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Becoming a Beacon of Hope


by Oscar Villaseñor
22 years old
Tucson, Ariz.

In March, I celebrated my third year as an SGI member, and I feel so fortunate and amazed by what my Buddhist practice has done for me.

Before encountering Buddhism, I had spiraled into a depression and isolated myself from everyone, including my own family. My mom’s friend reached out and mentioned the practice, and although it sounded interesting, I was mentally checked out when I went to my first SGI meeting. I tried other ways to escape, like partying, but my life just got worse.

That’s when I thought about giving the whole chanting thing a shot. I started with a few minutes a day, and the more I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the more I felt at peace with myself. I also had a profound realization: I had been blaming other people in my environment for where I was in my life, instead of looking within.

Once I dedicated my heart to chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for myself and others, I broke away from isolation and opened up my life to embracing people, knowing that they have a Buddha nature, too. Through this internal shift, I confirmed 30 people for the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival (in September 2018)!

With this coronavirus pandemic, many people are feeling hopeless or negative, and so for us as youth, it’s our responsibility to give confidence to others that we will get through this together.

Right now, I’m connecting with my family back home, while reaching out to friends and young men’s division members. It’s about crushing those feelings of despair and being beacons of hope, as SGI President Ikeda says, time and time again.

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