Our History

Celebrating 30 Years of the SGI-USA’s Rebirth

Great Lakes Chapter.


In February 1990, SGI President Ikeda cancelled his trip to South America to extend his visit to the United States at a critical juncture for the American organization. During his 17 days in Los Angeles, he attended general meetings and training sessions in which he especially focused on fostering youthful successors.

In his guidance, he leaves behind a roadmap for kosen-rufu in the United States (see My Dear Friends in America, third edition, pp. 1–106), calling on the members to “advance steadily with the awareness that you are now building a foundation for the next thousand years” (p. 6).

President Ikeda’s encouragement conveyed in deep detail the essence of Buddhist humanism, the role religion must play in serving people in the 21st century, the spirit of leadership within the SGI and the dynamic inner transformation that occurs when people live out their lives based on the oneness of mentor and disciple.

Youth members take a photo with SGI President Ikeda in Calabasas, Calif., February 1990. During his historic 17-day visit to Los Angeles, President Ikeda focused on fostering youthful successors. Photo by Seikyo Press.

These themes became that much more significant when, on Nov. 28, 1991, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood excommunicated the SGI’s 10 million lay members in a perverse attempt to wrest control of the membership. The priesthood had strongly advocated a doctrine of absolute superiority and authority of priests over laity—one that contradicts the spirit of equality that pervades Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. The vast majority of members throughout the world recognized the corruption, inhumanity and distortion behind the priesthood’s actions and chose to continue practicing within the SGI under the leadership of President Ikeda.

In his book Waking the Buddha: How the Most Dynamic and Empowering Buddhist Movement in History Is Changing Our Concept of Religion, journalist Clark Strand writes that the priesthood’s actions say much about the degenerative effects of religious authoritarianism and privilege. “But mostly it shows that the old religious model was in deep decline,” he wrote.

“That decline was itself an invitation to the populist, egalitarian reforms of the Soka Gakkai.”

For SGI-USA members, this issue underscored the difference between a human-centered religion that accords with Nichiren’s teachings of universal equality versus one that uses people as a means to an end. WT


1990 Guidance
Find and Raise Capable People

In this Year of Advancement and Capable People, let’s return to SGI President Ikeda’s foundational guidance from 1990 on fostering capable youth. The text can be found in My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 7.

Capable people are the greatest treasure. Without capable people, neither the eternal establishment of the Law nor world peace can be achieved.

First of all, you must find capable people. Just as a miner searches for gold ore in ordinary rocks, you have to look for members who possess great potential and then work to develop their ability with your heart and soul.

Prayer is most fundamental in raising capable people. You should pray earnestly to the Gohonzon that the person you have found will become an able person important to the SGI-USA.

Then, with this prayer, you take the utmost care to help that person develop.

Among the many members in Japan, there have been some who, on account of sloppiness in financial matters and other aspects of their daily lives, forsook their faith and left the pure and harmonious world of the Soka Gakkai. I have never allowed, however, anyone whom I decided to raise to fall out of the ranks.

Once I have found capable people, even among older individuals who were disciples of the first and second Soka Gakkai presidents, I have done my best to thoroughly protect and develop them. The capable people I have raised are now active as pillars of our movement in all areas of society.

You should sincerely respect capable people and raise them with the determination to make them even more outstanding and capable than you are yourself. Looking down on one’s juniors or exploiting them for personal gain is an offense comparable to that of slandering the Law. Please remember that one who raises capable people is great. Such a person is truly capable and important.