Discussion Meetings in SGI-Italy
Discussion meetings have been the driving source for the advancement of SGI-Italy. These meetings, held twice a month at 4,400 locations throughout Italy--mostly in members' homes--enable participants to deepen their understanding of Buddhism through study and share their personal experiences in faith.
During the mid-70's, when SGI-Italy started to grow considerably, many young people were passionately involved in political and student movements. Frustrated with the authorities, they found themselves troubled as to how to react to developments in society. Those young people who participated in SGI-Italy's discussion meetings were moved by the Buddhist philosophy of human revolution and genuine experiences of practicing faith; eventually, many of them became members and contributed to the development of the organization.
This year's February discussion meetings were held in various regions under different themes. Members who are part of the Melograno district in Rome held a discussion on "earthly desires." One of the participants posed the question: "Is it necessary for us to get rid of earthly desires? Or is it possible to transform ourselves by chanting in front of the Gohonzon? A leader who was present at the meeting shared the following:
"In one of Nichiren's lectures on the Lotus Sutra, he says, 'they are burning the firewood of earthly desires, summoning up the wisdom fire of bodhi or enlightenment.' (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p.11) What is important is not to be swayed or defeated by such earthly desires and end up unhappy as a result, but rather to win over earthly desires. In other words, one should use these desires as a springboard for further growth. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo enables us to tap our inherent life force in order to achieve this."
A member of the young men's division shared his experience of understanding how to "make the impossible possible" through faith which enabled him to successfully find employment at a major airline company during this ongoing economic crisis. One of the participants described the discussion meeting as "a place where one can find hope for the future by listening to experiences of many people, regardless of social status or age."
General Director Nakajima described discussion meetings as "of utmost importance in terms of achieving human solidarity-where one can meet and feel a connection with people through the sharing of life experiences."
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda has also consistently stressed the significance of dialogue, stating that SGI's efforts are based on the belief that it is dialogue, first and foremost, that opens one heart to another. However slow this process may appear, it is certain that this path will lead to world peace. He has also said that "Dialogue starts from the courageous willingness to know and be known by others. It is the painstaking and persistent effort to remove all obstacles that obscure our common humanity."
[Adapted from articles in the February 25 and 28, 2011, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photo courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]