European Members Celebrate 50th Anniversary
SGI members in Europe have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first visit to the continent by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda in 1961, a date taken to commemorate the start of the movement for the propagation of Nichiren Buddhism in Europe. It was on October 8, 1961, in the midst of the Cold War, that Mr. Ikeda visited Berlin, Germany, where upon seeing the newly-constructed Berlin Wall he shared his vision of an undivided, peaceful, post-Cold War Europe.
Mr. Ikeda, who was at that time president of Soka Gakkai, had determined to travel the world in an effort to encourage members in various countries and to advance peace through the spread of the philosophy of the value and dignity of human life expounded by Nichiren Buddhism.
To celebrate the anniversary, some 400 SGI members from eight European countries gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on October 9 for a commemorative photograph.
In this shared spirit of a united Europe, an SGI-Europe General Meeting and Culture Festival was held at SGI-UK’s Taplow Court culture center on October 1. The occasion brought together youth members from SGI-UK and 16 countries across Europe, including Germany, Greece, Romania and Ireland.
In his message to participants, Mr. Ikeda expressed his joy at hearing of the gathering of European youth and urged them to make the occasion a new departure for working toward creating a harmonious, peaceful world.
On October 13, a monument marking the 50th anniversary of Mr. Ikeda's visit to Europe was officially unveiled at Taplow Court. Etched into the four sides of the monument is the inscription, "A great revolution of character in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of humankind," words taken from Mr. Ikeda's novel The Human Revolution.
In Italy, some 4,000 SGI-Italy members together with 500 members from throughout Europe, gathered in Rome for the SGI European General Meeting on October 22, where they held 50th anniversary celebrations.
Similar celebrations have also been held in countries throughout Europe, including Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Spain and Portugal.
October also marked the opening of new SGI centers in Madrid, Spain, as well as in Lisbon, Portugal and Amsterdam.
The opening ceremony of the new SGI-Spain Culture Center was held in Rivas-Vaciamadrid, on October 15. The new center is the first official center owned by SGI-Spain. The first SGI-Portugal Culture Center was also opened in Lisbon on October 17.
SGI-Netherlands also celebrated its 50th anniversary by opening the SGI-Netherlands Amsterdam Culture Center on October 10, making it the second SGI center in the country.
[Adapted from articles in the October 19, 2011, and November 2, 2011, issues of the SGI-UK Online News Bulletin; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun and SGI-UK]