How can you know what the Buddha intended? You can't ask him, and he didn't write anything.
I believe this side-tracks what I'm saying. My mention of the Buddha's intention was not about me knowing his intention; I was stating that there is a theoretical goal post for all of us: to practice in the way, and with the understanding he intended, with the outcome he was suggesting. That goal post remains the same regardless of any individual's opinion on what the Buddha meant.
Where our opinions on his intention comes into it is in the relationship of each individual's actual practice and understanding, to the theoretical ideal that the Buddha intended. And in looking at those relationship it's a given that no one knows for sure -- that is why there are so many different ways of practicing.
So I don't disagree that we can't ever have a conclusive answer -- even if we could ask him, even if we had a provable transcription of every word he ever said in his original language -- we still would come up with different understandings of what he was saying. But presumably those things would help us get closer to the goal post.
That we cannot, just by reading the words and working through the ideas and even by beginning our practice, get a precise understanding of what he meant (the goal post) doesn't mean we should not try to get closer to it, does it?
There is only what you can glean from the suttas and your previous understanding, that is, you can only end up with a Buddhism that you intend.
This is certainly the party line to take these days, but in putting into practice the effort of reading the suttas, it isn't a match for what I've experienced at all. I went into study of the suttas with no personal desire to arrive at any particular conclusion about what the Buddha taught at all -- my goal was simply to understand what he said and why he said it the way he did, because there were so many conflicting views out there and I was tired of being confused by them. So I told myself to go to the source (or as close to it as one can get) via the Pali canon. Along the way I discovered that I really wanted there to be such a thing as rebirth, that I really did not want my death to be the end of me.
I found the Buddha saying lots of things I didn't really like hearing. I am certain that wasn't coming from my intention to bend his words to my will. I struggled with aversion to a lot of it. Sometimes it turned out that what I thought he was saying wasn't what he was saying at all, and that's why I had the problem. But more often when this happened, it turned out that what he was saying had a good reason, and when more pieces of the puzzle filled in, what he was saying made sense, even if it still made me uncomfortable -- I would come to see the sense in it, and incorporate it into my understanding of the world and my life.
So I'm pretty sure I'm not doing as much shaping of my understanding of what the Buddha taught to conform to my own worldview (though no doubt that happens a little) but I am letting his understanding change me. Which, if we trust his teachings, is as it should be, isn't it?
For instance, Stephen Batchelor argues that talk of rebirth in the suttas is barnacle-like material that has attached itself to the raft launched by the Buddha. His Buddhism, heavily based on the suttas, but using his previous understanding, doesn't include rebirth. He tries to argue that this Buddhism is not only his Buddhism, but the Buddha's Buddhism. All I can say is "maybe", because the Buddha isn't there to ask.
I disagree with Batchelor and the whole crop of modern secular thinkers who posit that the talk of rebirth in the suttas is later additions. If that were the case we'd have to throw out the great bulk of the canon. The majority of the canon contains a consistent point of view, a well-integrated lesson, and the Buddha used rebirth as a way of getting his point across. I didn't set out to excise the bulk of what he said and take just take away the pieces I felt fit with a modern worldview, I set out to understand the whole -- working from the premise that it was a whole -- and that, and studying the philosophies and religions and teachers of his own time, whose ideas he responded to in kind, makes it possible to get what he's saying in the context of his own times. But it does require that we accept that he wasn't speaking our language; that what was clear enough to people in his own day because they lived and breathed in an environment in which teachers spoke the way this man did, isn't going to be immediately clear to us.