The Soka Gakkai International is the umbrella organization for affiliate lay organizations in over 186 countries practicing the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin. Founded as the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai on November 18, 1930 by Japanese educators Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, the Soka Gakkai experienced a period of rapid growth after World War II in Japan. The organization was formally organized in the United States on October 13, 1960. SGI was created as the international organization in 1975.
SGI has been guided since its inception by its president, Daisaku Ikeda. A disciple of Second Soka Gakkai President Toda, Mr. Ikeda succeeded him in 1960 as Soka Gakkai President. He became SGI President in 1975. Founder of Soka University and the Soka School System, Mr. Ikeda is the author of numerous books and has held dialogues toward peace, education and culture with numerous scholars and world leaders.
Nichiren Daishonin (1222–1282; "Nichiren" is the name he chose for himself when embarking on spreading his teaching on April 28, 1253. It means "Sun Lotus." The word "Daishonin" is an honorific meaning "great sage."), was a Japanese Buddhist sage who determined that the Lotus Sutra was the most important of Shakyamuni Gautama's teachings, and crystalized the essence of the sutra as the phrase "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo".
Nichiren taught that by chanting this phrase to the "Gohonzon"—a scroll with Chinese and Sanskrit characters representing the enlightenment and life of the common mortal—anyone can activate her or his "Buddha nature" and become enlightened.
The basic practice of SGI members is based on chanting "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" daily, reciting two short sections of the Lotus Sutra, introduction of others to the practice, and study of important Buddhist teachings. Most important in this study are the collected writings of Nichiren, recently compiled and issued in a single English volume titled "The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin." The Japanese edition of the writings, the "Nichiren Daishonin Gosho Zenshu," was issued in 1952. Translations are available, or are being done, in other languages.
More information and details about Nichiren Buddhism can be found at , the home page for SGI-USA, the American affiliate lay organization. The website contains links to several dozen SGI-USA community centers as well as affiliate SGI organizations, including the Soka Gakkai in Japan, the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century, Soka University, and others. Information about SGI-USA publications is also available at the site.
SGI-USA also has established a book publishing company, which distributes titles related to Buddhism to commercial booksellers. "Middleway Press" can also be accessed through a link at the site above.
The organization holds weekly meetings throughout the United States, both at local SGI-USA community centers and in members' homes. Local meeting information is available through the various community centers, whose addresses and telephone numbers are also available at the website above.