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District Meeting

District Study Meeting Material

November 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: Treasuring the People Right in Front of Us [7.4]

Chapter 7: Happiness for Both Ourselves and Others

Today, I would like to share with you one of [Leo Tolstoy’s] stories, titled “Three Questions.”

The story concerns an emperor who, in directing the affairs of state, finds himself wondering about three questions.

The first question is, When is the best time to start a task? How do I know the right time for every action, so that I have no regrets?

The second question is, What kind of person do I need most? What kind of person should I pay attention to?

The third question is, What affairs or tasks are the most important?

The emperor very much wants to know the answers to these questions, because he is sure that if he has the answers, he will be able to succeed in everything he does. …

In the end the emperor gains the true answers to his questions from a sage who lives among the people.

This wise man replies that the most important time is now, this very moment; the most important person is the one in front of you right now; and the most important task is doing good to others, caring about others’ happiness.

This moment, this instant is important, not some unknown time in the future. Today, this very day, is what matters. We must put our entire beings into the present—for future victory is contained in this moment.

Likewise, we do not need to look for special people in some far-off place. People are not made important simply by virtue of their power, learning, fame or riches. The most important people are those in our immediate environment right now. They are the people we must value. Wise individuals consider the unique characteristics of those around them and make it possible for them to bring out their full potential. This is also the way to win the trust and respect of everyone. …

It is not important whether you are unknown or unremarkable in the world’s eyes. What matters is that you know you have done your best, in a way that is true to yourself, for the sake of others, for your friends and for people in society at large. Those who can declare that with confidence are champions of the human spirit, champions of life.

Suggested Questions:
1) How can we apply the lessons of this story?
2) In Buddhism, how do we accumulate good fortune and happiness?

OPTION #2: A Shared Tradition of Studying the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin [19.3]

Chapter 7: Happiness for Both Ourselves and Others

“What defines a practitioner?”—Founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi wrote these words firmly in the margin of his personal copy of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings. On the same page, he had underlined in red a passage from “The Opening of the Eyes”: “If there exists a votary [or practitioner] of the Lotus Sutra, then the three types of enemies are bound to exist as well” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 278).

As practice progresses, devilish functions arise. They invariably assail those who genuinely uphold the Buddha’s teachings. Battling those devilish functions is what defines a votary, or practitioner, of the Lotus Sutra, and also a Buddha. Mr. Makiguchi grasped this core truth of Buddhism. For this reason, when devilish functions took root within the priesthood, he recognized them for what they were and fought resolutely against them.

Further, during his some 500 days of imprisonment for his beliefs, he declared serenely that everything was unfolding exactly in accord with the Daishonin’s writings.

We study the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism in order to be able to discern the workings of the devilish functions. In that sense, Buddhist study is a “sword” with which we can battle negative functions.

While in prison, Mr. Makiguchi read the Daishonin’s writings with his very life. In doing so, he provided the Soka Gakkai with a model for the eternal future.

He marked the words “Here I will make a great vow” (WND-1, 280) from “The Opening of the Eyes” with a double underline, and beside them inscribed in large characters the words, “Great Vow.”

Because he died in prison, it might be thought that Mr. Makiguchi’s life ended in tragedy, but today countless people around the world are unstinting in their praise for his life and his commitment to that “great vow.”

Let us continue to forge ahead boldly on our path of eternal honor based on the Daishonin’s writings and carrying on the Daishonin’s spirit, just like Mr. Makiguchi did.

Suggested Questions:
1) Which Gosho passage helps you battle devilish functions?
2) What is your favorite Gosho passage? How have you applied this passage to your life?

Fostering ‘Human Flowers’

District Discussion Meeting Material