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District Meeting

District Discussion Meeting Material

September 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: Always Put Prayer First

The numbered boxes correspond to the PowerPoint slides for the September 2022 discussion meeting. The full PowerPoint and script can be found at


  1. Consistently chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the most essential aspect of our Buddhist practice, helps us bring forth the power to win over our doubt, anxiety and negativity.
  2. While Nichiren Daishonin assures us that our prayers will be answered, how we pray can make a big difference.
  3. Let’s keep chanting each day, no matter what, determined to remain undefeated by the challenges of life.


“Doubt is the source of fundamental delusion in life; it is what Buddhism calls fundamental darkness. It gives rise to anxiety and drags us into the depths of despair. Faith, meanwhile, is the struggle against the doubt that resides within our hearts. The power to win in that struggle comes from chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. A true champion is therefore someone who puts prayer first.”

—Ikeda Sensei, The New Human Revolution, vol. 17, p. 276


“The prayers offered by a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra will be answered just as an echo answers a sound, as a shadow follows a form, as the reflection of the moon appears in clear water, as a mirror collects dewdrops, as a magnet attracts iron, as amber attracts particles of dust, or as a clear mirror reflects the color of an object.”

—Nichiren Daishonin, “On Prayer,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 340


While there isn’t one way to pray, try to avoid prayer that:

·  ignores self-transformation
·  lacks clear focus and resolve
·  waits for external salvation
·  abandons challenges out of fear or to escape reality
· expects benefits to magically appear without effort

Instead, effective prayer focuses on:

·  carrying out our human revolution
·  strengthening our vow
· deepening our resolve and conviction
· activating the Buddha nature in ourselves, others and society

—See The Teachings for Victory, vol. 2, pp. 134–35


“Rouse faith in the Gohonzon and chant with the spirit ‘I won’t be defeated!’ If we can do that, the courage to face our troubles will well up from within. We’ll be invigorated and filled with joy. …

“Chant intensely every day, whether others are noticing or not—that’s the driving force for everything.”

—Ikeda Sensei, The New Human Revolution, vol. 23, p. 317

Suggested Questions:
1) When you’re struggling to chant, what helps you regain the ability to put prayer first?
2) What is your greatest benefit from chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo?

Option #2: ‘Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment’

In a sense, life is a series of difficulties. No life is without its problems. But happiness is not merely the absence of suffering.

Happiness shines in a life state capable of overcoming any form of suffering or hardship and transforming it into joy. This is a state of genuine fulfillment. It is the ability to advance continuously, always creating value, never daunted by adversity.

Buddhism enables us to achieve a better life, a life of complete satisfaction, while accumulating treasures of the heart that will endure forever.

Mr. Toda aptly described this state, in which living itself is a joy, as absolute happiness.[1]

•   •   •

Nichiren Daishonin states in a … passage in this writing [“Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment”]: “These are teachings of prime importance. These are also what is called ‘earthly desires are enlightenment’ and the ‘sufferings of birth and death are nirvana’” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 318). The principles that “earthly desires are enlightenment” and the “sufferings of birth and death are nirvana” are inherent in the practice of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the fundamental Law enabling all to attain enlightenment, the Daishonin is saying.

“Earthly desires are enlightenment” (Jpn bonno soku bodai) means that the enlightened wisdom needed for attaining Buddhahood manifests within the lives of living beings, which are dominated by the delusion caused by earthly desires. The “sufferings of birth and death are nirvana” (Jpn shoji soku nehan) means that the state of true ease and tranquility (nirvana) attained by the Buddha is also manifested in the lives of living beings, who are buffeted by the sufferings of birth and death.

The word are (Jpn soku) in these two principles doesn’t mean that such opposites as earthly desires and enlightenment are equal. Nichiren writes that the single word soku corresponds to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (see The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 72). In our lives, as we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and dedicate ourselves to the Mystic Law, we transform delusion into enlightenment, and transform the chains of the suffering of birth, aging, sickness and death into a state of complete freedom imbued with the four noble virtues of eternity, happiness, true self and purity. There is surely no system of practice more dynamic, no philosophy that offers such unsurpassed hope.

All of our admirable SGI members are already upholding this great teaching of universal enlightenment capable of transforming the reality of their daily lives.[2]

Suggested Questions:
1) How has chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo helped you positively transform your earthly desires, delusions and sufferings?
2) Considering the concepts above, how can you tackle your current challenges?

Option #3: Creating Our Happiness Amid Challenges

“A hundred years of practice in the Land of Perfect Bliss cannot compare to the benefit gained from one day’s practice in the impure world. Two thousand years of propagating Buddhism during the Former and Middle Days of the Law are inferior to an hour of propagation in the Latter Day of the Law. This is in no way because of Nichiren’s wisdom, but simply because the time makes it so.”

—“On Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 736


“On Repaying Debts of Gratitude” is an important work that Nichiren Daishonin composed upon the death of Dozen-bo, the teacher of his youth, to express his gratitude to him. Nichiren explains that, as a young boy seeking the Buddha way, he vowed to become a wise person who understood the essence of the Buddha’s teachings and to save all people from suffering. He established the practice and teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and laid the solid foundation for kosen-rufu into the eternal future. This constituted the fulfillment of his fundamental vow and the greatest way to repay his gratitude to his late teacher.

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance:

The teachings of the Pure Land school, which were prevalent in [Nichiren’s] day, deplored the saha world, regarding it as the “impure world.” The school taught that through the exclusive practice of Nembutsu—that is, chanting the name of Amida Buddha—believers would be reborn in the Pure Land of Perfect Bliss … where they could practice in ease and comfort and attain Buddhahood.

But such an ideal place is no more than a fantasy. We have no choice but to carve open and create the way to happiness right here and now, in this world of suffering where we live.

The Daishonin rejected as no more than a temporary palliative any belief or philosophy that encouraged resignation and escapism. He insisted that the correct practice for the Latter Day of the Law is to strive right here, amid the real challenges of this saha world. This is the fundamental way for people to become happy.

The practice of propagating Buddhism originally constitutes the “Buddha’s work,” a Buddhist practice that cannot be accomplished without compassion. But it is actually very difficult for us ordinary people to bring forth such compassion. That’s why Mr. Toda taught that we can substitute courage for compassion. And taking his guidance to heart, our members have courageously gone out among the people, into society, to spread Nichiren Buddhism.

Each day that we strive in our Buddhist practice in the impure world, dedicating our lives to sharing Buddhism with others, allows us to accumulate unsurpassed benefit, write a golden record of human revolution and shine with supreme treasures of the heart. (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 7, p. 114)

Suggested Questions:
1) What tools of faith help you strive in your daily life amid challenges?
2) What does “substituting courage for compassion” look like for you and in helping others?


  1. The Teachings for Victory, vol. 7, pp. 5–6. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., pp. 8–9. ↩︎

District Study Meeting Material

The Wisdom of Buddhist Humanism—No More Nukes