Frequently Asked Questions

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What do SGI members do?

SGI members integrate Buddhist practice into the daily rhythm of their lives. They aim to develop and strengthen their lives through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and by studying the teachings of Buddhism. The basic morning and evening practice, known as gongyo, consists of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and reciting portions of the Lotus Sutra. This is usually carried out at home but can also be done together with others. The aim of this practice is to develop one's Buddha nature--the qualities of courage, wisdom and compassion--thereby tapping the energy needed to tackle one's challenges, transform one's life and contribute to the happiness of others. In countries where there is an SGI organization, members and guests meet to share experiences of their practice and study together at regular monthly discussion meetings. Practice naturally leads to a sense of empowerment and responsibility, and SGI members aim to positively impact the communities in which they live.

What Buddhist tradition is SGI part of?

SGI members embrace Nichiren Buddhism, following a Lotus Sutra-based practice formulated by the 13th-century Japanese priest Nichiren. The Lotus Sutra is considered by many in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition to be the fullest expression of the teachings of Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha who was born in present-day Nepal some 2,500 years ago. The Lotus Sutra is revered for its embracing message that all people possess the Buddha nature, both men and women. The image of the pure lotus flower growing in a muddy pond symbolizes how people can develop this enlightened state of life in the midst of their daily problems and struggles. Nichiren studied all available Buddhist texts and investigated the many competing schools of Buddhism of his day before concluding that the Lotus Sutra epitomized the true compassionate intent of Shakyamuni. Today, SGI members study the letters and treatises of Nichiren and his analysis of the Lotus Sutra, as well as the Lotus Sutra itself and commentaries by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda.

What do Buddhists believe in? What is “enlightenment”?

At the heart of Buddhism lies the belief that each individual has limitless positive potential and the power to change his or her life for the better. Through their practice people can become more fulfilled and happier and also able to contribute more to the world. Buddhism teaches that a universal Law (dharma) underlies everything in the universe, and that all life is interconnected. It also holds that we are all ultimately responsible for determining the direction of our own lives. A change in our mind or heart can lead to a change in our external circumstances and affect those around us.

How does chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo work?

SGI members often speak about the positive impact that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has on their lives. This is hard to comprehend and is something that can only be experienced on an individual basis. Often people trying the practice are encouraged to try chanting even a small amount regularly for a while, in order to see the effect it has. The 13th-century priest Nichiren established the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. He concluded that the Lotus Sutra contains the full truth of Buddhism: that everyone without exception has the potential to attain Buddhahood. The title of the Lotus Sutra in its Japanese translation is Myoho-renge-kyo. By chanting “Nam,” or devotion to the essential message of the Lotus Sutra, we activate the state of Buddhahood in our lives. Rather than being a prayer to an external being, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is an expression of the determination of the human spirit, seeking to come into rhythm with the reality of the universe. Through continuing in this practice of determined intention we bring forth our highest potential from within our lives.

What kind of grassroots activities is SGI involved in?

SGI members are active in contributing to their local communities and see the ultimate aim of Buddhism and the SGI as the creation of a just, sustainable and peaceful world. SGI groups all over the world undertake projects suitable to the local situation and culture. This could be through cleaning a local park, holding a discussion on women's role in building peace, or showing an awareness-raising exhibition in a library. SGI focuses its education efforts on the themes of peace and disarmament, sustainable development and human rights. SGI's social engagement can also be seen in the day-to-day activities of individual SGI members who are contributing to the betterment of their communities, families and workplaces.

Viewing nuclear weapons as a threat to the right to life itself, in 2007 SGI also created the People's Decade for Nuclear Abolition, which aims to foster a global grassroots network dedicated to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Finding an SGI center

Please check the directory page on the SGI website. If you cannot find a center in a particular country or region, then either there is no center or the center is not open to visitors. In some cases, information about additional centers which are staffed part-time is given on the website of SGI in that country.