The struggle against narrow-mindedness

In 1974 Ikeda started a wave of dialogue with non-Buddhist individuals and world thinkers.

Visiting China and the Soviet Union resulted in attacks against him and harsh criticism by the media and the priesthood, questioning his contact with “non-religious people”.

Criticism of the Soka Gakkai by the priesthood also continued with Ikeda’s dialogue with Christian, Jewish and Islamic scholars. In his book “Faith into Action”, Ikeda explains that SGI exchange of views -based on humanity and commonsense - is consistent with the spirit of Nichiren Buddhism:

Without common sense, religion develops into blind belief and fanaticism, which has no place in Buddhism. The Daishonin writes ‘Buddhism is reason. Reason will win over your lord’ . In other words, reason will win over authority”. p.243

SGI’s struggle against fanaticism culminated in early 1990s during the dispute with the Priesthood, who behaved as being a ‘special class’ of people: 

There is no such thing as a special kind of human being. To assume an elitist air is the behaviour of fanatics. We have no room for such people in the SGI”. Page 10, Faith into Action.

One of the examples of narrow-mindedness was criticising SGI members for their musical performance, in which Beethoven’s ninth symphony was played accompanied by a choir reciting Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy: 

Then, in December, as 1990 was rapidly drawing to a close, the priesthood suddenly sent the Soka Gakkai with a letter of inquiry. It contained a list of the most ridiculous charges – such as the accusation that singing Beethoven’s great hymn to universal human freedom, ‘Ode to Joy’, constitutes ‘praise for non-Buddhist teachings’”.  (



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