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The Soka Tradition Is to Never Be Defeated

Guests who were introduced to the SGI-USA in the past year and the members (in the background) supporting them. Photos by Joseph Giordano, Skylar Soriano, William Stanford, Mauricio Zatarain.
Guests who were introduced to the SGI-USA in the past year and the members (in the background) supporting them. Photos by Joseph Giordano, Skylar Soriano, William Stanford, Mauricio Zatarain.

In its first quarterly conference of the year, held virtually on March 6, the SGI-USA Central Executive Committee affirmed the SGI-USA’s strong focus for 2021 on sharing Buddhism as a part of daily practice and fostering youth toward the Soka Gakkai’s centennial in 2030. Following are highlights, plus messages from the national leadership team.

Adin Strauss“Raising Youth Is the Responsibility of Everyone.”

by Adin Strauss
SGI-USA General Director

Thank you for all your efforts in this Year of Hope and Victory. I really do feel that we are at a very important juncture in the history of kosen-rufu in America. With that in mind, I’d like to touch on a few points.

1. Our core Buddhist practice is for self and others.

I would like to thank our women’s and young women’s division members once again for their truly inspiring and encouraging introductory meetings commemorating Feb. 27.

I believe that these meetings, and the runup to them, should serve as a model for activities throughout 2021. They illustrate a simple and eternal truth of Buddhism: Anyone who chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and couples that with a vigorous “practice for others”—for example, “planting seeds” by sharing Buddhism with others—will experience tremendous joy and receive great benefit. Doing so is not a physical, intellectual or emotional reaction—it’s far deeper than all these. It’s a Buddha life state reaction. Truly, “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the greatest of all joys.”[1]

2. Endurance is the essence of Buddhism.

The litany of challenges we’re experiencing right now, from the coronavirus and the economic downturn to systemic racism, coupled with our inability to meet in person, has made it difficult for some of our precious members to maintain a consistent and robust practice for self and others.

Ikeda Sensei has encouraged America to shine with the quality of endurance, which represents the essence of the Buddha’s life. The deeper meaning of endure, according to Sensei, is this:

One of the Buddha’s titles is “One Who Can Endure.”[2] The Buddha is the ultimate embodiment of the virtue of forbearance—the ability to courageously endure, persevere and overcome all difficulties.[3]

Let’s be clear: The Soka tradition is to never be defeated. This means ultimate victory, not just “putting up with hardship.” The power of faith gives us the strength to weather and surmount any storm. Perseverance is the essence of Buddhism.

3. Raising youth is the responsibility of everyone.

We, as the national team, would like to affirm with everyone the importance of raising the next and “next, next” generations of youth division leaders.

The first key point is: Raising the youth is the responsibility of all divisions—of all leaders. To be more explicit, raising youth is not solely the responsibility of youth leaders.

Without taking over (i.e., lecturing the youth about how great things were “back when I was a youth division,” which no one will enjoy), men and women need to seriously chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo about this and take initiative. Together, let’s return to Sensei’s encouragement about how to raise youth for the future.

The reality is that youth in America are struggling right now. I ask the men’s and women’s division leaders to think of these youth as our own children, as Sensei would, and chant about, support and share your heart for kosen-rufu with them, raising them into lions.

From now starts the crucial battle—one that will decide so much about our world in the next 10 years, as Sensei says. Each day right now is infinitely precious. There’s no reason to hold back in our efforts—no reason at all! As Walt Whitman says in this famous line from Leaves of Grass: “Allons! through struggles and wars! / The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.”[4]

Kevin MoncriefLaunching the Men’s Division “55 Challenge”

by Kevin Moncrief
SGI-USA Men’s Leader

I am very happy to share that we have received a message from Ikeda Sensei to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the men’s division’s founding on March 5, 1966.

Sensei says in part:

As golden pillars of kosen-rufu, you have confronted hardships with indomitable faith while continuing to resolutely encourage others amid the ongoing pandemic. You have also challenged yourselves to do whatever you can to contribute to your community and society. There is no doubt that Nichiren Daishonin is observing all your noble struggles each day.

In March, we will celebrate the 55th anniversary of the men’s division’s founding by focusing on the following:

• Continue our “Leave No Man Behind” campaign to visit and encourage each men’s division member.

• Engage in the SGI-USA 2021 HOPE Campaign: hope-filled daimoku [chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo]; open Ikeda Sensei’s guidance and Nichiren Daishonin’s writings; plant seeds of Buddhahood; encourage others.

• Commemorate the men’s division’s founding at our March “Kings of Soka” men’s division meetings.

• Launch the SGI-USA Men’s Division “55 Challenge,” in which each men’s division member, driven by joy and free will, aims to plant 55 seeds of the Mystic Law by sharing Buddhism with others from March to August, when we hold our SGI-USA Men’s General Meetings.

Lastly, I’d like to introduce our “55 Challenge” cheer:

With our mentor, we will strive.
For this moment, we’ve arrived.
We will do our 55!

Naoko LesliePlanting Seeds Is A Personal Daily Practice

by Naoko Leslie
SGI-USA Women’s Leader

Thank you very much, and congratulations on the most joyful “Kamata Campaign[5] of 2021” with victorious women’s and young women’s commemorative introduction-to-Buddhism meetings in February! It is always the greatest joy to be able to report our victories to Ikeda Sensei and Mrs. Ikeda!

One women’s leader brought 11 guests to these intro meetings. She shared that she has never challenged herself so much in planting seeds, and the tremendous joy that she feels is the greatest benefit of all. I am sure that you are also hearing many wonderful reports of benefits and breakthroughs.

I truly believe that sharing this Buddhism with others is not a campaign but a personal daily practice. While we have other campaigns such as the May Commemorative Contribution activity and publications promotion, we can always continue to plant seeds in our daily lives throughout the year.

I seriously take to heart when Nichiren Daishonin says, “Single-mindedly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and urge others to do the same; that will remain as the only memory of your present life in this human world.”[6] I am astonished because he is saying, this will remain “the only memory in our present life”!

At a discussion meeting last month, a woman shared how deeply depressed and stuck she felt in this pandemic, so she just decided to share this practice with someone. The moment she shared Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, her life condition soared, and she totally transformed. Everyone at the discussion meeting agreed that this is the way to manifest joy from our lives and win.

Let’s continue to enjoy planting seeds and create a forest of hope and happiness in our country and in our communities! My personal goal is to plant 100 seeds by May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, mainly focusing on young people to invite to the youth general meetings.

According to Kevin, I understand that each men’s division member will strive to plant 55 seeds toward Aug. 24. It’s always great to set concrete goals.

It’s also wonderful to set a goal of how many members we would like to encourage each month. As we affirmed, the second week of each month will remain “Home Visit Week,” where we will focus on one-to-one visits virtually. Let’s continue to realize Sensei’s encouragement to keep our ratio of meetings to personal guidance at 20-to-80, instead of 80-to-20.

As Sensei says, let’s use our “searchlight” and pray to reach those who are struggling the most, and make sure that they can win in this historic month of March.

As we celebrate March 16, Kosen-rufu Day, with deepest appreciation for the tremendous support we received in February, we the women’s division will support 1,000% the youth general meetings by inviting our youth guests, and we will also encourage our husbands and partners, and all male guests to attend the Kings of Soka meetings! Thank you very much, and let’s win together in this month of March and again report our astonishing victories to Sensei!

Central Executive Conference: At A Glance

Two new youth leaders were welcomed to the Central Executive Committee meeting for the first time:

The SGI-USA introduced the following leadership appointments:

To acknowledge the many consistent guests attending meetings, the SGI-USA has introduced a “HOPE Champion” award to guests who are chanting consistently, self-subscribing to the SGI-USA publications, receiving benefit and are willing to share their experience at a local meeting.

The May Commemorative Contribution activity will be held this year April 24–June 6, with the theme “Creating a Groundswell of Hope and Victory With a Vast Heart of Soka.” Youth who subscribe to the SGI-USA Publications will receive a weekly newsletter during the contribution to time frame, which will impart the Buddhist spirit of contributions. Also, subscribers will receive prepaid envelopes with their publications in both April and May to use for contributions. Members will find contribution-related faith experiences and encouragement in their April and May publications!

In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the SGI-USA youth division will delay until 2022 lowering their graduation age to 34 years old.


  1. The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 212. ↩︎
  2. “The Four Debts of Gratitude,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 41. ↩︎
  3. My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 239. ↩︎
  4. The New Human Revolution, vol. 26, p. 339. ↩︎
  5. During the February 1952 Kamata Campaign, the 24-year-old Daisaku Ikeda initiated an unprecedented propagation campaign in which a single chapter, Kamata, introduced 201 households to Nichiren Buddhism in one month. ↩︎
  6. “Embracing the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 64. ↩︎

Reaffirming the Fundamental Bodhisattva Way