Let’s eliminate any specific issue from the conversation for a moment - we all have our beliefs on specific issues that can be really hard to set aside - and simply looking at the structure.
On this board
- We share a belief that the Buddha’s life was a truly special moment in human history, and that the Buddha brought great insight and wisdom into the human realm.
- We believe that the EBT offer the most direct access to what the Buddha said and believed.
An issue arises when we face a situation where our opinion of the right, ethical path forward disagrees (at least on first look) with what it appears the Buddha said in the EBT.
What are the possibilities?
- Maybe the Buddha is wrong
- Maybe our interpretation of what the Buddha said is wrong
- Maybe the Buddha didn’t say that (problem in transmission)
- Maybe we are wrong
Now, in the abstract, it is easy to admit I might be wrong. But I imagine most of us have issues where we believe one side is just and right and we’re not willing to entertain the idea that we are wrong. (For example, I believe women should be ordained as monastics with full and equal rights to male monastics. Depending on your perspective it is either a strength or a weakness of mine that I am not willing to entertain the idea that this belief might be wrong.)
It’s great when the discrepancy turns out to be an issue of interpretation or transmission - we’re right, the Buddha’s right - it was just a misunderstanding. But it seems if we’re exploring in good faith a conclusion of faulty interpretation or transmission should be based on evidence, not a Get Out of Jail Free default position when the situation gets tough.
So it does seem, at a certain point, you get to the question of the inerrancy of the Buddha.
If you say the Buddha might be wrong, there is no logical problem. (Having seen the contortions many denominations of Christianity have gone through maintaining a view the Bible’s inerrancy, I personally have no problem with the idea the Buddha might have gotten something wrong.)
If you say the Buddha is never wrong, you either need to identify an issue with interpretation/transmission, or be ready to accept you might be wrong, no matter how deeply you believe you are not wrong.