June 2004 Study Material

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

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

The suggested study material this month consists of short excerpts from SGI President Ikeda’s poem "Soar — Into the Vast Skies of Freedom! Into the New Century," written July 21st, 2000. This poem continues the theme of the mission of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, and passages in quotation marks indicate the "voices" of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. The complete text is available on the SGI-USA website, in the Members’ Corner, among other places. As always, some suggested discussion questions follow the text.


'SOAR–
INTO THE VAST SKIES OF FREEDOM!
INTO THE NEW CENTURY!'

DEDICATED TO MY SUBLIME FELLOW SGI MEMBERS IN AMERICA
–SHIN'ICHI YAMAMOTO

Excerpt #1

More effectively than
countless doctoral theses,
you are sharing with others
the profound and subtle
teachings of Buddhism.
You are indeed the most remarkable
people of knowledge and learning!

Beyond the politicians
and their eloquent discussions
of political programs;
beyond the sociologists
proud of their in-depth investigations,
their grasp of world events
and their statistics…
Your wisdom and your actions
resonate precisely in the depths
of the lives of those you address.
You bring to so many weary people
the joy and strength to live on.

As philosophers and people of action,
you brilliantly inspire millions
in a dynamically expanding
process of dialogue.
And all around
the broad and flowered
lawns we tread,
are the earnest words and acts
of a sincere humanism.
* * * * *

Excerpt #2

“I have embraced the source
of energy and power
to ponder deeply
the significance of my own life and death,
to review the days that have passed
while living fully into the future.
From now on I will no longer
be pushed and tossed by
the fickle winds,
for I can now look into the
precious depths of my own life."

“I will no longer be defeated
by the most powerful forces of fate.
For I now possess the secret means
by which to confront and triumph
over the demonic tyranny of misfortune."
* * * * *

Excerpt #3

In our spirits and our souls
we have developed and distilled
the inner strength to win
however intense the challenge.

In our lives is engraved
a massive badge of "victory."

We know that this spirit–
never fearing,
never collapsing before hardship–
is itself the spirit of a Buddha.

Excerpt #4

“All insult and abuse
rebound from my soul.
I have surmounted
innumerable trials.
And now about me wave
countless banners of glory.
Misery has no claim or territory
within my heart!"
* * * * *

Excerpt #5

We treasure human society.
We respect the ways of the world.
Because Buddhism comes to life
only in the midst of social realities.

No one can survive in isolation.
Our lives are grounded in
empathy and solidarity
with others, with people
and with society as a whole.

The sutras provide this penetrating insight:
"All secular phenomena
are manifestations of the Buddha’s law."

From the perspective of faith,
for people who live
with lofty and utter conviction,
to be swayed by appearances
is foolishness and error.

“I do not choose
or discriminate among them
whoever they may be–
this wise and clever friend;
this person wracked by
poverty’s pain;
the person plagued
by the deepest sleeplessness;
this person isolated
in the remote regions of being different…
I share life with them all,
live in profound meaning,
live as a good friend to each."
* * * * *

Excerpt #6

Unfathomable mystery
of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth…
Charged with the solemn
early morning task of prayer,
you have emerged,
you are pushing up
the shoots and buds of new growth
here in America.
Your voices, resounding to the heavens,
are earnest, devoted and sincere.

That bell
is not an evening bell,
but the bell of dawn.
Your face is brightly lit
by the light of the Mystic Law.
Your gaze is focused on the Buddha.
As you fuse with this magnificent
state of being,
there arises within you
a life vibrantly filled
with the ultimate joy
of the universe
–your Buddha nature–
eternal, unceasing and boundless.

Transcending
the rewards and punishments
of the world,
beyond apathy,
beyond calumny and abuse…

Advancing step by step,
the bodhisattva’s heart,
the bodhisattva’s life,
feels not the slightest pain or tremor
however fierce the raging rains
of insult and slur.
* * * * *

Excerpt #7

People whose eyes are filled with pain.
People with sad, abandoned eyes.
Eyes that gleam sharp and bestial…

And yet we advance unhesitating
into the very midst of humanity.
We advance with proudly beating hearts,
among our fellow human beings.

Hot tears of compassion
borne secretly in our breasts,
we take no notice of the sad,
ignorant, barbarian songs.
Forging characters
of true strength and great depth,
our eyes burn with hope.
Our blood also burns
with the determination
to ease the pain
of the troubled and suffering.
* * * * *

Excerpt #8

We advance with this cry:
We praise, salute and call for peace!
We praise and salute daily life!
And above all we praise, salute
and call forth happiness!

There is no paradise;
it does not exist.
Therefore walk forward
into this world of suffering!
And there you will see
the reality of the dream,
of this eternally bright,
eternally joyful and serene,
this eternally noble dream.

July 21, 2000

 

Suggested questions for discussion:

1. Excerpt #1 discusses our mission as "true philosophers," more effective than scholars and politicians. What does this mean to you?

2. Excerpts #2 - #4 seem to point to the "ever-victorious" spirit of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. What can we learn from these powerful statements for our own lives?

3. Excerpts #5 and #8 discuss the relationship of Bodhisattvas of the Earth to everyday living. Discuss the meaning and importance of phrases such as, "Buddhism comes to life only in the midst of social realities," "I share life with them all, live in profound meaning, live as a good friend to each," and "There is no paradise; it does not exist."

4. Excerpts #6 and #7 refer to the heart or spirit and practice of bodhisattvas. Based on these passages, what are the key aspects of the life of a Bodhisattva of the Earth, and how can we realize these aspects in our lives?