Looking at the slick Buddhist magazines in the bookstore a couple of blocks away from where I live I am inclined to believe that a dumbed down, mediocritized version of Buddhism is winning the day, versus Buddhism according to the Buddha.
Granted, that looking at some aspects of Buddhism intellectually is difficult even for trained academicians, there should not be so much dumbed down and mediocritized Buddhism circulating in the market place. (People are not that stupid!)
I confess, that I don’t have a good answer to explain this phenomenon. The only thing that has recently crossed my mind as a likely explanation is that, somehow, marketing the transcendent is a taboo. It would be like going back in a time machine to the Victorian era trying to sell Playboy magazines, hoping to make a fortune.
Along with the particular taboo just mentioned, I would include the example of publications and research about people who have been abducted by interdimensional or extraterrestrial beings, psychedelic drug culture, shamanism, gnosticism, out of body and near death experiences, past lives, alternative healing strategies, etc. I realize that this is an odd assortment of subjects but I believe that while these subjects have their followers, they are treated, more or less, as taboos in the public market place of ideas and by the mainstream media (MSM). Therefore, I should not be surprised (but I am!) that Buddhism sold in the slick magazines, with a corporate look, have been significantly bowdlerized in which the element of the transcendent has been either expunged or altered.
But why the taboo against the transcendent which I believe to be the case with Buddhism today? This is a tough nut to crack. The problem certainly has its origin in the common, everyday collective psyche this much is obvious. Looking into the collective psyche it is not without fear, and accompanying this fear, a drive to keep everything simple, safe, and controllable, above all ‘human’. This is the view of anthropocentrism, that man is the measure of all things—there is nothing higher. In other words, transcendence is impossible because there is nothing higher than man. But Buddhism denies this. The Buddha never claims to be a human—he is higher than even a god (A. ii. 37).
While modern Buddhism likes its Buddhas all-too-human the fact remains that Buddhas are not human and their teachings call for the transcendence of all that is human and godly. So the taboo against the transcendent will remain, more or less, as long as human arrogance holds sway.