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Los Angeles Celebrates the ‘Sun of Jiyu’

Los Angeles. Photo by Yvonne Ng.

With the “sun of jiyu” burning brightly in their hearts, the members of Los Angeles Pan-Pacific and Los Angeles Sunshine zones opened the Year of Youth and Triumph with back-to-back New Year’s gongyo celebrations that filled the World Peace Ikeda Auditorium in Santa Monica, California, with happy members, guests and new members joining the SGI.

The meetings commemorated the 30th anniversary of Ikeda Sensei’s poem to the members of Los Angeles “The Sun of Jiyu Over a New Land,” which he first shared in the same auditorium on Jan. 27, 1993.

The City of Santa Monica, where the SGI-USA headquarters is located, issued a proclamation naming Jan. 2, 2023, “Daisaku Ikeda Day,” in recognition of “the epic and limitlessly hopeful poem,” Sensei’s enduring contributions to peace and his 95th birthday.

The members of Los Angeles Pan-Pacific Zone strove to greet the new year by deeply studying the poem and embed-ding into their DNA its message of awakening to their mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth who widely spread the Mystic Law in their communities.

LA Pan-Pacific Zone. Photo by Ren Kwon.

At the celebration, newly appointed Los Angeles Pan-Pacific Zone Young Men’s Leader Kenichi Hackman said, “We are determined that each and every district will introduce one new youth in 2023 as the greatest cause for creating a society that treasures and respects the dignity of life.”

The members celebrated by filling the auditorium with happy members, more than 100 guests and 18 new members joining the SGI. The zone’s great pride was having more than 40 Byakuren and Soka Group members support the movement behind the scenes. Their meeting closed with everyone singing “Happy Birthday” to Ikeda Sensei, who turned 95 on Jan. 2.

For Los Angeles Sunshine Zone, nearly 500 members gathered, including many for the first time in three years and five new members joining the SGI. The members used the new year celebration to reaffirm Sensei’s vision for Los Angeles and respond to his call to action in the poem. 

Los Angeles Sunshine Zone Leader Julie Yeo said the spirit of “The Sun of Jiyu” is to take action. With the support of 14 Byakuren and 21 Soka Group members, the youth took full responsibility of the preparations, she said.

LA Sunshine Zone. Photo by Leticia Williams.

“With pride as disciples of Sensei, our members are gathering for joyful dialogues with friends about life and Buddhism,” Ms. Yeo said. “In response to Sensei’s poem, our determination is to enable lots of young people to stand up and awaken to their mission for kosen-rufu.”

In the February 2023 Living Buddhism, Sensei cites the poem in his lecture series “The Buddhism of the Sun—Illuminating the World,” saying it is “infused with a prayer for a solution to racial discrimination” (p. 60).

Touching on our identity as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, he cites a part of the poem that includes the line: “If one reaches back to these fundamental roots, all become friends and comrades. To realize this is to ‘emerge from the earth.’”

Sensei continues: 

No matter how painful and difficult the reality of our world today, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, lauded by Shakyamuni for having “thoroughly forged their resolve” (“General Stone Tiger,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 953), never succumb to despair or resignation.

The Bodhisattvas of the Earth are bodhisattvas of courage and hope who have emerged in the most trying age of the Latter Day of the Law, in the most challenging realm of this saha world, to strive joyously from today on to tomorrow and into the eternal future. (pp. 60–61)

The members of both zones are determined to ensure that their New Year’s gatherings to celebrate “The Sun of Jiyu” poem serve not just as events but as the launching point to advance boldly as inheritors of its spirit.

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

Jan.20, 2023, World Tribune, p. 10

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