ANNOUNCEMENT ON COVID-19
MESSAGE REGARDING CORONAVIRUS COVID-19
TO ALL SGI CANADA MEMBERS
February 28, 2020
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has significantly impacted the world and created the need to restrict travel and access in certain countries and regions. It has also affected some locations in Canada to varying degrees. As a result, we have closed our centre in Vancouver and suspended meetings there for February and March. The Chinese-speaking area in Toronto has taken the same measures. Additional measures may need to be taken elsewhere, depending on what happens in the coming days and weeks. At the present time, it is crucial that we exercise caution in order to prevent further spread of the virus.
People around the world are hoping and praying for the end of this health crisis. For us as SGI Canada practitioners, we can take inspiration from the following well-known passage from Nichiren Daishonin’s writing “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”:
If you care anything about your personal security, you should first of all pray for order and tranquillity throughout the four quarters of the land, should you not? (WND-1, p. 24)
Our prayers for every person’s welfare and happiness constitute the essential spirit of Nichiren Buddhism and the Soka Gakkai, coupled with our actions to encourage our families, friends, fellow members, and the people in our communities. A crisis is the time when our prayers and actions are most needed. We must not give in to feelings of discouragement or resignation; rather, we should exert ourselves even more strenuously to reach out and give hope and courage to others.
We are fortunate to have technology that enables us to make contact with each other and transcend obstacles such as distance, weather, or unusual circumstances such as what we are currently facing. SGI President Ikeda stated in his New Year’s message in 2017:
Life is full of unexpected difficulties and obstacles; it is a struggle against complacency and stagnation. The lion’s roar of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the ultimate means for overcoming every problem. Those who keep chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens, are never defeated.
In regions around the globe, SGI members are taking on inspiring new challenges and initiatives. For instance, members in Oceania, which includes many small island nations spread over a vast area in the Pacific, have started using Internet video conferencing to hold leaders’ meetings. For these members, traveling overseas to gather physically can be very expensive and time-consuming, but online meetings allow them to communicate regularly, exchange ideas, and encourage one another, creating waves of joy and inspiration. Members are able to connect heart to heart across great distances and work together to strengthen the network of capable individuals on these “Victory Islands” of Oceania that are breaking through limitations. (NEW CENTURY, January 2017, p. 3)
Since 2017, SGI Canada has used video conferencing for our monthly national planning meetings, and it is now widely used in leaders meetings to bring in those leaders living in distant locations. It is also regularly used in district discussion and study meetings where some members live very far away or are unable to attend in person due to health or other circumstances. Last month, Central Region experienced a snowstorm on the day of their all leaders meeting. The snowstorm had been predicted two days before. Rather than cancelling the meeting on short notice, the decision was made to contact everyone right away and hold the meeting entirely by video conference. More than 120 leaders participated.
Free accounts are available with this technology so that any district could have a “Plan B” video meeting if weather made it risky to travel to the meeting. It can also be used to meet with individuals if visiting in person is not possible. In a country like Canada, where winter can interfere with our meetings, it is really never necessary to cancel a meeting if we have this alternative plan at the ready during winter months.
We might think that obstacles like the coronavirus will impede our growth and slow down our kosen-rufu movement. This doesn’t need to be the case at all. Limitations and obstacles can awaken our determination and inspire our sense of how important it is to encourage and care for each other, thus giving rise to greater growth.
Let us work harder than ever to support and inspire each person, never forgetting our mentor’s eternal guidance in “A Rainbow over Niagara”:
One person is not simply one person;
One person's power can reach far beyond that single life.
A human being’s unrevealed potential
Is boundless and inexhaustible.
Begrudge your life-and then you lose it.
Give your life-and you gain its true power.
A passionately determined person can surpass
We should never forget this profound principle.
Nichiren Daishonin states,
“The Law does not spread by itself.
Because people propagate it,
Both the people and the Law are worthy of respect.”
This is why, my friends,
You must thoroughly polish your character.
Faith is manifested in your daily life;
Faith is reflected in your character.
We must show that
A person of strong faith is one
Whose well-rounded personality
Embraces all with compassion.
Only the brilliance of your character
Will make it possible to expand the circles
Of the Law forever wider.
Let’s advance together toward May 3, the 60th anniversary of our mentor’s inauguration, and achieve a brilliant victory, keeping the motto of 2020 foremost in our hearts: Everyone Advances! Everyone is capable!
Thank you for all your sincere efforts,
SGI Canada General Director