Reverend Mikko Rakushin Kendō Ijäs, PhD is a Finnish artist, researcher and a Zen priest. Ijäs is a student of Belgian Zen teacher Frank De Waele Roshi and a aspiring clown. Mikko is one of the coordinators and founders of Peacemakers Finland. He is also a researcher of human evolution at the University of Helsinki.
Rev. Mikko Rakushin Kendō Ijäs, Ph.D (born 1978 in Jyväskylä, lives and works in Helsinki) is a Finnish Visual artist, Researcher and a Zen Buddhist Priest. Mikko Ijäs received his Doctor of Arts degree (2007) from Aalto University, Helsinki. Ijäs’s doctoral dissertation titled “Fragments of the Hunt” deals with the evolution of art in the context of ethnography, paleontology, art history and neuropsychology. Ijäs’s works are represented in various collections and he has been exhibiting widely both in Finland and abroad. Dr. Ijäs was an Associate researcher at the Human Evolutionary Biology department of the Harvard University in Cambridge, USA from 2017 to 2019. Ijäs currently holds a similar position at the department of Geosciences and Geography at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Together with Maija Kaunismaa he has also produced a feature film titled “The Origins -movie” based on Ijäs’s research. Mikko Ijäs is also an ordained Zen Priest in the Zen Peacemaker lineage (sōtō school), an active member of the Zen Peacemakers International and organizer of their local regional affiliate group Peacemakers Finland.
Ijäs got involved with Zen practice in 2012 through Helsinki Zen Center, but he has been actively engaged with the Zen Peacemakers International since 2016. During this involvement Ijäs has participated a Bearing Witness Pilgrimage in Sweden (2016), G.R.A.C.E. training with Roshi Joan Halifax in Holland (2016), participated a Bearing Witness retreat in Bosnia (2017), organized the first Scandinavian Street Retreat in Helsinki (2017), participated the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau (2017), translated Bernie Glassman’s seminal book “Bearing Witness” into Finnish, and co-organized the first Bearing Witness retreat in Finland in 2018 and again in 2019.
Ijäs has also served as a Staff member of the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2018 and 2019, where he was in charge of co-fascilitating one of the Council groups, serving as a retreat photographer, and performing as a clown. Ijäs’s clown alter ego iSmile (pronounced Ishmael) is the Grand Poopah of the Finnish Order of Disorder.
ijäs is also a member of the Zen Sangha in Gent, Belgium, which is the home of his Zen training. Ijäs has also practiced at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, which is a home temple of the White Plum lineage.
Roshi Frank De Waele gave him his Peacemaker Precepts in a Jukai ceremony held in September 2017 during the Helsinki Street Retreat. Mikko was given a dharma name Rakushin (Joyous-Faith). Roshi Frank ordained Ijäs as a priest in 2022 giving him his priest name Kendō (Way of Devotion).