My take on it is that there maybe a divergence of interpretation and focus claiming the Classical territory. Regardless of this seeming discrepancy, Classical Theravada seems to be those teachings which are in accord with the Tipitaka (inc. the Abhidhamma), the ancient commentaries and the works of later scholars who are also in keeping with the Tipitaka and ancient commentarial literature. Those teachers or teachings which criticise and/or abandon the abhidhamma and the commentaries I would consider 'modern'.
The fact that you have adherents of Sujin and practitioners of Mahasi Sayadaw, U Ba Khin et al, occupying the same territory, to me, seems to me that Classical Theravada is a spectrum of teachings where one or other teacher gives importance of one aspect over another.
Is the Classical a dead tradition? I don't think so.
Is the Classical informed by modern research and analysis? I think so.
Is the point of view outlined in the commentary the final word? First of all, I think the Buddha encouraged us all to discover the reality of nama and rupa for ourselves. Dhamma, seems to me, a path of self exploration. The commentaries are important because the help to explain and guide. But the final word should always be our own nana, knowledge. Secondly, I want to also point out that the origin of the 'commentarial tradition' began with the Buddha himself when he directed questions from younger monks to Mahakassapa 'the expositor' who would unpack the meaning of terse suttas the Buddha gave, and he often gave these explanations in the company of the Buddha. Forgive me if I don't provide a reference right now.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725
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