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District Meeting

District Study Meeting Material

August 2022

Illustration 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

OPTION #1: Building a Harmonious World of Brilliant Diversity [6.9]

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

In his 1995 lecture at the East-West Center in Hawaii, Ikeda Sensei discusses Buddhism’s respect for diversity and affirmation of the worth of all people.

In the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, we find the passage, “The cherry, the plum, the peach, the damson … without undergoing any change. … ” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 200). These words confirm that there is no need for all to become “cherries” or “plums,” but that each should manifest the unique brilliance of his or her own character.

This simile points to a fundamental principle of appreciation for diversity that applies equally to human beings and to social and natural environments. As 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) indicates, the prime mission of Buddhism is to enable each and all to blossom to the fullest of their potential. The fulfillment of the individual, however, cannot be realized in conflict with, or at the expense of, others, but only through active appreciation of uniqueness and difference, for these are the varied hues that together weave the flower gardens of life.

Nichiren’s teachings also contain the following parable: When you face a mirror and bow respectfully, the image in the mirror likewise bows to you respectfully (see OTT, 165).

I think this beautifully expresses the all-encompassing causality that is the heart of Buddhism. The respect we demonstrate for the lives of others returns to us, with mirror-like certainty, ennobling our lives.

The Buddhist principle of dependent origination reflects a cosmology in which all human and natural phenomena come into existence within a matrix of interrelatedness.

Thus, we are urged to respect the uniqueness of each existence, which supports and nourishes all within the larger, living whole.

Suggested Questions:
1) Which part of this material resonated with you?
2) What does it mean to you to develop an “active appreciation” of the people and things around you?

OPTION #2: The Wisdom for Fostering the
Positive Potential in All People [6.10]

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

The teachings of Buddhism employ the analogy of flowering fruit trees—cherry, plum, peach and damson—each blossoming and bearing fruit in its own unique way, to express the value of diversity. Each living thing, in other words, has a distinct character, individuality and purpose in this world. Accordingly, people should develop their own unique capabilities as they work to build a world of cooperation where all people acknowledge both their differences and their fundamental equality, a world where a rich diversity of peoples and cultures is nourished, each enjoying respect and harmony. …

Soon after World War II, as the East-West ideological confrontation escalated, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda spoke of the underlying unity of the human race, calling for the realization of a “global family.” His appeal grew from the same roots as what today is called “world citizenship” and sought to transcend the constraints of self-centered and bigoted nationalism. There are, of course, those who believe a clash of civilizations to be unavoidable. My view is that such a clash would not occur between civilizations, but between the savage elements that lurk within each civilization. If people from different cultural traditions are willing to work over time to build tolerant and enduring links, rather than indulging in the temptation to dominate and forcibly influence others, the very nature of culture is such that humanity will be enriched by their interaction, and their differences will give birth to new values.

The role of religion must be to provide the wisdom that can propel the effort toward mutual development and improvement. In this connection, Buddhism teaches that one meaning of myo (mystic) is “to open” (see “The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 145). The constant seeking after improvement and growth, the desire to open up latent potentialities, is a special characteristic of human life. What is urgently sought today is religion that responds to this desire for growth and fulfillment. …

A hopeful future can be opened up by overcoming what Toda criticized as narrow self-centeredness and by promoting the humanitarian competition that founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi advocated, the shared work of value-creation among people committed to living together as global neighbors. Indeed, this is the core objective of the SGI’s movement of what we call “human revolution.”

Suggested Questions:
1) Which part of this material resonated with you?
2) What enables you to keep seeking improvement, growth and a growing awareness of our interconnectedness with others?

Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism: Wisdom for Realizing Happiness for All Humanity

District Discussion Meeting Material