It depends on what you want, I guess. If you want to learn Theravada Buddhism as it has been taught for centuries then you need to learn what the commentaries have to say. If you want one man's personal opinion on what the suttas mean then you don't need to hear what the commentaries say.
Ven. Bodhi's class is not meant to be one man's interpretation of the suttas. It is a class on Theravada Buddhism, and that includes the information in the commentaries. If I go to a class to learn Theravada then that's what I expect to learn. If the teacher has in the course of his studies formed a personal opinion in conflict with that tradition then I am happy to hear what he has to say. But for him to substitute his own opinion without telling anyone that is what he is doing is deceptive and irresponsible.
True, but the commentaries can be looked at as a certain teachers understanding and teaching method, so if a teacher contradicts them i dont think they would always have to state so, for example if Ajahn Sumedho teaches something different from Bhikkhu Thanissaro, he wouldnt necessarily state so everytime (or if his teaching differs from another teacher)
In a sense what im saying is i see the commentaries as just different teachers understanding and teaching method, when one listens to a Dhamma talk that can be seen as a kind of commentary, a Bhikkhu or Bhikkhunis understanding of the Dhamma/Suttas
I think one can learn a great deal from just the Suttas, meditation and advice from modern teachers
For example i like the teaching style of Bhante Vimalaramsi who de-emphasizes the commentaries and teaches straight from the Suttas themselves
The Lord Buddha pointed out that meditators, as well as philosophers
dispute and quarrel with each other because similarly, they see only one-side
of the truth, or have only one way of looking at things. They dogmatically
cling to their views, maintaining that they alone have a monopoly of that
truth. All of the Buddhas consider and see all sides of the truth. That is why
the suttas are so much more important than the commentaries. Although the
comments made about a sutta may be helpful, it is absolutely necessary to
check what the commentary says against the original sayings of the Buddha.
This proves that genuine Buddhism is in no way be called unilateral.
According to this Buddhist way of thinking, experience is multi-faceted and
the Buddhist view is therefore multilateral. If truth is multi-faceted, it cannot
be stated in a unilateral way!
This is why the Buddha said, \I do not dispute with the world, though
the world disputes with me. No one who is aware of the whole truth can
dispute with this world." When a person asked the Lord Buddha for his
view, he replied that his view was that he did not oppose anyone in the
world, whether human, divine or diabolical. If this is the Buddhist position,
how can Buddhist meditators come in conflict with each other, or for that
matter, with anyone in the world?
When meditation practitioners become dogmatic, they cease looking for
Truth (Dhamma) because dogmatism separates all people, including those
who seek to open and purify their minds. This denitely causes conflict and
verbal daggers to be thrown. Meditation and mental purication is supposed
to teach us love, compassion and tolerance. If this is so, how can dogmatism
prevail in the name of Truth?
This is taken from his book
"The Anapanasati Sutta -
A Practical Guide To Mindfulness of Breathing and
Tranquil Wisdom Meditation" http://www.dhammasukha.org/Study/Books/ ... 3-2003.pdf
Now i dont think Bhante Vimalaramsi would suggest putting the commentaries to the bin (from what i can see he disagrees with the commentaries when it comes to meditation) but he does teach well by just looking at the suttas and hardly from the commentaries
Now in the past i have on some occasions sadly fallen into dogmatism which was foolish (im not saying anyone here is doing that) but ive come to realize that there are others who teach well by placing emphasis on the commentaries so Classical Theravada isnt obsolete or wrong but neither is the Modern Theravada approach, they both point to the same place it just depends on whats best for each person IMO
some will benefit with the aid of the commentaties and some wont benefit which is why caution should be used so one can decide if they are helping or not
Now im not telling people how it is im just stating my personal approach