Fundamentals

Discussion Meetings Are the Heart of the Soka Gakkai

"These small gatherings are microcosms of human harmony. They are democracy in action."


This guidance is from section 22.6 of “The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace” series, published in the May 2017 Living Buddhism, pp. 58–59.

Discussion meetings are a great river, of which all our other activities are tributaries.

Activities to promote friendship and understanding of our movement and the different kinds of meetings we hold all merge into the great river of discussion meetings and flow onward toward the vast ocean of an age of the people. Along both banks of that great river are vast, fertile fields of humanistic culture producing rich and abundant fruit.

Discussion meetings are the heart of the Soka Gakkai. Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda often told us: “Tsunesaburo Makiguchi [the founding president] always made sure he got to the meeting place before anyone else. When the first person arrived, he would engage them in an earnest discussion. When a second and third person arrived, he included them in the conversation, sharing Buddhism with great personal warmth and care.”[1]See Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1985), vol. 4, p. 422.

Mr. Toda also said: “If only one person shows up for a meeting, that’s fine. Devote all your energy to explaining Nichiren Buddhism to that person, sharing experiences of your Buddhist practice, and talking sincerely about kosen-rufu and life. If two people show up, so much the better. Speak to them about the Gohonzon and make the meeting an inspiring occasion for them. If three show up, consider that a large number!”[2]Ibid., p. 474.

Heart-to-heart discussion is always more effective than ordering people around. And because dialogue takes place between individuals, it requires that we respect and value the other person. This sets the stage for lively and enriching discussion meetings.

In the Soka Gakkai, when we speak of “the tradition of discussion meetings,” we’re not referring to the fact that we’ve been holding discussion meetings for many years, but rather to the Soka Gakkai tradition of valuing each individual, which is epitomized in our discussion meetings.

The Soka Gakkai has always been committed to encouraging the honest, hardworking ordinary people of the world. That’s the very heart of our discussion meetings. In the eyes of society, our discussion meetings may seem very simple, modest gatherings, involving a small number of individuals and not particularly noteworthy. But these meetings are based on a profound philosophy that teaches the Law pervading the entire universe.

They have a warmth that embraces everyone. They brim with irrepressible hope that can inspire even those overwhelmed by painful karma to get back on their feet again. They are joyful, inspiring and often deeply moving. Soka Gakkai discussion meetings are oases where ordinary people gather; they reverberate with a spirit of fresh resolve and gratitude, where suffering is transformed into courage, and exhaustion into a satisfying sense of fulfillment.

These small gatherings are microcosms of human harmony. They are democracy in action. They are the heartbeat of kosen-rufu, linking faith, families and local communities.

 

(p. 7)

Notes   [ + ]

1. See Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1985), vol. 4, p. 422.
2. Ibid., p. 474.

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