A "Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue" was held online June 16 — a total of 7 people attended. In the beginning, convener Michael Kerze invited Ven. Hui Ze from Hsi Lai Temple to present on the Buddhist Terminology of “Icchantika.”
In Buddhism, “Icchantika” means deluded beings who can never achieve liberation. Throughout the history of Chinese Buddhism, there have been many discussions on whether or not an Icchantika can become a Buddha. For instance, Master Daosheng’s (360–434 CE) story of stones nodding in response to his sermon is the perfect example. As for Devadatta, the treacherous disciple who betrayed the Buddha, who committed the three principal wrongdoings, was prophesied by the Buddha to attain buddhahood in the Lotus Sutra. Therefore, with a sincere and repentant mind, even an Icchantika can become a Buddha!
Rev. Brenion added, the causation of the Buddha’s aspiration for enlightenment was during his past life of being born as a hell being. Because of his great compassion towards other beings who were suffering a similar fate as his, he was born in the celestial realm and hence started his journey towards buddhahood. To further illustrate the scenes of hell, Rev. Brenion recommended A Guided Tour of Hell, a pictorial book from his collection. Michael Kerze also showed the book Maps of Paradise, which described the journey of ancient explorers searching for the Garden of Eden, Paradise on Earth.
After some thoughtful discussions, Convener Michael Kerze mentioned he hopes to continue this discussion with Prof. James L. Fredricks on the “Parable of the Good Samaritan.” As the session came to a close, everyone was full of anticipation for insightful discussions in our future dialogues.