Buddhism is more demanding than its Western admirers think.
The only religion that enjoys near-universal respect in our culture is Buddhism. Even revelations of corrupt Asian "holy" men or Buddhist nuns involved in fund-raising scams never seem to touch its vague prestige. Christianity and Judaism are well-known and widely practiced. But in the academy, in Hollywood, among journalists, and at publishing houses, both faiths present serious demands of belief and morality that make them uncongenial to the self-indulgent. Buddhism, by contrast, seems to have no rules, no dogmas, no guilt-inducing concepts like sin. It puts you in touch with your real Self. And we know that in modern America, self rules.
At least this is the understanding of Buddhism most common among America's intellectual elites-a source of no little worry among the practitioners of real Buddhism. Earlier this year, the deep divines at the Internet magazine Salon reported on the growth of Boomer Buddhism and its celebrity followers such as the actor Richard Gere and Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, to say nothing of the Steven Segals and Tina Turners. Titles such as Zen and the Art of Screenwriting are popular on the two coasts. The real Buddhism, with its "traditional religious trappings-robed priests, elaborate rituals, sacred images of supermundane figures, devotional practices," the faith of hundreds of thousands of Third World immigrants to America, is ignored. Instead, we get a New American version that is "egalitarian, more feminist, and more socially conscious," Salon says.
For the complete article go to the Crisis Magazine website (link closed).