Back to listJun 15, 2008

SGI-USA Women in Oakland, California, USA, Complete Year-long Study Program


On June 15, 2008, more than 100 women in the Oakland-East Bay region of California, USA, celebrated the completion of their year-long participation in Sophia Group, a program created for SGI-USA women to deepen their grasp of and conviction in Nichiren Buddhism and to foster bonds of friendship.

West Territory Women's Leader Melanie Merians attended the meeting held at the SGI-USA East Bay Community Center. During a question and answer session, one attendee asked the meaning of the passage "It is the heart that is important," from Nichiren's writings (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, p. 1000). Explaining that cultivating appreciation and gratitude is essential, Ms. Merians responded, "Problems originate in our minds, but the solutions can be found in our hearts. We must engrave appreciation in our hearts and then manifest it in our actions. Everything we do in this practice is to expand our heart."

Sophia Group meetings are held regularly throughout the United States. Members commit to one year of participation, which includes prior reading of assigned material and attending each meeting ready to participate in the discussion. Study material varies from group to group and is generally selected from one of President Daisaku Ikeda's extended works. Since its inception in May 1990 at Mr. Ikeda's suggestion, the Sophia Group has enabled women from all walks of life to advance in their belief in and understanding of Nichiren Buddhism and to apply what they have learned in their families, workplaces and communities.

[Adapted from an article in the June 27, 2008 issue of The World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of The World Tribune]