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District Meeting

District Discussion Meeting Material

September 2023

Illustration by ArdeaA / Getty images

Please base your study for your monthly discussion meetings on:

1) Writings for Discussion Meetings (pp. 38–39)
2) Buddhist Concepts (pp. 40–41)
3) Material from any recent issue of the World Tribune or Living Buddhism

Have a great discussion meeting!

Persevere Through Everything With Faith

Writings for Discussion Meetings


Carry through with your faith in the Lotus Sutra. You cannot strike fire from flint if you stop halfway. Bring forth the great power of faith, and be spoken of by all the people of Kamakura, both high and low, or by all the people of Japan, as “Shijo Kingo, Shijo Kingo of the Lotus school!”

—“Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 319

Whether at home, work or in our community, we practice Buddhism to win.

In his letter to Shijo Kingo, titled “Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment,” Nichiren Daishonin offers two vital lessons for winning in daily life.

1) Decide to Win and Persevere in Faith

Nichiren writes, “You cannot strike fire from flint if you stop halfway.” Making a fire in his day required repeated effort and patience. If you gave up, you couldn’t get the fire going.

In the same way, to strike a happy life, we must “Bring forth the great power of faith” and continue in our Buddhist practice, no matter what.

So, how do we do this? We can experience incredible growth and fulfillment by persevering in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with joy, gratitude and determination; studying Buddhism and applying its principles to our lives; and talking with others about Buddhism.

Still, we may sometimes feel discouraged or want to give up. But it is at such crucial times that we must make up our minds and decide to continue moving forward and to win with faith. Ikeda Sensei says:

Happiness shines in a life state capable of overcoming any form of suffering or hardship and transforming it into joy. This is a state of genuine fulfillment. It is the ability to advance continuously, always creating value, never daunted by adversity.[1]

2) Act With Humanity, Integrity, Sincerity and Wisdom

Nichiren also encourages his disciple to “be spoken of by all … as ‘Shijo Kingo, Shijo Kingo of the Lotus school!’”—telling him to become a person praised by all.

“To become people of magnificent character, upstanding citizens in society, and loved and respected members of your families—this is the true goal of Buddhist practitioners,”[2] Sensei affirms.

Our efforts to contribute positively to our workplaces, relationships and day-to-day activities also express our faith and constitute Buddhist practice. Daily life is a training ground where we can apply what we gain from Buddhism and exemplify how to lead joyful, rewarding lives.

We find proof of our Buddhist practice in winning over our negativity, positively influencing those around us, gaining trust and becoming indispensable where we are. Ikeda Sensei says:

Winning trust in one’s workplace and community is a true expression of the Buddhist principles “faith equals daily life” and “Buddhism is manifested in society.” It is important that we always conduct ourselves with humanity and integrity, acting with utmost sincerity and wisdom based on faith in the Mystic Law. …

Gaining recognition that attests to the greatness of Nichiren Buddhism is a source of hope and inspiration that propels our movement forward.[3]

Our personal growth and ever-deepening humanity mark the genuine progress of our Soka movement to create a society of genuine respect and peace.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Be Your Best Self

Ikeda Sensei: Nichiren Daishonin was urging Shijo Kingo to not only fulfill his duties as a physician and a samurai warrior but to also win the admiration and praise of everyone in Japan as a follower of the Lotus school—in other words, the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin.

Nichiren is indicating that on the most fundamental level Shijo Kingo is a Bodhisattva of the Earth who has appeared in the Latter Day of the Law to lead all people to happiness. This is the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. Being a samurai warrior and a skilled physician are nothing but aspects of his essential mission. It is of course necessary for him to gain a good reputation as a warrior and a doctor. But if he should nonetheless forget his mission for kosen-rufu as a Bodhisattva of the Earth, his success in society would be as meaningless as a castle built on sand and a fatal reversal of priorities. It is most vital that he dedicates himself to kosen-rufu and become the best warrior, physician and person he can, winning the admiration of all for his character and abilities.[4]

Suggested Questions:

1) Is there a time you continued to chant and make efforts without giving up?

2) Do you have an experience in earning others’ trust?

Casting Off the Transient and Revealing the True

Buddhist Concepts

“For what reason have we been born? Why are we alive? When we deeply recognize our fundamental mission in life, we can bring forth immeasurably great power.”

—Ikeda Sensei[5]

Do you believe you’re a Buddha? Beliefs can shape our lives and behavior. Nichiren Buddhism offers a belief system grounded in seeing each person as worthy of the highest respect and having a unique mission to contribute to society’s greater good. As each of us strives to deepen our conviction in the worth and power of our lives, we can inspire countless others to open new paths forward.

The Lotus Sutra says that Buddhas exist for “one great reason alone”[6]—to demonstrate how to cultivate the Buddha wisdom we already possess. Vital to developing that wisdom is bravely facing things that trouble us. Of course, it’s not always easy, but that’s why we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—to find inspiration and courage. Tackling difficulties head-on helps us reveal our limitless courage, compassion and wisdom—our Buddhahood.

Nichiren Daishonin exemplified how to triumph over obstacles with resolve, dignity and compassion. He proved with his life the Buddhist principle of “casting off the transient and revealing the true”—while remaining an ordinary person, he revealed from within his true identity as a Buddha.

Let’s briefly look at this essential principle.

Revealing That All People Are Buddhas

In this principle of casting off the transient and revealing the true, the Chinese character for transient means “reflection” or “relic,” referring to superficial ideas people may believe about themselves. Casting off means discarding this superficial understanding. And revealing the true indicates bringing forth from within one’s true self—the life state of the Buddha.

Shakyamuni did this when he revealed in the Lotus Sutra’s 16th chapter, “Life Span of the Thus Come One,” that he did not first attain enlightenment while meditating under a bodhi tree as everyone had assumed. Instead, he had attained enlightenment in the immeasurable past (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 266). In other words, he asserts that he had been a Buddha all along and that the potential for Buddhahood has always existed in all people.

Nichiren Opened the Way for All

Nichiren Daishonin actualized this principle during the September 12, 1271, Tatsunokuchi Persecution. For 18 years, he had spread his teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the means for all people to attain Buddhahood. In the process, he faced ongoing opposition from the religious establishment and powerful political forces, overcoming one attack after another.

But by 1271, government authorities arrested him and attempted to behead him secretly in the middle of the night. With conviction in his Buddhahood, he faced his executioners unbowed. Just before the executioner’s sword swung down, a bright orb appeared in the night sky. Paired with this and Nichiren’s fearless spirit made the soldiers too afraid to continue. The authorities called off the execution and instead exiled him to Sado Island. He later reflected on the events:

On the twelfth day of the ninth month of last year, between the hours of the rat and the ox (11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.), this person named Nichiren was beheaded. It is his soul that has come to this island of Sado.[7]

Despite surviving execution, he says, “this person named Nichiren was beheaded,” a way to express that he cast off his transient identity at Tatsunokuchi.

“It is his soul that has come to this island of Sado” indicates that, while remaining an ordinary person, he revealed his true identity as a Buddha of limitless joy.

Crucially, Nichiren did not become some transcendent, superhuman spiritual being. He remained an ordinary person who demonstrated that with belief in one’s Buddhahood, anyone can reveal their most tremendous potential just as they are. On this point, Ikeda Sensei says:

The Daishonin manifested the Buddha of limitless joy as none other than an ordinary person. If we overlook this point, then we may incorrectly conclude that attaining Buddhahood means becoming something superior to and distinct from human beings. Nichiren Daishonin did not give up his life as an ordinary person. Rather, he brilliantly manifested the eternal Buddha within his life as an ordinary person.[8]

We Can Exude the Same Life State as Nichiren

This principle applies equally to us. Sensei explains:

When we dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu, overcoming painful suffering and persevering in faith, we, too, can actualize the principle of “casting off the transient and revealing the true.” As ordinary people, we can bring forth the same life state of Buddhahood as Nichiren Daishonin.[9]

Shakyamuni and Nichiren exemplify ordinary people leading enlightened and victorious lives. By deepening our conviction in our Buddhahood and working toward a worthy purpose for the greater good, we can cast off our weaknesses and negative self-images, inspire those around us and reveal the “immeasurably great power” of our true selves.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Suggested Questions:

1) Can you share an experience of polishing your strengths by facing obstacles head-on?

2) How has Buddhist practice helped deepen your sense of mission in life?

From the September 2023 Living Buddhism


  1. The Teachings for Victory, vol. 7, pp. 5–6. ↩︎
  2. My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 355. ↩︎
  3. February 4, 2015, Seikyo Shimbun. ↩︎
  4. The New Human Revolution, vol. 22, pp. 298–99. ↩︎
  5. The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, revised edition, p. 159. ↩︎
  6. The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 64. ↩︎
  7. “The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 269. ↩︎
  8. The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, revised edition, p. 155. ↩︎
  9. Ibid. ↩︎

District Study Meeting Material

Key Passages From The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings (Part 1)