I just had a conversation with someone who has a very different concept of “Enlightenment”. For her that word refers to the European Enlightenment of the last five hundred years. This Enlightenment can often be maligned by 'spiritual” folks as tantamount to the fall of humanity from grace, and the beginning of environmental disaster.... etc. Maybe so, but it also brought a hard won value that perhaps modern Buddhists take for granted. That value is the plurality of views that is expressed in the statement “I disagree with your view profoundly, but I will defend your right to have it” No one value system or view is privileged (except the value of plurality... but that's another discussion). I mention this because it is a given of our modern world, such that we project it back onto the Buddhist world of old.. I know folks who see India at the time of the Buddha as being in that value sphere, but that is an iffy proposition imo..
If this is so, and if Buddhism today is being practised in a value sphere that is new, how does this effect how we perceive the Buddhists of an earlier era?.... and how the teachers and teachings speak to us now?
...Kind of a monkey minded post.. ops: but I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts about this. Thankyou.