Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 24: The Organization for Kosen-rufu [24.6]

24.6 Discussion Meetings Are the Heart of the Soka Gakkai

President Ikeda explains that Soka Gakkai discussion meetings, where members from the same community come together to encourage and support one another, are microcosms of human harmony and the heartbeat of kosen-rufu.

Discussion meetings are a great river, of which all our other activities are tributaries.

Our activities to promote friendship and understanding, as well as the different kinds of meetings we hold, all merge into the great river of discussion meetings and flow toward the vast ocean of an age of the people. Along both banks of that great river are vast, fertile fields of humanistic culture producing rich and abundant fruit.

Discussion meetings are the heart of the Soka Gakkai. Mr. Toda often told us: “Mr. Makiguchi always made sure he got to the meeting place before anyone else. When the first person arrived, he would engage them in an earnest discussion. When a second and third person arrived, he included them in the conversation, sharing Buddhism with great personal warmth and care.”

Mr. Toda also said: “If only one person shows up for a meeting, that’s fine. Devote all your energy to explaining Nichiren Buddhism to that person, sharing experiences of your Buddhist practice, and talking sincerely about kosen-rufu and life. If two people show up, so much the better. Speak to them about the Gohonzon and make the meeting an inspiring occasion for them. If three show up, consider that a large number!”

Heart-to-heart discussion is always more effective than ordering people around. And because dialogue takes place between individuals, it requires that we respect and value the other person. This sets the stage for lively and enriching discussion meetings.

In the Soka Gakkai, when we speak of “the tradition of discussion meetings,” we’re not referring to our history of holding discussion meetings for many years. Rather, we’re talking about the Soka Gakkai tradition of valuing each individual, which is epitomized in our discussion meetings.

The Soka Gakkai has always been committed to encouraging the honest, hardworking ordinary people of the world. That’s the very heart of our discussion meetings. In the eyes of society, our discussion meetings may seem very simple, modest gatherings, involving a small number of individuals and not particularly noteworthy. But these meetings are based on a profound philosophy that teaches the Law pervading the entire universe. They have a warmth that embraces everyone. They brim with irrepressible hope that can inspire even those overwhelmed by painful karma to get back on their feet again. They are joyful, inspiring, and often deeply moving. Soka Gakkai discussion meetings are oases where ordinary people gather; they reverberate with a spirit of fresh resolve and gratitude, where suffering is transformed into courage, and exhaustion into a satisfying sense of fulfillment.

These small gatherings are microcosms of human harmony. They are democracy in action. They are the heartbeat of kosen-rufu, linking faith, families, and local communities. They are filled with the sincere spirit—the spirit of the Lotus Sutra—to help all our precious fellow members and friends become happy.

The Lotus Sutra, the ultimate teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha, is itself a discussion meeting on a grand scale. It is a gathering of people earnestly seeking the meaning and purpose of life. Shakyamuni replies to their questions with utter sincerity, relating his personal experiences and employing similes and parables. Those observing and listening to this dialogue find themselves experiencing the great joy of expanding their own state of life. A radiant determination illuminates the assembly, a spiritual chain reaction occurs, and there is a sublime, heart-to-heart interaction.


Mr. Makiguchi called discussion meetings “discussion meetings offering experimental proof of a life of great good.” By this, he meant demonstrating through actual examples in our lives, in a way convincing to all, the wonderful effect of putting our Buddhist faith based on the Mystic Law into practice in the real world, of a life of human revolution dedicated to the welfare of others and society. Soka Gakkai discussion meetings, from the very beginning, have been open and accessible to all. They are grassroots forums for infusing society with wisdom and vitality.

At meetings, we hear others’ experiences of gaining benefit through practicing Nichiren Buddhism; we are inspired with fresh determination: “They fought and won; I can transform my karma, too. I’ll do it!” We also applaud the efforts of those who are striving hard: “Let’s follow their example and develop our lives like they have!”

This serves as encouragement toward attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime and inspires a sense of mission for kosen-rufu.


Mr. Makiguchi was arrested [on July 6, 1943] in Shimoda, Izu, where he had gone to attend a discussion meeting. At the time, discussion meetings were held under the surveillance of the Special Higher Police—the so-called thought police. But Mr. Makiguchi remained unperturbed; he refused, even when repeatedly pressured, to accept the Shinto talisman [mandated by the militarist authorities to unite the country in the war effort]. In this sense, discussion meetings were a fierce battleground in the spiritual struggle against oppressive government authority.

Nichiren Daishonin’s own struggle for religious reformation can also be seen as starting from gatherings for dialogue that were, in their way, discussion meetings.

The tradition behind discussion meetings is the noble fighting spirit that originates from the Daishonin and was carried on by both Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda. Every discussion meeting, brimming with that spirit and conducted with positive energy and joy, is tremendously significant.

Through discussion meetings, we are blazing a sure and steady trail through the uncharted wilderness of our times toward happiness for all humanity. Through our great discussion meeting movement, let us vibrantly spread the strength and optimism to win in life to our friends and others around us.

From The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 2, published in Japanese in November 1996.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.