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District Study Meeting Material

July 2023

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Please base your study on either the material provided here or on any study material from a recent issue of the World Tribune or Living Buddhism. Have a great study meeting!

Leading a Contributive Life [14.6]

Chapter 14: ‘Be Good Citizens!’

The study material below is excerpted from The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, revised edition, pp. 111–13. You can purchase revised editions of parts 1 and 2 at

The following is from Ikeda Sensei’s speech at the SGI Pan-Pacific Peace and Culture Conference, Honolulu, January 29, 1995.

Ikeda Sensei: Founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi stressed the importance of developing into people who could live in harmonious coexistence with others instead of being driven by self-centered egotism. Brilliant educator that he was, he strove to foster “individuals with the intelligence to recognize their own shortcomings and find the strong points of others.”[1] He also strove to produce “generous individuals who supplement their shortcomings with the strengths of others, while also unstintingly supplementing the shortcomings of others with their own strengths.”[2]

This is the essential spirit of Soka education and the key to creating a harmonious Soka family.

I hope that our members, in their respective countries and communities, will advance in just this sort of beautiful unity of “many in body, one in mind.”

Mr. Makiguchi also argued that there were three distinct levels of life: 1) a dependent life, 2) an independent life and 3) a contributive life.[3]

In a broad sense, a dependent life is one lacking any clear sense of self or purpose, allowing oneself to be controlled by circumstances.

Many religions throughout history have demanded blind faith and robbed people of their autonomy. Mr. Makiguchi utterly opposed such unthinking obedience. He believed that people should have an independent sense of self, or self-identity, and follow their chosen path—a fair description of the second level, an independent life.

He further urged that we rise to the next level, in which we have respect for others and work for their happiness and wellbeing instead of caring only about ourselves and growing smug and self-complacent. This is the level of a contributive life, where we make the attainment of happiness for both ourselves and others our life’s goal.

Mr. Makiguchi called on us to build a network of awakened individuals, of people who had elevated themselves from dependence to independence and, finally, contribution to others—a level where they could take action to their hearts’ content and shine their brightest.

The Soka Gakkai is a noble, humanistic organization whose members are leading just such contributive lives. Upholding the great Law of life, they are tirelessly contributing to people’s happiness, the flourishing of culture and society and the realization of world peace.

Unity Is Strength

“If you are serious about achieving unity, you mustn’t criticize or say bad things about other members behind their backs. That just gives negative functions a gap through which to enter and create schisms within the organization, which could lead to the demise of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings.

“Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda often said that the Soka Gakkai was more precious to him than his own life, because it was the only organization in the world, indeed, in the universe, acting in accord with the Buddha’s intent and decree to carry out kosen-rufu. As such, we have to protect it, he insisted.” …

“In the Soka Gakkai, an organization dedicated to kosen-rufu, we cannot be satisfied with just remaining a bystander, ready to look on coolly without offering to lend a helping hand.

“In baseball, all the players on the field keep their eye on the ball, and they respond when the ball is put into play. If a grounder pulls the first baseman off the bag, a teammate will rush over to cover the base for him.” …

The Soka Gakkai’s great strength of compassion is fully demonstrated in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind,” striving harmoniously together for kosen-rufu. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 25, pp. 24–27)

Suggested Questions:

1) Please share an experience about creating unity.

2) How would you like to contribute to society?

From the July 2023 Living Buddhism


  1. Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Soka kyoikugaku taikei (The System of Value-Creating Education), in Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), vol. 5 (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1982), p. 181. ↩︎
  2. Ibid. ↩︎
  3. Ibid., p. 185. ↩︎

Highlights of the July 2023 Study Material

District Discussion Meeting Material