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District Meeting

District Discussion Meeting Material

October 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: 3 Keys to Never Being Defeated

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

1. Key Points

  1. Believe in yourself. Nichiren says, “When you chant myoho and recite renge, you must summon up deep faith that Myoho-renge-kyo is your life itself” (“On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 3).
  2. Courageously rise to every challenge. Not being defeated is a greater victory than winning.
  3. Find resilience in our network of support. In building a network of mutual support and encouragement, we can bring forth limitless hope and perseverance.

2. Believe in Yourself!

“The first key to maintaining an invincible spirit is believing in yourself—having absolute faith in your inherent Buddha nature. This is the primary requirement if we are to be dauntless practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.”

—Ikeda Sensei, November 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 48

3. Never Give Up

“[Shijo Kingo] is a manwho never gives in to defeat and who greatly values his friends.”

—Nichiren Daishonin, “On Prolonging One’s Life Span,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 955

4. Courageously Rise to Every Challenge

“Not being defeated, never giving up, is actually a greater victory than winning. Not being defeated means having the courage to rise to the challenge. However many times we’re knocked down, the important thing is that we keep getting up and taking one step—even a half-step—forward.”

—Ikeda Sensei, November 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 56

5. Find Resilience in Our Network of Support

“Where there is a network of people who encourage, protect and support one another, safe havens of hope that are undefeated by disasters will spread throughout society. And this will lead to the construction of a peaceful and prosperous society based on the life-affirming principles of Buddhism, and firmly grounded in the family and the community.

—Ikeda Sensei, Youth and the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 177

Suggested Questions:
1) How do you stay strong amid the challenges of life?
2) What challenges have you persevered through using your Buddhist practice?


Option #2: Changing Karma Into Mission

At the heart of the Buddhist view of changing karma lies the concept of “voluntarily assuming the appropriate karma.”

In “The Opening of the Eyes,” Nichiren Daishonin says that encountering persecution by the three powerful enemies[1] as a result of his efforts to widely propagate the Mystic Law matches the Lotus Sutra’s description of its votary in the Latter Day. He declares that he feels still greater joy in having been sentenced to exile on Sado.

The Daishonin fully understood that the great persecutions he was experiencing constituted hardships that he had wished for out of his desire to accomplish his mission. Because he was undergoing these difficulties in order to lead all people to enlightenment, he declared, they were a source of great joy.

He could only help the suffering people by actually sharing their trials and pains and then showing them as a fellow human being how to overcome those sufferings. Because the Daishonin waged such a monumental struggle, we regard him as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.

It is also here that we find the significance of the mentor-disciple relationship in Buddhism. The mentor in Buddhism is always someone who takes exemplary action and who leads a life of immense mission. The disciples earnestly learn from and strive to emulate the way of life of the mentor. It is by carrying out this practice in accord with the Buddha’s teaching that we come to grasp the Law with our lives. The mentor-disciple relationship is therefore the very heart of Buddhism. …

Through his struggles as one human being, the Daishonin taught us, the ordinary people of this evil age, the path for transforming our destiny. He revealed that even those who seem impossibly trapped in the chains of fate, from this standpoint, are actually leading lives for which they have “voluntarily assumed the appropriate karma.”

We all have our own karma or destiny, but when we look it square in the face and grasp its true significance, then any hardship can serve to help us lead richer and more profound lives. Our actions in challenging our destiny become examples and inspirations for countless others.

In other words, when we change our karma into mission, we transform our destiny from playing a negative role to a positive one. (See August 2003 Living Buddhism, pp. 49–50)

Suggested Questions:
1) How can you apply the idea of changing karma into mission to your life?
2) How does learning from Nichiren’s writings and example help you overcome your challenges?


Option #3: Chanting ‘Revolutionizes’ Our Minds

“[The Vimalakirti Sutra] states that, if the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.”

—“On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 4

Background:

This letter was written to Toki Jonin in 1255, just two years after Nichiren Daishonin first established his teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. In it, he discusses the profound significance of chanting and the fundamentals of a correct practice: consistent chanting and deep faith that our lives are the Mystic Law. Strengthening both helps us reveal our Buddhahood in this lifetime.

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance:

Nichiren Buddhism is a philosophy that teaches changing the world by transforming our inner state of being. … The Daishonin is saying that our environment is not inherently either pure or impure. What makes it one way or the other is whether the minds of the people residing there are pure or impure. In other words, the key to changing society lies in transforming, or “revolutionizing,” the minds of human beings.

Buddhism teaches that earthly desires—the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness inherent in human life—are the fundamental cause of unhappiness and suffering. Buddhahood is the underlying power of the universe that can vanquish these poisons. It is the highest and noblest state of life. Buddhism teaches that all people possess this life state within them.

The life state of Buddhahood, in short, is the function of supreme compassion and wisdom and the source of all life activity. Bringing forth our Buddhahood gives us the power to transcend the self that is controlled or swayed by desire and suffering, and establish our original, true self. …

What, then, is the means for achieving this? The Daishonin expressed the great life state of Buddhahood, which is one with the fundamental Law of the universe, in the form of the Gohonzon, the true object of devotion, for the sake of all humanity in the Latter Day of the Law. It is by believing in the Gohonzon and dedicating ourselves to the mission of helping all people achieve happiness that we bring forth the Buddhahood within our own lives. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, revised edition, pp. 3–4)

Suggested Questions:
1) How does this passage apply to your life?
2) How does chanting help you overcome the three poisons and “revolutionize” your mind?

References

  1. Three powerful enemies: Three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, described in “Encouraging Devotion,” the sutra’s 13th chapter. The Great Teacher Miao-lo summarizes them as arrogant lay people, arrogant priests and arrogant false sages. ↩︎

On Being Human

The Wisdom of Buddhist Humanism