For Tricycle, an independent Buddhist publication, Linda Heuman writes on how to understand problems in the transmission of Buddhism to the West, drawing on, in particular, Charles Taylor’s work on secularism:
In this new ecosystem of secularism, a new form of spiritual life is flourishing. To recognize it, it helps to note that religious sensibility comes in two types. One type of sensibility (Taylor calls it “closed”) understands the highest good and deepest sources of meaning to be located within this world; the other sensibility—an “open one”—seeks connection to the sacred in something beyond. In other words, says Taylor, all modern people living in the secular West share a common immanent frame of reference, but we can live within it either open or closed to the possibility of something beyond. In the history of religious life, this closed kind of religious sensibility is a newcomer. Until modernity, it wasn’t conceivable that the quotidian here-and-now could be all there was, so it was likewise unintelligible to imagine that a life lived meaningfully could orient itself in a fulfilling way to strictly immanent goals. Today, not only can we conceive of doing such a thing; we’re doing it en masse. The emergence of this new closed spiritual possibility marks the key difference between earlier times and the secular age.
Read the full review here.