SGI-USA Men's Division Monthly Meetings
Suggested study material for July 2005
The material below is excerpted from SGI President Ikeda’s lecture series, Lectures on “The Opening of the Eyes,” published in the May, 2005 issue of Living Buddhism.
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The Joy of Faith Based on the Principle of "Voluntarily Assuming the Appropriate Karma"
"With this body of mine, I have fulfilled the prophecies of the sutra. The more the government authorities rage against me, the greater is my joy. For instance, there are certain Hinayana bodhisattvas, not yet freed from delusion, who draw evil karma to themselves by their own compassionate vow. If they see that their father and mother have fallen into hell and are suffering greatly, they will deliberately create the appropriate karma in hopes that they too may fall into hell and share in and take their suffering upon themselves. Thus suffering is a joy to them. It is the same with me [in fulfilling the prophecies]. Though at present I must face trials that I can scarcely endure, I rejoice when I think that in the future I will escape being born into the evil paths" (WND, 243).
Compassion is the driving force behind perseverance, while perseverance is proof of deep compassion. To explain this, the Daishonin discusses the principle of "voluntarily assuming the appropriate karma." Here, the Daishonin states that his experiencing great persecutions corresponds with the principle of bodhisattvas voluntarily assuming karma and choosing to take on suffering out of a desire to lead living beings to enlightenment. And just as bodhisattvas regard undergoing suffering on behalf of living beings as a source of joy, Nichiren says he also views experiencing pain and hardship as a result of these present persecutions as a cause for rejoicing, because it will enable him to escape falling into the evil paths in future existences…
The principle of "voluntarily assuming the appropriate karma" is the logical conclusion of the Buddhist concept of transforming one's karma. Simply put, it represents a way of life in which we change karma into mission. Everything that happens in our lives has meaning. Moreover, the Buddhist way of life is to find and discover meaning in all things. Nothing is futile or meaningless.
Whatever a person's karma may be, it definitely has some profound significance. This is not just a matter of mere outlook. Changing the world starts by changing our fundamental state of mind, which is a key Buddhist principle. A powerful determination to transform even negative karma into mission can dramatically transform the real world. By changing our inner state of mind, we can change any suffering or hardship into a source of joy, regarding it as a means for forging and developing our lives. To turn even sorrow into a source of creativity — that is the way of life of a Buddhist.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches us this essential path through his own life and actions as the votary of the Lotus Sutra. Having a fighting spirit is itself the direct path to happiness. Only through struggles and challenges can we develop inner strength and construct truly creative lives. Also, by maintaining unwavering faith in the correct teaching no matter what obstacles or hardships
arise, we can enter the orbit of happiness for all eternity.
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Suggested discussion questions:
Please share from your own experience your understanding of these points made by President Ikeda:
1) “Whatever a person's karma may be, it definitely has some profound significance.”
2) “Changing the world starts by changing our fundamental state of mind.”
3) “Having a fighting spirit is itself the direct path to happiness.”