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Rousing a Fighting Spirit Toward 2021

Two SGI-USA youth on Zoom
Left photo by Roop Singh

Despite a challenging year in 2020, the youth of the SGI-USA resolved to deepen their faith even more as they advanced toward the Year of Hope and Victory. Across the country, members of the young men’s an young women’s divisions (YMD and YWD) reaffirmed this fighting spirit at their year-end nationwide divisional meetings, held virtually.

The young men gathered on Dec. 6 for the “SGI-USA Young Men’s Division Gosho Lecture: On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” whereas the young women met seven days later for the “SGI-USA Young Women’s Buddhist Virtual Conference: Showing Victorious Proof of Our Human Revolution.” Both events welcomed members and guests, in addition to the YWD’s invitation to nonbinary[1] youth.

“Our vision for next year as youth is to deepen our Buddhist study, so we truly understand our identity as Bodhisattvas of the Earth,” SGI-USA Youth Leader Olivia Saito said of the meetings’ inception. “When we are hit with difficult times, those who deeply understand this mission remain unswayed.”

The following is a summary:

Young Men, Dec. 6—Closing out a tumultuous year with a refreshed sense of determination, approximately 1,500 young men across the country joined the SGI-USA young men’s study lecture on Nichiren Daishonin’s important writing “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime.”

The lecture began with a powerful performance of “Forever Sensei” by the SGI-USA Brass Band and included three experiences of young men breaking through in their jobs this year.

SGI-USA territory through national young men’s leaders, who focused on Ikeda Sensei’s key points derived from On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series. Topics included Nichiren’s teachings as a “Buddhism of the people” accessible to all and the importance of never seeking enlightenment outside oneself.

SGI-USA Young Men’s Leader Ryo Kuroki conveyed that attaining Buddhahood is undergoing a profound shift in our inner resolve. “It means that when we struggle, we decide: Enough is enough! I will overcome this; I will no longer be defeated!” He encouraged the young men to return to Sensei’s lecture directly so they could continue deepening their understanding and resolve.

Young Women, Dec. 13—Under the clarion call of advancing toward 2021 based on human revolution and the oneness of mentor and disciple, over 2,700 participants joined the national young women’s conference.

SGI-USA Young Women’s Leader Maya Gunaseharan and Women’s Leader Naoko Leslie gave a study presentation inspired by Nichiren Daishonin’s writing “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime.” Ms. Gunaseharan reminded everyone that in order to develop a life state of unshakable happiness, “we must do our human revolution.” This inner transformation, she added, is—as Sensei says: 1) a never-ending process of continual self-improvement; 2) the transformation of our innermost weaknesses into deeply rooted strengths; and 3) not something extraordinary or divorced from daily life; it often begins in a small way.

During a Q&A session, Ms. Leslie called on the young women to “crush the tendency to put ourselves down.” The first step, she said, is to earnestly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. “When we pray, we are empowered.”

Voices From the Youth

Cameron Washington
Los Angeles, Calif.

I felt everyone’s determination and heart in such a profound way that I found myself shedding so many tears of deep appreciation for everyone who participated and assisted behind the scenes. The joy I felt connecting with the hearts of my Soka sisters and Ikeda Sensei was indescribable. I feel so grateful to be part of an organization that celebrates young women in this way.

Christian Almonte
New York, NY

This lecture really helped me change the way I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Usually, my mind wanders, but now, I focus on chanting wholeheartedly, confident that SGI members are supporting me to achieve my dreams. I truly believe that this Buddhist practice and the SGI community are what people need today, so I’m starting to share Buddhism with others.

Apoorvee Sawhney
Columbia, Mo.

The conference was really powerful. For me, it communicated a clear message to awaken to the latent power of my own life, which is something I struggle with as a young woman. This gathering reminded me to go back to the Gohonzon with the conviction that my life is Myoho-renge-kyo.

Daunte Fyall
Los Angeles, Calif.

This young men’s division study lecture helped me see how crucial it is to have a purpose in life, so we can reveal our full potential. Now, more than ever, I’m going to fight for my YMD brothers and strive to bring people together in all areas of my life—in my family, with my neighbors and the SGI community. I want to live my life free of regret just like Ikeda Sensei.

Shelby Rafkin
Orlando, Fla.

Even though the conference was virtual, I felt so connected with everyone. I realized that I’ve been holding myself back from a lot of things I want to do in life, but now I’m determined to break through my own limitations. The conference did a wonderful job of acknowledging that 2020 was a rough year for everyone while helping me feel very hopeful for 2021.


  1. The identity of nonbinary people is fluid and not limited to the categories of male or female and man or woman. ↩︎

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