Experience

The Smile of Never Being Defeated

Laura Blume shares her experience of supporting members behind-the-scenes.

Photo: Ariel Chen.


by Laura Blume
BOTHELL, WASH.

I am 26 years old and am very proud to be a member of Byakuren, a young women’s behind-the-scenes training and support group for SGI activities. I was born into a family that practices Nichiren Buddhism, and I have always enjoyed being around SGI members and having meetings at our home.

I try very hard to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and do gongyo, but it is difficult because I have severe apraxia and aphasia due to Down syndrome. These conditions make it difficult for me to organize language in my brain in order to initiate speech. When I am at a meeting, I do my best to be in rhythm with others while chanting, and I always follow the gongyo book carefully.

When I was 19, I started attending youth meetings regularly at the encouragement of my young women’s leaders. At that time, they suggested that I join Byakuren, so I began supporting the kosen-rufu gongyo meetings every month. At first, I was nervous and couldn’t smile while I was greeting the members entering the SGI center. But my Byakuren sisters always encouraged me and made me feel good.

One time, my mom and I chanted very powerfully before a Byakuren shift and while I was greeting people, I noticed that I was able to reach out to everyone who walked in and smile and say, “Hello.” My mom was so happy that she couldn’t stop smiling.

I love being able to support as a Byakuren. I have difficulty standing for too long a time because of my medical conditions. Still I am so appreciative of the support I receive from other Byakuren members and all the members at the SGI-USA Seattle Buddhist Center.

I also appreciate SGI President Ikeda for his consideration to the young women in giving us this special chance to challenge ourselves and serve the members.

Toward the SGI’s milestone of Nov. 18, 2018,[1]Nov. 18, 2018, celebrates the 88th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding and the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu. Advancing toward these milestones, the SGI-USA is now focused on its goal of gathering 50,000 determined youth in 2018 to respond to President Ikeda’s call for peace and to take a stand for the dignity of life. I have a few determinations; I want to communicate with others better, and I’m also chanting for my family’s happiness and to become healthier.

(p. 10)

Notes   [ + ]

1. Nov. 18, 2018, celebrates the 88th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding and the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu. Advancing toward these milestones, the SGI-USA is now focused on its goal of gathering 50,000 determined youth in 2018 to respond to President Ikeda’s call for peace and to take a stand for the dignity of life.