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District Meeting

District Discussion Meeting Material

July 2022

Illustration by ArdeaA / Getty images.

Living Buddhism provides 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. Have a great discussion!


Option #1: ‘Employ the Strategy of the Lotus Sutra Before Any Other’

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

1. Key Points

  1. Employing the strategy of the Lotus Sutra means putting prayer—chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with strong faith in the Gohonzon—first, followed by concrete planning and action.
  2. One of the benefits of practicing and spreading Nichiren Buddhism is bringing forth the invincible courage to overcome all suffering and propel us toward victory.
  3. On a broader scale, our SGI movement is about tapping into the greatest force for good—each person’s Buddhahood—and uniting and organizing that power to create a better world.

2. Always Put Prayer First

“Employ the strategy of the Lotus Sutra before any other. ‘All others who bear you enmity or malice will likewise be wiped out.’ These golden words will never prove false.” —Nichiren Daishonin, “The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1001

3. Make Positive Use of Everything

“For us, our strategy in the realm of kosen-rufu is faith—in other words, prayer, planning, action, unity and courage based on chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon. The strategy of the Lotus Sutra, making positive use of everything, is the driving force that dynamically propels us toward victory.” —Ikeda Sensei, October 16, 2009, World Tribune, p. 4

4. Forge Ahead With Invincible Courage

“Through the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can drive cowardice, carelessness and arrogance from our hearts. We can then forge ahead with invincible courage—the kind of courage that refuses to be defeated by any obstacle—or rather, that only burns more fiercely the greater the difficulties we face.” —Ikeda Sensei, September 4, 2009, World Tribune, p. 5

5. Unite and Organize the Forces of Good

Dr. Vincent Harding: “[Martin Luther King, Jr.] used to say, we have to organize goodness.”

Ikeda Sensei: “Our movement for kosen-rufu is about tapping into the greatest force for good there is—the boundless life force of Buddhahood inherent in each person’s life—and uniting and organizing that power. This is the strategy of the Lotus Sutra.” —October 16, 2009, World Tribune, p. 5

Suggested Questions:
1) What results have you noticed when employing the strategy of the Lotus Sutra?

2) How would you describe the relationship between chanting and taking action?


Option #2: Establishing Peace Begins With One Person

What is the surest way to bring peace to the land, to transform a society that is weighed down with misfortune and suffering? Nichiren Daishonin stresses that it begins with one person establishing the truth in his or her heart. The “one true vehicle, the single good doctrine”[1] of which he speaks is the Lotus Sutra, the correct Mahayana teaching that espouses life’s supreme worth and dignity and instructs that all living beings are essentially Buddhas. When each individual awakens to and reveals his or her inherent Buddhahood in accord with this Mystic Law, the place that person lives becomes a shimmering Buddha land.

The goal of Nichiren Buddhism is to create peace and prosperity in society by equipping individuals—the prime movers of society and shapers of the times—with the inner requisites to triumph in all endeavors. …

As we bring forth our inherent Buddha nature, we develop compassion for others. “Embracing the one true vehicle, the single good doctrine [of the Lotus Sutra]” means, in one sense, abandoning all prejudiced and partial views of life and humanity and returning to a respect for the supreme dignity of life. It means doing away with egoism and living by the rule of compassion, basing ourselves on true humanism. Here we find the universal principle that provides the key to humankind’s prosperity and peace on Earth. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 4, pp. 247–48)

•   •   •

A person who prays for a peaceful and secure society and is considerate toward others will naturally become aware of the need to contribute to society and will act on that awareness. The Soka Gakkai’s goal is to realize the peaceful society described in “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.” Our mission is to rid this world of every human affliction—war, poverty, starvation, disease and discrimination.

With this goal in mind, then, what’s important is what we do to actually achieve it. Without real effort, it’s all just a fantasy, an abstraction. As a rule, when it comes to practical efforts, it is up to each person to decide and do what he or she thinks best and is capable of. …

It is only natural that opinions vary widely on social issues. There is no doubt we will have to feel our way through on many things. But we must base all our activities on our prayer for “order and tranquillity throughout the four quarters of the land.”[2] Our goal is to place people first, so that we each may lead a life of true humanity and savor a happy and joy-filled existence. (NHR-4, 257–58)

Suggested Questions:
1) What kind of inner change have you experienced through your Buddhist practice?

2) How have changes in you impacted a change in the people around you?


Option #3: Practice and Study Are the Heart of Buddhism

“Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism. You must not only persevere yourself; you must also teach others. Both practice and study arise from faith. Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.” —“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 386

Background

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter while exiled on Sado Island in May 1273 to his disciple Sairen-bo. In it, Nichiren explains that “the ‘true aspect’ is another name for Myoho-renge-kyo” (WND-1, 384). The fundamental principle underlying life, he teaches, is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Emphasizing the importance of taking action based on this understanding, he urges us to do our utmost to teach others about Buddhism, “even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.”

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

Practice and study—which we carry out ourselves and encourage others to do as well—are the heart of Buddhism. In Nichiren Buddhism, it isn’t enough that we practice for our own happiness alone. There is no such thing as a selfish Buddha satisfied with attaining personal enlightenment and caring nothing for anyone else. The wisdom of the Buddha exists to lead all people to happiness.

•   •   •

“To the best of your ability” means exerting yourself to the fullest. There is no need to feel hesitant about talking to others about Buddhism because you’re not good at Buddhist study. For instance, you could just share some of Nichiren’s words that you find moving or something you learned through your Buddhist practice. Or you can tell someone, even with just a few words, that practicing Nichiren Buddhism is enjoyable, that it will enable them to make their wishes come true. …

[Josei Toda stressed] to us that actually transforming our lives is more important than mere understanding.

Study based on the mentor-disciple spirit is the Soka Gakkai tradition. It is study for winning, providing us with the foundation to overcome obstacles by learning from Nichiren’s conduct and summoning forth the spirit of a lion king. It is study for deepening our faith. It is study for sharing the Mystic Law and realizing kosen-rufu, which spurs us to talk to others about the inspiration and joy we gain from studying the Daishonin’s teachings. It is study for inner transformation and human revolution, providing us an opportunity to connect with the Daishonin’s heart and confirm that we ourselves embody the Mystic Law. (Faith, Practice, and Study: The Basics of Nichiren Buddhism, pp. 51–53)

Suggested Questions:
1) What is one of your favorite passages from Nichiren’s writings that helps you overcome challenges?
2) Can you share any recent efforts you have made to share Buddhism with others?

References

  1.  “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 25. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., p. 24. ↩︎

District Study Meeting Material

The Wisdom of Buddhist Humanism