Monthly Message from SGI President Ikeda

This monthly encouragement by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda was originally published in the November 2016 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

Photo: Seiko Press
Photo: Seiko Press

Conversation with good friends is one of life’s precious treasures. I am reminded of the words of the American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82): “Life would be twice or ten times life, if spent with wise and fruitful companions.”[1]

Buddhist sutras describe the Latter Day of the Law as “an age of quarrels and disputes” or “an age of conflict.” It is an evil age when there is ceaseless strife among people and beautiful human ties are torn apart by bitter rivalry and distortion of the truth.

Yet miraculously, in such an age, our SGI discussion meetings are creating spiritual oases brimming with trust and friendship around the globe.

Discussion meetings are a microcosm of world peace, a place where all can join together in joyful harmony, transcending differences of age, gender, social status, nationality and race.

In a letter addressed to his disciples during a time of harsh persecution, Nichiren Daishonin writes, “In this defiled age, you should always talk together and never cease to pray for your next life” (The Votary of the Lotus Sutra Will Meet Persecution,”The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 449). He repeats this message in other letters, expressing it in such phrases as: “I hope you will read this letter over and over again together” (The Gods Same Birth and Same Name,” WND-1, 315); “You should always talk with each other” (Flowering and Bearing Grain,” WND-1, 909); and “Always maintain friendly relations with [one another]” (see The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 850). I cannot help but interpret these as Nichiren’s instruction to us to continually hold discussion meetings.

Discussion meetings are places where we demonstrate the true worth of Nichiren Buddhism as a universal teaching that makes us stronger, better and wiser human beings.

We must be deeply grateful that the Soka Gakkai’s first and second presidents, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, made the regular rhythm of holding discussion meetings the heartbeat of our kosen-rufu movement. Kosen-rufu will continue to advance as long as discussion meetings are held, no matter how humble or modest they may be. Discussion meetings are gardens of “human flowers” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 142) blossoming from the earth of the people. They are gatherings where we can drop all pretense and formality, and just relax and be ourselves. That’s what makes them so inspiring, why they are always fresh, invigorating and filled with the energy and wisdom of the people.

Discussion meetings, whose participants are linked by the Mystic Law, resemble the wondrous realm of the assembly of the Lotus Sutra. Those present at these gatherings can draw forth very naturally their eternally inherent Buddhahood that was “not worked for, that was not improved upon, but that exists just as it always has” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 141). Mr. Toda said: “We are Bodhisattvas of the Earth who made a shared vow in the brilliant realm of time without beginning. We have now all joyfully and vibrantly emerged here together again in this saha world.”

During a typhoon five years ago (in September 2011), the two-story home of a couple in Shingu, Wakayama Prefecture, which was used as a local meeting place for Soka Gakkai activities, was flooded to the roof. But based on the conviction that faith means never being defeated, they completed repair work in just three months and held a deeply moving “reconstruction” discussion meeting at their home. They reported that all the members of their local area are taking an energetic step forward based on discussion meetings.

Discussion meetings are places where we demonstrate the true worth of Nichiren Buddhism as a universal teaching that makes us stronger, better and wiser human beings.

Let us pray for the safety, security and happiness of all families who so generously open their homes for discussion meetings.

In an early Buddhist scripture, we find the assembly of Buddhist practitioners referred to as an “invincible gathering.”[2] I declare that SGI discussion meetings are eternally victorious “invincible gatherings”!

Let us set forth from our discussion meetings to expand dialogue, expand our state of life and expand our efforts to develop youth in the new era of worldwide kosen-rufu.[3]

Joy and harmony pervade
our discussion meetings,
assemblies of the Mystic Law.
Let’s win with the conviction
that we are all Buddhas!

(pp. 6–7)