Two trends stand out in today’s world: An emerging globalism on the one hand, and, on the other, a fracturing into intense, identity-bound factions.
Religion – or the way we look at ourselves and the universe around us – is at the root of much of all this turmoil.
Religion, which should be providing a spiritual foundation for the unity of all of humankind, is, instead, in today’s world, many times the root cause of much of the disunity and hatred and war we see around us.
Some major existing religions – Christianity, Islam, Judaism – have cordoned us off into opposing tribal camps.
The problem is identity. These religions are not providing an identity large enough and all-compassing enough to embrace the entire human family.
As we move into the 21st century, a new global civilization is being born, and this civilization cannot come into full fruition without a corresponding global religion as its spiritual foundation.
This new religion is even now coming into being.
It is a religion in which we recognize ourselves in others – recognizing in ourselves and others the same profound potential of life – a vision reaching beyond all boundaries of enthicity, race, gender, nationalities, sexuality, and even religion itself. It is to get beyond all dogmas, all superficial distinctions.
This religion is growing all around us, worldwide. It is emerging from among Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists. It is a going beyond all the old tribal definitions and distinctions.
But it is a religion that still needs to come into actual being – not theory, not abstractions, but in a way that is actualized by the common human heart.
The Buddhism of the SGI, or Soka Gakkai International, is a religion now taking the lead in bringing this new civilization onto the world stage.
- Daisaku Ikeda (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many have never heard of the SGI. Its lay organization now encompasses 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories all around the world. The SGI’s President, Daisaku Ikeda, has been honored with more honorary doctorates and degrees from universities and colleges worldwide- over 320 – than any other person in history, for his efforts towards peace, culture and education.
I could go on, but let me present an assessment of the SGI and Daisaku Ikeda from a third party source.
In 1998, the great Krygyzistan writer and U.N. ambassador from his country, Chingiz T. Aitmatov, a close friend of former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, gave the following assessment of the SGI in a speech.
- Chingiz Aitmatov, Kyrgyz writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“Humanism is an extremely important word. Until now there have been systems of thought that served to bring people together in unity within a given ethnic group. But the kind of unity whereby people open their hearts to all others and forge bonds of trust based on friendship is a completely new spirit of unity that has never before been seen.
“Such unity cannot be realized without a supreme philosophy. This philosophy must be spread by an outstanding individual who is a product of the age. Through my long association with President Ikeda, I have come to believe that he is the very person who is promoting just such a philosophy.
“If I were asked to describe what kind of age the twentieth century has been. I think I would have to say it has been a century of war and frightening brutality. Some might characterize it as the age of the rise and fall of communism. Others might describe it as the age of mass culture born in the West. In other words, a great many would likely describe the twentieth century as having been the age of Westernization.
“I would distinguish the Soka Gakkai movement as an undertaking that has transcended all of that, that has gone beyond the ideologies and politics of the past century. The Soka Gakkai emerged during the twentieth century, and it has advanced and dveloped while overcoming all manner of ordeals and obstacles. It is because of this continuous effort that we have been able to learn of a fresh perspective on the world. Let us all have great pride in this.
“Globalization is proceeding as the overall trend of the times. This is true in economics as well as in the areas of technology and communications. But it is my belief that unless this is accompanied by a spiritual globalization, humankind will perish.
“Lastly, I would like to share my thoughts on the Soka Gakkai itself. In addition to enjoying utter freedom, the members of the Soka Gakkai believe in and strive to realize the ideals upheld by the organization. Ordinarily, religious doctrine tends to restrict in some way the individual’s inner realm. But the Soka Gakkai has no such limitation. While each member is free as a unique individual, all are brought together by a common philosophy. Never before have I seen such a wonderful phenomenon.”
James Hilgendorf’s latest book is “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age“. He is the author of six other books: “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity“; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective“; “The Great New Emerging Civilization“; “The New Superpower“; “A New Myth for America“; and “The Buddha and the Dream of America“. All of his books are available through bookstores, and online in paperback or in e-book format at Amazon.com.
Visit his website.