The problem with not seeing how Buddhism has evolved, and in not seeing ourselves as a part of Buddhism’s evolution, is that we can believe we are somehow the holders of the “essence” of Buddhism. But what is the essence stripped from the practices, realizations, models, and people who have contributed to this living tradition? Is there really such a thing? Could it be that the whole idea of there being an essence to Buddhism that is distinct from it’s extraneous forms–those forms that are so irrelevant that we can simply ignore them or dump them–is coming from a set of cultural assumptions that exist here in this place and time? We need to recognize that possibility, and see that there is a kind of violence in trying to strip something from its historical roots, and also a kind of arrogance in thinking that we can even do that successfully.
Now I have to go read the comments!