Tradition and Change

Prompted by a listener who’s interested in how Buddhist teachings and practices change over time, in this episode we take up the tension between maintaining tradition versus adaptation to new circumstances. Whereas one could argue that we should look to Shinran as the final authority on what the orthodox Shinshu teaching or practice should be, we can also look to Shinran as inspiration, as a thoughtful practitioner who, in his own time, creatively interpreted the tradition to meet the needs of those around him. But how much change is too much? When does reinterpretation so alter the tradition that it becomes something new? And who’s to say what counts in the first place? Who are the authority figures who decide what is and is not an acceptable teaching or practice?