Ikeda Wisdom Academy

Ikeda Wisdom Academy: February 2018

The Opening of the Eyes: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series: Chapter 10 & 11

Ikeda Wisdom Academy, Washington, D.C.

The Ikeda Wisdom Academy is an SGI-USA youth division movement to engage youth leaders in advanced study focusing on The Opening of the Eyes: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series. This month, academy members will study the 10th and 11th chapters of this lecture series. While the Ikeda Wisdom Academy is a youth leaders study program, all SGI-USA members are invited to utilize this section of Living Buddhism as a guide for their personal study of “The Opening of the Eyes.”

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Syllabus – February 2018
The Opening of the Eyes:
SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series Chapter 10 & 11
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Chapter 10
The Three Powerful Enemies, Part 1

The Anatomy of Persecution Arising From Fundamental Darkness

Persecution by the three powerful enemies—arrogant lay people, arrogant priests and arrogant false sages—arises in response to efforts by the sutra’s practitioners to propagate the Mystic Law. The fundamental ignorance in people’s lives reacts with hostility to such efforts and manifests in the form of devilish functions of various kinds. But by possessing the courage to confront these negative forces, we can manifest our inherent Buddhahood and bring forth the necessary spirit, wisdom and life force to achieve victory.

Austin, TX

Persecutions Arise From Ignorance, Perverse Wisdom and Malice

On the twelfth day of the ninth month of last year [1271, on the occasion of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution], between the hours of the rat and the ox (11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.), this person named Nichiren was beheaded. It is his soul that has come to this island of Sado and, in the second month of the following year, snowbound, is writing this to send to his close disciples. [The description of the evil age in the “Encouraging Devotion” chapter seems] terrible, but [one who cares nothing about oneself for the sake of the Law has] nothing to be frightened about. Others reading it will be terrified. This scriptural passage is the bright mirror that Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions left for the future of Japan, and in which the present state of the country is reflected. (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 269)

 Ultimately, unless we undertake the same resolve as our mentor in faith, we will be defeated by devilish functions.

In writing “this person named Nichiren was beheaded,” [Nichiren Daishonin] is declaring that his status up to that time—in which he conducted himself as an ordinary person—came to an end at Tatsunokuchi.

The Daishonin is indicating here that at Tatsunokuchi, he cast off his transient status and revealed his true identity. He uses the word soul to refer to that true identity—the Buddha of limitless joy enlightened since time without beginning. His soul, he says, has come to Sado. This represents a declaration of his state of life, his towering resolve from his place of exile to henceforth, as the original Buddha of the Latter Day, take the lead for the widespread propagation of the Mystic Law. (The Opening of the Eyes: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 97)

• • •

Certainly, the persecutions by the three powerful enemies predicted in the “Encouraging Devotion” chapter are frightening. But once we understand the essence of the devilish forces behind these persecutions, it becomes obvious that what is truly terrifying is the devilish nature inherent in human beings.

In this treatise, however, the Daishonin, having risked his life to fight for kosen-rufu and subsequently triumphing over all obstacles and devilish functions, displays an indomitable spiritual state. Thus he says there is nothing to fear, not even amid the most terrible persecution or hardship caused by devilish functions. (Lecture Series, 97)

• • •

Ultimately, unless we undertake the same resolve as our mentor in faith, we will be defeated by devilish functions. This is why the Daishonin’s call to his disciples to rise into action with a vow equal to his resonates throughout this treatise. (Lecture Series, 98)

• • •

Persecutions Arise From Ignorance, Perverse Wisdom and Malice

As he describes in “The Opening of the Eyes,” the Latter Day of the Law is undoubtedly an age when “conditions in the world declined, and people became increasingly shallow in wisdom” (WND-1, 226), and when “sages and worthies gradually disappear from the scene, and deluded people increase in number” (WND-1, 238). The true crisis of the Latter Day lies in the fact that people, subserviently adhering to authoritarian teachings or beliefs, reject the Lotus Sutra’s profound religious philosophy, causing their minds to grow increasingly distorted. (Lecture Series, 101)

• • •

The “Encouraging Devotion” chapter states that persecution of the Lotus Sutra’s votaries is initiated by arrogant lay people out of “ignorance,” by arrogant priests out of “perverse wisdom,” and by arrogant false sages out of “evil in their hearts” or malice. This indicates that when fundamental darkness manifests itself in the world, it does so in three phases: ignorance, perverse wisdom and malice. (Lecture Series, 101)

Chapter 11
The Three Powerful enemies, part 2

Confronting the Most Formidable Enemy: Arrogant False Sages

The Evil Actions of Arrogant Lay People and Arrogant Priests

Arrogant lay people, the first powerful enemy, are ordinary people in society who are influenced by the spurious accusations of arrogant false sages and as a result directly attack the Lotus Sutra’s practitioners with slander, insults and physical violence. In “The Opening of the Eyes,” the Daishonin merely describes them as being “important lay believers who support monks in the second and third categories” (WND-1, 273) and does not specify why they are evil. This is essentially because the reason is self-evident and also because, in terms of their capacity to deceive others and destroy the Law, the second and third enemies are far more destructive.

Next, the Daishonin turns to the second powerful enemy, arrogant priests, indicating that this refers to “men like Honen who disregard the precepts and hold perverse views” (WND-1, 274) (Lecture Series, 103–04)

• • •

The Pure Land (Nembutsu) school of Buddhism, which was founded by Honen, belittles people’s capacity for understanding the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of Law, asserting that the sutra’s “principles are very profound but human understanding is slight” (WND-1, 273), and urges them to “ignore, abandon, close, and discard” the sutra (WND-1, 274). Cutting people off from the means of attaining genuine enlightenment through the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra in this manner constitutes slander of the Law. (Lecture Series, 104)

The Buddha Eye Can Identify the Three Powerful Enemies

Those without eyes, those with only one eye, and those with distorted vision cannot see these three types of enemies of the Lotus Sutra who have appeared at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law. But those who have attained a portion of the Buddha eye can see who they are. [“Encouraging Devotion,” the 13th chapter of the Lotus Sutra (LSOC, 232), says:] “They will address the rulers, high ministers, Brahmans, and householders.” And Tung-ch’un states, “These men will appeal to the government authorities, slandering the Law and its practitioners.” (WND-1, 277)

Arrogant false sages perpetrate “extremely evil deeds” (WND-1, 277). While acting as if they are saints, their hearts are filled with greed and disbelief. They are perverse villains who have no compunction about exploiting Buddhism or sacrificing others’ happiness in order to protect their own positions and fulfill their selfish desires. Arrogant false sages are indeed enemies of Buddhism pretending to be Buddhists, and enemies of humanity feigning an air of compassion.

The Daishonin says that the extreme evil that characterizes arrogant false sages can only be recognized by “those who have attained a portion of the Buddha eye” (WND-1, 277). The evil of these false sages is a manifestation of fundamental darkness, and so can only be discerned by those who have broken free of that darkness of ignorance and who have revealed the state of Buddhahood in their lives. For only such people have the strength to keep fighting against the onslaughts of this formidable enemy to the very end. (Lecture Series, 105–06)

Santa Monica, California

Ryokan—“Leader of All Other Evil People” in Nichiren’s Day

Ryokan perfectly matched the passage of the Nirvana Sutra cited . . . “They are not true monks—they merely have the appearance of monks” (WND-1, 275). No matter how such people don robes and surplices and outwardly conduct themselves as priests, behind the façade they are devoid of priestly virtue.

Nevertheless, people are readily impressed and deceived by priestly robes. Unscrupulous priests cunningly take advantage of this, doing everything they can to enhance their august and venerable appearance. That’s why the Great Teacher
Miao-lo describes arrogant false sages as being the most difficult to recognize for what they really are (WND-1, 227). Only the Daishonin could discern the true nature of the arrogant false sages of his age. He, therefore, wages a solitary and unremitting battle to expose their fraud. (Lecture Series, 108)

• • •

Driven by jealousy and anger, Ryokan plotted against Nichiren, making false accusations to the authorities in an attempt to bring great persecution down upon the votary of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren’s blistering refutations forced Ryokan to reveal his true colors and to act in perfect accord with the description of arrogant false sages, the third of the three powerful enemies, in the Lotus Sutra. (Lecture Series, 109)

The Daishonin Read the Twenty-Line Verse of the “Encouraging Devotion” Chapter With His Life

Because the predictions of the Buddha are not false, the three types of enemies of the Lotus Sutra already fill the country. And yet, as though to belie the golden words of the Buddha, there seems to be no votary of the Lotus Sutra. How can this be? How can this be?

But let us consider. Who is it who is cursed and spoken ill of by the populace? Who is the priest who is attacked with swords and staves? Who is the priest who, because of the Lotus Sutra, is accused in petitions submitted to the courtiers and warriors? Who is the priest who is “again and again banished,” as the Lotus Sutra predicted? Who else in Japan besides Nichiren has fulfilled these predictions? (WND-1, 278)

He confirmed that the three powerful enemies had appeared in Japan in his day, exactly as predicted in the sutra. If so, he asks, then who was the votary of the Lotus Sutra who battles these enemies? Naturally, aside from the Daishonin there were no votaries who had fought relentlessly against the three powerful enemies. (Lecture Series, 109–110)

• • •

When evil flourishes and good is defeated, the function of the Dharma nature, or inherent enlightenment, is extinguished. But when good flourishes and evil is defeated, the function of fundamental darkness, or ignorance, is extinguished. A struggle between good and evil takes place in our lives at every moment. Nichiren writes, “Prince Shotoku and his archenemy Moriya appeared at the same time, like the blossom and the calyx of the lotus” (WND-1, 278). Accordingly, the only way to strengthen good is to wage a continuous struggle against evil.

Although we speak of the Buddhist Law, the Law itself is invisible. The beneficent Law manifests in the conduct of the votary of the Lotus Sutra.

It is extremely rare, however, to encounter a votary who struggles against and triumphs over the three powerful enemies. It is difficult to encounter a genuine leader of Buddhism. Therefore, Nichiren writes: “Let us seek him out and make him our teacher. [As the Lotus Sutra says, to find such a person is as rare as for] a one-eyed turtle to chance upon a piece of driftwood” (WND-1, 278). He urges us to seek out the votary of the Lotus Sutra and make him our teacher, our mentor. The mentor-disciple relationship only comes into existence through the disciple’s steadfast efforts to seek the mentor. Such efforts allow us to deeply sense the greatness of the mentor’s struggles. (Lecture Series, 111–112)

Laguna Hills, California



Lexington, Kentucky

The Three Powerful Enemies

Nichiren Daishonin cites descriptions of the three powerful enemies found in the twenty-line verse section of the “Encouraging Devotion” chapter of the Lotus Sutra.

1. Arrogant Lay People

Ignorant of Buddhism, they curse and speak ill of the practitioners and attack them with swords and staves, thus persecuting them through both verbal and physical violence.

2. Arrogant Priests

Priests of an evil age who possess perverse wisdom and are fawning and crooked, who suppose they have attained enlightenment when they have not and who are attached to their own preconceived ideas and beliefs.

3. Arrogant false sages

People who try to pass themselves off as sages. The sutra describes them as having the following traits:

• They live apart from others, don robes and make a show of religious authority.
• While claiming to practice the correct way of Buddhism themselves, they disparage others.
• Greedy and avaricious, they expound the Law to lay people in order to seek personal profit and gain.
• They are revered by people in society as if they were arhats possessing the six transcendental powers.
• They harbor malice toward practitioners of the Lotus Sutra and cause them to be persecuted in various ways.
• They use their religious authority to discredit practitioners of the Lotus Sutra.
• They make false allegations about the Lotus Sutra practitioners to the authorities and to influential people in society.
• They denounce the Lotus Sutra practitioners as people of “perverted views who preach non-Buddhist doctrines.”

(pp. 8–13)

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