NORTHRIDGE, Calif., April 26— What is true equality?

The Buddhists for World Peace club at Cal State Northridge hosted an intro-to-Buddhism meeting that explored this topic.

The student campus club welcomed nearly 80 members and guests to the event, held in collaboration with the SGI-USA Courageous Freedom Group, which comprises LGBTQ members. They were joined by SGI-USA General Director Adin Strauss and Courageous Freedom Group Men’s Leader Alex Boling.

“The ‘invisible arrow’ of evil is not to be found in the existence of races and classes external to ourselves but is embedded in our hearts.”

The discussion centered on the Buddhist perspective of equality using Nichiren Daishonin’s analogy of the “cherry, plum, peach and damson” blossoms (see The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 200). Just as each blossom displays its own unique color and fragrance, this concept expounds the fundamental equality of life based on the belief that everyone—just as they are, without having to change their form or character—has the innate potential to attain enlightenment.

The talk then turned to SGI President Ikeda’s 1993 Harvard lecture “Mahayana Buddhism and Twenty-First-Century Civilization,” in which he discussed the root cause for upheaval, conflict and war: intolerance arising from “an unreasoning emphasis on individual differences” found in the “invisible arrow” of “a prejudicial mindset.”

President Ikeda goes on to say: “The ‘invisible arrow’ of evil is not to be found in the existence of races and classes external to ourselves but is embedded in our hearts. The conquest of our own prejudicial thinking, our own attachment to difference, is the necessary precondition for open dialogue. Such discussion, in turn, is essential for the establishment of peace and universal respect for human rights” ( My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 340).

General Director Strauss emphasized that Buddhahood is not found somewhere outside of us, but is a state of life that we bring forth from within through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

“Nam-myoho-renge-kyo represents the intent of the Buddha, the name of the Buddha nature,” Mr. Strauss said. “The intent is to enable every person, without exception, to become happy.”

Royce Hall and Maya Ono contributed to this report.