The Japanese Nichiren Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai has announced the adoption of a new charter, with the intention to “further articulate the organization’s purposes, the ideals motivating its activities and its guiding principles in the realm of social engagement as a global organization that aims to promote peace and culture.” (Soka Gakkai)
In an announcement seen by BDG dated 18 November, the 91st anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding, the organization stated:
With a preamble and 10 principles covering topics from education to sustainability and respect for other religions, the Soka Gakkai Charter builds on and replaces the SGI (Soka Gakkai International) Charter that was adopted in November 1995 as a written statement of the ideals and principles of the SGI within the international community.
The Sokkai Gakkai lists the 10 fundamental purposes and principles around which the organization centers its activities and guiding philosophy:
1. The Soka Gakkai will contribute to peace, culture and education based on the Buddhist teaching of respect for the dignity of all life.
2. The Soka Gakkai will promote an understanding of Nichiren Buddhism through grassroots dialogue and exchange, thereby contributing to the realization of human happiness and well-being.
3. The Soka Gakkai will respect and promote freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
4. The Soka Gakkai will, based on the Buddhist spirit of tolerance, respect other religious and philosophical traditions, engaging in dialogue and working together with them toward the resolution of the fundamental challenges confronting humankind.
5. The Soka Gakkai will respect local cultures and customs, and the autonomy of each organization. Each organization will develop its activities in accordance with the laws and conditions prevailing in that country or territory and will encourage its members to contribute to society as responsible citizens.
6. The Soka Gakkai will work for peace and a world free from nuclear weapons and will promote just and sustainable development.
7. The Soka Gakkai will safeguard and promote human rights. It will not discriminate against any individual and will oppose all forms of discrimination. It will contribute to the achievement of gender equality and promote the empowerment of women.
8. The Soka Gakkai will respect cultural diversity and promote intercultural exchange, thereby contributing to mutual understanding and cooperation among the world’s peoples.
9. The Soka Gakkai is committed to building a sustainable world for future generations, addressing the climate crisis, and protecting and caring for the ecosystems of Earth.
10. The Soka Gakkai will promote education, learning and scholarship, to enable all people to cultivate their individual character and enjoy contributive, fulfilling and happy lives. (Soka Gakkai)
“We hope that our members around the world will see the Soka Gakkai Charter as an expression of the social mission they are encouraged to fulfill as Buddhists,” said Tamotsu Sugiyama, executive director of the Soka Gakkai’s International Office of Public Information. “And that they will continue to forge a sense of human solidarity for the sake of peace through their wholehearted efforts to put the ideals expressed in the Charter into practice.” (Soka Gakkai)
The community reaffirmed its aspiration to encourage grassroots activities conducted in the spirit of the new charter and founded on the Buddhist teaching of respect for the dignity of all life, with an unwavering commitment to nonviolence and peace.
“We believe that the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism offer a means for each of us to manifest within the realities of daily life the unlimited capacity for wisdom, courage, and compassion we all possess,” the Soka Gakkai stated. “We therefore seek to foster individuals who are empowered to take on the daunting challenges we face and are committed to building a more just and sustainable world for future generations.” (Soka Gakkai)
The organization also published updated membership figures for its Buddhist communities around the world:
• Japan: 8.27 million households
• Asia and Oceania (excl. Japan): 1,910,000
• North America: 352,000
• Central and South America: 325,000
• Europe: 162,000
• Africa and Middle East: 51,000
Founded in 1930, the Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Society) is a Japanese Buddhist movement based on the teachings of the 13th century Buddhist priest Nichiren (1222–82). Nichiren taught devotion to the Lotus Sutra, believed to contain the teachings of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, toward the end of his life, as the exclusive means to attain enlightenment. Soka Gakkai bases its teachings on the Lotus Sutra, with recitation of the mantra “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (“Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra”) as its central devotional practice.
Soka Gakkai International, founded by the Sokka Gakkai’s president Daisaku Ikeda in 1975, is an NGO in consultative status with UN ECOSOC. As a global community-based Buddhist organization that promotes peace, culture, and education based on respect for the dignity of life, Soka Gakkai is involved in peace activism, education, and politics, with members in 192 countries and territories around the world.
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