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Launching the Fourth Class

Dallas. Photo by Mariano Kimbara.

by Shota Okajima
SGI-USA Young Men’s Division Leader

In 2011, the SGI-USA Young Men’s Division established the Gajokai and Soka Group academies. The goal was to raise many capable young men as successors who would develop the spirit to seek their mentor by participating in these behind-the-scenes training groups.

In 2019, to refresh its training program, the SGI-USA Young Men’s Division Academy was created as a one-year training program for the next generation of leaders who will shoulder the responsibility to protect the SGI-USA and advance kosen-rufu in America.

Through the academy, we hope each young man can create a strong foundation in faith so that when obstacles come, they will not be swayed but will instead reveal their true capabilities and achieve all their goals.

YMD Academy Curriculum

The academy’s training curriculum has two primary components: action and study.

Action—An essential aspect of training in the young men’s division is learning the spirit to support others behind the scenes. Thus, academy members will participate in Soka Group and Gajokai activities, two essential training groups Ikeda Sensei established for young men to develop the spirit to protect the members and the kosen-rufu movement.

The Gajokai take full responsibility for protecting SGI-USA Buddhist centers, our castles of kosen-rufu, and the members who visit them. The Soka Group plan and execute behind-the-scenes movements to facilitate SGI activities, ensuring smooth, accident-free meetings. 

Through these activities, we strive to inherit Sensei’s spirit and dedicate ourselves to the members’ happiness and well-being. At the same time, we learn the art of preparation, communication, swift action and paying attention to detail, which are all key to leading victorious lives.

In addition, the academy is a time to joyfully challenge propagating the Law and sharing the benefits of Buddhist practice with others.

Study—The academy’s second primary component is reading Sensei’s guidance and the writings of Nichiren Daishonin to learn the essence of the oneness of mentor and disciple. In doing so, we learn from Sensei’s spirit to put the vow to advance kosen-rufu at the center of our lives, identify and fight devilish functions and break through any and all obstacles.

Sensei says in his message to the academy’s inauguration:

It is precisely because you each possess an extraordinary mission that you must undergo significant hardships in your youth. Please take pride in this as you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, regarding “both suffering and joy as facts of life” (“Happiness in This World,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 681). Step by step and in a manner true to yourself, tackle the challenges before you each day and create a golden record of achievement with the conviction that your human revolution will bring about world peace.

Through the training offered in the academy, each member can awaken to their extraordinary mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth and create an indestructible state of life. Through our effort and human revolution, let’s create our own “golden record of achievement” and triumph this year.

YMD Academy Book

The SGI-USA Young Men’s Division produced a new book to serve as the Young Men’s Division Academy’s study guide for its fourth class. 

The book highlights excerpts of Ikeda Sensei’s practical guidance on topics including career, relationships and mastering time. It also includes select essays and addresses from Sensei on youth leadership, the vision for kosen-rufu in America and the Soka Gakkai’s spiritual independence. 

In past years, academy members studied Sensei’s novel The New Human Revolution, which chronicles not only the factual history of the worldwide kosen-rufu movement with our mentor at the helm but his thoughts and intent as well. Continuing the tradition of studying this series, this book includes “Vigilant Safeguarding,” the novel’s chapter on the history and spirit of the Soka Group and the Gajokai.

This study guide aims to help each person deepen their awareness as a protagonist of our Soka movement who can actualize Sensei’s vision of kosen-rufu in the U.S. 

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

Digging Deeper Into My Human Revolution 

Caleb Lorenzo
Honolulu, Hawaii

I started practicing Buddhism with the SGI in 2015. I was in high school, my mom was taking care of me and my siblings on her own, and I didn’t have any direction in life. The pioneer members in Hawaii helped me develop my foundation in faith. I enlisted in the U.S. Navy after high school and was stationed in San Diego for five years. Last year, I returned to Hawaii. 

I joined the YMD Academy to deepen my practice. I’ve also always wanted to support the members behind the scenes. It’s my opportunity to dig deeper into my human revolution. 

I’m the only one in my family who chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. When I came home last year, I realized I have a mission to help my family members become happy. When on shift as a Gajokai or Soka Group member, unexpected situations come up. It’s the same with family. The academy study and training will enable me to develop a life in which I don’t harbor doubt in faith, take decisive action and live compassionately.

I want to show compassion for my family in the same way that I care about and protect SGI members. I want to appreciate my family in the same way that I appreciate the members who come to the center. 

During my training, I’m going to always be early for my meetings and shifts, introduce one young man to Buddhism and support my district’s growth—that is my determination! 

May 19, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 8–9

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