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Expressing Our Appreciation on This Significant May 3

North Zone celebrates the opening of the SGI-USA Connecticut Buddhist Center, April 2019. Members’ contributions support our existing SGI-USA facilities and the opening of new centers. Photo by Ines Leong.

by Adin Strauss
SGI-USA General Director

Greetings to everyone on May 3, Soka Gakkai Day—a day of advancement and fresh starts! On this occasion, we celebrate the 69th anniversary of Josei Toda’s inauguration as second Soka Gakkai president (in 1951) and the 60th anniversary of Ikeda Sensei succeeding his mentor as the third president (1960). And in the same spirit as Nichiren Daishonin and Ikeda Sensei—both of whom speak about the importance of repaying the debt of gratitude we owe to our mothers—SGI members also commemorate Soka Gakkai Mother’s Day on May 3.

We are all facing enormous challenges, related to our own and others’ health, as well as unprecedented financial pressures.

It is precisely at this juncture that people are seeking a source of hope and courage—not based on wishful thinking but underpinned by an unshakable philosophy and practice. In this respect, we have the tremendous opportunity to carry out such a practice with Nichiren Buddhism. As long as we carry forth our practice based on the rock-solid Soka philosophy of life—as laid out by Sensei—our happiness in this lifetime is guaranteed.

In The Opening of the Eyes: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, he boldly states: “Everything that happens in our lives has meaning. … Nothing is futile or meaningless. … This is not just a matter of mere outlook. … A powerful determination to transform even negative karma into mission can dramatically transform the real world. By changing our inner state of mind, we can change any suffering or hardship into a source of joy, regarding it as a means for forging and developing our lives” (p. 65).

I was living in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, and in the aftermath of that horrific day, I lost my job. Many others had the same experience. Determined to transform karma into mission, and with the tremendous support of my SGI leaders, comrades, friends and family, I made a fresh departure in faith and practice, and was ultimately able to completely transform my circumstances.

Because of this, I am so grateful for this practice and for our Buddhist community, which support us at the crucial moment in many ways—conspicuously and inconspicuously. As Nichiren states, sometimes we cannot see our own eyelashes, which are so close, yet provide us protection (see “New Year’s Gosho,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, 1137).

I am also filled with deep appreciation for Sensei’s tenacious efforts to spread Nichiren Buddhism worldwide, which he commenced 60 years ago from the United States. Each year, I view the May Contribution activity as a chance to express that appreciation through financial offerings.

Nichiren also states that “fortune comes from one’s heart and makes one worthy of respect” (WND-1, 1137). When we strive to bring out our inner fortitude for the sake of kosen-rufu, such efforts cannot fail to produce good fortune.

So, let’s use this year’s May Contribution activity to express appreciation for our unique and wonderful SGI community and all its members, and to “advance together wisely, harmoniously and joyfully, accumulating ‘treasures of the heart’” (Jan. 1, 2020, World Tribune, p. 2).

From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

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