Icchantika To Ise Shinto (Watarai Shinto) (Buddhism)


An icchantikia is, literally, a "nonbeliever." One Chinese definition is "one who has severed his good roots" and so allows himself to be full of desires. There are three kinds of icchantikas: the wicked, those bodhisattvas who choose to become icchantikas, and those without a nature (or bodhi mind) to attain final nirvana.

The "icchantika of great mercy" is another term for a bodhisattva, who vows not to proceed to Buddhahood until all sentient beings are saved.


The Japanese term ichinen is, literally, "one mind." It refers to the ultimate reality that is present in every moment. In Tian Tai school thought, the experience of Buddhahood is inherent in all life experiences, or the 10 worlds, 10 factors, and three realms of existence. Nichiren later taught that this same buddhahood was manifest in the Gohonzon mandala. Another related Tian Tai term is ichinen sanzen, indicating that the 3,000 (sanzen) worlds are present in a single instant.

Ikeda, Daisaku

(1928- ) president of Soka Gakkai International

Ikeda is the photogenic, globe-trotting spokesperson for Soka Gakkai International, one of the largest Buddhist organizations in Japan and a growing power in Japanese religion since the 1950s. Ikeda grew up in Tokyo and completed his elementary school education as World War II was heating up. He worked in an iron manufacturing plant during the war. Two years after the war, a devastated Ikeda met Josei Toda (1900-58). Toda dealt with his despair over Japan’s loss of the war and drew him to faith in Nichiren Buddhism. Ikeda began to work with Toda in rebuilding Soka Gakkai, the Nichiren lay organization that the government had suppressed during the war. He also continued his schooling and eventually graduated from the Taisei Institute.

In 1952, Ikeda began to work on building the Komeito, a political party that embodied Soka Gakkai policies. In 1958, Toda died; Ikeda was first named executive director and then in 1960 became Soka Gakkai’s third president.

Toda had initiated a strong program of pros-elytization that had led to Soka Gakkai’s spectacular growth. Ikeda continued Toda’s policies and both Soka Gakkai and the Komei (Clean Government) Party grew tremendously. Soka Gakkai became known for its aggressive recruitment practices, and the Komei Party moved from local involvement to successes in national elections. As the organization grew, Ikeda began to found a variety of educational institutions that embodied the educational ideal of Soka Gakkai’s founder, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi. In 1964 he announced the plans for the global center of Nichiren Buddhism, the Sho Hondo, completed in 1970.

In 1974, Ikeda suddenly resigned as president of Soka Gakkai. The next year he became the president of Soka Gakkai International and assumed duties related to the spread and development of the movement worldwide. He retired in 1979 and was named honorary president.

Through the 1980s to the present, Ikeda has kept up an active schedule of traveling the world, encouraging believers, and building new institutions incarnating various Soka Gakkai ideals. Ikeda has initiated a variety of efforts in higher education, both with the founding of Soka Gak-kai universities and with sponsoring of scholarly research facilities at secular universities, such as the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research and the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century. He has been particularly interested in world peace and to that end strongly supports the united Nations. He has received the united Nations Peace Award.

Amid all of his travels and administrative duties, he has authored or collaborated in more than 170 works.


(1394 -1481) beloved "madman" monk of Japanese Zen legend

Ikkyu was an eccentric Japanese poet, painter, calligrapher, and monk in the Rinzai Zen tradition. He was unsparing in his criticism of Zen in his day. In his opinion contemporary practice was degraded from that of the masters of the past.

Ikkyu was the son of the Japanese emperor Go-komatsu (r. 1382-1412) but was unable to benefit from his relationship as his mother was a member of a family who were rivals for the imperial throne. He is said to have gained enlightenment when he heard a crow’s call. As he matured, he became particularly critical of Yoso Soi (13761458), head of Daitaku-ji, the Rinzai Zen temple at Kyoto. Ikkyu chose to live away from Kyoto at the nearby monastery on Mount Jou. As a protest at the degraded state of Zen Buddhism he did not declare a Dharma heir (successor) before his death, and he tore up his own confirmation certificate. Ironically, Ikkyu was later named abbot of Daitoku-ji and so given an institutional platform for his brand of Rinzai. Ikkyu is also well known for his sponsorship of the tea ceremony.

Ikkyu can be compared to the Chinese monk Bu Dai, who lived approximately 300 years before Ikkyu. Like Ikkyu, Bu Dai was considered slightly crazy and acted inexplicably because he was enlightened. Both figures are extremely popular in their respective cultures. The large number of stories about each of these legendary monks reflects popular attempts to understand Buddhist goals.

Imamura, Yemyo

(1867-1932) Hawaiian Buddhist leader

Bishop Yemyo Imamura, who led the Shin Buddhist community in Hawaii for more than 30 years, was born in Japan. He became a schoolteacher but later in life studied for the priesthood and finally arrived in Hawaii in 1899 as a priest for the Honpa Hongwanji Buddhists. His first task was overseeing the building of their first temple in Honolulu. He then took upon himself the task of organizing the scattered Buddhist believers, many of whom resided on the islands’ plantations. He founded the Young Men’s Buddhist Association and then led in the construction of many temples. In 1900 he became the katouku, or bishop, of the Hawaiian mission.

An amiable and personable man, Imamura won the cooperation of the plantation owners, most of whom generally favored Christianity. His position was sealed when he intervened in a riot in 1904 and was able to contribute substan-tively to its ending. In 1906, his Japanese superiors designated the work in Hawaii a detached branch, which allowed Imamura to apply for corporate status for the mission. In 1908 he received a license to perform marriages, the first issued to an American Buddhist. For his leadership, as the work grew, Imamura was given the title bishop.

Imamura came to believe that Buddhism had a place in America and that his members could integrate into American life. He worked to support democracy and separated himself from any meaningful support for Japanese nationalist ambitions. His designs led him into contact with Ernest Hunt, a British citizen who had moved to Hawaii after his conversion to Buddhism. The two worked to create an English Department for the Honpa Hongwanji and Imamura assigned Hunt leadership of it. He also blessed Hunt’s advocacy of a nonsectarian approach to Buddhism and took the lead in founding the Hawaiian branch of the International Buddhist Institute, an organization to spread nonsectarian Buddhism in the West.

Imamura died in 1932. Hunt carried on the English Department until 1935, when a new bishop, Giyko Kuchiba, assumed leadership of the Honpa Hongwanji mission. He opposed most of Imamura’s policies and developed a program exclusively focused on the Japanese community and aimed at keeping tied to Japan as closely as possible. He fired Hunt and closed the English Department. Only after World War II was the vision of Imamura once more appreciated and the mission returned to the course he had set. Later, Bishop Imamura’s son, Kanmo Imamura, would serve seven years (1967-74) as leader of the Hawaiian work.

India, Buddhism in

Buddhism began in India as a movement against the order of the day. That order was Brahmanism, the system of ideologies and beliefs that people in the Buddha’s day took for granted. The Buddha was born as a prince to an aristocratic family in the Sakya tribe, sometime around 500 b.c.e. This was a period of change in many parts of the world, including the Indic world. India’s civilization was a churning pot of various languages and cultures. There were, however, two basic streams: the Indic and the Vedic. The Indic was associated with the Indus Valley civilization in today’s Pakistan—such sites as Mohenjo-daro and Harappa. Dravidian languages were spoken. The people worshipped goddess images and had a matrilineal society. This Indic civilization flourished between 2500 and 2000 b.c.e. Around 2000 b.c.e. another civilization, that of the Aryans, the Vedic, entered the scene. These people spoke Indo-European languages. They moved east into the Gangetic plains, the busy region around the Ganges River. unlike the Indic peoples, the Vedis were pastoral nomads. Their economy was centered on cattle. The lifestyle was based on warfare and acquisition. The Vedic magical worldview was based on the rta, or universal principle/law.


At the time of the Buddha these two historical forces, the Indic and the Vedic, produced different social forms. First was the tribal, class-structured gana-sanghasa, characteristic of Indic influence, and second was the monarchical, city-based kingdoms, reflecting Vedic culture. Eventually the kingdoms consolidated power and absorbed the gana-sanghasas. These city-states were in turn finally absorbed into the vaster Magadha kingdom, after the Buddha’s death.

The Buddha, Sakyamuni, was born into a gana-sanghasa, or tribal group. He borrowed this same concept for his sangha, or monkhood, from these tribal forms of organization. In addition there were current two types of religious traditions, the sramana (ascetic) and the Brahmanic. The sramanas were essentially people who separated themselves from society. These individuals simply "dropped out" and led unconventional lives. There were many groups, such as the Ajivi-kas and the Jains. Many were extreme ascetics who lived in the forest. All the groups generally accepted the idea of karma and rebirth.

The Brahmans, in contrast to the sramanas, developed from Vedic culture, in which they were priests and, perhaps, shamans. However, not all Brahmans were actual descendants of the Aryan tribes who invaded India from around 2000 b.c.e. Instead they are best seen as ritual specialists who possessed high knowledge and moral status. The Brahmans transformed and reinterpreted the ancient Vedic traditions. They did this through such works as the upanisads, sacred texts that which were first compiled around 700 b.c.e. The upanisads emphasized such doctrines as a universal, eternal self, the atman, which is reborn continually.

Although early Buddhism was a shamanic organization that opposed much Brahmanic thinking, in many ways the Buddha’s teachings synthesized both traditions. In early Buddhism sramana and Brahman essentially mean ARHAT, one who has cultivated. The Buddha developed a teaching, his Dharma, which steered a middle path between the extreme ascetic practices of many sramana groups and the householder-based options of Brahman-ism. He psychologized much of the teachings of karma, saying the intent of action was more important than the ritual action itself. In regard to meat eating, he said it was not the act of eating meat itself that counted; it was whether the person acting intended harm and pain that counted. Killing is not to be condoned, but eating meat by itself is not proscribed. The Buddha’s teachings invariably focused on the individual’s state of mind.

The Buddha’s Dharma was, in addition, meant for all, both householders and ascetics. Ascetics could join the sangha, his band of roving "dropouts." And householders, including kings and soldiers, could adhere to his teachings in daily life. The sangha had a set of strict rules, called the Vinaya. The householder followed the Eightfold Path, which would give rules for living, sila, and result in ultimate understanding, insight.


In the centuries after the Buddha’s death, what is called his PARINIRVANA, his followers, spread his Dharma message throughout the many societies in Asia. The missionaries connected with all levels of society and in doing so generally used the local vernacular language. The elite classes preserved the Buddha’s teachings in the written records of the sutras, eventually written in such educated languages as Pali, Sanskrit, literary Chinese, and Tibetan. The teachings also traveled through the popular levels of society, often as stories or songs (gathas). The Jataka Tales of the Buddha’s early incarnations, his earlier lives, were taken from local languages and eventually recorded in Pali.

The monastic system grew in India, with the distinction between householders and monks or BHIKSUS, growing increasingly clear. Eventually householders were encouraged to give gifts or donations to the monasteries in order to build up positive karma. The monasteries became wealthy and the lifestyles of the monks were often leisurely.

Doctrinally three forms of Buddhism took root in India. First was Theravada, or the Way of the Elders. Second was Mahayana Buddhism, a spiritual movement within Buddhism that focused on the impetus to give to others, on compassion. The third was Vajrayana, or Tantric Buddhism, a philosophical movement that focused on the union of absolute opposites. Tantricism developed around 700-1000 c.e. Mahayana began to form in the first century b.c.e. and gradually developed a sense of its own separate identity over the next 600 or so years.

Buddhism was an important religion—but never the single religion—throughout India from around the third century b.c.e. to the third century c.e. The first major boost to its fortunes occurred when Asoka (r. 276-236 b.c.e.), third emperor of the Mauryan dynasty (322-185 b.c.e.), converted. under Asoka’s patronage Buddhism spread throughout southern India. The numerous stone pillars that he left in all corners of his empire illustrate his devotion to the Buddhist ethical code of tolerance, harmony, generosity, and nonviolence. After the Mauryans, Buddhism continued to gather support and patronage. Large monasteries would typically be supported by the regime in power and by wealthy patrons near cities.


However, by the time of the ruler Harsavardhana in the 600s of the Common Era, Buddhism was beginning its general decline. When the Chinese traveler Xuan Zang visited in 633 he noticed many abandoned temples. Xuan Zang visited Sravasti, Kapilavastu, Kusinara, Benares, Vaisali, Pataliputra, Bodhgaya, and Nalanda. At BoDH-gaya, where the Buddha gained enlightenment, Xuan Zang saw the statue of Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. It had sunk halfway into the ground. An ancient prophecy had claimed that when the statue disappeared, then Buddhism would also disappear. To Xuan Zang this image seemed to foretell Buddhism’s impending fate in the land of its birth.

Buddhism’s decline was due less to military invasion and more to its absorption into Hinduism. The process of absorption had begun even before Xuan Zang’s visit. Mahayana Buddhists often adopted Hindu deities into the Mahayana pantheon in order to win over local Hindu worshippers. But this type of accommodation with Hinduism had an unexpected result: the local people increasingly saw Buddhism as simply another branch of Hinduism. The Buddha became, in local eyes, another of the many incarnations of Lord Vishnu. By the eighth century c.e. it was difficult for the common people to see the distinction between Hinduism and Buddhism. The Muslim invasions simply brought the process to its final conclusion.

With the Turkish invasions of India that began around 1000 c.e., Buddhism went into final and near-complete decline. The remaining monasteries and universities, clustered in the north, were easy targets for the invading armies; the Turkic sultan Mahmud Shabuddin Ghori (Muhammad Ghori) (1162-1206) attacked the university-monastery at Nalanda in 1197 and the university complex at Vikramasily in 1203. unlike Hinduism at the time, the Buddhist tradition had been centered in these great monastery complexes in northern India. Therefore, the Buddhist, sangha-based system did not survive among the general population after the monasteries were destroyed.

The obliteration of Buddhism in India had a vast impact on the other Buddhist countries. Innovative thought and texts no longer emerged from India to be interpreted and argued over in other lands. Such centers as Sri Lanka and China were now cut off from a long and noble source of religious inspiration.


Indian history continued down its unique, spectacular path after the demise of Buddhism. Still, Buddhism remained a factor in the Indian self-awareness. For many it was perhaps nothing more than one of the many cultural memories that stalk the landscape in India. But for others it was a jewel to be rediscovered and appreciated. This process of discovery was spurred on by the British unification of the Indian subcontinent during colonial rule (c. 1776-1947). Buddhism was recognized and studied in the West as a complex, admirable religion. When India attained independence as a secular, multiethnic entity it naturally claimed Buddhism as its heritage, one of which contemporary Indians can be proud.

Buddhism’s status in contemporary India was also influenced by political events in the young Indian nation. A key influence was Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, a member of the Maha-rashtran Dalit (untouchable) class and leader in the struggle for independence. After much soul searching Ambedkar lost hope in the possibility of reform of Hinduism. He made a sudden and dramatic conversion to Buddhism in 1956. His influence convinced many of his political followers to follow suit, and today there are more than 4 million Indian Buddhists. In addition, Tibetan Buddhism has had an impact on modern Indian history due to the influx of Tibetans after the Chinese annexation of Tibet from 1959. Buddhism, against all odds, has made something of a comeback in the contemporary period. It remains a tiny religion in today’s India, yet its staying power cannot be denied. It is an intrinsic part of the current landscape and India’s historical imagery.

Ingen (Yin Yuan)

(1592-1673) founder of Obaku Zen

The monk Ingen (in Chinese, Yin Yuan), who founded the Obaku Zen school in Japan, was born in China. As a young man, he moved to Wan Fu Chan temple on Huang Po Mountain to study with the Chan master Jian Yuan. He eventually became abbot of the temple.

In 1644 there was a significant political change in China with the fall of the Ming dynasty. Many people fled to Japan and settled in Nagasaki. Some of the Nagasaki Chinese, including a colleague, Itsunen, invited Yin Yuan to their new home. He traveled there in 1654 and settled in at the Sufuku-ji temple.

Over the next few years he gained some reputation, and in 1661 he met and gained permission from the Tokugawa shogun to construct a temple in the Uji district near Kyoto. The shogun gave land for the temple, which was built out of the memory of the temple in China that Ingen headed as abbot. He named the new temple Mampuku-ji (the Japanese equivalent of Wan Fu Temple).

Ingen taught a form of Zen quite reminiscent of Rinzai Zen practice but to it added an emphasis on the veneration of Amitabha through the repetition of the NEMBUTSU. It was this latter practice that distinguished the obaku Zen approach. Ingen also introduced a new vegetarian cuisine from China, fusa ryori, which had been popular in Chinese temples.

Ingen was succeeded by Mu An as abbot at Mampuku-ji.


The Japanese term inkashomei (legitimate seal of clearly furnished proof), often abbreviated as inka, is a key concept in Zen Buddhism practice. The inkashomei, or "seal," is the confirmation that more than teachings or philosophy had been passed from master to student; in Chan and Zen theory the master passes enlightenment itself. The seal is a confirmation from the master that the student has received and grasped the teachings of enlightenment. In practices centered on the use of koans, receiving the inka signifies the student has studied and passed each koan test. once a student receives the inka from the master he or she is then allowed to take on students and to be called a roshi, an enlightened master. As an example, the modern Zen master Hakuun Tasutani-roshi (1885-1973) received the inkashomei from his master, Harada-roshi, when he was 58.

International Meditation Centre

The International Meditation Centre (IMC) was originally founded in 1952 by U Ba Khin, a Burmese master of VIPASSANA meditation, specifically to teach Theravada Buddhist doctrine and meditation. After U Ba Khin’s death, his closest disciple, Mother Sayamagyi, assumed leadership of the IMC. Over the years a global network of centers affiliated directly with the IMC in Rangoon have emerged. They may be found in Australia, Singapore, Japan, the united States, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.

In 1999, the Vipassana International Academy in India opened the Sayagyi U Ba Khin Village, one of the three projects to mark the birth centenary of Sayagyi U Ba Khin.


(1239-1289) inspired founder ofJi-shu sect

Ippen, the founder of the Pure Land Ji-shu sect of Japanese Buddhism, was born into a formerly wealthy family on Shikoku Island. His family had, however, lost its position as a result of choosing the losing side in the Kokyo Disturbance (1221). His mother died when he was 10 and he entered a Buddhist order. He studied at various temples, but in 1271, at a Jodo temple, he had a remarkable religious awakening.

At the Senko-ji temple in Shinano Province, he saw a painting, which pictured the path to the Pure Land, the paradise that is the object of the religious life in Jodo Shinshu. As a result of his contemplation of the picture, he became convinced of the basic Pure Land belief that entrance into the heavenly realm is the destiny of all who repeat the nembutsu, a mantra calling upon the grace of Amitabha. He believed that to recite the nembutsu was to become one with Amitabha.

On the basis of a message he had received from an oracle at the Kumano Shrine, a SHINTo shrine at Hongu, Japan, in 1274, he began traveling around Japan giving people a nembutsu medallion and practicing a nembutsu dance. The dancing was seen as an ecstatic expression of his realization that all were going to be saved by the nembutsu. He concentrated his travels in the rural areas, and many adopted his dance. It is said that he distributed more than 2 million nembutsu talismans. Members of Ji-shu consider the date of the oracle as their founding date.

He died in 1289 believing that no new sect needed to be founded as a result of his work. However, Shinko-ji temple was erected at the spot where he died in Settsu Province. One of his followers, Shinkyo (1237-1319), eventually emerged to continue his work and found the Ji sect that advocated his teachings.

Ise Shinto (Watarai Shinto)

During the Kamakura period (1192-1333), when Japan was ruled by the shoguns based in Kamakura, Buddhism was privileged at the expense of traditional SHINTo. one prominent family who favored more traditional beliefs, the Watarai family, who supplied the priests at the Outer Ise Shrine, took the lead in developing a new revi-talization of Shintoism. Ise Shinto stresses purity and honesty as ideals, with the goal of religious practice to perfect purity and honesty. The Ise Shinto priests attempted to reverse the Buddhist dominance by, among other things, seeing the Buddhas and bodhisattvas as manifestations of Shinto KAMI, or deities.

The major text of the movement is the Shinto gobusho (Five books), which dates from the Muro-machi period (1334-1592).

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