The idea of value creation was central to the philosophy of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871–1944), first president of the Soka Gakkai; the name of the organization in fact means “society for the creation of value.” Makiguchi’s profoundly humanist outlook—focused on human happiness, responsibility and empowerment—lives on in the global Buddhist humanism of the Soka Gakkai today.
The terms value and value creation may invite confusion, especially with the idea of “values” in the sense of a moral standard. Value indicates that which is important to people, those things and conditions that enhance the experience of living. As the term is used in the Soka Gakkai, value points to the positive aspects of reality that are brought forth or generated when we creatively engage with the challenges of daily life.
Even what may seem at first sight to be an intensely negative situation can serve as an opportunity for the creation of positive value.
Even prior to his conversion to Nichiren Buddhism in 1928, Makiguchi believed that the authentic purpose of life was happiness. As his practice and study of Buddhism deepened, Makiguchi began using the expression “the life of Great Good” to indicate a way of life dedicated to the highest value: the well-being of all humankind. This may be understood as a 20th-century reformulation of the age-old Buddhist ideal of the compassionate way of the bodhisattva.
It is also important to note that, unlike some of his contemporaries, Makiguchi rejected the idea that “the sacred” could be a form of value unto itself, and he asserted that human happiness was the authentic measure of religion. As he wrote: “Other than freeing people and the world from suffering, what meaning could there be for the existence of religion in society? Isn’t freeing people from suffering the value of gain? Isn’t freeing the world from suffering the moral value of good?”
The philosophy of value creation is thus a call to action—as we are, where we are—in the cause of human happiness. It is from the effort to orient our hearts toward a sublime objective that we gain the wisdom and energy to shape reality, at each moment, in the most value-creating ways. As Daisaku Ikeda states: “The key to leading a fulfilled life, free of regrets, is to dedicate ourselves to a cause, a goal that is larger than us.”
Our lives in the world of Buddhahood are not directed by our karma but by our vow, our sense of mission. We are fundamentally free. Unawakened to this reality, or when our lives become disconnected from this vow, we lead lives of “common mortals,” governed by and subject to the vicissitudes of karma.
Courtesy October 2006 issue of the SGI Quarterly.
Source from Soka Global