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North America and Oceania Study Conference

By Dwight Rudisuela, Ottawa

SGI Canada participants with Mr. Takano (centre)SGI Canada participants with Mr. Takano (centre)

From November 16-19, eight representative leaders from SGI Canada participated in the North America and Oceania Study Conference held at the Florida Nature & Culture Centre (FNCC). The Canadians were very grateful to be invited to deepen their faith through study and dialogue alongside eight participants from New Zealand and Australia and the majority SGI-USA participants, 200 in all. 

The conference was invigorated by the recent amazing victories of growth in each country. SGI-USA with its 50,000 Lions of Justice campaign was particularly inspiring. Canada and New Zealand reported their victories as well to great applause. 

SGI President Ikeda sent a message of encouragement to the participants in which he asked everyone to lead lives filled with joy, harmony and brilliant achievements as we write our own stories of eternal victory together. He praised everyone's efforts in encouraging others and expressed sympathy for those who were affected by the wildfires in California and those hit by hurricanes earlier in the year. 

SGI Vice Study Department leader Hideyuki Takano led the study and Q&A sessions that centred around Nichiren Daishonin's writing  "On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime" and SGI President Ikeda's writings from the series "Buddhism of the Sun--Illuminating the World" 

Quote engraved in stone at the Florida Nature Culture CenterQuote engraved in stone at the Florida Nature Culture Center

As Megan Ashbury from Vancouver said, "The study lectures at the conference were profound, accessible and very encouraging." 

Mr. Takano explained that merely studying in itself wasn't as important as taking one concept or idea to heart and putting it into action. He said that throughout the weekend if you take even just one concept to heart that encourages you in your practice, then that alone means it will be a successful conference. He went on to explain in the first lecture how important it is to realize that the Buddhahood Nichiren Daishonin speaks of is accessible to everyone and that our belief in the fact that we ourselves possess a life condition to overcome any problem lies within our practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. 

Piero Ponzo from Toronto said, "Attending the conference was a fantastic opportunity to deepen my understanding of Buddhism and deepen my faith. Engaging in dialogue with members from all over, I was able to appreciate the SGI family and have a renewed sense of mission and bring the spirit back home." 

Participants also had the opportunity to view two exhibitions the "Oneness of Mentor and Disciple Exhibition" that displays many artifacts and histories of Presidents Makiguchi, Toda and Ikeda and "The Humanism of the Lotus Sutra Exhibit" that traces the path of Lotus Sutra from the earliest times to the present. 

Mutsumi Echizen from Vancouver said, "I was so fortunate to be there as a SGI Canada representative. I re-determined to dedicate my life for Canadian kosen-rufu and work hard for everyone’s happiness. I will use my past karma as fuel to inspire many people." 

Having so many other people to speak with especially at meal times was also a benefit of the conference and the each person made good use of the opportunity. 

"I truly believe the connection I made with the members will last forever. I’m determined to work hard and make President Ikeda proud", said Arjun Khajuria from Toronto. 

Nathalie Desrocher from Toronto echoed that as well: "Through the encouraging study material and connecting with members from all divisions at FNCC, I now understand with my heart what it means to be a disciple. I am inspired to win victoriously in every aspect of my life with the mentor-disciple spirit!"