2017: Year in Review
A look back at "The Year of Developing Youth in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu."
The SGI-USA makes chapter empowerment the focus toward our gathering of 50,000 youth in 2018. In the SGI, the chapter has the same mission and responsibility as the Soka Gakkai Headquarters— it is, in fact, the headquarters of the local community.
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TOKYO, Dec. 28, 2016— In a dignified ceremony, DePaul University, the country’s largest Catholic university, conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters upon SGI President Ikeda for his prolific career in education and peacekeeping, referring to him as a “shining example that achievement can flourish despite adversity.”
DePaul University President the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, Congregation of the Mission, traveled to Japan to attend the conferral at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. Soka University Trustee Hiromasa Ikeda received the honorary doctorate on the SGI president’s behalf.
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January— The members of the SGI-USA made a powerful running start with hundreds of vibrant chapter kick-off meetings across the country, centered on fostering youthful successors and introducing many others to the life-affirming practice of SGI Nichiren Buddhism.
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Jan. 29— History was made in the SGI-USA, when 1,220 district through national youth leaders gathered in 93 locations to take part in the Ikeda Wisdom Academy Exam II. This marked the successful completion of the First Class of the youth study program, Ikeda Wisdom Academy, founded by SGI President Ikeda in 2013 on Jan. 26, SGI Day.
Under the banner “Protecting the Mentor & the Teachings,” academy members studied all six volumes of The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, President Ikeda’s dialogue series on the Lotus Sutra.
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TORRANCE, Calif., March 4— West Territory advances toward the gathering of 50,000 youth in 2018, standing up for peace and the dignity of all life.
On behalf of SGI President Ikeda, SGI Vice President Yoshiki Tanigawa traveled from Tokyo to offer encouragement and guidance to the 2,000 youth in attendance, including 47 new Bodhisattvas of the Earth who joined the SGI-USA at the meeting.
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In Reaching Beyond: Improvisations on Jazz, Buddhism, and a Joyful Life, Daisaku Ikeda explores the origins, development and international influence of jazz with legendary artists Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.
The e-book is available for $7.99 at online bookstores, such as www.amazon.com. The hardcopy is $12.95 at SGI-USA bookstores and online at https://bookstore.sgi-usa.org.
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BELIZE CITY, Belize, April 2— SGI-USA members rejoice at the opening of the Belize Peace and Culture Center, making a fresh commitment to realize the happiness of its people. Belize is part of the SGI-USA Caribbean Region.
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4— At a briefing for congressional staffers, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson introduced the SGI exhibition “Everything You Treasure—For a World Free From Nuclear Weapons.”
The event took place at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. “The more people who do human revolution, the more we can have peace,” Mr. Johnson said. “And that’s what it’s all about.”
The Ikeda Wisdom Academy, SGI-USA’s youth study program, launches its second class based on The Opening of the Eyes: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series.
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The SGI-USA women established the America Victory Daimoku Group to enable women’s division members to gather together to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the limitless victory of the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival in 2018 and Nov. 18, 2018, together with SGI President and Mrs. Ikeda.
The chanting sessions are held at least once a month and are open to all women’s division members. The young women and any member of the Many Treasures Group are welcome to join as well.
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27— The SGI hosted “Toward a Fundamental Change in Nuclear Weapons Policy” at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. This conference brought together nearly 100 policy experts, scientists, elected officials, religious leaders and students to further the important conversation on how to advance toward a world without nuclear weapons.
As the SGI-USA young women’s and young men’s leaders, Olivia Saito and Mike O’Malley were invited to share the Buddhist perspective on an interfaith youth panel, alongside representatives from the Muslim, Quaker, Jewish and Catholic faiths.
ARLINGTON, Va., May 3— At the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, SGI-USA members held an introductory Buddhist meeting for the second consecutive year as part of the Department of Defense’s Faith and Prayer Week. Two people received the Gohonzon at the event, which was held on May 3, Soka Gakkai Day.
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The long-awaited theme for SGI-USA’s gathering of 50,000 youth in 2018 has been decided: “50,000 Lions of Justice: Ushering in an Era of Hope and Respect!”
June 5— In response to the news of the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, the SGIUSA, in coalition with multiple faith groups, signed a letter to the president of the United States, urging him to reverse his decision to exit the worldwide agreement. In the joint statement, the various faith traditions note the devastating local and global effects of climate change, and the importance of America’s role and leadership “to address and mitigate these effects.”
This represents one of the many ways that the SGI-USA Office of Public Affairs has been involved in wide-ranging efforts together with like-minded groups to advance common interests in areas such as peace and disarmament and sustainable development.
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ALISO VIEJO, Calif., May 26— Soka University of America graduates the class of 2017. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, considered the world’s leading researcher on positive psychology and architect of the concept of “flow,” served as the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony.
In a poignant message, SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda imparted three guidelines for the graduates to engrave as they “take flight upon forged wings as global citizens”:
1. Earn the trust of society and the world, and extend the bonds it builds.
2. Cast the light of hope even farther by working with people and organizations that encourage hope.
3. Live to the fullest in every life moment to discover the fount of joy and creativity to shape the future.
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EUGENE, Ore., June 3–4— The two-day grand opening of the SGI-USA Eugene Buddhist Center marked a new era of kosen-rufu in Oregon.
NEW YORK, July 7— The United Nations passed the international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted by 122 countries at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City. During negotiations, SGI representatives put forth proposals that were reflected in the 10-page treaty—including reference to disarmament education and highlighting the role of women in promoting peace and security.
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July— Thanks to the united efforts of SGI-USA members across the country to visit and encourage youth, over 9,500 young men and women gathered for general meetings that served as powerful dress rehearsals toward next year’s 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival.
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The SGI-USA develops an integrated four-point strategy for victory that will enable America to expand the youth membership and support them in faith:
2. Unit Leaders
3. Home Visits
4. Discussion Meetings
SGI-USA members of Virginia Region respond to racial unrest in Charlottesville with an open letter reaffirming their mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
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Amid North Korea’s threat of a nuclear attack on Guam, the SGI-USA members there have increased their efforts to share the life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism with their friends and community.
SGI President Ikeda established the Soka Gakkai International on the Pacific island of Guam on Jan. 26, 1975, during the First World Peace Conference, a gathering of Soka Gakkai representatives from 51 countries and territories.
In the aftermath of several major hurricanes, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, SGI-USA members embody the spirit to treasure the person in front of them and instill their communities with hope.
New York, Chicago and Los Angeles will be the primary locations for the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival.
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With one year until the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, the SGI-USA distilled its focus into a single powerful determination: Each SGI-USA member of any age introduces one youth to the practice and ensures that he or she attends the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival. Members who introduce one youth to the practice will receive an “I Awakened One Lion” button that they can proudly wear in solidarity with the youth gathering next fall.
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A look at SGI’s partnership with the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize recipient—International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)— toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
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CHICAGO, Oct. 15— Counting down to the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, 1,250 representative leaders, including 408 newly appointed youth unit leaders, from across Central Territory converged on the grounds of the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago for the youth general meeting “Heartland of America: Roaring Lions of Justice and Victory.”
To mark the occasion, the City of Chicago and Cook County, which encompasses Chicago, each issued two resolutions, naming Oct. 9, 2017, “Honorary Daisaku Ikeda Day,” and Oct. 15, 2017, “SGI Youthful Successors Day.” The honors commemorate the 57th anniversary of President Ikeda’s first visit to Chicago in October 1960.
Come join the 14,000 youth across the SGI-USA who will gather for general meetings toward the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival and to celebrate SGI President Ikeda’s 90th birthday on Jan. 2, 2018.
The SGI-USA on Sept. 29 launched its “Facebook Live” series, the first one viewed by 9,000 people. The new social media endeavor aims to generate greater momentum toward next year’s 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival.
U.S. News & World Report, considered the global authority in education rankings, has ranked Soka University of America among its Top 50 National Liberal Arts Colleges in its “Best Colleges 2018” report. The four-year nonsectarian college and graduate school ranked No. 39 among liberal arts colleges. The university also topped the list at No. 1 for liberal arts colleges in “Faculty Resources” and “Foreign Student Factor”; No. 2 for “Ethnic Diversity”; and No. 7 as a “Best Value School.”
Soka University of America was founded by Daisaku Ikeda, the Buddhist leader, prolific writer and founder of numerous cultural, educational and peace research institutions around the world, and is grounded in the humanistic ideals of Soka, or value-creating education, which centers on the happiness of the student. The Aliso Viejo campus was dedicated on May 3, 2001.
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On Jan. 2, 2018, DePaul University, the nation’s largest Catholic university, will launch its master’s of education in Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship, offering a comprehensive examination of the educational philosophies and practices of Soka educators Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda and Daisaku Ikeda.
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Nov. 5— SGI-USA members in Puerto Rico held a victorious kosen-rufu gongyo meeting, their first gathering since the island was ravaged by Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to hit the U.S. territory in nearly a century. With the majority of residents without electricity, the members hosted their activity at a rented facility in San Juan. The members of Puerto Rico are in high spirits, determined to transform this tragedy into value by introducing their friends to the life-empowering philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism.
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VATICAN CITY, Nov. 10–11— The SGI was among 13 cooperating organizations involved in the “Perspectives for a World Free From Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament” conference held at the Vatican in Rome. During the event, SGI Vice President Hiromasa Ikeda and Pope Francis exchanged greetings.
The SGI-USA’s focus right now toward the Year of Brilliant Achievement in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu:
1. Lions of Justice Registration Opens
2. December Youth General Meetings
3. January Chapter Kick-off Meetings