Joyfully Contributing in This Crucial Year of Hope & Victory
This month marks the beginning of our annual May Commemorative Contribution activity. Living Buddhism spoke with Naoko Leslie, SGI-USA women’s leader, and Kevin Moncrief, SGI-USA men’s leader, about how they are challenging themselves in this crucial Year of Hope and Victory.
Kevin Moncrief: Hi, Naoko. Congratulations on the success of the women’s gatherings in February! I’ve been hearing all kinds of joyful things about the meetings themselves as well as the many efforts to “plant seeds” of the Mystic Law in people’s lives. What a wonderful way to start 2021!
Naoko Leslie: Thank you, Kevin, for the support of all the men of the SGI-USA behind the scenes at the online meetings, as well as for inviting their friends and families as guests!
Kevin: Our pleasure. I’m already looking forward to the May Commemorative Contribution period for 2021. With the significance of May 3 for kosen-rufu and the beautiful weather that time of year, I always feel like it’s a kind of “Soka New Year” celebration! At the same time, it’s a reality that 2020 was such a challenging year, financially and in terms of the turmoil in society, for our members.
Naoko: I feel exactly the same way. But 2021 must be the Year of Hope and Victory! The departure point toward 2030—the first year of a decade that Ikeda Sensei has termed crucial for all humanity.
One of my favorite passages from The New Human Revolution is from Sensei’s encouragement to the members in America:
This Buddhism has the power to transform your suffering into happiness, to change the tears you have shed into glittering jewels of good fortune. Those who have wept the most bitterly have the right to become the happiest people of all. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, revised edition, p. 207)
Isn’t this wonderful?
Kevin: Yes, it is. I’m determined that every member of the SGI-USA will experience this as a reality in 2021 and beyond.
For the Sake of the Future
Naoko: Speaking one-to-one with many women from diverse backgrounds last year, I heard and felt their deep concern about the future—above all about how we can protect and nurture the next generation of youth, and the generations beyond that.
Kevin: Sensei talks about how important it is to raise our children in the “garden of the Soka Gakkai.” Our financial contributions will cultivate and grow that garden for years and decades to come. Therefore, they have a profound meaning.
Kevin: In my 36 years of practice, I’ve overcome a life-threatening illness that put me in a coma for days and a too-lengthy bout with unemployment during the recession in 2008.
Having struggled greatly with racial discrimination that’s still too prevalent in our society, I was also able to find an identity deeply rooted in my mission for kosen-rufu as a Bodhisattva of the Earth.
This became possible only through the warm, patient encouragement of many Soka comrades and seniors in faith who supported my human revolution and continue to do so. For that I am forever grateful, and it’s from that sense of appreciation that I participate in the May Commemorative Contribution activity every year.
Naoko: Every May, I think about one of my seminal experiences in faith. It goes back to a time when I had just moved to the U.S. I really wanted to contribute to American kosenrufu but had no job and no connections. In spite of that, I set a high goal for May Contribution. All I had was the Gohonzon! I prayed specifically and intently about how much I wanted to contribute, while looking for jobs.
My prayer was answered when unexpectedly an acquaintance of mine in Japan contacted me with a big translation project requiring a huge amount of effort in a short burst of time. Just in time for May Contribution! It was tough but I did it. And to my surprise, my earnings from the project were way beyond my goal.
I contributed joyfully, and this became my prime point in May Contribution. For me, May Contribution is a time to challenge myself and truly experience the unlimited power of prayer that is directed to kosen-rufu.
Kevin: Awesome, Naoko! Let’s make it happen!