Hi thornbush,"Can 'Buddhism' then be without the same trappings of Western mentality and culture? Can the Dharma brethren in the West bring the same Buddha Dharma to the East without Western culture?
Is not the 'Buddhism' supra-culture?"
Of course, these questions are in process and yet to be answered. I’m American, and in the U.S. it’s doubtful that there will be ONE answer. Rather there will probably be many answers and many variations. But, overall, my short answer is that a ‘cultural container’ seems essential for Buddhism to thrive within a group of people.
In addition to the issues you raise, in the U.S., there is also the issue of “cross training” and cross teaching. Teachers from one discipline (say, Zen) are invited to run retreats in sanghas of other disciplines (say,vipassana). And students also cross train in sanghas other than their home group. Nobody seems yet to have an idea where all this is going.
And, at least in the U.S., there are the two big issues of the relationship of Buddhim to Western Psychology and to Western science. The development of the relationship with psychology is further along and has been much written about.“I have heard many laments from some Westerners on how warped Buddhism has been with its 'Eastern' flavor…,”
IMS, Insight Meditation Society is an interesting case to look at. When they first started more than 30 years ago, they began with a stripped down version of the teachings in an attempt to make it more accessible to Western students--and culture. They removed any “Eastern flavor.” It was a practical, secular approach that seems to have been successful. However, over time, some of the culturally ‘difficult to accept’ or ‘problematic’ teachings for Westerners, such as Literal Rebirth and Karma, that were left out or de-emphasized in the beginning, have now been restored to the IMS approach and teachings. In the natural course of their practice they came to the realization that Rebirth for example was not an “Eastern flavor,” but rather an essential teaching of the Buddha.
On the other hand, there wasn’t, and to this day isn’t, much bowing or chanting there, which perhaps are seen as purely cultural approaches. (*this is all info from a year and a half ago.)
And IMS has an occasional “retreat for scientists.” But this retreat is not designed for scientists to determine whether or not Buddhism can fit into the Western scientific model, but rather for people who happen to be scientists to learn about Buddhism from a Buddhist perspective. So in this case Buddhism is given the dominant position over the cultural issue.
“can Buddhism, in the West, then be practised without the Western Culture?”
To me, practically speaking, no, Buddhism cannot exist outside of a ‘cultural container’ and still be relevant to the culture at large. Somehow, each culture must adapt to Buddhism and at the same time formulate an approach that is effective within the particular culture –while carefully preserving the essential elements of the Path. But the important thing to me is that the experiment at IMS indicates that Buddhism is effective enough to survive explorations and integration intact. At IMS they seem--for cultural reasons--to have practiced successfully without some of the teachings, and then came naturally in the course of practice to discover the truth of those teachings, integrating them and evolving--as an organization that is a microcosm of larger culture.
So the process is more of an integration of culture and practice, not an either/or thing.
Just my two cents. http://www.dharma.org/
And a talk by one of the founders, Joseph Goldstein, "Karma" (and rebirth), that shows what they are now teaching:http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/2309/