A Ripple Effect of Happiness
With “home visits” and “personal encouragement” as the bywords for the SGI-USA in 2019, this World Tribune series features SGI-USA leaders who discuss their personal experiences of being home visited, visiting others and the lessons they’ve learned.
by Olivia Saito
SGI-USA Youth Leader
This year, I decided to challenge home visits like never before, and in one month, I was able to meet with 47 individuals. Through listening to each person’s story, their current struggles, and praying for their absolute victory, I felt my own humanity deepen.
Living in this way, with more compassion and care for others, I have deeper appreciation for my own struggles and life. The greatest benefit of this practice is that I can live with so much joy.
Q: Why are home visits important to you?
SGI President Ikeda always reminds us that, while larger group meetings have their purpose, meeting people one-to-one is how we can truly understand what is at the innermost depths of their heart.
In our age, where genuine human connections are growing scarce, I often hear youth yearning for a place where they can open up and feel like they belong. For those struggling in silence, knowing there are people who care and will go out of their way to be with them, listen to and encourage them could completely change their lives.
Even in my previous work with a child abuse prevention program, I learned about the significance of home visits. There is increasing evidence showing that visiting people at their homes and providing care in that setting leads to relationships built on trust, and, as a result, greater change in behavior. It’s absolutely clear that home visits are actions of hope and change, which we can all engage in.
Q: How have home visits helped you do your human revolution?
Doing home visits have truly made me a stronger person who can win over her weaknesses while simultaneously supporting others.
When I first took on leadership in the SGI, it was a time of confusion for me in many aspects. In my struggles, I often called my seniors in faith, and their encouragement was consistent: Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, study Sensei’s guidance and visit another young woman. But I wondered, How can I encourage anyone when I’m struggling myself?
They shared that by listening to other people’s struggles and doing my best to encourage them, I would manifest the life condition of a Bodhisattva of the Earth to break through in my own life. Although I had doubts,
I challenged myself in this way.
Looking back, I see that home visits taught me the fighting spirit to persevere and win over my tendency to isolate myself in times of difficulty. This fighting spirit is now the foundation of my happiness.
Q: What’s something you have learned recently from a home visit?
President Ikeda writes: “One ripple can produce countless others. In this way, the ripple created by your efforts to visit one member and engage sincerely with them will give rise to untold more” (March 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 33).
Recently, I met with a young woman. Together, we visited another young woman, and the three of us determined to visit yet another. Each person we met with opened the way for heartfelt dialogue with one more person. In the end, we each felt empowered to overcome our hardships and work for the happiness of others.
I learned that the starting point is always caring for a single person. Just as Nichiren Daishonin states, “One is the mother of ten thousand” (“A Sage and an Unenlightened Man,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 131), encouraging one person truly is encouraging countless others. WT