Ikeda Wisdom Academy

Ikeda Wisdom Academy: June 2019

New Jersey. Photo by Joseph Vengen.


The Ikeda Wisdom Academy is an SGI-USA youth division movement to
engage youth leaders in advanced study. In March, a new cycle of the academy began, focusing on the study of On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series. This month, academy members will study chapter 7 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 “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime.”

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Syllabus – June 2019
On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, Chapter 7
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Chapter 7
Faith for Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime—Advance Unerringly Along the Great Path of the Oneness of Mentor and Disciple

Nichiren Daishonin teaches that the purpose of our present existence is to “free yourself from the sufferings of birth and death you have endured since time without beginning and to attain without fail unsurpassed enlightenment in this lifetime.” When we persevere in faith, with the determination to have no regrets in this lifetime, we can forge a state of life that is unshakable throughout the three existences of past, present and future.

If you chant Myoho-renge-kyo with deep faith in this principle [that the entity of your life is in fact the entity of the Mystic Law], you are certain to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. That is why the sutra states, “After I have passed into extinction, [one] should accept and uphold this sutra. Such a person assuredly and without doubt will attain the Buddha way” [The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 318]. Never doubt in the slightest.

Respectfully.

Maintain your faith and attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Nichiren
(“On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 4)

Birds follow the path of birds, and fish follow the path of fish. Similarly, there is a path for us to follow in life for achieving happiness as human beings. Ordinary people cannot easily see this correct path, but to the Buddha it is as plain as day. Nichiren Daishonin opened the indestructible path to happiness—the great path of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime—for all humankind. This path is none other than the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The path of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is, in a sense, the most natural way for human beings to achieve enlightenment. This is because it is the means for us to reveal the “mystic truth that is originally inherent” in our lives (see WND-1, 3). Nichiren emphasizes the very natural way in which chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo allows us to manifest this innate mystic truth.

St. Louis, Missouri

We may call it the most natural path, however, that does not mean that we do not have to make personal effort. As with any path, in order to enable many people to follow it, the way has to be opened, obstructions must be removed and a clear pathway must be trodden. Similarly, the path of chanting entails a struggle to maintain faith that Myoho-renge-kyo exists within us and to defeat the fundamental darkness inherent in our lives.

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Faith, therefore, is absolutely crucial. That is why Nichiren underscores the importance of having “deep faith” in sharing the principle that our lives are entities of the Mystic Law (see WND-1, 4). Indeed, we find Nichiren stressing the importance of faith throughout “On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime.” For instance, he writes, “Summon up deep faith” (WND-1, 3) and “Arouse deep faith” (WND-1, 4). He teaches that deepening our faith is the royal road to achieving enlightenment.

The key to our enlightenment as ordinary people ultimately depends on how deeply we can believe this truth—that, by manifesting the Mystic Law inherent within our lives, we can definitely attain Buddhahood. (On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, pp. 54–56)

“Were They Not Bodhisattvas of the Earth, They Could Not Chant the Daimoku”

The kind of faith needed for attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime could thus be described as faith that grows ever deeper. Such faith is truly the hallmark of Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Nichiren Daishonin writes, “These bodhisattvas are the ones who had thoroughly forged their resolve”—in other words, they possessed “thoroughly forged faith” (“General Stone Tiger,” WND-1, 953).

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In “The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” Nichiren writes, “Were they not Bodhisattvas of the Earth, they could not chant the daimoku” (WND-1, 385). What is it that makes the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo so difficult then? Viewed from one perspective, it is because breaking through fundamental darkness and triumphing over devilish functions require us to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with strong, thoroughly forged faith. (Lecture Series, 56)

Chanting and Teaching Others To Do the Same

Further, the true significance of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth’s practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo lies in their not only carrying out this practice themselves but teaching others to do the same. In other words, it is a practice for both self and others.

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The actual practice of daimoku of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth in the Latter Day of the Law means chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the enlightenment of all people—a practice aiming for the happiness of both oneself and others. As Nichiren indicates when he says “At first only Nichiren chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but then two, three, and a hundred followed,” the essence of this practice is chanting it ourselves and also teaching it to others (see “The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND-1, 385).

The Nam-myoho-renge-kyo chanted by the Bodhisattvas of the Earth is characterized by deep, thoroughly forged faith to overcome darkness and devilish functions, and by practice for both ourselves and others. Its essence, in short, is faith dedicated to kosen-rufu.

Shortly after Nichiren proclaimed the establishment of his teaching, ready and resolved to battle all obstacles, he composed this writing, in which he explains the principle of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime. We must never forget how Nichiren’s life, a momentous struggle to spread the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo, was a succession of great difficulties and persecutions. Without a solid focus on how Nichiren propagated the Mystic Law, any discussion of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime will just be empty intellectualizing. (Lecture Series, 56–58)

The Faith of the Soka Gakkai Is Directly Connected to Nichiren

In the present age, it is the first three presidents of the Soka Gakkai [Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda and I], sharing the bonds of mentor and disciple, who have persevered in the struggle to propagate Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with faith directly connected to Nichiren Daishonin. The first three presidents alone, without begrudging their lives, have fought against great hardships and persecutions like those described in the Lotus Sutra—hatred and jealousy, slander and abuse, the six difficult and nine easy acts, and the three powerful enemies. Nichiren’s true lifeblood or heritage flows in the mentors and disciples united for kosen-rufu.

Now, the sound of the chanting of true Bodhisattvas of the Earth resounds throughout the world. Without the kosen-rufu-directed faith and obstacle-defeating daimoku practiced and spread by the Soka Gakkai, the practice of Nichiren Buddhism for attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime would not exist today.

A fighting faith through which we take on and overcome the three obstacles and four devils opens the life state of Buddhahood. There is no attaining enlightenment without struggling against the three powerful enemies. Those who work unceasingly for kosen-rufu are genuine Buddhas.

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It could be said that the genuine spirit of Buddhism lies in establishing a towering, inde-structible state of life that not even the harshest obstacle can harm. True attainment of Buddhahood in this lifetime means constructing strong faith that will absolutely not be defeated by devilish functions. This is what both Shakyamuni and Nichiren taught through their own examples. (Lecture Series, 58)

Overflowing With Life Force, Fulfilling Our Mission

But just what is attaining Buddhahood? In discussing this question, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda constantly declared it meant securing eternal happiness. “Attaining Buddhahood,” he said, “means achieving a state of being that allows us to always be reborn overflowing with powerful life force, to fulfill our mission to our heart’s content, to achieve all our goals and to possess good fortune that no one can destroy.” These are words of true philosophy that get at the heart of attaining Buddhahood in language that is simple and straightforward.

The Nam-myoho-renge-kyo chanted by the Bodhisattvas of the Earth is characterized by deep, thoroughly forged faith to overcome darkness and devilish functions, and by practice for both ourselves and others. Its essence, in short, is faith dedicated to kosen-rufu.

Mr. Toda continued, “And is it not greater still if we can enjoy tens, hundreds, thousands, tens of millions of existences in this way?” I can still hear his voice ringing in my ears, filled with indomitable confidence and conviction like the mighty roar of a lion king.

Those who have dedicated themselves to the Mystic Law will, on each successive rebirth, overflow with vibrant life force, accomplish a mission for kosen-rufu that only they can achieve and enjoy immense, indestructible good fortune. They can joyfully savor such lives again and again.

Attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime, one could say, allows us to solidly enter this eternal path. Countless Soka Gakkai members have done so. As long as actual proof of the Mystic Law continues to blossom brilliantly in each person’s life, the faith of the Soka Gakkai will shine eternally. Mr. Toda declared that the life of each Soka Gakkai member would be recorded in future sutras as “Soka Gakkai Buddha.” (Lecture Series, 59)

The Lion’s Roar of Mentor and Disciple United

Without a challenging or fighting spirit, we cannot attain Buddhahood.

Through that sort of spirit, the causality of attaining Buddhahood becomes established as a solid, shining pillar of our lives. The term fighting spirit can also be expressed in various other ways, such as: the spirit of “true cause,” of always starting from now; the resolve to never regress in faith; the heart of a lion king; the refusal to be defeated; faith that grows stronger day by day.

Thus Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, chanted with this spirit, is none other than the source of infinite advance. No painful difficulty or karma is an obstacle for the daimoku of lion kings. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has the power to turn adversity into a springboard for growth, to change karma into mission, to transform even sorrow into a wellspring of creativity.

Nichiren Daishonin’s very life pulses in Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The daimoku of Soka Gakkai members struggling for kosen-rufu is the same as the daimoku chanted by our first and second presidents, Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda, to achieve the great desire of the happiness of all humankind. If we forget this fighting daimoku of courageous lion kings, our chanting will deviate from that of our mentors. In that case, our chanting will not produce the sound of the lion’s roar, which is created by mentor and disciple chanting together. Not only will it not be the daimoku of Nichiren, it will constitute the practice of an inferior teaching that has no relation to the spirit of Shakyamuni. (Lecture Series, 60–61)

This concludes our study of On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series. Starting in July, we will study The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series.