In the last article of this series, the author says:
Distinguishing between Essential and Folk Buddhism provides a framework for understanding and monitoring the process by which Buddhism is being assimilated into the Western cultural context. Ideally this process will:
(1) maintain the functional integrity of Essential Buddhism at all costs,
(2) establish the authority of Essential Buddhism over Folk Buddhism and
(3) result in a wholesome Western Folk Buddhism.
The integrity of Essential Buddhism is threatened by the assumption common in Western circles that adapting Buddhism to the West is a matter of stripping Buddhism willy-nilly of Asian cultural accretions in order to make it look more Western. This aesthetic would include, for instance, getting rid of rituals, robes, bowing, chanting (at least in foreign tongues), non-productive lifestyles and so on, not to mention renunciation. However, distinguishing between Essential and Folk Buddhisms highlights the danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, of hacking away at the corn when trying to remove the underbrush. Essential Buddhism is the baby, Folk Buddhism the bathwater. The functional role of any culturally arisen features of a transmitted Essential Buddhism is preserved only by leaving it intact or replaced by Western-looking counterparts. History seems to favor leaving such things intact, tending to lend Essential Buddhism an archaic flavor, for instance as retained in gestures of respect and in monastic garb.http://bhikkhucintita.wordpress.com/201 ... ddhism-17/