People who have been abducted by interdimensional or extraterrestrial beings, psychedelic drug culture, shamanism, gnosticism, out of body and near death experiences, past lives, alternative healing strategies, etc.?
Looking at the slick Buddhist magazines in the bookstore a couple of blocks away from where I live I am inclined to believe that a dumbed down, mediocritized version of Buddhism is winning the day, versus Buddhism according to the Buddha.Granted, that looking at some aspects of Buddhism intellectually is difficult even for trained academicians, there should not be so much dumbed down and mediocritized Buddhism circulating in the market place. (People are not that stupid!)I confess, that I don’t have a good answer to explain this phenomenon. The only thing that has recently crossed my mind as a likely explanation is that, somehow, marketing the transcendent is a taboo. It would be like going back in a time machine to the Victorian era trying to sell Playboy magazines, hoping to make a fortune.Along with the particular taboo just mentioned, I would include the example of publications and research about people who have been abducted by interdimensional or extraterrestrial beings, psychedelic drug culture, shamanism, gnosticism, out of body and near death experiences, past lives, alternative healing strategies, etc. I realize that this is an odd assortment of subjects but I believe that while these subjects have their followers, they are treated, more or less, as taboos in the public market place of ideas and by the mainstream media (MSM). Therefore, I should not be surprised (but I am!) that Buddhism sold in the slick magazines, with a corporate look, have been significantly bowdlerized in which the element of the transcendent has been either expunged or altered.
But why the taboo against the transcendent which I believe to be the case with Buddhism today? This is a tough nut to crack. The problem certainly has its origin in the common, everyday collective psyche this much is obvious. Looking into the collective psyche it is not without fear, and accompanying this fear, a drive to keep everything simple, safe, and controllable, above all ‘human’. This is the view of anthropocentrism, that man is the measure of all things—there is nothing higher. In other words, transcendence is impossible because there is nothing higher than man. But Buddhism denies this. The Buddha never claims to be a human—he is higher than even a god (A. ii. 37).
Is he kidding? There's a good reason these things as "transcendent" are taboo in many publications: because there's quite good non-transcendent explanations for all of them! And perhaps the reason the historical Buddha "never claimed to be a human" was a simple fact: it was, uh, obvious.
One may still intellectually have a position bearing on the transcendent that passes the giggle test. But one may equally have a position lacking belief in the transcendent as well, since both positions are metaphysical positions which can neither be decisively demonstrated in the realm of the physical. How many times must I write something to that effect?
But I do wonder about the question above. Am I showing I'm a smarter Buddhist? I mean, there's always something to refute that's as easy to do as shooting fish in a barrel. But if I said nothing would that hinder my obligation to help people?
So I'm thinking about that.