“A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.”
This statement from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda encapsulates the core philosophy of the SGI: That each of us has unfathomable potential, and in striving to bring this forth—spurred by trying circumstances or the desire to live more fully and responsibly—we undergo a process of positive internal change that affects our family, our workplace, society and ultimately the entire web of life. It was second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda (1900–58) who formulated the concept of human revolution. In doing so, he gave contemporary expression to the generally abstract idea of enlightenment. He identified Buddhahood as the unfathomable potential of our lives.
Like his mentor, first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871–1944), Toda was not so much a religious enthusiast as a person deeply engaged with the problems of society who was seeking a sound philosophical basis from which to address them. It was on the basis of this concern that they both found value in Nichiren Buddhism, with its stress on positive human potential and compassionate action. This led them to found the Soka Gakkai in 1930. Their efforts, together with a group of like-minded individuals, to apply this philosophy to the problems of daily life and discuss their findings were the origins of the SGI. From these beginnings grew a global people’s movement that has taken root in 192 countries and territories—perhaps the world’s largest and most diverse lay Buddhist movement.
Today, there are more than 12 million SGI members around the world who continue this exploration of the transformative potential of Buddhism and the effects of individual change on the larger web of human society.