Expanding an SGI-USA of Happiness & Friendship in 2016

by SGI-USA National Team

Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you very much for your efforts in making 2015 another year of profound achievements.

Last year, we welcomed more than 7,000 new members to the SGI-USA, many of whom took the Introductory Exam. We have also seen some 300 districts become Champion Districts—50 percent more than the number of Champion Districts in 2014. Congratulations!

Now, what about 2016?

On Sept. 5, 2015, Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada announced the theme for 2016 as the Year of Expansion in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu.

What does expansion mean for our kosen-rufu movement?

In his speech, President Harada listed three key areas of expansion for 2016:

1. Expansion in spreading Buddhism

2. Expansion in raising capable people

3. Expansion in creating friendships

(see Sept. 6, 2015, Seikyo Shimbun)

Each Member to Introduce One Person to Nichiren Buddhism

Looking at the turbulent state of our society, how can we each respond to this call for expansion? Based on the SGI’s “stand-alone” spirit of taking full responsibility for the advancement of kosen-rufu and peace, what if each SGI-USA member helped one person receive the Gohonzon?

The essence of Nichiren Buddhist practice is found in our daily actions.

Thousands of Americans each year fall victim to violence, racism and many other injustices. In contrast to this, we can invite thousands of Americans to transform their lives and communities with the practice of Nichiren Buddhism!

SGI President Ikeda says the following:

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “When it comes to studying the teachings of Buddhism, one must first learn to understand the time” (“The Selection of the Time,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 538). To keenly recognize the right time, seize it and take the best course of action with courage and wisdom—that is the creed of practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism . . . Ours is a time when conflict and violence fill the world. But that is also precisely the time, the Daishonin asserts, to widely spread the great life-affirming teachings of Buddhism throughout the entire globe. (Dec. 11, 2015, World Tribune, p. 2)

Together with our mentor, President Ikeda, let’s generate waves of courage and compassion throughout the United States in 2016, and create a fresh momentum for peace and respect for all life.

Expanding Care

Practicing Buddhism is found not only in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and discussing its ideals. True Buddhist practice is manifested in our behavior and sincere care for those around us. Nichiren writes: “What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 852).

The essence of our Buddhist practice is found in our daily actions and efforts to reach out to the person right in front of us.

President Ikeda recently cited the words of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Betty Williams, who said: “Go out and look for one individual. One is a huge number. If you can help one individual, one child, you will then help 10. Because in the circle of that one person, there will be 10 others that that one will educate” (Dec. 18, 2015, World Tribune, p. 3).

Let’s develop even more capable people and friendships through increasing our care for our families, our communities and our planet.

In 2016, we will continue our efforts to create Champion Districts based on this spirit of extending care to as many people as possible. We hope that each district in the SGI-USA will strive to become a Champion District, establishing the best conditions to care for and support all the members.

Be the Model for Worldwide Kosen-rufu

Last year, President Ikeda gave us four mottoes for developing the SGI-USA:

1. America of Courage

2. America of Capable People

3. America of Unity

4. Be the Model for Worldwide Kosen-rufu!

To become a model for worldwide kosen-rufu means bringing about victories in our districts and personal lives that can serve as an unlimited source of encouragement for our families and friends, for our fellow 12 million SGI members in 192 countries and territories, and for all people around the world.

In his message to the meetings commemorating the 55th anniversary of the SGI-USA, SGI President Ikeda stated: “The SGI-USA’s progress serves as a model for and gives hope to the entire world. The greater the development of the SGI-USA, the greater the momentum will be for the progress and expansion of worldwide kosen-rufu” (Oct. 2, 2015, World Tribune, p. 2).

This year, let’s unite with President Ikeda and our fellow members for the ever-greater expansion of our network of happiness and friendship in the United States. And, let’s take concrete steps toward building a society that treasures the dignity of all life, not only for those of us here now, but also for the generations to come.