I agree, traditional Buddhists may at times rely more or less blindly on their teacher or the tradition rather than their own knowledge of the texts. Unfortunately, I come to know this as a human tendency from which modern Buddhist scholars are sometimes not exempted, not wishing to deviate with their opinion too much, maybe not wanting to jeopardize their comfortable income at a university with that. I regret the fact that there are not more traditional Buddhists who can argue fluently in English for their viewpoint. Not because I am more traditional myself, but just to give another view from people who grew up with respect and not disrespect for certain parts of the Tipiṭaka, both possibly leading to distortions along the way of inquiry.
DNS wrote: ↑
As per our book, The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts 36, we believe that most of the texts included in what we call the early Buddhist Texts (EBTs) can be regarded as authentic. These texts are:
The 4 main nikayas in Pali
The six early books of the Khuddaka (Dhammapada, Udāna, Itivuttaka, Thera- and Therīgāthā, and Sutta Nipāta)
The Vinaya (especially the patimokkha and portions of the Khandhakas; but excluding the Parivāra, a later addition)
Such parallels to these texts as are found in Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan, etc.
All other Buddhist texts are later …
Right, that is their interpretation and others, but not of all. As far as I can see, to give a brief reply only, this list is too short. For example, the Buddha said in at least one of the main nikāyas (I think it was in AN) that he taught many Jātakas. Where are they supposed to be other than in the Jātaka tale collection (I am not talking about the stories that have been transmitted alongside, just the verses)?
An interesting example is also the Apadāna. Chris Clark in his thesis about this text is interesting. He actually sows that the previous estimates assigning a late date cannot be substantiated, but in the end he still gives it a late date. Similar it is with the Paṭisambhidāmagga. I don’t find A.K. Warders account why we should regard it as a late text plausible; I think his main argument was that it is too disparate in nature than to stem from a single author, that is Sāriputta. When Sāriputta was likened even by the Buddha to the main bow of his dispensation, where are all the teachings of the former gone to? Vanished? Just a few discourses here and there? No explanations other than that from the main bow of the dispensation? Unlikely to my mind …
Even K.R. Norman grants in his “Pāli Literature …” that the Niddesa may, at least in part, go back to the time of the Buddha and, again, Sāriputta. Now he cites one relatively small inconsistency to point out that it is unlikely that the text is from Sāriputta as a whole, which amazes me. I don’t see what is the problem with the Peta- and Vimānavatthus. I think the mythical elements weighed heavily on the decision of stating it to be a non-EBT, but such can be readily found in the texts that Ā. Brahmāli and Sujāto want to see as exclusively early.
As to the Abhidhamma, I also mostly don’t agree with the widespread notion of it being necessarily late. Lance Cousins, for example, admits that we simply don’t know how much Abhidhamma there was at the time of the Buddha, which is a fair statement. There are numerous alternative explanations that makes good sense as well and fit into the commentarial evidence that the Abhidhamma stems from the Buddha ultimately and from Sāriputta. For example the fact that Sāriputta, to whom it was entrusted, taught a difficult subject matter. Difficult things don’t become popular everywhere easily and so some, as is the case today, simply rejected it because it is too difficult, thinking that it cannot have been taught by the Buddha, who just taught simple things. But this is just one way way of looking at the issue.
I believe to see a propensity in Buddhist studies to regard agreement among schools as one of the strongest factors in determining the lateness or otherwise of a text, but I feel the fact is underestimated that the texts in Chinese, for example, are translations that have been produced many centuries later, probably even on the basis of yet other translations in Sanskrit, which may itself ultimately have been translated from the Pāḷi. If we look at what else is included in the mentioned canons in Tibetan and Chinese, why do we give them so much authority? I am speaking mainly of the Mahāyānasūtras etc., which, they say, are also buddhavacana(!). That there was, and still is, a tradition (i.e. the Theravāda) which just keeps things as best as they can as it is, is quite plausible to me.