Master Yinshun: An Analysis

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Born Zhang Luqin in 1906 at Haining (Zhejiang province), Master Yinshun is one of twentieth-century Chinese Buddhism’s most influential figures. Yinshun’s primary contributions to Budhhism include the development of “Buddhism for the Human Realm,” or renjian fojiao, and his “critical and scholarly approach to the Dharma teachings and practice” (Travagnin 272). His emergence as a significant religious figure occurred toward the latter end of the early Republican period (1911-1942), when “the academic discipline of Buddhist studies as practiced in Europe and Japan…spawned a new breed of Buddhists in China” (Chu 2). Yinshun, among other Buddhists, including Ouyang Jian (1871-1943) and Lü Cheng (1896-1989), through applying “modern academic methods” to the study of Buddhism became “keenly aware of what they perceived to be meaningful and profound differences between Indian Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism, the latter being viewed with increasing suspicion and criticality” (Chu 2). Yinshun’s radical mission to restore Chinese Buddhism to its Indian roots was a reaction to the diminished reputation of Chinese Buddhism as well as the result of the forces of globalization and modernization. One can see these forces at play when comparing the ideological…show more content…
Despite this initial massive discontinuity between the two forms of Buddhism, the Chinese patronage of Buddhist monks attracted more Buddhist monks from India who later produced more sophisticated translations of the sutras “closer to the spirit of Buddhism” (Eno 7). Nevertheless, it is understandable why Yinshun and other critical Buddhists felt that reliance on Chinese sutras as primary sources yielded distorted readings of Buddhism. The initial translations were highly tailored to appeal to Chinese cosmological constructions, and it is unlikely that later translations were completely free from similar pressures and

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