The pursuit of spirituality toward membership and community participation: biographies of Soka Gakkai members in Spain
Monica Cornejo (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
Many contemporary spiritual biographies seem to be motivated by the individualist pursuit of spirituality. This is commonplace in the discourses about the "New Age" and also among members of the Soka Gakkai. Many of them represent their own practices and beliefs as a result of a personal process through several holistic disciplines, spiritual ideologies, body techniques, esoteric knowledge and so on. Nonetheless, these processes flow into the community-based experience of Buddhism, re-framing the memory of and sense of individualistic search for spirituality. Taking these biographies as a starting point, I set out to explore the thesis of Heelas and Woodhead on the opposition between "subjective-life model" and "life-as model". Special attention will be given to the tension between individualistic pursuit and community-based experience, focusing on some common elements of these biographies, such as the empowerment of the individual and the Catholic background of many of those followers of Nichiren Buddhism in Spain.
Spirituality against religion: the role of gender and power