Nibbana: The Unborn & Unconditioned in Daily Life?


The teachings of Shinran were not his own. They belonged to a lineage of Pure Land teaching, going back to the beginning of Mahayana Buddhism:

The “Seven Patriarchs of Jōdo Shinshū” are seven Buddhist monks venerated in the development of Pure Land Buddhism as summarized in the Jōdo Shinshū hymn Shoshinge . Shinran quoted the writings and commentaries of the Patriarchs in his major work, the Kyogyoshinsho , to bolster his teachings.

The Seven Patriarchs, in chronological order, and their contributions are…
Jōdo Shinshū - Wikipedia

We should also keep in mind that the Pure Land sutras, according to traditional Mahayana interpretation, were spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha himself.

Shinran was a Tendai monk who, for twenty years, did everything he could to attain enlightenment by his own efforts.

He decided on Amida and the Nembutsu as the easy path to enlightenment, as taught by the Pure Land patriarchs, after realizing that his own efforts were ego-centered and futile.

As evidenced by such works as the Kyogyoshinsho, Shinran was one of the most well-read Buddhist scholars of his time.


So he made this decision based on teachings from patriarchs, and not based on the teachings of the fully enlightened Buddha? It seems to me he had a lack of faith in the Buddha’s teaching on the gradual eight-fold path to enlightenment, which has no set time, such the 20 years of striving claimed by Shinran. How would you argue, based on textual findings, that venerable Shinran didn’t just give up the pursuit of the ultimate goal out of frustration? Again, the early buddhist texts, as far as I have read (which is three of the five Nikayas) contain no teaching regarding salvation through recitation of a mantra. If you could provide a reference which has parallels in the Pali, Chinese and Sanskrit texts which mentions these teachings, and are attributable to the Buddha himself rather than a patriarch of a lineage, I would be very grateful!


Shinran was a man of his time, and he accepted the traditional Mahayana interpretation that the Pure Land sutras were taught by the historical Buddha. Ancient India was an oral culture, and important religious texts were passed down for hundreds of years before taking a written form.


It was Venerable Shàndǎo who first suggested that merely reciting the name of Amitāyur was enough for a birth in Sukhāvatī, because he believed that verbal Amitābhānusmṛti could transform the moral character of pracitioners. It was Venerable Hōnen who suggested that merely reciting the name of Amitāyur was enough for a birth in Sukhāvatī as you are, as in the success of your verbal Amitābhānusmṛti is unrelated to your moral cultivation and even murders can achieve a birth in Sukhāvatī with sufficient verbal recitation:

[I lack] the wisdom to teach others. [Venerable] Ku Amidabutsu of [the] Hosshō-ji [temple], though less intelligent, contributes in leading the people to the Pure Land as an advocate of the nembutsu. After death, if I could be born in the world of humans, I would like to be born a very ignorant man and to diligently practice the nembutsu.
(Tsuneni Oserarekeru Okotoba - Common Sayings of Hōnen)

Lastly, it was Venerable Shinran who merged the Pure Land tradition with Taimitsu Ādibuddha esoterica he was exposed to in his scholastic Tendai education to produce Amidabutsu as the dharmadhātu itself, as emptiness itself, as nirvāṇa, etc.

So it is a gradual process to get to Ven Shinran’s radical doctrines.


If you look at the sources Shinran quotes in his Kyogyoshinsho, his teachings were neither innovative nor radical. According to Honen, Shinran shared the same faith as himself. Rather than antinomian, one is to live fairly and justly, in gratitude for Amida’s boundless compassion.


While it might seem shocking to some that the Buddha would teach more than one path to enlightenment, it’s traditionally believed that the Buddha taught 84,000 paths to enlightenment, based on the various needs, temperaments and abilities of human beings.


A common misconception of what the single EBT actually says on the matter. If you want a saviour so bad how about looking for a theistic religion, but the idea of an functioning eternal Amitabha contradicts anatta and impermanence. No one can ‘wave away’ your unwholesome karma?


So, no response to the argument regarding Shinran simply giving up pursuit of enlightenment, nor any source citation from Pali, Chinese, Sanskrit, or Ghandari texts regarding the teachings of this nature? I must remind you, this forum is a platform for the discussion of early Buddhist texts, not ancient lineage theory. It would be good if you could bring this topic back around to the words of the Buddha. I don’t mean to dismiss the insights of the venerable patriarchs, but to me, their teachings don’t align with the words and teachings of the Buddha of this world system.


In some Mahāyāna Buddhisms, yes.

I’ll steal a quote from @Gabriel_L

This notion of the Buddha simply preaching many, many sermons, eventually is transformed by some interpretations of the doctrine of skill-in-means to produce the notion that the Buddha taught 84,000 divergent paths to enlightenment.

From 84,000 scriptures to 84,000 divergent sets of instructions.


There are a few formulations of the whole Path in the 37 factors of enlightenment. However they overlap a lot. There’s only so many combinations of the same faculties and practice someone can come up with.


Thank you, @Coemgenu! Your contributions to this thread astound and amaze me!

Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu!


While all unconditioned things are impermanent, Amida Buddha is, as the salvific activity of Nirvana in the world, unconditioned. Entrusting the name of Amida Buddha, will still experience the karmic consequences of our actions in this life, as we await our rebirth into the Pure Land, the realm of Nirvana, where all karma is wiped away. Unlike a theistic god, Amida is not a creator or judge.


I am sorry. I don’t know what you are asking. The Pure Land sutras, as well as the writings of the earliest Pure Land patriarchs, were originally written in Sanskrit or some other Indian language. Since ancient India was an oral culture, where religious texts were passed down for hundreds of years before taking a written form, how do we know that the Pure Land sutras aren’t early Buddhist texts?


Nichiren Buddhism is the only Mahayana school I know of that rejects all other Buddhist paths.


I would say that is because there are no parallels with the earliest extant buddhist literature, nor any mention of such practices as a path to enlightenment in lieu of the gradual, noble eight fold path.


Jodo Shinshu. This is mappō. They share a common New Kamakura mythology concerning the degeneration of the ascetic Gautama’s dharma.


If the eightfold path was intended for monks and nuns, what is the alternative for laypeople, unable to devote themselves full-time to study and practice? There are many Mahayana sutras, besides the three Pure Land sutras, that attest to Amida Buddha and the Pure Land. The endorsements of Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu for the Pure Land path should also not be discounted.


The above quote is from pseudo-Nāgārjuna, which I clarified earlier. It is an ahistorical attestation, like the Tibetic literature by pseudo-Maitreya. If any Nāgārjuna wrote the Daśabhūmikavibhāṣa it was not the same as the author of the MMK.


Jodo Shinshu has historically tolerated other sects, as to avoid antagonizing political authorities.


Pure Land Buddhists in Japan have also historically burned down non-Pure Land temples and destroyed statues of the evil false Buddha Śākyamuni whose dharma has no salvific power in “this degenerate age.” Japan has a very violent and sectarian religious history.