Mknicke wrote:You're certainly welcome to dispute my review of "The Truth of Rebirth" but please don't misrepresent what it says. Neither I nor any other secular dharma writer I'm aware of would make any of the oversimplified and unjustifiable claims you attribute to me.
Let's take a look at some of your claims. In your review you juxtapose what you call a "metaphysical Gotama" against a "pragmatic, phenomenalist Gotama." I assume that you're not suggesting that the Buddha suffered from a dissociative identity disorder. Yet you opine that the teachings of these two personalities are in conflict, indicating what you see as a "dramatic discrepancy" within the canonical discourses. You suggest that we should read the teachings of the former Gotama regarding past and future lives as merely comprising "metaphorical poetry." Is this not an assertion that either (i) the teachings of the "metaphysical Gotama" are based on an intentional strategy for teaching morality to people who weren't capable of understanding Gotama's true dhamma, or (ii) these teachings were never intended to be interpreted literally, or (iii) they were composed and inserted into the canon by devotees who were incapable of accurately retaining and transmitting Gotama's true dhamma?
And again, in Authenticity, Anxiety, and the Revision of the Pali Canon you see more conflict and discord. You propose that "significant portions of the Samyutta Nikaya appear to be propaganda, designed either to denigrate the leader of one faction or reinforce the authority of another." Is this not another charge that significant portions of this Nikāya were composed and inserted into the canon by deluded devotees who were more concerned with (and consumed by) unskillful worldly dhammas than with accurately retaining and transmitting Gotama's true dhamma?
And in The Goal of Practice you suggest that there is evidence throughout the canon of attempts to "reconcile Buddhist thought with Vedic soteriology." That is, the traditional formulation of the four noble truths wherein the noble eightfold path leads to the fruition of nibbāna is nothing short of "a metaphysical claim, one that tends to tame the subversive nature of Gotama's teachings and bring them back in line with the mainstream Vedantic doctrine that prevailed in the society of northern India in Gotama's era." Is this not another assertion that at some point after the Buddha's death the dhamma was reworked by devotees who were incapable of accurately retaining and transmitting Gotama's true dhamma?