Buddhism club sets out to enlighten students
The Buddhist Value Creation Society (BVCS) made its debut on campus in January. It focuses on Nichiren Buddhism while helping others achieve enlightenment.
President Daisy Manivong and vice president Maj Yang created the club after beginning to practice Nichiren Buddhism more than a year ago.
In December, Manivong and Yang began gathering people willing to join BVCS. They wrote up a constitution based on current by laws of Fresno State, and by January the club was approved.
Yang said the club really wants to connect with people during these meetings.
“We want to express our philosophy so anybody can understand it and apply it to their daily lives,” Yang said.
The club meets on the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the University Student Union pavillion. These meetings revolve around discussion, where members study magazines in small groups.
The members discuss how to apply the teachings in the text to their lives and how to relate them to college students.
The club has 10 members and is looking to expand. Manivong said the meetings and Nichiren practice are open to people from all backgrounds.
“We’re not against anyone,” Manivong said.
He began practicing Nichiren Buddhism in January last year. She went to a meeting with two friends at the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) center in Fresno to see what it was about.
The members told her to try their practices for 90 days as a trial run.
“They told me that if it didn’t work, I had nothing to lose,” Manivong said.
Soon after, Manivong invited Yang to go to the meetings.
“I questioned a lot of things,” Manivong said. “But the members always had an answer.”
BVCS is a segment of SGI, and the Nichiren Buddhist organization founded in 1975. SGI has more than 12 million members in 192 countries throughout the world.
SGI and Nichiren Buddhism are based on Nichiren, a Japanese priest from the 13th century. Nichiren lived in a time of struggle, and wondered why Buddhism was not fulfilling his people.
He studied the Buddhist sutras and discovered that the lotus sutra contained the key to enlightenment. The lotus sutra established that everyone contains the quality of the Buddha and deserves respect.
From this, Nichiren established the chant “nam-myoho-reng-kyo,” which Manivong translated as devotion to oneself, mystic law, the lotus flower and the voice or teaching of the Buddha.
“Through chanting, we are coming in to the rhythm of the universe,” Manivong said.
Yang said chanting helps her think more clearly.
“It helps me focus and have a better mindset when it comes to problems,” Yang said.
Manivong said the basic teaching of this type of Buddhism involves practice, faith and study. She said the methods make this form of Buddhism different because it is about changing oneself from within, while traditional temple Buddhism seeks external help.
A major symbol of Nichiren Buddhism is the lotus flower. The flower blooms in muddy water, which represents overcoming situations and problems.
The lotus flower not only blooms, but also seeds, which represents simultaneous cause and effect in life.
Manivong, a senior at Fresno State majoring in civil engineering, attributes her success to her practice. She believes that her practice is what gave her the opportunity to do research in South America last summer, as well as become a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar.
“This practice has helped me achieve my mission,” Manivong said.
On April 8 through 10, the club is hosting an event, called “Victory over Violence.” BVCS will have booths and displays that will explain how its practice can help overcome violence and bring peace. At the discussion meeting on April 8, the club will explore these topics.
Manivong said this event parallels SGI’s goal in preventing violence. She said one of SGI’s main goals is to abolish nuclear weapons by 2030.
Yang said that the purpose of BVCS is to get the word out about its faith.
“We want to spread the news that this club is active and what we’re about,” Yang said.
The club, Yang said, wants to let the community know that Nichiren Buddhism exists to help others be their best and to achieve happiness for others.
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