TOKYO, Nov. 4 /CNW/ - The Soka Gakkai Buddhist association celebrated its 80th anniversary with a commemorative meeting in Tokyo, Japan, on November 3 attended by about 5,000 people, including 250 members of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) representing 65 countries and territories.
At the meeting, orchestral, choral and other musical performances were interspersed with a speech by Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada and presentations from youth representatives outlining their vision of how the Buddhist organization will develop in the coming years.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda sent a message in which he encouraged the youth members to further exert themselves in order to contribute to world peace. "The harmonious and friendly solidarity which you demonstrate," he stated, "is a portrait of future peace such as humankind has long dreamed of."
The SGI movement traces its roots to November 18, 1930, the day on which Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944) and Josei Toda (1900-58) published Makiguchi's theory of "Soka" or value-creating education. Both were practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism and, over the course of the 1930s, the organization developed an increasingly religious orientation.
After being imprisoned as "thought criminals" for opposing the militarist government, Makiguchi died in prison in 1944 while Toda was released shortly before the end of the war. Toda rebuilt Soka Gakkai as a lay Buddhist organization with a message of self-empowerment, and the movement grew rapidly.
Daisaku Ikeda, Toda's successor, was 32 when he became president of Soka Gakkai in 1960. Under his leadership, the movement began an era of innovation and expansion, and in 1975, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) was founded. Today it is a network of socially engaged Buddhists committed to promoting peace, culture and education with 90 constituent organizations and 12 million members in 192 countries and territories.
SGI members practice the Buddhism taught by the 13th-century Japanese monk Nichiren (1222-82), who was convinced that the Lotus Sutra of Shakyamuni encapsulates the core message of Buddhism - that all people can attain enlightenment. This is expressed within SGI as "human revolution" - the belief that a profound transformation within a single individual can have a positive influence on an entire society.
SGI is also active as an NGO with formal ties to the UN, promoting activities for peace and disarmament, human rights education and sustainability. It has also created traveling exhibitions and promoted campaigns to highlight education for sustainable development and galvanize public support for nuclear abolition.
Ikeda is widely recognized as a Buddhist philosopher, author and peacebuilder. Fifty of his dialogues, such as those with Mikhail Gorbachev and Linus Pauling, have been published to date. He has devoted himself to building bridges of understanding among people of different cultures and faiths, and worked consistently to restore trust between Japan and Asian countries that suffered from Japanese militarism during World War II.
As a result of his efforts to promote peace and humanistic education, Ikeda has been widely recognized by academic institutions throughout the world. He is the recipient of some 300 honorary degrees and professorships from universities in over 50 countries, from Moscow State University to the University of Hong Kong and the University of Glasgow in Scotland, UK.
Details of the 80 years of Soka Gakkai's history can be found at www.sgi.org
Further information about Daisaku Ikeda can be found here: http://www.daisakuikeda.org
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