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Ikeda Wisdom Academy

Highlights of the June 2023 Study Material

Photo by Rob Hendry.

Academy members should:
• be district through national youth leaders.
• have their own copy of The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1.
• read the assigned material prior to each meeting.


The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, pp. 111–37

Part Three: “Expedient Means” Chapter
• “Expedient Means”: The Art of Skillful Human Education

Supplementary Materials:

The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, pp. 56–81
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, pp. 20–32


The Three Types of Expedient Means

Three distinct types of expedient means, or methods for leading people to Buddhahood, are discussed in this chapter:

Functional-teaching expedients are various teachings that accord with people’s differing capacities and function to bring an appropriate and immediate benefit for each person.

Truth-gateway expedients form a “gateway” that serve to lead people to understanding the truth.

The secret and wonderful expedient, though termed an expedient or the means for arriving at the truth, actually refers to the truth itself.

We arrive at this truth by tapping the Mystic Law—by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—which awakens us to the true, enlightened nature of our lives.

Ikeda Sensei explains:

We ordinary people are Buddhas, just as we are. This is inconceivable, beyond the scope of our comprehension. Therefore, it is “wonderful.” Those who don’t believe in the Lotus Sutra cannot understand this. Therefore, it is “secret.” (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, p. 125)

When we genuinely realize this point—that we are Buddhas—we also awaken to the fact that everything in our lives, no matter how big or small, can become a benefit that contributes to our growth, happiness and fulfillment.

What does this look like as we carry out our Buddhist practice in our daily lives?
Sensei says:

If we regard our goal of Buddhahood as “truth” and the nine worlds as “expedient means,” then expedient means are identical to truth (the nine worlds have the potential for Buddhahood), while truth is identical to expedient means (Buddhahood retains the nine worlds). This is the meaning of the secret and wonderful expedient.

For example, after we have embraced faith in the Gohonzon, the sufferings of the nine worlds are no longer mere sufferings. Instead, they serve to invigorate our faith and strengthen the state of Buddhahood within our lives; they become sufferings in terms of the secret and wonderful expedient, in that by triumphing over them, we can show proof of our Buddhahood to others. Suffering becomes a source of motivation—like a megaphone cheering us on to further spiritual growth and achievement. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, p. 126)

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


Mathieu Couturier
Los Angeles

Living Buddhism: How has Buddhist study helped you advance?

Mathieu: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. For so long, I put off my dream, thinking that I’d only be able to accomplish my writing goals after perfecting myself through years of Buddhist practice. I viewed my aspirations as the effect rather than the cause. But whenever Ikeda Sensei does something, he embodies the spirit of true cause—of taking action now to create a bright future. I was also reminded by a senior in faith that writing about my experiences is in itself an act of kosen-rufu. After chanting long and hard to the Gohonzon, I decided to move here to L.A. to take action toward my dreams.

I find that study is a good way to ground myself in Buddhist teachings. As a chapter leader, I encourage my fellow members to make consistent efforts in study and in recognizing their own ability. Even just five minutes of study or reading a single Gosho passage each day is a great starting point. After a few years, we’ll have read so much!


What Are Expedient Means, Really?

Ikeda Sensei: Expedient means are educational techniques for leading people to Buddhahood. The spirit of the Lotus Sutra is to bring each human being’s enormous potential into fullest flower, and for that the Buddha uses expedient means. Expedient means are methods for educating people in the broadest sense.

In fact, the first Soka Gakkai president, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, who was also an educator, outlined his own educational method in terms of opening, showing, awakening and guiding. What Mr. Makiguchi did was to incorporate the Buddha’s method for leading people to enlightenment into his own educational method. …

Mr. Makiguchi asserted that vague educational goals were the underlying problem with education in his day, and he declared, “The purpose of education is to make children happy.” At a time when many regarded education’s purpose as developing people who would be “useful to the nation,” Mr. Makiguchi’s educational view, which placed the highest importance on children and on the individual, was revolutionary indeed. The main objective of value-creating education at its inception, therefore, was to help each individual develop the power to achieve personal happiness. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1. pp. 117–18)

Looking Forward: July Syllabus

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, pp. 139–64

Part Three: “Expedient Means” Chapter
• The Revelation of the Single Buddha Vehicle: Opening the Door to the Oneness of Mentor and Disciple

From the June 2023 Living Buddhism

The Wisdom of Buddhist Humanism—Change Through Dialogue

District Study Meeting Material