Western Buddhists, unlike their Asian counterpart, don’t believe that they have to follow the Buddha’s teaching all that much. They believe it is all right to disregard nirvana or substantially modify what it means. They are okay with meditation and mindfulness, although dumbed-down to a considerable extent.
Over the years I have seen this attitude start to gain significant traction, partly for the reason that the supporters of this kind of Buddhism have made no real progress on their own by seeing directly the essence of Buddhism. Soto Zen priest, Norman Fischer, will even say that, “Buddhism is empty of any core” which is about absurd as it gets.
Almost the norm, Western Buddhism doesn’t often tally with the Buddha’s discourses. It’s not about Buddhism having a difficult time adapting to Western culture either. Buddhism and, especially Zen, is very flexible about that. The problem concerns the core of what Buddhism means. Here is where the mischief creeps in.
There is every intention on the part of some Western Buddhists, blind as they are, to eliminate the core of Buddhism which is about winning nirvana, which has very important soteriological implications. Granted it is not some super evil conspiracy theory on their part. It is about stupid (bala) people who don’t understand mysticism; who can’t see it in Buddhism and Zen Buddhism.
Naturally, not all Westerners have this problem. Frederick Heiler, the famous German theologian and historian of religion, said that (primitive) Buddhism was the only really consistent form of mysticism. Such mysticism is fully soteriological insofar as it is meant to save man, but requires of him that he let go of the illusory, thus realizing for the first time his true nature.
I have spent a lot of hours on this blog telling those who will listen that our true nature, or the same, pure Mind, is very real. When the adept sees their true nature for the first time it is an experience they will never forget. Never listen to any Buddhist who tells you that awakening to pure Mind is not a significant experience like a NDE (near death experience)—one that is unforgettable.