Discussion Meetings: the SGI’s Spiritual Oasis

SGI President Ikeda discusses the significance of SGI discussion meetings.

Human harmony—Doral East District in Miami. The discussion meeting is the central focus of SGI activities. Photo by Akihisa Tsunekawa.

Excerpts from The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 2, pp. 93–95, by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda.

The discussion meeting is like a great river, and all activities are like tributaries that flow into this river. Activities to broaden the circle of friends in society and meetings of various kinds for faith and study all contribute to the great river of the discussion meeting.

This broad and deep river, created by the confluence of these myriad streams, flows into the ocean of the century of the people. On its banks, vast fertile plains of human culture will produce rich fruit of many kinds.

The heart of the SGI is found in the discussion meeting. [Second Soka Gakkai President Josei] Toda said: “The first president [Tsunesaburo Makiguchi] would be the first to arrive at the meeting place. When someone else arrived, he would engage the person in discussion. When a second person came, he would speak with the two of them, and when a third came, he would talk with those three, instructing them in all matters with the greatest kindness and courtesy.” He also once said: “It’s fine even if there’s just one person [at a meeting]. The important thing is that we earnestly and energetically explain the teaching, relate our experience to that one person, and wholeheartedly discuss kosen-rufu and life. Even if there are just two people, if they each go home from the meeting with a sense of joy and fulfillment from having discussed the Gohonzon and inspired one another, then it’s a success. If three people come to a meeting, you should consider it well attended.”

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We don’t speak of the “tradition” of the discussion meeting simply because the pattern of holding such meetings has continued for many years. Rather, with the discussion meeting as the central focus of our activities, we have striven to treasure each person; this spirit to value and respect the individual is the tradition of the SGI. The SGI has unceasingly encouraged people in their ordinary yet valiant struggles. This is the tradition of the discussion meeting.

From a societal viewpoint, the number of people participating in these meetings is not large; nor is any particular attention paid to these meetings. Indeed, no gathering of people is more simple or down-to-earth. But discussion meetings are grounded in a philosophy that thoroughly explains the Law pervading the universe.

They produce a nourishing moisture that nurtures the lives of people from all walks of life, enabling them to blossom. They are pervaded with hope that inspires people—no matter how overwhelmed they may be— with the spirit to stand up and try again.

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There is laughter, there are tears, there is emotion. The SGI discussion meeting is a people’s oasis that reverberates with a spirit of determination and appreciation, where suffering turns into courage, and fatigue gives way to warm fulfillment.

This small gathering is the very image of human harmony. It is a true model of democracy. It has the pulse of kosen-rufu and links faith, family and the community. It is pervaded with the spirit to enable the noble children of the Buddha and their precious friends to become happy. This is the spirit of the Lotus Sutra.