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Intro Meetings Spread Hope on College Campuses

Sacramento City College

by Olivia Cassetta and Max Heine
SGI-USA Student Division Leaders

On Sept. 8, 1957, in front of 50,000 youth at Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda made a historic declaration condemning nuclear weapons as an “absolute evil.”[1]

He went on to declare: “We, the citizens of the world, have an inviolable right to live,” and he called on the youth to widely share this idea throughout the globe.[2]

Commemorating this day, student division members across the country, with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo cards and copies of Living Buddhism in hand, engaged their peers in dialogues on Buddhism’s fundamental commitment to safeguarding the dignity of life, which naturally extends to a commitment to nuclear abolition. Through such dialogues, students promoted their on-campus intro meetings, held in September and early October at 38 colleges throughout the U.S.  

Not only were guests interested in Nichiren Buddhism, many joyfully connected with their local districts, including four from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Ariana Jaramillo, San Francisco Ever-Victorious Zone’s young women’s student division leader, organized a gathering at her school. She explained how sharing Buddhism on campus helped her connect with strangers and develop a strong life condition. “I’m not that talkative,” she said, “but I started talking to people who sat next to me on the school shuttle about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I even showed up to my classes 20 minutes early so I could meet new people.” 

She also said: “The week I focused on sharing Buddhism, I felt genuinely happy. My life condition was strong and it helped me feel more alive at school.”

Devesh Kumar, a Medical College of Wisconsin student, initially feared that his science-oriented peers would be unreceptive to dialogue about religion or philosophy. Wanting to experience the stand-alone spirit embodied by Ikeda Sensei, however, he spoke to his classmates one by one. 

Two of Mr. Kumar’s classmates attended a meeting. After he shared his experience about using Buddhism to improve his mental health, one student expressed her desire to give chanting a try. 

“For me, the victory was overcoming my fears and prejudices. People are people, no matter how analytical they may be. This Buddhism is a Buddhism of the people, for the people,” he said. “Taking a stand with the same spirit as my mentor, I reminded myself why I’m here studying medicine—to help people.”

Mr. Toda once said, “Youth, just one of you stand! A second and then a third will definitely follow.”[3] And of the student division, Sensei said, “Among all our young people, it is the student division members in particular who must have a sense of responsibility and an awareness of their role as trailblazers.”[4]

It takes just one to generate change, just one student to revitalize a campus with the philosophy and practice of Nichiren Buddhism. 

Now Is the Time to Transmit Peace

Today, both the inner world of the individual and the shared world of all humanity are in turmoil.

Preparing a lecture for the student division amid escalating Cold War tensions, Sensei concluded:

The time had come for the philosophy of Buddhism—the principle of human rights and the ethos of peace—to be transmitted to the world.[5]

With this conviction, the SGI-USA student division will continue to share Buddhism with their peers on campuses throughout the country, where hundreds and thousands of youth are waiting to hear about our movement for world peace through the maximized potential and happiness of the individual. 

November 3, 2023, World Tribune, p. 8


  1. “Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons,” <accessed on Oct. 18, 2023>. ↩︎
  2. Ibid. ↩︎
  3. The New Human Revolution, vol. 5, revised edition, p. 161. ↩︎
  4. NHR-6, revised edition, 257. ↩︎
  5. Ibid., 280. ↩︎

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