There is an emerging critical analysis of Buddhism within the Western Buddhist sangha that goes under the general rubric “agnostic Buddhism.” What kicked this conversation off off is the former monk Stephen Batchelor’s study Buddhism Without Beliefs.
In a nutshell Batchelor assails the traditional Buddhist doctrines of karma and rebirth. He then offers an alternative approach to accepting these doctrines that have for the past two and a half millennia been seen as central to the Dharma. He calls this approach agnostic Buddhism.
His book sparked a number of critical responses from writers representing in varying degree more orthodox understanding’s of the Buddhadharma.
Marjorie Silverman’s MA thesis A Critical Examination of the Agnostic Buddhism of Stephen Batchelor sucinctly laid out the issues.Silverman’s essay referenced Bhikkhu Bodhi, Bhikkhu Punnadhammo and the Venerable Urgyen Sangharakshita each important critics of Batchelor’s thesis. Batchelor has in addition to his book a number of essays available online that touch upon aspects of agnostic Buddhism.
In addition I found the unsigned article Stephen Batchelor on Self and Solitude a thoughtful critique, as well as Victor Lapuszynski’s reflection, “Remaining Agnostic About Agnostic Buddhism,” posted originally at this Blog.
I’m of the opinion that any emerging Liberal Buddhism must, at the very least, take into account Batchelor’s thesis and the responses of it’s critics.