Men's Division: Study: May 2004 Study Material

SGI-USA Men's Division Monthly Meetings
Suggested study material for May 2004

Opening a Powerful Path to Peace from Within:
Changing Karma into Mission

The suggested study material this month is four short excerpts from SGI President Ikeda's poem "The Sun of 'Jiyu' Over a New Land," presented January 27th, 1993 at the 2nd SGI-USA General Meeting and 1st International Kansai General Meeting in Santa Monica, CA. The complete text is published in "My Dear Friends in America" on pages 200 – 213, among other places. As always, some suggested discussion questions follow the text.

My treasured friends,
There is no question that your multiracial nation,
America, represents humanity's future.
Your land holds secret stores
Of unbounded possibility, transforming
the energy of different cultures
into the unity of construction,
the flames of conflict
into the light of solidarity,
the eroding rivulets of mistrust
into a great broad flow of confidence.

On what can we ground
our efforts to open
the horizons of such a renaissance?

It is for just this reason,
my precious, treasured friends,
that you must develop within yourselves
the life-condition of Jiyu –
Bodhisattva of the Earth.

As each group seeks their separate roots and
origins, society fractures along a thousand fissure lines.
when neighbors distance themselves from neighbors, continue your uncompromising quest
for your truer roots
in the deepest regions of your lives.
Seek out the primordial "roots" of humankind.
Then you will without fail discover
the stately expanse of Jiyu
unfolding in the depths of your life.

Here is the home, the dwelling place
to which humankind traces its original existence –
beyond all borders,
beyond all differences of gender and race.
Here is a world offering true proof
of our humanity.

If one reaches back to the these fundamental roots,
all become friends and comrades.
To realize this is to "emerge from the earth."
Past, present, future…
The causes and effects for the three existences
flow ceaselessly as the reality of life;
interlinked, they give rise to all
differences and distinctions.
Trapped in those differences,
human society is wracked by
unending contention.

But the Buddhism of True Cause,
expounded by the Daishonin whose teachings
we embrace,
enables us to break the spell
of past karma, past causes and effects,
and to awaken to the grand humanity
– the life of Jiyu –
that had lain dormant in our hearts.

* * * * * *
For several brilliant centuries,
Western civilization has encouraged
the independence of the individual,
but now appears to be facing
a turbulent twilight.
The waves of egoism
Eat away at the shores of contemporary society.

The tragedy of division
wraps the world in a thick fog.
Individuals are becoming
mere scraps, mere fragments,
competing reed bundles of lesser self
threatened with mutual collapse.

My friends!
Please realize that you already possess the solution to this quandary.
First you must break the hard shell of the lesser self.
This you must absolutely do.
Then direct your lucid gaze
toward your friends, fellow members.

People can only live fully
by helping others to live.
When you give life to friends you truly live.
Cultures can only realize their further richness
by honoring other traditions.
And only by respecting natural life
can humanity continue to exist.

Now is the time for you to realize
that through relations
mutually inspiring and harmonious,
the "greater self" is awakened to dynamic action,
the bonds of life are restored and healed.
And blossoms in delightful multitude
exude the unique fragrance
of each person, of each ethnicity,
in precise accord with the principle of
"cherry, plum, pear and damson."

* * * * * *

Buddhism is reason.
Therefore always maintain self-control.
Be the master of your actions.
Exercise common sense in society.
Keep a smiling countenance at home.
Be courteous to your friends and fellow members,
like a warm spring breeze to the suffering.
Reason exhaustively with the confused.
But, when you deal with the arrogant ones,
be bold and fearless like the Lion King!
* * * * * *
Buddhism teaches us the means
to overcome life's fundamental pain
-- the sufferings of birth, aging, illness and death –
which none can escape,
and which no degree of wealth and fame
can relieve in the slightest.

Everyone, anyone –
when returned to their solitary human existence,
is but a karma-laden "reed,"
trembling before the onslaught
of the four sufferings.

Seeking eternity within impermanence,
crossing over delusion to nurture confidence,
building happiness from anguish,
rush forward from today toward tomorrow
in the prodigious battle that is
our human revolution!
For you are the Buddha's emissaries
upholding the ultimate philosophy of life!

Suggested questions for discussion:

1. One aspect of the "life of Jiyu" described in this poem is the ability to transcend differences of all kinds. Have you experienced this in your own relationships with others through your faith and practice?

2. Can you think of examples of the quandary of division and egoism in contemporary society? In terms of your own experience, what does it mean to "break the hard shell of the lesser self?"

3. What do you think is the significance of the passage about our behavior (beginning with "Buddhism is

4. What does this poem tell you about the true mission of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, and about your own mission in life?