Basics of Buddhism

(Photo above by Taryn Elliot / Unsplash)

Buddhability is an ability we all have within ourselves to change our lives. The reality is, we’re already a Buddha.

It’s only as we face obstacles, stress and our own messiness, that we forget it. This is a compassionate, real community where you are asked to believe in yourself again.

The heart of Buddhism is the conviction that we each have within the power to overcome any problem that comes our way.

Buddhability is grounded in the Lotus Sutra, which was taught by the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, or Siddhartha, as he is sometimes known. It was further developed into an accessible daily practice by 13th-Century Buddhist teacher Nichiren Daishonin.

Here are a few basic principles of this Buddhist practice.


The heart of Buddhism is the conviction that we each have within the power to overcome any problem that comes our way. This ability is called the “Buddha nature” and looks like courage, wisdom and compassion in our everyday life.

This is the message of the Lotus Sutra, which Shakyamuni taught in the last years of his life. Defying the oppressive society he lived in, he shared that all that people—without exception—equally possess this Buddha nature and are worthy of respect. For him this was not just an idea, but a definitive law of nature—just like gravity.

Fast forward to 1253, feudal Japan (think samurais). The Buddhist teacher Nichiren Daishonin discovered a powerful daily practice for the Lotus Sutra—chanting the Lotus Sutra’s title, “Myoho-renge-kyo,” together with the Sanskrit word “Nam,” which means reverence or devotion.

Just like a song can remind us of our childhood, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo reminds us of our Buddha nature. It awakens us to this law of nature that our lives are filled with courage, wisdom and compassion.

Woman with her palms pressed together with prayer beads chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

Photo by David Goodman

It is not, however, a magic formula. Chanting is instead a tool to fight against our negativity and lack of belief in ourselves. As we chant, we open our eyes to the great potential of our life and realize that we are the solution to our problems.

When we chant, we’re tapping into the Buddhability inside each of us, changing our lives and the people around us for the better. We are reminding ourselves that even in the face of challenges, we have the grit to overcome them and accept them as part of our life. And we can inspire others to do the same.

The SGI Buddhist Community

The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is a grassroots Buddhist community made up of people all around the world. The SGI believes in the Buddhability of everyone—no matter where you come from or whom you choose to love.

Group of young people in a living room sitting in a circle with one guy facing the camera and smiling with two thumbs up

Photo by Audrey Dempsey

Based on the Buddhist teaching that all people equally possess Buddhahood, SGI has no priests or monks. Rather, SGI Buddhists encourage each other as equals.

The SGI is also a network of neighborhood groups where Buddhists gather to learn about Buddhism and share their experiences of using it in their lives.

SGI-USA X Buddhability

Buddhability is a space created by the SGI-USA.  It’s a movement where you take action to grab hold of your own happiness, purpose, growth and healing and extend these things to the world. It’s not a question of if we have Buddhability, but when we choose to believe it.

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