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Soka Gakkai International

Soka Gakkai International
Abbreviation SGI
Formation Template:If empty
Headquarters Tokyo, Japan
  • Worldwide
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Daisaku Ikeda
Affiliations Soka Gakkai
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Formerly called
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The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is an international Nichiren Buddhist lay organization founded in 1975 by Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakkai's third president.[1][2] SGI serves as the umbrella organization for the Soka Gakkai's international presence and claims adherents in 192 countries and territories.[3] It characterizes itself as a support network for practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism and a global Buddhist movement for "peace, education, and cultural exchange."[4] The Soka Gakkai International is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) with official ties to the United Nations.[3]


International expansion of the Soka Gakkai began after World War II, when some Soka Gakkai members married mostly American servicemen and moved away from Japan.[5] Expansion efforts gained a further boost in 1960 when Daisaku Ikeda succeeded Josei Toda as Soka Gakkai president.[6][7] In his first year as president of the Soka Gakkai, Ikeda visited the United States, Canada, and Brazil.[6] Soka Gakkai's American headquarters officially opened in Los Angeles in 1963.[8]

The Soka Gakkai International was formed during a January 1975 meeting held in Guam.[9] Representatives from 51 countries attended the meeting and chose Ikeda as the SGI's founding president.[9] The SGI was created in part as a new peace movement, and its foundational meeting was held in Guam in a symbolic gesture referencing Guam's history as the site of some of World War II's bloodiest battles and proximity to Tinian Island, launching place of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.[10]


The Soka Gakkai International comprises the religion's international presence and has chapters in 192 countries and territories.[3] It is independent of the Soka Gakkai domestic Japanese organization, although both are headquartered in Tokyo.[11]

National SGI organizations operate autonomously and all affairs are conducted in the local language.[11] Many chapters are subdivided into groups such as a women's division, a men's division, and young women's and young men's divisions.[12] National organizations generally raise their own operational funds, although the SGI headquarters in Tokyo has awarded funding grants to smaller national organizations for projects such as land acquisition and the construction of new buildings.[12] National organizations are forbidden to engage directly in politics.[12]

While the national organizations are run autonomously, the Tokyo headquarters of SGI disseminates doctrinal and teaching materials to all national organizations.[12] The Tokyo headquarters also serves as a meeting place for national leaders to come together and exchange information and ideas.[12]

Beliefs and practice

Soka Gakkai adherents practice Nichiren Buddhism as interpreted and applied by the Soka Gakkai's first three presidents: Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda and Daisaku Ikeda.[13] They believe in karma[14] and that humankind's only hope of surviving is through this practice of Nichiren Buddhism.[11] Members identify three basic elements for applying Nichiren Buddhism: faith, practice, and study.[15]

The religious practice centers on chanting daimoku–the phrase "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo"–which translates roughly to "I commit myself to the wonderful dharma."[11] Once in the morning and again at night, SGI members do gongyo ("assiduous practice"), during which members chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and recite selections from two chapters of the Lotus Sutra, "Expedient Means" (chapter 2) and "The Life Span of the Thus Come One" (chapter 16).[14][15] Gongyo is typically performed in front of a Gohonzon, a scroll considered to be the supreme object of devotion on which is written the daimoku and signs of buddhas and bodhisattvas who are prominent in the Lotus Sutra.[16] The Gohonzon itself is housed in a butsudan, an altar that is opened during chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and gongyo.[17]

Soka Gakkai members also incorporate social interaction and engagement into their practice.[18] Monthly discussion meetings are generally held at the homes of SGI members.[15]


Soka Gakkai International is notable among Buddhist organizations for the racial and ethnic diversity of its members.[11] It has been characterized as the world's largest and most ethnically diverse Buddhist group.[5][7][11][19] Professor Susumu Shimazono suggested several reasons for this: the strongly felt needs of individuals in their daily lives, its solutions to discord in interpersonal relations, its practical teachings that offer concrete solutions for carrying on a stable social life, and its provision of a place where congenial company and a spirit of mutual support may be found.[20] Peter Clarke wrote that the SGI appeals to non-Japanese in part because "no one is obliged to abandon their native culture or nationality in order to fully participate in the spiritual and cultural life of the movement."[21]

Notable members

Notable members of Soka Gakkai International include:


In its early years, the SGI was sometimes criticized for its use of shakubuku, an aggressive form of proselytizing that was subsequently moderated in the 1970s.[5] The use of shakubuku by the SGI "virtually evaporated" in the 1990s.[8]

External links


  1. ^ Okuayama Michiaki (2010). "Soka Gakkai As A Challenge to Japanese Society and Politics" (PDF). Politics and Religion. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Soka Gakkai International". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Andrew Gebert. "Soka Gakkai". Oxford Bibliographies. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Katherine Marshall. Global Institutions of Religion: Ancient Movers, Modern Shakers. Routledge. ISBN 9781136673580. 
  5. ^ a b c Gary Laderman (2003). Religion and American Cultures: An Encyclopedia of Traditions, Diversity, and Popular Expressions. ABC CLIO. ISBN 9781576072387. 
  6. ^ a b Ronan Alves Pereira (2008). "The transplantation of Soka Gakkai to Brazil: building "the closest organziation to the heart of Ikeda-Sensei"". Japanese Journal of Religious Study. 
  7. ^ a b Clark Strand (Winter 2008). "Faith in Revolution". Tricycle. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Charles Prebish (1999). Luminous Passage: The Practice and Study of Buddhism in America. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520216976. 
  9. ^ a b N. Radhakrishnan. The Living Dialogue: Socrates to Ikeda. Gandhi Media Centre. OCLC 191031200. 
  10. ^ Ramesh Jaura. "SPECIAL REPORT: Peace Impulses from Okinawa". Global Perspectives. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Daniel Métraux (2013). "Soka Gakkai International: The Global Expansion of a Japanese Buddhist Movement". Religion Compass. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Daniel Métraux (2013). "Soka Gakkai International: Japanese Buddhism on a Global Scale". Virginia Review of Asian Studies. 
  13. ^ Noriyoshi Tamaru. Soka Gakkai In Historical Perspective: in Global Citizens. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-924039-6. 
  14. ^ a b Georgye D. Chryssides; Margaret Wilkins. A Reader in New Religious Movements: Readings in the Study of New Religious Movements. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 0826461689. 
  15. ^ a b c Robyn E. Lebron. Searching For Spiritual Unity...Can There Be Common Ground. CrossBooks. ISBN 1462712622. 
  16. ^ Richard Hughes Seager. Buddhism in America. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231108680. 
  17. ^ Elisabeth Arweck. Theorizing Faith: The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Ritual. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 1902459334. 
  18. ^ Karel Dobbelaere. Sok Gakkai: From Lay Movement to Religion. Signature Books. ISBN 1560851538. 
  19. ^ Daniel Burke (24 February 2007). "Diversity and a Buddhist Sect". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  20. ^ Susumu Shimazono (1991). "The Expansion of Japan's New Religions into Foreign Cultures". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. 
  21. ^ Peter B. Clarke (2000). "'Success' and 'Failure': Japanese New Religions Abroad". Japanese New Religions in Global Perspective. Curzon Press. ISBN 0700711856. 
  22. ^ Mark Sachs (7 August 2009). "Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje not lost in L.A.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  23. ^ a b c d e James D. Davis (24 May 1996). "Enriching The Soul". The Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  24. ^ a b Sandro Magister (4 September 1997). "Budddisti Soka Gakkai. Una Sabina vi con convertirà". Espress Online (in italiano). Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  25. ^ Andrew Heavens (29 January 2005). "Journey from famine to the hunger of the soul". The Times (UK). Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  26. ^ a b Staff (1 December 2011). "Miranda Kerr Chants With Baby Flynn And Husband Orlando Bloom!". Hollywood Life. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  27. ^ Lips Are Sealed: A Memoir. Google Books. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  28. ^ Orlando Cepeda (1998). "Baby Bull: From Hardball to Hard Time and Back". Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 9781461625131. 
  29. ^ name="elementsofstyle-isaacs">Blaine Charles (12 March 2014). "Celebrating Diversity". Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  30. ^ Sarah Wheaton (2 January 2007). "A Congressman, a Muslim and a Buddhist Walk Into a Bar...". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  31. ^ Jones, Howard. "Howard On Buddhism". Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  32. ^ Josh Meyer; Carla Hall; Kurt Streeter (5 November 2000). "2 Lives Shattered in a Moment at the Castle". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  33. ^ "James Lecesne". Speaker Profile. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  34. ^ Charlie Ulyatt (9 January 2007). "The Chanting Buddhas". BBC. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  35. ^ Minoru Matsutani (2 December 2008). "Soka Gakkai keeps religious, political machine humming". The Japan Times. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  36. ^ Bill Broadway (23 March 2002). "Widow's Strength Inspires Faithful: Public Statements Demonstrate Pearl's Buddhist Beliefs". the Washington Post. 
  37. ^ Claire Harvey (31 December 2005). "Free-range soul searching replacing organized religion in NZ". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  38. ^ Joyce Walder (14 December 2006). "Storming Broadway From Atop a Fortress". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  39. ^ Jeremy Cowart (30 January 2007). "Sheik scores on Broadway". USA Today. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  40. ^ Nate Chinen (31 January 2013). "Major Jazz Eminence, Little Grise". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  41. ^ Maggie Farley (26 March 1995). "Japan Sects Offer Personal Path in Rudderless Society". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  42. ^ Ben Ratliff (22 February 2007). "Celebrating a Saxohonist's Art and Heart". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 

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