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Welcome Back to the FNCC!

Photo by Bernard Kuehu.

by John Plummer
Special to the Tribune 

WESTON, Fla., March 21—“I really cannot express how wonderful it is to see all of you.”  

With these words, SGI-USA General Director Adin Strauss opened the first conference at the Florida Nature and Culture Center (FNCC) in over two years. One hundred men answered back with a joyful roar that shook the Friendship Auditorium.

The theme of the first conference since COVID-19 halted in-person activities in March 2020 was “Charging Ahead! Expanding Our Gathering of Courageous Individuals,” which brought together the 100 men (half the size of a pre-COVID FNCC conference to allow for safe distancing and single-occupancy bedrooms) from across the nation.

Mr. Strauss told them, “You are pioneers of the new era,” and urged them to win by always treasuring the youth who is right in from of them. He stressed the power of planting seeds of Buddhahood in tandem with the mission of raising a new generation of young men who will view themselves as disciples of Ikeda Sensei and lead kosen-rufu into the coming century.

While acknowledging the realities of war, a pandemic, inflation, climate change and other crises—what Sensei called in his 2021 peace proposal “unprecedented in the history of humankind”[1]—Mr. Strauss shared the hopeful reminder that never before in human history have this many people been chanting the Mystic Law around the world.

The men at the conference experienced a rejuvenated environment at the FNCC: repainted buildings, thermostats in bedrooms, a fully renovated dining hall and much more. But what remained unchanged was the manifestation of the oneness of mentor and disciple in every lecture, every experience, every Q&A session and every heart-to-heart dialogue.

In his lecture on Saturday, Mr. Strauss urged the men to plant seeds based on their wish for others’ happiness. This is how to overcome karma. In his Sunday lecture, SGI-USA Men’s Leader Kevin Moncrief stressed the difference between karma, which is a function of past causes, and choices, which are a function of the present and the future. “Choices are more important than karma,” he stressed.

On the first night, Mr. Moncrief thanked the men for being at the conference, telling them “We will remember this when we’re quite old as an inflection point, when something fundamentally shifted.” In his closing remarks, he thanked the men “for being my brothers. I’m proud to be a men’s division member with you. Together we will shock the world with our value creation.”

Voices from the Men’s Conference

Shigeo Nakazaki
Waimanalo, Hawaii

My life was a hot mess before I left for Florida. My mother and I recently had to take our 44-year-old family business online. And, four days before my trip, we closed a physical location we had operated for the last 20 years. So I went to the FNCC looking for some extra motivation.

It felt great being back. The surprising thing was that the cafeteria was totally redone, and it is beautiful. But the highlight was being back with the guys. They were juiced up. I didn’t know 90% of them, but it was great being among the guys and sharing our excitement to spread Buddhism.

And each lecture and presentation was amazing. I rewrote one phrase in my notes: “Based on your wish for another person’s happiness.” This reminded me that everything we do is about the members. I’m ready to get home to jump on a Zoom call and do HOMS (Healthy, Outdoors, Masked, Safe) visits, because I am eager to engage with the members.

Larry Lane
Tampa, Fla.

Let me just say, the men at the conference were charged up. Getting back together and chanting in person, like in the old days—it feels amazing. 

I feel the kind of work we did over the weekend is critical to combating these energies we’re seeing in society that don’t have a hesitation about waging war, demolishing countries and hurting people. To be among men who are ready, able and willing to take up and run with the banner of kosen-rufu in America—that’s a powerful energy I got from and gave back to the guys. 

Back home, we’ve been challenging ourselves to reopen the Tampa Center, which has proved to be this gutsy battle that has unified us across divisions. I’m energized to respond to my mentor, to take back this energy from the conference and foster capable youth to usher in a new era of worldwide kosen-rufu. A sincere thanks to every person that makes FNCC possible and my zone leader for encouraging me to go. Thank you, Ikeda Sensei, for your vision and action to make FNCC a reality!

Sergio Farfan
West Jordan, Utah

This was my first time at the FNCC, and I am leaving with clarity on the future that we can create together as SGI members. From the moment that we arrived on the FNCC grounds and stepped out of the shuttle, we were greeted warmly by the staff and men’s leaders. 

SGI-USA Men’s Leader Kevin Moncrief gave a first-class presentation on Buddhism. He focused on the idea of embracing all people, which is ultimately what led me back to this Buddhist practice in 2019. 

Everything at the FNCC—from Toda Lake to Makiguchi Fountain, the trails, tables, chairs, bicycles, trees, buildings—embodied a spirit that can be described only as Ikeda Sensei’s heart. I could feel Sensei’s care as if he were present with us at all times. I also received personal guidance that I’m ready to apply right away when I return home. If COVID-19 permits, I will be back in December with more men in my chapter so that they, too, can experience our mentor’s heart firsthand. 


  1. <accessed on March 22, 2022>. ↩︎

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