Consensus Buddhism is a term invented by David Chapman. To me it seems to be another name for what Thanissaro Bhikkhu calls Buddhist Romanticism. Here are some characteristics of the supposed consensus, according to Chapman:
consensus Western Buddhism is—supposedly—egalitarian, democratic, anti-hierarchy, ecumenical, accepts all religious traditions (except of course Bad forms of Buddhism), respects and sometimes incorporates psychotherapy, is ecologically aware, talks about social justice, promotes internal and external peace, etc.
Western Buddhism kept some traditional Buddhist mythology (in the same way liberal Christianity keeps some traditional mythology), but you aren’t expected to believe in it. It’s a bunch of “teaching stories,” not Truth.
Consensus Buddhists mostly don’t believe in Buddhas, either. The important thing is not enlightenment, but a morality of good intentions, harmonious behavior, and inoffensiveness.
The main practice of Consensus Buddhism is vipassana. This method is meant to shatter the self and break connections. Western Buddhists mostly want and expect the opposite results.
When describing "Consensus Buddhism", Chapman writes a lot about "hegemony", "monopoly" that "Consensus Buddhists" want to achieve, as well as "suppressing other alternatives". And he writes that such an approach dominated Buddhism in the West for a long time and only recently that "consensus" is "starting to break down".
Despite having contact with various Buddhist groups in the last years, I hardly came across anyone who fits with the description of Consensus Buddhism, so I have the following questions:
- In your experience, does/did mainstream Buddhism in the West really match the definition of Consensus Buddhism?
- In your experience, what was the period when it dominated the mainstream Western Buddhism (in terms of printed media, number of followers, etc.)?
- In your experience, does/did it really try to supress its alternatives?
- If the answer to the first question is "yes", was the phenomenon of "Consensus Buddhism" restricted to any particular country or part of the world? (I have a feeling that there may be big differences in this regard between, say, North America, Europe and Oceania.)
- What are the names of the "Consensus Buddhist" groups you know about?