Experience

Discovering Compassion for Others

Youth Profiles: Hannah Jones learns to take action for the happiness of others.

Hannah Jones
Columbus, Ohio

Living Buddhism: What brought you to the SGI?

Hannah Jones: I learned about the SGI in world history class during my senior year of high school. During our segment on Buddhism, my teacher brought his mother in to talk about Buddhism, and she talked about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the SGI. This sparked my interest, so I attended a meeting out of curiosity. Chanting was at once fascinating and comforting to me, and I immediately started practicing! That was in 2014.

What inspired you to start your practice?

Hannah: Well, I had taken on many responsibilities in high school, such as joining several clubs and sports teams, in addition to taking advanced classes. I wanted to excel at everything, but this would often turn into deep anxiety and self-judgment from constantly comparing myself with others.

In the SGI, I felt like I’d known the members my whole life. I found a group of people who provided warm support and a practice that gave me confidence in myself.

Hannah talking with fellow SGI member Tulasi Katta, Columbus, Ohio, May 2016. Photo: JJ Chien.
Hannah talking with fellow SGI member Tulasi Katta, Columbus, Ohio, May 2016. Photo: JJ Chien.

You were recently appointed a chapter young women’s leader. How has this leadership role helped you grow?

Hannah: This leadership responsibility has been very challenging but exciting at the same time. When I first joined the SGI, I assumed leaders had many years of experience and could answer any question. I realized, however, that I don’t need to have everything figured out to take on leadership. Taking on leadership and responsibilities in the organization has shown me that I’m not alone in my struggles, and it has helped me develop more compassion for others.

Instead of just talking about helping others, I’ve learned how to take action for the happiness of others. Every week, I visit young women in my chapter together with my women’s leaders to chant with and encourage them. I am also starting to hold regular Ikeda Kayo-kai meetings to help the young women in my chapter strengthen their faith and practice, and to better understand President Ikeda’s vision for peace.