ings of the Nichiren Buddhist sect. It is based on the legacy of a 13th century monk, Nichiren Daishonin (1222-1282), who lived in one of the stormiest periods in Japanese his tory when the country was threat ened by a Mongol invasion. Nichiren’s teachings, called the Dai-Gohozon, are regarded today by society members as the essence of true Buddhism as opposed to other “ corrupt” forms of that religion. The precepts contained in the Dai- Gohozon are directly applicable to personal conduct today. Thus the Soka Gakkai worship no idols but offer an entire way of life, or “ self- contained,” as they say. This all has tremendous relevance to the millions of Japanese who are frustrated by their society. A recent Soka Gakkai film in Tokyo movie- houses opened with scenes of rush- hour hustle and bustle all too fa miliar to Japanese: A sea of faces bobbing up and down, cars and trucks jockeying for position be tween one traffic light and the next. These are the conditions of individ ual unhappiness and frustration on which Soka Gakkai membership has rocketed in Japan—and could boom in other countries. Initiates to Soka Gakkai do not have to forsake alcohol or tobacco. The society’s leaders place great em phasis on freedom for the individual which membership allows. The dis cipline first comes to the new mem ber in the requirement that he make room in his daily life for morning and evening prayers. He also learns that he is expected to convert oth ers to Soka Gakkai’s way of life. Hiroshio Hojo, the society’s amiable director general, estimates that con versions are now running at the rate of 100,000 families a month. Be sides its 5.4 million Japanese family members, Soka Gakkai President Ikeda says the organization has 50,- 000 members outside Japan and that about 12,000 pilgrims from Japan and the rest of the world now visit the chief Nichiren Buddhist temple at the foot of Mt. Fuji every day. Besides its religious and political activities, Soka Gakkai supports a music association in Japan, an insti tute of oriental science, foreign stu dent exchanges, and publishes sev eral periodicals in Japanese and Eng lish, which the society says provide all the money it needs for operating expenses — without relying on con tributions. Thus, in 10 years, Soka Gakkai has had phenomenal growth. Whether it will continue to flourish or peter out as other sects have is as inscrutable as the society itself.
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