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Nichiren was a Buddhist teacher who lived in 13th century Japan. He studied the works of Shakyamuni, the historical founder of Buddhism, and came to believe that the Lotus Sutra was the greatest of them, containing the truth to which Shakyamuni had been awakened.
Unlike other branches of Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism asserts that every person inherently possesses supreme enlightenment and can manifest that life state in this existence. It is possible to channel one’s desires in a positive direction and connect to life’s innate purity and strength, transforming the sufferings of birth and death into a life of joy and fulfillment.
Soka Gakkai practitioners believe the Lotus Sutra’s title encapsulates the universal truth to which Shakyamuni was enlightened. Because this Mystic Law encompasses all laws and teachings within itself, through meditative chanting of “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,” a person gains the benefit of all virtuous practices.By chanting and exerting themselves in both faith and practice, people can perceive and manifest the Buddha nature in their own lives.
Along with chanting twice daily, Soka Gakkai practice involves members coming together for Buddhist prayer, study, sharing experiences and discussing ways Buddhism can be applied to the challenges of daily living. Meetings may be for women’s or men’s groups, for young people or for the whole community in monthly World Peace Prayer meetings. Meetings typically are held in individual homes and Soka Gakkai community centers or cultural centers.
Soka Gakkai International-USA stresses that a person’s greatest satisfaction comes from working for the happiness of others. The Charter of Soka Gakkai International states: “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."
Soka Gakkai International-USA members are striving to manifest those qualities. Their everyday practice of Buddhism helps them achieve maximum happiness and peacefulness while being fully engaged with the world and all its challenges.