Ikeda Wisdom Academy: August 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 6 Part 4, Section 5
Ikeda Wisdom Academy is an SGI-USA Youth Division movement to engage youth leaders in advanced study.
ALABAMA SOUTH CHAPTER
We heard that you recently had your Ikeda Wisdom Academy kick-off meeting. Congratulations! Can you explain what motivated you to start the academy in Alabama South Chapter?
Seulgi Song: When I moved to Alabama last September, I realized that I have a great mission here for kosen-rufu. Inspired by the youth division members around the nation who are challenging themselves to study The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, I was sure that the youth in Alabama could do the same.
Congratulations! How did the meeting turn out?
Seulgi: It was great! We reached out to our zone leaders who encouraged us to never give up. Three of us district leaders made it, some of us having to drive long distances.
Each of us read the assigned chapter, and we all watched the Ikeda Wisdom Academy video online. When we came together, everyone shared our favorite passages, experiences and inspiration from SGI President Ikeda.
What points moved you from The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra?
Seulgi: “Opening the self to the infinite—this is the purpose of faith . . . This is what happens when we perform the gongyo and daimoku of ‘wonderful sound.’ Between the self and the universe, we extend an invisible bridge” (vol. 6, p. 65). This is my favorite quote, because it helps me to visualize the power of prayer.
Justin Barrett: One of my favorites is when President Ikeda says, “Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the first Soka Gakkai president, asserted that ‘religion must exist not for the sake of religion.’ He argues that the existence of a religion has no significance if it does not create the values of beauty, gain and good” (vol. 6, p. 64).
Growing up, people would always tell me, “You can be anything,” but I never really felt like I could be anything until I was introduced to this Buddhism. True religion should help people and motivate them to bring out their best selves. Religion should help you take away hatred in your life.
How have you experienced this?
Justin: When I was 18, my father committed suicide and for a long time, I held a lot of hatred in my heart toward that situation. I got married when I was 20, and quickly had two kids. But in 2010, I was getting a divorce and risked losing custody of my children.
Late one night, I was searching on the internet and found the Buddha Beat, a series of videos on the SGI-USA YouTube page. It said that if you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, you could become a Buddha right now. I thought to myself, Man, I wished I lived in a big city so I could learn about Buddhism. I’m never going to learn about this in Montgomery.
But I tried chanting, and the next week, a woman at the mall approached me and handed me a Nam-myoho-renge-kyo card, got me to chant three times, and invited me to an SGI meeting. I received the Gohonzon on July 20, 2013.
Congratulations! What changes have you seen?
Justin: Since I started chanting, I got a car, gained full custody of my children, transformed my job situation and got remarried. On top of that, I learned that I could chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for my deceased father. For the first time, I could understand where my father was in his life when he died, and I felt profound compassion for him. I started chanting for his absolute happiness, and my hatred melted away. I can’t describe how happy I am.
Actually, I’ve always had trouble reading, but I can understand President Ikeda’s guidance, and I love The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra. It helps me explain Buddhism to others, and this has taught me that I’m capable of more than I thought.
I have a very deep debt of gratitude to President Ikeda and everyone who made it possible for me and the youth here in Alabama to study together and change our lives.
Syllabus – August 2016
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Volume 6
PART 4: “Dharani” Chapter
SECTION 5: Those Who Devote Themselves to Kosen-rufu Receive the Benefit of Protection, pp. 135-67
Syllabus, photos and discussion questions:
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Ikeda Wisdom Academy videos and study guides:
The [Lotus] sutra says that the benefit of daimoku is beyond even the Buddha to fathom. For us to suppose that we understand its full scope is arrogance. If we underestimate the infinite power of benefit of the Gohonzon owing to weak faith, then we can only tap a minute portion of the Gohonzon’s power.
—SGI President Ikeda
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 6, p. 138
Ten demon daughters
The ten demon daughters appear in “Dharani,” the 26th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, and are described as protectors of those who uphold the sutra.
At first, the Mother of the Ten Demon Children dotes on only her own children, and harms the children of others. But through Shakyamuni’s guidance, she learns to direct her love toward all people. The ten demon daughters, along with the Mother of Demon Children, vow to shield and guard the sutra’s votaries. SGI President Ikeda says: “Through the power of the Mystic Law, Mother of Demon Children becomes a benevolent demon. When we fight resolutely for kosen-rufu, then even evil demons turn into benevolent forces. Our obstacles become our aids” (The Wisdom of Lotus Sutra, vol. 6, p. 146).
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.