Philosophy

Where it comes from

2,500

years ago

Shakyamuni

Buddhism originates with Shakyamuni (also known as Gautama or Siddhartha), who was born in what is now Nepal some 2,500 years ago.
Shakyamuni, from a young age, became aware of and was profoundly troubled by the problems of human suffering. Buddhist scriptures describe four encounters which served to awaken in him an awareness of four sufferings common to all people—birth, aging, sickness and death. This pre-occupation with sufferings was the trigger for him to embark on a spiritual quest to become enlightened to the true nature of life.
For several years, he subjected himself to ascetic practices but found these did not offer a way forward. Taking a middle way he entered a profound meditation. There he attained an awakening, or enlightenment, to the true nature of life and all things, including human suffering. It was because of this enlightenment that he came to be called Buddha, or “Awakened One.”

538–97

sixth-century

T'ien-t'ai

Each person’s life contains infinite potential; this is the core belief of Nichiren Buddhism. While it may be easy to accept this in a theoretical sense, in reality we tend to impose limits on our possibilities. To a large extent we define our lives in terms of these perceived or unconscious limitations—I am able to do this but not that. We can exist quite comfortably within our own self-imposed limits, but when we come up against a problem or challenge and we feel we lack the ability or the spiritual resources to overcome it, we suffer. We feel overwhelmed or helpless, or afraid.

1222–82

Nichiren

Nichiren

Nichiren (1222–82), the priest who established the form of Buddhism practiced by the members of the SGI, is a unique figure in Japanese social and religious history. An outspoken critic of the established Buddhist schools and the secular authorities, he was also a person of great warmth and humanity, as is evident in the content of the numerous letters he sent to his followers. It was this deep concern for the welfare of ordinary people that made him such an unrelenting opponent of the often corrupt and oppressive social structures of his time.

1944

Dies in prison

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871–1944) was a reformist educator, author and philosopher who founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (the forerunner of the Soka Gakkai) in 1930. His life was characterized by confrontation with repressive authorities. As a teacher known for his warmth and consideration, he strove to introduce a more humanistic, student-centered approach to education. He fiercely opposed corrupt educational practices and was forced into early retirement as a result. Later, he was imprisoned for opposing the policies of the Japanese militarist regime. He died in prison from malnutrition at the age of 73. In recent years his humanistic educational theories have been attracting increasing international attention.

1945

Released from prison

Josei Toda

Josei Toda (1900–58) was an educator, publisher and entrepreneur who, as second president of the Soka Gakkai, revived the lay Buddhist organization after World War II, building it into a dynamic, popular movement.

1960

President of Soka Gakkai

Daisaku Ikeda

Daisaku Ikeda is a Buddhist philosopher, peacebuilder, educator, author and poet. He is the third president of the Soka Gakkai and the founding president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI). Ikeda was born in Tokyo, Japan, on January 2, 1928, the fifth of eight children, to a family of seaweed farmers. The devastation and senseless horror he witnessed as a teenager during World War II gave birth to a lifelong passion to work for peace, rooting out the fundamental causes of human conflict.

INSPIRATION FROM DAISAKU IKEDA

As well as being a peacebuilder, Buddhist philosopher, educator, author and poet Daisaku Ikeda has been leading and inspiring members of SGI organisations around the world. Here we present just a few inspirational pieces
  • "All fear vanishes the moment we believe with all our hearts, "I alone am the scriptwriter of my life." (SGI newsletter 7891)"
  • "In social organizations, the individual is liable to be subsumed within the group. But the Soka Gakkai is a humanistic organization based on unity in diversity, striving to enable each individual to realize their fullest potential and personality. The purpose of the organization is to further kosen-rufu. It is a lofty effort to firmly establish a philosophy of the value of life in each person, and to protect human dignity and allow one's individuality to shine. (SGI newsletter 7861)"
  • "It's the heart that matters. Our sincere care and earnest prayers for others will definitely reach them. Our voice and our words are also important. The Daishonin writes: "Words echo the thoughts of the mind and find expression through the voice" (WND-2, 843). Speaking out with a voice filled with compassion, with conviction, or for the sake of truth can transform the other person's heart. (SGI newsletter 8091)"
  • "Live with a dancing spirit. The stars in the heavens are dancing through space, the earth never ceases to spin. All life is dancing: the trees with the wind, the waves on the sea, the birds, the fish, all are performing their own dance of life. Everything is dancing, and you must keep dancing too, for the rest of your life! (Buddhism Day by Day - Wisdom for Modern Life p.394)"
  • "The key to everything is people; it is our spirit as human beings. The important thing is to keep infusing our spirit with bright hope, the joy of living, and the courage not to be defeated. That is the driving force for victory. If we forget this, we will not be able to reveal our true potential. (SGI newsletter 7627) "
  • "The only thing that renders us powerless is when we give up and decide for ourselves that we can't go on. That is like closing the door on our inner potential or locking away our spirit by our own hand. Giving up is the cause of defeat. Faith in the Daishonin's Buddhism gives us the power to break through the darkness of despair and make the sun of life rise in our hearts. (SGI newsletter 9026) "

PRINCIPLES OF LIFE

What Buddhism offers are explanations about the working of life. We offer 6 topics below which are profoundly interwoven. How we live, in relation to our moment by moment daily reality, works on the basis of these fundamental life principles. The explanations below originally appeared as articles by Robert Harrap in  SGI-UK`s monthly magazine, The Art of Living. They have been edited to appear here. However Robert occasionally refers to himself.

Ten worlds

One aim of Buddhist practice is to establish the world of Buddhahood as our fundamental life-condition, and then to experience the other worlds through that state.

Ten worlds

Web of inter-connectedness

This explains how all things are fundamentally connected and dependent on each other, and while each maintains its own uniqueness, they combine to create a dynamic and harmonious whole.

Web of inter-connectedness

Karma

The Buddhist principle of karma can help us understand what we can do to break out of the repetitive patterns that might cause ourselves and others suffering and how we can build more good fortune.

Karma

Self and environment

If there is disrespect from your environment, rather than looking outside yourself for an answer, you can deepen your confidence in your own personal Buddhahood, which in turn affects your environment.

Self and environment

Mind and body

Buddhism takes the view that while the physical aspect of life and the non-physical aspect of life appear to be separate, they are nevertheless inter-related.

Mind and body

Nine consciousnesses

The ninth, Buddha, consciousness is like the reservoir of pure water deep underground, and starting to chant is like turning the tap to bring that water up through the other layers to purify the way we view the world.

Nine consciousnesses

THE POWER OF PRACTICE

The great challenge in life is to be the Buddha, (and therefore wise, compassionate and courageous), as opposed to muddling along as the ordinary common mortal (at the mercy of fear, doubt, delusion and other aspects of what Buddhism calls fundamental darkness). Buddhist practice enables us to be the Buddha.

Buddhism in daily life

Because we change, how we cause the world to come to us in daily life changes profoundly.

Human revolution

The Buddhist viewpoint is that the world should be seen from the perspective of the individual, and that the human life contains the entire universe. That is why changing our own lives one by one will bring a change in our family, our community, and the society in which we live. It will change the age we live in, our history, and indeed all aspects of our world.

Practice and study

Practice refers to our twice daily rhythm of morning and evening gongyo and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nichiren Daishonin encouraged us to study so that we will understand what is happening to us as we undergo the process of moving our lives in the direction we have chosen.

Overcoming obstacles

Negativity in life is something that we can and must challenge. The negative force of life, although devious, is no match for the positive power of Buddhahood.

Daily Practice

This video gives a good view of both principles and daily practice as experienced by people practising Nichiren Daishonin`s Buddhism.

FIND OUT MORE

SGI-UK Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the teaching for ordinary people to reveal their greatest potential. The name of the Buddha nature, the ninth consciousness, is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. If we call its name, we will stimulate and activate the ninth consciousness and it will emerge from within us.

SGI-UK  Gohonzon

GOHONZON

The word 'mindfulness' has become very popular recently. With this object we are able to see all of the ten worlds working in our lives, including the enlightened world of Buddhahood. I can bring anything that is on my mind to the Gohonzon. There is something wonderfully liberating in feeling that the time that I am chanting is a conversation between my life and the life of the Buddha.

SGI-UK Gongyo

GONGYO

The word ‘gongyo’ literally means ‘to exert oneself in practice’. 1 Gongyo is a short ceremony which enables us to celebrate our inherent Buddhahood and offer prayers of gratitude and determination for whatever is relevant to us at any particular time.

History of SGI

This video starts in 1930s Japan with the founding of Soka Gakkai by Mr Makigichi, a now famous educator. Makiguchi died in prison during the war, but Josei Toda came out of prison determined to build the Soka Gakkai into a movement that would change the world. When he died the baton passed to Daisaku Ikeda and the video shows how the, now global, SGI evolved in its early days to become what it is today.

Shared Humanity

Our Shared Humanity is a good place to find out what SGI-UK is all about.
  • How the SGI is a worldwide and empowering movement of ordinary people
  • The philosophical and historical roots of Buddhism in easy to understand terms and the relevance for our lives today.
  • The birth and evolution of the SGI movement based on these historical roots.
  • What SGI is doing in society through members own voices.

FIND YOUR LOCAL MEETING

You can use this to get in touch with people practising near you. They will be able to explain about the local activities and you can discuss how to go to a local meeting to find out more.