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District Study Meeting Material

All illustrations by ArdeaA / Getty images

The study material below is adapted from The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace by Ikeda Sensei. You can purchase the revised edition of part one at bookstore.sgi-usa.org.

OPTION #1: Developing Your Own Individuality [6.5]

Chapter 6: The Principle of ‘Cherry, Plum, Peach and Damson’

Genuine individuality isn’t just a matter of style or outward appearance; it emanates from the inside out.

Someone has said that your individuality is a singular treasure that only you possess. It may be difficult for you to know exactly what that treasure is right now, but you definitely possess such a treasure, which you share with no one else. Each and every one of you does, with absolutely no exception! …

Of course, even when trying to “be themselves,” there are many people who don’t know what that means. That’s quite natural. In fact, all too often what people think of as being true to themselves or exercising their individuality is something they have borrowed or copied from others. That’s why, if you think who you are right now is all there is to you, you are very much mistaken. Human beings have the capacity to change. Who you are now is really no more than the starting point for an even more wonderful you in the future.

Telling yourself, for instance, “I’m a poor speaker, so I’ll stay in the background,” is not living true to yourself. Instead, suppose you earnestly challenge yourself with the spirit to become a person who, though maybe not naturally a good talker, can bravely speak out and stop someone from bullying another, or can speak up for what’s right at a crucial moment. Then, by making that kind of effort, your own unique character will shine in a way that is different from those who are naturally good speakers. That will be your individuality.

Your individuality only really starts to shine when you strive with all your might, challenging yourself with every last ounce of your energy. It won’t if you don’t develop yourself. Only through making efforts to improve and grow will your individuality shine—just as a sword is forged in the flames. Your individuality is your own unique weapon for making the most of your life. It is your jeweled sword. …

People who have worked hard and long to develop their own identities take delight in seeing others develop theirs to the fullest, too. They support and encourage them in their efforts. They take joy in others’ successes. And they have the capacity to work for the happiness and welfare of others.

Suggested Questions:
1) Which part of this material resonated with you?
2) Sensei says we make our individuality shine “only through making efforts to improve and grow.” What qualities do you want to develop in this way?


OPTION #2: Be a Shining Presence Like the Sun [6.6]

Chapter 6: The Principle of ‘Cherry, Plum, Peach and Damson’

When you live in a way that is true to yourself, your real value as a human being shines through. Buddhism teaches the concept of “illuminating and manifesting one’s true nature” (see “The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 746). This means to reveal your genuine innate self, your true inherent potential, and bring it to shine, illuminating all around you. It refers to your most refined individuality and uniqueness.

The important thing is to be patient, to have the confidence and determination that you will achieve something meaningful in the future. Don’t be impatient in your youth. Your true substance as human beings will be determined 10, 20 or 30 years from now. What matters is the kind of people you become then and whether you are fulfilling your mission then. Each of you has a mission that only you can fulfill. If you did not have such a mission, you would not have been born. …

You won’t find your mission by standing still. Please challenge yourselves in something, it doesn’t matter what. Then, by your making consistent efforts, the direction you should take will open up before you quite naturally. It’s important, therefore, to have the courage to ask yourselves what you should be doing now, at this very moment.

The key, in other words, is to climb the mountain before you. As you ascend its slopes, you will develop your “muscles,” increasing your strength and endurance. Such training will enable you to challenge still higher mountains. It is vital that you continue making such efforts. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will enable you to bring forth the life force necessary to succeed.

Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and climb the mountain in front of you. When you reach the summit, wide new horizons will stretch out before you. Little by little, you will understand your own mission. …

The important thing, therefore, is to resolve to be a shining presence like the sun. If you do so, all darkness will be dispelled. Live confidently, determined to be the sun in your environment, no matter what happens.

Of course, in life, there are both sunny days and cloudy ones. But even on cloudy days, the sun still shines. The same is true for people. Even when we are struggling, we mustn’t let the light go out in our hearts.

Suggested Questions:
1) Which part of this material resonated with you?
2) What are you challenging right now? How do you maintain a positive attitude amid challenges?

Encountering Great Obstacles is Proof of Propagating the Correct Teaching for Attaining Buddhahood in the Latter Day of the Law

District Discussion Meeting Material