SGI Leaders from North, Central and South America Attend Study Conference in Florida, USA
From August 22-25, 2008, more than 200 SGI leaders from nine countries met at the SGI Florida Nature and Culture Center in Weston, Florida, USA, to attend the North, Central and South America SGI Leaders Study Conference led by Soka Gakkai Study Department Leader Masaaki Morinaka. Mr. Morinaka presented lectures, interpreted into English, Spanish and Portuguese, on five of Nichiren's core writings: "The Opening of the Eyes," "Encouragement to a Sick Person," "The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life," "On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land" and "The Drum at the Gate of Thunder." Each lecture was followed by a question-and-answer session.
Drawing extensively from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's new lecture series "The Hope-filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin," which debuted in English in the July-August issue of Living Buddhism, SGI-USA's bimonthly study magazine, Mr. Morinaka explained that the new lecture series seeks to convey the deeper, humanistic aspect of Nichiren's teachings. "Buddhism didn't begin when Shakyamuni Buddha was first enlightened," said Mr. Morinaka. "Rather, Buddhism began when Shakyamuni stood up to save other people."
He went on to point out that the only way to realize happiness and lasting peace is for each individual to develop his or her full human potential, quoting Mr. Ikeda: "There can be no substantial solution to society's problems that does not involve developing our state of life." Based on the practice of Nichiren Buddhism, manifesting one's true potential entails deepening conviction in one's unlimited potential as well as that of others, acting with the spirit of "now is the last moment," and being able to appreciate and learn from diversity.
Throughout the weekend, Mr. Morinaka emphasized the importance of one's inner determination, standing up for justice, life-to-life dialogue and the shared commitment of mentor and disciple. Lilian Lopez, 34, of Baltimore, Md., said she learned a lot about changing herself. "I came to see that I have to be the change I want to see in society," she said, "that humanity's struggles are my struggles and my responsibility."
[Adapted from articles in the September 5, 2008 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA, and the September 17, 2008 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Edward Chen]