Ikeda Wisdom Academy: May 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 6 Part 1, Section 1
Ikeda Wisdom Academy is an SGI-USA Youth Division movement to engage youth leaders in advanced study.
EWA BEACH, HAWAII
Living Buddhism: Thank you so much for interviewing with us! How were you introduced to the Ikeda Wisdom Academy program?
Sachi Mendoza: In 2013 when SGI President Ikeda named this academy, my co-leaders and I started organizing a meeting for the youth leaders in Hawaii Region. I remember thinking that I probably wouldn’t pick up The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra series and read it on my own, so I was excited to have other people to study with.
The concepts that Sensei talks about from the Lotus Sutra are so deep. Sometimes even after reading something many times, I don’t understand it! But then someone at the meeting will say something, and everything clicks.
What is one of your favorite memories from Ikeda Wisdom Academy?
Sachi: Especially during those times when a concept is really tough to understand, everyone will pitch in to explain it, and we’ll be laughing and having fun. These are my golden memories. We also have some younger district leaders who are 16 and 17 years old, and they really look forward to coming to the meetings too. Actually, I’m particularly impressed with them because of how hard they study!
Thank you for sharing! Is there a passage from The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra that has impacted your life?
Sachi: In volume 5, President Ikeda says: “Buddhist optimism is not the escapist optimism of those who throw up their hands and say, ‘Somehow or other things will work out.’ Rather it means clearly recognizing evil as evil and suffering as suffering and resolutely fighting to overcome it. It means believing in one’s ability and strength to struggle against any evil or any obstacle. It is to possess a fighting optimism” (p. 23).
What were you going through when you read this?
Sachi: At the time, I dreaded going into work every day because I was struggling with a co-worker. We weren’t united, my work was suffering, and I was miserable.
When I read this, I realized that it described my own attitude! I had been complaining about and blaming my co-worker so much that I wasn’t advancing or creating value.
I realized that the “evil” that Sensei talks about in this quote, doesn’t refer to someone else, but it refers to my own fundamental darkness to fault others for my suffering. And, even though I knew I wasn’t happy, I also wasn’t taking concrete action to create value. I determined to do my best at work no matter what, and not let anything sway me.
Little by little, my co-worker and I connected more, and things started to change. Now, my work environment is completely different! My co-workers and I are united, and every day is enjoyable. Today, I look forward to going into work, and I’ve even started to introduce a new co-worker to Buddhism.
Congratulations! What is your determination for this year?
Sachi: My theme for this year is to have more courage and confidence in myself and to introduce more people to Buddhism.
Recently at an Ikeda Wisdom Academy meeting, we read Sensei’s encouragement about taking action: “Those who exert themselves fully in the present moment and burn with great hope for the future are the great sages in life” (WLS-5, 168). We all determined to achieve kosen-rufu with the stand-alone spirit to spread Buddhism in our immediate environment. Together with the youth of Hawaii as my greatest friends in faith, I will win in all aspects of my life.
Syllabus – May 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Volume 6
PART 1: “Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King” Chapter
SECTION 1: True Health Can Be Found in the Bodhisattva Practice, pp. 3-35
Syllabus, photos and discussion questions:
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Ikeda Wisdom Academy videos and study guides:
“Turning stress and worries into life force— this is the principle of changing poison into medicine. We need to realize a state of life that allows us to live with great joy. Toward that end, struggle is required.”
—SGI President Ikeda
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 6, p. 33
Three assemblies in two places
The settings in which Shakyamuni preaches the Lotus Sutra. The three assemblies take place: 1) on Eagle Peak; 2) at the Ceremony in the Air, in which the assembly is convened in midair; and 3) with the return to Eagle Peak. The “two places” are atop Eagle Peak and in the air. The “Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King” chapter is the first of six chapters to take place back on Eagle Peak after the Ceremony in the Air. Regarding this, President Ikeda says, “This section elucidates the important role of bodhisattvas returning to society with the eternal Mystic Law that had been engraved deeply in their hearts” (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 6, p. 8).
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.