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Ikeda Wisdom Academy

Highlights of the May 2023 Study Material

Seattle. Photo by Stephanie Araiza.

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. 83–108

Part Two: “Introduction” Chapter
• “Three Meetings in Two Places”: Exchange Between Eternity and the Present Moment

Supplementary Materials:

The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, pp. 35–55


Three Meetings in Two Places

The events of the Lotus Sutra can be broken down into three meetings in two places.

Two Places:
Eagle Peak and the Ceremony in the Air

First Meeting:
Shakyamuni Buddha and the members of the assembly gather on Eagle Peak, a real place in India. Here, Shakyamuni preaches the first 10 chapters of the Lotus Sutra.

Second Meeting:
In the 11th chapter, “The Emergence of the Treasure Tower,” an enormous tower adorned with seven kinds of treasures emerges from the earth and stands suspended in the air. Shakyamuni enters the tower, sits beside Many Treasures Buddha and raises the entire assembly in the air, marking the start of the Ceremony in the Air.

Third Meeting:
The assembly returns to Eagle Peak in the 23rd chapter, “Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King,” where it remains for the rest of the Sutra.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


Lauren Leebove
Berkley, Michigan

Living Buddhism: What do you enjoy about Ikeda Wisdom Academy meetings?

Lauren: It’s so fun to study with other youth leaders. Meeting in person for the first time in three years, everyone was so vibrant. It was encouraging to read the material not only for myself but to also watch others connect with the Lotus Sutra and Ikeda Sensei, too.
Reading The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, we get to learn the true, profound compassion of the Lotus Sutra through Sensei. I’m learning that Buddhahood and life itself—living—are both actions. Nothing is stagnant or fixed in our lives. Buddhahood is brought about through our actions.

Just in the first few chapters, I am struck by how Sensei never shies away from the harsh realities of our society. He discusses violence, discrimination and the potential for religion to become divisive. Acknowledging those things and thinking deeply about them is what proves this Buddhism is a philosophy of hope—a Buddhism for the people.


Facing Reality With an Elevated Life State

Ikeda Sensei explains the significance of the three meetings in two places in The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1.

Ikeda Sensei: The progression from the assembly at Eagle Peak to the Ceremony in the Air and then back to Eagle Peak parallels the movement from reality to the state of enlightenment and then back to reality. Or, more accurately, it flows from reality prior to enlightenment to the state of enlightenment and then to reality after enlightenment.

We must strive to cut ourselves free from the chains of time and space, earthly desires and the sufferings of birth and death that keep us confined to the earth of reality and to reach the air or lofty skies of enlightenment from which we can gaze serenely upon all things. From that magnificent height, we can see all our sufferings, problems and passing emotions as nothing but the most insignificant and fleeting events unfolding in a world as tiny as a piece of flotsam in the vast ocean. …

By exerting ourselves in faith, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and reciting the sutra before the Gohonzon, we immediately become a part of the assembly in the air. Nothing could be more wonderful than this. …

To “rise into the air” means to elevate our state of life through our determined and unwavering faith. This is the significance of the sutra’s progression from the first assembly on Eagle Peak to the Ceremony in the Air. …

Once we have dwelt in the Ceremony in the Air, the reality of daily life, however contemptible it may have formerly seemed, becomes a means for demonstrating our Buddhahood to others. Sufferings and problems enable us to deepen our faith and, by overcoming them, to show actual proof of the benefit of faith. (pp. 96–97)

•  •   •

From real life to the Ceremony in the Air and then back to real life—this continuous back-and-forth process is the path of human revolution, the path of transforming our state of life from one motivated by the “lesser self” to one inspired by the “greater self.” In life, we must not permit ourselves to be totally absorbed with only immediate realities. We must have ideals and strive to achieve them, thereby transcending present realities. On the other hand, we must not allow ourselves to become estranged from reality. We can change nothing unless our feet are firmly planted on the ground. (p. 98)

Looking Forward: June Syllabus

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

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

From the May 2023 Living Buddhism

Before It Is Too Late

District Study Meeting Material