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What Does “Being Authentic” Even Mean?


by Lillian I
Special to the Tribune

More than 50 Boston-area university students and young professionals gathered on May 31 at the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to explore the topic of authenticity. This was the center’s third Dialogue Nights event of the year.

In small groups, participants explored questions regarding the authentic self, based on this quote from the center’s founder, Daisaku Ikeda: “No matter how other people are or what they do, it is important that you walk your own paths, believing in yourselves. If you remain constant and stay true to yourselves, others will definitely one day come to understand your sincere intent” (Discussions on Youth, p. 42).

During reflections, one participant shared the difference between being original and being authentic: “When we are trying to be original, sometimes it can be very calculated because we are trying hard to be the first one to do it. Whereas authenticity is more about the relationship with yourself.”

Another participant agreed: “For me, in relationships, my identity and self-worth are tied to the other person. I am realizing tonight that I am good enough, and that is where I want to start.”

Participants explored the Buddhist concept of interdependence by forming a physical web made of colorful yarn. In small groups, they passed the yarn to others after sharing when they feel most authentic. Some examples were: when “I communicate openly,” when “I’m challenging myself in a way I want to be challenged,” when “I’m learning something new,” and when “I’m in the forest and listening to nature.”

The center launched Dialogue Nights in September 2017 to provide a space for young people to engage in meaningful conversations and form genuine connections. Inspired by Daisaku Ikeda’s belief in the infinite potential of youth to be agents of change in their local communities, Dialogue Nights aims to bring hope to young people through the transformative power of dialogue.

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