Soka Gakkai International Association of Canada: It’s All About Buddhist Humanism

Humanism is the perspective that humans are the starting point for all ethical, moral and intellectual inquiry. Despite a starting point of this type, a dominant assumption about humanism in our contemporary culture(s) seems to suggest that a particular form of humanism is the only version of humanism to be explored – and that is secular humanism.

Earlier in January, we shared information regarding Humanistic Judaism and Toronto’ Oranyu Congregation. Oranyu says that you can choose both when facing the question “How Can I be both Jewish and Secular Humanist?”

Another Toronto-base organization seems to offer a similar perspective to those who may be interested in Buddhism. Soka Gakkai International Association of Canada (SGI) was founded in 1985 and currently has centres in eight cities across the country.

SGI’s website suggests that their community model has, “e no set rules that regulate the lives of SGI members, but they are encouraged to live constructive and contributive lives and to respect the laws and norms of the societies and cultures in which they live. Based on conviction in the dignity and inherent worth of all human beings, as taught in the Lotus Sutra, individuals are trusted to develop the ability to see the true nature of their thoughts, words and actions, and the wisdom to make the right choices for their lives. Practicing Buddhism naturally leads one to refrain from denigrating and destroying life and to wish to support and encourage others. The SGI Charter lays out the broad goals of the organization and its vision of contributing to a peaceful, just and sustainable world based on the principles of Nichiren Buddhism.

SGI’s religious practice model is base on the writing of Nichiren – a 13th-century Japanese Buddhist priest who formulated a practic eof chanting believe to bring a person’s life into harmony with the greater life of the universe,. This is believed to foster wisdom, courage, compassion and something called life force (at least, on the SGI website).

According to SGI, Nichiren’s version of enlightenment is the fusion of our subjective wisdom with objective reality (i.e. the real world). At SGI, Enlightenment is not a fixed point or achievement but an ongoing engagement of life’s challenges.

The peacefully-phrased position of SGI is that “At the heart of Buddhism lies the belief that each individual has limitless positive potential and the power to change his or her life for the better. Through their practice people can become more fulfilled and happier and also able to contribute more to the world. Buddhism teaches that a universal Law underlies everything in the universe, and that all life is interconnected. It also holds that we are all ultimately responsible for determining the direction of our own lives.

For those who may crave the community of a religion with a focus on various deities and dogmas, SGI offers a form of Humanism to explore.

Note that SGI publishes periodicals in both English and French.

Citations, References And Other Reading

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