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Home » 8. Schools, Groups, and Personalities » Personalities
Ishida Baigan
(1685-1744)
A scholar of the merchant (chōnin) class in the mid-Edo period, founder of Sekimon Shingaku, the school of "Heart-Mind Learning." His formal name was Kōchō, common name Kanpei, and epistolary name Baigan. He was born in the Kuwata district of Tanba Province (present-day Kyoto Prefecture), the second son of a farming family. In his youth he entered service in the city of Kyoto and attended various schools while working. At the age of thirty-five he experienced enlightenment while a student of Oguri Ryōun, a lay practitioner of the Obaku school of Zen Buddhism. He opened an academy in Kyoto at the age of forty-five and gradually attracted disciples; eventually his teachings spread across the entire country.
       Ishida early on possessed an attitude of religious searching, and he expressed faith in both Shinto and Buddhism while also developing deep learning in Confucianism and Daoism. He considered all these teachings to be "methods of polishing the mind" (kokoro wo migaku togikusa, as recorded in his Tohi mondō), thus viewing the human mind (kokoro) as central actor. He rejected the prevailing negative evaluation of commercial enterprise, promoting the "way of the merchant" and the everyday practice of virtuous ideals such as honesty and frugality. It is believed that the Shinto content of his teaching was drawn primarily from Yoshida Shintō, an influence attributed to lectures Ishida attended in Kyoto rather than study under any specific instructor. Ishida's disciples included Tejima Toan and many others. Baigan died in 1744 at the age of sixty. Other works he authored include Seikaron and Bakumōsō.

- Yazaki Hiroyuki
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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