A Meeting’s Success Lies in Sharing Experiences
Core principles for improving the district discussion meeting.
Someone once asked SGI President Ikeda if there was a special secret to holding lively, hope-filled discussion meetings.
He answered that while there was no special secret, a meeting’s success lies in sharing experiences in faith: “People who share their experiences brim with joy and energy. That feeling communicates to everyone else, and the joy spreads until the entire meeting becomes positive and vibrant” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 18, p. 256).
Our young men and young women are in the forefront of propagation and bringing many guests to our discussion meetings. How can the rest of us support? Without question, the best way is to always be ready ourselves to share an excellent experience in faith that speaks to the greatness of SGI Nichiren Buddhism and the power that ordinary people have to change any circumstance, and help others do the same.
See you on the front lines!
With deepest appreciation,
SGI-USA General Director
Prepping Experiences For A Meeting
1. Before a meeting, an experience should be warmly but thoroughly reviewed for both timing (5–7 minutes) and content (encouraging and to the point) by one of the leaders responsible for the meeting.
2. If you are sharing an experience at the meeting, it’s a great idea to practice reading it beforehand with a senior in faith. Pace yourself; don’t talk too fast or too slow. Please stick to your script, since ad-libbing may cause you to skip crucial points or go overtime.
3. Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the determination that your experience will instill hope in others and inspire them to persevere in faith.
4. As much as possible, avoid referring to specific lengths of time chanted (so as not to give the impression to guests and new members that physical austerities such as many-hour chanting sessions are a requirement of the practice).
5. Stress the human revolution that you underwent that led to the bene t being received, as much as the benefit itself.
6. Also, refrain from stating specific dollar amounts in an experience to avoid misunderstandings (e.g., “I chanted for this amount of money”) or sharing the names of specific companies, organizations or products. The focus should be on the faith breakthrough itself.
7. Conclude with a personal determination toward the future.
Sharing Experiences That Brim With Vitality
by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda
My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, who took every single meeting very seriously, said, “The Lotus Sutra urges us to treat fellow practitioners with the same respect we would show toward Buddhas” (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 365). Our focus is the happiness of each person and working together with the members. We must never forget that starting point. We have to make our meetings the most enjoyable, meaningful and harmonious in the entire world—meetings that are open and unpretentious.
Mr. Toda placed special importance on having members share experiences at meetings. Such experiences brim with the members’ vibrant life force and the dynamic power of faith that has enabled them to defeat devilish functions and triumph over obstacles. They serve as a perennial source of inspiration, bringing genuine hope and courage to others. Nichiren Daishonin writes, “When one who is able to show clearly visible proof in the present expounds the Lotus Sutra, there also will be persons who will believe” (“Letter to Horen,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 512).
Strengthening the greater block depends, then, on how much benefit its members can experience.
In the early days of our movement, with youthful passion and enthusiasm, I also shared my experiences of successfully challenging my human revolution and thereby stirred up a groundswell of propagation . . .
Clark Strand, a respected American journalist and writer specializing in religious topics, has commented, “Sharing such experiences builds faith, faith builds lives and collectively those lives can change society.” He also observed: “As long as the Soka Gakkai preserves this discussion model, its religious ethos will remain new” (Oct. 2, 2010, World Tribune, p. 28).
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“Strengthening the greater block depends, then, on how much benefit its members can experience, how much human revolution they can achieve and how joyful they are.
“Concretely speaking, an ideal example of a really strong greater block is one in which, when you ask its members in a discussion meeting, ‘Can someone share an experience of receiving benefits?’ everyone eagerly raises their hand, excited to tell others. This is not something that can be measured by statistics” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 24, p. 188).
In the next installment: On the Planning Meeting.