Living the Bodhisattva Way

New unit leaders, Nicole MacNeven and Ayush Sharma, share their experiences supporting others in faith.

Photo: iStockphoto / DanielPrudek.

Nicole MacNeven
St. Paul, Minn.• Joined: July 16, 2017

Photo: A.L. Photography

I recently returned to school to study computer programming and also took on a lead role as a chef after having been a cook for the past 15 years. Being shy and introverted, I lacked confidence to lead a small group at work. I started having a hard time finding ways to encourage my team and communicate with them.

On July 16, I joined the SGI together with my wife, Amanda, to win in this transitional period of my life. I didn’t expect to experience benefits so quickly, but my wife has noticed that I’ve become more confident, and she recently found a new teaching job!

I realized that I’m capable of moving beyond the obstacles I’m facing.

Studying the new-member booklet Introduction to Buddhism, I came across a simple but powerful line: “Like the lion king, those who have activated their Buddhahood neither fear nor are daunted by anything or anyone” (p. 26). The moment I read this, I realized that I’m capable of moving beyond the obstacles I’m facing if I keep chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and having faith in the practice.

I started chanting to be an effective leader at work and a few days later, on Aug. 19, I was asked to become a unit leader in the SGI-USA. I didn’t feel like I was ready, but I realized that this opportunity was exactly what I needed to develop myself as a leader in faith and at work. I’ve had an amazing experience as a new member because of the positivity and support of fellow SGI members, and now I’m excited to provide that same support to others! Also, through using my Buddhist practice to excel as a chef and a programmer, I want to show people that we can do anything we put our minds to!


Ayush Sharma
Boston, Mass.• Joined: May 26, 2016

Photo: Deepanjan Das.

Last year, in desperation to change my life, I researched Buddhism online and came across SGI President Ikeda’s quote: “While it’s important to win, it’s even more important to remain undefeated no matter what happens” (ikedaquotes.org).

The next day, I attended an intro-to- Buddhism meeting at the local SGI-USA center. As I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time, I felt deeply at peace. I received the Gohonzon the following day on May 26, 2016.

My support for others comes from my appreciation to the Gohonzon and many SGI members who’ve supported me.

Although I still have my ups and downs, the young men in the SGI have never judged me for my decisions, but instead have always encouraged me to stand up again! As a result, I had the courage to reapply to my master’s program after being kicked out for poor academic performance. The night after my second young men’s behind-the-scenes Gajokai shift, I received my acceptance letter!

As my life opened up to new opportunities, I became a unit leader this past May. I support three young men and visit each of them twice a week. We get together to chant and study SGI President Ikeda’s encouragement in Living Buddhism.

My support for others comes from my appreciation to the Gohonzon and many SGI members who’ve supported me.

In June, I joined the 7th Class of the Gajokai and Soka Group Academy. I’m determined to have six friends receive the Gohonzon before graduating the academy, and just last month, for the first time, I helped a friend join the SGI! I also want to graduate from my master’s program in international marketing with honors. I know I will face more challenges ahead, but as long as I keep on chanting and focusing on my human revolution, victory will be mine.


(p. 10)