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Ikeda Wisdom Academy

Highlights of the March 2023 Study Material

Ikeda Wisdom Academy: March Material


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.

March Syllabus

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, pp. 3–39
Part One: Prologue
• “Surmounting the Absence of Philosophy in Our Age”
• “Making the Coming Age an Age of Life”

The sixth class of Ikeda Wisdom Academy returns to the material studied by its first class 10 years ago, The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra. In this class, we will learn the fundamental teachings of Nichiren Buddhism by diving in to the Lotus Sutra, guided by Ikeda Sensei. He states:

Each passage and phrase of the Lotus Sutra is teaching about oneself, the entity of the Mystic Law. The sutra is not discussing something far removed from our own lives.

In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Daishonin instructs us how to read the Lotus Sutra from that fundamental standpoint. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, p. 16)

To help guide youth leaders in studying, the Ikeda Wisdom Academy sections of Living Buddhism will highlight key excerpts from the readings, as well as concepts and passages from the Daishonin’s writings and the Lotus Sutra.

As we launch our exploration of The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, the following material seeks to answer the questions: Why should we study the Lotus Sutra today? What is wisdom in Buddhism?

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Everything Changes With Our Resolve

Below are excerpts of Ikeda Sensei’s commentary from this month’s study curriculum in The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1.

Surmounting the Absence of Philosophy in Our Age

All human endeavor is inspired by the effort to answer the questions: Where do we come from? Where we are going? Why we are here? (p. 5)

•  •   •

Some say the prevailing mood in the world today is one of powerlessness. …

At the opposite extreme of this sense of powerlessness lie the Lotus Sutra’s philosophy of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life” and the application of this teaching to our daily lives. This principle teaches us that the inner determination of an individual can transform everything; it gives ultimate expression to the infinite potential and dignity inherent in each human life. (pp. 6–7)

•  •   •

Wherever we are, it is necessary to begin with the revitalization of individual human beings. That is what we mean by the reformation of society and the world through human revolution. That is the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. And actions directed toward that end, I would like to stress, represent the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra. (p. 11)

•  •   •

Nichiren Daishonin writes:

Ultimately, all phenomena are contained within one’s life, down to the last particle of dust. … The teachings such as those of the non-Buddhist writings and those of the Hinayana and provisional Mahayana Buddhist scriptures all partially explain the phenomena inherent in one’s life. They do not explain them as the Lotus Sutra does. (“The Mongol Envoys,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 629)

All philosophies other than the Lotus Sutra are fragments, expressing nothing more than a partial view of the great law of life. … The Lotus Sutra, on the other hand, teaches the one fundamental Law that unifies all these fragmentary teachings, gives them proper perspective and allows each to shine and fulfill its function within the whole. That is the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra. (p. 13)

Making the Coming Age an Age of Life

Josei Toda’s enlightenment should be remembered as the moment that clearly revealed the Soka Gakkai as the true heir to Nichiren Buddhism. That was the starting point of all our propagation activities and our development today, and I firmly believe it was an epoch-making event in the history of Buddhism. Mr. Toda revived Buddhism in contemporary times and made it accessible to all. …

The truth to which he became enlightened is identical to the ultimate teaching of Nichiren Buddhism. I believe Mr. Toda’s realization opened a path out of the deadlock facing humanity. Our mission as his disciples is to extend that path in all directions and on all planes. (pp. 20–21)

•  •   •

The Lotus Sutra teaches that all people can attain Buddhahood. What, then, is a Buddha? What does it mean to attain Buddhahood? These questions are vital to all Buddhist teachings. Mr. Toda deeply contemplated these questions and sought to resolve them. It was then that the word life suddenly flashed in his mind. He finally perceived that the Buddha is life itself:

Life is neither existing nor not existing,
neither caused nor conditioned, neither self nor other, …

Life is a straightforward, familiar word we use every day. But at the same time, it can express the most profound essence of the Buddhist Law, a single word that expresses infinite meaning. All humans are endowed with life, so this word has practical, concrete meaning for everyone. In this way, Mr. Toda’s realization made Buddhism comprehensible to all. (p. 23)

•  •   •

Mr. Toda’s “The Philosophy of Life” was not merely an expression of intellectual theory. Nor did he arrive at it through repeated scientific or rational steps of analysis and synthesis. Yet, at the same time, it is not inconsistent with science or reason. Mr. Toda drew forth his philosophy of life from the depths of the Lotus Sutra in his own desperate, all-out struggle for the ultimate truth—a struggle that engaged his entire being. Indeed, his philosophy represents the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra. (p. 26)

•  •   •

Essentially, the Buddha and the Law are not two separate things—the word life encompasses both.

All people are endowed with life, and life is immeasurably precious. No one can deny this. The declaration that “The Buddha is life itself” reveals that the very essence of Buddhism exists in our own lives. (p. 28)

What Is ‘Wisdom’ in Buddhism?

Ikeda Sensei: Wisdom and acquiring wisdom are important. …

Of course, it is ideal to possess both wisdom and knowledge, but everything ultimately depends on wisdom. Our goal is happiness, and happiness cannot be attained through knowledge alone. The only way to realize true human happiness and prosperity in the 21st century, therefore, is to make it a century of wisdom. Though knowledge can be transmitted from one person to another, wisdom cannot. The only way to develop wisdom is to acquire it through personal experience. That is one reason the Lotus Sutra places such strong emphasis on the teacher–disciple relationship—a relationship in which both parties involve themselves wholly, with every facet of their being.

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, p. 15

Looking Forward: April Syllabus

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, pp. 41–82
Part One: Prologue
• “A Scripture That Calls Out to All People”
Part Two: “Introduction” Chapter
• “This Is What I Heard”: The Pulse of the Oneness of Mentor and Disciple

From the March 2023 Living Buddhism

Ensuring the Mystic Law Long Endures

District Study Meeting Material