tiltbillings wrote:There are a number of differing points of view to be found under the rubric of Theravada. How do we approach them?
Ideally, that is what we would wish for, but I think not always the case.
tiltbillings wrote:Is there a touchstone of commonality among them that will allow us to coexist without prolonged scorched earth arguments that lack any skillful nuance, allowing for some degree of common ground and allowing for some differences?
People are free to believe what they choose to believe. Consensus is not necessary, nor is it something to be desired.
Of course people are free to believe what they want. There is certainly no demand here for conformity of thought, but all too often over the last while here it has not been unusual to see written something along that "It is not spelled out in the suttas." "That is just commentary stuff." That issue here gets address in response to the next point.
tiltbillings wrote:I would hate to think we are slipping into separate camps, eyeing each other with suspicion and disdain.
If we don't set up camps in the first place then there's no need to eyeball each other from across an imagined no-man's-land.
But seems that camps have already been set up, the trenches dug, and the barbed-wire strung. Outside of a variety of minor disputes centering around how to define jhana, is rebirth literal, and such, there is a far more fundamental division that has infected this forum which could be characterized by those who claim “suttas only,” who do not take seriously, or outright reject, the commentaries, the Abhidhamma, and Buddhaghosa, and those who to varying degrees take the commentaries, etc as having an important role to play.
It is not at all uncommon for those who reject the CAB (commentaries, the Abhidhamma and Buddhaghosa) to say: "It is not in the suttas," as if that then simply ends any claim the more traditionalists might make about a point, such as the three life interpretation of the 12 links. There is no dialogue in that, though it may elicit an argumentative response to try to point out there is some value what the CAB has to say and then an argumentative response from the sutta-only advocate and so on.
One of the things that gets caught up in this division, is Burmese vipassana. Write in some thread “bare attention” or “noting” in a positive manner and there is often a negatively critical response that gets posted, which is all too easy to illustrate.
Now, the issue here is not that these things cannot be criticized, but all too often what the defenders of these notions has to do, is -- repeatedly -- to show that they are not contrary to the suttas, in addition to correcting the distorted views of what bare attention and noting are. And, of course, whatever it is, it must be spelled out exactly in the suttas to count in favor of it being in line with the suttas. And one can add to that mix the various individual interpretations of the suttas by the sutta-only folks.
Because I do not see a lot of it here, I am wondering if it is possible to voice differences without engaging in a scorched earth, salt the fields, drive them into the sea responses, or at least without lobbing a grenade.
I find myself defending the commentaries and Buddhaghosa, even though I do not consider myself a follower of either. I simply find a lot of the criticisms of the commentaries and Buddhaghosa arguments from ignorance, given that so very little of the commentaries are available to be read in English, or any other language other than a difficult version of Pali. I defend these things, as well as Burmese vipassana, because they do have something of value to offer and they should not be shouted down with: “It is not in the suttas.”
I am not asking that others share my opinions of the CAB or Burmese vipassana, nor am I saying they cannot be criticized, but all to often the criticisms come across as a wanting to simply shut them up.
But the problem is that while the CAB and Burmese vipassana may not speak to some people, they do speak to others who find within them expressions of the Dhamma that help illuminate the Buddha’s teachings.
So, is it possible to disagree without it becoming trench warfare? It is not a matter of consensus, but it may be a matter of recognizing that the Dhamma is a bit more flexible than our opinions and beliefs.