Why Is It Important to Do SGI Activities?
This Q&A series addresses frequently asked questions about Nichiren Buddhism.
A: A growing body of research suggests that good relationships lead to better health and longer life. Studies point to the conclusion that having friends who support us can lower blood pressure, help us develop stronger immune systems and even improve health-related behaviors such as diet and exercise.
Practitioners of SGI Nichiren Buddhism also regard having good friends and a supportive community as essential to one’s spiritual well-being and happiness.
SGI President Ikeda writes: “Soka Gakkai activities are the best health regimen there is. Attending meetings, visiting friends to encourage them and going out to share Nichiren’s teaching with others—all of these involve activity” (On Health and Long Life, p. 113).
It is through participating in SGI activities and carrying out a healthy and correct practice of Buddhism that we expand our circle of friends, study philosophy and enrich our lives all around.
“We can learn something from all these activities,” President Ikeda says. “They are all part of our Buddhist practice. Each effort we make becomes our strength. Through our SGI activities, we naturally develop into well-rounded individuals. There is nothing more wonderful than this” (May 21, 1999, World Tribune, p. 8).
SGI activities leave us feeling refreshed and encouraged to overcome the challenges of our daily lives through Buddhist practice while reconfirming our great mission to establish a peaceful society. In this way, they facilitate a dynamic Buddhist practice that accords with the spirit of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth—protagonists of the Lotus Sutra who vow to spread the Buddha’s teachings as the means for the enlightenment and happiness of all people as well as their own.
Nichiren Daishonin writes of such a spirit when he says, “If one lights a fire for others, one will brighten one’s own way” (“On the Three Virtues of Food,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 1060).
This process of engaging in SGI activities for the sake of one’s own happiness and that of others enables each individual to grow, deepen their abilities to treasure each person and contribute to the greater good of society.
Increasingly, leading thinkers and scholars from around the world have been recognizing the efforts of SGI members. For instance, Professor Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer of the University of Göttingen in Germany says: “The bodhisattva way of life offers a foundation for peace, in that it strives not only for personal salvation and perfection, but also seeks to connect with other living beings and help them do the same.” He also asserts that a revival of the bodhisattva spirit will lead to a renewal of mutual trust and empathy—crucial qualities without which this world would be unlivable (see January 1, 2016, World Tribune, p. 3).
Building a network of such capable and conscientious people who can revitalize our divided and deadlocked society is the aim of the SGI. Through participating in SGI activities, not only do we improve and strengthen our own lives, but we also deepen our bonds with those around us and develop the foundations for respect for all people and peace in our communities.