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Ikeda Wisdom Academy

Highlights of the April 2024 Study Material

Washington, D.C. Photo by Rob Hendry.

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 3, pp. 33–63

Part One: “The Emergence of the Treasure Tower” Chapter 
Recognizing the Infinite Value of Each Person’s Life

Supplementary Materials:

The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, pp. 209–20 
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, pp. 89–100

We Have Limitless Potential and Power

Many people today feel powerless to impact positive change in their lives, not to mention in the complex national and global crises we see unfolding each day. Ikeda Sensei observes:

In the past, the world that people were aware of was circumscribed. When a problem arose in their city or village, they could readily grasp it, directly express their views on the matter and influence the outcome of events. But now people have become anonymous citizens of vast countries. They are more and more aware that their destiny is inextricably linked with the destiny of the entire human race. While people worry about the direction in which their country and humankind as a whole are heading, they are uncertain how to express their personal views on such matters or what action to take to influence outcomes. And even where they find they can do something, they are not confident their efforts will truly help improve things. (WLS-3, 34)

However, the Lotus Sutra’s treasure tower represents every person’s infinite potential. Its splendor mirrors the inseparable connection between the individual’s microcosm and the universe’s macrocosm. 

In “The Unanimous Declaration by the Buddhas,” Nichiren Daishonin likens our bodies to nature and the universe, citing these words of the Great Teacher Miao-lo, “This body of ours is modeled after heaven and earth” (WND-2, 848). Nichiren also says, “The hairs of the head are like the stars and constellations, … the veins like the rivers and streams” (WND-2, 849). 

Through our Buddhist study and practice, we can understand how interconnected we are with everything around us and the world. Our Soka movement aims to awaken people to life’s interconnectedness and the incredible power they have within. When one transforms their life for the better, that directly impacts their surroundings and beyond. Sensei affirms:

All life has infinite worth. We have to educate children and adults alike so that no one is made to feel powerless. We have to provide nourishment for the heart. And we have to create true human solidarity. This will be the key to the present age. In that sense, the “Treasure Tower” chapter, which calls out to all: “You are a tower of treasure. Your life contains limitless strength and potential,” offers a wealth of inspiration for this age.

Embracing the Lotus Sutra means continually fighting against all manifestations of the devilish nature of power. When we carry out this difficult task, motivated by love of humanity, our lives truly shine as treasure towers; we live each day in the presence of the Ceremony in the Air, in rhythm with eternity; and each moment brilliantly glows with the sheer joy of living. (WLS-3, 61–62)

The Six Difficult and Nine Easy Acts

In the Lotus Sutra’s “Emergence of the Treasure Tower” chapter, Shakyamuni exhorts the bodhisattvas to spread the teaching after his death. He explains how difficult it will be to propagate in the Latter Day of the Law through “the six difficult and nine easy acts” These are:

Six Difficult Acts 

1. to preach the Lotus Sutra 

2. to write the Lotus Sutra, embrace it, and inspire others to do so 

3. to read the sutra even briefly 

4. to embrace the sutra and share it with even one other person 

5. to listen to the sutra and ask questions about it

6. to embrace faith in the sutra after the Buddha’s death

Nine Easy Acts

1. to teach innumerable other sutras

2. to throw Mount Sumeru over measureless Buddha lands

3. to kick the major world system into another land with your toe

4. to stand in the highest heaven and preach innumerable other sutras

5. to grab the sky in your hand and carry it around

6. to put the earth on your toenail and climb to heaven with it

7. to carry a bundle of dry grass across a burning prairie without getting burned

8. to expound 84,000 teachings to others and enable them to gain the six transcendental powers

9. to enable innumerable people to become arhats

Many of the nine “easy” acts seem impossible. Yet the contrast between the difficult and easy acts demonstrates how hard it is to practice the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law. 

To ensure that his disciples are ready to take on such difficulties
and forge a resolute vow to propagate his teachings, no matter the circumstances, Nichiren says, “One who upholds this Lotus Sutra should uphold it with the understanding that one will encounter difficulties” (OTT, 97). 

Furnishing My ‘Room of Compassion’

Clark Harrell

Q: How has the Ikeda Wisdom Academy impacted your perspective on leadership?

I was struck by the three rules of the robe, seat and room. 

I tend to be nervous about visiting members, always apprehensive about the other person’s reaction. But in the room of compassion, you open up your life and connect with someone side-by-side, not talking up or down to them. I’m making my “room of compassion” as plush and inviting as possible so that I can embrace the other person and allow them to share their truth.

To me, the robe of forbearance is like a superhero’s cape. Amid the efforts the young men in my region are making to reach out to everyone on our membership list, a men’s leader asked me to reach out to one young man. My stomach dropped—I’d never met this person before. But then I thought, How can I encourage other young men if I can’t do this myself? So I donned the robe of forbearance, determined not to be swayed by adverse outcomes, and called him. He answered, and we set up a visit!

Compared to when I first started practicing Buddhism, I had become a cynic, often asking a bunch of questions to put the focus elsewhere. Now, studying as part of the academy, I’m getting answers to questions I wouldn’t even have asked before and am building a new foundation in my Buddhist practice alongside my fellow youth leaders.

Recently, my zone young men’s leader and I met with a young man who couldn’t attend a meeting. We made great connections by sharing our stories. The waitress came by, said the lady at the next table paid for our meals, and wrote us a note: “You are amazing young men, and I wish you well in your life journeys. You matter!” 

Compassionate dialogue can create ripples in ways we may not know—that’s why we practice the Mystic Law!

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 3, pp. 67–92

Part Two: “Devadatta” Chapter
• The Enlightenment of Evil People—The Triumph of Good

From the April 2024 Living Buddhism

2024 SGI-USA Introductory Exam Review Questions

Material for District Discussion Meetings (April)