Saturday, March 13, 2010


There was a time when I too aspired to "inka," a word that can mean transmission of mind in Zen Buddhism, a state attested to from teacher to student.

Here's some of wikipedia on the topic:

Inka Shōmei (印可証明?), (Korean: Inga) is a term used in Zen Buddhism to denote a high-level of certification, and literally means "the legitimate seal of clearly furnished proof."[1] In ancient times inka usually came in the form of an actual document, but this practice is no longer commonplace.[2] A qualified Zen master bestows inka only upon his or her students that have demonstrated themselves as leaders and capable of teaching.


According to Peter Matthiessen, "In the Rinzai tradition, inka is equivalent to dharma transmission."[5]

In other schools, such as the Harada-Yasutani school, inka is approval that goes beyond Dharma transmission—granted to a master who is confirmed to be, "an enlightened successor of the Buddha."[6] In the Kwan Um School of Zen, inga is not associated with Dharma transmission at all. Rather, it denotes that the individual is a Ji Do Poep Sa Nim and can lead retreats and teach koan practice to others.[1] The Japanese Soto school also confers inka shōmyō (or inshō) upon students—meaning "'[granting] the seal of approval to a realization of enlightenment'"[7]—and the student must undergo a shiho ceremony to receive Dharma transmission.[8]

The word and my own aspiration had not crossed my mind in years, but this morning it did again and it was with relief that I realized:

"I'm too old for inka."

One of the advantages of age, I imagine.

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