A Humanistic Organization of Engaged Buddhists
SGI-USA is a lay Buddhist association based on the humanistic teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and the Lotus Sutra. SGI members aim to create value in any circumstances, bringing forth the courage, wisdom and compassion from within to face and surmount life’s challenges, sparking a process of inner transformation. As “engaged Buddhists,” members contribute to the well-being of others through sharing Buddhism and promoting the advancement of peace, culture and education within society.
SGI-USA is the most diverse Buddhist community in America with more than 500 chapters and some 100 centers throughout the country. The community is made up of approximately 3,000 neighborhood discussion groups across America. At discussion meetings, participants share with one another how they are applying their Buddhist practice in their daily lives.
Legacy of the Founding Presidents
The Soka Gakkai was founded in 1930 by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and his protégé Josei Toda. Both were educators, and Makiguchi, already in his late 50s when he met Nichiren Buddhism, had devoted much of his life to educational reform. He developed a pedagogy that was based on his belief that children’s happiness was the purpose of education. In Nichiren Buddhism he found a philosophy that resonated strongly with his own ideas. He was particularly inspired by Nichiren’s concern with social reform.
After the war, Toda reestablished the Soka Gakkai, building it into an organization of almost one million members by the time of his death in 1958. Toda’s disciple, Daisaku Ikeda, was instrumental in this postwar development of the Soka Gakkai. In 1960, at the age of 32, he succeeded Toda as president of the organization. Under his leadership, the Soka Gakkai further developed, taking root outside of Japan. In 1975, Ikeda established the Soka Gakkai International.