Soka Gakkai International Attracts Diverse Faithful to Buddhism

October 31, 2003

Source: Tricycle

On October 31, 2003 Tricycle described " Soka Gakkai International (SGI for short), the largest, most racially and ethnically diverse Buddhist organization in America and, with twelve million members in 186 countries worldwide and a full-time representative to the United Nations, the first global Buddhist presence in history... "Chanting for a better car, a new job, even a mate, has long been the hallmark of SGI, especially at the beginning stages of practice, when new members are asked to try chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo ('Devotion to the Lotus of the Wonderful Law') for whatever they want. This is sometimes cited as a reason that SGI-USA has attracted so many African Americans (as many as 20,000 by some estimates, roughly twenty percent of its membership)—the idea that a religion offering the promise of worldly benefits is more innately attractive to minorities. But like most easy answers to complex questions, this one is essentially a kind of stereotype, the purpose of which is to avoid confronting the real reasons for SGI’s phenomenal success in attracting diversity—and conversely, the reasons virtually every other Buddhist organization in America has failed to do so. For that is the simple truth of it: Soka Gakkai has attracted real diversity among its membership, and no other American Buddhist group has."