand subtle doctrinal points and do lots of meditation. That translation is a fascinating development, and one worth exploring fully with someone who's NOT JOHN HORGAN.
My rant begins with the observation that Horgan's entire dataset of the failure of Buddhist practitioners comes from the moment--a generation ago now--when Asian and Western culture came together. It was bad for some Asians like Trungpa who were plunged into a libertine environment for which they had no context. It was bad for many Americans who believed (quite wrongly) as Horgan does that they should "worship" their guru. There were lots of cultural expectations and assumptions that made for a messy early connection.
Of course, Buddhism has now been around 50+ years in the US (and over 35 for Tibetan Buddhism) and has matured past that baroque hippie period. What has become of Buddhism, what Buddhists believe, and what the role of Buddhism is for modern Americans would make a fascinating diavlog.
Bob, there are lots of great people to talk to you about this: B. Alan Wallace, Robert Thurman, and Ken McLeod spring to mind. Or perhaps you'd like the proletariat's perspective--I'd be happy to talk to you, too. But for god's sake, quit talking to Horgan about it.