Toward the end of Evolving Dharma, Jay Michaelson proudly dubs himself a champion for ambivalence, claiming that it is a crucial component in remaining open to the complex and ever-changing nature of things. Contemporary Buddhism is nothing if not varied and rapidly shifting, and this dogged ambivalence of Michaelson’s—along with a large helping of smarts and enthusiasm—allows him to traverse such vast, varied, and mutable terrain. The scope of Evolving Dharma is dizzying, yet, by examining his unique and personal journey, Michaelson shows that the opportunities afforded by our access to wide ranging resources, teachings, and communities can allow us to move beyond the trappings of traditional religion.
Of course, this new world of iSpirituality comes with its own set of challenges and shortcomings, many of which Michaleson address head-on—notably commercialization and the issues that can arise when you divorce mindfulness and meditation from their Buddhist roots. Thus, the jury is still out in regards to a solid verdict for the future, but Michaelson ultimately allows his optimism to win out, arguing that mindfulness taking root in the mainstream, even if watered down, is still an unprecedented opportunity for the dharma to take root in whole new ways. This message is not only encouraging but, I think, much needed, as the potential in the present moment does appear limitless if only we are receptive and dedicated, critical but also compassionate.