News

The Decade of Protagonists

At the Central Executive Committee Conference, a far-reaching vision for the next decade is created in which Buddhism takes deeper root in American society.

SGI-USA youth in Santa Monica, Calif., 2019. Photo by Debra Williams


Single-mindedly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and urge others to do the same; that will remain as the only memory of your present life in this human world.[1] “Questions and Answers about Embracing the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 64. —Nichiren Daishonin

Fundamentally, shakubuku may be thought of as a battle between the inclination to respect human beings and the tendency to diminish them.[2]April 2012 Living Buddhism, p. 45. —Ikeda Sensei

Grounded in the pillars of wisdom, courage, compassion, capable people and unity, the SGI-USA announced a fresh vision toward the Soka Gakkai’s centennial in 2030—one in which Nichiren Buddhism and the life-affirming philosophy and practice of Soka become part of mainstream American culture.

In a daylong virtual conference on Sept. 26, the SGI-USA Central Executive Committee held extensive discussions on the organization’s vision toward 2030,[3]Oct. 2 World Tribune, p. 40. which includes expansion goals for the membership, future division and subscriptions to the SGI-USA publications.

The CEC voted to approve the activity direction for 2021, while the SGI-USA Executive Council, the highest decision-making body, affirmed next year’s focus.

At the conference, General Director Adin Strauss announced the appointments of new CEC and Executive Council members, respectively:

In a message to the conference, Sensei praised the American members, saying that all their efforts and struggles will turn into great benefit and fortune.

He continued: “[Second Soka Gakkai President] Josei Toda often said: ‘When you pray with resolute faith, you will behold the great life force of Nichiren Daishonin emerging from within. The pure and powerful compassion to help others and the vitality to freely live out your life will limitlessly well forth.’

“As brave and noble trailblazers, no matter what happens, please lead bright, victorious lives as ‘worthy persons who are like gold’ and carry through with faith that is like ‘pure gold.’[4]see The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 217. And, while aiming with fresh resolve toward the next 10 years of kosen-rufu in America, I ask you to advance with harmonious unity of many in body, one in mind that is foremost in the world.”

Youth Lower the Graduation Age and Focus on Developing the Future Division

With the next decade in mind, the youth division introduced a multiyear plan to gradually lower its graduation age, with the recognition that the 30s are a prime period for people to start families and develop their careers.

SGI-USA Youth Leader Olivia Saito said that these youthful graduates will further invigorate our districts and discussion meetings.

In concert with lowering the graduation age, the youth division will focus on developing a new generation of leader- ship for the junior high and high school division members toward 2030, providing new and more frequent training opportunities.

Their plan includes strong future division leadership at the region and zone levels, an increasing emphasis on future division activities as well as developing core high school division members through leadership responsibilities and a nationwide study lecture series.

“By developing the faith of the current high school members,” Ms. Saito said, “we are solidifying the youth division toward 2030 and beyond.”

Creating the Framework to Better Support Growth at the Front Lines

CEC members discussed the importance of creating and strengthening tools to support each member through the development of groups and group leadership within every district.

To spur those efforts, the SGI-USA online statistics system in September will enable district and chapter data entry users to create, assign members to and manage groups.

SGI-USA Women’s Leader Naoko Leslie said the important thing is to “spread the joy” and enable more people to stand up as protagonists of kosen-rufu.

“The more leaders we appoint, the more people will feel a sense of mission for kosen-rufu,” she said. “The key point is that we’re excited.”

Vice General Director Lee Malone said that the next decade is about creating districts where each person can develop their life by attending discussion meetings, sharing Buddhism, subscribing to the publications and expressing their appreciation through the May Contribution activity. “We have to see everyone as precious,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to help each person learn how to help others become happy and change our society.”

Our Earnest Wish to Encourage Others Is What Brings Us Together, No Matter How Far Apart We May Be

The conference concluded with words by SGI Leader Yoshitaka Oba and Soka Gakkai Senior Vice President Yoshiki Tanigawa, who joined the videoconference from Japan.

Mr. Oba shared Sensei’s encouragement titled “Together on the Eternal Journey of Mentor and Disciple,”[5]see Oct. 2 World Tribune, pp. 2–3. in which he offers three points that members holding online meetings should keep in mind—namely, our earnest wish to encourage another person, sincere dialogue and “the wisdom of the Mystic Law that functions in accordance with changing circumstances.”

Sensei writes:

What connects and brings us together, no matter how far apart we may be physically or geographically? It is our vast resolve, the innermost working of life itself, which has limitless potential, and that embraces the entire universe.

Nothing is stronger or nobler than the earnest wish to encourage another person, than sincere dialogue that seeks to truly communicate with others. When we wish for others’ happiness and summon forth in our lives the wisdom of the Mystic Law that functions in accordance with changing circumstances, we are certain to find a way to connect with their lives.[6] Ibid., p. 3.

Mr. Oba encouraged the American members to reconfirm these three points, as they advance cheerfully and harmoniously: “Please do so with the unity of many in body, one in mind, as a role model of worldwide kosen-rufu,” he said.

Vigorous Prayer Will Summon Forth Bodhisattvas of the Earth

As America envisions a more expansive future, Mr. Tanigawa encouraged the members to advance with the conviction that their vigorous prayer will summon forth Bodhisattvas of the Earth. In volume 5 of The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Sensei says:

President Toda often said with regard to propagation: “The key is to pray earnestly to the Gohonzon. There is no other way to spread this Buddhism!” We need to pray that the other person can sense our sincere desire for him or her to become happy. We have to pray: “Please enable me to fulfill my mission in this life as an emissary of the Buddha!”[7]The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 5, p. 257.

Sensei also adds:

Just praising the Mystic Law to others is itself splendid propagation. Whether others decide to take faith is a separate issue. By simply talking to people about the Mystic Law, we receive benefit without fail.[8]Ibid., p. 258.

Mr. Tanigawa shared that he has a card with the names of 38 people with whom he is currently carrying on dialogues about Buddhism. He said that as we continue to pray about each person, their understanding will deepen.

In The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Sensei also speaks about Bodhisattva Never Disparaging, who believed that every person has Buddhahood and deeply respected them:

Bodhisattva Never Disparaging was not an eloquent speaker. He did not put on an air of greatness. He merely traveled around planting the seed of the Lotus Sutra in people’s hearts with such direct simplicity that it bordered on naiveté. Across past, present and future, the spirit of the Lotus Sutra lives in such conduct.[9]Ibid., p. 105.

Mr. Tanigawa said that 60 years have passed since Sensei took his first steps toward worldwide kosen-rufu from the U.S., and that the next 60 years begin now as SGI-USA embarks on its grand vision toward 2030.

“Thinking about this decade toward the centennial of the Soka Gakkai’s founding, now is the time to return to the essential point of carrying out our
human revolution and taking action,” he said. “People are seeking actual proof of our human revolution. As we each challenge to bring about our own inner transformation based on prayer, we will demonstrate clear proof in our lives. This will generate a growing momentum in our Soka movement that will strengthen the flow of kosen-rufu and undoubtedly illuminate and transform the chaos and turbulence of society.”  

Notes   [ + ]

1. “Questions and Answers about Embracing the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 64.
2. April 2012 Living Buddhism, p. 45.
3. Oct. 2 World Tribune, p. 40.
4. see The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 217.
5. see Oct. 2 World Tribune, pp. 2–3.
6. Ibid., p. 3.
7. The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 5, p. 257.
8. Ibid., p. 258.
9. Ibid., p. 105.