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Ikeda Wisdom Academy

Highlights of the July 2024 Study Material

Photo by Yvonne Ng.

• should be district through national youth leaders. 
• have their own copy of The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 3.
• read the assigned material prior to each meeting.

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 3, pp. 127–64

Part Three: “Encouraging Devotion” Chapter
A Disciple Battles the Three Powerful Enemies

Supplementary Materials:
The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, pp. 229–34 
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, pp. 109–14

The Bodhisattva Vow

In “Encouraging Devotion,” the 13th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples “roar the lion’s roar” by declaring various vows to spread the Lotus Sutra after the Buddha’s passing. These vows include confronting the three powerful enemies that try to impede the progress of kosen-rufu. 

Upholding a vow to lead all people to happiness is the theme of this chapter. Ikeda Sensei says: 

The essence of Buddhism is to live one’s life as a great ordinary person. To completely dedicate one’s life to others; to thoroughly exert oneself for the Law and for society; and to die having fully expended oneself—that is the way of life of a bodhisattva and a Buddha. It’s a matter of laying down one’s life; of fearlessly speaking out on behalf of justice; of exhausting one’s energy to bring people true happiness. Where this spirit is lacking, Buddhism does not exist. 

The Lotus Sutra describes this selfless dedication with the words, “We care nothing for our bodies or lives but are anxious only for the unsurpassed way” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 233). This is the spirit of the “Encouraging Devotion” chapter. …. This is also the essence of the spirit of the Soka movement. Fundamentally, the Soka movement exists only where people dedicate their lives to spreading the Law. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 3, p. 130)

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

The Three Powerful Enemies

The three powerful enemies are three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law. They are: 

arrogant lay people: Those ignorant of Buddhism who curse, speak ill of and attack practitioners of the Lotus Sutra.
arrogant priests: Clerics who are perverse in wisdom. Although they fail to understand Buddhism, they boast of having attained Buddhist truth and slander the sutra’s practitioners.
arrogant false sages: Those who pretend to be sages and are revered as such, but when they encounter practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, they become fearful of losing fame or profit and conspire with secular authorities to persecute them.

Ikeda Sensei says: 

We find a clear contrast between the votaries of the Lotus Sutra and the three powerful enemies, particularly false sages. On one hand, there is an attitude of respect for human beings; on the other, an attitude of outright contempt. This translates into the difference between a religion that exists for the people and one that exists to perpetuate its own authority; between a religion that struggles against corrupt power and one that acts in league with corrupt figures of power and authority. …

On the level of the individual, practicing the Lotus Sutra means confronting the fundamental darkness in one’s own life. In terms of society, it means confronting corrupt power and authority. Practicing the Lotus Sutra, therefore, necessarily entails challenging great difficulties. Someone who does not confront great hardship is not a true votary of the Lotus Sutra. (WLS-3, 148)

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Studying Helps Me Have No Regrets

Sasha Ndam

Q: How has Ikeda Wisdom Academy changed the way you practice Buddhism?

Since my mom, who always supported me, passed away two years ago, I’ve been learning to trust myself. I struggle with confidence in my ability to do well in school. I was busy with work for a time and kept missing Ikeda Wisdom Academy meetings. Even though I was chanting, something felt off. My life wasn’t expanding. I realized the thing I was missing was study, so I chanted to find the time to attend Ikeda Wisdom Academy meetings again. 

Studying about the treasure tower, I developed a deeper perspective on the power of my life. In The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Ikeda Sensei talks about humankind and the uncertainty in today’s world, saying that even when there is something we can do to change our circumstances, we aren’t confident that our efforts will make a difference (see WLS-3, 34). That’s exactly how I felt. Studying taught me that I can use all aspects of my life to create value and learn to trust in my efforts. 

For example, last year, I felt stagnant in my chapter responsibility. When describing the dragon girl, Sensei encourages us to advance cheerfully (see WLS-3, 97). I decided to practice with joy instead of frustration and saw in real time how cheerfully taking action refreshes everyone. That simple shift revived my passion and mission to support the young women and future division members in my chapter. 

Now, I’m on track to complete my master’s program and start my Ph.D. studies. Though it’s still a challenge, I noticed that whatever I’m going through, as long as I’m engaging in Buddhist practice and study, I never have any regrets.

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 3, pp. 167–91
Part Four: “Peaceful Practices” Chapter
• The Lotus Sutra Enables All People to Attain Absolute Peace and Happiness

From the July 2024 Living Buddhism

Nichiren Daishonin—His Lifelong Vow and Great Compassion

Material for Discussion Meetings (July)