Jojitsu To Kaniska (Kanisska) (Buddhism)


The Jojitsu (Establishment of Truth) school was one of the six schools originally founded at Nara. It traced its origin to a fourth-century Indian Buddhist, Harivarman, who authored the Satyasiddhi Sastra (Treatise on the Establishment of Truth). This text was translated into Chinese by Kumarajiva in the fifth century. It emphasizes two propositions, that phenomena are transitory and that both the self and the world lack essential substantiality. It then offers a set of practices that will allow one to experience the truth and become free of illusions.

Some of Kumarajiva’s students established a school of thought based upon the view of nonsub-tantiality championed in Harivarman’s Treatise, which spread in popularity through the seventh century. The view on substance it propounded was opposed by the San Lun school (known in Japanese as the Sanron, or Three Treatises, school), which saw it as too extreme. The San Lun school gradually replaced the Jojitsu movement in China but not before it spread to Korea and then Japan.

The teachings of the Jojitsu school were studied by the Japanese regent Prince Shotoku (573-621), who received them from Korea (and was almost simultaneously also introduced to the opposing Sanron teachings). Thus in Japan the Jojitsu and Sanron approaches to the study of phenomena were generally tied together, even at Nara, where separate schools for each were established. over time the Sanron school absorbed the Jojitsu, but eventually both lost support and died out.


Jokhang is the central religious site for Tibetans. Jokhang is a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list site (added in 2000, along with the Potala Palaces). It is located in the center of Lhasa, Tibet.

Jokhang was built during the reign of King Songtsem Gampo (617-650), who according to tradition had married two princesses, one from Nepal and another from Tang dynasty China. Each arrived in Lhasa with an image of the Buddha, and Songtsem Gampo built the vast temple complex to house these images.

Jokhang is divided into eight temples. These are housed in a structure of four stories, constructed around a central square. one statue of Sakyamuni Buddha found in the temple pictures him at the age of eight and is said to be the same image carried to Tibet by Princess Wen, the Chinese bride of Songtsem Gampo.

The story of the temple is connected with the entry of Buddhism in Tibet and the founding of the city of Lhasa. The site of the temple was originally a vast lake. After the lake was filled in, the site was called Ra Sa (Sheep-earth) Vphrul Snang—or Lhasa, for short.


The Kadampa tradition in Tibetan Buddhism is a medieval (11th-century c.e.) school of philosophy that was later absorbed into the Gelug school. Kadampa is generally traced to the 11th-century reformer Atisa and his student Dromtonpa, who in 1056 established Rva-sgreng monastery in western Tibet. Beginning in the 1070s, the kings of western Tibet had attempted to revive Buddhism, which had reached a low point from its original transmission, and at the same time reform it by removing accretions it might have picked up from the pre-Buddhist local religion.

Atisa, the author of the Bodhipathapradipa (Lamp for the Path of Enlightenment), had emphasized a practical approach to Buddhism. He offered a gradual process by which the teachings could be learned and progress toward the bodhisattva ideal realized. The reform movement would soon spread to all parts of Tibet and compete with the Nyingma tradition for the allegiance of Tibetan Buddhists. The evolving teachings of Atisa’s successors would later be assembled as the Lojong (Thought Transformation) writings.

The Kadampa school would later divide into three lineages, the Lamrimpa, the Shungpawa, and the Mengagpa. In more recent centuries, the Kadampa school would be absorbed into the Gelug school, though it would be remembered through the continued respect for the Lojong writings. In the late 20th century, some Gelug Buddhists led by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who objected to some of the decisions made by the Dalai Lama, would organize separately as the New Kadampa Tradition, now based in England.


Kagyu means literally "lineage of oral transmission." This Tibetan school emphasizes the MAHA-MUDRA and the teachings of Naropa. The Kagyu schools form one of the main groupings in the various strands of Buddhism developed in Tibet, along with the Gelug, Nyingma, and Sakya traditions. Many of the central Kagyu practices were introduced to Tibet by Marpa the Translator (1012-1197 C.E.). The Kagyu tradition was said to have four main branches and eight smaller ones, and several of these are active today. The largest is the Karma Kagyu. The Drikung Kagyu and the Drukpa Kagyu also have considerable followings, both in Asia and in the Western world.

The differences between these schools of Tibetan Buddhism have as much to do with the details of ritual forms of meditation practice as they do with doctrine. All of them start by indicating that ordinary life is often very painful and at best unsatisfactory and does not last. All of them stress the possibility and the need to free ourselves from the cycle of birth and death, and all teach that developing compassion for every suffering being is vitally important.

Intensive practice is heavily emphasized, and a Kagyu "lama," or teacher, must include at least one close, guided retreat of over three years in his or her training. This might include the advanced practices known as the Six Teachings of Naropa— yogas that deal with the inner heat as practiced by Milarepa, illusory body, the dream state, the clear light of sleep, the state between one life and the next (Tibetan, BARDO), and transfer of consciousness at the time of death.

Another practice emphasized by the Kagyu schools is the teaching of MAHAMUDRA (Tibetan: chagchen). This system of meditation and practice makes less use of elaborate visualizations and focuses instead on recognizing the true nature of the mind, which is said to be naturally clear, luminous, empty of anything that can be grasped, and yet blissful. The advanced practitioner should remain in this state, so that all appearances, good or bad, are naturally liberated.

kaigen (kaiyan)

The kaigen (eye opening) ceremony is performed commonly in China, Korea, and Japan to commemorate the establishment of a new Buddha image. In Nichiren Shoshu practice each Gohon-ZoN, or object of worship (usually a calligraphic scroll), should be properly consecrated in a kaigen ceremony in order to have potency. Otherwise the object remains artwork on the wall. Similarly, a Buddha image must be offered and consecrated in an unveiling ceremony for it to be perceived as effective by worshippers.

Kailas, Mt./Lake Manasarovar

The spectacular Mt. Kailas in western Tibet and the equally beautiful Lake Manasarovar that lies at its base are sacred to both the Buddhists and followers of the BoN religion in Tibet, as well as to Hindus in India. The waters that flow from the glaciers on Mt. Kailas feed the lake (the highest freshwater lake of any size in the world) and four rivers—the Indus, Brahmaputra, Sutlej, and most significantly, Ganges.

Tibetan Buddhists identify Mt. Kailas with Mt. Sumeru, the mythological center of the universe and symbolic of the single-pointedness of mind sought by Buddhist practitioners. The mountain embodies the principle of fatherhood. Furthermore, to bathe in Lake Manasarovar is to assist one’s entrance into paradise, and to drink the water can lead to healing. Pilgrims walk around the lake occasionally stopping to bathe in its waters and quench their thirst. The lake embodies the mother principle. The completed trek around the lake (which takes three days or more) leads to instant Buddhahood.

Among the important mythological events to occur at the mountain and lake was that encountered by the Buddhist pioneer Milarepa and a representative of the traditional Tibetan Bon religion. They held a competition demonstrating their spiritual powers. At one crucial point, the Bon leader flew to the top of the mountain on his drum. Unfortunately, when he arrived, Milarepa was waiting for him. As pilgrims make their cir-cumambulation of the mountain, they will pass by a set of what are believed to be Milarepa’s footprints and a shrine that houses a silver-covered conch shell that belonged to him.

Over the centuries, the Buddhists built some 13 monasteries near the mountain and lake and along the path taken by pilgrims to them. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the sites fell victim to damage by Red Guards. Many of the artworks were taken and buildings destroyed. Pilgrimages began again in 1981, and subsequently most of the monasteries have been rebuilt, though resident to only a token number of monks. They now serve the pilgrims and mark the progress of their trek around the mountain. Among the best descriptions of the region are those from the accounts of modern pilgrims.

Many Hindus consider the mountain the axis of the world, and its sacredness interacts with the sacred quality of the rivers that have it as their source. Among the many stories told of the mountain is its being the site of the god Shiva’s meeting one of his consorts, Meenakshi. Meenakshi was a king’s daughter born with three breasts. It was said that she would lose one of them when she met her future husband. When she met Shiva, the third breast disappeared. Their wedding took place at Madurai, Tamil Nada, now the site of a temple built in 1560 in Meenakshi’s honor. Each evening, the temple is closed and the main statue of Shiva is taken from its daytime spot to a room designated as Meenakshi’s bedroom as music is played. It is returned at six the next morning. Three festivals annually mark the lovers’ life together.

Jains believe that Rishaba, the first of their tirthankaras (teachers), received enlightenment at Mt. Kailas.


The kaimyo is a Buddhist name given to the deceased in Japan. It may be given to a Buddhist who has taken an oath to follow the five fundamental precepts—not to kill, lie, steal, commit adultery, or take intoxicants. In modern Japan it more often refers to a posthumous name given to a deceased individual. The kaimyo is usually written on a black hanging ornament.

The ceremony and fee to receive a kaimyo can be expensive today, often costing 1 million yen (U.S.$8,600) and sometimes up to U.S.$80,000. Performing and assigning kaimyo have become an important revenue source for Buddhist temples in Japan. These costs have in turn generated widespread criticisms.

Kalu Rinpoche

(1905-1989) prominent contemporary Kagyu teacher in the West Kagu Rinpoche, who founded many Kagyu centers in the West in the 1970s and 1980s, was born in eastern Tibet, the son of a notable Kagyu TULKU, and at the age of 13 began formal studies toward assuming a leadership position in the tradition. His early years combined study with a series of notable Kagyu teachers (including the leading exponents of the eclectic Rime Movement) and a three-year retreat (begun in his 16 th year) and a 12-year solitary retreat (begun in his 25th year). He then became the director of three-year retreats at Palpung monastery, the most prominent center of the Karma Kagyu school.

During these years, the KARMAPA, or figurehead of the Karma Kagyu school, revealed him to be the reincarnation of Jamgon Kontrul Lodro Taye (1813-99), one of his father’s teachers. At this point, Kalu Rinpoche became an inheritor of the little-known Shangpa Kagyu lineage, whose teachings, as revived by Jamgon Kontrul Lodro Taye, were passed to him. These teachings are traced back to two 11th century yoginis, Niguma and Sukhasiddhi.

In 1955, at the direction of the karmapa (the head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism), Kalu Rinpoche left Tibet to prepare the way should the Chinese assume control over Tibet and the Kagyu leadership need to move into India and Bhutan. He initially established two centers in Bhutan. In 1965 he opened a monastery, Samdrub Dhargye Ling, at Darjeeling, India, and established an accompanying three-year retreat center, over which he assumed direct authority. This became the center from which others would be established in India.

In 1971, Kalu Rinpoche began to travel throughout the West. Those centers in Europe and North America under his leadership were united under the collective title Kagyu Dharma. Besides his work of founding centers, he authored a number of books that have been translated into English.

Three years after his death in 1989, a young boy, now known as Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche (1990- ), was recognized as his reincarnation. Kalu Rinpoche passed the Shangpa lineage to Bokar Tulku Rinpoche (1939- ), who had studied the Six Yogas of Niguma under his guidance.


The village of Kamakura contains some of Japan’s greatest Buddhist treasures. Kamakura was a small fishing village on the southern coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island. In 1185, the Minamoto family took control of Japan, and in 1192 its leader, Minamoto Yoritomo, was named shogun (military ruler). He established his regime in Kamakura, effectively making it the capital of the country, though the emperor still ruled ceremonially from Kyoto. Yoritomo died in 1199 and a struggle for control eventuated in the rise of his widow’s family, the Hojo. They attained complete hegemony over the country and a succession of Hojo men would serve as regents until 1333. During this period, the political leadership of Japan remained at Kamakura, with the emperor reduced to a figurehead.

The Kamakura leadership showed great favor to Buddhism in general and Zen in particular, and given the traditional alignment of Buddhism with the Japanese government, older groups moved to establish new centers in Kamakura and new groups emerged to court the shogun’s and regent’s favor. The new leaders, founders of new forms of Buddhism, would set the tone for the development of the Japanese Buddhist community, especially in the 13th century. The rise of the new leadership in Kamakura moved the military leaders, the samurai, forward. Their favoring of Zen did much to promote the new meditational practices across the country.

Zuisen-ji, Kamakura, Japan, showing the classical roof lines characteristic of the great Kamakura Zen temples

Zuisen-ji, Kamakura, Japan, showing the classical roof lines characteristic of the great Kamakura Zen temples

Interestingly, the main symbol emerging the Kamakura era was the Diabutsu, the giant statue of Amitabha (Amida) Buddha. Originally conceived as a rival to the giant Vairocana Buddha at Todai-ji, the main Buddhist temple in Nara, it was the idea of Minamoto Yoritomo, who died before it could be constructed. Since the Hojo leaders favored Zen, Yoritomo’s friends (who favored Pure Land Buddhism) had to raise the money to build the statue.

At the time the Daibutsu was being constructed, the Hojo regent was putting his financial support into the construction of Kencho-ji, the emerging city’s first major Zen temple. The two rival projects focused the religious ferment besetting the city. Honen (1133-1212), the first of five notable religious leaders to descend on the city, initiated Pure Land Buddhism in the country. His disciple Shinran (1173-1263) initiated what would become the most popular variation on the Pure Land approach, known as Jodo Shinshu, or the True Pure Land, school. The most prominent Pure Land temple in Kamakura is the Hase Temple, whose central attraction is the 27-foot statue of Kannon (Guan Yin) along with statues of Amida, Jizo, and Benzaiten.

Rinzai Zen was introduced to Japan and Kamakura by Eisai (1141-1215), who was responsible for the building of the Kennin-ji in Kyoto, and then received the support of Hojo Masako, Minamoto Yoritomo’s widow, to build Jufuku-ji, the first Zen center in Kamakura. Later in the century, Jufuku-ji would be somewhat overshadowed by Kencho-ji, built with the support of Hojo Toki-yori (1227-63), the regent. With the support of the regents, three more large Zen temples would be built—Engaku-ji, Jochi-ji, and Zuisen-ji. Eisai would be followed by Dogen (1200-53), who introduced Soto Zen to Japan. Though based far away from Kamakura, Dogen appeared in the city in 1247 to spend time instructing Hojo Tokiyori and receive his favor for the development of Soto.

Possibly the most controversial of the new Buddhist leaders to settle in Kamakura was Nichiren (1222-82), the prophet of the Lotus Sutra. He first entered Kamakura in 1237 and eventually settled there in 1253. He turned his attention to the storms affecting the city, especially the very destructive one of 1257. He would attribute the disasters that afflicted the city to the attention given false forms of Buddhism, especially Pure Land teachings. In response, Pure Land supporters drove him from the city, beginning years of tension between him and the regency and the people of the city. In the 1270s he would be exiled but was pardoned in 1274 and returned to Kamakura to advise the regent on an expected Chinese/Mongolian invasion. When the regent did not accept his advice to adhere to Nichiren’s teachings exclusively, Nichiren quit the city. Today, the relatively modest Ankokuron-ji, which Nichiren founded, is the primary remnant of his stay in the city.

The Hojo regency declined in power during the first decades of the 14th century and was eventually overthrown in 1333. Power reverted to Kyoto and Kamakura would never return to its former glory. Just before its demise, the regent designated the five Kamakura Zen temples as Gozan, of the highest rank. This initiated a system of ranking of Zen temples across the country that has continued in modified form to the present.

The many temples in Kamakura suffered through the years as the country’s leadership settled first in Kyoto and then in Tokyo. The Zen centers fared best, with the continued support of Zen by the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868). The Buddhist sites were somewhat neglected during the years of the Meiji government (18681912), when Shinto replaced Buddhism as the country’s official faith. In the years since World War II, the city has revived as a major tourist center and pilgrimage site for Buddhists. In recent decades, Western Zen aspirants have targeted Kamakura, especially Engaku-ji, as sites to receive Zen training.

It should also be noted that among its more than 70 temples, Kamakura is the home to the famous Hachiman temple, dedicated to the Shinto deity Hachiman, believed to be the protective deity of the Minamoto clan, to which Minamoto Yoritomo, who initiated the Kamakura era of glory, belonged.


The Japanese term kami is difficult to render into English, as there is no exact English equivalent. It is often translated as "god," especially when talking about the major deities in Shinto mythology. All of the prominent deities such as Amaterasu Omi-Kami and Susano-o no Mikoto, the objects of worship at shrines throughout Japan, are kami. However, the number of deities (to whom both good and bad qualities may be ascribed) is quite large. And the term is not limited to these deities but emerges as a designation for all beings that are deemed to possess extraordinary and surpassing qualities, abilities, or virtues and are thus seen to be awe inspiring and worthy of reverence. The related term yao-yorozu no kami (literally, "ever-increasing myriad deities") refers to the fact hat the number of kami is believed to be continuously increasing.

Humans are believed to be close to the kami in their daily existence and might even become kami. The emperor is revered as a kami, by fact of his descending from the original Japanese deities. An individual may be designated as a kami if he or she lives an extraordinary life or does some particularly meritorious deed.

Kami are seen to reside at shrines dedicated to their veneration. A smaller shrine erected in one’s home is termed a kamidana. The kamidana frequently contains one or more amulets acquired at one of the major shrines, such as the Ise Shrine. Acknowledgment of the kami is made with offerings of food that are placed on the shrine.

Worship of the kami is performed in a ceremony (kamimukae) conducted by a Shinto priest during which the deity is summoned. The ceremony is followed by a similar one (kamiokuri) in which the kami is sent from the place of worship.

Kaniska (Kanisska)

(second century c.e.) Buddhist ruler of Afghanistan

Little is known of this Buddhist ruler, though Kaniska is honored among Mahayana Buddhists in the manner in which Theravadists honor King Asoka. What is known is that in the first century c.e. an Indo-Scythian people moved into what is now Afghanistan from the north and took control of it and the surrounding land in northern India and westward toward the Caspian Sea. Their leaders formed the Kushan dynasty. Kaniska I was one of their rulers in the second century, though he may have been but one of several rulers to bear that name. Estimates for his ascendancy to the throne vary between 78 and 230 c.e., but most scholars now focus on the period between 110 and 139 c.e.

Buddhism had already entered the land ruled by the Kushan kings, but during Kaniska’s reign it flourished as never before. He nurtured the arts, and numerous Buddhist buildings (temples and monasteries) and stupas were built. These were most notable at his two capitals and the Bamiyan Valley some 150 miles north of Kabul. The Bamiyan Valley would become both a Buddhist cultural center and a prosperous trading community because of its location along the Silk Road. Here, Kaniska would initiate a project to build two large statues of the Buddha (completed during the reign of his successors). The largest of these (175 feet tall) would for many years (until the statues’ destruction in 2001) be the largest statue of the Buddha in the world. Kaniska was the student of Sangharaksa, a contemporary of Asvaghosa, and exponent of the Sarvastivadin school. During his reign, several Buddhist schools competed for the allegiance of the faithful, and the king called the so-called fourth Buddhist council to resolve the issues, primarily variant opinions on a set of abstract metaphysical questions. These issues were decided in favor of the Sarvastivadin. The Mahavibhasa, a book on the council’s deliberations, documented the substance of the discussions. This council is sometimes used to date the beginning of Mahayana Buddhism.

The reign of Kaniska seems to represent the height of both the Kushan empire and Buddhism in the region, though both survived until the Muslim invasion in the seventh century.

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