2019 Year In Review
The Year of Brilliant Achievement in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu
The Year of Victory for Each SGI-USA Member!
The SGI-USA announced several key objectives for 2019, the Year of Soka Victory—Toward Our 90th Anniversary:
1. Engage in an unprecedented number of home visits and personal guidance sessions.
2. Hold youth discussion meetings by chapter in July and gather 25,000 youth nationwide.
3. Actively promote discussion meeting attendance each month, culminating in vibrant and victorious discussion meetings nationwide in November.
4. Study The New Human Revolution study guide, found in the Living Buddhism, at district study meetings.
Brightly Illuminate the World With the Light of Human Revolution
In his New Year’s message, SGI President Ikeda reminds SGI members that “When we align our lives with the Mystic Law, there is absolutely no difficulty or obstacle that we cannot overcome. With this great conviction, let’s continue to chant, challenge ourselves and press forward victoriously.”
Soka Victory Districts
The SGI-USA announced the 2019 benchmarks for Soka Victory Districts:
• 20 members and guests attend discussion meetings at least two times during the year.
• 20 subscribers to the SGI-USA publications.
• 2 people receive the Gohonzon and start practicing Nichiren Buddhism.
• 7 sustaining financial contributors.
Let’s Speak Heart to Heart
With “home visits” and “personal encouragement” as the bywords for the SGI-USA in 2019, the World Tribune debuted “Home Visit Revolution,” a new series featuring SGI-USA leaders who discuss their personal experiences of being home visited, home visiting others and the lessons they’ve learned.
A Baptist Preacher’s Buddhist Teacher Is a Winner
Middleway Press’ A Baptist Preacher’s Buddhist Teacher, authored by Dr. Lawrence E. Carter Sr., was named the 2019 winner of the Illumination Book Awards in the “Biography/Memoir” category. The awards are designed to honor and bring increased recognition to the year’s best new titles “written and published with a Christian worldview.”
Dr. Carter is the founding dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College. In the book, he discusses how his interfaith journey with SGI President Ikeda made him a better Christian.
A New Generation of Youth Based on a Vow
On Jan. 27, over 1,600 district through national youth leaders participated in the Ikeda Wisdom Academy Exam III, completing the second class of the advanced youth study program. The exam was based on President Ikeda’s lecture series on “The Opening of the Eyes,” one of the essential writings by Nichiren Daishonin centered on his vow for kosen-rufu.
A Gift to the 50,000 Lions of Justice
Celebrating the SGI-USA’s great achievement of gathering 50,000 Lions of Justice on Sept. 23, 2018, SGI President Ikeda gifted a stunning eight-piece Chihuly glass sculpture to the youth of America. He asked that it be displayed as a symbol of the “shared triumph of mentor and disciple.” The unveiling ceremony took place on Feb. 2 at the SGI-USA Florida Nature and Culture Center in Weston, Florida.
Everything Begins With Prayer
SGI Honorary Women’s Leader Kaneko Ikeda sent a message to the women and young women of the SGI to commemorate Women’s Month. Mrs. Ikeda recalls in the message that in giving guidance to women, SGI President Ikeda has often said: “Practitioners of the Lotus Sutra must have the strength to transform everything, even the most painful challenges, into a source of happiness and joy. Nichiren Buddhism enables us to do this.”
“Home Visit Week” Established
In its first quarterly conference of the year on March 9, the Central Executive Committee—a body composed of national and territory leaders charged with setting the activity focus for the organization—announced the establishment of “Home Visit Week” to support the development and victory of each member.
“When We Change, the World Changes”
Celebrating the 45th anniversary of SGI President Ikeda’s first overseas university lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles, on April 1, the student campus club “SGI at UCLA” hosted the seminar “Buddhist Solutions for Real Life: When We Change, the World Changes.” Guests who attended the event on the UCLA campus learned about such Buddhist concepts as self-mastery, human revolution and unconditional happiness.
A Fresh Start for Northern Virginia
Members celebrated the grand opening of the SGI-USA Northern Virginia Buddhist Center on April 7 in Chantilly, Virginia. Chantilly is located in the heart of the region’s technological industry at the crossroads of major and historic highways in western Fairfax County, which is home to over 1 million residents. The center is just a few miles from the Washington Dulles International Airport.
Connecticut’s New Castle of Kosen-rufu
Connecticut Region members gathered on April 7 to celebrate the opening of a new SGI-USA Buddhist center in downtown New Haven, Connecticut. Located just two blocks from the New Haven Green, a National Historic Landmark, and the campus of Yale University, the SGI-USA Connecticut Buddhist Center lies within the Nine Square Plan of the original settlement of the New Haven Colony, founded in 1638.
Brooklyn Members Rejoice at Their Center’s Opening!
On May 4–5, members celebrated the soft opening of the SGI-USA Brooklyn Buddhist Center in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Located just blocks from the Atlantic Terminal transportation hub in the center of the borough, the neighborhood is known for its blend of old and new.
SGI-USA Launches New Podcast!
On May 31, SGI-USA launched its podcast series, “Buddhist Solutions for Life’s Problems.” The inaugural episode, titled “You’re Pushing My Buttons,” covers how Buddhism enables us to transform difficult human relationships. Episodes are downloadable at major podcast platforms, such as Apple Podcast, Stitcher and Spotify.
Two calligraphic works by SGI President Ikeda were unveiled at the May 3 Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting. They read: “Establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land” (left) and “Good fortune and security.” Although President Ikeda had penned these works in June 1982 while in Hokkaido, Japan, this was the first time that he introduced them.
“What We Share Is Greater Than What Divides Us”
The World Tribune sat down with Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee to discuss her journey as a peace builder. Ms. Gbowee is best known for leading a nonviolent movement that united Christian and Muslim women, playing a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s 14-year civil war in 2003. Their efforts subsequently opened the path for Africa’s first-elected female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, with whom Ms. Gbowee was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
“By the Choices That You Make, Let’s Transform Our World”
Soka University of America’s Class of 2019 graduates on May 24. Leymah Gbowee, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, served as the keynote speaker.
Future Division Is “A Light of Hope”
The first U.S.-Brazil future division exchange was held during the SGI-USA Junior High and High School Conference in June. The four-day conference was held at Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California.
“Creators of Peace”
Some 400 people gathered on June 28 at the SGI-USA New York Culture Center for “A Gathering of Women: Creators of Peace,” the first Culture of Peace event dedicated to women. Panel speakers included Sarah Wider, a professor of English and women’s studies at Colgate University, and a founding member and former president of the Emerson Society (left); and Betty Reardon, founder of the field of peace education who has lived and advanced the cause of peace through every war since the Great Depression (right).
“Connecting Beyond the Screen”
The SGI-USA confirmed over 26,000 youth to take part in the historic July Youth Discussion Meetings, themed “Connecting Beyond the Screen: Overcoming Barriers Through Friendship.” These gatherings were held across the country July 13–21 in over 560 locations, including Guam and the Caribbean Islands. At each location, the hallmark was the small discussion groups, an opportunity to address the lack of connectedness and the loneliness young people in society feel today.
SGI President Ikeda sent a message, saying: “My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, once said, ‘Youth are the “great ship” of the people.’ Amid the raging waves of these times, the responsibility of youth must always be to fearlessly grip the rudder of this great ship, and steer it in the direction that will protect all people and guide them to peace and happiness.”
SGI President and Mrs. Ikeda Celebrate July 3
To commemorate July 3, Mentor and Disciple Day, a day of justice in the history of the Soka Gakkai, SGI President and Mrs. Ikeda visited the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall and performed a solemn gongyo filled with determination.
After their visit to Makiguchi Memorial Hall, they went to the Soka University campus in Tokyo, sharing their great hopes for the growth of the Soka University students, Soka Women’s College students and those from abroad studying at the institution.
“Long Live SGI-Bahamas!”
An SGI-USA activity report on the formation of Bahamas District. In 1996, SGI President Ikeda’s flight to Cuba stopped in Nassau. While there, he presented the members with the message: “Here, too, the SGI exists. Long live SGI-Bahamas!” This remains the members’ prime point with their mentor.
Voice of Courage and Hope
The World Tribune celebrated its 55th anniversary with an overview of its establishment on Aug. 15, 1964, and significant milestones, as well as guidance from SGI President Ikeda.
Advancing in “The Two Ways of Practice and Study”
Commemorating the month, 72 years ago, when SGI President Ikeda joined the Soka Gakkai (on Aug. 24, 1947), the SGI-USA welcomed 1,531 new bodhisattvas, who received the Gohonzon. Upon hearing the reports of SGI-USA members helping many of their friends become happy through sharing this Buddhism, President Ikeda sent a message expressing how happy he was that everyone was fighting so hard for kosen-rufu. The SGI-USA announced that its next focus was to help each of these new members enshrine the Gohonzon and take part in the Introductory Exam in September.
“Treasure Castle” Opens in Ohio Region
Soka University of America (SUA) was ranked No. 27 in National Liberal Arts Colleges by the 2020 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings. The university also placed No. 7 in Best Value Schools and No. 9 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (enrolling and graduating large proportions of economically disadvantaged students awarded with federal grants).
Daisaku Ikeda established SUA on May 3, 2001, as a private, four-year liberal arts college in Aliso Viejo, California. Founded upon the Buddhist principles of peace, human rights and the sanctity of life, SUA is open to top students of all nationalities and beliefs.
Climate Change: A People-Centered Approach
InDepthNews published an opinion piece on climate change by SGI President Ikeda on Sept. 19. “It is certainly not an easy task to halt global warming,” President Ikeda wrote, in part. “But if we take youth initiatives seriously as a starting point from which to develop a hope-inspiring scenario that engages more people to take action, I believe it will certainly be possible to open a way to build a sustainable global society.”
Roadmap to 6,000 New Youth in 2020
With the SGI’s 2020 theme of the Year of Advancement and Capable People, the SGI-USA created a “2020 Roadmap to Victory” to ensure the success of welcoming 6,000 new youth. The roadmap hones in on the four foundational elements of propagation, member care, study and contributions.
SGI Joins the Youth Climate Action Summit
SGI youth representatives joined a series of events Sept. 21–24 in New York City as part of Climate Week. On Sept. 21, they were among the 500 delegates attending an unprecedented United Nations Youth Climate Summit at the U.N. Headquarters.
SGI President and Mrs. Ikeda Visit the World Seikyo Center
On the morning of Sept. 28, SGI President and Mrs. Ikeda made their first visit to the recently completed Soka Gakkai World Seikyo Center, located in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. They chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and conducted gongyo in the fourth-floor Justice Hall, praying for the great development of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s “newspaper of the people.”
New Center Opens in Southern California
On Oct. 13, members opened the SGI-USA Riverside Buddhist Center in Riverside, California. Eight certificates of recognition were presented by five cities and three major entities, including the city of Indian Wells, which declared Oct. 13, 2019, Daisaku Ikeda Day.
“Manet and Modern Beauty”
The Soka Gakkai-affiliated Tokyo Fuji Art Museum loaned one of its permanent collections for the exhibition “Manet and Modern Beauty,” which is being displayed at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles until Jan. 12, 2020. The painting, titled “The Promenade (Madame Gamby),” circa 1880–81, is the creation of Édouard Manet, a great impressionist painter of modern Paris. This is the first exhibition of its kind to explore the final years of Manet’s short life and career.
SGI President Ikeda founded the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum in 1983, based on the motto, “A museum creating bridges around the world.”
Opening Wide the Great Path of Kosen-rufu in America
At a kickoff toward Oct. 2, 2020, representative leaders studied SGI President Ikeda’s actions during the February 1952 Kamata Campaign as a model for achieving indisputable victory during the 60th-anniversary year of the kosen-rufu movement in the U.S. The gathering was held on Oct. 12 at the World Culture Center in Santa Monica, California, with SGI Vice President Yoshiki Tanigawa.
In a moving message, President Ikeda addressed this significant milestone, saying: “My travels for global kosen-rufu started here in the United States . . . While taking pride in your great mission, I urge all of you: Advance in your own human revolution! Expand the ranks of capable Bodhisattvas of the Earth! Expand the network for peace and culture! Let’s accomplish this together!”
“Mindfulness and Buddhism”
A feature article on how the popular practice corresponds to the Buddhist ideal of the greater self.
TFAM Makes Contribution to Historic Monet Exhibition
in the U.S.
The Soka Gakkai-affiliated Tokyo Fuji Art Museum (TFAM) loaned “Boat Lying at Low Tide” (1881), a painting from one of its permanent collections, for the exhibition “Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature,” held at the Denver Art Museum from Oct. 20, 2019–Feb. 2, 2020. This event bills itself as the “most comprehensive U.S. exhibition of Monet paintings in more than two decades.”
Caribbean Region Advances Toward 2020
Passionate leaders of kosen-rufu gathered on Oct. 19 for a historic SGI-USA Caribbean Region Executive Conference, marking the first meeting of its kind to include district through region leaders from across the Caribbean. Participants joyfully discussed the SGI-USA’s direction for 2020, the Year of Advancement and Capable People.