Good to Know

What Is Human Revolution?

Human revolution characterizes a Buddhist way of life that eternally seeks growth and personal development.

Photo: Dan Graham.

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda coined the term human revolution to describe the process of individual inner transformation that results from Buddhist practice. It addresses the real possibility for human beings to change, and in particular, to reveal the inner potential for enlightenment, or Buddhahood, which is the core purpose of Nichiren Buddhism. In that sense, human revolution can be seen as a modern expression of the principle of “attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.”

From the perspective of the Ten Worlds (see Oct. 13, 2017, World Tribune, p. 9), we could say that human revolution means a change in our fundamental life state, from one characterized by the “four evil paths”— the worlds of hell, hunger, animality and anger—to one that exhibits the higher states, the worlds of bodhisattva and Buddhahood.

Human revolution is a never-ending process of continual self-improvement. It describes a Buddhist way of life that eternally seeks growth and personal development.

The desire to become strong and unshaken by any difficulty propels our human revolution. In “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” Nichiren Daishonin states, “Even though you chant and believe in Myoho-renge-kyo, if you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the Mystic Law but an inferior teaching” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 3). Nichiren Buddhism emphasizes seeking both the causes and solutions to our problems within our own lives. It stresses that by tapping the power of the Law innate within us we can change any situation for the better.

Though self-discipline may take us a long way, fundamental change comes only from transforming our innermost weaknesses into deeply rooted strengths. Human revolution requires identifying and challenging that which keeps us from expressing our full potential and deepest humanity, and replacing these things with causes that bring forth our true potential and genuine humanism. Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and earnestly striving in our Buddhist practice, we tap inexhaustible courage, wisdom and compassion, and learn to create value in any situation.

This article was adapted from the SGI-USA Essentials Exam, Part 3, Study Guide and Workbook, pp. 6–7.


There are many kinds of revolutions—political, economic, industrial, scientific, artistic and so on. But no matter how external factors change, the world will never get better as long as people remain selfish and apathetic. As John F. Kennedy said, in 1963: “Our problems are man-made— therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.”

An inner change for the better in a single person is the essential first turn of the wheel in the process of making the human race stronger and wiser. This “human revolution” is, I believe, the most fundamental and most vital of all revolutions. This revolution— an inner process of self-reformation—is completely bloodless and peaceful. In it everyone wins and there are no victims. (

(p. 4)