Launching coverage of events celebrating SGI President Ikeda’s 1996 visit to the United States.
Starting with this issue, the World Tribune launches coverage of events across the country commemorating the 20th anniversary of SGI President Ikeda’s visit to the United States in June and July of 1996.
During his unforgettable trip, he visited five U.S. cities—Los Angeles, Denver, New York, Weston, Florida, and El Paso, Texas—as part of his monthlong international travels to the U.S., the Bahamas, Cuba, Costa Rica and Mexico.
President Ikeda poured his entire being into every encounter with the members of the SGI-USA, with the thought of laying the foundation of American kosen-rufu “for the next thousand years.”
He initiated dialogues with scholars and leaders of society, and received his first honorary doctorate from an American institute of higher learning, the University of Denver. His lecture at Teachers College, Columbia University, engraved into educators and students the notion of fostering global citizens who could contribute to solving the world’s pressing and intractable problems.
And he opened the SGI-USA Florida Nature and Culture Center, a retreat facility on 125 acres of restored wetlands in the peaceful Everglades, where tens of thousands of members have since attended conferences that enabled them to deepen their vow for kosen-rufu and refresh their determination to transform their lives.
Recalling the spirit of his 1996 U.S. visit, President Ikeda writes:
America is vast. It is a majestic land. For that reason, American kosen-rufu is something you must move forward steadily, firmly and sincerely, one step at a time, while gazing into the distant future, hundreds or even thousands of years ahead.
It is with this in mind that I have made every possible effort to prepare the way. Nichiren Daishonin writes, “And now when Nichiren chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, he is enabling all living beings to attain Buddhahood in the ten thousand years of the Latter Day of the Law” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 41).
If we consider that ten-thousand-year journey, it is clear that we are still in the very groundbreaking stage. The time has come to pour all our heart and soul into fostering one person at a time, thereby steadily and carefully planting the seeds for future development. At times, the seeds we have taken such great pains to plant may not sprout. Should that happen, then we must plant more seeds. Or there may be times when, upon sprouting, those young plants become bent or twisted. If so, then we had better try again to raise them straight.
If you tirelessly continue to challenge yourselves in this way, then without doubt a great “forest” of kosen-rufu will unfold before you. This is the formula of the Mystic Law. (My Dear Friends in America, third edition, pp. xiv–xv)
Laying the Foundation for 1,000 Years
For a retrospective on SGI President Ikeda’s 1996 visit to the U.S., see June 2016 Living Buddhism.