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Soka Gakkai International
Soka Gakkai International (創価学会インターナショナル) or SGI is the umbrella organization for affiliate lay organizations in over 190 countries practicing a form of the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin. The translation Value Creation Society is also sometimes used. It is closely affiliated with the New Clean Government Party (also known as the New Komeito), a major political party in Japan, though formal ties have been lessened to combat charges of violation of the separation of church and state. More controversially, Soka Gakkai has been accused by some critics of being a cult or cult-like group.
Soka Gakkai was founded as the Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai (創価教育学会, lit. "Value-Creation Education Study Group") on November 18, 1930 by Japanese educators Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (牧口 常三郎) and Josei Toda (戸田 城聖). After World War II, the Soka Gakkai experienced a period of rapid growth in Japan. The organization was formally organized in the United States on October 13, 1960. SGI was created in 1975 to act as the international leadership of national Soka Gakkai organizations.
The international body of SGI has been guided since its inception by its president, Daisaku Ikeda. A disciple of Second Soka Gakkai President Toda, Ikeda succeeded him in 1960 as Soka Gakkai President and became SGI President upon its creation in 1975. Founder of Soka University and the Soka School System , Mr. Ikeda is the author of numerous books and has held dialogues toward peace, education and culture with numerous scholars and world leaders. He is also the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and awards including the United Nations Peace Award, the International Tolerance Award of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Rosa Parks Humanitarian Award. Mr. Ikeda is however a somewhat controversial figure in his home country of Japan, and he stepped down as Soka Gakkai President of Japan in 1979 following a flurry of accusations, though he remains SGI President to this day.
Nichiren Daishonin (1222–1282), was a Japanese Buddhist sage who determined that the Lotus Sutra was the most important of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings, and crystalized the essence of the sutra as the phrase "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo". "Nichiren" is the name he chose for himself when embarking on spreading his teaching on April 28, 1253. It means "Sun Lotus." The word "Daishonin" is an honorific meaning "great sage."
Nichiren taught that by chanting this phrase to the "Gohonzon (御本尊)"—a scroll with Chinese and Sanskrit characters representing the enlightenment and life of the common mortal—anyone can activate her or his "Buddha nature" and become enlightened.
The basic practice of SGI members is based on chanting "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" daily, reciting Gongyo (two sections of the Lotus Sutra taking about 5 to 10 minutes to recite), introduction of others to the practice, and study of important Buddhist teachings. Most important in this study are the collected writings of Nichiren, recently compiled and issued in a single English volume titled "The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin." The Japanese edition of the writings, the "Nichiren Daishonin Gosho Zenshu," was issued in 1952. Translations are available, or are being done, in other languages.
Followers of Soka Gakkai believe that through chanting one becomes energized and refreshed spiritually and mentally making one happier, more productive, and prosperous. Chanting is also believe to have a positive impact on the world at large, bringing blessings on others as well. Believers recommend that everyone try chanting to see its positive impact on their lives.
The organization holds weekly meetings throughout the United States, both at local SGI-USA community centers and in members' homes. Local meeting information is available through the various community centers, whose addresses and telephone numbers are also available at the website above.
Soka Gakkai has attracted some critics who accuse it of placing an emphasis on recruitment and fundraising, demonizing perceived opponents, and using phobia indoctrination and peer pressure. They maintain that the organization is cult-like in its emphasis on one's dependence on the organization of SGI for one's spiritual advancement. Controversial figure Steve Hassan believes that Soka Gakkai's tactics are cult-like. See List of purported cults.
Soka Gakkai official information
- Soka Gakkai (Japan)
- Middleway Press (official distributor of Soka Gakkai literature)
- Soka Spirit
- Japan (English site)
Anti-Soka Gakkai information
- Victims of Soka Gakkai Association
- Freedom of Mind: Soka Gakkai
- Rick A. Ross: Soka Gakkai
- http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/anti_soka Italy
- http://www.it.groups.yahoo.com/group/soka_addio Italy
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