porpoise wrote:It depends on whether you accept the sutta at face value, or choose to interpret it metaphorically. I've noticed that sometimes people choose the metaphorical meaning because they don't like the implications of the literal meaning.
I see two problems with this...
Firstly, it assumes one must be either 'literal' or 'metaphorical'... all very black and white, yes and no, this one or the other. It doesn't account for subtle definitions and shades of meaning, nor does it acknowledge how the Buddha put a twist on existing words (loka comes to mind as a good example, satta is another) to frame them away from worldly conventions and orientate them towards the Dhamma.
Secondly, it assumes that the decision of how to interpret a phrase or doctrine is a matter of personal likes or dislikes. This is a classic straw man argument seen repeatedly on Buddhist forums - so common in fact, I think the people who state it must actually believe it. On the other hand, it's quite possible that people are driven not by their own personal ignorant preferences, but by the coherent explanations of many modern bhikkhus and lay teachers, who have looked at the suttas on their own terms, not interpreted through commentarial frames of references, and have seen the "subtle definitions and shades of meaning" that I referred to above. People I know who believe in a structural, rather than temporal model of dependent origination, invariably do so because they genuinely believe that is what the Buddha meant, and they take it thus, out of respect for their teacher... not on account of personal preference.