Sacred gospel and the Soka Gakkai: Correlating Black liberation theology and Buddhist humanism---Implications for religious education and the alleviation of African American ethnic suffering

Zakiya N Muwwakkil, Fordham University

Abstract

This study explores black liberation theology and the Buddhist practice of the Soka Gakkai International. It analyzes how these two divergent religious traditions have appealed to African Americans seeking spiritual, personal and social liberation from suffering. Recognizing the co-extensive balance of both spiritual and humanistic approaches to faith, this study correlates these two traditions in order to present principles that are essential to any religious educational model seeking to aid in the alleviation of African American ethnic suffering. ^ There are two questions guiding this study. First, how have the faith practices of black theology and the Buddhist practice of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) addressed the issues of suffering? Second, how can the unique explicit language found in black theology, be reconciled with the self-liberating principles of the SGI? This study presents these questions as they offer guiding principles in addressing the issue of African American ethnic suffering. ^ In order to tie these traditions together, as well as highlight both their humanistic features, this study employed the humanistic frameworks of William R. Jones and Anthony B. Pinn. Their works provided both a conduit between black theology and SGI Buddhist practice as well as a critical lens in which to address the issue of ethnic suffering in a religious education setting. ^ Two primary methodologies are utilized to conduct this research. A historical approach is employed in order to survey the foundation of African American ethnic suffering of and the theological approaches that were subsequently developed to address this issue, as well as to present the establishment of the Soka Gakkai International and its ideology of suffering. This study is also grounded in a humanistic research approach which focuses on the need for positive scholarly, spiritual, and psychological change within the African American community. ^ In correlating black theology with SGI Buddhist practice, this study holds that there are four essential principles which should inform any religious educational model seeking to alleviate African American ethnic suffering. These principles are: recognizing ethnic suffering as specific, the utilization of explicit language as a method to alleviate ethnic suffering, defining the secular and spiritual as correlative in the cessation of suffering, and education on racism. ^

Subject Area

African American Studies|Black Studies|Philosophy|Theology|Education, Religious|Spirituality

Recommended Citation

Zakiya N Muwwakkil, "Sacred gospel and the Soka Gakkai: Correlating Black liberation theology and Buddhist humanism---Implications for religious education and the alleviation of African American ethnic suffering" (January 1, 2010). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3411004.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3411004

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