l_rivers wrote: I think we have to go back to the days everyone was a mainstream practitioner [100-450 CE] and select for ourselves from the 20 or 30 new ideas on the Mahayana New Thought menue and build the Ark from the ground up.
No, we do not.
Pardon me, I misspoke. I ought rather to say “I recommend others adopt the approach I recommended above if they see its advantages as I do.”
But in light of the fact that there has been at least 5 very different approaches to 5 very different interpretations of what enlightenment is, being the Buddhism in which Nirvana is interpreted as cessation, Buddhism as is represented by the Theravada, and the late Mahayana distinctions of the emptiness school, the yogacara, and the Chinese Chan as well as diverse pure land approaches and at least 30 distinct subdivisions of these then you realize that the discussion is just not between academia and Buddhists as to what constitutes Buddhism, there is a distinction between Buddhists which leads someone who is attracted to Buddhism to make a kind of due diligence in investigation.
If you do not, do you say “all paths get there, it's just a matter of how long, or for what people that path is suited to?” If so, then you are left with the question “what ingredients need to be present for a Buddhist path to work?”
If you must decide what ingredients need to be present in a Buddhist path to make it a Buddhist path that works, then you are back to adopting the goal of an academic who tries to discover the history and methods of Buddhism in as nonpartisan away as possible. If, on the other hand, you leave the past choice up to karma connection to guru, you are shifting too far from “works” to “faith”, (to use some Christian language), for my comfort. And I want to accept that, I am uncomfortable with shifting from works to face as a context for my own comfort level.
I feel, to use a kitchen and cooking metaphor, that due diligence requires an inventory of stock and in working knowledge of the equipment. But I don't want to be one more spiritual fascist. But I do think there is room for some more approaches to Buddhism than those already in the Dewey decimal system. Academic Buddhism isn't academic.