Ikeda Wisdom Academy: June 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 6 Part 2, Section 2
Ikeda Wisdom Academy is an SGI-USA Youth Division movement to engage youth leaders in advanced study.
Living Buddhism: How did you become involved in the SGI?
Calvin Cheng: During my sophomore year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of my friends invited me to a campus club meeting. I was so moved by the members there that I started attending discussion meetings. Though my parents are SGI members, I had not yet started practicing.
Through attending activities and reading SGI President Ikeda’s encouragement, I wanted to challenge my human revolution and develop my capacity. I began to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to encounter challenges in life and help create something that I could take pride in.
Soon after graduating and moving to Davenport, Iowa, I was appointed the young men’s region leader for Iowa-Nebraska Region. Shortly after that, I was appointed the young men’s student division leader for Midwest Zone.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
Calvin: Our region spans the entire state of Iowa, part of South Dakota and Nebraska. Sometimes I drive seven hours to visit members or attend meetings. When I was appointed, there weren’t any chapter young men’s leaders. Realizing this, we started holding Ikeda Wisdom Academy meetings via online video chat. We read the material beforehand, watch the Ikeda Wisdom Academy videos through screen share and discuss. Now, there are about 10 youth leaders from our region in the academy.
That is so encouraging! How have you used Ikeda Wisdom Academy activities to develop yourself and help those around you?
Calvin: In elementary school, I was placed in a higher math level than other kids in my grade. While this was positive for my academics, I developed a deep-seated tendency to isolate myself from other people. I had become so introverted that even having a conversation with someone else became difficult. Through studying and using President Ikeda’s encouragement to encourage other young men’s division members and friends who are interested in Buddhism, I’ve been able to overcome my social anxiety.
In The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, volume 4, SGI President Ikeda explains each of the Ten Worlds in depth and how they function in our lives. I realized that my basic life tendency was the world of anger. But instead of trying to “eradicate” the world of anger or become a different person, I am using my faith so that my basic nature functions in the most enlightened way.
Is there a passage from The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra that helped you understand this?
Calvin: Yes. The following passage has deeply inspired me:
Just as a spring returns to its original shape after it has been extended, we return to our own basic tendency . . . But even if someone who has the world of anger as his or her fundamental tendency momentarily produces the world of bodhisattva, they will quickly revert to the world of anger. It is doing our human revolution, transforming our state of life at the deepest level, that enables us to change this tendency, to change our fundamental state of mind . . . Making the world of Buddhahood our basic life tendency is called “attaining Buddhahood.” (vol. 4, pp. 217–18)
Instead of trying to mold myself to become a different person, I can use my Buddhist practice to bring out my true self and let it shine in the best way. Now, my faith in the Gohonzon and desire to fight for kosen-rufu is stronger than ever before.
Syllabus – June 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Volume 6
PART 2: “The Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound” Chapter
SECTION 2: Cultural Activities Based on the Mystic Law Are “Wonderful Sounds,” pp. 39-67
Syllabus, photos and discussion questions:
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Ikeda Wisdom Academy videos and study guides:
“Inner peace is not born of indolence. It is exactly the opposite. Just as a top appears unmoving when rotating at full speed, an immense life state of composure is sustained by the earnestness of practicing at one’s fully capacity.”
—SGI President Ikeda
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 6, p. 45
Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound (Jpn Myo’on bosatsu)
A bodhisattva described in “Wonderful Sound,” the 24th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings states: “The bodhisattva Wonderful Sound represents the living beings of the Ten Worlds. The word ‘wonderful’ means inconceivable. The word ‘sound’ refers to the sounds uttered by all living beings, the voice of the Wonderful Law . . . Or again, we may say that the words ‘wonderful sound’ refer to the unfathomable and wonderful sound made at the present time, in the Latter Day of the Law, when Nichiren and his followers now chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Therefore it is the wonderful sound that tells us that earthly desires are enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana” (p. 176).
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.