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Winning as First Responders

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 19: Medical workers wearing protective masks stand outside NYU Langone Health hospital as people applaud to show their gratitude to medical staff and essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic on May 19, 2020 in New York City. COVID-19 has spread to most countries around the world, claiming over 324,000 lives with over 4.9 million infections reported.
Noam Galai/Getty Images

As the world faces the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the SGI-USA held a nationwide First Responders Encouragement Webinar on Sept. 12 to bring together members serving on the front lines as doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, firefighters and law enforcement.

SGI-USA Women’s Leader Naoko Leslie expressed her deepest appreciation to the first responders for all their unseen efforts. “Each of you are true Bodhisattvas of the Earth who are fulfilling your mission to help save and protect people’s lives,” she said. “How courageous and how noble!”

Mike Woods, of Chicago, who works in federal law enforcement, and Carolyn Obedencio, an intensive care unit nurse, both shared powerful experiences about how they have used their Buddhist practice and Ikeda Sensei’s guidance to create value at work and advance kosen-rufu.

A Q&A followed with SGI-USA General Director Adin Strauss, in which he shared four key points to those facing a steady stream of challenges.

1) Self-mastery is key.
We must strive every day to cultivate self-mastery. When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can tap into a limitless source of wisdom, courage and compassion within our lives and manifest changes in our environment. Nichiren Daishonin established the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo so that each person, without exception, can do this.

2) Win over our emotions.
It’s important not to be controlled by our emotions. The more deeply we can tap into our Buddha nature, the more we can overcome our inner weaknesses and remain unswayed by life’s challenges. This is what our Buddhist practice is about.

3) Your own happiness can never be built on the misfortune of others.
If we remember and internalize this spirit, we can create a realm of exceptional beauty and peace around us. Let’s remember and try to apply this point each day through our behavior.

4) It’s important to be persistent.
As Nichiren says, “Not once have I thought of retreat” (“The Great Battle,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 465). When we base ourselves on Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can turn any evil into great good. The key is to never stop advancing. We can never give up.

“If we can cherish these points, we will definitely win over our circumstances,” he said. “As long as we persist in our practice we can definitely win.”

Voices from First Responders

Josel White
Aurora, Colorado

The first responders meeting encouraged me to challenge myself as a police dispatcher, and I applied right away for an opening in our training committee. This position involves more responsibility, so I had a lot of doubts, but I was accepted a few days later! I am excited for this new challenge.

Amber Dye Ucha
East Palmdale, California

My husband and I are essential workers, and my family’s safety has been a real worry of mine. The first responders encouragement meeting reassured me that as long as I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and have a strong life condition, I can definitely accomplish what I need to do while protecting my family and the SGI members around me.

Megan Veirun
Pearl River, New York

Coming together with so many other first responders really made me think about our world- wide mission for kosen-rufu as we face the global COVID-19 pandemic. It’s given me the inspiration to share Buddhism with everyone around me. This has really increased my hope, and I feel that hope is one of the biggest benefits of my practice.

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