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Buddhist Solutions for Life's Problems

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SGI-USA launches a Buddhist Solutions for Life’s Problems making Buddhism more relatable.

On May 31, the SGI-USA launched a podcast series, “Buddhist Solutions for Life’s Problems.” The World Tribune sat down with SGI-USA Social Media Manager Mike O’Malley and podcast host Jihii Jolly to learn more about the podcast’s objective, the feedback so far and what listeners can look forward to!

World Tribune: Congratulations on launching the exciting SGI-USA podcast series, “Buddhist Solutions for Life’s Problems”! Why was it started?

Mike O’Malley

Mike O’Malley (SGI-USA social media manager):
The podcast series was launched in an effort to make Buddhism more accessible to people. There is a sharp contrast between the Buddhism society understands and the one practiced in the SGI-USA. While American society tends to place a heavy focus on mindfulness and gaining serenity so we can look past our problems, the podcast aims to provide an authentic, transparent and real look into how Buddhism can help people solve their problems and grow along the way.

Jihii Jolly (podcast host): Podcasts are gaining traction, because they offer a natural way for people to digest information. While watching YouTube is akin to viewing a movie, listening to a podcast is like reading a book. It’s a medium that allows people to reflect a bit more. Generally, listening to a podcast is a solitary experience in which people feel safe. Because of that, they may be willing to reflect on their assumptions and go places they may not have otherwise gone. Listening to a podcast is about exploring your own life, which is something that we are also encouraged to do in our Buddhist practice.

Mike: In discussions leading up to its launch, we were encouraged to lead with the philosophy of Buddhist humanism through members’ personal stories. Individuals may not be seeking out Buddhism as much as they are struggling with a problem. So, we came up with episodes centering on people’s lives and their problems—relating to jobs, relationships, finances, parenting and more.

In the inaugural episode, “You’re Pushing My Buttons,” Joe Peretti, of Long Island, N.Y., discusses how he used his Buddhist practice to overcome his judgment and anger toward his ex-wife, co-workers and father to create harmonious relationships in his life.

Fundamentally, we want to meet people where they are and provide nourishment to those looking for a way to not only get through the emotional rollercoaster of daily life, but also win over their problems.

WT: Who are you trying to reach through the podcast?

Mike: Our audience is everyone. We want to reach those who are looking for religion in the purest sense, as a source to benefit their lives and become happy.

SGI President Ikeda has talked about how religion was born from prayer (see The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 4, p. 152), and people’s desire to make the power of the universe their ally.

Often before seeking out a religion, people will search for something to aid them in seeing a path forward. President Ikeda, for example, wasn’t necessarily seeking religion when he first encountered Nichiren Buddhism.

But he was a youth who then realized it was the key to becoming happy. We hope to reach those who aren’t necessarily seeking out religion but are looking for something that will help them overcome life’s obstacles, become happy and illuminate the greatness of the human being.

When creating each episode, we are thinking about those who might be challenging that specific topic. If somebody is struggling to find their dream job, for example, we hope that they can feel encouraged by how the person in the related episode used Buddhism to persevere in the face of that struggle and land their dream job.

Jihii: The podcast is as much for members as it is for guests. We want SGI-USA members to utilize this as a powerful tool for sharing Buddhism with their friends in a way that is moving and real.

WT: What feedback have you received so far?

Jihii: When the podcast was launched, there was a palpable sense of excitement! The feedback has been great.

After listening to the first episode, one member reached out sharing that the podcast series introduction described her own experience growing up.

Although she hadn’t actively participated in SGI-USA activities, listening to that episode inspired her to reconnect.

What each episode comes down to is people’s human revolution. It is about teaching them to believe in their own limitless potential and pull forth the confidence they need to break through in their lives.

One guest, who had gone to the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival last year, was hesitant to come out to SGI-USA activities again. But after hearing the podcast, he reached out to his friend to find out about upcoming meetings.
We invite people to share feedback with us, and to rate and review the podcast, as this helps people learn about the series!

WT: What can we expect from future episodes?

Mike: What each episode comes down to is people’s human revolution. It is about teaching them to believe in their own limitless potential and pull forth the confidence they need to break through in their lives. The first season will only be the tip of the iceberg in terms of what problems we’ll address. We’ll focus on major topics, including relationships, heartbreak, dream job, financial karma, parenting and more. Later we’ll come back to some of these issues, take a different angle and do a deeper dive.

WT: Is this podcast series part of a larger effort?

Mike: It’s a first step toward a profound shift in how we share Buddhism in America and how we utilize social media to do so.

The larger effort is to introduce the humanistic ideals of Nichiren Buddhism to society through leading with a hope-filled philosophy of human revolution and respect for the sanctity of life, as taught by President Ikeda and conveyed through the powerful stories of ordinary SGI-USA members across our country. WT

Ideas and feedback about the SGI-USA podcast series can be submitted to podcast@sgi-usa.org.