Here are my thoughts on your post.
Jhana4 wrote:In the few weeks I have been here I have been surprised to find many westerners who have taken on the religious beliefs of Buddhism. I don't mean some of the more sober, rational views that seem connect with ordinary life.
Do realize how conceited this sounds? Are you are the arbiter of what is sober and rational?
Jhana4 wrote:It would make more sense to come across intelligent, thoughtful, otherwise modern Asians doing this. You grow up in a culture where a set of beliefs are dominant and those beliefs seep into you, giving you a propensity to accept them.
You take it for granted that these things are accepted out of something other than a mere societal indoctrination? This seems like pure hubris to me.
Jhana4 wrote:I think human beings have a drive toward "religion", by that I mean having/making a mental map of the world, a map they can relate to and one that offers some comfort.
These "Mental Maps" come in all shapes and sizes and "religion" is but one kind.
Jhana4 wrote:I also think, like S.N. Goenka ( who would not agree with these thoughts ), that people are wrongfully impressed by sensations. Sensations are just sensations. Sensations are not descriptions of reality. Just because a person is depressed doesn't mean their life is that bad. Just because a person feels confident, doesn't mean s/he has ability. That is just how they feel.
My opinion is that many people think If they feel something, they have found something real.
So what do these feelings mean? You have not said much here but I cant say I disagree.
Jhana4 wrote:I'm guessing these two things are behind "the new orthodoxy/myth set" of most Westerners ( may not be true for everyone ). I've experienced many powerful sensations through meditation over the years. I've read some of the less questionable ( by western secular standards) Buddhist beliefs and I have felt a psychological/emotional gravity towards calling myself a Buddhist when combined with those strong sensations giving a "sense of reality" to things.
Lets talk about the questions more and take less for granted shall we.
Jhana4 wrote:I also think many westerners reconcile with some of the more unfounded beliefs of Buddhism by using generous interpretations of those beliefs. I've been finding this harder to do by actually reading the suttas and seeing what is emphasized there.
They are Buddhists because they strive to realize what the Buddha realized. Not necessarily because they take everything the Suttas say as fact. Here again you seem to presume that you know what is "unfounded".
Jhana4 wrote:I realize things get lost in translation, but even allowing for that I just have not been able to find support in the suttas for the cool sounding interpretations westerners have.
No offense or disrespect to anyone. I'm just thinking out loud and I put this thread in a section reserved for provocative topic
Im not sure you understand these "cool sounding interpretations" much less the suttas which might support them.
I am not offended in the least. I just thought I would give you my honest impression of your post.