Thank you for that explanation. Spurious translations casts a shadow of doubt as to the correctness of any commentary. Other than being an expert, such as yourself, there truly is no way that the average person has any way to insure the reliability of the Buddha Dhamma one reads. One might consider that reading any Buddha Dhamma, even if incorrect, is better than no Buddha Dhamma. But, being confident OF the Buddha Dhamma, should not be reliant on WHO writes the commentary. Bad translations then renders useless the value of a particular Buddha Dhamma.
While during his time, the Buddha did not have texts and commentaries, he relied on his own life experience; his own powers of observation and his own initiative to achieve what no other human being had achieved in this sasana. In some respects, I wonder whether or not all of the “stuff,” that exists today; the commentaries, the opinions, and the translations are not in themselves a crutch to which we become dependent on, rather than simply following the Buddha’s example.
These spurious translations give the Kalama Sutta confers more cogent reasons for heading the Buddha’s counsel:
When you know for yourselves that, These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare and to happiness then you should enter and remain in them.
But, at the same time the onus is placed on the teacher/translator to provide correct translations, otherwise the student may be led to believe incorrectly, perhaps acting on those beliefs, and ultimately steering another human being toward avijja rather than away from it. As you state in:
I hope I have provided enough information to contemplate why the opinions of “scholars” are likely to be wrong due to reasons beyond their control. Again, I admire and appreciate what Rhys Davids, Burnouf, Muller, and others did those days, and it was not their intention to distort Buddha Dhamma. It is not the fault of current scholars either.
To emphasize, one needs to learn Buddha Dhamma from a true disciple of the Buddha who has attained at least the Sotapanna stage. Academic credentials mean NOTHING as far as teaching Buddha Dhamma is concerned. With all due respect to those European scholars, they DID NOT understand the key message of the Buddha. That message is that the rebirth process is filled with suffering, and the goal of a true Buddhist is to stop the rebirth process and attain Nibbāna.
My own thinking is to be careful not to become too dependent on the various commentaries and teachings of famous monks, nuns or academics. The foundation of the Buddha Dhamma is already within that person who wishes to shed the cloak of avijja, first coming to understand their own individual experience. It may sound cheeky or pithy to say, but find a tree, find the breath, and contemplate what is already within you.
P.S. So then, can I assume that what you are saying is that Thanissaro Bhikku’s use of the phrase seeds of consciousness are actually kamma bija? If so, then I surmise that his interpretation or analogy therefore, is not a good one. He should have just said kmammic seeds, which would make more sense.