by Adin Strauss, Naoko Leslie, Kevin Moncrief, David Witkowski, Olivia Saito and Ryo Kuroki

Happy New Year! Thank you very much for your tireless efforts last year to make 2018 the Year of Brilliant Achievement! Thanks to each of you, we were able to respond to our mentor, SGI President Ikeda, with repeated victories, gathering 50,000 Lions of Justice in September, welcoming over 53,000 members and guests to discussion meetings in November and helping many new members take the first online Introductory Exam in December.

What comes next? This year’s SGI theme is the Year of Soka Victory—Toward Our 90th Anniversary. Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada explained that the foundation of victory in the Soka Gakkai lies in the victory and happiness of each member. This means that each member can make significant strides in their human revolution, while proudly engaging in SGI activities for the happiness of themselves and others.

Addressing the U.S., President Ikeda wrote in his recent message to the SGI-USA Central Executive Committee about the importance of creating peace where we are:

World peace is not found somewhere far away. It exists where individuals don the “robe of gentleness and patience,” and sincerely and tirelessly sow the seeds of hope and happiness in the hearts of suffering friends.

President Ikeda continued:

My hope is that each of you boldly enacts a triumphant drama as you transform your karma and achieve your personal human revolution. Please do so as you steadily raise capable successors for kosen-rufu, while building harmonious relations with others and cheerfully encouraging one another.

Based on President Ikeda’s guidance, we are determined to achieve three milestones as the SGI-USA in the Year of Soka Victory:

1) Engage in an unprecedented number of home visits and personal guidance sessions, making one-to-one encouragement our primary activity.

2) Hold youth discussion meetings by chapter in July, where we gather 25,000 youth nationwide.

3) Actively promote discussion meeting attendance each month, leading up to an attendance of 60,000 members and guests nationwide in November 2019.

“Home visits and personal encouragement” are the byword in 2019.

Let’s ensure this year that not a single member in our districts is forgotten, and that we visit everyone. Let’s powerfully chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and study President Ikeda’s guidance together, empowering each member to develop their faith and see great benefit in their lives. Our home visit movement will naturally create a family atmosphere in each district with strong bonds of trust and camaraderie. President Ikeda has said about home visits:

Whenever I had a free moment, while traveling around Japan and the world, I continued to visit the homes of our noble members striving for kosen-rufu. As the number of homes I visited increased one by one, I felt as if the number of my family members was also growing. (January 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 15)

Youth discussion meetings by chapter—gathering 25,000 youth!

Between July 13 and 20, each chapter in the SGI-USA will hold a youth discussion meeting. This meeting will not replace the regular discussion meeting, which will be held between July 21 and 27. We are determined to gather 25,000 youth members and guests to create fresh excitement around discussion meetings, with the aim of channeling this energy into the four-divisional discussion meeting. While the participants of these youth discussion meetings will be youth only, we ask for the support of all four divisions to powerfully unite together, promote and bring youth to these meetings.

Celebrating November with 60,000 victorious members and guests.

With discussion meetings at the heart of the SGI’s movement to awaken each person to the dignity of life, let’s build on the victory of our November district general meetings and aim for greater attendance each month. And, as November 2019 will mark the one-year kickoff toward the Soka Gakkai’s 90th anniversary and the SGI-USA’s 60th anniversary, let’s celebrate by gathering 60,000 victorious members and guests at discussion meetings! President Ikeda states:

Discussion meetings are a Soka Gakkai tradition aimed at applying Nichiren Buddhism in contemporary society.

We study Nichiren Daishonin’s writings and various Buddhist teachings at discussion meetings. We then put those teachings into practice in our lives and demonstrate their truth through actual experience. Later, we share those experiences at other discussion meetings and reaffirm our faith with our fellow members and friends.

As venues where everyone enthusiastically shares their real-life experiences of putting the Buddhist teachings into practice, discussion meetings are examples of carrying out Buddhism in society.

As such, please always remember that the advancement of kosen-rufu begins and ends with discussion meetings. (June 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 54)

In 2019, let’s use our monthly discussion meetings as the periodic touchpoints to report to our district family and President Ikeda our benefits of Buddhist practice, our efforts to spread Buddhism in our communities and our advancements in our human revolution. Such efforts will without fail culminate in the Year of Soka Victory.