Chapter I. General Provisions
Article 1. Name: This association shall be called the Soka Gakkai.
Article 2. This association shall regard Nichiren Daishonin as the true Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. It shall embrace with faith the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws bestowed upon the entire world, base itself on the Daishonin’s writings and seek to realize, as its ultimate goal, the worldwide propagation of Nichiren Buddhism, thus fulfilling the Daishonin’s mandate.
Article 3. The three founding presidents—first president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, second president Josei Toda and third president Daisaku Ikeda—embody the spirit of selfless dedication to spreading the Law for the attainment of kosen-rufu and shall be considered as eternal models of the association.
Article 4. The objectives of this association shall be to propagate Nichiren Buddhism throughout the world, contributing to the realization of world peace and the flourishing of human culture. Based upon such a foundation, this association will spread Nichiren Buddhism’s teachings, conduct ceremonies and functions, and help its members to establish and deepen their faith.
RULES AND REGS
1. President Akiya’s words from the Nationwide General Prefecture Chief’s Meeting (March 2002), regarding revisions of the Soka Gakkai’s bylaws.
Yesterday, at the council meeting of the Soka Gakkai, a decision was made to revise the Soka Gakkai’s bylaws, and that those revisions will take effect on April 1, 2002. As we enter the 21st century, opening the curtain to the century of peace and the century of life, the Soka Gakkai is now embarking on its second set of “seven bells.” Under the guidance and leadership of SGI President Ikeda, Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism has now spread to 180 countries and territories around the world. The worldwide spread of the Daishonin’s teachings -- global kosen-rufu -- has gotten under way with the Daishonin’s Buddhism developing as a genuine world religion. This fact makes it abundantly clear that at this significant time the Soka Gakkai is the only religious body that has been practicing Buddhism in exact accord with the Daishonin’s teachings and has been carrying out the Buddha’s intention and will. What has enabled this unprecedented global spread of the Daishonin’s Buddhism to develop? It has been none other than the spirit of oneness of mentor and disciple shared among and carried on consistently by the first president, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the second president, Josei Toda, and the third President, Daisaku Ikeda, as well as their practice based upon the spirit to spread the Law even at the cost of their lives (shishin guho) toward the realization of kosen-rufu.
At this crucial time, as we usher in a new era, these revisions have been enacted with a vision to perceive the future of kosen-rufu spanning the ten thousand years of the Latter Day of the Law. The intent was to create bylaws that are appropriate to establishing an unshakable foundation for the Soka Gakkai, a foundation that will last into the distant future.
The bylaws as they have existed until this revision were established in April 1979, at a time when we still maintained our relationship with the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. Since then, partial revisions were enacted from time to time in response to various circumstances. However, sections remained within the bylaws that continued to bind us to Nichiren Shoshu. On this occasion, those sections have been completely amended. The key revisions can be described as follows:
First, the newly amended bylaws make clear that the Soka Gakkai is an independent religion. In other words, it is the Soka Gakkai that has been carrying on the correct lineage of Mahayana Buddhism that began with Shakyamuni, and is directly connected to Nichiren Daishonin in a spirit that accords with the Buddha’s will and intention. A preamble stating to this effect, and summarizing the Soka Gakkai’s position and role, has been added to the bylaws.
Second, the new revisions make clear that the Soka Gakkai must inherit the spirit and practice of its three founding presidents as its eternal guideline. This itself constitutes the Gakkai spirit. The revisions provide a system or structure to be instituted to ensure that the spirit of the three presidents will be preserved and passed on strictly and correctly within the Soka Gakkai.
Third, in order to develop and provide for the social mission of the Soka Gakkai, as well its contributions to the international community, the roles of the future division, education department, international division, as well as that of the Soka Gakkai International have been clearly established in the bylaws.
2. Concerning chapter one of the general rules or bylaws
These bylaws were established in order to express the basic teachings and objectives of the Soka Gakkai.
Article I remains unchanged, and states that in the rest of this document the word “this body” shall refer to the Soka Gakkai.
Article II clearly sets forth the Soka Gakkai’s doctrine. In the previous version of the bylaws, this article read: “Based on the doctrines of Nichiren Shoshu, [the Soka Gakkai] shall view Nichiren Daishonin as the true Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, take as our basis the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of true Buddhism inscribed on the 12th day of the 10th month of the second year of koan (October 12, 1279), which is enshrined at the head temple, Taisekiji, of Nichiren Shoshu.” This has been changed to read, “Article II: This body shall respect Nichiren Daishonin as the true Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, shall accept and believe in the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws, which was bestowed upon all humankind, shall make the Gosho, writings of Nichiren Daishonin, our foundation, and will take as our great vow the realization of kosen-rufu of Jambudvipa, or the spreading the Daishonin’s teachings to all humankind, which was the Daishonin’s will.” The Daishonin is the true Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, we accept and believe in the Dai-Gohonzon of the three Great secret laws, we make the Gosho our foundation, and aim to accomplish kosen-rufu as our goal---this is the Soka Gakkai’s doctrine. Moreover, it is clear that this represents the doctrinal basis, the most fundamental principles, of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.
Article III has been newly established: “Article III: First president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, second president Josei Toda, and third president Daisaku Ikeda -- the first three presidents -- are people who embodied the spirit to propagate the Law even at the cost of their lives toward the realization of kosen-rufu, and they shall serve as eternal leaders of this body.” Therefore, we shall respect these three presidents as our eternal teachers or mentors in our struggle to achieve kosen-rufu. The foundation of the Soka Gakkai for the next ten thousand years has thus been clearly set forth in the bylaws.
Article IV regards the goal or objective of the Soka Gakkai. The previous bylaws in this regard read, “To protect Nichiren Shoshu from without.” This has been deleted and revised to read, “Basing itself on the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin.” What I have just explained above represents the most central or core part of the bylaw revisions.
Speech on the revision of the Soka Gakkai by laws by study department chief Saito
Article II of the recently revised bylaws addresses the doctrine of the Soka Gakkai. It states that the Soka Gakkai “shall respect Nichiren Daishonin as the true Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, shall accept and believe in the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws, which was bestowed upon all humankind, shall make the Gosho, or writings of Nichiren Daishonin, our foundation, and will take as our great vow the realization of the kosen-rufu of Jambudvipa, or the spreading the Daishonin’s teachings to all humankind, which was his will.”
This article summarizes in four essential points the doctrine of the Soka Gakkai. It expresses the Gakkai’s essential faith that is directly connected to Nichiren Daishonin, which it has maintained since its founding. Regarding the first point, respecting Nichiren Daishonin as the true Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, in the Gosho Nichiren Daishonin states, “If Nichiren’s compassion is truly great and encompassing, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will spread for ten thousand years and more, for all eternity, for it has the beneficial power to open the blind eyes of every living being in the country of Japan, and it blocks off the road that leads to the hell of incessant suffering” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 736).
Thus, in order to save on a fundamental level the people of the Latter Day of the Law, the age when it is said that “quarrels and disputes prevail, and the pure Law is obscured and lost,” Nichiren Daishonin revealed and propagated Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the core and essence of the Lotus Sutra and the fundamental principle or law of life itself. The foundation of the faith of the Soka Gakkai is to revere Nichiren Daishonin as the true Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law who embodies the three virtues of parent, teacher and sovereign to all people of this age.
Next, the phrase “accept and believe in the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws, which was bestowed upon all humankind” addresses the essential principle of faith in the Dai-Gohonzon, which the Soka Gakkai has consistently maintained. During the Atsuhara persecution, ordinary believers demonstrated their spirit to persevere in their faith even when their lives were threatened. In response to this, Nichiren Daishonin inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon, which was the purpose of his advent in this world, on the twelfth day of the tenth month, 1279.
Replying to the spirit of the people, who had aroused genuine strong faith in seeking peace and happiness, and in order to save from suffering all the people of the ten thousand years of the Latter Day of the Law, the Daishonin manifested as the purpose of his advent the Dai-Gohonzon, in which he embodied his great vow to realize kosen-rufu and establish a Buddha land. Therefore, the faith of the Soka Gakkai lies in arousing a great desire or great vow for kosen-rufu exactly in accord with the Daishonin’s heart; it is the strong faith to advance and practice for the salvation of ordinary people. The Gohonzon, which is one with the very life of the Daishonin, reveals itself only in strong faith that finds expression in a persevering struggle for kosen-rufu, which aims to defeat and destroy devilish functions. This is referred to as the object of devotion of kanjin, the object of devotion for observing the mind. “To accept and believe in the Dai-Gohonzon” indicates none other than the strong faith of the Soka Gakkai.
In the second article, the phrase “bestowed upon all humankind” (jp. Ichienbudai soyo -- lit. bestowed upon Jambudvipa) addresses the Daishonin’s heart to save all people of Jambudvipa -- indicating the entire world -- throughout the ten thousand years of the Latter Day of the Law, which he embodied in the Dai-Gohonzon, and this is the real fundamental principle underlying the Dai-Gohonzon.
Nichiren Daishonin states, “Showing profound compassion for those unable to comprehend the gem of the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life, the Buddha wrapped it within the five characters [of Myoho-renge-kyo], with which he then adorned the necks of the ignorant people of the latter age” (WND, p. 376).
Based on the bunshin santai, or emanations of the Buddha’s body, to embrace Gohonzon that are transcriptions of the Dai-Gohonzon of the second year of koan
(1279) with correct faith is to embrace the Dai-Gohonzon. Bunshin santai, or “emanations of the Buddha’s body” is a principle based on the Lotus Sutra and the Sutra of Immeasurable Meanings. It refers to how the Buddha, in order to save living beings, dispersed emanations of his body among various lands and taught, through those emanations, the same teaching in those lands. The people in those lands where the Buddha’s emanations appeared were all able, through the power of their faith, to receive precisely the same benefit. [Since the Gohonzon is a manifestation of the Daishonin’s Buddhahood] when we pray with faith to the Gohonzon enshrined in each of our homes, this itself is embracing the Dai-Gohonzon. Nichiren Shoshu’s contention that one must visit some specific place in order to attain Buddhahood is found nowhere in the Daishonin’s teachings and does not accord with his intent. In the Gosho it says that “the place where one upholds the Lotus Sutra is itself the place of practice; it is not to be found by leaving this place and going elsewhere” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 781). And, “Therefore, wherever we dwell and practice the single vehicle, that place will be the Capital of Eternally Tranquil Light. [And, without having to take a step, those who are our disciples and lay supporters can view Eagle Peak in India and day and night will go to and from the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light that has existed for all time. What a truly inexpressible joy it is!]” (WND, p. 313).
Next, regarding the Three Great Secret Laws, Nichiren Daishonin, in order to save the people of the Latter Day of the Law, embodied the eternal law of beginningless time (kuon-ganjo), the Mystic Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that he himself practiced, in the form that corresponds to the three kinds of Buddhist learning---precepts, meditation, and wisdom. These he called the Three Great Secret Laws: the object of devotion of the essential teaching (meditation), the high sanctuary (Jpn kaidan---lit. precepts platform) of the essential teaching (precepts), and the daimoku, or invocation, of the essential teaching (wisdom). Through his exposition of the Three Great Secret Laws, the people of the Latter Day of the Law became able to believe in and practice the Mystic Law. The ultimate expression of the Three Great Secret Laws is the Gohonzon, the correct, powerful teaching of the Latter Day of the Law that is open to all people.
The Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon in order to save all people from suffering. When the people believe in or embrace the Gohonzon with faith, taking it as the correct teaching of the Latter Day of the Law revealed by the Daishonin, they can well forth the world of Buddhahood within their lives -- a life condition exactly equal to that of the Daishonin. The Gosho states, “Believe in this Gohonzon, the supreme object of devotion in all of Jambudvipa. Be sure to strengthen your faith, and receive the protection of Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions” (WND, p. 386). “I, Nichiren, have inscribed my life in sumi in, so believe in the Gohonzon with your whole heart. The Buddha’s will is the Lotus Sutra, but the soul of Nichiren is nothing other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (WND, p. 412). As these passages suggest, faith based upon the Gohonzon is the way of faith revealed and taught by the Daishonin himself. The Soka Gakkai has persevered since its founding in carrying out faith based upon the Gohonzon exactly as the Daishonin taught.
The third point I want to make is regarding making the Gosho, Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, our foundation.
This provision clearly records that it is the Gakkai’s tradition to base ourselves on the Gosho. The Daishonin’s writings are an expression of the true Buddha’s teachings covering both the aspect of doctrine or principles, and the aspect of practice. The Soka Gakkai will persevere with the Gosho -- the work that we may accurately call the “great scripture of the Latter Day of the Law” -- as its eternal standard.
The fourth point regards the great vow or desire for the wide propagation, or kosen-rufu, of the Daishonin’s teachings throughout the entire world. This was the Daishonin’s will and intent. This article clearly specifies that the great desire to accomplish kosen-rufu is the essence of the Gakkai spirit. The Daishonin taught that the heritage of the ultimate law of life and death, or the lifeblood of faith in his teachings, exists only in the network of believers who possess this great desire for kosen-rufu and persevere toward achieving it in the united spirit of many in body, one in mind.
He also taught that the path to Buddhahood exists only in a Buddhist practice aimed at widely spreading the teachings, a practice directed at kosen-rufu. This is the practice of transmitting the Mystic Law gradually from one person to two, from three people to ten, and so on to millions or billions of people. This great vow to achieve kosen-rufu accords with the essential spirit of the legitimate or orthodox body of believers that is dedicated to transmitting the teachings of Buddhism to the world.
JUNE 7, 2002 • WORLD TRIBUNE PAGE 3
Navigation Points for Our Eternal Journey
BY GREG MARTIN
SGI-USA Vice General Director
‘In many ways, our understanding of Nichiren Buddhism and the SGI’s mission has grown significantly in the last decade. Reading the revised Soka Gakkai bylaws, I was pleased by their clear statement of the foundational principles upon which our faith, practice and organization are based.
On April 1, the Soka Gakkai revised its bylaws for the first time since 1979 to better reflect our ongoing development as a global religion and our separation from the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. The preamble and first articles (see below) make explicit our heritage, core beliefs, basic spirit and primary goal.
I find the changes both refreshing and comforting. In many ways, our understanding of Nichiren Buddhism and the SGI’s mission has grown significantly in the last decade. Reading this document, I was pleased by its clear statement of the foundational principles upon which our faith, practice and organization are based — not so much new as newly understood.
The revisions confirm the religious identity of the Soka Gakkai as the body of believers with a direct connection to Nichiren Daishonin, dedicated to accomplishing his will and mandate to carry on the heritage of true Mahayana Buddhism, which extends back to Shakyamuni Buddha’s Lotus Sutra. Quite simply, we firmly believe that we are the only body existing today that can be considered true votaries of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law, true Mahayana Buddhists and true disciples of the Daishonin.
The revisions confirm that the essence of faith and practice in the Soka Gakkai is “faith directly connected to the Daishonin.” There are several components of this “directly connected” faith. We believe in the Daishonin as the true Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law who embodies the three virtues of parent, teacher and sovereign. We base ourselves on the writings of the Daishonin, believing them to be the great scripture of the Latter Day, and base our practice on their teachings as the eternal standard of the Soka Gakkai.
We embrace with faith the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws bestowed upon the entire world. The Daishonin inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon in response to the Atsuhara farmers’ unrelenting faith in the face of governmental persecution, embodying his great vow for kosen-rufu. The faith of the Soka Gakkai lies in arousing a great desire or great vow for kosen-rufu in accord with the Daishonin’s spirit.
The true meaning of the Gohonzon’s inscription becomes manifest only in one’s strong faith to wage a tenacious struggle for the people’s happiness and defeating devilish functions seeking to obstruct that path. Practicing with this spirit is to “embrace with faith.”
The Dai-Gohonzon was bestowed upon the entire world and embodies the Daishonin’s compassionate spirit to lead all people to happiness. Based on the concept of emanations of the Buddha’s body [the principle of the Buddha projecting emanations of his or her body to various lands and teaching the Law leading the people there to enlightenment], to “embrace with faith” the Gohonzon that is a transcription of the Dai-Gohonzon is to embrace the Dai-Gohonzon itself.
We strive to realize as our ultimate goal the worldwide propagation of Nichiren Buddhism, thus fulfilling his mandate for creating a peaceful world. This is the great vow for kosen-rufu that is the heart of the Soka Gakkai spirit. We are convinced that the heritage of the ultimate Law flows only within the body of believers whose members possess this great wish for kosen-rufu and are united by the faith of many in body, one in mind. This great wish for kosen-rufu is the heart and soul of the correct body of practitioners dedicated to correctly transmitting Buddhism.
We cherish the three successive presidents who, because of their undeniable actual proof in upholding and spreading the Mystic Law, shall be considered as perpetual examples of practicing Nichiren Buddhism with the spirit of selfless dedication. They will always be — within the history of the Soka Gakkai that they founded, built and developed — models and teachers of faith and practice.
That is the gist of it. On the surface perhaps, not so exciting or new. But at the same time, I think, timely and significant in laying out the foundational principles upon which faith and practice within the SGI are based. As we continue on the centuries-long voyage to kosen-rufu, it is important, I believe, to confirm the primary spirit and goal of our movement to guide us during our journey.