In my view, however, everyone has the innate nature of a child of Buddha, no matter who they may be. Everyone smiles when they see a small child, or feels happy when they meet someone they like. So I believe that everyone has Buddha-nature, and possesses qualities such as love and compassion. But just as when a cocoon becomes too hard it does not allow the silkworm to come out, if the mind (cocoon) becomes too hard, and gets covered over with thick clouds of worldly desires (threads), a person’s Buddha-nature will not be able to shine. This is the real interpretation of the word icchantika. Thick clouds of worldly desires or delusions created while living on earth can be obstacles to the manifestation of Buddha-nature.
Possession by stray spirits can also be an obstacle. People who are possessed by as many as four or five stray spirits can no longer make correct judgements, cannot think of Buddha or God at all, and in some cases are totally controlled by spirits from hell when they criticize the teachings.
Yet I still believe that people who do not believe in the teachings – due to beliefs that have influenced them as a result of their education or occupation, or because they are possessed by stray spirits – have a Buddha-nature deep within.
In our institute, I teach that no one living in this world is born from hell. Souls in hell must return to heaven before they can be born. In many other religions, however, they seem to think that some people come from heaven while others come from hell. If we believed this, we would tend to judge others simply according to whether they were ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and this would be a problem from the viewpoint of salvation.
Babies and small children are all beautiful and innocent. Although some may later go astray and become criminals, no one baby is bad.
So although sometimes you may meet people who could be called icchantika, you need to regard them with compassion, and know that they too have a Buddha-nature at the core of their soul.