Shinran was no innovator


When I humbly examine key Jodo Shinshu concepts in the light of the Mahayana sūtras, I find that these sūtras (especially the Mahāvaipulya Buddhāvataṃsaka, Saddharma Puṇḍarīka, Saṃdhinirmocana, Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa, Vajrachedikāprajñāpāramitā, and Mahāprajñāpāramitā Hṛidaya Sūtras) clearly reveal that the Jodo Shinshu teachings are in full conformity with mainstream Mahayana tradition and not the result of any ‘innovation’ of Shinran as both opponents and proponents of Jodo Shinshu have frequently asserted.

What this examination also reveals is that Shinran, through the working of the Nembutsu within him, transcended his own personal limitations such that he was enabled to take the vast continuum of the BuddhaDharma (as most comprehensively revealed in the Mahāvaipulya Buddhāvataṃsaka Sūtra), and render it down to its most essential, condensed, and substantive form, and in doing so made it universally available and practicable without over-simplification of its nuanced complexity into a simplistic homogeneity.

The person of superior faculties could study this ‘simple’ religion of the ‘Pure Land Path’ as revealed in the Jodo Shinshu teaching and never cease to find cause for joy, yet the most intellectually impoverished can practice it with ease and experience its fruit without recourse to the ascetic discipline and scholastic rigor required by the monasticism of the ‘Path of Sages’.

Truly the principle of this teaching is inconceivable, and its fruit is also inconceivable.

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