Feature

Ushering in the Year of Hope and Victory!

Let’s create a groundswell of happiness in 2021.

Women's division members posing for a photo at the Florida Nature and Culture Center. Photo by Mary D'Elia


SGI-USA National Leaders

To every precious member of the SGI-USA,

Congratulations, and welcome to 2021, the Year of Hope and Victory!

Your sincerity and undefeatable spirit, with thunderous prayer at its core, have enabled us to overcome unprecedented challenges.

And united, there can be no doubt that in 2021 we will open a new era—creating a groundswell of happiness for the SGI-USA as a Buddhist community and for our much-suffering society as well.

Hope

Referring to Napoleon’s famous words that “a leader is a dealer in hope,” Ikeda Sensei asserts that it’s by awakening great hope in the heart of one person after another that great enterprises can be accomplished. He said it is up to leaders to create such unity.

In 2021, we must not look to outside “leaders” to create such hope. Rather, the Soka ideal is that each person thinks of themselves as a “leader” in their family, workplace and community, and becomes a dealer in true hope in each of those arenas.

Let’s be those people in 2021!

Victory

Society is the realm of praise and censure, of likes and dislikes. It is also the realm where the evils of prejudice and attachment to difference take root in people’s hearts. This was sadly all too evident in 2020. If we base our happiness on something so fickle or changeable as the law of society, we will inevitably wind up looking to others for validation or for affirmation of our own worth.

Government is the realm of reward and punishment—where laws of the state are enacted—some noble and others less so. This is apparent even from the history of our own Buddhist organization, whose three founding presidents were imprisoned in an act of gross injustice.

But we of the Soka Gakkai base ourselves on the supreme Law of the Buddha. Armed with this Law, we can transform anything and everything, or as Nichiren Daishonin states, “Our … evil karma may have piled up as high as Mount Sumeru, but when we take faith in this sutra, they will vanish like frost or dew under the sun of the Lotus Sutra” (“Letter to Niike,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1026).

This will be the year when we step forward boldly together, confident that there is no poison that we can’t transform into medicine and no karma we can’t change into mission, with strong determination accompanied by action in faith and daily life.

It will be our greatest honor and privilege to support each of you in this Year of Hope and Victory!

And let’s use our prudence, courage and faith in the Lotus Sutra to stay safe and healthy, no matter what!

Thank you, and see you soon!

Adin Strauss, Naoko Leslie, Kevin Moncrief, Olivia Saito, Maya Gunaseharan and Ryo Kuroki

The SGI-USA National Team


SGI-USA Focus for 2021

For the safety of the members during the COVID-19 pandemic, all SGI-USA activities will be conducted online or by phone until further notice.

General Activities

• We will continue our monthly rhythm of district discussion meetings, the heart and soul of our Soka movement.

• The SGI-USA is pleased to provide district and group leaders with training and encouragement materials for creating joyful and open discussion meetings. They will be available starting in late January in an easy-to-use format.

• We will continue the monthly district study meetings centering on The New Human Revolution material published in Living Buddhism until February. Thereafter, we will study themed excerpts from Ikeda Sensei’s newly revised The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1.

• We will continue with Sunday morning Soka Spirit gatherings after an hour of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo at the same time, each in our own homes.

Key Divisional Activities

Women:
Ages 35 and over

• The women are determined to expand trust and friendship to secure the peace of the land by: 1) encouraging one friend to begin chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and 2) creating warm bonds with each young women’s division member.

• Between Feb. 25–28, introductory Buddhist meetings will be held locally to commemorate SGI-USA Women’s Day on Feb. 27 (open to all women, young women and their guests).

• On June 10, the 70th anniversary of the women’s division, the women will participate in a united prayer campaign for the happiness and peace of the land, with each person challenging themselves to do gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for one hour from their own homes. They can join anytime between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. local time.

• The America Victory Daimoku group (open to all women and young women) will continue throughout the year, as well as the monthly Sophia Group study meetings, which will be held from March to December. The study group will focus on volume 30 of The New Human Revolution.

Men:
Ages 35 and over

Photo by Bob Nardi

• The men will continue their “No Man Left Behind” member care efforts, with an increased focus on raising successors and sharing Buddhism with others.

• The “Kings of Soka” encouragement meetings will continue to be held monthly on the region or zone level.

• The men will celebrate SGI- USA Men’s Month in August with commemorative general meetings, to be held by each region.

Photo by Mayumi Yamazawa

Youth:
Comprising all members between the ages of 18–34

• A youth general meeting (YGM) will be held in the final quarter
of 2021, bringing together youth members and guests to discuss the challenges they face and the topics they are most concerned about in society.

• The process of developing the youth toward the YGM will be crucial. A major focus, therefore, will be on deepening the study of the SGI-USA youth.

Young Women:
Ages 18–34

Photo by Noriko Kakusho

• In July, the young women will hold a commemorative conference to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the division’s establishment, as well as to generate momentum toward the youth general meeting (YGM) to be held in the final quarter of 2021.

• The young women will continue to hold Kayo-kai corps training and general Kayo-kai meetings to study The New Human Revolution as a foundation for creating victories in their personal lives.

Young Men:
Ages 18–34

• In July, the young men will hold a commemorative conference to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the division’s founding, as well as to create excitement toward the youth general meeting (YGM) to be held in the final quarter of 2021.

Photo by Dave Goodman

• The young men will also hold monthly general meetings and quarterly study lectures on Nichiren Daishonin’s writings. Both activities will be held on the zone level and are open to all young men’s division members and guests.

• For leadership development, the group will focus on raising capable successors in the young men’s, student and future divisions.

• The young men’s Brass Band will continue its virtual performances at select Soka Spirit meetings for all SGI-USA members.

Future Division:
Comprising all members in elementary, junior high and high school

• In developing a solid foundation for the members in elementary, junior high and high schools, a unified study curriculum will be introduced across the country.

• The junior high and high school division will also focus on forming core groups and appointing leaders among its members.

Student Division:
Comprising members of the youth division enrolled in college, university and other forms of post secondary education

• In developing a strong foundation for the group, the student division will focus on a) forming a select number of strong SGI campus clubs; b) strengthening study geared at raising a generation of student division members who have an awareness of their mission as Sensei’s disciples, and who can articulately and convincingly share the greatness of Soka humanist philosophy, and defend it when the need arises.

Other Activity Guidelines

Language groups: Participants will focus on a) a monthly study of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings online in each of the four languages: Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Spanish; b) pro- mote subscriptions, contributions and district discussion meetings—ensuring participation in the district.

Auxiliary groups: “Virtual Florida Nature and Culture Center” conferences will be held—with registration before-hand on the territory level—for each auxiliary group that would otherwise have had an FNCC conference. This would be a full-day conference, including lectures and breakout sessions. And one other activity online, as appropriate.

Many Treasures Group: Local groups are encouraged to hold monthly or bimonthly meetings (via Zoom or telephone). Please speak with your leaders for more details. In addition, the World Tribune will offer a monthly series dedicated to the Many Treasures Group members (featuring an experience by a pioneer member, Sensei’s guidance and more).

Photo by Mitsu Kimura

Soka University of America

The SGI-USA invites everyone, especially prospective college students, to learn more about Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California. Ikeda Sensei founded the private, nonsectarian liberal arts school on May 3, 2001, “to foster a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contributive life.” SUA is founded on the principles of peace, human rights and the sanctity of life.

U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges 2021” ranks SUA in a tie for 28th among national liberal arts colleges and fourth among liberal arts colleges in California.

Jan. 15 marks the regular admissions application deadline for the undergraduate program starting in fall 2021. Please visit www.soka.edu for more information.