SGI-USA Men's Division Monthly Meetings
Suggested study material for December 2005
The suggested material below is excerpted from the tenth installment SGI President Ikeda's lecture series, Lectures on "The Opening of the Eyes," published in the September, 2005 issue of Living Buddhism. In these excerpts, President Ikeda discusses the two admonitions of the "Devadatta" chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the enlightenment of evil people and the enlightenment of women. Suggested discussion questions follow the excerpts.
Two Key Teachings (Living Buddhism, September, 2005, p. 32, 33)
The two admonitions of the "Devadatta" chapter refer to two teachings: the enlightenment of evil people, who are represented by Devadatta; and the enlightenment of women, who are represented by the dragon king's daughter. They are called "admonitions" because Shakyamuni admonishes the assembled bodhisattvas to widely propagate the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day so that all people may attain Buddhahood.
The enlightenment of evil people and women was not taught in the provisional pre-Lotus Sutra teachings. Consequently, the fact that it is expounded in the Lotus Sutra underscores again that the sutra is the one supreme teaching by which all people in this defiled age of the Latter Day of the Law can experience Buddhahood.
This is where we find the Lotus Sutra's true greatness. If the Lotus Sutra could not open the way to enlightenment for the unfortunate beings denied Buddhahood in the provisional teachings, then it could not possibly enable all people of the Latter Day to attain that state of life either. The hallmark of a votary of the Lotus Sutra in this age is bringing the true greatness of the Lotus Sutra to shine forth, responding to Shakyamuni's call by actually striving to realize the Buddha's wish and intent.
It is important that we actively engage in the challenge of guiding those around us to happiness. Without that struggle, any ambition of achieving happiness for all humanity is meaningless. A religion is as good as dead if it cannot provide an answer to the vital question of how we can arouse the joy of living in the hearts of those experiencing the deepest suffering and despair, those who have lost all hope.
The teachings of the Lotus Sutra and the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, with their life-affirming quality, represent a philosophy of revitalization that views all things as having infinite value and potential. They also constitute a philosophy of hope that can inspire fresh optimism and zest for life in the hearts of those suffering intensely.
This philosophy of hope is the core of a genuinely humanistic religion, for it teaches how we can develop deep appreciation for being alive at each moment. It also allows us to repay our gratitude to our parents who raised us and to all in our environment to whom we are indebted. And it makes it possible for all humankind to lead happy, fulfilling lives.
The enlightenment of evil people and women expounded in the "Devadatta" chapter is therefore very closely tied to the true purpose of religion.
The spirit and practice of gratitude, underpinned by a philosophy of hope, are the very heart of human society; they give rise to true bonds between people. The votary of the Lotus Sutra is one who strives to realize the principle of establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land, who perseveres in the fundamental struggle to build a peaceful and prosperous society.
Suggested discussion questions:
1. President Ikeda states that, without engaging in the challenge of guiding those around us to happiness, any ambition of achieving happiness for all humanity is meaningless. Please share your own struggles to engage in introducing Buddhism to others and how you see it impacting your life and environment.
2. The two admonitions of the Devadatta chapter underscore the fact that only the Lotus Sutra teaches that all people can attain enlightenment. In terms of the challenge of introducing others to Buddhism, what is the importance of these two teachings
3. President Ikeda also states in this segment that the spirit and the practice of gratitude, underpinned by the Buddhist philosophy of hope, give rise to true bonds between people. How can we put into action "the spirit and practice of gratitude?"