I urge us all to be careful (and care-filled) with this discussion.
Although I see it as vital, I recognize that there may be many firmly held beliefs and opinions tied to these two considerations that can lead to stress-filled and stressing dialog. So, let’s look carefully at the feelings that these gains and losses evoke in us, and have empathy and compassion for the feelings of our fellow wayfarers.
I’m thinking the following might be relevant to the discussion:
What was gained and what was lost when Buddhism encountered the Indo-Gangetic Plain?
What a great question, @daverupa!
In my mind it triggered/triggers (wondering, as I write this) the following thought-train . . . .
When does Dhamma morph into an ‘ism’ of one sort or another?
I contend that Isms divide (as do all words). How often does a noun or verb (in a logically Aristotelian way) draw a line in the mind that maps the world into ‘this’ versus ‘not this’?
I believe the map is not the territory, instantly evoking this dicotomy: any map/any corresponding ‘territory’ – belief/Dhamma.
In the case of any belief-system, often the dichotomy evolves into orthodox/unorthodox.
The question now arises: “Did Shakyamuni Buddha hold (in such a way as to arrest any change) orthodox vs. unorthodox ‘beliefs’ or ‘opinions?’”.
Did the Buddha have opinions?
For Buddh-ism, one of the crucial distinctions was surely atman/anatta. That was a radical, transformative (possibly revolutionary) break with contemporary belief-systems.
And, finally, did Shakyamuni Buddha teach Buddhism or Dhamma?
LOL . . . Answers, please!
Which has brought me to the Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought Paperback by Bhikkhu Nanananda (Author).
This work focuses on two important but controversial terms found in the Buddha’s discourses - papanaca and papancasanna-sankha. The author sees these terms as referring to the mind’s conceptual proliferation, its tendency to create a screen of concepts by which it misinterprets the basic data of experience. He shows the characteristic Buddhist teaching of “non-self” to have new dimensions of significance, not only in the context of Buddhism but also in relation to philosophy, psychology, and ethics. Copious quotations from Buddhist texts provide increased knowledge and new interpretations of obscure passages.
A bow and my gratitude, @daverupa, for having lead me here, now.