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District Meeting

District Discussion Meeting Material

June 2023

Illustration by ArdeaA / Getty images

Please base your study for your monthly discussion meetings on:

1) Writings for Discussion Meetings (pp. 40–41)
2) Buddhist Concepts (pp. 42–43)
3) Material from any recent issue of the World Tribune or Living Buddhism

Have a great discussion meeting!

Our Strong, Vibrant Prayers Move the Universe

Writings for Discussion Meetings


The neighing of the white horses is the sound of our voices chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. When Brahma, Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, the four heavenly kings, and the others hear this sound, how could they fail to take on a healthy color and shine with a brilliant light? How could they fail to guard and protect us? We should be firmly convinced of this!

—“King Rinda,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, pp. 989–90

The Awesome Power of Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

Seeing all the world’s troubles today can easily make us lose hope. The problems seem so big, complex and intractable. What can one person do, after all?

A lot, actually. Nichiren Buddhism teaches that we share deep connections with the people and environment around us. So, as we change, we transform all conflict and suffering into the catalyst for creating peace, hope and prosperity.

Nichiren Daishonin and the Japanese nation also faced looming issues. For instance, around 1279, a possible second invasion by the powerful Mongols racked society with fear and anxiety. In his letters at the time, Nichiren sought to strike fear from his disciples’ hearts. In “King Rinda,” he writes the above passage. He refers to the parable of King Rinda to convey to his disciple Soya Doso the revitalizing and protective power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The parable goes something like this:[1]

Long ago, there lived a great ruler named King Rinda, who loved his white horses. Hearing them neigh energized him, and his country, in turn, flourished. But the horses only neighed when they saw white swans. One day, all the swans disappeared, the horses stopped neighing, and the king’s life force waned. The kingdom declined, and foreign nations invaded. Non-Buddhist teachers prayed to bring the swans back but to no avail. Then, Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha came along and prayed to all the Buddhas in the ten directions. Suddenly, swans reappeared, and the horses, filled with joy, began to neigh again. The king’s strength came back a hundred, a thousand times greater than before, the people rejoiced, and the land became peaceful and thrived.

Nichiren goes on to recount how Japan flourished for a time. Erroneous teachings spread, and the land declined as the rulers and people allowed the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness to warp their minds.

But now, he says, because he and his disciples are chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the protective forces will take on “a healthy color” and “shine with a brilliant light” to protect the land.

In the parable, the neighing of the horses represents our chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. When we chant, we call forth the highest life state of Buddhahood within us, those around us and our surroundings. Ikeda Sensei says:

Our practice of gongyo and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo represents a sublime ceremony in which we bring the microcosm of our lives into harmony with the fundamental rhythm of the macrocosm, the universe. … How awesome is the power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! All of the protective functions become our allies. That is why we have the ability and mission to guide humanity to happiness.[2]

Aligned With the Mystic Law, We Have Nothing to Fear

Related to the neighing horses representing our voices chanting, Sensei says, “We should always try to chant resoundingly, with a vibrant and vigorous rhythm like that of a galloping horse.”[3]

As Nichiren says in the passage we’re studying, we rouse protection from Brahma, Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, the four heavenly kings and others through our prayers. These heavenly deities symbolize the support we get from the people around us and society and the protective functions in our environment.

King Rinda’s story speaks to the profound interconnectedness of all things. As Sensei says:

Through earnest prayer, we can transform anyone and everything around us into positive functions that will definitely support and protect us. The wise and courageous champions of Soka who strive for kosen-rufu aligned with the Mystic Law have nothing to fear. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the driving force for making the impossible possible.[4]

When facing troubles in our lives and the world, the most important thing we can do is chant to strengthen our life force and that of others and continue sharing our empowering Buddhist practice with those around us.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Suggested Questions:

1) Can you share an experience of how refreshing your determination improved a situation?

2) How has chanting revitalized your life and impacted the people around you?

Cherry, Plum, Peach and Damson: Every Person Is a Unique Treasure

Buddhist Concepts

Differences among people often create conflict. Sometimes we struggle with those who appear to us as weird or even evil. And maybe sometimes we’re the one who feels different from others, struggling to accept ourselves for who we are.

Buddhism has long taught, however, that each person is a treasure with something unique to contribute to the world. And embracing and respecting each person’s uniqueness starts us on the path of creating a harmonious and peaceful society. This is the uplifting message of the Buddhist principle of “cherry, plum, peach and damson.”

Nichiren Daishonin uses the metaphor of these flowers to emphasize the importance of respecting diversity. Cherries don’t hate plums or get frightened by peaches. Each flower blossoms as only they can.

Sure, we sometimes get stressed out by our own or others’ shortcomings. But with Buddhist practice, we can take our worries about such things to the Gohonzon and learn to be true to ourselves. All our problems can become opportunities to strengthen our character and resolve.

Ikeda Sensei writes:

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. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, revised edition, p. 220)

We all possess the highest life condition of Buddhahood, and we can bring it forth uniquely by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

“Not only will chanting give you a wonderful, fundamental self-confidence,” Sensei says, “it will also adorn and dignify your life with the brilliance of your true and highest potential” (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, revised edition, pp. 207–08). Moreover, when we truly appreciate and embrace the uniqueness and differences of others, we become the catalyst for harmony amid diversity in our society.

Buddhism Is All-Inclusive

Nichiren uses this flower metaphor to explain that each person has a noble Buddha nature. He says:

When one comes to realize and see that each thing—the cherry, the plum, the peach, the damson—in its own entity, without undergoing any change, possesses the eternally endowed three bodies, then this is what is meant by the word ryo, “to include” or all-inclusive.

Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are the original possessors of these eternally endowed three bodies [of the Buddha]. (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, pp. 200–01)

“Without undergoing any change,” he teaches, we are endowed with the “eternally endowed three bodies” of the Buddha. So just as we are, we possess these three bodies, or qualities, of a Buddha:

The Dharma body: the essential nature of a Buddha awakened to the truth or Law that leads all people to enlightenment

The reward body: the spiritual property of a Buddha who has the wisdom—a reward or benefit of ceaseless Buddhist practice—to perceive the truth or Law

The manifested body: the physical form that enables a Buddha to take compassionate action to lead others to enlightenment

Those who chant the Mystic Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo manifest inherent wisdom and compassion amid the realities of daily life. We don’t have to become something or someone else to reveal our enlightened nature.

The word ryo in the passage above means being inclusive of all people. Regarding this, Sensei says:

Through the workings of the eternally endowed three bodies of the Buddha in our lives, the individual differences we possess as human beings are turned into our unique positive characteristics. In this connection, the philosophy of human revolution—of each individual striving to realize this kind of fundamental inner transformation—will surely lead to elevating the life state of all humankind. (January 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 49)

We can all flourish in our own way, and with respect and compassion for the “varied hues” of others, we can “weave the flower gardens of life.”

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Suggested Questions:

1) How have you come to appreciate your unique qualities?

2) How can we develop our ability to appreciate others?

From the June 2023 Living Buddhism


  1. See the comic on p. 63. ↩︎
  2. The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, revised edition, p. 304. ↩︎
  3. On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 21. ↩︎
  4. June 30, 2016, Seikyo Shimbun. ↩︎

District Study Meeting Material

Great Path—Volume 28, Chapter 2