Celebrating 5 Years of the Five Guidelines for the SGI-USA Youth Division
How youthful successors are actualizing SGI President Ikeda’s touchstone guidance.
“With the Same Mind as Our Mentor”
by David Witkowski
SGI-USA YOUTH LEADER
On behalf of the SGI-USA youth, I would like to express my unending gratitude to our eternal mentor, SGI President Ikeda, for providing these five guidelines. From that day onward, the SGI-USA youth have striven to align our activities with these five guidelines In this feature, you can view the efforts of the youth to make each of these a reality.
Throughout my Buddhist practice, I often read how President Ikeda actualized everything his mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, said President Ikeda once reflected in The New Human Revolution, where he appears as Shin’ichi Yamamoto:
In his final years, Mr. Toda said to me: “Shin’ichi, you’ve achieved everything I asked. You even took seriously things I said half-jokingly and brought them to fruition.” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 17, p.16 )
The youth of the SGI-USA are striving to embody this same degree of resolve displayed by the young Daisaku Ikeda to actualize his mentor’s guidance and grand vision for kosen-rufu. We are convince that as long as we never stray from these guidelines, we will be able to continually advance toward achieving humanity’s cherished dream of kosen-rufu with the same mind as our mentor.
1. Be the youth of America who eternally inherit the Gakkai spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple!
CHAMPIONS OF THE NEW ERA: In June 2014, the SGI-USA launched Champions of the New Era meetings across the country to serve as “the heartbeat of the American kosen-rufu movement.”
These large-scale quarterly youth gatherings enable young people, with their many obstacles and dreams, to come together and renew their pledge to challenge every aspect of their lives based on faith, and to spread widely the life-empowering teachings of Nichiren Buddhism.
This rhythm of gathering and parting—of affirming their mission as youth, returning to the districts, creating victories there, and coming back together at these youth meetings—thereby serves as the dynamic engine propelling the American kosen-rufu movement forward.
“The advance of worldwide kosen-rufu has entered its most essential stage. And it is you, the youth of America, who, united with me, are shouldering the very noble mission and responsibility to lead the entire world in this wonderful new era.”
In his message to the inaugural meetings, SGI President Ikeda praised the youthful successors for challenging themselves as pioneers of a new era, saying, “Nothing could make me happier or give me greater hope.” He also wrote: “Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun has spread to 192 countries and territories around the world. The advance of worldwide kosen-rufu has entered its most essential stage. And it is you, the youth of America, who, united with me, are shouldering the very noble mission and responsibility to lead the entire world in this wonderful new era” (July 4, 2014, World Tribune, p. 2).
2. Be the youth of America who create an exemplary youthful Soka Gakkai with the unity of many in body, one in mind!
CHAMPION DISTRICTS: In January 2014, the SGI-USA introduced the “Champion Districts” movement by establishing five criteria to serve as a baseline for a healthy district, including fostering capable successors by appointing youth leaders in every district. This movement became a catalyst for uniting the district, sharing Buddhism and improving the quality of care for each member on the front lines, empowering each individual to develop a correct Buddhist practice and fundamentally transform their lives and societies.
3. Be the youth of America who illuminate the darkness of the age as champions of propagation!
PROPAGATION: Upon receiving this guideline from President Ikeda, the youth initiated countless heart-to-heart dialogues and intro-to-Buddhism activities to introduce their friends, family and the community to the SGI and Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
A major launching point in their efforts came in 2013, when more than 3,000 capable youth joined the SGI-USA.
Since 2011, the SGI-USA has helped over 25,000 households receive the Gohonzon—including many youth—giving these new members the means by which they can resolve their sufferings on the most fundamental level and create the happiest, most fulfilling lives.
4. Be the youth of America who courageously refute the erroneous and reveal the true based on The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin!
IKEDA WISDOM ACADEMY: The advanced study program for SGI-USA youth leaders was founded by President Ikeda in 2013 on Jan. 26, SGI Day.
Academy members study President Ikeda’s groundbreaking six-volume discussion series, The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, to clearly understand the lineage of Shakyamuni Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin and the SGI, and to deepen their awareness and conviction in the humanistic philosophy of Buddhism to combat the pervasive powerlessness in society.
On Jan. 11, 2015, the SGI-USA held its first youth leaders study exam, covering volumes 1–3 of the series. The next exam will take place in January 2017.
Ultimately, the Ikeda Wisdom Academy—in the spirit of its motto, “Protecting the Mentor & the Teachings”—fosters youth of the SGI-USA who share the same vow and responsibility as their mentor to accomplish kosen-rufu, protect the SGI and widely expand our movement of peace for centuries to come.
The youth of the SGI-USA are also striving to present topics that clarify the correct practice of Nichiren Buddhism at weekly Soka Spirit chanting sessions held across the nation.
5. Be the youth of America who build an ideal society of peace in the world as pioneers of the Mystic Law!
OUR NEW CLEAR FUTURE: The SGI-USA student division in 2011 spearheaded the youth-led grass-roots movement, Our New Clear Future, to abolish nuclear weapons by 2030, the Soka Gakkai’s 100th anniversary. As the first step, the youth aim to turn the tide of public opinion in favor of nuclear disarmament through one-to-one-dialogues.
In 2015, the SGI-USA youth held March Youth Peace Expos in 25 locations across the country with over 12,000 participants, serving as a powerful affirmation of the sanctity of life as the world approached the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings (on Aug. 6 and 9). Thousands of participants at the peace expos also signed the Nuclear Abolition Signature Pledge.
That May, SGI-USA youth representatives visited the U.N. Headquarters in New York to hand-deliver the petitions signed by more than 8,500 youth representing nearly every segment of American society and from all corners of the country. The signatures were presented during the U.N. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.