Puerto Rico Opens Its “Castle of the Law”

Around the SGI-USA

Palace of peace—The SGI-USA Puerto Rico Buddhist Center opens its doors just days before May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, San Juan, April 30. Photos by Roso Sabalones.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, April 30—In a building nestled near the brilliant shores of Laguna del Condado, the members of SGI-USA Puerto Rico are spreading waves of hope.

Some 40 representative leaders, including SGI-USA Men’s Leader Cliff Sawyer, gathered on April 30 to open the long-awaited Puerto Rico Buddhist Center, which will serve as a hub for local activities.

SGI-USA Puerto Rico Center Opening_Roso Sabalones_20160430_00

In a message to the center’s opening, SGI President Ikeda encouraged the members to strive courageously in faith and build friendships, never forgetting Puerto Rico’s crucial role in the Caribbean.

“Please study the Buddhist philosophy of the dignity of life and the humanism of Soka,” he said, “while courageously and confidently striving in your faith in this new castle of the Law.”

The center’s opening comes at a critical juncture for the commonwealth. After more than a decade of economic stagnation and population decline, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla last month said the territory is facing the “worst financial and humanitarian crisis in its history.”

During the opening, Tibisay Andujar was among the members who reaffirmed the power that people possess to make the impossible possible through faith.

Ms. Andujar, who received the Gohonzon nearly two years ago, shared how she used her Buddhist practice to transform a hostile work environment.

While Ms. Andujar never retreated from her circumstances, she also made continuous efforts to support others, even helping a co-worker and her son receive the Gohonzon.

sgi-usa-puerto-rico-center-opening_roso-sabalones_20160430_01And when she opened up a new career path, she learned this valuable lesson: “Ten-gamos siempre presente que existimos para hacer y ser felices.” (Let’s always remember that we exist to help others become happy and to become happy ourselves.)

In closing remarks, Florida Zone Leader Betsy Eppsteiner encouraged the members, especially the youth, to utilize their new center to introduce many people to the practice. “This center will be the meeting place for countless young people who will unite together to build a future filled with optimism and hope,” she said.

In fact, the youth have already launched weekly introductory Buddhist meetings, proudly welcoming the community to learn about the Soka Gakkai’s philosophy of the dignity of life.

Florida Zone Men’s Leader Ingmar Soto said he will never forget the heartfelt scene of members crying tears of appreciation in front of the Gohonzon at their new center.

“They are facing tremendous struggles amid the crises in Puerto Rico,” Mr. Soto said. “But they are so proud of their new palace. Sensei has empowered the members, reminding each of them: You are an important person with an important mission on this island.”