Dan, I hope my comments were not seen as being unnecessarily negative. I point to some of the articles that Prof. Rita Gross has written for Tricycle. She is a Buddhism scholar and university professor. She is also a Vajrayana practitioner. In one of her articles, she discusses presenting to one of her classes the theme of the historicity of Buddhist teaching, and lays out how many later Mahayana teachings are not derived from the Buddha's teachings and are sometimes inconsistent with what scholars accept as true or verifiable. She describes that her teaching upsets many of her students, who see this scholarship as being disruptive to their firmly held ideas about Buddhism. She describes some of her students get angry with her. She makes the point that even though she knows that many Mahayana teachings are not Buddhavacana, or were inconsistent fabrications from many centuries after the CE commenced, she practices in her tradition and accepts it for its own beauty and benefits.Dan74 wrote:Most of people I know who practice Mahayana Buddhism don't practice it as a rejection of Theravada or the suttas but simply because it was what they were first exposed to and it works!
My own view is that if we were discussing Einstein's theory of general relativity, and someone came along and said that they were teaching Eintein's theories and that spacetime was not actually curved but linear, would it be appropriate to correct them? The analogy is that some teachers, like Ven. Thanissaro, spend some time explaining how certain generally accepted notions in western Buddhism are simply not what the Buddha taught. His point is not to be unfairly critical, but to correct the record, and hopefully keep people on the right path. If someone in California stopped you and asked you how to get to New York, and you told them "just keep driving west," you'd send them into the ocean. That would be unkind and unfair. The Buddha created a roadmap that scholarship has identified and verified to a substantial degree. My only point is that it's OK to point out what is part of the roadmap, and what might be a detour to the goal of liberation.
Here's what else is creeping into western Buddhism: http://youtu.be/MIiCRGAZk0g Is it fair to comment about this? It it appropriate to suggest that this may not be what the Buddha intended? Is criticism of what is going on in the west with "Buddhism" appropriate?