Feature

¡Viva Kosen-rufu en Cuba!

Buddhists in Cuba share their personal experiences in faith.


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Alejandro Infante Guntín
SGI Cuba young men’s leader

After Alejandro Infante Guntín began chanting, he became a voracious reader of all things historical. As the leader of the SGI Cuba José Martí Club, he finds deep resonance between the ideals of the three founding Soka Gakkai presidents and Martí. A guitarist for the rock band Qva Libre, he says the mentor-disciple relationship begins with making a pledge to work for kosen-rufu. “The first thing I feel is gratitude because thanks to Sensei’s work, we [the SGI] can be here so I can have a better life,” he says. “I promised him that other people will be able to enjoy this way of life, too.”

 

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Yenifer Madera Castanera
SGI Cuba vice young women’s leader

Yenifer Madera Castanera stood up in faith after her husband moved to the U.S. two years ago for better opportunities. While they are chanting in earnest to be reunited, she is raising her two children, ages 7 and 2, in Havana. “A mission has awoken in me to do kosen-rufu in my country— to fight for Cuba.” she says. “The fact that Sensei is thinking about me, even though I’m just one member, that motivates me a lot and it gives me a lot of strength.” Mrs. Madera Castanera rents a room in a home, where she hosts meetings twice a week. Sometimes, when she’s sad, she thinks of the lessons in Kaneko’s Story and smiles, which instantly brings her hope. “I always remember this point—to smile. Members of the Soka Gakkai are always smiling. They are always happy.”

 

World Tribune & LB

Yunior Javier Calá Despaigne
Civil engineering student

Yunior Javier Calá Despaigne grew up facing the constant, stinging rejection of his peers because his family lacked the means to buy the right clothes or shoes. So he sought out various religions, but never felt satisfied with the answers. When he was introduced to the writings of Nichiren Daishonin and President Ikeda, Mr. Calá Despaigne says he realized that he was the one who had to change; in his case, that meant becoming stronger and learning to believe in himself. Today, as a college student, he faces the same peers, but they no longer bother him. “Now, when someone doesn’t like me, it’s OK,” he says. “I have better friendships now.”

 

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Margarita Morales Sánchez
SGI Cuba young women’s leader

Margarita Morales Sánchez began chanting at 9 with her mother. A trained classical pianist and singer, she began practicing in earnest after moving to Havana to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Today, she is the lead singer of the rock group Qva Libre. Every day, she says she looks at a framed photo of President and Mrs. Ikeda in her room for inspiration. “They always have this encouraging expression for me,” she says. “When I don’t reach my goal, they look at me and say, ‘Continue.’ And when I reach a goal, they look at me, and say, ‘Continue.’ ”

 

Lazaro Benjamin Travieso Scarlett Hotel Nacional Havana, Cuba June 26, 2016

Lázaro Benjamín Travieso Scarlett
School principal

Lázaro Benjamín Travieso Scarlett grew up with a mother who practiced Buddhism, but he embraced the practice only after encountering major challenges at work. Around 2001, Mr. Travieso Scarlett, a professor, had a disagreement with his principal and was fired. For three months, he prayed strongly with his mother, Dora Scarlett, to transform the situation. He not only got his job back but also was hired as the principal. Mr. Travieso Scarlett says studying President Ikeda’s guidance enables people to become humanistic and victorious. “It fills your heart when you read everything he wants for humanity,” he says. “Everything President Ikeda says, everything he wants, we want to accomplish in its totality.”

 

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Dr. Anaisa Herenia Gómez López
Physician

Dr. Anaisa Herenia Gómez López learned about Buddhism from a friend in the U.S. Receiving the Gohonzon two years ago changed her point of view on obstacles—she now sees them as opportunities to forge her life. As a house doctor, she is responsible for roughly 300 households in her area, and is constantly speaking to patients by phone, in the market and on the street. She also cares for her elderly mother, who has Parkinson’s disease. The key to her vibrant spirit is sharing Buddhism with others. She makes her own Nam-myoho-renge-kyo cards, which she gives to her patients, and hosts weekly intro meetings at her home. She has helped six people receive the Gohonzon, but estimates she has shared Buddhism with more than 500 people. “When you fight obstacles with faith and determination, you can achieve your goals,” she says. “It’s with this conviction that I keep going.”

 

(pp. 8–9)