tobes wrote:To clarify where I was coming from:
Nilasarasvati drew us back to the time when the dharma per se (not merely tantra) intersected with radical counter cultural movements in America. Beats like Ginsberg were so overtly politically committed - it must have taken a lot of courage to be an avowed communist in cold war America. If we are to generalise a social theory or ethos from the Beats, it was a radical rejection of bourgeois values. Buddhism seemed to really take stock in that context: it spoke to hippies, trippers, poets and activists.
Who does it speak to now? (let us say, in America, but perhaps more generally too, in non-traditional places).
Does it resonate far more broadly within mainstream society? (I think it clearly does).
Are dharma practitioners more likely to be comfortable, relatively affluent, career oriented? (subversive poets and radical marxists.....maybe, but perhaps as the exception now).
Is the dharma more likely to be about smoothly living a balanced, happy, fulfilling life? (insert Radiohead lyric: fitter, happier and more productive....).
In short, defending the status quo it once seemed to utterly disrupt??
Apart from the societal context of the eras, I don't see how Buddhism is any less 'radical' now than in the 70's or 2500 years ago when Buddha was outrageous enough to allow women in the fold or today when practically everyone drinks and parties, lies and cheats as a means to climbing the social ladder, engages in socially accepted killing trips(fishing) and sleeps with whoever you can while trying not to get caught out (except some weirdos who hold precepts).
I mean, at the heart of it, Buddhist practice goes - against - the grain of the majority of socially accepted norms. What motivates us to do the things we do everyday.
A real practitioner will always be a radical, whether they dress up as anarchists or parade around as poets or act out in controversial ways... or whether they go about their business quietly, doing the work on the inside.
Mainstream? As far as I'm concerned, if affluent business folk take an interest in Buddhism seeking a bit of calm & happiness.. that's great.
If it's chic to have a Buddha statue in your uptown apartment, excellent. There's space for everyone, in whatever capacity and commitment and tradition and environment.
And that's what i see.. not one 'target group'.. as diverse as the teachers are, so are the students. Or maybe it's the other way around
To me, the most "radical counter cultural movements" that could exist today, would be those extolling the merits of ethical living in the greedy, selfish and money-hungry world we live in.