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Lecture 9

Lecture 9 - The Soka Gakkai; its origin and development - November 21.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
New College
Henry Shiu

November 21, 2012. Lecture 9 – The Soka Gakkai: its origin and development Intro  Started as a Japanese national group, went international  Began not as a religious group at all, but rather an educational theory o Some connection with a Buddhist sect often identified as a cult religion  By 1992, over 8 million household’s membership in Japan and 1.26 million overseas o Today numbers have probably been growing exponentially since then o Great numbers help with their scope of power  Accused of perverting basic Buddhist doctrines, being a false religious movement whose leaders use the votes and donations to advance their wealth and political power  Also accused of corruption, power-seeking, and a number of scandals  Affiliated with a powerful political party in Japan  Also has its own newspaper  Propagate the teachings of Nichiren Shoshu, one of the many Nichiren sects in Japan o Lived in the 12 century, Buddhism was already established in Japan for the past 600 years o Originally belonged to the Tendai school of Japan, translated from original Tiantai school th in China which was established around 5 century o Translation from Chinese to Japanese was a long and complicated process in the context of scriptures, often resulting in contradictions between the scriptures of different Buddhist traditions o Tiantai to identify the Lotus Sutra as the most profound, sacred, and true of the Buddha’s word and therefore should be most highly regarded o Filled with lots of analogies to make the teachings of the Buddha more interesting, the story of the burning house being most famous  Kids playing in a house and they don’t realize it’s on fire because they are too immersed in their toys and playing. Their father, to get them out of the house, has promises of carts full of new toys waiting outside. The children finally come and see no toys but realize something much more significant. Burning house = samsara, children = regular human beings, father = Buddha  Nichiren is believed to be the physical incarnation of the highest spiritual principle, superseding the Buddha  Nichiren Shoshu believed that Nichiren is the true Buddha of the age of mappo o Mappo: age of degeneration, our moral abilities not as fit to reach enlightenment as they used to be  Many natural disasters supposedly having to do with the age of mappo; coming closer and closer to the end of the world  Nichiren Shoshu also claims that Sakyamuni was a precursor, a kind of John the Baptist, who brought Buddhist teachings to humankind, while Nichiren himself was born in the age of mappo to save humans at their hour of greatest need o Nichiren Shoshu promoted faith alone in the Lotus Sutra to protect humankind from any sort of disaster, natural or not o Repeated speech of a phrase to display worship, hundreds of thousands of times a day, in order to gain this protection from negative disasters: Namo Myoho Rengye Kyo = “I take refuge in the Lotus Sutra” o Remains to be one of the most popular Buddhist sects/schools in Japan today  SGI argues that any individual with deep faith in Nichiren’s teachings can gain enlightenment without the assistance of a priest  “To return Buddhism to the people” o Went the Protestant route of saying you don’t need the intermediary relationship of the monks to communicate with your spirituality/the Buddha o Previously was a great divide between the monks and Buddhist practitioners; practitioners expected to respect the monks and even support them in their quest for enlightenment  SGI denunciation of Nichiren Shoshu as a corrupt sect that has totally perverted the teachings of Nichiren  By 1992, SGI had dropped all mentioning of Nichiren Shoshu from its literature  Declared that it alone represented the true line of Nichiren Buddhism o SGI competing with the same population for membership; all about power and money  Began with two educators: o Makiguchi Tsunesaburo (1871-1944) o Toda Josei (1900-1958) o Founded Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (Value Creation Education Society)  Education theories: the goal of human life is the attainment of happiness and that humans can only become happy if he/she becomes a value-creator (goodness, beauty, and benefit) o Trained students to think in a more practical and critical matter in the sense that they probably won’t end up reaching Nirvana by the end of this particular lifetime and instead should make their goal to be happy  Train students to think independently and creatively o Vs. in the past where the Buddha, the scripture, the monks, Confucius, etc. were the authority and it was no one’s place to challenge authority or speak out agai
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