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Let’s Make 2019 a Soka Victory for Everyone

Many Treasures Group

Photo by OOYOO / GETTY IMAGES.


To our most precious Many Treasures Group members,[1]The Many Treasures Group comprises SGI-USA members ages 65 and older.

Thank you for your ceaseless efforts to support kosen-rufu through your activities in the district, the personal encouragement you offer and the abundant daimoku you chant!

This is an extraordinary time for kosen-rufu in America. Since the successful 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival on Sept. 23, 2018, we have continued to win one tremendous victory after another. Last November, over 53,000 people attended discussion meetings, the highest total for the SGI-USA, and in January of this year, the youth held the third Ikeda Wisdom Academy exam, with a record number of examinees and a pass rate above 90 percent. Also on Feb. 12, the youth initiated study lectures for student division members throughout the country and nearly doubled their target of attendance.

Starting with ourselves, let’s always entrust the youth to lead the way and back them up 100 percent with our absolute conviction, just as Many Treasures Buddha did in the Lotus Sutra. This is the wonderful function of the Many Treasures Group.

As we near the end of the first quarter of 2019, I’d like to reaffirm two essential points that I sincerely hope the Many Treasures Group members can exemplify to their juniors.

1. The heart to encourage one another is vital.

Recently, I joined fellow SGI members in celebrating the 90th birthday of Mrs. Kazue Elliot, our great American pioneer and SGI-USA Many Treasures Group women’s leader. I felt the genuine love and appreciation that the members have for her as one of their seniors in faith.

I recall a previous time visiting Mrs. Elliot at her home in Southern California. She was on the phone encouraging one person after another all across the U.S. It was so amazing for me to watch. The heart to encourage one another, to stay in close communication with our treasured friends exhibited by Mrs. Elliot, is an essential guideline of the Many Treasures Group. Anyone regardless of age can feel lonely, and anyone, regardless of leadership, can look out for their fellow comrades to maintain their bridges of friendship.

On Sept. 19, 1993, SGI President Ikeda announced five guidelines for a model organization. Taking into account the vastness of America, the third guideline is “Let’s encourage others on the telephone.” President Ikeda states:

It is important to use our wisdom. America is such a vast country that telephones serve as a valuable way of keeping in contact with, and giving encouragement to members with whom it may be difficult to meet regularly.

As is stated by Nichiren Daishonin, “The voice carries out the work of the Buddha” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 4). Your warm and friendly voices on the phone will greatly encourage your members. (My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 321)

Let’s never lose sight of the importance of staying in close touch, be that via telephone or seeing one another face-to-face.

2. From this moment forward!

Let’s have a forward-looking spirit. As we know, Nichiren Buddhism is the practice of making a fresh determination in the present regardless of what may have happened in the past. Nichiren states, “I know your faith has always been admirable, but now you must strengthen it more than ever” (“The Supremacy of the Law,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 614).

Wayne Shorter, legendary jazz musician and your fellow Many Treasures Group member, has a motto: “Zero Gravity.”
For Wayne, this means that nothing is holding him back; he always strives to create something fresh and wonderful regardless of his past achievements. At age 85, he’s now putting his heart and soul into finishing an opera by 2020. This eternally youthful spirit is what enables him to inspire many young people.

Many of you have practiced Buddhism for 40, 50 or even 60 years. You may be able to look back at a time when President Ikeda frequently visited the U.S. or when you lived in bigger cities with more SGI members nearby. While treasuring our past experiences, let’s not forget to deepen our seeking spirit toward Sensei’s writings in the present and always carry with us the World Tribune or Living Buddhism. In this new era, this is the way to access the spirit of President Ikeda.

With these two key elements, let’s plunge into activities in 2019, and make this year a Soka Victory for everyone.

Thank you very much!

Adin Strauss
SGI-USA General Director

Notes   [ + ]

1. The Many Treasures Group comprises SGI-USA members ages 65 and older.