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My First Days of Practice

My Journey in Faith

Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz / Unsplash.

When SGI-USA Buddhist Centers began reopening last fall, it presented the first opportunity since early 2020 for guests to receive the Gohonzon and start a new chapter of their Buddhist practice.

By then, many guests throughout the country had been practicing for a year or more in a district, attending virtual meetings, chanting consistently and inspiring others with their breakthroughs in faith.

To acknowledge their efforts, the SGI-USA introduced the HOPE Champion award in March 2021 for guests who had achieved certain benchmarks in their practice.

In August, a month we celebrate by teaching others about the Mystic Law, the World Tribune spoke to three people who received the Gohonzon at their August Kosen-rufu Gongyo meetings about what their Buddhist practice means to them.


Celebration—(R–l) Sam Lashinsky and his friend Ryan Gibson in Los Angeles, August 2022. Photo by Allen Zaki.

Pulling Forth Strength From Within

by Sam Lashinsky Los Angeles

After months of mental anguish, I ended up reaching out to a co-worker who I knew practiced Buddhism. Even though I was an anti-religious person at the time, when he explained that Buddhism is about pulling forth strength from within, I felt like I had found a religion for me. 

I was introduced to fellow practitioners who treated me like family from the start. I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo every day for two months, but then I lapsed. I got lazy and nearly gave up. When I told my co-worker this, he visited me every morning for weeks. I’m so grateful for him. I’m also so grateful for this Buddhist practice, the SGI and Ikeda Sensei. 

Since I started this journey, I’ve faced even more hardship in my life. By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I’ve been able to overcome this hardship and prosper. My mind feels reinforced, ready to take on any challenge that comes my way. I see my shortcomings and my struggles as opportunities to grow and learn, improving my life condition overall. I want to learn more about Sensei, as I relate to his experiences as a young man so deeply. For anyone who is just starting out, I recommend going to an in-person meeting. The value it can bring to your life is immense.


Doing my bit—(R–l) Ekta Teberiwal and her friend Jungmin Lee in Seattle, August 2022. Photo by Stephanie Araiza.

Making Sense of My Life

by Ekta Teberiwal Seattle

In 2020, I was struggling a lot personally and professionally. I had a great job in New York, but money didn’t matter. I couldn’t make any sense of life. While scrolling through Instagram one day, I noticed that a friend had “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” written in her bio. Struggling and desperately seeking, I decided to Google Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and I came across the Buddhability podcast. I listened, and it really intrigued me. Is it this simple? I didn’t know about the SGI. I didn’t know about the community. But I started chanting, and things started shifting.

When I moved to Seattle last year, I found out that my sister-in-law was an SGI member! She connected me to the local SGI organization, and I have since been attending my district meetings regularly. Their support has been incredible. 

I finally received the Gohonzon! It really is a mirror for my life. I was so lost. But now, by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, I see myself. 

Recently, my life motto became: You cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that you can do. I’m looking forward to doing my bit, studying more and developing my faith.


Spiritual family—Roberta Zivanov and friends. (L–r) Carl, Margot, Roberta and Ciaran in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., August 2022. Photo by Mary D’Elia.

‘SGI Is a Perfect Fit’

by Roberta Zivanov • Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

I’ve always been prayerful, but I was looking for the right religious fit as I got older. For me, it feels like the SGI is a perfect fit. 

With chanting, I feel that I’ve found an active form of prayer that amplifies my heartfelt intent. Now, I feel healthy in body, mind and spirit. It took me six months before I started, however, so my advice to anyone new is: Try it! Start chanting! 

I most appreciate that, in my district, I have friends in faith who support and understand me. Even though at first it was through a screen, I felt like we already knew each other. Sharing a vow for the happiness of all people, the district has become my spiritual family. And I’m so happy to finally see them in person at the center each month! 

I don’t hesitate to tell friends and family about my Buddhist practice, because, in doing so, I’m talking about the most authentic me. 

When I read anything from Ikeda Sensei, I feel gratified. He’s a person that I would like to emulate, a world leader whose contributions are immeasurable. I’m grateful that my friend introduced me to Buddhism so I, too, can translate my prayer to action and make immeasurable contributions.

Make a Difference

I’m doing all I can to achieve my goals, so why am I facing so many setbacks?