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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.

James H. Austin writes that, "The ideogram for inka has two parts: in is on one side, ka is on the other. The root meaning resides in the character for in (yin in Chinese). The right half of this in consists of an ancient character shaped like our modern P. In ancient times the character represented an actual object. It stood for the image of just the right half (P) of the emperor's official seal (IP), after the Emperor had broken in half the whole seal."[3] The right-hand portion of the seal was given to an individual who would then work by authority of the emperor, while the emperor himself would retain the left-hand portion. In the Rinzai school of Zen, inka is the official indicator of mastery and denotes an individual who has successfully completed koan study and received the title roshi.[4]

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 Sōtō 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]

See also



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