Forging Our Bond With Sensei

San Jose Chapter unites toward 50K through each person’s courageous human revolution.

Photo by GLEN CLARK.

World Tribune: One of the venues for the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival will be San Jose State University, in Northern California, where your chapter resides. Congratulations! What kind of efforts are the members making?

Hisakazu Ishiguro (chapter men’s leader): We’ve been involving the districts in weekly introductory Buddhist meetings hosted by San Jose State University’s SGI campus club. One time, when there were no guests, we united, creating fliers and reaching out to people together. We were amazed because many youth were interested in Buddhism, and one already knew about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. We’re each challenging our personal shakubuku, too.

Kenny Liou (chapter young men’s leader): I got more involved in SGI activities because of the genuine friendships I had made with my young men’s leaders outside of meetings. So, we’re focusing on home visits to build bonds with our members, encouraging them to challenge their struggles and goals with Buddhist practice.

Also, since our active youth are registered, we’re meeting with their friends, asking men and women about their children and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the wisdom to reach the youth who aren’t connected to the organization.

WT: What’s the key to unity?

Paranee “Air” Chantang (chapter women’s leader): We chant every morning from 8–10 a.m. at our local SGI-USA center. Our united prayer is for 60 young men and 60 young women to attend the festival from our chapter. There’s so much energy and excitement when we come together. On top of that, members who come out consistently are experiencing breakthroughs. One young man who was struggling to find work just got a job a few days ago!

Nicole Inamine (chapter young women’s leader): We’re all pretty busy, but we try to consistently check in with one another. When we meet, we review both the youth membership and registration lists, and create a follow-up plan. I feel it’s more challenging when you’re doing things on your own, but working together puts things in per-
spective and multiplies our efforts. We want to reach as many people as we can together.

WT: Any breakthroughs?

Kenny: Before visits, I chant to raise my life condition so that, somehow, I can encourage that person. Rather than focusing on what I want to convey, I muster up courage and compassion for them. Through these efforts, more young men are standing up. A district young men’s leader started a study group, and he’s really connecting with his guys. Another person we lost touch with came out to this meeting—the first time in two years!

This 50K campaign is teaching me how important our own determination is and how it can change the environment.

Nicole: I used to depend on others to do things, but because of this campaign, I’m calling members whom I’ve never met and home visiting so much more. There was a young woman no one knew, so I decided to stop by her home to leave a note. She wasn’t there, but I spoke with her grandmother. I didn’t think anything was going to come of it, but she reached out to me! We’re now developing a friendship step by step.

There was always a gap between my practice and daily life, but all these efforts toward 50K are now being reflected in my own efforts to create greater harmony at my job and with my family. I work for the City of San Jose, so it’s all very personal for me. My prayer had always been to treasure my life, and now I feel like I’m living up to it with courage.

Hisakazu: One district struggled because they had no youth. So we began hosting weekly chanting sessions and determined to create a great district. Then, one young woman joined and brought along many of her friends! All of a sudden, there are many youth, and we have the new challenge of supporting each of them in faith.

To be honest, in my years of practice, my prayers had been focused on my own benefit. For the first time, I’m naturally praying for our members and for world peace. I really enjoy practicing in this way together with the youth and SGI President Ikeda.

Paranee “Air”: At first, I was worried if we were going to make our goal. But when I thought of Sensei, I determined to chant three hours a day. I also began home visiting women’s division members to help everyone feel excitement toward the festival. And on one visit, we registered her grandchild and his girlfriend! This experience brought so much joy to us.

My mother passed away two weeks after the festival location was announced, and President Ikeda’s guidance helped me through it. Instead of feeling grief for my mother’s loss, I feel so much appreciation. This profound shift in my heart, and the joy I feel in my life is my biggest breakthrough. I’m determined to continue spreading this joy with others!

WT: Any concluding words?

Hisakazu: We’ve passed the halfway point toward our 50K youth attendance goal. This is such a precious time with Sensei. Our determination is for each of us to create an unshakable bond with our mentor.

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