Wasn’t it the case that at some crisis point in the history of Sri Lankan Buddhism, the sangha faced a choice, in effect, between preserving the texts and practicing what they contained? And did they not choose preservation?
I am fairly sure that I read this, but I don’t recall where. (And I would appreciate book recommendations about the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka!)
If so, then Buddhist practice has already been reconstructed at least once, and a breach of continuity already exists. From there, we would have to answer the question: Did this or other disjunctions in the history of the transmission of practice constitute an effective soteriological break or not?
One might declare that the original is gone, and that we must all wait for the next Buddha to be born, a position not far from the Pure Land sect. Or one might say that this or that particular group had resuscitated an effective method of practice. Or one might say that neither of these is true, and that while true Buddhist practice has ceased to exist, it could eventually be rebuilt correctly.
All of this is a bit far removed from the original topic, but perhaps that’s because I find it impossible to credit the idea that letting women practice was, or could be, the cause of such disasters.