History of Buddhist spirituality lends itself to two very different perspectives. On one hand, it is a history of transmission and continuation, featuring institution building and cultural naturalization. For the most part, this is the story of schools and sects, politics and economy, controlled discourse and imperial sponsorship. On the other hand, it's also a history of inspiration and innovation, brimming with creativity, breakthroughs, and original thinking.
I've recently talked to John Peacock, scholar and Associate Director of The Oxford Mindfulness Centre. His studies of the earliest Buddhist writings have revealed to him a very human Buddha and a very different Buddhism than we know today.
David Chapman has opened a new series of articles entitled "Reinventing Buddhist Tantra." If you're not familiar with David's work so far, especially the series on Consensus Buddhism, please look at the "Consensus: Outline" - for the whole Consensus series, look here. The new series on Buddhist tantra is exciting in that it jumpstarts a curious discussion on possibilities for a 21st century tantric Western Buddhism.
If everyone was miraculously awakened now, most would wish they could restore factory settings.
If you suck at meditation, do not despair. There are other ways. Some more challenging, some more fun.
As if yesterday, 20 years ago I enjoyed the work of Rick Fields and his narrative "How the Swans Came to the Lake", copious writings of Sangharakshita, and later in 2002 the "Westward Dharma" edited by Prebish and Baumann. Reading on Buddhism in the West makes you think of Western Buddhism. 20 years later, and in many ways, too little has changed.