Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life. It is not centred on the relationship between humanity and God. Buddhists do not believe in a personal creator God. Buddhism does not have the concept of a Saviour, nor of Heaven and Hell in the popular sense. Buddhism doesnt demand blind faith or belief, and says that people should test its teachings against personal experience.
To Buddhists, actions have consequences; so our lives are conditioned by our past actions. This is Karma. Consciousness continues after death, and finds expression in a future life.
By following the Buddhas path one escapes the cycle of craving and suffering liberation from Karma.
At the heart of Shakyamuni Buddhas teaching lie The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path which lead the Buddhist towards the path of Enlightenment.
The Buddha taught that the human tendency is to avoid the difficult truths of life and this in turn leads to suffering. Instead, Buddhism encourages human beings to transform difficulties in life through drawing on the qualities of the Buddha state inherent within them. These qualities include limitless compassion, wisdom, courage, life force and joy.
Nichiren Daishonin, who was born in Japan in 1222, gave concrete and practical expression to the Buddhist philosophy of life that Shakyamuni taught. He expressed the heart of Shakyamunis highest teaching, the Lotus Sutra, in a form that all people could practice. He defined this as the invocation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, based on the title of the Lotus Sutra.
The practice that Nichiren Daishonin taught over 700 years ago has a profound and revolutionary impact on ordinary everyday life: an impact which enables one to fully realise ones unique potential and by overcoming the negative impulses in life to develop the greatest possible value in any situation.
The practice does not offer a code of conduct or promote a particular lifestyle. Instead, faith is built through regularly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo morning and evening, learning about the philosophy and true spirit of Buddhism by studying the writings of Nichiren Daishonin and sharing experiences of Buddhism with others. In this way, it is a balanced practice for oneself and other people.
The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is a lay society of individuals practising Nichiren Daishonins Buddhism. As an active Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) working in partnership with United Nations agencies, the SGI is dedicated to cultivating peace through Buddhist practice and educational and cultural activities. The UK headquarters of SGI in the UK is Taplow Court, near Maidenhead, Berkshire.