‘A Democracy of Faith’


I am a member of the international lay Nichiren Buddhist group, Soka Gakkai International (SGI), and have practiced in both South Africa (since 1989) and the UK (between 2001-3). Richard Causton (1920–1995)  was from 1974–1995 the general director of the British lay organisation, SGI-UK. I had the honour to meet him several times, received my Gohonzon (a mandala) from him in Johannesburg, and greatly admired his insight and passion.

‘A Democracy of Faith’ is a pamphlet which originally appeared as a series of six editorials published in the UK Express (the then official journal of SGI-UK) between February and August 1992. The full text is in this pdf: A democracy of faith – Richard Causton. I have reformatted and proofread it, added some notes, and publish it here again. My hope is that SGI will always remember, and work towards, Mr Causton’s dream that SGI will become ‘the most perfect and beautiful democracy the world has ever known’.

Richard Causton’s prologue to ‘A Democracy of Faith’

SGI President Ikeda (Sensei) has outlined six criteria which he considers as essential for an organisation faced with the task of propagating a world religion in the 21st century. They are:

1. Its administration must be open and democratic.

2. It must be extremely strict in maintaining the fundamental principles of faith upon which it was founded, while giving everyone the guarantee of freedom of speech.

3. All believers must be considered as equals and their opinions must be respected in the making of decisions which concern them.

4. The principal religious activity must not be the observance of ritual, but rather a belief that motivates action, based on faith, in daily life.

5. The rejection of hereditary privileges, whilst individual worth is paramount.

6. Its doctrine must be universal and its method of propagation should suit the time.

There need be little doubt that Sensei, in defining these six criteria, is determined that we, as lay people and members of SGI, should make sure that our own house is in good order and as perfectly in tune with the times as it is possible to be.

Point 4 concerns our practice of faith and its direct relationship with our actions in daily life. Point 6 refers to the various means we use to spread the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin through SGI’s movement for culture, education and peace. The remaining four criteria are concerned with the importance of basing our organisation for kosen-rufu on democratic principles.

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