The synchronous emergence of Buddhism and the proto-religions of monotheism seen in the Israelite theocratic state and its classic epic literature (the Old Testament) is a strong reminder that even Buddhism is bound to the wheel of evolutionary civilization (as it should be, though not ‘bound’).
The utter mess made by the Israelites (and later Christians) of the now lost original vision of monotheism (visible in the trace references to IHVH, bypassing all ‘names of god’) is part of the reason so many (Jewish) New Atheists are adamantly trying to lead people beyond that history. But the substitute cult of scientism is so totally impoverished that it is actually going to a feed a revival of these traditions.
The contrasting brilliance of Buddhism is also misleading: the hidden gnostic dynamism of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is not something that the style of Biblical Criticism can properly critique. But the legacy of Buddhism is far more ancient than that of monotheism, which is suspect as an ideology manufactured at a stage of globalization in world history. At least its real intent is clear, in the context of degenerated monotheism.
I think that the real history of buddhism as indicated in Bazaz’s The Role of the Bhagavad Gita in Indian History, http://www.gurdjieff-con.net/index.php?s=bazaz, is an exciting reminder of buddhism’s revolutionary character, followed by its destruction by the neo-brahmin reaction, a tale excitingly told in Bazaz’s book.
But that history should remind us that a cycle of buddhism is now complete, right on schedule, and the coming degenerations are already visible. A new vision is required, and a new start. But that is a lot to expect.
The trick is to make secularism carry the load, and the trick to that is to see beyond the reductionist scientism now rampant to the original vision latent in the Enlightenment, as the source of a religion beyond religions, and a secularism beyond religion, but able to juggle all its pieces. The Great Freedom Sutra: the problem is already solved, as it were, all we have to do is to realize it.
This essay on the ‘freedom sutra’ should be rewritten without the refernce to the sufi factor, for it is present without any of that in modernity as it is, if you can find it.