SGI-USA Men's Division Monthly Meetings
Suggested study material for September 2005
The suggested material below is excerpted from the ninth installment of SGI President Ikeda’s lecture series, Lectures on “The Opening of the Eyes,” published in the August, 2005 issue of Living Buddhism. In these excerpts, President Ikeda discusses the principle of “six difficult and nine easy acts” and “To discard the shallow and seek the profound is the way of a person of courage.” Suggested discussion questions follow the excerpts.
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“The Richest Person in All of Present-Day Japan”
To follow the teaching of the six difficult and nine easy acts and apprehend which teachings are shallow and which profound is to dedicate one’s life to upholding and propagating the Lotus Sutra as described in the six difficult acts. When doctrinal comparisons of the teachings are not accompanied by actual practice, they become mere intellectual games. The Daishonin declares that because, without begrudging his life, he has struggled in exact accord with the spirit of the Lotus Sutra, his name will surely be handed down in ages to come. Based on this immense state of life, he writes, “I, Nichiren, am the richest man in all of present-day Japan” (WND, 268).
There is no greater spiritual wealth than to read with one’s life — to put into action — the Lotus Sutra, which is the highest teaching. Through our practice of Nichiren Buddhism, we of the SGI also come to savor this vast state of life.
How remarkable it is that Nichiren, although exiled on Sado Island, can declare himself the richest person in all Japan. In other letters written while on Sado, he also exclaims: “Though we may be exiles, we have cause to be joyful in both body and mind!” (“Reply to Sairen-bo,” WND, 312), and “I feel immeasurable delight even though I am now an exile” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND, 386).
Certainly, no authority or persecution could suppress or contain his immense state of life. Viewed from the life-state of Buddhahood, not even the most hellish circumstances could pose a restraint. This was his spirit.
Selfless practice carried out without begrudging one’s life is the key to achieving such a lofty, unhindered state of being, as Nichiren indicates when he writes, “I have dedicated my life to the Lotus Sutra, and my name will be handed down in ages to come” (WND, 268). By devoting ourselves to the Lotus Sutra, we can tap Myoho-renge-kyo from within and bring it to bloom in our lives.
The Daishonin compares one who lives based on the six difficult and nine easy acts to being the “lord of the great ocean” and the “king of Mount Sumeru” (WND, 268). He says that just as the “lord of the great ocean” is obeyed by the gods of the various rivers, and as the “king of Mount Sumeru” is served by the gods of the various other mountains, one who internalizes the teaching of the six difficult and nine easy acts, according to Buddhism, reigns supreme. That sort of person can correctly discern Buddhism’s highest teaching or ultimate truth because he or she embodies the Mystic Law — the teaching implicit in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter and the foundation of all sutras expounded by Shakyamuni — and strives to spread it widely, expressed in the concrete form of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
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A Person of Courage Seeks the Profound
Let us return once more to Dengyo’s passage, “To discard the shallow and seek the profound is the way of a person of courage.”
“To seek the profound” refers to our challenge in bravely standing as protagonists of kosen-rufu. We of the SGI have steadfastly taken on this most difficult challenge in the present age. From the pioneering days of our movement, despite being showered with slander, criticism and abuse, our members have summoned up their courage and told others about the greatness of Nichiren’s teachings and about our noble cause — all out of the desire to help others become happy. In these compassionless and self-centered times, where people are only concerned about themselves and give little thought to others, we of the SGI have chanted for the happiness of our friends, prayed for the prosperity of our local communities and society, and wholeheartedly exerted ourselves for kosen-rufu.
In this way, day after day, with courage and conviction, we have nobly sought to “propagate the Lotus Sutra widely in an evil age,” “teach it even to one person,” and “inquire about its meaning” — all of which are described among the six difficult acts. This intrepid spirit to fight for kosen-rufu is itself “the way of a person of courage,” and becomes the heart of the Buddha. We have succeeded in opening an unprecedented age of worldwide kosen-rufu, thanks to our members’ valiant struggles that resonate with the Buddha’s spirit.
Viewed in terms of human life, “shallow” means inertia, idleness and cowardice. Bravely defeating such inner weakness and seeking deep conviction and profound human greatness is “the way of a person of courage.” To seek the shallow or the profound — this inner battle takes place in our hearts many times each day.
Life, too, is a struggle. We need to defeat our weaknesses and courageously stand up, based on faith, with the resolve to continue growing in our lives, to keep moving forward and to be victorious in the challenges we encounter. When we live with such depth and meaning, we can become true winners in life. That is the purpose of our daily practice of faith and our SGI activities.
Suggested discussion questions:
1. President Ikeda describes the challenge of “discarding the shallow and seeking the profound” as a battle that takes place in our hearts several times a day. Can you share your own battles to discard the shallow and seek the profound in the challenges you face to win in your daily life? In your efforts to propagate Buddhism and do practice for others?
2. How can we take courage in these battles from Nichiren Daishonin’s interpretation of the Lotus Sutra’s teaching of the six difficult and nine easy acts? Can you share in terms of your own experiences?