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Soka Gakkai's engaged Buddhism

Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 1:20 am
by Serenity509
I am not currently a member of Soka Gakkai and I am not an Ikeda fanboy. I am just wondering if there are Buddhists outside of Soka Gakkai, besides maybe Clark Strand, who appreciate Soka Gakkai's humanitarian work. I would really appreciate your input.

Buddhists outside of the Dalai Lama's and Thich Nhat Hanh's traditions are expected to appreciate their humanitarian work, perhaps rightly so, and I'm wondering if this same appreciation is felt for Soka Gakkai's work as well.

Re: Soka Gakkai's engaged Buddhism

Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:56 am
by Serenity509
Please keep in mind that I am not an SGI member or an Ikeda fanboy. At this point, I just think SGI deserves more credit for the good that it does.

I will stick with Pure Land teachings if, after having some experience with SGI, I come to the realization that it's not going to benefit my life and my Buddhist practice.

The Buddha taught to test things for yourself instead of accepting them blindly, and I think I can only do that if I have experience in more than one school of Buddhism in order to make a fair comparison.

Re: Soka Gakkai's engaged Buddhism

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:13 am
by Bhikkhu_YinRi
My very first interaction with buddhism was with SGI, it was not for me. But if their ideals are good than more power to them.

Re: Soka Gakkai's engaged Buddhism

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 5:29 am
by Caodemarte
Anything that actually helps people seems like a good thing.

Re: Soka Gakkai's engaged Buddhism

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:34 pm
by Queequeg
Former SGI.

Not sure what humanitarian work you're referring to.

They do not perform any direct humanitarian work as far as I know - ie. delivering supplies to the dispossessed, operating hospitals, etc. etc.

Post-war humanism is definitely woven into their philosophy.

Their directly Buddhist teachings aside, they do promote what I'll call, a "global citizen consciousness" which very much encourages a world view in which all humanity is interconnected, and this tends to confluence with the thinking behind humanitarian causes.

With regard to specific policies, aside from Ikeda's annual World Peace Proposals (which are worth a read, if you're interested in the heart of SGI teachings as expressed in contemporary terms), I don't think they promote any more specific political positions. I believe this is intentional as they are not interested in promoting a particular political agenda, but take the position (which I believe is Buddhist) that with correct view of reality, actions will naturally flow in response to causes and conditions). Komeito presents a challenge to this assertion, but I'd argue something a little different is going on there.

I agree that they do not get enough recognition for what they do.

Other Buddhists are wary because 1. Nichiren - the patriarch of SGI's tradition is such a controversial figure; and 2. they are one of the few Buddhist groups who have taken the idea of adapting to contemporary mores seriously, with a demonstrated willingness to leave behind what they determine to be minor rules in favor of advancing the spirit of the teaching, and so don't look like Buddhism, especially to Western eyes. They also follow the logic of Perfect and Sudden Teaching, which people in a Gradual Teaching mindset are not going to get.

Secular groups are wary because they are a religious group with clout, and that always makes secularists nervous.

Re: Soka Gakkai's engaged Buddhism

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:51 pm
by narhwal90
I'm an active SGI member myself, and concur with Queequeg above. I've only occasionally heard of prison outreach efforts for example, where an individual or group go into prisons, hospitals etc OTOH the person-to-person sort of contact is highly valued; the idea to demonstrate the effectiveness of the practice to those around one; neighbors, friends or sometimes passers-by and so perhaps show a path out of suffering. I know several members who have been in jail or have family members in jail who practice in SGI for the hope and serenity it brings them in the daily obscenity of living in that environment. So thats a form of outreach perhaps.

My district leader routinely invites his neighbors over for meetings- that sort of thing is pretty common. Quite a few members go to a lot of trouble giving rides to other members who don't have transport to attend meetings, that being "fellowship humanitarianism" if you will.

But nothing like the organized institutional outreach seen in AA/NA however.

Re: Soka Gakkai's engaged Buddhism

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:43 pm
by Queequeg
The person to person engagement encouraged seems to me the definition of engagement.

Its why I think the likelihood that the Buddha's voice you hear in a given place is most likely to be the recitation of the Lotus Sutra.

Re: Soka Gakkai's engaged Buddhism

Posted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:30 am
by Mysticlaw
I do know that many SGI in asia do have various socially engaged activities.

For example, Singapore Soka Association (SSA) participates and host interfaith dialogues. The youth host interfaith symposium. They also partner with Singapore red cross society and mercy relief to support their humanitarian efforts. SSA also helped raise fund and collect relief items in response to the 2004 Asian Tsunami disaster. I personally witnessed these efforts. There is also Soka Volunteer Group, Soka Medical Group and cultural groups that reach out and support the community regularly.