March 2008 Suggested Study Material

This month, we continue our study of President Ikeda’s lecture series on “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law” in the March/April issue (Volume 12, no. 2.) We want to strongly encourage all Men’s Division members to subscribe to Living Buddhism and read the complete material there, as well as to attend and participate actively in the 4-divisional study meetings in your local organization.

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Lecture on “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life and Death,” Part 11
By SGI President Ikeda

Bodhisattva Superior Practices—Pioneering the Way for Human Victory by Unlocking the Highest Potential of All People

GOSHO PASSAGES

“The important point is to carry out your practice confident that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo alone is the heritage that was transferred from Shakyamuni and Many Treasures to Bodhisattva Superior Practices.”
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“The Lotus Sutra says that Bodhisattva Superior Practices will appear now, in the Latter Day of the Law, to propagate this teaching, but has this happened? Whether or not Bodhisattva Superior Practices has appeared in this world, Nichiren has already made a start in propagating this teaching.” (WND-1, pp. 217-218)
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EXCERPTS FROM THE LECTURE

Introduction

* * * (LB 12/2, p. 47-48) * * *
Inner joy and vitality are indispensable to the struggle to realize happiness for ourselves and others, and to construct an alliance of people dedicated to the cause of good. We can only deeply inspire others through our own lives, and we can only spur them to embark on inner change through our actions and conduct as people who are ourselves undertaking this same challenge.

How can we break through the closed, hardened shells of people’s lives in the Latter Day of the Law, which often resemble an inhospitable frozen wasteland as a result of karma and self-absorption? And how can we activate their Buddha nature and awaken them on a fundamental level so that they can transform their lives? This is the endless challenge of our Buddhist practice. And that is why we ourselves must first of all be active and engaged Buddhists who continue to work on our own inner transformation.

Transmission, the Buddha of True Effect and the Buddha of True Cause

* * * (LB 12/2, p. 52) * * *
The crux of the Lotus Sutra lies in its explanation of the entrustment, or transmission, of the heritage of the Law from Shakyamuni and Many Treasures to Bodhisattva Superior Practices. The very fact that the Lotus Sutra depicts this transfer of the Law signals that a fundamental shift in emphasis in the teaching from true effect to true cause will be essential at a future time if the Lotus Sutra ideal and Buddha vow of universal enlightenment is to be realized.
* * * (LB 12/2, p. 52) * * *
The statement, “Whether or not Bodhisattva Superior Practices has appeared in this world, Nichiren has already made a start in propagating this teaching” (WND-1, 218), is a declaration that the Daishonin is the teacher of true cause who will accomplish this great transition in Buddhism.

The Teacher of Humankind and the Great Path of a Humanistic Religion

* * * (LB 12/2, p. 54-56) * * *
Nichiren stated, “I survived even the Tatsunokuchi Persecution and emerged safely from other great persecutions. By now, the devil king must be thoroughly discouraged” (GZ, 843). This is truly a declaration of one person’s lofty and heroic spiritual victory over all manner of devilish functions.

Nichiren Buddhism is based on the mentor-disciple relationship, teaching disciples to persevere in life with the same strength and fortitude as the mentor. The Daishonin left behind his example so that all people, by living with the same spirit he did, could lead triumphant lives.

In one sense, human beings are weak and vulnerable, and find it extremely difficult to break through the darkness of their innate ignorance. But they also have the capacity for infinite nobility when they believe in the fundamental power inherent in their own lives and the lives of others. When people come into contact with the victorious life of a great champion like the Daishonin, they can discover their own limitless potential.

Victory can take many forms, but there is surely no greater victory than breaking through the darkness of innate ignorance, bringing forth the life-state of Buddhahood, and producing an infinite number of successors who can carry on the noble cause of kosen-rufu. In view of the scale of the victory he achieved, Nichiren Daishonin is the fundamental teacher of the Latter Day of the Law. Most importantly, because he opened the path for all people to reveal their inherent Buddhahood by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and established a truly humanistic religious philosophy, we regard him as a teacher of humankind.
* * * (LB 12/2, p. 56) * * *
The genuine practice of Buddhism from the times of Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin lives on in the practice of mentor and disciple in the Soka Gakkai. This practice is comprised of efforts based on a stand-alone spirit.

By committing ourselves to the great vow for kosen-rufu, we can manifest our own inherently enlightened life-state, and by taking action with an ungrudging spirit, we can free people from suffering and help them revitalize their lives. And these awakened people in turn, through the power of dialogue, can inspire still others, giving them fresh courage and conviction. The stand-alone practice of the first three presidents—united by the bonds of mentor and disciple—is the starting point of the magnificent worldwide spread of our movement for human revolution, or inner transformation.

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. How does your inner transformation relate to your efforts to help and support others?

2. What is the difference between the Buddhism of True Effect and the Buddhism of True Cause and why is it essential that there be a shift from one to the other in order for the Buddha vow of universal enlightenment to be realized? (Please see pgs. 49 – 52 of the March-April issue of Living Buddhism.)

3. In what ways have you used Nichiren’s example to help uncover your own limitless potential?

4. How do you relate to the stand-alone practice of the first three presidents of the Soka Gakkai? How does it inform your personal practice and your own feelings about the mentor and disciple relationship?