retrofuturist wrote:Let us not forget that in the 2500+ years since the Buddha, the ignorance of human beings has managed to interpret, re-interpret and misunderstand the Buddha's message in countless different ways. Looking around at the various forms of Buddhism nowadays it's hard to reconcile that they all spawned from a single source. To me this is a product of taking the commentaries/masters as authoritative subjects rather than seeing them as a filter through which to view that which should be taken as authoritative. According to this text ( http://www.dharma.org/bcbs/Pages/docume ... gRoots.pdf )... "The Theravādin commentators apparently intended their writings in the Aṭṭhakathā – literally ‘discussions on the meaning’ –more as explorations than absolute statements of truth"... and I think that is a healthy way in which to regard them.
Of course people can get all sorts of things wrong. But it seems to me that many (most?) who make use the Commentaries have exactly the attitude you quoted, as Davis explains on the page you quoted from:
Jake Davis wrote:There is thus a strong tendency to regard as
corrupted those canonical texts that would contradict the
assertions of the commentators. A few powerful monks have
taken issue with this extreme stance, however, notably the
Mahāsi Sayadaw. The Theravādin commentators apparently
intended their writings in the Aṭṭhakathā – literally ‘discussions
on the meaning’ – more as explorations than absolute statements
of truth, according to Warder’s reading.…we have in these ancient ‘discussions on the meaning’ not a
dogmatic system but an enquiry carried on by these old teachers
of the school into the real nature of things. They build on what
has come down to them but they also seek to extend and improve
it, and some conclusions they offer as tentative or controversial.
I think it is quite obvious to anyone has actually read any commentarial literature that it is a discussion. Certainly, as indicated in the quote, Mahasi Sayadaw and his students present it as such.