Ikeda Wisdom Academy: February 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 5 Part 5, Section 5 & 6
Ikeda Wisdom Academy is an SGI-USA Youth Division movement to engage youth leaders in advanced study.
CAMP VERDE, ARIZONA
Living Buddhism: How were you introduced to the SGI?
Gina Petersen: I was living in Austin, Texas. I had moved there to get as far away from my family as possible. I couldn’t trust my family’s religious beliefs because of their attitude toward suffering people. I also struggled to connect with my mother. While staying at a friend’s place, I began speaking with a woman who told me about the SGI and its belief in equality. I started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and starting reading books by Daisaku Ikeda. What struck me most was that whether talking with a dignitary or child, President Ikeda spoke with the utmost respect to each person. On February 24, 2010, I received the Gohonzon.
What was your first impression of the Ikeda Wisdom Academy program?
Gina: At first, I was a little intimidated by the advanced concepts introduced in the series, but over these three years, my understanding of Buddhism has dramatically deepened. Learning about the “Ceremony in the Air,” in particular, helped me realize the significance of gongyo. I learned to take each morning and evening as an opportunity to bring forth my vow as a Bodhisattva of the Earth.
Awakening to my mission to transform my karma and show actual proof in my life has helped me tackle every aspect of my life, especially my relationship with my family.
Is there a passage from The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra that has had an impact on your life?
Gina: In volume 4, President Ikeda says: “If you truly want to transform your state of life, then you have to put every ounce of strength you’ve got into it. There’s no way you can do so if your practice is half-hearted . . . I hope that young people, in particular, will diligently strive to cultivate themselves, with the attitude: ‘If I don’t develop myself now while I am young, then when will I do so?’” (p. 117).
I decided to make my “impossible” dreams come true. After dropping out of school on and off for 10 years, I decided to take school seriously and get my bachelor’s degree in translation. I also decided to fundamentally transform my relationship with my mother. Starting with a commitment to transform myself, I expanded my efforts for kosen-rufu.
What happened next?
Gina: With the support of the women’s division members around me, for the first time, I opened up to my mom. With complete honesty and without shame, guilt or finger pointing, we talked about my childhood. As we were talking, I felt decades of scars heal. Our relationship continued to improve. She began chanting with me, and, through her efforts in faith, she turned a part-time job into a fulltime promotion! Soon, she will be receiving the Gohonzon! Today, we are closer than ever.
In the meantime, I moved to Arizona to go back to school. The program that I will be starting is perfect for my field. I was able to find a place to live and a job with the perfect schedule for my studies and district activities.
Congratulations! Is there anything more you’d like to share?
Gina: The Ikeda Wisdom Academy program gives me the courage to uproot fear in my life. Right now, I am the only youth in my district. By the end of this year, I am determined that my district will have 50 youth division members! I truly appreciate the pioneering women’s division members here who are so open to me and my ideas about kosen-rufu.
The problems people are facing today are serious, and the state of the world is serious. Through studying and immediately putting what I learn into practice, I continue to exceed my wildest dreams and fulfill my mission for kosen-rufu.
Syllabus – February 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Volume 5
PART 5: “Supernatural Powers of the Thus Come One” Chapter
SECTION 5: The Transmission to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, pp. 121-46
SECTION 6: The Dawn of “Humanistic Buddhism,” pp. 147-74.
Syllabus, photos and discussion questions:
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Ikeda Wisdom Academy videos and study guides:
There is no Buddha existing apart from the people. A Buddha set above the people is a fake, an expedient means. Therefore, the correct way is to live with dignity as a human being and to continue along the supreme path in life; to do so is to be a Buddha.
—SGI President Ikeda
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 5, p. 172-73
Bodhisattva Superior Practices (Jpn Jogyo-bosatsu)
The first of the four leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth who appear from beneath the earth in “Emerging from the Earth,” the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, to whom Shakyamuni transfers the essence of the 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.