A Lake in Denver (Part 2 of 3)
Spread Your Wings Toward the Future: Study Material for December Junior High and High School Division Meetings.
The following is a series of encouragement from SGI President Ikeda addressing members of the junior high and high school divisions. This installment originally appeared in the March 1, 2015, issue of the Mirai [Future] Journal, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly newspaper for the junior high and high school divisions. Part one was published in the Nov. 18 World Tribune, p. 8.
In 1996, I had a joyful reunion with my dear friend, University of Denver Vice President Ved Nanda, a world-renowned scholar of international law. After our initial meeting in 1994 at Soka University in Tokyo, Dr. Nanda and I have stayed in touch and published a dialogue together.Published in Japanese in 2005 and in English in 2015.
He invited me to his home in Denver, where he warmly welcomed me, along with his wife, Katharine, and their daughter, Anjali.
Dr. Nanda was born to a Hindu family in 1934 in the town of Gujranwala, then in India, but now a part of Pakistan.
When Dr. Nanda was just 12 years old, however, the region that is now Pakistan broke off from India and became an independent nation. Following this split, his family was persecuted on religious grounds and was forced to flee to India.
Yet in spite of this major upheaval, Dr. Nanda refused to be defeated and studied hard. He was accepted to one of India’s top universities, the University of Delhi, and traveled to the U.S. to continue his studies at Yale University. He became a leading scholar of international law, and later served as the president of the World Jurist Association.
Dr. Nanda spoke to me of an incident during his childhood. When his mother heard her children calling someone a “bad person,” she would disagree, saying that all people must surely have something good about them, though we may not be able to see it now.
Taking to heart his mother’s teaching of trusting and seeing the best in others, Dr. Nanda always tries to respect people’s differences.
Dr. Nanda has shared this philosophy of peaceful coexistence with students at the Soka schools in Japan, as well as at Soka University of America, in a richly poetic way in speeches he has delivered.
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The American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) wrote, “Every intellectual jewel, every flower of sentiment, it is his [the poet’s] fine office to bring to his people.”Ralph Waldo Emerson, Representative Men: Seven Lectures, in The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Bellknap Press, 1987), vol. 4, p. 113.
I have continuously encouraged leaders to study poetry and embrace the poetic spirit. People and leaders lacking the poetic spirit tend to become like “machines.” Poetry is the proof of our humanity.
Actually, all of you, the members of the future division, read a poem every day, even though you may not be aware of it.
In your gongyo every morning and evening, after the opening lines starting with “niji seson” (At that time the world-honored one) from “Expedient Means,” the 2nd chapter of the Lotus Sutra, you recite the verse section of “Life Span,” the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, beginning with “ji ga toku bur rai” (Since I attained Buddhahood).
As the words verse section tell us, this is a poem. Shakyamuni’s most important teachings have been passed down to us as poetry, with a rhythm that vibrates in our hearts.
Nichiren Daishonin says, “The verse section of the ‘Life Span’ chapter represents the soul of the twenty-eight chapters of the sutra [Lotus Sutra]” (“Letter to Horen,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 516).
So your daily gongyo is a ceremony during which, through poetry, you recite the most wonderful ode to life.
My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, called the verse section of the “Life Span” chapter the scripture of the Buddha himself and the scripture of our own lives.
Buddhahood is not something removed from us, but an eternal state of life that exists within each one of us—that is the message of the verse section we recite.
Through gongyo, we can awaken to the strongest, truest, deepest and invincible life state within us.
To be continued in an upcoming issue.
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||Published in Japanese in 2005 and in English in 2015.|
|2.||↑||Ralph Waldo Emerson, Representative Men: Seven Lectures, in The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Bellknap Press, 1987), vol. 4, p. 113.|