Feature

Creating Unsurpassed Happiness and Victory

Southern California youth celebrate the 20th anniversary of SGI President Ikeda’s 1996 U.S. visit.

Photo: Emily Terada


ALISO VIEJO, Calif., June 26— Two decades after SGI President Ikeda’s last visit to the United States in 1996, countless youth have stood up with the same mission as their mentor to advance American kosen-rufu.

Honoring his unforgettable visit 20 years ago (see June 2016 Living Buddhism for more details), over 1,000 youth members and youth guests joined the Southern California Champions of the New Era youth meeting on June 26 at Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California. Participants of the SGI-USA Junior High and High School Conference also attended the event, held at SUA’s Soka Performing Arts Center.

The meeting centered on three themes: 1. “The Osaka Campaign”[1]In January 1956, 28-year-old Daisaku Ikeda, dispatched by second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, led Osaka Chapter in enabling 11,111 families to join the Soka Gakkai in May 1956—a number that was considered unfathomable. Today, this achievement serves as the blueprint in faith for making the impossible possible. and the invaluable lessons in faith gained from that historic event; 2. President Ikeda’s 1996 visit to the U.S. in which he gave touchstone guidance to the American members; and 3. the Year of Expansion, based on President Ikeda’s three keys to victory in 2016: expanding our prayer, life state and courage. These themes were crystallized through faith experiences and powerful performances.

President Ikeda in his message to the celebration asked the youth to create a personal history of unsurpassed happiness and victory in life, and to win absolutely for the sake of their own lives, as well as for their family and friends.

“Kosen-rufu is a grand undertaking in which we surmount the harshest storms and blizzards in creating happiness for the people and peace in the world,” President Ikeda wrote. “Given the rapid changes we are witnessing today, the world is seeking a reliable philosophy and a genuine religion. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun, which teaches the philosophy of the dignity of life, is at last beginning to illuminate the entire world.” (Read the full message in the July 1, 2016, World Tribune, p. 2.)

Photo: Daigo Otobe
Photo: Daigo Otobe

Experiences

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Photo: Daigo Otobe

In a moving tribute to the victims of the Orlando, Florida, massacre, Chloe Page, of South Orange County, California, shared her journey as an LGBTQ member who underwent tremendous struggles, both personally and professionally, following her transition last year.

In December 2015, after being physically assaulted and facing an all-time low, Chloe found strength through her Buddhist practice and helped one of her good friends receive the Gohonzon. Chloe will soon move to Northern California to begin her dream job as a teacher working with youth who have disabilities.

“Sometimes during the darkest hours, we must fight to see the tiny glimmer of light, of hope,” she said. “I knew from years of practicing Nichiren Buddhism that I held the power to change my circumstances, to climb out of the darkness.”

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Photo: Daigo Otobe

Charlie who traveled from New York for the junior high and high school Plummer, 17, conference, shared his journey as an actor and how he learned the true meaning of the phrase “never give up” following the devastating news that he was the runner up for a lead role in a big movie franchise.

As a cause for future victories, Charlie helped five friends receive the Gohonzon last year, and he was appointed a district young men’s leader. By the end of 2015, he was able to see great actual proof in his career and was cast in three feature films, sharing the screen with Oscar-winning actors. He will also shoot two more films before the year’s end. “I’m passionate about every one of these characters and stories in different ways— and all of these pro ojects are much more personal films that any superhero movie ever could have been,” he said. “Out of all of the wins I’ve experienced in my life, I can confidently say that the best win of all is being able to help other people begin their own incredible journey with this incredible practice.”

Ikeda Youth Ensemble

The Ikeda Youth Ensemble dominated the floor through their creative and powerful performances that spoke to millennials—from how social media and technology create both unity and disconnect among young people to the essential message that real change starts from within one’s own heart.

Each segment of the performances—whether through contemporary dance, taiko, brass band, hip-hop, rock ’n’ roll, an a cappella song or theater—highlighted one of the three major themes: 1. “The Osaka Campaign” and the invaluable lessons in faith gained from that historic event; 2. President Ikeda’s 1996 visit to the U.S. in which he gave touchstone guidance to the American members; and 3. the Year of Expansion, based on President Ikeda’s three keys to victory in 2016: expanding our prayer, life state and courage.

Photo: Daigo Otobe
Photo: Daigo Otobe

ESD Performance

In a delightful surprise that spotlighted the future, more than 50 elementary school division members flooded the floor to sing the SGI-USA future division song “Runners for Justice.”

 

(pp. 6–7)

Notes   [ + ]

1. In January 1956, 28-year-old Daisaku Ikeda, dispatched by second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, led Osaka Chapter in enabling 11,111 families to join the Soka Gakkai in May 1956—a number that was considered unfathomable. Today, this achievement serves as the blueprint in faith for making the impossible possible.