Chanting With the Heart of a Lion King
Yukie Wynne on 55 years of Buddhist practice.
This year, pioneer Yukie Wynne celebrates 55 years of Buddhist practice. The World Tribune spoke with her about the power of prayer to secure a more peaceful land in her beloved city of Miami.
World Tribune: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us! You have been practicing Buddhism for 55 years. Can you please tell us how you’ve continued to advance your practice?
Yukie Wynne: In 2006, I saw one of the Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders’ meeting videos that featured Orlando Cepeda, the famous baseball player and SGI member. SGI President Ikeda talked about Mr. Cepeda and his unique mission for kosen-rufu. Since I’ve lived in Miami for more than 40 years, I thought about my unique mission here, something I could offer to show my appreciation.
As you know, Miami is often the target of hurricanes. In 2005, my home was damaged by Hurricane Wilma, so I know the suffering that people go through when these disasters hit. After seeing this video, I determined that Miami would no longer be defeated by hurricanes.
WT: That’s a big mission to take on! What happened?
Mrs. Wynne: That same year, newscasters announced a hurricane heading straight to Miami. Members started calling me, saying: “Yukie, what’s happening? The hurricane is coming our way!” I had already been chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo abundantly for a week. Over and over again, I read Nichiren Daishonin’s passage “Though one might point at the earth and miss it, though one might bind up the sky, though the tides might cease to ebb and ow and the sun rise in the west, it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered” (“On Prayer,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 345).
I was reminded of Sensei’s encouragement that Buddhism is win or lose, and that the Buddha nature and devilish functions are always at battle with each other. With Nichiren’s writings and Sensei’s guidance, I knew I could not fail.
I chanted for the hurricane to not touch land and for it to disperse into the sky. This is what happened, just as I prayed. In 2007, I chanted even more when a hurricane was predicted to come directly to Miami. The direction of the hurricane changed.
I made a determination then to chant abundantly every day during hurricane season (June–November) and reminded myself that I could not relax. As Nichiren says: “Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month. Should you slacken in your resolve even a bit, devils will take advantage” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” WND-1, 997). I have been chanting through every hurricane season for the past 10 years now.
“What’s most important is for me to win. And I can win by studying Sensei’s guidance and chanting to have a youthful spirit.”
WT: Miami is also close to the Florida Nature and Culture Center in Weston, Florida. What went through your mind about the FNCC?
Mrs. Wynne: My strong conviction was even more important because I had to pray for the FNCC to be protected, since Sensei gifted this beautiful center to us. Last year, during the danger of Hurricane Matthew, many people chanted to blow away the hurricane. That was my main goal, too, because I wanted many people to experience how powerful Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is. I chanted with the heart of a lion king, and the storm missed Florida although it was predicted many times to make landfall here. Whether it’s my prayer alone, I firmly believe Nichiren Daishonin’s words that “When the people all chant Nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo, the wind will no longer buffet the branches, and the rain will no longer break the clods of soil” (“On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings,” WND-1, 392).
WT: I understand that you received an award from President Ikeda to thank you for your beautiful efforts and conviction.
Mrs. Wynne: Yes, I received the Crown of Happiness Award. I also received an appreciation letter from SGI-USA General Director Adin Strauss, who reminded me of Sensei’s words: “Through living honorably, you will be remembered as [a champion] of kosen-rufu whose names will forever shine in the annals of our movement” (My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 59).
WT: Have you met President Ikeda before?
Mrs. Wynne: I was very fortunate to see Sensei every time he visited Miami as I supported his behind-the-scenes movements, including in 1974 and 1978. I remember his kind words of encouragement and his guidance about the importance of leaders treating members with utmost respect. Then in 1981, Sensei met the members in Miami on his way to Panama.
WT: What other obstacles have you overcome through your practice?
Mrs. Wynne: I moved to this country from Japan in 1959 with my first husband, and I received the Gohonzon on Jan. 17, 1962. At the beginning of my practice, I worked far from the meetings and had to take several buses and then a taxi to get there. Sometimes I arrived after the meeting was over, but I knew this was the way to increase my fortune and gain benefit.
After my divorce, I stopped participating in SGI activities but soon realized that I needed to be active in the organization again, because I always received benefit from participating. My second husband, Jack Wynne, was an SGI-USA member. He passed away in 1998.
I’ve faced other obstacles, but they don’t seem so big, because my faith is ironclad. I just go to the Gohonzon and chant to win through every one of them.
WT: What is the best advice you can give to a young person, or someone new to the practice?
Mrs. Wynne: Study Nichiren’s writings and Sensei’s guidance consistently. That way, you can be true disciples and have the same heart and mind as Sensei and Nichiren Daishonin. You will know what working for kosen-rufu truly is. You can then accomplish your mission, overcome any obstacle and become absolutely happy.
WT: What is your new resolve?
Mrs. Wynne: I’m not young anymore. I’m 78, so what’s most important is for me to win. And I can win by studying Sensei’s guidance and chanting to have a youthful spirit, the Soka Gakkai spirit. Every day, I also chant for Sensei’s and Mrs. Ikeda’s good health, happiness and prosperity, and this will continue to be in my prayers. I am eternally grateful to them, the SGI and the Gohonzon. Because of this practice, I am who I am today. And toward 2018, I will seriously and earnestly pray for the absolute victory of the 50,000 youth gathering. I am chanting to introduce many young people to the SGI by then. I will continue to pray and win.