SGI-USA Men's Division Monthly Meetings
Suggested study material for October 2005
The suggested material below is excerpted from the tenth installment of SGI President Ikeda’s lecture series, Lectures on “The Opening of the Eyes,” published in the September, 2005 issue of Living Buddhism, pp 36 and 37. In these excerpts, President Ikeda discusses the principle of “changing poison into medicine.” Suggested discussion questions follow the excerpts.
Believing in the Transformative Power of the Mystic Law
What the enlightenment of Devadatta and dragon girl shows is the beneficial power of the Law to enable one to change poison into medicine and attain Buddhahood in one's present form. Only through this beneficial power can all people in the defiled age the Latter Day achieve genuine happiness. The Mystic Law is the highly effective medicine that can make this a reality on the most fundamental level…
The earthly desires, karma and suffering [the three paths] of ordinary people give rise to lives filled with illusion and torment, whereas the Dharma body, wisdom and emancipation [the three virtues] of Buddha make for lives replete with freedom and joy that accords with ultimate truth and wisdom. The two couldn't be more different. Through the marvelous power of the Mystic Law, however, we can dramatically transform the three paths into the three virtues. This is the principle of changing poison into medicine.
The life of an ordinary person engaged in a cycle of cause and effect based on the three paths is the seed for attaining the exact opposite state of life, one pervaded by the three virtues. In other words, it is the seed for Buddhahood.
The key to changing poison into medicine is to believe in the Lotus Sutra, which elucidates the mystic nature of life whereby the three paths are instantly transformed into the three virtues. Faith, or confidence, in the Mystic Law unlocks this wondrous and unfathomable power inherent in our lives.
Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the first Soka president, discussing the principle of changing poison into medicine, stressed that no matter what may happen, we should always look to the future: "Our daily practice of the Mystic Law is one of changing poison into medicine. As long as we are human, we are bound at times to meet with accidents, or encounter business setbacks.... But we can change any situation from poison into medicine as long as we do not doubt the Gohonzon and continue to devote ourselves to this practice, with the Mystic Law and the Gohonzon as our basis.
"For example, you may fall ill. But merely worrying that it is retribution for a negative cause you made in the past solves nothing. You should say to yourself `I will take this illness and change poison into medicine! I will unlock the door to great good fortune and benefit in the form of good health!’ and continue to exert yourself steadfastly I faith. This is important.
“The power of the Mystic Law, with its ability to change poison into medicine, cannot only cure your illness but enable you to experience even greater good health than before, when you finally recover.”
The principle of changing poison into medicine serves as a wellspring of hope, making it possible for people to live with optimism in a troubled age.
Suggested Questions for Discussion:
Could you give an example from your own experience of how you changed poison into medicine through faith in the Mystic Law?
What is meant by ‘attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form’?
Please explain what President Makiguchi meant when he said “we can change any situation from poison into medicine as long as we do not doubt the Gohonzon…” ?