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Launching the Sixth Class

At a youth study session, North Hollywood, California, Novembet 2022.

The Ikeda Wisdom Academy, SGI-USA’s study program for district through national youth leaders, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with the start of its sixth class in March. On January 26, 2013, the study program, named by Ikeda Sensei, was launched at a historic study conference.

In his message to that conference, Sensei encouraged the youth of North America, saying:

Nichiren Daishonin wrote to the young Nanjo Tokimitsu, “My wish is that all my disciples make a great vow” (“The Dragon Gate,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1003). This one statement constitutes the Daishonin’s eternal guideline for all youth throughout the 10,000 years of the Latter Day of the Law.

As youth, you face all sorts of difficulties, and wrestle each day with worries and problems. Precisely for this reason, it is crucial that you stand up with a great vow and strive to achieve a fundamental goal. Once you decide what is fundamental, nothing that happens will sway you, and you can grow by leaps and bounds. (See February 15, 2013, World Tribune, p. 2)

Bearing the motto “Protecting the Mentor and the Teachings,” the academy serves to cultivate youth with a correct understanding of Buddhism who can put the teachings into practice and lead lives of unparalleled victory based on a great vow. In the past 10 years, SGI-USA youth have studied various materials, most recently Sensei’s lectures in The Teachings for Victory, vols. 1 and 2.

This March, the academy will return to the material studied by its first class—the first three volumes of The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra. While studying this dialogue series, the sixth class will also focus on corresponding passages from The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings and The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, and will confirm practical guidance for youth leaders.

The 10th anniversary of the Ikeda Wisdom Academy is a great time to reaffirm the goals set out at the academy’s founding “to clearly understand the lineage of Shakyamuni Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin and the SGI, and deepen our awareness and conviction in the humanistic philosophy of the Lotus Sutra, the relevance of the Daishonin’s teachings in the 21st century and the global mission of the SGI” (February 15, 2013, World Tribune, p. 7).

—By the SGI-USA Study Department

Why Study The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra?

A Proper Understanding of Nichiren Buddhism

Ikeda Sensei: Many people in the world still know nothing of Nichiren Buddhism, or, if they have heard of it, seriously misunderstand it. Therefore, let us leave behind a record of our conversations for future generations—a record of which we can be proud. …

Nichiren Daishonin expounded the very essence of the Lotus Sutra, so studying it is the same as studying Nichiren’s teachings. By the same token, studying the Daishonin’s teachings leads to an understanding of the Lotus Sutra. They are like two sides of the same coin. Consequently, when we discuss the Lotus Sutra, we are not simply studying the teachings of Shakyamuni. Looking toward the distant future, we are undertaking the far more challenging task of exploring Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings.

The teachings of Buddhism are profound, and it is often said that words cannot do them justice. Nevertheless, words are our only means of communicating them. I hope our discussion serves as an opportunity to introduce others to a proper understanding of Nichiren’s teachings and that it will advance our efforts for worldwide propagation of his Buddhism and bring hope to people across the globe. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, pp. 41–42)

The Lotus Sutra—A Scripture for All Humanity

Ikeda Sensei: A Buddha is a person awakened to the reality of his or her being and, naturally, to the reality of all human life. That is the wisdom of the Buddha and the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra.

The Lotus Sutra was clearly expounded for all human beings, to enable them to attain true independence. It does not discriminate in any sense between priests and lay practitioners, men and women, rich and poor, persons of high and low status, or young and old. It is entirely for all humanity. (WLS-1, 46)

Buddhism Manifests Itself in Society

Ikeda Sensei: Buddhism does not exist apart from society. Buddhism manifests itself in society, and society reflects Buddhism. With this conviction, as a Buddhist and private citizen, I have met and conducted dialogues with many world leaders of various fields and, though my contributions might be small, I have searched with them for answers to the problems that confront all humanity.

The message and wisdom of Buddhism must always be carried dynamically into society and the world. That is what Nichiren Buddhism is all about. A religion that remains cloistered in the religious realm, closed off from the rest of the world, is in effect committing suicide. According to the Daishonin, “The Lotus Sutra explains that in the end secular matters are the entirety of Buddhism.” (“The Gift of Rice,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1126). (WLS-1, 103)

Guidelines for Ikeda Wisdom Academy:

Academy members should:

• Be district through national youth leaders
• Have their own copies of The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vols. 1–3
• Read the assigned material prior to the meeting

March Syllabus:

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, volume 1, pages 3–39

• Part One: Prologue
• Chapters 1–2: “Surmounting the Absence of Philosophy in Our Age” and “Making the Coming Age an Age of Life”

From the February 2023 Living Buddhism

Dawn After Dark

District Study Meeting Material