Feature

Discussion Meetings: The Heart and Soul of Soka

We are determined to break an attendance record of 50,000 people at our November discussion meetings, with 20,000 being youth members and youth guests.


We are so happy to share that we achieved our nationwide goal of gathering 50,000 youth at our Lions of Justice Festival on Sept. 23! In response, SGI President Ikeda sent us the following message: “Congratulations on the great success of the meeting. Please convey my warmest regards to everyone.”

Congratulations, we have all won!

No words can express the gratitude we have for each of you and your tireless efforts that ensured this glorious victory. We’d especially like to express our gratitude to the Many Treasures and pioneer members, who are the bedrock of American kosen-rufu.

There have been many reports of organizations successfully defeating devilish functions and members overcoming unbelievable obstacles as they dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to encouraging and supporting the youth. One young women’s leader gave her all to supporting the members, while pursuing a doctorate and working full time as a high school teacher. Her dream is to establish a university in Africa to realize President Ikeda’s vision that the 21st century be the Century of Africa. Just weeks before the 50K Festival, she was hired to teach at a university in Ghana!

In installment 134 of “Vow,” the final chapter of the 30-volume epic novel, The New Human Revolution, President Ikeda writes, “Valuing each individual, taking a personal interest in their well-being, and making steady efforts in dialogue and offering encouragement represent the eternal and unchanging key to fresh growth and development for both individual members and the organization” (www.worldtribune.org).

To those who set goals toward Sept. 23 that have yet to be realized, please continue to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and persevere. Please remember, no effort for the sake of the Mystic Law is wasted and no prayer goes unanswered. As long as we continue to advance and do our human revolution, we will as a matter of fact achieve our goals and dreams.

Recalling the Past Two Years

In September 2016, we set the bold goal of gathering 50,000 youth in two years, and to kick it off, we applied the four-point strategy of: 1) home visits, 2) shakubuku, 3) improving discussion meetings and 4) strengthening study.

Since then, more than 10,000 youth have started their practice, and the SGI-USA made one of the greatest member care efforts in its history, activating and reconnecting with many young people through home visits.

Throughout this process, President Ikeda sent countless messages of encouragement and dispatched Soka Gakkai leaders from Japan to encourage us. In February 2018, we had the opportunity to send 201 SGI-USA youth to Japan for a training course in Tokyo and Kansai. This truly became a shared struggle with our mentor.

Then, with 5,500 core unit through national youth leaders gathering on March 18, we began our united, all-out effort across the SGI-USA to reach out to and register youth members and their friends for the festival.

We are so proud of the tremendous growth in faith of the SGI-USA youth. Together with Sensei, and alongside our world-class men and women, we are ready to embark on the next chapter of kosen-rufu in America.

Next Steps

The many guests and members who attended the festival shared the deep inspirations they gained from the experiences, performances and videos.

Now, especially, is the time to channel this momentum and joy into our main forum—the heart and soul of our Soka movement—our district discussion meetings.

To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosenrufu and the 88th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding, we are determined to break an attendance record of 50,000 people at our November discussion meetings, with 20,000 being youth members and youth guests.

First, we will release some tools on our SGI-USA website to help all leaders prepare fruitful and encouraging discussion meetings. Let’s involve the youth in planning these meetings to ensure fresh content, and inspire our chapter through national youth leaders to lead them by giving closing encouragement.

Second, we would like to reinitiate our national home visit campaign and our online home visit tracker (via the SGI-USA Portal leaders website).

President Ikeda states: “I have come to the conclusion that those who dedicated themselves to offering personal guidance to members never give up their practice. I think this is because giving guidance—though
hard, unglamorous and inconspicuous work that requires a great deal of patience—truly deepens one’s faith. And as these leaders continue to offer guidance, they reflect seriously on their own lives and are able to guide themselves as well. That is why they don’t abandon their faith” (May 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 52).

These efforts to support our precious members, chanting with them and offering heartfelt guidance all reverberate in our own lives. These activities, along with our victorious festival, are not charitable acts but rather what enable each of us to build true, unshakable happiness and great benefit in our lives.

Sensei states unequivocally: “Even the grandest event or ceremony can be seen as what the sutra describes as a ‘phantom city’—merely a mirage. Its real purpose is as a goal toward which each participant can work, toward which people can challenge themselves, triumph and build a real ‘city of life’ in the depths of their hearts” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 5, pp. 165–66).

The next step in our journey to create this golden city of life in the depths of our hearts is our discussion meetings. Toward 2019, let’s redouble our efforts to support our members and build tremendous, powerful districts in an age crying out for real dialogue and true encouragement.

This is the heart and soul of Soka. Thank you!

Adin Strauss
General Director
Akemi
Bailey-Haynie
SGI-USA
Women’s Leader
Cliff Sawyer
SGI-USA Men’s Leader
David Witkowski
SGI-USA Youth Leader
Olivia Saito
SGI-USA Young Womens Leader
Mike O’Malley
SGI-USA Young Mens Leader