Study Sessions on Nichiren's Writings Held in North and Latin America
During January 2007, study sessions on Nichiren Buddhism were held in the USA and Brazil. From January 19 to 22, the SGI-USA Florida Nature and Culture Center (FNCC) near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, hosted a conference for some 200 SGI representatives from the USA, Canada and several countries in Latin America. On the 20th, SGI Study Department Chief Katsuji Saito lectured on "Letter to Niike," a letter in which Nichiren encourages his followers to maintain a diligent practice throughout their lives. In the same letter Nichiren compares a person's potential for and realization of enlightenment to an egg whose contents develop into a bird that is ultimately able to fly freely in the skies. On the same day, the participants studied "The Kalpa of Decrease" in which Nichiren explains the disasters besetting society in his time as stemming from human delusion and attachment to ritualistic religious practices that did not offer people a valid philosophy or a concrete practice for positively transforming the realities of their daily lives. On the 21st, Mr. Saito lectured on "On Repaying Debts of Gratitude" and "The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life." He encouraged everyone to use their Buddhist practice to become victors in life. On the 22nd, the final day of the study session, the participants studied "The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon."
Mr. Saito flew to Brazil to conduct the "2nd Latin America Study Session" from January 26-28. Nearly 400 SGI leaders from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela attended the first two days of the session held at the SGI-Brazil (BSGI) Nature and Culture Center in a São Paulo suburb. On the final day, a further 400 BSGI members, including staff from the center, also participated. Mr. Saito emphasized that Nichiren Buddhism is a practical philosophy which enables practitioners to tap their inherent potential and positively transform their lives.
BSGI's Eduardo Masaki Urakami commented that the lectures, which were substantial in content, offered him an opportunity to deepen his own understanding of Nichiren Buddhism, and said he hopes to share this insight with friends and fellow members. Ana Teresa Perez from Venezuela said the study session clarified that Buddhism teaches people how to break through deadlocks and limitations, and she felt this was highly relevant to her work as a translator. "A translator should not only translate the surface meaning of words, but also the true intent, heart and emotions behind the words. SGI Study Department Chief Saito, through his lectures, taught us about the mentor-disciple relationship, and that 'manifesting Buddhahood' means to dedicate oneself to others' happiness as well as one's own happiness."
[Adapted from an article in the February 1, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]