using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Summer 2006
buddhadharma| 69 |summer 2006 ten years ago, I ran into a fellow from my school days. He was known for being a rigorous hand- ball player, tough and uncompromis- ing. At some point in our conversation, he mentioned that he had read bits of my work on Buddhism in the West, as he was now a practicing Buddhist. This was completely unexpected. Adding to my surprise, he explained that he had joined the Soka Gakkai, chanted “Nam- Myoho-Renge-Kyo” every morning, and served as the contact person of a Soka Gakkai regional chapter. All this was out of character for the man I once knew. I also noted the change in his manner – his style of speech had softened and his body language was smoother. As we parted, I remained perplexed by these changes and by the obvious impact Soka Gakkai had made on his life. Richard Hughes Seager’s new book is a broad and well-researched guide to understanding the Soka Gakkai phenom- enon. Seager, a historian of religions at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and author of Buddhism in America (1999), traveled to Japan, Singapore, Bra- zil, and sites in the U.S. to gather infor- mation and develop a picture of the Soka Gakkai (SG), a Buddhist group that origi- nated in Japan in the 1930’s and spawned a global movement. Critics of the Soka Gakkai (SG) dis- miss it as a new religious movement embroiled in financial and political con- troversies and commanded by a mes- sianic leader. Though today it is one of the many Asian spiritualities heralded in Western countries, SG has often been viewed as quite distinct from other forms of Buddhism, and is sometimes regarded as a “foreign cult,” far removed from both traditional Western religious sen- sibilities and from forms of Buddhism emphasizing meditation. Encountering the Dharma tackles these issues of oth- erness and the allegations – founded and unfounded – against the organization, and examines the appeal and success of the SG in postwar Japan. Seager also aims to provide an informed impression of Daisaku Ikeda, the movement’s current president, leader, and teacher. Moreover, he attempts to trace the trajectories of the movement’s globalization and its adapta- tion to local settings. He achieves these aims and more. Seager uses an entertaining narra- tive tone in presenting his research. The book tells at least three interwoven sto- ries: the rapid social and national change in twentieth-century Japan; the emer- gence, explosive growth, and globaliza- tion of the SG; and the evolution of the narrator’s attitude from skeptical inter- est through doubt to appreciation. Seager successfully balances personal narratives with the descriptive and analytic elements of the book. The stories provide accounts of the modern history of Japan, starting from the 1868 Meiji Restoration; the internal changes the once-tiny movement went through; and the personal trauma the author himself faced with the recent passing away of his beloved wife. Seager skillfully gives voice to his interviewees, who range from ordinary devotees to the top-ranking members, and it is often they who tell the story and offer valuable insights. The story is arranged in eight chap- ters sandwiched between a brief preface and epilogue. It begins with Seager’s first visit to Tokyo. Longtime American SG member Rob Eppsteiner and translator Rie lead him through the puzzling new environment and arrange visits and inter- views. Seager has the privilege of meet- ing Ikeda, and he describes Ikeda’s critical stance toward Japanese nationalism and exceptionalism. Next, Seager discusses Nichiren, the uncompromising thirteenth-century critic and reformer of Japanese schools of Bud- dhism. This historical exploration pro- vides the background for understanding the centrality of the Lotus Sutra and the martin BaUmann iS co-editor of weStward dHarma: BUddHiSm Beyond aSia (UniverSity of california preSS) and profeSSor of religionS at tHe UniverSity of lUcerne, SwitZerland. tHiS review iS co-pUBliSHed witH tHe online JoUrnal of gloBal BUddHiSm (www.gloBalBUddHiSm.org). a Message of eMPowerMent enCountering the dharMa: daisaku ikeda, soka gakkai, and the globalization of Buddhist humanism By richard hughes seager university of California Press, 2006 268 pages; $19.95 (paperback) reviewed by Martin Baumann