Knotty Veneer wrote:Western Buddhism (as opposed to Buddhism in the West) – it’s all stress reduction and McMindfulness or a platform for unqualified Westerners to get into the guru business. Not worth considering? Right?
i would say it's all about the scriptures! taking any "version" of buddhism, be it western, eastern, etc., to be the one and only buddhism and ignoring everything else is a bad idea. go to the source and work your way back from there. read the most ancient stuff you can, get acquanted with it, and then you will be able to tell who is full of it and who is making sense. everyone takes the ancient stuff and puts there own spin on it and then tells you that's buddhism, some of them are pretty dead on and it's just a slightly different flavor of buddhism. buddhism with a hint of lime. then there's the ones that put buddhism on their own ideas and it's totally different. a big huge key lime pie with a little dot of a buddhist cherry on top.
read the oldest first: agamas/nikayas and their commentaries if you want some clarification. [none of these in utter completeness unless you have all kinds of free time and money, just get to know them enough to feel comfortable with them and to know what their core ideas and teachings are.] if you are only practicing old style buddhism you can stop here.
if you want to learn mahayana then read the mahayana scriptures and their commentaries. if you want to know just mahayana you can stop here.
if you want to learn vajrayana then read the vajrayana scriptures and their commentaries.
after you do that and you know what the core ideas and teachings are, you can listen to any teacher (or read a book by any teacher, ancient or modern) you please and you will know within five minutes if you feel that they are speaking the dharma that you know of from the source material or if it's there own "mcbuddhism".
i think the lack of necessary scholarship is where even the possibility of "western buddhism" comes from. people are willfully ignorant of the original teachings and will listen to anyone calling themselves a "guru" or a "master" and will then go on to proclaim they know everything about buddhism, never stopping to find out if they are proclaiming mostly key lime pie or mostly buddhism. in ancient times people were largely illiterate and the scriptures were not sold everywhere in book stores or available at your local library for free or free on the internet, and so they had to put their faith in whatever teacher would have them. now there is no excuse. we can find most of the scriptures on line for free! heck, many temples give out scriptures in print form for free as well (i'm sure this has been done in ancient times to varying degrees and some temples had libraries but, as i said, literacy rates were never very high). if people did their homework instead of letting others think for them there would be much less room for "mcgurus" and "mcmasters".
many people think the scriptures are vague, mystical sounding texts that require an interpreter to understand but most of them are pretty simple and straightforward. many of them are clear cut instruction manuals. in fact, many teachers simply quote or paraphrase things from scriptures when they teach. and/or expand upon ideas from the scriptures to create their own flavor of teaching. they usually (and always should) have their roots in the source material, as, without the texts i listed above, there would never have been buddhism to begin with. when we forget the scriptures, we invite diluting of the teachings and everything gets changed and changed and changed until it's something completely different. eventually there would be no similarities between the original teachings and some kind of "new buddhism". hopefully this will not happen any time soon, considering how available the scriptures are.