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Be Triumphant!

Photo by Hinterhaus Productions / Getty Images.

by Guy McCloskey
SGI-USA Many Treasures Group Vice Men’s Leader

World Tribune: Thank you, Guy, for sharing some words with us.

Guy McCloskey: Thank you very much for the opportunity. I’ve been reflecting on the questions and challenges Many Treasures Group members have shared with me, and I think we all have the same basic concerns—health, finances and sustaining a sense of optimism as we age.

WT: How can Many Treasures Group members make breakthroughs this year?

Guy: The key is to strive with no regrets. We make lots of mistakes in the course of our lives, but they don’t need to be cause for regret. This isn’t to ignore our mistakes. This means that rather than get stuck on the past, we should look toward the future.

Ikeda Sensei writes in My Dear Friends in America:

We are always setting out, full of hope, from today to the future, from this moment to eternal happiness. We are always young, always beginning. My message to you is that you must be absolutely certain of this and live your wonderful lives without regret, with joy and brightness, always moving forward. (p. 59)

WT: What key points should everyone keep in mind to advance without regrets?

Guy: I think there are two aspects to it:

1) be youthful regardless of our age; and 

2) have the prayer and determination to support the youth in our districts and introduce other young people to Buddhism.

Based on this, my wife, Doris, and I created our personal motto for 2023: “Be Youthful! Be Joyful! Be Triumphant!!” Sensei teaches us that our prayer is a determination, a vow. When we chant, we awaken the Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in our lives; we’re not looking for something or someone to change things for us. It is the determination I am going to do this! This is important to staying youthful.

Another step is to learn how to communicate in a way that young people will respond—staying up-to-date with technology as best we can and speaking to the concerns of young people. 

In a major youth propagation campaign a few years ago, Doris and I had great success in connecting with young people. When encountering someone, we would ask, “Would you like to change the world?” Young people in particular responded positively, stopping in their tracks to ask “Do you know how?” This opens the door to talk about Buddhism.

Every encounter we have with someone is an opportunity to connect. In the case of my wife and I, we live on the 33rd floor of a building with hundreds of units, so our opportunities are often in the elevator!

Each elevator encounter gives me about 20 seconds. Sometimes, it’s just a greeting: “Hello, how are you? Have a nice day!” We recently held the door open for someone, and they responded, “Perhaps that’s the nicest thing that will happen to me today.” We have to seize every opportunity.

WT: How does one seize every opportunity?

Guy: We should be aggressive in our own outreach—not aggressive in being threatening or boorish, no. I mean aggressive in simply taking action. Here I am, and here you are, so why don’t we try to connect?

That being said, we also have to be serious about our relationships with others. How do our actions and words affect other people? This is something I learned from Sensei. 

Many years ago, I was at a dinner with Sensei, sitting at a table with around eight other people. He was asking everyone questions. Sensei turned to one person and said, “You remember two years ago when you asked me a question, and I wasn’t able to answer? I’m going to answer it now.” Apparently, the question was first asked in a sensitive setting, so he couldn’t respond. But Sensei didn’t want to waste this opportunity to address this person’s question.

The only way someone can remember such detail is through sincere care. Sensei remembers his encounters with people because he cares so much about them. He often says that every encounter, regardless of how brief, is a critical moment for him, because it may be his only opportunity to be present with them. We see this throughout The New Human Revolution.

For us, remembering people is to demonstrate care for them. Sensei does this, and so should we.

Through our care, we can inspire people to persevere. Part of suffering is the loss of hope that things will change for the better. But supporting one another allows us to overcome this. We do not have to lose to our sufferings. Rather, we can be triumphant.

Our Compassion Can ‘Perfume’ the Lives of Those Around Us

New Dawn