On the Planning Meeting
Core principles for improving the district discussion meeting.
SGI President Ikeda wrote an essay in 2003 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest, sharing his thoughts on why mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and the Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first to succeed (on May 29, 1953).
I’d like to discuss President Ikeda’s first point here, because it’s central to the success of the discussion meeting:
Why did they succeed? They prepared thoroughly far in advance.
Hillary and Norgay had arrived in the Himalayas two months before their ascent to acclimate themselves to the high altitudes and train adequately.
President Ikeda states: “Advance preparation is very important. Whether you are heading out for a discussion meeting or to introduce Buddhism to others, or whether you are going to work, it is the person who prepares in advance who succeeds . . .
“The person who prepares in advance has the advantage. To succeed, we must make preparations with all our might and in the way that best suits each of us. No one can match a person who is prepared and who is determined to win” (April 8, 2016, World Tribune, p. 3).
Following are key points from President Ikeda’s guidance to consider for the monthly planning meeting, which sets the course for creating districts that are warm, hope-filled castles of kosen-rufu.
See you on the front lines!
With deepest appreciation,
SGI-USA General Director
KEYS TO PLANNING
The planning meeting is key in preparing for the discussion meeting. It provides an opportunity for the members to come together and discuss how to create a vibrant, hope-filled meeting rooted in faith. What type of meeting should we aim to have? SGI President Ikeda writes, “Make each discussion meeting so satisfying that people regret when it comes to an end and wish it could go on a bit longer” (July 14, 2006, World Tribune, p. 2).
Some points to consider:
• The planning meeting may be open to all district members or left up to district leaders. The point is to have an effective planning meeting that gives everyone involved time to prepare in advance. President Ikeda writes: “Earnest prayer, excellent planning and dynamic action are the keys to certain victory. It is faith in the Mystic Law that enables us to effectively harmonize these three aspects” (Aug. 20, 2010, World Tribune, p. 5).
• Ensure that the agenda lends itself to enabling the members to participate without one person dominating the conversation. President Ikeda writes: “Create an atmosphere where everyone can pleasantly exchange ideas and participate harmoniously and constructively. That’s how discussion meetings should be” (July 14, 2006, World Tribune, p. 3).
• Find ways to include new members and even returning guests on the agenda, such as through giving a brief introduction to Buddhism or sharing a benefit in faith. This will reinforce for them the joy of attending discussion meetings.
• Leave enough time for ample Q&A with the central figure so that members and guests can ask questions about the practice. The SGI-USA’s 1-hour meeting format was created to give enough time after the meeting, as well, to engage in meaningful dialogue with members and guests (see Oct. 10, 2015, World Tribune, p. 8).
• Ensure the content of the meeting is based on Nichiren Daishonin’s writings and President Ikeda’s encouragement. President Ikeda writes: “And whatever subject leaders may decide to speak about, the important thing is that their words brim with the intention to communicate the true Soka Gakkai spirit. That’s the kind of speech people want to hear” (July 14, 2006, World Tribune, p. 3).