In the very near future I hope to be doing a blog or two which I shall term for now as the Protestantization of Buddhism (include Zen in that, also). One of the leading proponents of this is Stephen Batchelor and those who follow his ideas—or should I say, ideology?
It almost goes without saying this, but Batchelor has been very critical of Buddhism, in general. He disrobed twice: once in Tibetan Buddhism and once in Korean Zen. This is fitting for someone with a Protestant attitude especially when Holmes Hartshorne reminds Protestants “of their responsibility to be critical of religion, especially their own” (The Faith to Doubt, p. x).
It is no surprise that Batchelor and secular Buddhists are critical of their own religion which is Buddhism. But then the question arises, how much are we supposed to doubt our religion which happens to be Buddhism, including Zen? Arguably, Batchelor went too far with his book entitled, Buddhism Without Beliefs (1997). It came not too long after his other book, The Faith to Doubt (1990) which, curiously, bears the same title as Hartshorne’s book, The Faith to Doubt (1963).
As Buddhists with strong Protestant leanings, for Batchelor and his followers there can be no privileged truth nor incontestable values; moreover that criticism, they believe, can lead us to truth being like a path. With this comes faith and doubt, the faith that gives courage and makes radical doubt feasible and justifiable, for it transcends all error, or so it is believed. But is this really an authentic reverence for the Buddha’s teaching and the truth? Isn’t Batchelor really trying to make a new understanding of Buddhism as if to suggest that his interpretation of Buddhism offers a better form of Buddhism—a Protestant form—one more suitable for the modern world in which each individual decides for himself whether a doctrine is true or not based upon their peculiar needs?