The Most Enjoyable Gatherings in the World
"Cherishing each person is the fundamental spirit of the Soka Gakkai, and discussion meetings are the best place to develop this spirit."
Message from SGI-USA Youth Leaders
Young Women’s Leader Arlen Vidal
Young Men’s Leader Mike O’Malley
Youth Leader David Witkowski
The youth love discussion meetings!
Since the inception of the Soka Gakkai, discussion meetings have served as its foundational activity. In The New Human Revolution, volume 27, SGI President Ikeda makes clear the significance of discussion meetings. He writes:
Discussion meetings can be thought of as a traditional activity of the Soka Gakkai for spreading Buddhism in the present day.
At discussion meetings, we study the writings of Nichiren Daishonin and learn about various Buddhist principles. Then, by applying those principles to our daily lives, we each demonstrate the validity of Buddhism through our personal experience. Further, we share these experiences at the discussion meetings, reaffirming with one another our conviction in faith . . . For this reason, I would like you to bear deeply in mind that the progress of kosen-rufu begins and ends with discussion meetings. (June 2, 2014, Seikyo Shimbun; tentative translation)
Based on this, we can confidently say that discussion meetings are our primary venue for conveying faith experiences and sharing Buddhism. Learning from the three founding Soka Gakkai presidents, let’s dive into every discussion meeting, keeping in mind the following four elements that make these meetings most effective and inspiring:
Cherishing Each Person
Cherishing each person is the fundamental spirit of the Soka Gakkai, and discussion meetings are the best place to develop this spirit. Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda once said about discussion meetings: “Even if the participants are few, if they are convinced of the greatness of faith and feel joy, thereby deepening their confidence in the Gohonzon, the meeting is a success” (My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 19).
Sharing Experiences in Faith
Sharing experiences of overcoming struggles based on faith in Nichiren Buddhism is another basic element of the discussion meeting. Nichiren Daishonin says: “In judging the relative merit of Buddhist doctrines, I, Nichiren, believe that the best standards are those of reason and documentary proof. And even more valuable than reason and documentary proof is the proof of actual fact” (“Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 599). For this reason, experiences that prove the validity of Nichiren Buddhism comprise the heart of discussion meetings.
Introducing Friends to the SGI
Discussion meetings are ideal places for introducing friends to Nichiren Buddhism. President Ikeda once cited these words of President Toda: “Soka Gakkai discussion meetings are the one proper place for introducing others to Buddhism”; and “Our discussion meetings are places for discussing Nichiren Buddhism. They should be the most enjoyable gatherings in the world, overflowing with compassion.” Sensei goes on to say, “Please engrave these lessons from Mr. Toda in your hearts” (March 14, 2008, World Tribune, p. 3). We hope that our friends can experience the warmth of the SGI by attending discussion meetings.
Inviting Questions and Dialogue
Finally, making time in the meeting for district and visiting leaders to answer questions that members and guests have serves as a wonderful opportunity for discussing the practice and philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. Having a seeking spirit is the key to resolving doubts and deepening faith. President Ikeda has stated that the resolve of the central figure decides the success of discussion meetings (see The New Human Revolution, vol. 13, p. 146). Bearing this point firmly in mind, let’s be determined that through sincere dialogue, every single member and guest leaves our discussion meetings feeling fully refreshed in faith, and burning with hope and courage.
Please enjoy President Ikeda’s essay “Our Foundation—Discussion Meetings” included in the following pages (see pp. 12–19).
Let’s make fresh strides in advancing kosen-rufu, centering on our joyful discussion meetings.