Post-traditional Buddhism Compared to Non-Buddhism

Post-traditional Buddhism Compared to Non-Buddhism
Glenn Wallis

In a question posed to him regarding his recent Buddhist Geeks podcast, Hokai Sobol talks about what he terms “post-traditional Buddhism.” Below is a transcript of his answer, including an addendum made later. I thought his remarks might mark a good opportunity to clarify what I mean by “non-Buddhism.” I don’t mean for my comments to be a detailed critique of Sobol’s idea, or even much of a critique at all. Rather, I want to use his idea as a wedge, as a way to mark a distinction with what I am advocating. I will be brief and suggestive for now, drawing on what I wrote in the “What is Non-Buddhism” page.

Sobol, in the bio accompanying the podcast, says that he “is committed to the formulation of an authentic, no-nonsense spirituality for the 21st century.” Towards this end, he is working towards the development of what he calls “post-traditional Buddhism.” He articulates this form of Buddhism as follows: “post-traditional in the strict sense means evolving Buddhism beyond ethnocentric identities, parochial attitudes, and ideologically-based loyalties; in the broad sense it means also being alert to modern and ‘postmodern’ reactivity when it comes to spiritual principles of authority, verticality, and devotion.” While he advocates for the “post,” however, he by no means wants to rend this “post” from the tenuous yet tethering hyphen that separates it from “traditional.” In other words, he wants to “make a practice post-traditional without throwing the baby with the bath water of the tradition.”

Sobol’s post-traditional Buddhism, in other words, is careful to preserve tradition. It almost appears to come down to something like a generational divide. But, in this case, the younger generation is well-enough behaved; for Sokol sees a need to protect tradition from “modern and ‘post-modern’ reactivity.”

To both traditionalists and post-traditionalists, non-Buddhism must appear as ill-behaved to an extreme. Continue reading “Post-traditional Buddhism Compared to Non-Buddhism”