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Leading With “Wisdom and an Open Heart”

Naoko Leslie with her husband, Daisaku; daughter, Miki; and son, Nobuki.

by Naoko Leslie
SGI-USA Women’s Leader

With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, our lives as parents have drastically changed—kids have no school, and they are home!

In my household, pillow fights have become a daily routine between our teenage daughter, Miki, and second-grade son, Nobuki. Playdates with friends take place via FaceTime, and their teachers began online classes, which transformed our home into a classroom.

Amid these big changes, it is surely our mission as SGI members to create the greatest value (Soka) with our precious children!

Some parents have started teaching gongyo to their children and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo every day together as a family.

Also taking place are family discussion meetings in which parents are sharing with their children the benefits they received and their dreams for kosen-rufu. Ikeda Sensei says:

We must clearly and confidently explain to our children the reasons we work or engage in Buddhist activities and to what purpose we dedicate our lives for the sake of others. We must not take for granted our children’s understanding and support in this regard. Nor must we use our busy schedules as an excuse not to explain to our children about what we do. (Happy Parents, Happy Kids: Parenting Advice for the Twenty-first Century, p. 7)

Reading is also crucial to cultivate and enrich the hearts of children. My daughter began reading Little Women, and we also watched the movie together!

The World Tribune’s monthly Future Division insert, which carries Sensei’s letter to them as well as fascinating experiences by elementary school kids and junior high and high school division youth, is also enriching.

In our home, it has also become a daily routine for my son to read passages from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings every morning after gongyo.

For elementary school children, let’s enjoy Sensei’s animations, which are gems filled with important messages, such as creating genuine friendships, never giving up, treasuring our environment, and developing a heart of compassion and appreciation.

Visit >> “Audio-Visual” >> “Videos” >> “Children’s Stories in Animation (YouTube).”

Now is also a perfect opportunity to nurture our children’s dreams and encourage them to create goals they can strive for.

Let’s introduce them to Sensei’s school Soka University of America, which he established on May 3, 2001, with the following vision: “What our world most requires now is the kind of education that fosters love for humankind, that develops character—that provides an intellectual basis for the realization of peace and empowers learners to contribute to and improve society” ( Let’s enjoy exploring SUA with our children!

Visit SUA’s Instagram account, @sokauniv, and its website at

Most importantly, let’s use this time to deepen our prayer for our children’s happiness in front of the Gohonzon and shower them with love. Sensei says:

I ask parents to pour love upon their children like the sun nurturing sunflowers. This is because people can live powerfully for the rest of their lives with the energy of the love they receive in their childhood. (Happy Parents, Happy Kids, p. 11)

For those of you who are struggling with your children, Sensei says:

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, said to parents who were concerned about their children’s behavior: “Even the Buddha is said to have some ills and worries. Our problems make it possible for us to help others. Accumulating experiences in faith through your own personal struggles enables you to become a compassionate leader. There’s no need to be overly anxious. Just stay calm and warmly support your child.” We have the power of prayer. The ultimate expression of love is prayer. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as you pray for the happiness of your child is certain to reach them. With absolute confidence in the power of the Mystic Law, watch over your child with wisdom and an open heart. (Translated from the July 25, 2016, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper)

I, too, am cherishing this moment with my children, creating golden memories together. It seems they feel the same. In the words of my daughter: “I am so happy that I can spend time with you guys.”

Please stay safe, healthy and happy!

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