For BSG members, Buddhism is a practical philosophy of individual empowerment and inner transformation based on one-on-one encouragement that enables people to fulfil their potential and take responsibility for their lives. BSG members strive in their everyday lives to live with confidence, to create value in any circumstances and to contribute to the wellbeing of family, friends and community.
The core Buddhist practice of BSG members is chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and reciting portions of the Lotus Sutra (referred to as gongyo), and sharing the teachings of Buddhism with others in order to help them overcome their problems.
Practice is supported by faith and study. BSG members study the teachings of Nichiren in order to deepen their understanding of the principles of Buddhism and the processes of inner transformation. Study strengthens faith and conviction, which finds expression in practice.
Faith, in Nichiren Buddhism, is grounded in the experience of applying Buddhism and seeing improvements in the quality of one’s life. Faith could be described as the ongoing effort to orient one’s heart toward the ideal of Buddhahood—the continual unfolding of one’s inherent potential for good, the ability to transform any negative circumstance into a source of growth and benefit, and a life dedicated toward helping others do the same.
BSG members carry out their daily practice at home, but also meet regularly with other members in their communities. The discussion meeting tradition dates back to the earliest days of the Soka Gakkai’s history in prewar Japan, and serves as the focal point for members to study Buddhist principles and how to apply them in everyday life.
BSG discussion meetings are usually held on a monthly basis, and the vast majority are held in the homes of members who make them available for this purpose. The sharing of faith experiences—the transformation in people’s lives realized through Buddhist practice—is a central element of discussion meetings. There is perhaps nothing more heartening for people struggling with problems than the example of others who have successfully confronted and overcome their own challenges. Study of Buddhist principles is also conducted to understand how these can be actualized in daily lives.
A key concept in the organisation is “human revolution”—the idea that the inner transformation of an individual will cause a positive change in one’s circumstances and ultimately in society as a whole, the larger web of life. A person previously overwhelmed by their own suffering can manifest the strength and wisdom to solve their own problems, change the dynamics of their interrelations and, further, take compassionate action to help others.
Such transformation comes about through boldly confronting the challenges of daily life with Buddhist practice, seeking to develop one’s potential, conquering one’s negative tendencies and weaknesses and taking responsibility for one’s life and destiny. Change on a global scale comes about through this process of self-reformation in the life of individuals—from fear to confidence, from destruction to creativity, from hatred to compassion.
BSG members believe that each individual has the power to develop a life of great value and creativity and to positively influence their community, society and the greater web of life of which we are all a part. Nichiren Buddhism stresses that the greatest fulfillment in life is found ultimately in working for the happiness of others.