Ikeda Wisdom Academy: January 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 5 Part 4, Section 4
Ikeda Wisdom Academy is an SGI-USA Youth Division movement to engage youth leaders in advanced study.
Living Buddhism: Why did you get involved in the Ikeda Wisdom Academy?
Akira Caswell: I was interested from the start, because I studied philosophy in college. I can be very theoretical, but the academy has helped me understand that Buddhism is not just theory; it’s about how we apply it to our daily lives.
Is there a particular passage that has helped you?
Akira: In The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, volume 4, President Ikeda writes: “Since we are human, there will be times when we want to cry, times when we want to laugh, times when we want to be angry, as well as times when we are confused. Though we are ordinary people subject to such frailties, when we make kosen-rufu our prime focus, the world of Buddhahood becomes our basic life tendency.
“Once this happens, then when anger is appropriate we get angry. When suffering is needed, we suffer. When laughter is due, we laugh. We enjoy what there is to enjoy. [Nichiren] Daishonin says, ‘Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy’ (“Happiness in This World,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 681). By leading such a vigorous and vibrant life, we can advance each day by leaps and bounds toward absolute happiness and help others do the same” (p. 222). I realized that even amid struggles, through continuing to fight for kosen-rufu, the noblest endeavor, I can manifest Buddhahood, my highest potential.
Can you share an experience related to this?
Akira: In December 2014, my company decided to relocate to San Jose, California. They offered me a company car, extended benefits and a significant raise. Around the same time, I learned my wife was pregnant. We decided we didn’t want to raise our child in a new environment. I sought guidance from a young men’s leader who encouraged me to fulfill my mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth and become a model father.
The company was understanding and allowed me to go on interviews for a new job, but ultimately, when the company moved in July, I was left jobless. In the following months, I went to almost 20 job interviews while fighting wholeheartedly for kosen-rufu, and I helped over 20 people receive the Gohonzon. Even after these efforts, I still had no job.
Then on September 6, I received the greatest gift: my son, Masaki, was born. The first night home, as he slept in my arms, I felt the joy of becoming a father for the first time. But when I woke up, all I could think was, How am I going to pay the hospital bills! It was the most daunting thing, to have a newborn baby and be jobless.
I continued to chant ferociously to the Gohonzon and had great support from fellow members. Finally, in October, I was hired by a reputable company that had once turned me down, They gave me full benefits and a higher salary than my previous job. My wife and I won together.
Striving for the happiness of others alongside my fellow young men’s division members and dedicating my life to SGI activities have been the greatest training for me to become the best father. I want my son to be proud that his father did everything he could for the sake of his family and for kosen-rufu.
Syllabus – January 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Volume 5
PART 4: “The Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” Chapter
SECTION 4: “A Struggle Against Arrogance”, pp. 87-118
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A genuine Buddha dwells in this real, impure world, going among those who are suffering the most, sharing their misery and sadness, and leading them to happiness. Only one who lives this way can be called a Buddha.
—SGI President Ikeda
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 5, p. 91
Bodhisattva Never Disparaging (Jpn Fukyo-bosatsu)
A bodhisattva described in “Bodhisattva Never Disparaging,” the 20th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. According to the sutra, Never Disparaging lived in a time when Buddhism was in decline and arrogant monks held great authority. This bodhisattva deeply respected everyone, and he addressed all he met in the following manner: “I have profound reverence for you, I would never dare treat you with disparagement or arrogance. Why? Because you are all practicing the bodhisattva way and are certain to attain Buddhahood.” This statement is known as the twenty-four-character Lotus Sutra.
Ikeda Wisdom Academy Part II Guidelines
Academy members should:
> Be district through national youth leaders.
> Have their own copy of The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vols. 4–6.
> Read the assigned material prior to each meeting.