Calligraphy training at Korinji Monastery in Wisconsin

As part of our fine art training at Korinji we practice calligraphy of bonji, or Sanskrit characters (also called siddham). Unlike Chinese characters, these are often drawn with a flat wooden stylus rather than a brush.

Bonji are especially important in esoteric Buddhist practice. The characters are mantric seed syllables of various buddhas, bodhisattvas, and deities, but are not simply letters indicating sounds: they are seen as actual manifestations of those beings.

Visualizing bonji is an important part of practices found in the Shingon, Tendai, and Shugendo traditions (including the training done at Korinji). Bonji are also used on protective amulets (omamori) created by Zen priests, such as those offered by Korinji each year. This calligraphy is taught at various events each year, and is also practiced by monastery residents.