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16 April 2015


Spending our time doing what we please may bring momentary pleasure, but it will not bring us true and lasting joy; we cannot become great artists or great actors of life–we cannot become great human beings. Literature, music and drama are all to be found in our activities for faith–in our prayers, our challenges to develop ourselves through SGI activities and our efforts to educate others. All value is encompassed in these activities. This is the profound realm of Buddhism.
Daisaku Ikeda

(…) …>



“SGI discussion meetings are held in all corners of the globe, usually on a monthly basis. The meetings are held in local neighborhoods, and give people the opportunity to develop the kind of relations that are increasingly rare in contemporary urban environments–where people may live for years as neighbors without developing any personal connection.”

Dialogue, interaction and discussion have always been crucial to the process by which people come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Buddhism.

Large gatherings may be an effective means of transmitting information; likewise, print and other media can provide important sources of information and inspiration. But they also hold the risk that they will become one-way avenues of communication. Within religious movements, in particular, even with the best of intentions one-way communication can establish a sense of hierarchy–between those who teach and those who learn. The result can be the disempowerment of believers, who become reliant on their leaders or teachers. If the true mission of religion is to enable people to enjoy the highest happiness, it is vital to make efforts to avoid such outcomes.

Small group discussions provide an opportunity for questioning, for voicing and responding to doubts. This is a shared process of learning that proceeds at the pace that is genuinely comfortable and effective for all the participants. From the perspective of Buddhist humanism, truth is not the exclusive possession of a select individual or group. Rather, truth is something to which all people have equal access. It is discovered through our committed engagement with our fellow human beings and is shared and transmitted through an expanding web of empathetic connection among people. Such interactions, on the basis of equality, are the crucible in which our humanity is forged.

Nichiren (1222-82), the Buddhist reformer whose teachings inspire the SGI’s activities, valued this form of dialogue and study. From his writings, it is clear that his disciples gathered on a regular basis to study a wide range of Buddhist texts. Nichiren saw such discussion as crucial for the correct transmission of his own intent. He begins one letter written at a time of severe persecution with these words: “Those resolved to seek the way should gather and listen to the contents of this letter.”

Small group discussion meetings have been the foundation of the Soka Gakkai since the 1930s. Founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi traveled widely throughout Japan to participate in such meetings, attending some 240 small group discussions during a two-year period near the end of his life, even as religious freedom was being suppressed by the militarist authorities of his day.

Today, SGI discussion meetings are held in all corners of the globe, usually on a monthly basis. The vast majority of these are held in the homes of members who make them available for this purpose. Participants are women and men, children from all walks of life, educational and economic backgrounds.

The meetings are held in local neighborhoods, and give people the opportunity to develop the kind of relations that are increasingly rare in contemporary urban environments–where people may live for years as neighbors without developing any personal connection. Discussion meetings are open to all and bring together people who might never otherwise encounter each other in societies divided along various seen and unseen lines. Everyone, including children or those for whom speaking in front of others does not come easily, is encouraged to speak, to offer their comments or reactions.

The sharing of faith experiences–the transformation in people’s lives realized through Buddhist practice–is a central element of discussion meetings. There is perhaps nothing more heartening for people struggling with problems than the example of others who have successfully confronted and overcome their own challenges. The best discussion meetings are filled with a bright mood of mutual encouragement. Buddhist study is another important feature; an individual or group of individuals may prepare a presentation on a theme or concept, which then sets the stage for further discussion. Guests or others interested in learning more about Buddhism are encouraged to comment and question.

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda has described the significance of the modern-day discussion meeting in these terms: “The culture of the spirited, resilient common people is found in the exchange and interaction of voice with voice, the coming together of people in their raw humanity, the contact of one life with another. Contemporary society is a flood of soulless information. It is for just this reason that sharing of living language, the actual voices of people, can make a crucial contribution to the health of society.”

[Courtesy April 2007 SGI Quarterly]


We, the constituent organizations and members of the Soka Gakkai International (hereinafter called “SGI”), embrace the fundamental aim and mission of contributing to peace, culture and education based on the philosophy and ideals of the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin.

We recognize that at no time in history has humankind experienced such an intense juxtaposition of war and peace, discrimination and equality, poverty and abundance as in the twentieth century; that the development of increasingly sophisticated military technology, exemplified by nuclear weapons, has created a situation where the very survival of the human species hangs in the balance; that the reality of violent ethnic and religious discrimination presents an unending cycle of conflict; that humanity’s egoism and intemperance have engendered global problems, including degradation of the natural environment and widening economic chasms between developed and developing nations, with serious repercussions for humankind’s collective future.

We believe that Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, a humanistic philosophy of infinite respect for the sanctity of life and all-encompassing compassion, enables individuals to cultivate and bring forth their inherent wisdom and, nurturing the creativity of the human spirit, to surmount the difficulties and crises facing humankind and realize a society of peaceful and prosperous coexistence.

We, the constituent organizations and members of SGI, therefore, being determined to raise high the banner of world citizenship, the spirit of tolerance, and respect for human rights based on the humanistic spirit of Buddhism, and to challenge the global issues that face humankind through dialogue and practical efforts based on a steadfast commitment to nonviolence, hereby adopt this charter, affirming the following purposes and principles:

Purposes and Principles

SGI shall contribute to peace, culture and education for the happiness and welfare of all humanity based on Buddhist respect for the sanctity of life.
SGI, based on the ideal of world citizenship, shall safeguard fundamental human rights and not discriminate against any individual on any grounds.
SGI shall respect and protect the freedom of religion and religious expression.
SGI shall promote an understanding of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism through grass-roots exchange, thereby contributing to individual happiness.
SGI shall, through its constituent organizations, encourage its members to contribute toward the prosperity of their respective societies as good citizens.
SGI shall respect the independence and autonomy of its constituent organizations in accordance with the conditions prevailing in each country.
SGI shall, based on the Buddhist spirit of tolerance, respect other religions, engage in dialogue and work together with them toward the resolution of fundamental issues concerning humanity.
SGI shall respect cultural diversity and promote cultural exchange, thereby creating an international society of mutual understanding and harmony.
SGI shall promote, based on the Buddhist ideal of symbiosis, the protection of nature and the environment.
SGI shall contribute to the promotion of education, in pursuit of truth as well as the development of scholarship, to enable all people to cultivate their individual character and enjoy fulfilling and happy lives.
The SGI Charter was adopted by its Board of Directors on 16 October, 1995

The name Soka Spirit derives from the “Soka Gakkai spirit” that SGI President Ikeda often cites. To protect the Law for the people, for all of us and the future generations, based on the example set for us by the Daishonin. This has been the spirit of the successive Soka Gakkai presidents: Toda and Makiguchi.

As Japan’s militarist authorities tightened control over society and suppressed dissent, Toda and Makiguchi were arrested and imprisoned in 1943 for opposing the government’s policies. In prison, Toda devoted himself to the practice and study of Nichiren Buddhism, gaining a profound grasp of its principles. His efforts brought him to a clear realization that Buddhahood is a potential inherent in all life, and deepened his confidence that all people could manifest this enlightened life condition through practicing Nichiren’s teachings.

Toda is also remembered for his uncompromising stance against nuclear weapons, which he termed an absolute evil that threatens people’s inalienable right to life. He urged the youth members of the Soka Gakkai to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons. This stance, which he declared in 1957, is considered the inspiration for the SGI’s peace activities. In honor of Toda’s ideals, his successor, SGI President Ikeda, founded the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research. The institute brings peace researchers, policy-makers and community activists together on projects related to peace-building and dialogue among civilizations.

It is to continue, to the best of our ability with our words, with our hearts, with our actions the struggle for the SGI’s peace activities.
What We Do
The Soka Spirit is for Everyone

Shin Yatomi
SGI-USA Vice Study Department Leader

The Soka Spirit informs the three basics aspects of Nichiren Buddhism—faith, practice and study—with the humanistic essence of Buddhism. The same religious teaching eventually may be interpreted and practiced differently by different people or groups. In this regard, the perspective from which we view religion and the approach with which to practice it are as important as the teaching itself.

For instance, whether one believes that a religion exists to serve people, or that people exist to serve religion, will make a great difference in how one views that religion’s doctrines or scriptures. The question of whether the ultimate truth or reality is intrinsic to human life or something external to and above human life is also a key. The importance of our perspective on and approach to religion becomes most evident when we see in today’s world the same religions being practiced by both violent fundamentalists and peace-loving ordinary citizens.

The Soka Spirit may be described as the authentically Buddhist perspective on belief, practice and learning. It reflects the conviction that all living beings, all people, equally share the potential for supreme enlightenment. It views Buddhism as existing to empower all people equally, regardless of race, nationality, sex, social class, or position, to develop the highest form of wisdom and genuine happiness in their lives. The following are four ways in which the Soka Spirit informs how we believe, practice and learn about Nichiren Buddhism.

(…) 1) Prayer: “Praising and Reflecting Upon Our True Self”


(…) 2) Learning: “Knowing Good and Evil Within”


(…) 3) Dialogue: “Talking the Soka Spirit”


(…) 4) Action: “Walking the Soka Spirit”



The Soka Spirit means learning the Buddhist view of human life—of both its good and evil sides. From the viewpoint of Buddhism, good is the affirmation of life, particularly its supreme potential of Buddhahood, and evil is its negation. The innate good of life expresses itself as humanism, that is, a respectful orientation toward life that regards fulfilling life’s highest potential as most important. Life’s innate evil, however, manifests itself as a disrespectful outlook that views life as a means to an end.

The vast literature of Buddhism, particularly the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren’s writings, sheds light on the workings of life and explains how to nurture our innate good while challenging our innate evil. Reading about and discussing the priesthood issue, as a concrete example of these workings of life, will give us important insight into the causes of authoritarianism and the importance of the Soka Spirit. Learning about the humanistic essence of Buddhism is to have intimate knowledge of our true self. Please check out our reading materials on this Website and start learning about the Soka Spirit today!_spec-sgi-dates SOKASPIRITDAILY



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