Those conditions that Dave has outlined are very important. Suttas were aimed at an audience that had a certain cultural things that we do not have today. They may have been able to understand what the Buddha has said much better than us, who do not know pali and do not know idiomatic expressions, and manner of speech.
Certainly, but language barrier is nothing new, and from a textual basis is there from the start, it may not be the same degree of barrier but it is still a barrier. and this barrier can be bridged still.
Furthermore, there may have been a very deep non-verbal communication. I am sure that seeing and hearing the Buddha may have been 99% of sutta's effectiveness. Certain things you can't put in writing.
what is said is only a small part of any communication, however in all likelihood those hearing the words (particularly monastics) would of used them as meditative instruction to follow as they were being given. and as memorising the discourses is found in the canon, it is probably to use as instruction also.
People where much tougher during those times than today. They didn't have all the luxuries that we have today. They also didn't have as many available entertainments (distractions) as we have today.
being used to a particular comfort level does not show toughness. people don't die with any less amount of injury than then, as far as I know.
they certainly had distractions, and concerns to deal with. they may not of had all the exact same concerns, or work but a personal life didn't start recently and they would of distracted themselves in various ways.
one reason why dana is prevalent in Asia maybe as a distraction, doing something in the hope that it will bring ease and this before modern luxury and entertainment. it is quite likely meditating lay-people were quite common among the disciples when you consider the references to anatapindika... and the disciple who had followers and only got ordained and stove for enlightenment due to his followers copying and ending up being on a par with him (AN I think??)
I have spend quite a while in a situation I am glad I am not in now, sleeping on nothing but a carpeted floor and a gym mat each for a few months, under nothing but a tree, under a bridge and in a cave for a couple of nights. none of that means I am tougher than another because of it. what I am willing to accept as a comfort level it lower than some peoples.
These are very important differences in conditions.
not really. like I said initially "I personally see no difference on the practical level and the level of the teaching, sure externally we have different means of distracting, pleasuring, & harming ourselves and others, but on the level of practice it is the same from my perspective."
nothing has changed or given rise to a re-evaluation of this.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.
He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill