Discussion Meetings— Vibrant “Theaters of Happiness”
SGI President Ikeda's Monthly Message.
This monthly encouragement by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda was originally published in the November 2017 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.
Discussion Meetings—Vibrant “Theaters of Happiness” I met my mentor for the first time at a discussion meeting. I learned about and practiced the great philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism at discussion meetings.
At discussion meetings, together with my beloved fellow members, I created a groundswell of kosen-rufu throughout Japan and all around the world. I love discussion meetings more than anything. In “Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King,” the 23rd chapter of the Lotus Sutra, we find the expression “like a clear cool pond” (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 327). Just as a clear cool pond can quench the thirst of those who are parched, bringing relief to body and mind, the Mystic Law brims with the beneficial power to free all living beings from the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death.
In today’s growing spiritual desert, discussion meetings are oases that are “like a clear cool pond,” relieving the thirst and reviving the lives of all those who attend them.
Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, clearly states: “The best way to attain Buddhahood is to encounter a good friend . . . [W]e should seek out a good friend. But encountering a good friend is the hardest possible thing to do” (“Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 598). A good friend is indispensable to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime, but also extremely rare and precious. Soka Gakkai discussion meetings are gatherings filled with such good friends.
In our world today, which is like a swamp rife with negative influences, discussion meetings are places of mutual encouragement where we can help one another lead happy lives and shine our brightest as “human flowers” (LSOC, 142). They are noble assemblies pervaded by the Buddha’s virtues of eternity, happiness, true self and purity.
Based on the true spirit of Nichiren Buddhism, our first and second presidents, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, launched an unprecedented grassroots dialogue movement in the form of our discussion meetings. For this, they have our unending gratitude.
I remember how Mr. Toda always put his whole being into each discussion meeting he attended. He would get together to discuss the planned meeting in detail beforehand, going over the agenda, how the emcee would proceed and the content of the presentations. In addition, he used to say there was no need to be overly formal, instructing us to create a welcoming environment where even those attending their first discussion meeting would enjoy themselves and feel that they had learned something about Buddhism.
At discussion meetings, everyone plays a starring role. Regardless of age or gender, they are all great actors who have emerged from the earth. And the experiences related by members—experiences hard-won through sweat and tears—are precious and inspiring dramas of human revolution.
No matter what problems we may be struggling with or how exhausted we may be, we will feel uplifted, more positive and encouraged. That is the wonderful thing about our discussion meetings, which are “theaters of happiness.”
Today, lively discussion meetings are being held all around the globe. Kindling the flame of respect for life in the hearts of people everywhere, transcending all differences, our discussion meetings are helping individuals forge the dynamic strength and solidarity needed to withstand the trials in their individual lives and the lands in which they live.
Discussion meetings are an inexhaustible wellspring of energy for building a new “culture of dialogue” that humankind longs for.
In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin states: “Nichiren and his followers, those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, one and all will ‘together reach the place where the treasure is.’ This one word ‘together’ means that, as long as they are together with Nichiren, they will reach the treasure land” (pp. 77–78).
All who attend discussion meetings, members and guests alike, are “together” with the Daishonin. Let us remain together with him forever as we advance joyfully and energetically to the “treasure land” of supreme happiness and peace! As Bodhisattvas of the Earth, let’s continue to spread through dialogue these oases of happiness and peace all over our planet.