Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: April 11, 2012 07:27AM

Some more posts to comment on:

A can of coke and a pen and pencil set does not alleviate the pain of 14 hours on one's feet for a "mentor" who has luxury digs. We were taught to be so appreciative of those tokens. President Ikeda probably has a sense of failure when it comes to the U.S, because few of us really bought into that hype for long. Japan and the asian countries are better at herding people for kosen rufu :)

I remember being given soft drinks after a huge campaign, compliments of The Dear Leader Ikeda and being told to appreciate it like it was personalized and canned for each of us individually by the man himself. Ironically, the best thing that I remember was a McDonald's meal (from Mr. Williams) for the ymd after "fighting" for a particularly difficult activity over one weekend. That was only a one time thing. Otherwise, it was always lukewarm soft drinks and cheap sgi trinkets.

You are correct, the herd mentality works better in Japan, it's practically second nature for many over there. In fact, some people prefer it that way (to be herded, unthinkingly, around).

At any rate, this loaded word, "training" meant that you were to put up with any abuse leaders threw at you. It was a carte blanche for anyone to throw any crap your way. And when they did, you were congratulated for changing your karma! Oh, and reminded of how often Toda would scold Ikeda, so it was all good well within the definition of "training". If you were a youth division, and in the fast track, this "training" would definitely pull up the adrenaline any time you stepped in to any meeting. As a "trained" youth division, it was your responsibility to keep an eye out for anything "wrong at the meeting". For instance, if people were scattered about the room, a "trained" youth would be expected to herd them up closer to the central figure. A "trained" youth could be expected to jump in and give a bright an cheery explanation
or experience if the meeting was aparently heading south. A "trained youth" would make a beeline for the guest after the meeting. A "trained" youth could forget all logic, and think only of manipulating the outcome of a meeting to meet the targeted goals; and that did include, at least in the past, doing street shakubuku, bringing complete strangers into people's homes. Many times these people were homeless, or plain crazier that we were!

"Training" was a euphemism for "abuse" during my time in the yd. The more whacked out the "leader", the more severe the mistreatment. There were a A LOT of power hungry "leaders" in my time. It would become more intense at critical moments so as to impress a higher up in the ladder. These were the worst and most dangerous times to make a mistake, because a mistake by anyone would automatically default back to your immediate "leader" and open them up to the same.

Case in point:

This is how the adrenaline was brought up time and time again, and how we were manipulated in to doing things that defied logic. Once at a large meeting, not a national one, just one in a high school auditorium, I was standing in the side aisle, before everything had started. I saw the top YWD leader heading toward me, down the aisle. This leader, I trusted and really liked. I saw no reason to jump out of the way, move slightly when she reached me, yes, but nothing more than that. However, when she reached me, she poked me really hard in the ribs, hard enough for me to cry out, and jump out of her way. The look on her face was really angry like, "why the hell are you in the way!" I looked behind her and several top MD national leaders were in tow. If she were in her right mind, she would have tapped me on the shoulder, and said, "excuse me", but she was in an altered state, a state that would allow her to inflict pain on another to accomplish the targeted goal; getting these "Big shots" on stage. In her mind, I am sure she saw the justification, that I needed more "training" to realize that she was heading down the aisle with these important leaders, and I needed to jump out of the way!

"Leaders" commonly transmogrified into something even more hideous under times of pressure. It never happened to me, but I saw people shoved, pushed, grabbed, aggressively pulled around, etc.. The pressure in such times caused many of the "leaders" to act irrationally, disrespectfully and in some cases, dangerously toward the members below them. There was also a lot of insecurity between the various "leaders" as each wanted to outdo the other in terms of performance/perfection. There would even be jealousy later on if other "leaders" out performed them, which would would make for an even rougher time come the next campaign. Hence, the more and more skewed psychotic behavior, with nothing but commands, orders, yelling, intolerance of the smallest subjectively perceived "mistakes" and pervasive abuses. I remember one particular ymd "leader" whom I mentioned before, Ethan Gelbaum. He was always yelling at people, getting in their faces and acting crazy (the ymd even made a secret song about him, his antics and yelling). Mind you, he's currently a "vice gen. director", too. He had beady little eyes that widened to show the whites whenever he was high on an adrenaline frenzy, which made him look even crazier. He had a hoarse voice, too, which made his yelling, ironically, hilarious to hear. (Btw, he's also not the sharpest crayon in the box, either.)

I lived thru it as well and can relate 100% to what you are saying.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/11/2012 07:50AM by Hitch.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Nichijew ()
Date: April 11, 2012 11:49AM

Animality. When times were tough, with few members attending the YMD meetings, the leaders were often congenial, like the comportment of alpha males in a small pack of dogs in which every member of the pack was necessary in order to successfully hunt and who didn't have to worry about getting their share of the kill. But when many people were participating, the alpha male leaders became instinctually aggressive, as if the lower members of the pack were hindering the hunt and competing for the kill.


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/11/2012 11:59AM by Nichijew.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: April 12, 2012 06:08AM

A very interesting post I just came across from "TheVoid."

Other things i found wrong were those people who insisted that 'they' were Soka Gakkai, Soka Gakkai is my life! I think this is another Cult trait making you think you are the organisation, so if you are it, how can it be wrong, because you are it!
there was this one guy, a total failure, except in SGI where he was YMD division leader in our area (what a fake way of making you think you have achieved something). This guy has Ikeda fan dance next to Butsudan and an enrolment letter to get into Soka university in front of Gohonzon. He didn't have a job, was depressed and didn't see he was not achieving much in life.
He chanted for ages to that letter so he would get a scholarship, did he get it? did he f-ck!

You just described about every ymd leader that I encountered and knew from my time in the cult.

He once claimed that you would not miss a bus when you believed in SGI chanting. funny thing was I agreed to go to Kosen Rufu chanting sessions that they held on sundays, so i agree to meet this chap, as he knew the house we were going to, but we had to get a bus to get there. So this guy said he would sort out the bus times and we would go from his. guess what? No the bus wasn't late at all, he in fact took us to the bus stop where it transpired that even though he had 'sorted the bus timetable', the truth is the bus never came it was a sunday and the bus didn't travel that day, and with all his Buddhist wisdom, he couldn't even read the time table correctly.

You've just summed up, perfectly, the intelligence level of the same group. Every ymd "leader" that I remember, and mean every single one, was also a scatter brain.

So he panicked and he had to ring for a lift from one of the other Soka-bots, they came to pick us up, not too pleased. We all chanted, I ate biscuits and drank coffee, then they asked if i wanted to stay to see one of Ikedas video's coz he's so f-ing great. I didn't want to so i left, always had an excuse to leave, because even though these people claim to be your friends they don't know shit about you, apart from that personal stuff that gets brought up in meetings, and what ammunition that is for them, when trying to keep you in the cult.

Keep on Keeping on people!

As I got older, I also "invented" more and more excuses to get the hell out of Dodge. I just couldn't stomach the dynamics that were always going on. I learned very early on not to reveal too much to other members and it always made me laugh when I would get home "v'ed" by someone who never really paid much attention to you before, but was now pretending (very badly) to be your "best buddy" in the whole world. It was all so blatantly transparent, disgusting and insulting.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: April 12, 2012 06:17AM

Nichijew, this is my first time seeing this post by you:

Dear All"

First, welcome Void. I see you posted a couple of comments on my blog. I need all the help I can get, if you know what I mean and your comments are quite welcome there too.

I was a District Chief and my wife was a Group Chief. One day my ten year old son and me opened a large storage closet that we had never opened before and a literal avalanche of liquor, wine, and beer bottles and cans, thousands of them came raining down us . My wife was drinking 2 fifths of Vodka a day and twelve to twenty four budweisers a day plus. It took us three hours to clean out the closet and place all the bottles and cans in large black trash bags. Subsequently, my wife also was found to have hepatitis C and cirrhosis. The doctor gave my wife 1 year if she didn't stop drinking and five years if she did, because she already had cirrhosis. All the while I chanted every day for my wife and she never lost her faith in Namu Myoho renge kyo. However, of course, I told her to get guidance with Ms. Kasahara, the top New York Women's Division leader. The first thing I asked Ms. Kasahara, was the guidance session to be held in the strictest confidence? She said, "of course, it is the way of the Gakkai to never disclose anything about the member's private life". I was satisfied and brought my wife to talk to her. The guidance was pure canned SGI Ikeda rah, rah, you can do it following Sensei and the Soka Gakkai and doing more and more Soka Gakkai activities. Of course, within a week, everyone from the Woman's Division District Leader to the Mens Division Territory Leader knew everything about my wife and me. We felt utterly betrayed but since we believed, SGI was the only Lotus Sutra based sect, we continued to do SGI activities. That was twenty years ago and to make a long story short, she continued to drink until we left SGI for good and she hasn't had one drink in thirteen of the last fourteen years, since we joined a real Buddhist group. Never once did she become jaundiced although one day, about three years after leaving the Soka Gakkai she relapsed. Her blood sugar went down to 9 and we rushed her to the hospital. The doctors said, sorry Dr. Rogow, no one has ever recovered from a blood sugar of 9. After two amps of sugar, she awoke. I didn't have insurance at the time and she was in the hospital for ten days, three of them in the ICU. The bill was thirty thousand dollars that I didn't have. I chanted for the money to pay off my debt. Every day we got calls from the hospital billers. Then one day the calls stopped. The hospital suddenly shut their doors, every last department, including the billing department disbanded. To conclude my wife is in excellent health, and alcohol free. There is no doubt in my mind, had we remained in the Soka Gakkai she would be dead.

I'm glad that everything worked out for you and your wife in the end. I think I also understand, now, a little more about where you are coming from. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that exact same line being uttered by a Japanese WD. Whenever I hear it, it's like a huge RED FLAG and warning to run, don't say a word and get the hell away from them. They're the same, everywhere, too.

PS - Is your blog "fraughtwithperil"?

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: April 12, 2012 07:16AM

On the topic of "leaders" (especially ymd leaders) -

So, I'm being driven to my first meeting in over a year and a member we picked up is complaining that her son, who was supposed to MC, wasn't coming. The other member, a leader of some district or area or something, says "Oh, well....I'll have to talk to him." in a very authoritative voice. It honestly creeped me out, and then the woman was starting to complain more and he just said "Oh I'll talk to him." I looked at him and then just kept my mouth shut, while I was thinking inside "that's really neither of your business"

That's honestly a typical leaders' attitude, pure arrogance that they have the power, wisdom and "ichinen" to change, fix and solve the situation. These were my favorite kind of "leaders" to deal with during my defiance stage. I remember one in particular who started to treat me like sh** later because he couldn't "change the situation" and I wasn't buying what he was so earnestly shoveling out. So, in my experience, they either slink away and quickly erase the failure from their memory or hold a grudge and start to act psycho towards you because you challenged their perceived self-power.

Oh yeah, I have lots of similar rusted-gold memories like these from my time in, too.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/12/2012 07:17AM by Hitch.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Nammy ()
Date: April 13, 2012 01:52AM

Sorry, I haven't been on in awhile. I was in for about a decade. I almost went back because I missed the chanting. After two meeting, I know I can never go back. Yet again people were going on about mentor and disciple. They were also trying to tell me the right way to practice. Are all members like this? No. There are some wonderful people in the SGI, but I just practice on my own now. I am also studying the teachings of Thich Naht Hanh. I still would not call the SGI a cult, but I know that I am too much of a free thinker for them. When I joined I knew that I had issues with organized religion, but I thought because it was a "lay" organization it would be different. It is not. To me, it is not any different than the Catholic church. Chanting helps me function better in my life. The funny thing is the more I chant the more I know that the SGI is not for me. Their solution to everything is to chant more. Well, I did that and it lead me away from them. LOL.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Nammy ()
Date: April 13, 2012 02:01AM

I agree. There are other alternatives out there including practicing on one's own if need be.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 13, 2012 11:06PM

In groups with an idealized leader and a huge, huge membership, a very importan t binding factor that keeps people in, and makes it so very difficult to leave is intense merger and bonding one has with ones group-mates.

You feel as though you share one soul, one body.

And the ache of absence from all that makes it lonely to leave and so tempting to return.

There is an article that describes exactly how this works and I recommend all of you, especially those who ache and yearn for the group to get and read it. You may have to go to a medical school or city library and see if the librarian can run off a copy for you. It will be worth it.

You are not feeling this longing because you are weak. You are feeling this way because you are HUMAN and were massaged and manipulated in some very classic and identifiable ways.

Our glory and our danger is that we are social creatures.



A self psychological approach to the cult phenomenon

Clinical Social Work Journal. Vol. 20, No. 4, Winter 1992.
Doni P. Whitsett, Ph.D.

"It is important to note here that people do not seek out cults." Whitsett writes. We are going through life transitions. We are feeling shaky and looking for social support and self support.

""Cushman has eloquently shown how the cult (in guise of offering normal human support) first induces "pathology" and then purports to cure it. Through various indoctrination techniques particularly an assault on the cultural frame of recruits, which includes their values, belief system, codes of behavior, and language, the cult induces a narcissistic crisis (psychologese for a wounding assault on the victim's core sense of self)

Here is what happens with leaders and YMDs.

The self, thus besieged, fragments and looks for selfobjects (something/someone to hang onto so as to regroup and stablize We do this from year ONE when as tiny kids, we wake from a nightmare and cry out for our parents. Or run to the nearest parent when spooked by a scary situation. This is deep in who we are as human beings, no matter how intelligent and well educated we later become. Cults exploit this very thing. This is as instinctive as when someone who is drowning gasps for air and clings to the nearest rope)

"The charismatic leader and group step in and offer the warmth and reassurance, self confidence, and definitive answers necessary to soothe and cohese the fragmenting self (of the marked recruit). Yet, after the transferance is seductively developed, fragmentation (lets call it freakout or self doubt/self crisis-Corboy) occurs once again as the result of a cult induced narcissistic injury.

The entire cycle is repeated again, with cult leaders and other members calming the victim. Thus a cyclic process of vulnerability is established, whereby members search and find soothing followed by repeated injury.
p 366

Now..lets look at how you become bound with your group mates.

Recruits are "often people who have felt different as children, alien in some way. Or are just lonely due to being in a strange place, leaving home, bereaved, etc.

"The cult is often the first experience recruits have of "feeling like other people..these are people who feel a sense of differentness yet, like everyone else yearn for a sense of sameness. '(I'd say tie to humanity, kinship, brotherhood, sisterhood, a sense of 'tribe' or 'family'--corboy)

"While certain factors make people vulnerable to entering cults, other factors help keep them there. The development of a strong twinship transferance (that sense of finding one's "soul mate/s or one's "other half" -- Corboy) is one major contributing factor in maintaining people in restrictive groups. While the mirror and idealizing transferance explain, to a large degree, teh strong ties to the leader, the twinship transferance contributes a great deal to understanding the strong (one could call them 'magical- corboy) ties to the group.

"It particularly explains attachments in those cults where members have minimal direct contact with the idealized leader.

"The twinship transferance underlies the often expressed sentiment among former cult members that only other people who have come out of cults can truly understand their experience, a feeling akin to being "war buddies."

Whitsett, page 368

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 13, 2012 11:31PM

When responsibly used, twinship transferance can create a productive and quite nurturing corporate culture, create great teams that do magnificent work in science, art projects, newspapers, and create great universities and when necessary orchestrate first rate civil response to social crises in which people come together in the finest ways.

Alas, we are examining where twinship transferance is fostered for purposes of exploitation.

Whitsett on how twinship transferance is fostered in high demand cults.

"Development of alter ego transferances among members is encouraged in a number of ways. Particularly significant is the cultic assault on individuality. Cult practices are such that they blur the boundaries of individual identity into an undifferentiated group mass. There is tremendous pressure to conform to group expectations in all aspects of living--dress alike, have sex as often as the others, to think in certain prescribed ways, to live a similar lifestyle....

"The manipulation of language and vocabulary is a powerful weapon against maintaining individuality. Lifton (1961) has identified a process he calls "loading the language" in which complex, abstract ideas are "compressed into brief, highly reductive definitive sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. (P 429)

"Another tecnique by which members are pressured to conform to a group standard is what Lifton termed "the demand for aboslute purity" within the "cult of confession." There is an ideal goal towards which all in the community strive. To achieve this goal, individuals are expected to expose all impure or doubtful thoughts. With the practice of confession, even the contents of ones mind becomes the property of the group, to criticize and shape as it wishes. Shaming techniques are freely utilized ot this end...

"as the twinship process develops it provides a stablising influence during periods of emotional disruption, an important function as the cult self/cult persona is kept in a chroncially unstable condition.

"Cohesion of the self is constantly being challenged through cultic techniques which make the self vulnerable to states of fragmentation and enfeeblement.

(Corboy--its bait and switch. You enter the group because it promises you a life of peace and fearlessness. When you manage to find moments of peace and fearlessness, bang, you get punished and made unsure of yourself, because if you achieved stable and PERSONAL peace and fearlessness --- you'd not need the group anymore and could leave. Its like promising to teach a baby to walk, yet when the kid learns to take steps, yanking the rug out, making the child fall, and conning the child to feel at fault. Corboy)

"Members are exposed in rapid succession to states of elation alternating with states of depression...a cult member on this cult produced roller coaster may also require a partner (fellow member) who can sustain him or her through the emotional ups and downs (produced by the cult, but attributed to the faults of the victim--Corboy)

Members often reach out to one another to provide the self object functions of mirroring and soothing which can mediate the sense of fragmentation..groups offer an endless source of self objects for their members - when one person is unavailable, there is usually someone else around to soothe and reassure. Recieving (this) from "others like oneself" provides a stablizing force which may prevent people from leaving the group."

Pages 370 to 371.

This intensity isnt present outside the group. But sadly this intensity is produced and orchestrated by the cult, precisely to keep people off kilter and less able to leave.

And the memory of the crisis bonding can inspire an aching nostalgia -- the war buddies feeling.

There is probably also the ecstacy bonding if one has shared retreats or rallies.

From what I have read of other groups, women may reassure each other. Men may browbeat and shame another man who is having doubts and thinking of leaving and may impugn his masculinity and shame him into staying for fear of being a wimp.

People who know the group and leader are bad may not want to desert their friends who remain members.

Some who leave may continue to try and socialize with friends still inside and be lured back. Some may consult therapists who remain members of the group and the therapy may be compromised, as the therapist is defending the group and the person who has left may be protecting the therapist from his or her anger at what was lost or wasted or betrayed in the group.

In very extreme cases, a person who wants to leave may find themselves spied on and prevented from leaving, and may have to flee in secret.

The group offers reassurance and may also fear and hate doubts, which threaten to bring the members own doubts to the surface - an outcome that terrifies them.

Those who leave may find themselves the hated Other - the Ones Who Have Failed, examples of Treachery.

Sometimes in the very worst cases, one may be kicked out with no warning, often after being told one has progressed. One may never get an explanation, and be shunned and avoided.

This is the very worst outcome, especially when the group was ones main source of meaning and self repair.

This may be a case of strategic rejection. What is horrible is the very persons who one thinks could give an explanation are the very ones who have thrown you out.

In tiny groups where there is little internet coverage, it is horribly difficult to find information and, literally, orientation.

One is comparatively fortunate if one gets to find a large group of others who have left. The group element of Sokka Gokkai may have contributed to creating so vigorous and articulate a group of emancipated persons.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: redrose ()
Date: April 14, 2012 03:54AM

Hello fellow posters and lurkers. I've been reading the posts for a few months and there is so much I can relate to. I joined NSA in 1975 at the ripe age of 19. I had no direction going in my life, my parents had divorced and remarried and I was the last of 4 kids out of the house. So I was easy pickings. Fast forward 37 years, I still chant, attend some activities and I'm a vice district leader. I've been a district and Chapter leader in the past but I just could not follow the company line. I remember NSA before the split with the Priest and what a wild ride that was. The only thing I really enjoyed were the study meetings - boy were those great. I too was a single parent for a long time with no child support coming in and in charge of the WT money collecting. The abuse I went through from my male district leader to pay for our monthly goal was awful. But I didn't see it as abuse at the time, I simply wanted to do my best. I feel like I was the frog in the boiling water.

I practiced in a small community which is about 2 hours from the larger culture center so we were a tight knit group. I mean we all Knew when someone had to s*%t!!! I always felt it was very dangerous to always rush down the freeway at the drop of a hat for a meeting that was "SO IMPORTANT" that I had to scramble to find a babysitter or bring the kids with. As my kids got older I started to stop doing that. Once the split happened in 1990 the activities slowed down a bit and I was able to have a life. I also felt betrayed. I stayed with SGI out of habit and because of some dear friends. I enjoy chanting - at home but I just can't stand the activities and the publications having RTE and M/D shoved at me. I moved away a couple years ago from my nice little community to a bigger area and simply can not connect with the group in my new area.

In talking with a friend of mine who still chants but has no connection with SGI, she said "after 37 years don't you think you've out grown the SGI mindset". I agree, but it's still hard. When I moved, the Region WD leader told me I had to find another WD Chapter leader and that giving up my position was not a "good cause". There is always that threat of ruin if you ever leave or drop a position. After 37 years I could go on and on about some of the nutty things that went on. I just want to enjoy my personal practice without any other aggenda. Right now the butsudan doors are closed for a bit.

I would like to hear from some fellow posters and travelers.
Redrose with the rednose

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