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District Meeting

District Discussion Meeting Material

June 2022

All illustrations by ArdeaA / Getty images

This year, 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 Ten Worlds

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

1) KEY POINTS

1)  The Ten Worlds categorizes 10 potential states of life that we have the potential to experience from moment to moment.

2)  Understanding the nature of these worlds can help us recognize our life tendencies and gain insight into how to transform them.

3)  Our Buddhist practice enables us to purposefully engage in actions that help us break free from the cycle of the six paths and bring forth from within us the worlds of bodhisattvas and Buddha.

2) ‘AWAKENED, ONE IS CALLED A BUDDHA’

“Neither the pure land nor hell exists outside oneself; both lie only within one’s own heart. Awakened to this, one is called a buddha; deluded about it, one is called an ordinary person.”

—Nichiren Daishonin, “Hell Is the Land of Tranquil Light,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 456

3) THE SIX PATHS

The first six worlds are known as the six paths. Those in these six worlds are easily influenced by or vulnerable to external circumstances.

1) Hell 
2) Hungry spirits 
3) Animals 
4) Asuras 
5) Human beings 
6) Heavenly beings

Through Buddhist practice, we can free ourselves from the six paths and build a self-determined happiness that is uncontrolled by our surroundings.

4) THE FOUR NOBLE WORLDS

Through Buddhist practice, we can develop the conditions of life known as the four noble worlds:

7) Voice-hearers 
8) Cause-awakened ones 
9) Bodhisattvas 
10) Buddhas

5) THE AIM OF PRACTICING BUDDHISM

“Human revolution is a revolution in our actions and behavior. It means to purposefully engage in behavior that is grounded in compassion, in actions that break free from the cycle of the six paths and bring us to the worlds of bodhisattvas and Buddhas.”

—Ikeda Sensei, The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, Part 2, p. 8

Suggested Questions: 
1) Which of the Ten Worlds do you often find yourself experiencing? 
2) What do you do to strengthen the worlds of bodhisattvas and Buddhas?

Activity for Future Division Members! 
Draw the world you’re in when: 
1) You have finished morning gongyo.
2) You celebrate your birthday.
3) You help your friends.


Option #2: Everything Can Be Our ‘Good Friend’ in Faith

A Buddhist scripture records an exchange between Shakyamuni and his disciple Ananda.[1] One day, Ananda asks Shakyamuni: “It seems to me that by having good friends and advancing together with them, one has already halfway attained the Buddha way. Is this way of thinking correct?” Shakyamuni responds unequivocally: “Ananda, this way of thinking is not correct. Having good friends and advancing together with them is not half the Buddha way but all the Buddha way.”[2]

This describes the essence of Buddhist practice. We need to have good friends who help and support us if we are to stay on the correct path of faith and lead a life of genuine victory.

Good friends, or positive influences, are people who guide us to the correct teaching of Buddhism. They include a good teacher and good fellow practitioners. “How far can our own wisdom take us?”[3] asks the Daishonin, stressing how important it is for us to seek out good friends in faith. The path to attaining Buddhahood is the only way to resolve the fundamental human sufferings of life and death. Only with good friends who support and encourage us can we strengthen our faith, bring forth the wisdom to become happy and attain the ultimate life state of Buddhahood. (For Our Wonderful New Members, p. 53)

•   •   •

“Good friends” in Buddhism are those who support and assist us in our Buddhist practice. [However, Nichiren says] that “evil persons”—namely, “evil friends” or negative influences who persecute and try to obstruct the faith of Buddhist practitioners—are actually good friends to him.[4]

Why is this? Because by encountering persecution at the hands of such people, he can prove that he is indeed the votary of the Lotus Sutra. Just as the wind turns the sails of a windmill, adversity enables us to change our negative karma and attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.

If we summon ever stronger faith with each difficulty we encounter, we will be able to turn negative influences into positive ones. In fact, that is a hallmark of genuine faith. …

Ultimately, it’s up to the faith of each individual whether someone becomes a good friend or bad friend. We can transform oppression and opposition into a springboard for tremendous growth in faith. (February 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 54)

Suggested Questions:
1) Think of a time when your good friend(s) in faith helped you overcome a very difficult time? How did they support you?
2) Describe a time when a hardship became your good friend in faith.

Activity for Future Division Members!
1) Think about one “good friend” in faith that helps you learn new things and grow.
2) Write a short letter of appreciation to them about how they have helped you grow.


Option #3: ‘The Buddha Exists in Our Own Hearts’

“The Buddha dwells within our hearts. For example, flint has the potential to produce fire, and gems have intrinsic value. We ordinary people can see neither our own eyelashes, which are so close, nor the heavens in the distance. Likewise, we do not see that the Buddha exists in our own hearts.” —“New Year’s Gosho,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1137

Background

In this letter written to the wife of Omosu, Nichiren Daishonin describes the principle of the Ten Worlds (see this issue, pp. 36–37), revealing that both Buddhahood and hell exist within each individual. The Buddha is not to be found somewhere far away; it is present in our own hearts, he teaches.

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

When cold flint is struck, it produces sparks. When gemstones are polished, they reveal their inherent worth. In the same way, though it is not immediately obvious, the life state of the Buddha most certainly resides within the lives of ordinary human beings, Nichiren Daishonin says. …

Our eyelashes are too close to our eyes for us to see them, and the far reaches of space are too remote to be visible. In the same way, it is hard for us to believe and accept that the world of Buddhahood also exists within the world of humanity.

The Daishonin acknowledges the fact that some may question how the supremely noble state of Buddhahood could possibly exist in the lives of ordinary people steeped in the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness.[5] In other words, it is quite difficult for most people to accept the truth that Buddhahood—the same unsurpassed life state of the Buddha—could in fact exist within the mortal body (lives) of ordinary people burdened with problems and sufferings.

The most difficult aspect of the principle of the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds [6] is being convinced that the world of Buddhahood is contained within the world of humanity—namely, that it exists right here in our lives, in our ordinary bodies and hearts. (The Teachings for Victory, vol, 6, p. 62)

Suggested Questions:
1) What does this passage mean to you?
2) How do you find Buddhahood amid your problems and sufferings?

Activity for Future Division Members!
1) Create a drawing that relates to the passage; OR write briefly what this passage means to you.
2) Share what you created or wrote at the meeting!

References

  1. Ananda: One of Shakyamuni’s ten major disciples who was known as the foremost in hearing and memorizing the Buddha’s teachings. ↩︎
  2. See Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya (Boston: Wisdom Publishing, 2000), “Maggasamyutta” [2 (2) Half the Holy Life], 1524. ↩︎
  3. See “Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 598. ↩︎
  4. See “Why No Protection from the Heavenly Gods?,” WND-2, 432. ↩︎
  5. Three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness: Fundamental evils inherent in life that give rise to suffering. They pollute people’s lives, preventing them from turning their hearts to goodness. ↩︎
  6. Mutual Possession of the Ten Worlds: The principle that each of the Ten Worlds possesses the potential for all ten within itself. It teaches that we can manifest any of the Ten Worlds, from hell to Buddhahood, at any given moment. ↩︎

District Study Meeting Material

The Wisdom of Buddhist Humanism