Richard writes in 33686:
> If you look carefully enough, you can find teachings of cause and
> effect, universal salvation, and the inherent Buddha nature of each
> person contained within every religion. I look at it as the
> documentary evidence of the truth of Shakyamuni’s claims of
> preaching the dharma via expedient means countless times and
> places.
That is probably the key method of doing shakubuku outside of
countries that are already Buddhist. One has a choice to either
reject the host religions — and accept the conflict that will
result. Or to try to take the reason and methods of Buddhism and
tailor them to local conditions.
Arrogance is a smart mans stupidity,
but you don’t have to be smart to be arrogant.

> To me, this means I should fundamentally respect every religion
> with such characteristics, all the while rejecting the elements
> that are clearly ‘expedient means’ or cultural artificaes,
> taught along with the truth to try to get people to accept
> those teachings.
There is more to this than critiquing “host” religion. Buddhism too
has it’s artifices and ‘expedient means’ not to mention cultural
baggage and mixing. Nichiren noted this when he noted that the Sun
was described as a ‘God’ in the Sutras, but was described as
a ‘Goddess’ in Japanese beliefs. Buddhists accepted either view of
the Sun God as being ‘expedient means’ to explain natural phenomena.
With Buddhists fundamentalism means to go for the fundamentals and
to leave alone the “fluff”.
To do that we need a clarity about what “upaya” is and why it is
important in both practicing life and propagating Buddhism. The
stories of religion are all important, true; and fictional. It is
possible that Shakyamuni taught his disciples and one day took them
on a magical mystery tour of the fantastic realms, but whether or
not that event really happened in physical reality it is an event
that we can reach in our inward psycho-spiritual realm.
> It also seems to me that a severely rigid and patriarchal society
> such as the pre-Islamic middle east would carry that rigidity over
> into their religion. I’m not an anthropologist, but I believe
> that we find that rigidity of a society’s mores correlate with
> the difficulty for individuals to survive alone in their
> environment.
Some patriarchal elements may emerge in desert societies under some
conditions, but anthropological evidence suggests that matriarchy is
as likely to result from the natural conditions as patriarchy.
Patriarchy is a “classical” development. We don’t need to excuse
the origins of religious rigidity and patriarchy to note that these
two qualities have been a common theme world wide and in some
Buddhist societies as well as Western ones. The veil started out as
a garment worn by prostitutes to give them a feeling of anonymity
while pursuing their trade[Bible]. Rigid patriarchy has to do with
hierarchical and oppressed societies more than desert survival. The
Greeks, for instance, became more patriarchal with time, finally
becoming completely patriarchal as they converted to Christianity.
To use metaphor and Buddhist mythology; In societies where the
path “up” is limited and resources are limited, fair distribution of
resources is impossible unless people are kept uniformly poor. When
that is the case, those seeking to enter the palace of the devil of
the sixth heaven have to first eliminate their rivals. Elites make
it a condition of membership in that elite that one be a man. If one
member of the nuclear family is in the “elite” that is enough to
guarantee survival of the entire family — and there isn’t “room”
enough in the town for both members of the family to work the same
position. Hence, the woman is discouraged from working her position.
We saw this after WW-II when the US went from encouraging people
like “Rosee the Riveter” to discouraging women to work outside the
One can also demonstrate that it’s happened in the distant past. It
happened in the Graeco-Roman world. Paul was reflecting a shift in
popular beliefs when he wrote that women should cover their hair and
be modest. Some Greek societies had emancipated women, the Spartans
women were as martially trained as the men, but the repressive
Athenian model won out in the end. One of the means of denigrating
women was to hold up an “ideal” of the ideal woman as weak and
needing protection and then judging behavior by it. This worked well
in conditions when men were building repressive empires anyway.
Patriarchy became a function of conquest. “Look what we do to their
women. You should stay home less we do that to you.” Later it became
a function of religion. The last librarian of the Great library of
Alexandria was a woman. She was stoned at the same time the library
was destroyed for the last time by Christians who were rejecting
the “World” and all its science. In order to maintain power the
patriarchs had to eliminate any notion that people had an
alternative. The same sort of thing happened in the Islamic world.
Mohammed actually gave some elements of status to women. That is why
there can be any hope that Islam can reform.
Reform always starts with Women and it starts with seeking peace and
trade rather than conflict and war.