Greetings, it´s an old discussion but I can´t resist giving my limited opinion on the matters you address.
I too became interested in Buddhism due to psychedelics and I have read some books and articles. I still cannot call myself a Buddhist but it´s ideas have certainly told me something useful.
First, I agree that old Buddhism may have been watered down and misunderstood into the modern Buddhism we find in the West today. Buddhism has not been very known until the sixties with the Dharma-bums, spiritual seekers and of course Timothy Leary´s "Psychedelic Experience". Buddhism has evolved through 2500 years and have developed into various forms and sects and some of these methods may be hard to swallow for a Westerner.
The doctrine of no-self does´nt tell you to annihilate your Self (or you have no personality or you are an illusion)! It simply tells you that there is no ever-lasting, intrinsic core-of-self in your psycho-physical makeup that can be called a permanent self/soul. It´s nothing mysterious about this other than teaching you to try to let go of your attachment to your body/mind and seeing that you may be mistaken about you being a solid entity that in turn can make you become scared of death and even afraid to "lose yourself" and keeping worrying around in the hustle-and-bustle of life itself.
Nirvana is not the extinguishing of Self, it´s the end of human suffering, big and small. Nirvana is poorly understood, and you can seek out any article on the internet and noone will tell the real meaning of it, other than that it´s the highest achievement of a human; no suffering, bliss, perfect compassion, no delusions and what not! That´s another debate...
Back to your original gripe: Remember, Buddhism DOES believe in an "inner body" living inside your physical body! This is described in many scriptures. You can very well equate this inner body with the Western notion of a soul. The difference is that Buddhism says that this "soul" is impermanent which you mentioned. This doctrine teaches us that we should not hold on to neither life or death but consider our fleeting lives as precious gifts that give us the chance to steadily perfect ourselves through our life-experience which is unlimited in it´s possibilities!
Because the Self (soul) is impermanent, there follows the notion that there is no supreme being (God) either and I guess this is the biggest problem for westerners. Let´s not get into a quarrel about this but what it means is that if there is no inner permanent core, there cannot be any permanent God that is the saviour of your soul. Then again, karma teaches that we are all responsible for what we do and this should be only a fair credit to an adult that does´nt blame his parents for his misfortune anymore. The notion of rebirth is also important here, because when there is no permanence to your soul and permanent God, it´s perfectly reasonable that your "soul" will "morph" into another realm and being after death, rather than be sent to eternal heaven or hell. Anyway, Buddhist teachings are very much interwoven and if you take a closer look, the different doctrines hang together and cannot be understood separately or else they would just seem like philosophical ramblings.
OK, before I get into another monotheism vs. Buddhism debate I will just say that I don´t meditate, I don´t pray or recite chants. All I´m saying is that Buddhist ideas make perfect sense to me and it´s ideas are quite life-affirming to me in this universe, rather than being negative and pessimistic.
I have read the thread but I could´nt really see where the problem lies but I hope I made some sense to you. This is my limited understanding and I don´t even consider myself religious. Good luck!
The Buddhist LIE
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