SGI BuddhismSokaGakkai International Matthew J. Meyer Faculty of Education STFX University
The SokaGakkai International (SGI) is a worldwide network of lay Buddhists dedicated to a common vision of a better world through the empowerment of the individual and the promotion of peace, culture and education. It currently consists of 84 constituent organizations and has 12 million members in 192 countries and territories worldwide.
The SGI was founded on January 26, 1975, but the movement has its roots in 1930s Japan and the struggle against the thought-control of the Japanese militarist government of the time. The Buddhism practiced by SGI members is based on the teachings of the 13th-century Japanese priest Nichiren and his interpretation of the Lotus Sutra.
Educational Reform (1930 - 1935) SokaGakkai founded The SokaGakkai (literally, "Society for the Creation of Value") began in 1930 as a study group of reformist educators. Its founder TsunesaburoMakiguchi (1871-1944) was an author and educator, inspired by Nichiren Buddhism and passionately dedicated to the reform of the Japanese educational system.
His theory of value-creating education, which he published in book form in 1930, is centered on a belief in the unlimited potential of every individual and regards education as the lifelong pursuit of self-awareness, wisdom and development.
Opposition to Military Government (1935 - 1945) 1935 Social reform Makiguchi's emphasis on independent thinking over rote learning and self-motivation over blind obedience directly challenged the Japanese authorities of the time, who saw the role of education as molding docile servants of the state.
Makiguchi and his closest associate Josei Toda (1900-58) began to develop the SokaGakkai from its origin as a group of educators dedicated to educational reform into an organization with a broader membership focusing on the propagation of Buddhism as a means to reform society.
Fighting government oppression The 1930s saw the rise of militaristic nationalism in Japan, culminating in its entry into World War II. The militarist government imposed the State Shinto ideology on the population as a means of glorifying its war of aggression, and cracked down on all forms of dissidence.
The refusal of Makiguchi and Toda to compromise their beliefs and lend support to the regime led to their arrest and imprisonment in 1943 as "thought criminals."
Postwar Reconstruction (1945 - 1958) 1945 Active, socially engaged Buddhism Josei Toda survived the ordeal and was released from prison a few weeks before the war ended. While in prison, Toda had studied the Lotus Sutra and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyointensely, reaching the revolutionary insight that "the Buddha" is life itself.
He came to a deep conviction that it was his mission to spread the message of the Lotus Sutra as widely as possible, and resolved to dedicate the remainder of his life to this endeavor.
He set out to rebuild the SokaGakkai amidst the confusion of postwar Japan, expanding its mission from the field of education to the betterment of society as a whole. He promoted an active, socially engaged form of Buddhism as a means of self-empowerment--a way to overcome obstacles in life and tap inner hope, confidence, courage and wisdom.
International Development (1960 -) 1960 A worldwide movement Toda was succeeded as president in 1960 by the 32-year-old Daisaku Ikeda, who had also experienced the horrors of war as a youth. Ikeda immediately set about building the foundations of an international movement, traveling overseas to meet and encourage the first pioneer SokaGakkai members outside of Japan.
He also founded a series of institutions to help build solidarity for peace, in the fields of culture and the arts, peace research and education. The SGI under his leadership has emerged as one of the largest and most dynamic Buddhist movements in the world, fostering and promoting grassroots activities in areas such as nuclear abolition, sustainability and human rights education and cultural exchange.
HINAYANA (LESSER VEHICLE) - Early Buddhism of Shakyamuni’s Indian thought • Four noble truths • All existence is marked by suffering • Suffering is caused by craving • Doing away from craving can can be released from suffering • This is accomplished through the eight fold path of • moral principles through cultivating the right: views, thinking, speech, action, way of life, endeavor, mindfullness, and meditation
By waking up the true nature of reality one could achieve emancipation from ignorance and suffering is the a major purpose of Buddhism– a path to a happy life
This led to the Karma concept: All a person’s moral actions ,whether good or bad, produce definite effects in the person’s life, though such effects may take some time before manifesting themselves
MAHAYANA- GREATER VEHICLE is differentiated from Hinayana in that the goals to to gain enlightenment rather than worthiness. This journey in some Buddhist beliefs would take many lifetimes
LOTUS SUTRA: depicts a cosmic world where the the world is based on Mt. Sumeru with four surrounding continents. – all worlds are in an ongoing cycle of formation, continuance, decline, and disintegration- a process that takes place over eons of time
The dwellers fall in to hierarchical 6 categories (lowest to highest) 1- hell dwellers- those pursued by their hate and a life of incessant suffering 2- hungry ghosts or spirits- being tormented by endless hunger and graving 3- beasts or beings of an animal (ity) of nature living through instinct alone 4- demons or beings who are constantly engaged in warfare of any kind 5- human beings 6- the heavenly beings or gods- those that lead happier lives but are all doomed to die The higher categories 7- Buddha’s disciples- but are limited in their personal pursuits 8- self-enlightened ones- but make no effort to teach others 9- bodhisattvas- altruisttic persons who postpone their Buddhahood top help others
Within the Chapters, especially the second “expedient means”, the 11th- “The emergence of the treasure tower’, and the 16th “The life span of the Thus come one”., the transformation of the causality theory comes to life. Sixth century Chinese Buddhist scholar T’ien-T’ai , developed the 3000 live realms in a single moment of life theory
Gongyo Daily practice includes recitation of sections from these two chapters
Nam Myo-ho Ren-geKyo Devotion to the mystic law of cause and effect through action
The Daily practice is completed in front the Gohonzon - the object of worship . The Gohonzon is a replica of the Dai-Gohonzon which consists of depictions of the parables and Buddhist deities that represent the10 world’s theory. NMRK is written down the center
The Gohonzon is the representation of the Buddha’s enlightened life. The Gohonzon serves as a reflection of your Buddha nature
Death SGI Buddhists look at death more in the sense of the eternity of life. When one dies his/her’s life-force goes into a state of “Ku”- the state of neither existence nor non-existence.” This is also called the latency state.
One’s life force returns to existence when the karmic components of life and death are in alignment within the universe. But will not return as the person who left it but as another.
Peace and disarmament SGI is dedicated to promoting a culture of peace at the grassroots, through public exhibitions and seminars. The abolition of nuclear weapons is a key goal of SGI, through initiatives such as the "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit" exhibition, petition drives and the People's Decade for Nuclear Abolition campaign. SGI groups also run workshops on nonviolence as part of the "Victory Over Violence" project.
Sustainable Environment SGI promotes sustainable living through education efforts and through practical clean-up campaigns, recycling and tree-planting projects. In support of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-14), SGI produced the film "A Quiet Revolution" and created the exhibition "Seeds of Hope: Visions of sustainability, steps toward change" together with the Earth Charter International. Brazil SGI's Amazon Ecological Conservation Center is engaged in reforestation, environmental education and creating an Amazonian seed bank.
Human Rights SGI's activities to promote human rights focus on respect for the equality and dignity of all people and treasuring each individual. The exhibition "Toward a Century of Humanity: An Overview of Human Rights in Today's World" has been shown in eight countries since 1993. SGI contributed to the launching of the UN's World Program for Human Rights Education in 2005, and in 2006, SGI joined with other NGOs to form the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education & Learning in Geneva. The SGI representative to the UN in Geneva currently serves as chair of this group. SGI representative to the UN in Geneva KazunariFujii explains SGI's commitment to Human Rights
Humanitarian Activities SGI has a tradition of providing relief and assistance following natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, while local SGI community centers often provide shelter for displaced people. From the Asian tsunami disaster of 2004 to the devastating tropical storms that hit Taiwan and the Philippines in 2009 and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, SGI organizations also make substantial donations to partner organizations to support relief efforts. SGI groups also join fundraising events and arrange activities aimed at supporting the vulnerable in society.
Faith Study Practice