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How I Broke Through

Representatives from the Byakuren and Soka Group share how supporting an SGI-USA activity behind the scenes enabled them to break through their personal challenges. Both supported “EMERGE,” a Southern California youth meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of Ikeda Sensei’s poem “Sun of Jiyu Over a New Land,” held on Jan. 29, 2023, at the SGI-USA World Culture Center in Santa Monica, California. See Feb. 17, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 6–7, for full coverage of the event.

Training to Expand Beyond Limits

Chip Grossman
Santa Monica, Calif.

The Soka Group teaches how to apply Buddhism in daily life. Operating on the fly, you learn how to support others and, in doing so, become stronger yourself. Doing a Soka Group shift for “EMERGE” allowed me to do just that.

The meeting aligned with the end of my company’s fiscal year—the busiest and most stressful time of the year. I was just appointed region young men’s leader and felt overwhelmed with the new responsibilities. When the opportunity arose to support “EMERGE,” I jumped in, knowing that it was the jolt I needed to break through my challenges. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt unworthy of a great relationship. Toward “EMERGE,” I wanted to transform that tendency, land a great home in Santa Monica and become invaluable to my employer.

Ikeda Sensei’s “Sun of Jiyu” poem became my north star throughout the process. I poured my life into trying to understand it. 

One passage stood out where Sensei says, “First you must break the hard shell / of the lesser self. / This you must absolutely do. Then direct your lucid gaze / toward your friends, fellow members” (January 2023 Living Buddhism, p. 18). Taking this passage to heart, I’d chant with determination to break through this “hard shell” inside my life.

Uncomfortable emotions I had bottled up for so long—anger, loneliness—poured out of me. But chanting every day for the meeting’s success and for my breakthrough helped me let go.

The day of “EMERGE” was intense, but so joyful. I felt a profound sense of purpose. The Soka Group leaders emphasized the importance of unity, which led to a successful, accident-free meeting.

I achieved each breakthrough I sought. Soon after, my company underwent a round of layoffs. I felt protected that no one from my team was let go, but there was an atmosphere of anxiety. Due to my Soka Group training, I was resilient and kept a steady hand, bringing a voice of optimism to my workplace that multiple superiors privately thanked me for. I just signed a lease for my new kosen-rufu home in Santa Monica, and I’m no longer worried about my relationship. Thanks to my Buddhist practice and the Soka Group, I have a new sense of self-love. 

I’m determined to continue the process of breaking the hard shell of my lesser self, develop a thriving Buddhist community of young men in my region and make the most of every training opportunity I can get as a member of the young men’s division and the Soka Group.

Breaking the Shell of My Lesser Self

Khyla Horton
Los Angeles

When I was first asked about the “EMERGE” meeting, I was so excited to support as Byakuren In-Charge and lead based on Ikeda Sensei’s poem “The Sun of Jiyu Over a New Land.” We started preparing more than a month before, and many devilish functions came up.

I started a new job in January, and I was struggling with the commute. It never rains in LA, but my first week on the job it poured almost every day. I got a parking ticket, and it felt like the universe was sending me petty obstacles. I was also struggling with a sense of disillusionment and lack of self-worth, while seeking validation from outside and facing rejection. I felt like my efforts weren’t translating to the breakthroughs I wanted.

I wanted to show all the Byakuren actual proof that our causes become great effects in our lives. I decided I would determine to win in every moment and that, with the Gohonzon, all my sufferings would become sources of joy. 

I chanted for each Byakuren member to experience actual proof and victory toward the meeting. I’m passionate about music, and I was chanting to be in the best position to facilitate my mission. I was able to attend open mics and studio recording sessions after work. While solidifying my creative confidence, I’m determined to release music this year.

Many of the Byaku-ren, including me, didn’t get to see the actual meeting events, because we were stationed in other places making sure everything went smoothly. So, even after sending everyone home safely, the excitement of the meeting quickly faded as if it hadn’t happened, and I felt stuck.

The week following the meeting my deepest feelings of worthlessness, doubt and isolation came to the surface. But then, I had this profound realization: All these obstacles were the deepest parts of my lesser self. 

It was through fighting toward this meeting that I reminded myself that I am the protagonist of my great mission for kosen-rufu. I broke off and peeled through these layers, shedding the shell of my lesser self. I reemerged in an explosion of happiness. 

I feel such a strong sense of mission for the Byakuren of Los Angeles and the U.S., who make efforts for the members on behalf of Sensei. I can be secure in knowing that my causes for kosen-rufu are all I need to be happy, all I need to realize my dreams.

Exhibiting the ‘Conduct of Bodhisattvas’

The following is from Ikeda Sensei’s guidance to the behind-the-scenes group members in the “Vigilant Safegaurding” chapter of  The New Human Revolution, vol. 24, p. 124. Sensei appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto firmly believed that the highest praise and support should be extended to those working behind the scenes, such as the members of the Soka Group, the Gajokai, the Byakuren Group and the uncrowned heroes who deliver the Seikyo Shimbun newspaper. Soka Group members leave their jobs early and rush to Soka Gakkai facilities to stand out in the cold and direct parking. Gajokai members safeguard those facilities by patrolling them late into the night. With warm smiles, Byakuren Group members greet those who attend activities at Soka Gakkai culture and community centers. All these young people are carrying out their noble missions while coping with their own daily challenges and difficulties. Regarding these young people, Shin’ichi saw in them the conduct of bodhisattvas and felt the compassionate heart of Buddhas. 

March 3, 2023, World Tribune, p.8

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