Her Holiness Shinso Ito

Shinnyo-en has been led by Her Holiness Shinso Ito since 1989. As leader of the Shinnyo-en community, she has expanded development of Shinnyo temples and educational / cultural centers throughout the world.

While Shinso Ito draws inspiration from Buddhist tradition, she is profoundly aware that the teachings must be meaningful for people living today. She teaches an engaged form of Buddhism, that guides both the individual and Shinnyo-en as a whole. She preserves the spirit of the founders of Shinnyo-en and guides people with her warmth and conviction. Her inspiring message of peace and enlightenment is infused with palpable joy and gentleness.

In recent years, Shinso Ito has conducted ceremonies dedicated to peace and harmony between cultures and religions. She has partnered with secular philanthropic foundations throughout the world, acting on her belief that all life is interconnected, and that Buddhism should actively engage in serving the global community. She is also committed to assisting with disaster relief, humanitarian and medical aid, social welfare, women’s empowerment, environmental protection, educational aid, the preservation of traditional culture, and the promotion of innovative artistic and cultural programs.

Shinso Ito began her formal spiritual training as a child under the care of her parents, who were also her primary spiritual teachers. Eventually she became their formal and spiritual successor. She was ordained in the Shinnyo tradition in 1966 and undertook her initial priestly training between 1970 and 1982. In 1984, Shinnyo-en’s founder, Shinjo Ito, announced Shinso Ito’s accomplishment as his disciple and future successor. She is one of the few women to become a Buddhist master and attain the highest priestly rank of daisojo. She has twice conducted important services at Daigoji, the 9th-century Shingon monastery in Kyoto.