Jnak, you make some good points. I agree that Theravada can be perceived as traditional, or as you used the term conservative. A comparison with Southern Baptists? I'm still mulling over that comparison. Southern Baptists are the largest Protestant church corporation in the US.jnak wrote:I don't really see this. Theravada is a conservative religion. I once met an American monk in one of the Tibetan traditions who compared Theravada to Southern Baptists in the US. I'm not sure he was so far off the mark.Anagarika wrote:...had there been a dynamic, Dhamma learned Theravada monk or nun in these early days, I feel the Dhamma would be far more visible in western culture.
Looking at the US, the strongholds of conservatve religions tend to be the most economically disadvantaged populations. Those of more comfortable means seem to prefer religions that are more indulgent of one's interests in worldly pleasures or no religion at all.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu makes a point of saying that the Dhamma is countercultural, even in socities that are culturally Buddhist. I agree and for this reason, I have a hard time seeing Buddhism ever appealing to more than a small minority in the West.
In any case, I agree that the Buddha's Dhamma runs opposite to a society bent on acquisition and consumerism, the feeding of sense pleasures, and a focus on "me" and the enhancement of the self. For this reason, the Dhamma may not be popular, insofar as, for example, we know that regular exercise and limiting our calorie intake is healthy, and look at the state of obesity and general poor eating McHabits we have in the US. I'd still make the argument that were there to be a skillful and popular advocate in the 60's that really introduced the Dhamma to the US, we might presently have a more centered view of the Buddha and the actual messages gained from his enlightenment.