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District Meeting

District Discussion Meeting Material

January 2022

Illustration by ArdeaA / Getty images

Starting in 2022, Living Buddhism is providing three options to be used as study material for the monthly discussion meetings.

Option #1: Presentation on a Buddhist term (also available online).
Option #2: Ikeda Sensei’s guidance on a Buddhist concept.
Option #3: Study material on a passage from Nichiren’s writings.

You can choose one of these topics to discuss at your monthly discussion meeting. Enjoy!


OPTION #1: The Unity of Many in Body, One in Mind

The numbered boxes correspond to the PowerPoint slides for the January 2022 discussion meeting. The full PowerPoint and script can be found at sgi-usa.org/monthly-downloads.

1) KEY POINTS

When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and unite to spread the Mystic Law, which harmonizes all things, we can:

free ourselves from our negative tendencies that lead to suffering;
fully express our unique potential; and
deepen our affinity and appreciation for everyone in our lives.

2) MANY IN BODY, ONE IN MIND

• “Many in body,” also expressed as “different in body,” refers to people’s diverse personalities and characteristics, and the roles they have to fulfill.
“One in mind,” also expressed as “same in heart or spirit,” means sharing the same purpose or values or cherishing a shared wish to realize a lofty goal.

3) UNITY IS THE “TRUE GOAL”

All disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind, transcending all differences among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim. This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death. Herein lies the true goal of Nichiren’s propagation. (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 217)

4) OUR HUMAN REVOLUTION ENABLES US TO TRANSCEND DIFFERENCES

At times, our personalities may not mesh with those of other individuals. That is why unless we each ground ourselves within our own human revolution, we cannot create genuine unity. …

The Daishonin also urges us “to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim” (WND-1, 217). This means developing a sense of affinity or fellowship with everyone who joins us in studying and practicing Nichiren Buddhism and working for kosen-rufu, and indeed with all people with whom we have a connection. (Ikeda Sensei, The Hope-Filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, pp. 212–13)

5) HAVING THE SAME SPIRIT AS THE MENTOR IS THE KEY TO UNITY

In terms of Buddhism, the core of “being one in mind” is faith based on the oneness of mentor and disciple—that is, each person taking kosen-rufu, the Buddha’s will and intent, as a personal mission and actively working for its realization. For disciples to take on challenges and strive to win with the same spirit as their teacher is the essence of the spirit of many in body, one in mind. (Ikeda Sensei, The Hope-Filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, pp. 205–06)

Suggested Questions:
1) Why do you think creating unity is one of the greatest aims of Nichiren Buddhism?
2) What has your experience been of “transcending differences” and creating unity?


OPTION #2: ‘Treasures of the Heart’

“More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. From the time you read this letter on, strive to accumulate the treasures of the heart!”—“The Three Kinds of Treasure,”
The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 851

“Treasures in a storehouse” indicates material assets. “Treasures of the body” means such things as health or acquired skills. “Treasures of the heart,” on one level, means an inner richness, wealth or abundance. On a more fundamental level, it means faith and the brilliance of the Buddha nature polished through faith.

In this passage, Nichiren indicates the order of priority of the three kinds of treasure and sets forth a clear standard of value. (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 1, pp. 195–96)

When we base ourselves on the treasures of the heart, the true value and worth of treasures of the storehouse and the body also become apparent in our lives. In short, we need to make accumulating the treasures of the heart our fundamental purpose in life. If we lose sight of this elemental objective, seeking merely to accumulate treasures of the storehouse and the body, it will only give rise to attachment. Fear of losing such material or physical treasures can then become a cause of suffering. Therefore, what is important above all, what is the correct sense of purpose in life, is to accumulate treasures of the heart. (TFV-1, 196)

• •

As Nichiren notes when he says, “The Law does not spread by itself: because people propagate it, both people and the Law are respectworthy” (Gosho zenshu, p. 856), the greatness of the Law or teaching can only be conveyed and spread when expressed in the humanistic actions and behavior of those who embrace it.

The treasures of the heart may be invisible to the eye. But when these inner treasures are given concrete expression as respectful actions toward others, they demonstrate and prove to others the power of the Mystic Law and the Buddha nature. (TFV-1, 198)

• •

As I am always affirming, resolving the various problems of our planet in the twenty-first century will hinge on focusing on the human being. This is an awareness shared by many leading intellects, peace activists and conscientious political leaders.

How do we transform people’s inherent fundamental darkness? How do we expand the solidarity of those dedicated to the cause of good? And how do we construct a society in which harmonious coexistence and humanism prevail?

The SGI is taking action to pioneer a magnificent path of intercultural and interfaith dialogue toward finding answers to those very questions. Transcending all differences, surmounting barriers of ethnicity and nationality, we are constructing a realm of broad and open exchange among human beings. The philosophy of the SGI is based on the Lotus Sutra’s teaching of showing respect for others through our actions. (TFV-1, 200)

Adapted From the May 2018 Daibyakurenge, pp. 98–101

Suggested Questions:
1) What does it mean to “accumulate the treasures of the heart”?
2) Can you share an experience in which strengthening your treasures of the heart enhanced your treasures of the storehouse or the body?


OPTION #3: ‘Winter Always Turns to Spring’

“Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, but winter always turns to spring. Never, from ancient times on, has anyone heard or seen of winter turning back to autumn. Nor have we ever heard of a believer in the Lotus Sutra who turned into an ordinary person.”“Winter Always Turns to Spring,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 536

Background

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter to the lay nun Myoichi in May 1275. During his exile to Sado Island (from 1271 to 1274), Nichiren’s believers in Kamakura, including the lay nun and her husband, suffered harassment and oppression. Despite having their estate confiscated, the couple persevered in faith. After losing her husband, Myoichi, who suffered from weak health herself, maintained strong faith as she raised their small children alone. Through this letter, Nichiren tries to dispel her sorrow and anxiety while explaining that believers in the Lotus Sutra are as if in the midst of winter but that winter unfailingly turns to spring.

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

If … in the midst of life’s winters, we refrain from the struggle of progressing in faith, if we doubt the power of faith and slacken in our Buddhist practice, we will end up with incomplete results at best. Even for cherry trees, it is said, if the period of winter chill required for breaking dormancy is insufficient, the flowering of the buds will be delayed and the blossoms will be irregular. The key to victory in our lives lies in how hard we struggle when we are in winter, how wisely we use that time, and how meaningfully we live each day confident that spring will definitely come.

Faith in the Lotus Sutra means bravely making our way through the winters of adversity. By taking on the arduous task of changing our karma, we are able to greet the spring and build happiness and good fortune in our lives. (The Hope-Filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 107)

• •

No matter how cold and bitter the winter, spring will definitely come. All who have faith in the Lotus Sutra will attain Buddhahood without exception. Nichiren Buddhism exists so that those who have suffered the most can achieve happiness. As members of the SGI, we earnestly take action to help people overcome all kinds of hardships and sufferings and usher in a springtime of hope and victory in their lives. (Living the Gosho, p. 25)

Suggested Questions:
1) When facing adversity, what actions help you find the hope and inspiration to continue challenging your situation?
2) Can you share an experience of “turning winter into spring” in your own life?

District Study Meeting Material

The Wisdom of Buddhist Humanism