On January 26, 1975, representatives from 51 countries and territories gathered on the island of Guam, where they created an umbrella organization for the growing membership of Nichiren Buddhists around the world. This became the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), with Daisaku Ikeda as its first president. In his address to the assembled representatives, Ikeda encouraged them to dedicate themselves to altruistic action: “Rather than seeking to bring your own lives to bloom, devote yourselves to planting the seeds of peace throughout the world.”
While firmly convinced of the universal validity of Nichiren Buddhism, the Soka Gakkai has never dispatched missionaries to other countries. Just as the spread of the movement within Japan has been “organic”—with individuals sharing their confidence and experiences in faith with friends, families and acquaintances—the movement has developed in countries around the world through the natural interconnections of people. In the course of his travels, Ikeda has always found time to encourage members in the countries he visited. Those locally based practitioners took responsibility for what eventually developed into national SGI organizations. This process is described in depth in Ikeda’s ongoing serialized novel The New Human Revolution.
Today, the SGI has a membership of around 12 million in more than 190 countries and territories with 90 constituent organizations. Each local organization develops activities independently in line with the traditions of its own society and cultural context, but they are unified in what the SGI Charter, adopted in 1995, describes as “the fundamental aim and mission of contributing to peace, culture and education based on the philosophy and ideals of the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin.” The purposes and principles listed in the SGI Charter include safeguarding fundamental human rights, protection of nature and the environment, promotion of grassroots exchanges and dialogue among religions, social engagement and contribution to society as responsible citizens.
The website for SGI is here www.sgi.org