Rissho Kosei Kai

Doctrines The sects' teachings are derived from Reiyukai, which emphasised two themes; the power and importance of devotion to the Lotus Sutra (a favourite theme in Japanese Buddhism especially since the time of Nichiren) and ancestor rites. Devotion to the Lotus Sutra helps the individual, the family and the ancestors. Niwano and Naganuma split from Reiyukai because they felt that the Lotus Sutra was being used in too magical a fashion, wihtout reference to the teachings contained in it. Under Niwano's influence Rissho Kosei Kai doctrine increasingly emphasised rational study of Buddhist principles and their application to the problems of daily life. Rissho Kosei kai teaches that the noblest form of Buddhist practice is the way of the bodhisattva, one who devotes himself to attaining enlightenment not only for himself but for all sentient beings.

History Rissho Kosei Kai (translated as 'Society for the Perfection of the Nation and of the community of believers in accordance with Buddhist Principles') emerged in 1938 as a splinter group of the lay Buddhist organisation Reiyukai ('Spirit Friends Association') which interpreted Nichiren's teachings. The founders were Niwano, Nikkyo (1906-) who became the President of the society and his associate, the female spirit-medium Naganuma, Myoko (1889-1957). Niwano was an ardent student and able interpreter of the Lotus Sutra's teachings, while Naganuma was able to offer practical help from the spirit world to potential adherents of the new group. In the postwar period Rissho Kosei Kai grew to become the seond largest lay religious organisation in Japan after Soka Gakkai. Naganuma died in 1957 and the movement became modelled more closely on Niwano's conservative approach to Buddhism, playing down the relationship with the spirit world and emphasising study of the Lotus Sutra and basic Buddhist teachings as the solution to daily problems. Rissho Kosei Kai has taken an ecumenical approach to other religious bodies, adopting a leadership role in the Association of New Religious Movements in Japan and making links with unitarian and other non-Buddhist organisations worldwide.

Symbols The central focus of Rissho Kosei Kai is the Lotus Sutra itself . Also symbolic is the hoza system of counselling carried out at wherever Rissho Kosei Kai operates, in which people of both sexes meet on equal terms seated (za) in a circle to discuss issues of faith or problems of daily living in relation to Buddhist principles (ho).

Adherents Adherents were stated by the organisation to be nearly 5 million in 1972, but the number of active adherents is probably less. (Source: Hori, I (ed.) Japanese Religions, 1972)

Main Centre
 2-11-1 Wada, Suginami-ku, Tokyo, 166 Japan