Ikeda Wisdom Academy: March 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 5 Part 5, Section 7 & 8
Ikeda Wisdom Academy is an SGI-USA Youth Division movement to engage youth leaders in advanced study.
Living Buddhism: How did you start practicing Buddhism?
Gabriel Zune: My boss introduced me to Nichiren Buddhism in 2014, two years after I had moved to the U.S. from Venezuela. At the time, I didn’t have many friends here, and I felt trapped in a relationship.
Actually, I never felt like I fit in with society. I struggled with my father’s illness and passing, which left a big hole in my family. Because I didn’t have a means to express myself openly, I grew up with a lot of resentment and insecurities. After I started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I felt amazing and realized I had to redefine what happiness means to me.
How did you get involved in the Ikeda Wisdom Academy program?
Gabriel: At first, I was hesitant about joining; I thought I didn’t have time. My youth leaders kept encouraging me by stressing the role of study in my Buddhist practice. At my first meeting, I was intimidated by the topics, but once the discussion portion started, I was deeply inspired by my fellow youth, who spoke with such passion about their lives. Also hearing about the mentor-disciple relationship made me want to study more and live what I was studying.
What have you learned from the Ikeda Wisdom Academy?
Gabriel: I’ve learned that studying Buddhism gives me more confidence and erases the limitations I put on myself. I’ve made a lot of great friends in the process, and I’m more confident in engaging with others. Now, I don’t judge people so easily, and I have more respect for them, because I know there is no separation between our lives. All of this has inspired me to share Buddhism with others, and I’ve introduced four friends to the practice.
Is there a passage from The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra that has impacted your life?
Gabriel: In volume 5, SGI President Ikeda says: “There’s no such thing as Buddhism divorced from reality. Practicing faith does not mean that your life will be free of the mud of suffering. It means acquiring the life force not to be defeated by suffering. In fact, it’s necessary to have lots of struggles. Faith means developing the state of life in which you can enjoy even the challenge of facing and overcoming hardships” (p. 69).
Losing my father was extremely difficult, but my mother stood up and took care of my brother and me. Now, I’ve reached an age where I can support my mother, and Buddhism gives me the strength to do that. My mother has told me how happy she is that I’m in a positive environment and that I dedicate so much of my time to helping others. She even calls me for encouragement! My family and I now share an open and honest relationship.
What are your plans for the future?
Gabriel: I now have the confidence to go for what makes me happy. Recently, I was given more time off of work so that I can pursue a degree in design technology. I am also determined to attend every Ikeda Wisdom Academy meeting this year, so that I can develop my state of life and fully chase my dreams without any limitations or fear!
Syllabus – March 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Volume 5
PART 5: “Supernatural Powers of the Thus Come One” Chapter
SECTION 7: Ordinary People Are the True Buddha, pp. 175-206
SECTION 8: “Buddhism for the People”–The Implicit Teaching, pp. 207-33.
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Ikeda Wisdom Academy videos and study guides:
How we behave as human beings is really the bottom line. Buddhism ultimately boils down to character. The purpose of Buddhism is to produce people of fine character.
—SGI President Ikeda
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 5, p. 208
Simultaneity of cause and effect (Jpn inga-guji)
The principle that both cause and effect exist together simultaneously in a single moment of life. It contrasts with the concept of non-simultaneity of cause and effect, or cause and effect as they appear in the phenomenal world, where there inevitably seems to be a time gap between an action and its result. From the viewpoint that all phenomena exist in a single moment of life, there is no time gap between cause and effect; in other words, cause and effect are simultaneous. Cause (the nine worlds) and effect (Buddhahood) simultaneously exist in one’s life. The practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo functions to instantaneously tap and bring forth one’s innate Buddhahood.
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.