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Zadankai (discussion meetings) are community-based conventicles which serve as the grassroots activity of Soka Gakkai members. They are the means for propagation and deepening faith. Soka Gakkai literature also describes them as being sites for neighborhood revitalization.

Contents

Role in the Soka GakkaiEdit

The tradition of zadankai was started by the Soka Gakkai's founder Tsunesaburō Makiguchi in the late 1930s. The format of the meetings Makiguchi led centered on participants sharing personal stories about how their practice of Nichiren Buddhism improved their daily lives.[1]

The tradition of holding zadankai was continued by the second Soka Gakkai president Jōsei Toda after World War II.[2] Under Daisaku Ikeda’s presidency, they are the central activity of the Soka Gakkai.[3]

Ikeda organized discussion meetings for Japanese emigres during his first overseas trip to the United States and Brazil in 1960. The first zadankai conducted in English was held in the United States in 1963.[4]

FormatEdit

Zadankai are held at neighborhood “district” or “group” levels, and attendance has been estimated at between 20%[5] to 80% of the total membership.[6] Actual attendance is usually between 10 and 20 people,[7] including families with small children.[8]

Meeting agendas are planned, but with autonomy and room for improvisation.[9] Typically, a discussion meeting consists of sutra recitation and chanting daimoku, sharing of experiences and encouragement, study and guidance, and efforts at encouraging new attendees to start their Buddhist practice.[10][11][12] There is a meeting leader whose job it is encourage discussion.[13]

Religious significance of discussion meetingsEdit

Discussion meetings have been likened to the “formal liturgy” of the Soka Gakkai.[14] At discussion meetings, participants are encouraged to take responsibility “for their own lives and for wider social and global concerns.”[15] The format is an example of how the Soka Gakkai is able to “dispense with much of the apparatus of conventional church organization”.[16] Zadankai differ from other religious traditions also by allowing participants to address the challenges to happiness encountered in daily life situations.[17] The discussion meeting is among the most important activities of the Soka Gakkai[18] as well as the basis if propagation,[19] and have been called “a new paradigm” for religious worship in general[20]

EvaluationsEdit

The impressions of scholars who have observed Soka Gakkai discussion meetings vary. Seagar at first found them akin to a “consciousness raising” group[21] and Metraux likened them to group therapy – albeit in a “wonderful” form, with a congenial, "family” atmosphere.[22] White states that they encourage free intercourse and self-expression,[23] and Ramseyer found the participants open and trustful.[24]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Fatherree, Susan Goodson (2006). Upaya Process, the Lotus Sutra, and Soka Practitioners: Manifesting Potential Enlightenment Here and Now. Temple University. pp. 26–27. ISBN 0549772995. Mr. Makiguchi started the Soka Gakkai's discussion meeting movement, which centers on members sharing their experiences in faith with others. He taught the Mystic Law not in the form of difficult abstract theories but through easily intelligible personal experiences. Each individual experience is a parable of the all-pervading Mystic Law. And the discussion meeting, based on sharing such personal experiences, is a contemporary representation of the "Simile and Parable" chapter, a modern version of the seven parables of the Lotus Sutra, an infinite treasury of parables. Parables are wisdom and compassion distilled to their most fragrant essence. The Soka Gakkai initiated a revolution in the way Buddhism is spread by adopting the same method as the Lotus Sutra. The spirit of the Lotus Sutra 's parables lives on..
  2. ^ Ramseyer, Robert. "The Soka Gakkai: Militant Religion on the March". Center for Japanese Study Publications. University of Michigan. p. 156. Retrieved 2015-01-31.
  3. ^ Earhart, H. Byron (2007). "Religion in the Japanese experience" in Readings In Eastern Religions. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfred Laurier University Press. p. 388. ISBN 978-0-88920-435-5.
  4. ^ Hurst, Jane. Prebish and Tanaka, Charles and Kenneth, ed. "Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai" in The Faces of Buddhism In America. p. 86.
  5. ^ Levi McLaughlin, Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions, Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion, ISBN 978 90 04 23435 2, page 270
  6. ^ Dobbelaere, Karel (2000). Global Citizens. Oxford University Press. p. 238. ISBN 0-19-924039-6.
  7. ^ Dobbelaere, Karel (1998). Soka Gakkai. Signature Books. p. 27. ISBN 1-56085-153-8.
  8. ^ Metraux, Daniel (2000). Global Citizens. Oxford University Press. p. 418.
  9. ^ White, James Wilson (1970). The Sokagakkai and Mass Society. Stanford Universoty Press. p. 91. ISBN 0-8047-0728-6.
  10. ^ Earhart, H. Byron (2007). "Religion in the Japanese experience" in Readings In Eastern Religions. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfred Laurier University Press. p. 388. ISBN 978-0-88920-435-5.
  11. ^ Fowler, Jeanne and Merv (2009). Chanting In The Hillsides. Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-1-84519-258-7.
  12. ^ Foiera, Manuela. "Oriental Religion IN A Western Catholic Country: The Case of the Soka Gakkai In Italy". University of Warwick Institutional Reository. p. 191. Retrieved 2015-01-16.
  13. ^ White, James Wilson (1970). The Sokagakkai and Mass Society. Stanford University Press. p. 91. ISBN 0-8047-0728-6.
  14. ^ Seagar, Richard (2006). Encountering the Dharma: Daisaku Ikeda, The Soka Gakkai, and the Globalization of Buddhist Humanism. University of California Press. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-520-24577-8.
  15. ^ Fowler, Jeanne and Merv (2009). Chanting In The Hillsides. Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-84519-258-7.
  16. ^ Wilson, Bryan (2000). "The British Movement and Its Members". In Machacek and Wilson. Global Citizens. Oxford University Press. p. 358. ISBN 0-19-924039-6. Liberated from ecclesiastical restraints, Soka Gakkai is enabled to present itself as a much more informed, relaxed and spontaneous worshipping fellowship. In a period when democratic, popular styles have displaced or largely discredited hierarchic structures, the typical meetings of Soka Gakkai reflect the style and form increasingly favored by the public at large.
  17. ^ Strand, Clark (2014). Waking The Buddha. Middleway Press. pp. 59–60. ISBN 978-0-9779245-6-1.
  18. ^ Levi McLaughlin, Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions, Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion, ISBN 978 90 04 23435 2, page 272
  19. ^ Foiera, Manuela. "Oriental Religion IN A Western Catholic Country: The Case of the Soka Gakkai In Italy". University of Warwick Institutional Reository. p. 192. Retrieved 2015-01-16.
  20. ^ Strand, Clark (2014). Waking The Buddha. Middleway Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-9779245-6-1.
  21. ^ Seagar, Richard (2006). Encountering the Dharma: Daisaku Ikeda, The Soka Gakkai, and the Globalization of Buddhist Humanism. University of California Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-520-24577-8.
  22. ^ Metraux, Daniel (2000). Global Citizens. Oxford University Press. p. 418.
  23. ^ White, James Wilson (1970). The Sokagakkai and Mass Society. Stanford University Press. p. 91. ISBN 0-8047-0728-6.
  24. ^ Ramseyer, Robert. "The Soka Gakkai: Militant Religion on the March". Center for Japanese Study Publications. University of Michigan. p. 169. Retrieved 2015-01-31.