|I must admit that in many times of my life, I have regretted some of my actions. Not because of what I did, but because of what I didn't do. There was always a fear of what would happen if I said or did something that I felt could bring unpleasant outcomes. However, not until I attended the 58th Annual WYBL Conference on April 14-15, 2001, along with eight other Jr. YBA members and two advisors, did I realize how foolish it was for me to act in fear of consequences.
The conference was held at the Long Beach Hilton with keynote speaker Reverend John Iwahara from the Seattle Betsuin. The Western Young Buddhist League (WYBL) includes most of California, and stretches from the Sacramento area down to San Diego. Out of state temples that attended included Hawaii, Arizona, Utah, Denver, and Ohio. More than 250 young Buddhists from Jr. YBA to college graduate attended this wonderful event.
The theme "You Are Here" was interpreted many ways but it basically means one must not dwell on the past or worry about the future. There can be nothing done to what has already happened, and the future is not guaranteed. Our only concern should be the present, and to live life at this time, not any other. We go through a lot to get to where we are at the present time, but whatever the journey, we are the ones responsible for our outcome in life, whether it be good or bad.
The most interesting part for me was to see so many college students and graduates continue on after Jr. YBA, and to still be active in their temples. These college students really wanted to be there to understand the concepts of Buddhism and it inspired me. The difference in their attitude from that of most high school members could be seen in the workshops held. In our group discussions, we talked about such topics as family, friends, and happiness, and made analogies between ourselves and objects such as a Kikoman soy sauce packet, a candle, or a hair clip. We also analysed movie characters and compared them to to ourselves.
One activity was to live the first semester of college and to make our choices for our life. It illustrated that each person chooses a different path in life and each decision affects the rest of our lives. Another activity was a trivia game that had a series of religious and current event questions. After a long day of discussions, activities, and learning, there was a nice banquet and dance.
The Juniors would like the thank the Sangha for supporting us in the fundraisers we held. This conference brought about extra expenses, which we did not have. Thank you so much, we appreciate it greatly! Also, thank you to the chaperones that attended: Mrs. Takahashi and Mrs. Hirahara. A special thank you to all of the drivers: Mr. & Mrs. Haraguchi, Mr. Ogino, Mrs. Maekawa, Mrs. Takahashi, and Mrs. Hirahara. We would not have been able to go without all of you! Thank you so much!
I learned a lot from this conference and I am grateful that I was able to attend. I learned much about Buddhism and also much about myself. I would like to speak on behalf of the juniors who attended to say that this conference was a great opportunity and a wonderful experience. People often say, "Live life to the fullest," but how many actually do this? People are scared of the consequences of their actions, but if life is lived with this fear everyday, how is one supposed to truly enjoy and experience life? Remember that you are here, right now, at this time and so you must also live life as if you are here, right now, at this time. I know I will.
(left to right): Lauren Miyake, Lindsay Ogino, author Amy Sakaue and Allison Haraguchi
(left to right): Michael Shimada, Justin Ibarra, Brian Takahashi, Randy Maekawa and Marcus Nishihara