Ikeda Wisdom Academy: July 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 6 Part 3, Section 3 & 4
Ikeda Wisdom Academy is an SGI-USA Youth Division movement to engage youth leaders in advanced study.
Living Buddhism: Thank you so much for speaking with us! How did you start practicing Nichiren Buddhism?
Shweta Gupta: A family friend introduced me in May 2012. At the time, my life in India seemed easygoing, so I didn’t feel the need to practice seriously. Then, in 2013, my husband, Ajoy, accepted a great job offer in the United States, and we eventually settled down in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Suddenly, I was in a new place with an 18-month-old daughter, in a new culture with no one to talk to. I was dealing with a number of health issues and, in short, my life was hell.
I connected with my local center, received the Gohonzon and soon after was appointed a district young women’s leader. Last year, my young women’s leader asked me to join the Byakuren Group (a behind-the-scenes training group for young women’s division members) and the Ikeda Wisdom Academy. That’s when my life took off.
How did you change after getting involved in the Ikeda Wisdom Academy?
Shweta: At first, I felt that many of the concepts we discussed were beyond my understanding. Still, I would drive 90 minutes to the SGI-USA Philadelphia Buddhist Center for meetings. By reading the material beforehand and attending the meetings, my thinking changed.
I remember one day arriving at the Ikeda Wisdom Academy meeting in tears because of a fight that my husband and I had that morning. But after the meeting, I immediately realized that I possessed the power to transform the situation. I didn’t need to let my anger consume me.
These words inspired me at the time:
Just what does the Lotus Sutra teach? The sutra is condensed into this twenty-four-character passage: “I deeply respect you. I would never slight you or behave arrogantly toward you. For if you carry out the bodhisattva practice you can become a Buddha without fail.” All living beings have the Buddha nature, the world of Buddhahood. It is this world of Buddhahood that Never Disparaging reveres. (vol. 5, p. 97)
I decided to change my karma into mission by deepening my appreciation and respect for others. I began to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that my husband and daughter would become great disciples of SGI President Ikeda, the person who had encouraged me to transform my life.
How did things unfold after you made that determination?
Shweta: My husband and I opened our eyes to what had become of our relationship. My attitude toward him changed, and we started spending more time together. In November 2015, Ajoy became an SGI member and later was appointed a district young men’s leader.
Now, whenever we get into an argument, we stop, chant together and read President Ikeda’s guidance to resolve it right away. All three of us are joyfully doing our human revolution together.
Congratulations! What are your dreams?
Shweta: My goal is to become a successful entrepreneur and a role model for young women. I want to thank President Ikeda. His guidance has helped my life become so beautiful and is still helping me overcome everything. Whenever I take action for kosen-rufu, I do it with the spirit that I’m saying “Thank you” to Sensei through my efforts.
Syllabus – July 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Volume 6
PART 3: “The Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds” Chapter
SECTION 3: Developing the Compassion and Wisdom “To Perceive the World’s Sounds,” pp.71-98
SECTION 4: Kosen-rufu is the Ultimate Path in Life, pp. 99-131
Syllabus, photos and discussion questions:
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Ikeda Wisdom Academy videos and study guides:
“Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching is about making a vow. In our present situation we need to pledge to the Gohonzon: ‘I will advance kosen-rufu to the best of my ability! I will realize victory without fail!’ Our prayer starts from this vow.”
—SGI President Ikeda
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 6, p. 128
Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds
The protagonist of the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, who perceives the sounds and voices of those who are suffering and compassionately releases them from that suffering. He assumes various forms and appears wherever it is necessary to save people from danger or fear. This bodhisattva is revered as the bodhisattva of infinite compassion. This chapter of the Lotus Sutra states, “This bodhisattva mahasattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds can bestow fearlessness on those who are in fearful, pressing, or difficult circumtances. That is why in this saha world everyone calls him Bestower of Fearlessness” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 343).
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.