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Congratulations, Scholars of Fortune and Virtue!

Denver. Photo by Rayna Tedford.

“Never, from ancient times on, has anyone seen or heard of winter turning back to autumn. Nor have we ever heard of a believer in the Lotus Sutra who turned into an ordinary person.”[1] A young man named David Martinez recited this passage from Nichiren Daishonin into a microphone at an early Sunday Soka 2030 meeting the the SGI-USA Los Angeles Friendship Center. It was his first time at the podium; he had become an SGI-USA member only one week prior. 

“These words from Nichiren resonated with me,” he said. “A year ago, I felt so alone. But since I joined the SGI, I have a new community, and I now have the Gohonzon. This passage reminds me that, with the Gohonzon and the SGI, I never again have to return to the person I once was, to my old habits that once caused me suffering.” 

Mr. Martinez had studied this passage and other material while preparing for the SGI-USA Introductory Exam, which was held on Oct. 7–8, 2023. He was among 1,671 people who took the exam in 196 locations across the SGI-USA.

“I didn’t pass this time” he said. “But I’m that much closer to understanding the philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. I’m determined to pass next time!” 

Ikeda Sensei sent a message to the examinees, in which he says, “Whether you pass or not, there is no doubt that all of you shine as sages of kosen-rufu, as victors of justice and as scholars of fortune and virtue.”

Taking the Exam Itself Is the Victory

Study is a vital aspect of Buddhist practice, enabling us to deepen our understanding of Nichiren Buddhism and how to apply it for the happiness of ourselves and others. The introductory exam, held twice a year in April and October, is an opportunity for SGI-USA members and guests to learn about Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings through studying his writings, Sensei’s commentaries, various Buddhist concepts and the history of Nichiren Buddhism and the SGI.

Sensei also wrote in his message: “How hard you must have studied, even amid challenging circumstances. Coming here today is itself a victory reflecting your noble seeking spirit. Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, is surely praising your efforts.” 

Alba Guerrero, a new young women’s division member in Los Angeles, shared her experience of preparing for the exam amid a busy schedule. 

“I wanted to study but I was drowning in a feeling of burnout, completely unmotivated after long days at work,” she said. Ms. Guerrero mentioned that on the day of the exam, she considered not taking it. But a friend in the young women’s division encouraged her over the phone, and they decided to study once more together. 

“As we studied, the enjoyment of learning with my friend about how to overcome challenges in the most profound and transformative way overshadowed my initial self-doubt and apathy,” Ms. Guerrero said.

She decided to follow through with the exam and passed. 

“I was happy about passing,” she said, “but the real growth came from overcoming my self-doubt—thanks to my friend’s encouragement, to Nichiren’s teachings and to my own resolution.” 

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff


  1. “Winter Always Turns to Spring,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 536. ↩︎

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