North America and Oceania Study Conference
By Steve Arsenault, Toronto
SGI Canada youth at the Study Conference at FNCC
On February 3, SGI Canada youth leaders arrived at the North America and Oceania Study Conference with the burning desire to seek their mentor and answer the question: How can we open the closed eyes of people’s hearts? The conference took place at the Florida Nature and Culture Center (FNCC), a state of the art conference facility where practitioners meet to deepen their understanding of Buddhism and renew their vow to dedicate their life in working toward a peaceful world. There were 201 youth representatives in attendance from across the United States, New Zealand, Saint Martin and Canada.
SGI President Ikeda declared in his message to the conference that only by making a great vow for the sake of the happiness of all humanity will we remain undefeated by the evils of our confused world. With tears in our eyes, we read his message each morning, cultivating the strength to never give up on the unfathomable potential found in every living being, no matter the circumstances of our society. President Ikeda states: “To the extent that the times grow more deeply chaotic and confused, the light of Buddhism will shine all the more brightly.”
Participants enjoyed stimulating lectures and Q&A sessions with SGI Study Department vice leader Mr. Hidetoshi Fukuda. Mr. Fukuda, when he was a reporter for the Seikyo Shimbun (Soka Gakkai daily newspaper), shared touching experiences of his encounters with President Ikeda. Together, we studied the heart of President Ikeda’s Gosho lectures on “The Opening of the Eyes” and “Reply to a Believer.” Mr. Fukuda brought to light that taking action for the sake of kosen-rufu (world peace) is rooted in becoming an individual that others can deeply trust. He also encouraged us to never give up on our conviction that each person has a Buddha nature, even if a person has betrayed us. This is the true struggle of a Bodhisattva of the Earth. This is the path forged by the actions of our mentor. This is the heart of Soka.
The energy and exuberance of the people from the moment that I arrived was so sincere and warm-hearted that I felt like I was surrounded by Bodhisattvas of the Earth. I deepened my understanding of President Ikeda’s heart. His youthfulness has allowed me to breakthrough my inner self-doubt and be able to share this Buddhism with others in Calgary. Richard Lim, Calgary
Attending this conference was a life-changing experience for me. I leaned the beauty and power of unity, which we were able to have with the members from Canada and the other countries. Also, a lot of people were naturally taking actions of treasuring the person in front of them, which is the core spirit of the SGI. I will keep what I obtained there as my eternal driving force for the rest of my life. Nobue Shinoki, Vancouver
After attending this conference, I am resolved to take new actions and have the courage to talk about faith. Also, we must not doubt our friends’ capability to hear about this Buddhism, we must make up our mind that all our friends are ready to become happy today, right now! Our unique mission in Canada is to make this humanistic Buddhism easy to understand and accessible so that people from all cultural backgrounds and walks of life can chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Judy Man, Edmonton
What an amazing conference. Mr. Fukuda's lectures were very practical and I felt so connected with President Ikeda's heart. I've also learned so much from our SGI-USA and SGI-NZ comrades in faith. Coming back to Canada, I am determined to continue showing actual proof in my daily life, courageously defeating negativity, and spreading Buddhist thought in society to create a harmonious world. Casey Ng, Toronto
A wondrous energy boost! FNCC conference left me feeling inspired, recharged and re-determined. I've often been caught in the middle between my home country of the States and my adopted home of Canada, either one saying I'm an exemplary representative of the other. The dynamism exuded by our SGI-USA brothers and sisters is something I identify with and look forward to infusing into the efforts my district is making in the advance of kosen-rufu. Gary Lucich, Toronto