Who's In Your Squad of 6?
A report on the nationwide March 18 youth leaders meetings.
by Ayumi Inoue
The countdown has begun.
Nearly 5,400 SGI-USA youth leaders launched the six-month countdown to the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival with powerful Unit Through National Youth Leaders Meetings, held on March 18 across the country.
There, three keys to victory were shared toward the Sept. 23 festival:
1. “Bring Your Squad of 6”: SGI-USA youth leaders determined to personally challenge bringing six friends to the festival, whether they be guests, friends, family or youth members who haven’t attended an SGI meeting in awhile. Although this direction was presented to unit through national youth leaders, SGI-USA members of all ages can take part in this challenge. “This goal to bring a ‘Squad of 6’ isn’t just about bringing out six youth,” said SGI-USA Youth Leader David Witkowski. “This is a challenge for us to develop a life condition that can inspire countless young people.”
2. Registration: Continue to encourage
and help as many youth as possible
3. Shakubuku: Continue introducing youth to Nichiren Buddhism and help them receive the Gohonzon.
What inspired the motto “Bring Your Squad of 6”?
This year marks the 60th anniversary of March 16, 1958, Kosen-rufu Day, in which 6,000 youth gathered for a ceremony of succession with second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, shortly before his death. These successors went on to solidify the kosen-rufu movement in Japan, together with SGI President Ikeda.
The number six was also inspired by Nichiren Daishonin’s words regarding the vow of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth: “The Bodhisattvas of the Earth led by Superior Practices emerged from beneath the earth, each with a retinue equal in number to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers” (“Reply to Hoshina Goro Taro,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 157).
Creating Unstoppable Momentum
Furthermore, this youthful direction to inspire countless individuals was motivated by the 28-year-old Daisaku Ikeda’s triumphant victory in the Osaka Campaign of 1956, in which 11,111 households joined the Soka Gakkai in a single month, creating a blueprint for making the impossible possible.
In and around the time of that campaign, President Ikeda personally encouraged 8,000 individuals within 180 days. The key to his victory was his serious effort to cherish the person in front of him.
“What we were inspired by wasn’t the result itself of 11,111 households joining, but rather the process that President Ikeda underwent toward that end,” David stressed. “It was his warm care for one person after another that opened the path for them to awaken to the power of their lives and transform their karma.”
“This 50K Battle Is Within”
David emphasized that the three keys of shakubuku, registration and the “Squad of 6” are inseparable actions toward engaging the gears of our human revolution, so that we can deeply transform our karma, both in our personal lives and for our country. “I hope each person can fight toward the 50K Festival with personal goals and dreams in their hearts,” he said.
He added that the campaign ultimately serves as an expedient means for everyone to dig deeper in their faith and human revolution. “This 50K battle is within,” David said. “Everything goes back to my prayer and how much more I can expand my life. That’s how I’m taking every obstacle and suffering that comes my way as I advance toward Sept. 23. Through this process, we will develop into people who can achieve all our goals and dreams.”
“The Core of 50,000 Lions Is Ready”
The March 18 meetings were filled with many youth who had joined within the last two years, representing a new generation of leaders for kosen-rufu. These newer members shared their experiences in faith, supported behind the scenes and performed as Ikeda Youth Ensemble members.
David noted that over the past few years, the number of youth who have taken on leadership responsibilities has more than doubled. “Being able to gather this many capable successors who want to rid America of hatred and violence is absolutely amazing,” he said. “Due to everyone’s efforts and support, the core of 50,000 lions is ready.”