What Does “One Youth. Infinite Hope.” Mean to You?
Youth representatives from across the country share their thoughts
on the upcoming March Youth Discussion Meetings, themed “One Youth. Inifinite Hope.” as well as what they learned about the significance of dialogue and shakubuku from attending the July 2019 Youth Discussion Meetings.
Chandler Spencer (young men’s division member, Long Beach, Calif.): After high school, I had drifted away from my friends and felt irritated by the people around me. My friend Milo Petrarca was one of these people I had distanced myself from. One day, I reached out to him for forgiveness, and that opened up the opportunity for Milo to share Buddhism with me. When I attended the Chapter Youth Discussion Meeting last July with Milo, I was amazed by how open the SGI was. Having open, honest dialogue isn’t that common in my life, so participating in this made me feel calm and happy.
About one month later, after beginning to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I received the Gohonzon on Aug. 24, 2019, and started my practice.
Immediately after, I found a job—after searching for two years! I know it’s because my resolve to push forward with my goals and education became stronger through my Buddhist practice.
Since beginning my Buddhist practice, I feel my instincts are wiser. It allows my calmer side to prevail, in any situation. I used to be very closed off, but now I’m willing to try things and open up to people. Next, I want to finish my associate’s degree in cyber security, and I’m determined to help one person begin their Buddhist practice, too.
Milo Petrarca (young men’s division member, Long Beach, Calif.): The meeting’s theme of “One Youth. Infinite Hope.” reminds me of how important it is to never give up. When we’re struggling, hope is so important. We can get over our obstacles, we just need to hold on to hope and reach out to someone. That’s why I share my Buddhist practice with people—even if they aren’t interested, I take the chance to plant a seed.
My Buddhist practice has helped me overcome a lot of obstacles, get out of my shell and do things I otherwise may not have done. Introducing others to the SGI is a way of bringing them hope. I want to step out of my comfort zone and reach out to more people. I also want to do well in school, stay on time and not fall behind. I’m determined to set a good example for those around me and do my best every day.
Parul Kashyap (Boston North Chapter young women’s leader): We live in a paradoxical world, feeling like we’re connected but fundamentally lacking connection. The spaces we create in the SGI are inclusive, where everyone can share openly from their hearts and have meaningful dialogues. I feel that’s precisely how infinite hope is created.
And this starts with me. My strength is member care and supporting my friends in faith, yet I struggle to introduce others to Buddhism. Toward the March Youth Discussion Meetings, I’m determined to deepen my conviction and confidence in the power of my faith and bring five youth guests!
Der Ueng Lee (Minnesota and North Dakota Region young men’s leader): The theme of our March Youth Discussion Meetings—“One Youth. Infinite Hope.”—to me, means treasuring each individual. It means believing and living based on what is expounded in the Lotus Sutra—that everyone has the Buddha nature and the capacity to achieve their dreams.
I am determined that every youth who attends the youth discussion meeting will feel treasured and empowered. I’m challenging to bring guests and ensure that the young men throughout the region experience personal breakthroughs toward this historic gathering!
Valeria Miki (young women’s division member, Atlanta): I grew up with family members who practice Nichiren Buddhism, but I wasn’t interested in practicing myself. However, when I attended the July 2019 Youth Discussion Meeting, I felt a renewed energy. Our dialogue about connecting beyond screens and social media opened my life to different points of views, and my interest was sparked.
Although I never thought I’d join, after beginning to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I felt different, like I was finding my true self. When I wake up every day, I look forward to life.
Last month on Feb. 17, I became a member of the SGI-USA! A lot of times, I feel that I don’t take enough action, but I’m feeling much stronger now and am determined to take steps to realize all my dreams and goals.