About SGI

The SGI is based on the teachings and philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism, which places the highest emphasis on the sanctity of life. Members seek, through their practice of Buddhism, to develop the ability to live with confidence, to create value in any circumstance and to contribute to the well-being of friends, family and community.

Our philosophy is rooted in the concept of “human revolution,” a process of inner transformation through Buddhist practice. It is a process that leads us to develop our character and to act not only for our personal fulfillment but also for the betterment of society.

We believe that happiness is being able to experience profound joy that comes from never being defeated by any problem in life. In fact, we use life’s challenges as catalysts to deepen and expand our inner lives. True happiness results from our efforts to manifest our highest potential—wisdom, compassion, courage and vitality.

The SGI-USA is the American branch of the SGI network, with more than 2,600 neighborhood discussion groups and nearly 100 SGI-USA centers throughout the country.

The core activity for all SGI-USA members is the neighborhood discussion meeting. These informal gatherings bring people together for Buddhist prayer, study, sharing and discussion of ways Buddhism can be applied to the challenges of daily living.

The Founding Presidents of the Soka Gakkai

Charter of the Soka Gakkai International

Preamble: 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 other 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

1. SGI shall contribute to peace, culture and education for the happiness and welfare of all humanity based on the Buddhist respect for the sanctity of life.

2. SGI, based on the ideal of world citizenship, shall safeguard fundamental human rights and not discriminate against any individual on any grounds.

3. SGI shall respect and protect the freedom of religion and religious expression.

4. SGI shall promote an understanding of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism through grass-roots exchange, thereby contributing to individual happiness.

5. SGI shall, through its constituent organizations, encourage its members to contribute toward the prosperity of their respective societies as good citizens.

6. SGI shall respect the independence and autonomy of its constituent organizations in accordance with the conditions prevailing in each country.

7. 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.

8. SGI shall respect cultural diversity and promote cultural exchange, thereby creating an international society of mutual understanding and harmony.

9. SGI shall promote, based on the Buddhist ideal of symbiosis, the protection of nature and environment.

10. 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 Three Founding Presidents

Founding President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi first used the term Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (Value Creation Educational Society) in 1930 when he published his insightful book The Theory of Value-Creating Pedagogy. He asserted that the purpose of education should not be mere training for workers for Japan’s growing industrial machine, but the development of the human ability to create “value” (i.e., gain, beauty and social good) in their daily lives. His humanistic, student-centered views and defense of religious freedom often brought him into conflict with authority. Arrested with other top Soka Gakkai leaders in 1943 as a “thought criminal” for his unyielding opposition to the militarist regime and its forced imposition of state-sponsored religion, Makiguchi died in prison at the age of 73 in November 1944.

Makiguchi’s close disciple, Josei Toda, survived the ordeal and was released from a Tokyo prison just weeks before the world’s first use of the atomic bomb in July 1945. Determined to rebuild the Soka Gakkai, Toda set about to develop its membership from less than 3,000 families when he assumed the presidency in 1951 to more than 750,000 before his death in 1958, thereby spreading the movement across Japan and throughout society. The Soka Gakkai’s remarkable growth stemmed from its commitment to help people overcome their suffering in the postwar chaos.

On May 3, 1960, Daisaku Ikeda became the third president. Within six months, he established chapters in the United States and South American countries, followed a year later by organizations in nine European countries. He continues to provide leadership for the global SGI organization, which now includes members in more than 190 countries and territories. Ikeda has founded a number of educational and cultural institutions that seek to foster the values of peace, culture and education.

The Culture of Peace

The SGI-USA is involved in non-sectarian, public awareness activities to promote the values of peace, culture and education. We work with other civil-society and non-governmental groups to develop youth programs, traveling exhibits, cultural events and symposia.

The SGI is an active participant in the United Nations as a recognized non-governmental organization. SGI President Daisaku Ikeda has submitted a peace proposal to the United Nations each year since 1975, and these proposals have gradually come to gain increased notice and consideration among peace scholars and concerned individuals.

More on the Culture of Peace


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