Skip to main content

Buddhist Study

The Buddhist Order


On his first visit to San Francisco in October 1960, while viewing the Golden Gate Bridge, Ikeda Sensei commented on the 27,572 separate strands of wire that hold it up, saying:

The individual wires are not very thick, but when bunched together in great numbers, they display incredible strength. … In the Soka Gakkai, too, though each person’s strength may be small, when that strength is combined and the members are firmly united, they can display unimaginable power. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, p. 119)

In the Buddhist tradition, the community of practitioners is called the Buddhist Order. The combined unity and strength of this Order is integral to realizing the grand undertaking of spreading the ideals of Buddhism.

The Buddhist Order is based on equality and comprises practitioners who are dedicated to preserving, spreading and transmitting Buddhism to future generations in order to ensure the prosperity and happiness of all humanity.

The Three Treasures in Buddhism

There are three cornerstones of Buddhism called the three treasures: the Buddha, the Law and the Buddhist Order.

The Buddha refers to one who is awakened to the true nature of life. The Law refers to the teachings that the Buddha expounds. And the Buddhist Order is the harmonious gathering of people united in their belief in the Buddha and the teachings. In his lecture on “The Four Debts of Gratitude,” Sensei explains that Nichiren Daishonin, as the votary of the Lotus Sutra, represents the Buddhist Order, for he opened the way for all people in the Latter Day of the Law to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and manifest the same Buddha nature possessed by all Buddhas (see The Teachings for Victory, vol. 3, pp. 109–10).

Sensei then refers to the passage:

Both the treasure of the Buddha and the treasure of the Law are invariably perpetuated by the Order. To illustrate, without firewood, there can be no fire, and if there is no earth, trees and plants cannot grow. Likewise, even though Buddhism existed, without the members of the Order who studied it and passed it on, it would never have been transmitted. (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, pp. 44–45)

Today, the SGI is the harmonious community of believers spreading and eternalizing the Buddha’s wish for the happiness of all people throughout the world.

Nichiren Shoshu’s Distorted View of the Three Treasures

The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood promotes a different view of the three treasures, namely that the third treasure is the treasure of the priest.

This idea originates from the time when Buddhism entered China. The term sangha (Buddhist Order) was transliterated into the Chinese characters as 僧伽 (pronounced sogya in Japanese). The first of the these two characters, 僧 (so) took on the meaning of “priest,” and as Buddhism entered Japan, this one character came to indicate the third of the three treasures.

Nichiren Shoshu, adapting this narrow understanding, teaches that only the priest is the third treasure, using this to substantiate the absolute authority of the high priest. They also claim that only those who believe in the priests will attain enlightenment.

On the other hand, Sensei offers this understanding:

One qualifies as a member of the sangha not through superficial acts such as shaving one’s head or donning clerical robes but through genuinely upholding and transmitting the teachings of Buddhism. In light of this, in the realm of Nichiren Buddhism, the treasure of the Buddhist Order is none other than the members of the SGI—the harmonious body of practitioners striving with the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple for the sake of kosen-rufu, just as Nichiren teaches. (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 3, p. 110)

The Soka Gakkai Buddha

Uniting as members of the Buddhist Order amplifies the power of the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The Lotus Sutra offers the example of a Buddha called Awesome Sound King,[1] who made strenuous efforts to spread the Law. After the death of this Buddha, it is said that Buddhas with the same name appeared one after another, numbering twenty thousand million in all.

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda said that these millions of Buddhas named Awesome Sound King represent the Buddhist Order. Likewise, he declared, the Soka Gakkai can be referred to as the Soka Gakkai Buddha. Sensei also states:

The life of an individual is limited. But when the fundamental spirit of striving for kosen-rufu is passed on from mentor to disciples, and those disciples continue their efforts as a group or organization over time, that body of practitioners come to possess the enduring life force of the Buddha ceaselessly guiding people to happiness. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 30, “Great Mountain” booklet, p. 90)

The SGI pulses with the great vow of the Buddha to alleviate the suffering of all living beings. Amid the challenges of society today, by uniting with our fellow members, we can replenish our energy, hope and determination, and thereby extend this collective life force to all those with whom we are connected. We can contribute to building a society based on the respect for the dignity of life.


  1. See The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, pp. 307–13. ↩︎

¡Las mujeres de la Soka son radiantes soles de esperanza!

My Mission Is to Become Happy