How Did You Expand Your Life in 2016?
Thoughts on the SGI’s theme for 2017 from the protagonists of American kosen-rufu.
Q: How did you expand your life in 2016? What does the SGI’s theme for 2017, the Year of Developing Youth in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu, mean to you?
Early last year, I started to get very sick. Tests revealed that my left thyroid was increasing in size. After a biopsy, doctors could not determine whether it was cancerous. To fight against all fears, I summoned forth the courage to share this practice with others and took the lead in our youth-sponsored introductory Buddhist meetings. I helped four people receive the Gohonzon and soon after learned that my thyroid was not cancerous! This year’s theme means to raise capable youth who can create a prime point with Sensei and carry on the flow of kosen-rufu for eternity.
Through the most chanting I’ve ever done in my life, I expanded my life last year in multiple ways. I challenged parts of my life that I had been running away from. I enrolled in school as a full-time student, and am determined to complete my education and report my victory to Sensei. The most joyous expansion was when three of my friends received the Gohonzon, and I helped accomplish 100 percent young men’s chapter leadership in my region.
This past year, I determined to expand my life by transforming my own negativity, anger and judgmental nature to respecting and learning from others’ points of view, transcending differences to create harmonious unity. This also allowed me to excel at work, where I took on and completed challenging projects with team members I had difficulties with. Expanding my life in 2016 really meant expanding my heart.
I am 72 years old and have pulmonary hypertension, a terminal, incurable medical condition. Because of my practice, I have overcome the effects of this illness with enthusiasm and joy. Sensei writes: “Youth is not something that fades with age. Our attitude toward life is what makes us young. As long as we have a forward-looking, positive attitude and spirit of challenge, we will gain depth as people and our lives will shine with a brilliance that is ours alone” (The Third Stage of Life, p. 82).
This year’s theme means that I personally need to work harder than ever, because I’m the young men’s leader in my district, and the only member of the junior high and high school division. I need to contribute to the growth of youth in this practice. Last year, I introduced Buddhism to one of my closest friends who was struggling, and I plan on helping guide more of my friends to this practice, so that they can have something to believe in. We are the youth, the future of this organization and the world.