alan wrote:Many of their ideas sound good to our western ears, yet are not in accordance with the Dhamma. How to relate to them without sounding like a fundamentalist? When is it right speech to point them to the original teachings?
My sense is that it depends a lot on what kind of connection they describe themselves as having. Someone who is only in the market for psychological insights or just includes the Buddha among various things they find cool is not necessarily looking to be told they're borrowing from him the wrong way, but has left the door open for you to say you also get psychological insights or find the Buddha cool. If they quote the Buddha as saying something, like "there's no such thing as right or wrong", it seems to me that leaves the door open for you to ask where they heard or read that, or to say, in the Pali canon it describes him as saying something different, like urging people to refrain from wrong livelihood and so on. Knowing a bit about other traditions can help.
I think one can almost completely leave it up to the other person to decide how much they want to talk about it. One day I was walking down the street when a guy also walking along (looking a bit perplexed, certainly not like he was trying to preach to me) said to me, everybody wants to go to Heaven, don't they? I didn't have much time to explain to him that Buddhists have a different goal, but I said a few words to that effect before he walked another way.