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Ikeda Sensei

Our Hope-Filled Soka Discussion Meetings

This monthly encouragement by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda was originally published in the November 2019 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

There is an unforgettable passage from the writings of Nichiren Daishonin that I studied together with my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda. It is from a letter addressed to the lay nun Sennichi, who sent her husband, Abutsu-bo, from Sado Island to visit Nichiren Daishonin in distant Mount Minobu. Nichiren writes: “Abutsu-bo appeared. I asked him first how you were, and how the lay priest of Ko was. He told me that neither of you had fallen ill” (“The Sutra of True Requital,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, pp. 933–34).

As epidemics raged throughout the land, Nichiren was deeply concerned about his disciples and had been praying wholeheartedly for their safety. After thanking Abutsu-bo for making the long journey to see him, Nichiren inquires about each of his disciples on Sado and takes delight in learning that they are safe and well. In the letter, he also asks Sennichi to pass on a message of condolence and encouragement to another practitioner who had recently lost her husband.

After having me read this letter aloud, Mr. Toda said: “Here we see the profoundly humane behavior of Nichiren Daishonin. It is also the spirit that we should bring to our discussion meetings.”

The humanism of Soka flows limitlessly from our discussion meetings.

During my second address at Harvard University (in 1993), I stated my belief that a religion that can bring about a human renaissance—in other words, enable people to become stronger, better and wiser—will serve as a source for creating a truly humanistic culture in the 21st century.

Our discussion meetings are joyous gatherings from which we can set forth once again energized and refreshed as protagonists of human revolution. The invincible power of the Buddha to surmount even the harshest karma surges anew within us.

Discussion meetings are also gatherings of family from time without beginning, where we transcend all differences, believe in each other’s positive potential and inspire and encourage one another. They are models of the tolerance and harmony for which humanity longs.

Not least, discussion meetings are a training ground for learning and practicing the supreme philosophy of respect for the dignity of life.

They are places where young and old alike vibrantly study and discuss the principles of Nichiren Buddhism, to cultivate and bring forth the wisdom for creating value.

In 1968, I spearheaded a “discussion meeting revolution.” At a discussion meeting in Fujinomiya City, in Shizuoka Prefecture, I shared the following passage from the Daishonin’s writings: “A person who embraces the ‘Life Span’ chapter of the Lotus Sutra is sustaining the life of the Buddhas.

Would any Buddha, then, abandon a person who embraces the very sutra through which that Buddha attained enlightenment?” (“Letter to Horen,” WND-1, 517). In light of these words, I assured them, “No matter what kind of hardship or adversity you may face, you will definitely win in the end.”

Today, five decades later, the brilliant light of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the people is shining throughout the world.

Let’s start the coming Year of Advancement and Capable People by launching a new “discussion meeting revolution”!

My young friends, please gather
at our precious discussion meetings
that are a beacon of hope for humanity.
Together let’s celebrate
the joy of life!

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