copyright Robert Ellis 2008

'The Trouble with Buddhism'  

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It is not too late to renew Buddhism in the West. It is not too late to agree principles on which to base it that are truly universal. It is not too late to start giving priority to following the Buddha’s practical example in taking the Middle Way, rather than his supposed revelation. It is not too late to give up divisive social structures such as orders, monastic or otherwise. It is not too late to restore critical thinking to the crucial place it needs to have in Buddhist practice. It is not too late to start presenting Buddhism to Western society in a more coherent fashion, which actually enables people to understand its core insights.


It may not be too late, but it would still be surprising (though not impossible) if any of these things happen. The vested interests and the habits of thinking are deeply rooted, as with all human beings. There will be many Buddhists who, if they get as far as reading this book, will not understand why I want to say such things about a Buddhist tradition that they find perfectly satisfactory. If change for the better occurs it will probably not be primarily due to existing Buddhists, shallowly bedded though they may be, but due to the many people on the margins.


It is to those people on the margins that this book is primarily addressed. The people who have tried out a couple of meditation classes, or dabbled in a few books about Buddhism. They have tried it a bit, but were not quite happy, and thus not gone into it any further. I have tried to explain here why I think they have very good reasons for not being happy with the Buddhism they encountered. It is these people who are potentially powerful, and who may yet change Buddhism radically – or set up a new version for themselves.


May they succeed in the renewal of Buddhism.


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