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Ikeda Wisdom Academy

Highlights of the September 2023 Study Material

Minneapolis. Photo by Nik Linde.

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. 193–213

Part Three: “Expedient Means” Chapter
• “Expedient Means”: The Inherent Sanctity of All Existence

Supplementary Materials:

The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, pp. 56–81


Our Fighting Spirit Is ‘the Soul of Victory’

Ikeda Sensei: All life has a fundamental desire to create value. Value is a relative notion, and in this world, this tapestry of relationships, life is always seeking to create ever better relationships, that is, ever greater value.

Life tries to weave a more beautiful tapestry (the value of beauty), a more useful tapestry (the value of benefit), a better tapestry (the value of good). I think there can be no doubt that creating value is a very important characteristic. In that sense, the struggle to achieve perfection is proof of life. …

The essential nature of life is to aspire for the perfection that is the state of Buddhahood. … All life, at the most fundamental level, seeks the Buddha.

The teaching of the “true aspect of all phenomena,” I think, reveals this truth that every living thing is an irreplaceably precious existence. Nichiren Daishonin proclaimed this essence of the Lotus Sutra for all to hear. And in modern times, the same message was proclaimed by [first and second Soka Gakkai presidents Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda,] who directly inherited the Daishonin’s spirit. …

Now is the time for every individual practitioner to fully display the limitless power of the Mystic Law. For the entire Soka Gakkai exists in each individual. In each individual, the entire 21st century awaits. That is why I hope all of our members, without exception, will carry out their precious missions—missions that each was born to fulfill in this lifetime.

That fighting spirit, that determination to keep challenging oneself, is itself the soul of victory, the power source that will allow each person to create a glorious decade in this important stage of our movement. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, pp. 211–13)


Octavia Rodney
Winchester, Virginia

Living Buddhism: What inspires you to engage in SGI activities despite your busy schedule?

Octavia: When I first started practicing Buddhism, I was a busy grad student. Now, I am even busier as a single mom working to support my special needs son. I also have various responsibilities in the SGI.

In 2021, I resolved to study more. When we started reading The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, it was difficult for me to follow at first. But by breaking it down with everyone, I feel I better understand Sensei’s heart. And I can see how I can apply what we read to my daily life.

In particular, the concept of “expedient means” seemed elusive to me before. But I learned that anything, any person—even the ones who make us suffer—can become a means that leads us to enlightenment. After recognizing this, I transformed my relationship with my son’s father, and we are now on speaking terms—something I never thought was possible.

Sometimes I want to give in and say, “This problem isn’t something I can overcome today.” But studying in the Ikeda Wisdom Academy made me realize I voluntarily took on this role to break through all suffering. I choose to break through so I can encourage others as well.


The Middle Way: Making the Most of Each Moment

The Lotus Sutra’s principle of the “true aspect of all phenomena” explains the interrelatedness of all things, clarifying that each part of something is identical to its whole. Thus, all individual lives are identical to the whole of the universe.

Ikeda Sensei says:

From the standpoint of the wisdom of the “true aspect of all phenomena,” which sees the part as being identical to the whole, every single thing in existence is worthy of supreme reverence, possessing the treasure of the entire universe. …
Even the smallest things embody the true aspect of the Middle Way—in other words, they embody the life of the universe. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, p. 198)

What is the “true aspect of the Middle Way”? It doesn’t mean compromising or finding balance. Instead, Nichiren Daishonin says it is about perceiving the true nature of all things by transcending extremes of existence and nonexistence.

Buddhism expounds “three truths” or ways to view life and all phenomena. Using the example of a lotus flower, let’s briefly look at these three truths:

1) Truth of non-substantiality: The flower only appears to exist because of everything else around it; it is not an independent or static entity.

2) Truth of temporary existence: The flower is temporary and constantly changing.

3) Truth of the Middle Way: The flower is neither non-substantial nor temporary; it is both.

Nichiren writes:

Life is indeed an elusive reality that transcends both the words and concepts of existence and nonexistence. It is neither existence nor nonexistence, yet exhibits the qualities of both. … If we understand that our life at this moment is myo, then we will also understand that our life at other moments is the Mystic Law. (“On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 4)

And second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda says:

If we look at each moment as existing just as it is, that is the Middle Way. So the appearance and nature of all things, in their moment-by-moment existence, are the true aspect. … This single instant of life contains the effects of all our past lives and the causes for all our future lives. (WLS-1, 199)

A key takeaway from studying the “true aspect of the Middle Way” is to make the most of each moment. Amid our ever-changing lives, we must chant and tap our wisdom and courage to create the utmost value in each instant.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Looking Forward: October Syllabus

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 2, pp. 3–43

Part One: “Simile and Parable” Chapter
• Simile and Parable: Compassion and Wisdom Distilled to Their Fragrant Essence
• Belief and Understanding: The Dynamic Relationship of Faith and Wisdom

From the September 2023 Living Buddhism

Nichiren Daishonin—His Lifelong Vow and Great Compassion

District Study Meeting Material