daverupa wrote:Alexander Wynne suggests that the simple liberation pericope, below, is the more likely to be historically authentic.... Nothing here about the six higher gnoses, and the first two of the three high knowledges are also absent...
Ven. Ṭhānissaro's Introduction
pertaining to the absence of reference to the 4NT in this sutta is also relevant to the absence of reference to the triple knowledge.
The first argument suggests that the Buddha alludes to two events which, since they are found here only in passing, must have been understood by the listeners and therefore those Suttas which have the detailed versions are more likely to be the earlier. Another interpretation, however, is that those episodes were not seen as important at all, and it was only the later hagiographical tradition which, desperate for biographical information, extrapolated and enumerated all manner of embellishments. Now, such embellishment may be wholly or partly factual, incorporating part of a colloquial oral tradition into the recited oral tradition, for example, but this is hardly a clear-cut issue.
The second argument suggests that the absence of the four noble truths does not therefore preclude their having been conveyed at that time, it is simply a matter of the discourse being crafted thematically, so some ill-fitting themes are here left out as they are included elsewhere. This, of course, is possible, but I find the arguments for an early provenance to MN 26 as found in Wynne rather more convincing, especially given that the formulation of the truths as 'noble' is easily shown to be a development (K. R. Norman writes on this) over time, and therefore actually out of place at the first sermon qua
"noble". To insist they were present in that form is anachronistic, and lends further weight to the claim that MN 26 is the earlier account while strengthening the claim that such topics as the history of asceticism and the tevijja were originally not seen as comparatively very important.
There's a lot more uncertainty about the particulars, here, than many seem willing to accept.
Ven. Bodhi, Dhamma Without Rebirth
[T]o downplay the doctrine of rebirth and explain the entire import of the Dhamma as the amelioration of mental suffering through enhanced self-awareness is to deprive the Dhamma of those wider perspectives from which it derives its full breadth and profundity. By doing so one seriously risks reducing it in the end to little more than a sophisticated ancient system of humanistic psychotherapy.
"the entire import of the Dhamma as the amelioration of mental suffering through enhanced self-awareness" =
in the context of this thread, so this doesn't apply.
As to Wallace: "To ignore the most compelling evidence of what the Buddha taught and to replace that by assertions that run counter to such evidence is indefensible."
"To ignore" is not what is occurring, "the most compelling evidence" is a subjective assessment, and "replace that by assertions" is not actually going on either, as has been stated ad nauseum.
There is a certain unskillful atheism from the perspective of the Dhamma, this is obviously true; the idea that this atheism encompasses every nuance of view which the term "atheism" can sustain is flatly wrongheaded, and to suggest that any atheism necessarily entails materialism, moral nihilism, and the like is equally incorrect.