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It’s All About Seeking Spirit

SGI-USA Young Men’s Leader Ryo Kuroki (right) meets with fellow young men’s leaders to discuss the day’s home visits, El Monte, Calif., March 16. (Inset) Ryo encourages a young man at the SGI-USA East LA Buddhist Center. Photos by Mike Fujie.

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, home visiting others and the lessons they’ve learned.

by Ryo Kuroki
SGI-USA Young Men’s Leader

Meeting with young men across the SGI-USA is my greatest honor. I see that many struggle with broken homes, loneliness, doubts about their future and difficulties trusting others. It continually reminds me of the importance of our activities to encourage the youth.

On a recent visit to see a young man in Southern California, he asked me what my biggest struggle was. I shared honestly about the loss of my parents and how the practice transformed this darkest time of my life. From there, the tone of our visit shifted.

I learned that the first step toward building trust with others is for me to open up. We ended our visit with a shared determination to challenge propagation to change our karma.

Q: What are three things you keep in mind as you prepare for home visits?

Doing gongyo and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for at least an hour in the morning is first and foremost for me. As SGI leaders, we juggle many responsibilities, both personal and organizational. I chant for victory in every aspect, including the victory of the person I’ll be visiting that day.

Then, I keep in mind SGI President Ikeda’s guidance about pouring everything into encouraging the person in front of us. When I’m meeting with someone, I make sure I’m 100 percent present and not distracted by other responsibilities.

Last, I try to chant to the Gohonzon with the member at their home. It doesn’t have to be for hours, but by chanting together, I can learn a lot about them. For example: Have they learned gongyo? How’s their rhythm and posture? These subtle but practical observations while chanting together can help me put myself in their shoes. Maybe they have challenges with their roommates or long work hours, or maybe they’re struggling with their health. The more I know, the better I can encourage the person.

Q: How did you learn the Soka Gakkai spirit to treasure the person in front of you?

When I was just getting started with my practice, a young men’s leader visited me right after leading a behind-the-scenes movement for a major SGI event. I was a bit rebellious at the time, but I was really moved by his spirit to go out of his way, despite being exhausted, to encourage me one-to-one.

Later, when I became a young men’s leader, a young man I had been reaching out to shared one day that he wanted to end his life. It was late into the night, but I knew I had to visit him right away and encourage him in faith and to seek professional help. Through this incident, I deeply reflected on how people begin practicing Buddhism because they’re struggling for their lives.

During this major turning point in my practice, I realized that home visits and the act of meeting with others is a serious effort.

Q: What’s most important in doing home visits?

A senior in faith once shared that what’s most important is the spirit to learn something about faith and the oneness of mentor and disciple from the other person. Our role isn’t about being a savior or the one to fix people’s lives. Rather, it is about going there as an equal and learning from them.

This shift in my mindset challenges me to approach each person with sincerity. It’s very clear that when I approach others in this way, they respond and open up in kind.

I believe it all comes down to having a seeking spirit, regardless of my position or how long I have been practicing. Everything I do is on behalf of my mentor, who wants every member to become happy. And when I’m seeking Sensei, I can break through the doubts about my own capacity to form heart-to-heart bonds with and encourage others, just as I am.

Prayer Filled With Conviction

“I Want You to Win! I’m Determined to Win, Too!”