Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 14: “Be Good Citizens!” [14.6]

14.6 Leading a Contributive Life

Referring to the thought of first Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, President Ikeda explains that the Soka Gakkai is an organization embracing a noble humanism, promoting a contributive life dedicated to happiness for ourselves and others.

President Makiguchi stressed the importance of developing into people who could live in harmonious coexistence with others instead of being driven by self-centered egotism. Brilliant educator that he was, he strove to foster “individuals with the intelligence to recognize their own shortcomings and find the strong points of others.”1 He also strove to produce “generous individuals who supplement their shortcomings with the strengths of others, while also unstintingly supplementing the shortcomings of others with their own strengths.”2

This is the essential spirit of Soka education and the key to creating a harmonious Soka family.

I hope that our members, in their respective countries and communities, will advance in just this sort of beautiful unity of “many in body, one in mind.”

Mr. Makiguchi also argued that there were three distinct levels of life: (1) a dependent life, (2) an independent life, and (3) a contributive life. 3

In a broad sense, a dependent life is one lacking any clear sense of self or purpose, allowing oneself to be controlled by circumstances.

Many religions throughout history have demanded blind faith and robbed people of their autonomy. Mr. Makiguchi utterly opposed such unthinking obedience. He believed that people should have an independent sense of self, or self-identity, and follow their chosen path—a fair description of the second level, an independent life.

He further urged that we rise to the next level, in which we have respect for others and work for their happiness and well-being instead of caring only about ourselves and growing smug and self-complacent. This is the level of a contributive life, where we make the attainment of happiness for both ourselves and others our life’s goal.

Mr. Makiguchi called on us to build a network of awakened individuals, of people who had elevated themselves from dependence to independence and, finally, contribution to others—a level where they could take action to their hearts’ content and shine their brightest.

The Soka Gakkai is a noble, humanistic organization whose members are leading just such contributive lives. Upholding the great Law of life, they are tirelessly contributing to people’s happiness, the flourishing of culture and society, and the realization of world peace.

From a speech at an SGI Pan-Pacific peace and culture conference, U.S.A., January 29, 1995.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.

  • *1Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Soka kyoikugaku taikei (The System of Value-Creating Education), in Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), vol. 5 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1982), p. 181.
  • *2Ibid.
  • *3Ibid., p. 185.