Encouragement

Setting the Discussion Meeting Agenda

Core principles for improving the district discussion meeting.

East Elmhurst District. Queens, New York. Photo: Yuen Ping Low.


“To My Friends”

A meeting’s success is determined by:
the deep prayers of those in charge;
careful planning and preparations beforehand; and
appreciation for the participants.
Let’s create a fresh, forward momentum!
(From the Oct. 25 Seikyo Shimbun)


adin-emojiA year ago, the SGI-USA reaffirmed the heart of the discussion meeting as a forum for propagation, study and encouragement, and shortened the monthly discussion-meeting format to one hour to give ample time for heart-to-heart discussion afterward.

SGI President Ikeda elaborates on the fundamental mission of the discussion meeting: “Discussion meetings, study of Nichiren’s teachings, introducing others to the practice and personal guidance are the four pillars, the main components, of the kosen-rufu movement. Discussion meetings, in particular, as the place where the other three components are carried out, serve as the foundation of everything” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 18, p. 252).

Setting the agenda for the discussion meeting is a crucial element in creating meetings that are enjoyable, meaningful and harmonious. And, recently, President Ikeda reminded us once again that the prayers and determination of those planning and centering the meeting determine its outcome.

In his daily encouragement, “To My Friends,” for Oct. 25, President Ikeda writes:

A meeting’s success is determined by:
the deep prayers of those in charge;
careful planning and preparations beforehand; and
appreciation for the participants.
Let’s create a fresh, forward momentum!
(From the Oct. 25 Seikyo Shimbun)

This installment offers ideas and encouragement related to setting the agenda for an inspiring meeting, and we will go into deeper detail on each point in upcoming issues. See you on the front lines!

With deepest appreciation,
Adin Strauss, SGI-USA General Director


Restoring Human Dignity to a Fragmented Society

The following is from The New Human Revolution, vol. 18, pp. 252–53. SGI President Ikeda appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto.

From New Year’s Day [1974], whenever Shin’ichi [Yamamoto] met with one of the Soka Gakkai’s top leaders, he asked the same question, “Which discussion meetings are you going to attend this month?” The Soka Gakkai was promoting a new activity this year called “Human Forums,” the aim of which was to create a place where people could come together and engage in heart-to-heart communication based on a sense of autonomy, freedom and equality. In other words, it sought to restore human dignity to a fragmented and alienated society through the establishment of a spiritual network.

Discussion meetings are places where people inspire and support one another. As such, they are the main battle fields of kosen-rufu.

Discussion meetings were designated as the venue of these forums, which were set in motion under the guideline of “hold meetings that promote human development.”

Discussion meetings, study of Nichiren’s teachings, introducing others to the practice and personal guidance are the four pillars, the main components, of the kosen-rufu movement. Discussion meetings, in particular, as the place where the other three components are carried out, serve as the foundation of everything.

Discussion meetings are a microcosm of the Soka Gakkai, an organization dedicated to building a network of ordinary citizens. They are forums where people of all ages come together in friendship, where experiences in faith are shared, Nichiren’s writings are studied, and people’s questions are answered. They brim with joy, determination and the desire to deepen one’s faith. The Swiss philosopher Carl Hilty said: “Associate with the people and learn from them. True ideas lie in the people.”

Discussion meetings are places where people inspire and support one another. As such, they are the main battle fields of kosen-rufu.


What are the core elements of a 1-hour discussion meeting?

•  Gongyo (about 10–15 minutes)

•  An introduction to the practice

> Include an explanation of the Gohonzon, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the SGI (see forthcoming issues for key points to include in the introduction).

> Both Buddhist terms are explained in the “Beginning Your Practice” section on the worldtribune.org home page.

•  A powerful faith experience

> The main purpose of an experience is to illuminate the process of human revolution that we undergo when we challenge our obstacles and dreams based on faith, practice and study.

>  Assign an experienced leader to meet with the person who will be sharing their experience beforehand to go over its content and chant with them to be able to instill in the members and guests conviction in faith.

•  A study presentation grounded in the principles of SGI Nichiren Buddhism

> Each month, Living Buddhism provides three topics in its “Discussion Meeting Resources” section for study at discussion meetings.

•  Ample time for Q&A with the leader who is centering the meeting.

•  Keep the meeting to 1 hour to provide enough time for one-to-one dialogue that includes:

> Addressing any questions guests may have about Buddhism and beginning their own practice.

Checking in with members and also scheduling visits with members who haven’t been able to attend meetings.

In the next installment: On Seeking Spirit and “Mystic Communion” in Discussion Meetings.

 

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