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District Meeting

District Discussion Meeting Material

August 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: ‘Bringing Forth the Power to
Change Poison Into Medicine

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


  1. Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can transform the poison of the “three paths” into the medicine of the “three virtues.”
  2. By chanting and tapping the Mystic Law, we can draw forth the limitless power we inherently possess to change poison into medicine.
  3. In dedicating ourselves to advancing kosen-rufu, we can learn to recognize our sufferings as opportunities for growth, reveal our innate Buddhahood and establish an indestructible state of happiness.

2. What It Means to Change Poison Into Medicine

What is the poison? It is the three paths of earthly desires, karma and suffering that are our lot. What is the medicine? It is the Dharma body, wisdom and emancipation. And what does it mean to change poison into medicine? It means to transform the three paths into the three virtues: the Dharma body, wisdom and emancipation.

—Nichiren Daishonin, “What It Means to Hear the Buddha Vehicle,”
The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 743

3. Transforming the Three Paths Into the Three Virtues

Chanting enables us to break the cycle of the three paths by revealing our enlightenment (the Dharma body) endowed with wisdom and to take compassionate action that frees ourselves and others (emancipation) from suffering.

4. Hardships Are Springboards to Absolute Happiness

When we believe with unshakable certainty in our innate power to “change poison into medicine”—the power to turn any hardship into a springboard to absolute happiness—we have nothing to fear. The Mystic Law is the fundamental principle that allows us to draw forth the limitless power we inherently possess.

—Ikeda Sensei, SGI President Ikeda’s Study Lecture Series on “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” p. 128

5. Advancing Kosen-rufu Leads to Living the Best Life

As long as we have the spirit of faith to dedicate our lives to advancing kosen-rufu, everything that happens to us will become our benefit without fail. Though we may not realize it while it’s happening, gradually our lives enter a path where all wishes are fulfilled and we can honestly say, “Everything that I’ve gone through has really been for the best.”

—Ikeda Sensei, A Foundation for Your Life, p. 149

Suggested Questions:
1) How has this concept of changing poison into medicine helped you shift the way you view hardships?
2) Can you share an experience of transforming a difficulty (poison) into a benefit (medicine)?

Option #2: Embracing the Object of Devotion
for Observing the Mind

Nichiren Daishonin states in “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind”: “Shakyamuni’s practices and the virtues he consequently attained are all contained within the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. If we believe in these five characters, we will naturally be granted the same benefits as he was” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 365). The practices to attain Buddhahood carried out by Shakyamuni and all Buddhas throughout time and space, and the virtues they acquired as a result, are all contained in Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is the principle that “embracing the Gohonzon is in itself observing one’s own mind” (i.e. attaining enlightenment). …

[This principle] represents a revolutionary view of what it means to attain Buddhahood. President Toda said, “In contrast to the Buddhas of the ‘Expedient Means’ chapter who have practiced for tens of millions of years, we can complete our practice for attaining Buddhahood by simply believing in the Gohonzon and chanting the single phrase Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.”

There is immeasurable benefit in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo even just once. Instantaneously, we gain all the benefit the Buddhas acquired over many lifetimes of practice. That’s how great the Mystic Law is. …

We can attain this vast state of Buddhahood directly—right now, right where we are. Then we go out into society and tell others of this exhilarating state of life we experience. …

•   •   •

Buddhist practice has to be carried out with determination and courage. When we challenge ourselves bravely with the spirit to accomplish more today than yesterday and more tomorrow than today, we are truly practicing. Without such a brave and vigorous spirit, we cannot break the iron shackles of destiny, nor can we defeat obstacles and devils. Our daily prayers are dramas of challenging and creating something new in our lives. When we bravely stand up with faith, the darkness of despair and anxiety vanishes from our hearts and in pours the light of hope and growth. This spirit to stand up courageously is the spirit of faith. …

•   •   •

When we have a brave and vigorous spirit of faith, we instantaneously manifest the life state of the Buddha. This is what “embracing the Gohonzon is in itself observing one’s own mind” means. (The Heart of the Lotus Sutra, pp. 42–45)

Suggested Questions:
1) Ikeda Sensei says we can bring forth “the vast state of Buddhahood directly—right now, right where we are.” What are your thoughts or experiences on this point?
2) How has chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo helped you face your challenges and create something new in your life?

Option #3: Buddhism Is Conveyed Through
Our Humanistic Behavior

“The heart of the Buddha’s lifetime of teachings is the Lotus Sutra, and the heart of the practice of the Lotus Sutra is found in the “Never Disparaging” chapter. What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being.”

—“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, pp. 851–52

This August 24 marks 75 years since Ikeda Sensei began his Buddhist practice. Ten days prior, he had met Josei Toda for the first time at a Soka Gakkai discussion meeting.

Their first encounter epitomizes the message of the above passage from “The Three Kinds of Treasure” in which Nichiren Daishonin teaches that the greatness of Buddhism is conveyed through the humanistic behavior of those who embrace it. Sensei recalls that it was Mr. Toda’s humanity and sincerity that inspired him to join the Soka Gakkai:

I did not fully comprehend the profound teachings of Buddhism. My family was strongly opposed to my decision. But transcending these surface problems, I was deeply drawn to the character of President Toda.

He believed in me, saying: “Do not hesitate! Challenge yourself with me! Study and courageously practice, as befits a youth!”

And I, with the intuition of youth, was convinced that I could follow this man who had been imprisoned during the war for the sake of peace and Buddhism. (November 29, 2002, World Tribune, p. 2)

Today, many people may never meet Sensei in person. Yet we can still “meet” him through his prolific writings into which he has poured his life. The New Human Revolution, in particular, is a work brimming with his resolve:

Calling to mind my precious fellow members in Japan and around the world striving so earnestly in faith, I tapped the deepest recesses of my being to write my tale, as if I were sending a letter of encouragement to each one of them. At the same time, I was also engaging in an inner dialogue with my mentor as I wrote. His voice would echo in my mind, urging me to transmit the Soka Gakkai spirit for posterity and fulfill my mission in this life. (March 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 14)

By uniting with our mentor, who faithfully embodies the humanistic principles of Buddhism, we can transform our lives while spreading Buddhism to create a world of equality, respect and peace.

Suggested Questions:
1) Who inspired you to begin practicing Buddhism or what was your first encounter with Buddhism?
2) Is there a passage from Nichiren’s writings or Ikeda Sensei’s guidance that you are applying to your challenges?

District Study Meeting Material

The Wisdom of Buddhist Humanism—No More Nukes