Developing Into a Trustworthy Person for Kosen-rufu

Youth Profiles: Joshua Shuford takes responsibility for his own happiness and the happiness of others.

Joshua Shuford
Redlands, California

Living Buddhism: Can you tell us about how your mother encountered Nam-myoho-renge-kyo?

Joshua Shuford: Around 25 years ago, my mother’s co-worker gave her a Nam-myoho-renge-kyo card and encouraged her to try chanting. My mother didn’t pursue Buddhism immediately, but years later, when she suffered the shock of her mother’s passing in 2013, she recalled her co-worker’s encouragement and sought out the SGI.

Did you start practicing Buddhism with your mother right away?

Joshua: Not quite. While I was interested in Buddhism and seeking a strong philosophy of life, I was skeptical and refrained from practicing. A young men’s leader, however, got in touch with me and patiently answered my many questions. I received the Gohonzon in May 2014, one year after my mother joined the SGI.

Nichiren Buddhism has provided me with the practice to tune my life with the Law of the universe, harness the hope that people can change and find the power to actually make the change.

Joshua spends time with fellow young men's division members in downtown Riverside, California, May 2016. Photo: Ken O'Ferrall.
Joshua spends time with fellow young men’s division members in downtown Riverside, California, May 2016. Photo: Ken O’Ferrall.

Can you tell us about your experience of taking on leadership in the SGI?

Joshua: I currently serve two roles, as a vice region young men’s leader and as a chapter young men’s leader. Taking on leadership for kosen-rufu has given my life profound meaning. I have truly learned what it means to take responsibility for my own happiness and the happiness of others. Observing the young men developing strong faith in my chapter and region has brought me unsurpassed joy, knowing that more people are standing up to join in the battle for kosen-rufu.

Most of all, I have learned how to become a trustworthy person. I have been taking to heart the following words from President Ikeda:

Trust is hard to establish but easy to lose. The trust that it has taken a decade to build can be destroyed by a seemingly minor word or action at a crucial moment . . . For young people, such trust is the greatest treasure. (Embracing Compassion, vol. 2, p. 52)

How have you developed your vow for kosen-rufu?

Joshua: When I started practicing, I immediately embraced the goal of worldwide kosen-rufu. However, the gravity of this mission hit close to home when the shootings occurred in San Bernardino in December 2015. I reflected on the purpose of my life and deepened my resolve to fight the devilish functions that strive to disrupt the faith of precious individuals. I also witnessed many people rushing to support those in need.

Every week, my region holds introductory Buddhist meetings that we call “Buddhism 101.” Our goal is to vastly expand the number of people empowered with the Gohonzon and to spread President Ikeda’s philosophy of humanism in order to transform society.