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Yes I have been there done that...SGI
Posted by: Tushita ()
Date: July 26, 2013 04:33AM

I am so glad that I came across this forum while I was reading your comment I could feel my true feelings being resonated about the entire practice of chanting and being an active SGI member for so long that I had lost track of my self. I would like to share my story and brainstorm why a reasonably sensible person like me fell pray to all their gibberish.

I belong to India, born in a very tolerant and liberal Brahmin family. We were allowed to practice any faith we wanted to and do whatever that pleased us till it did not harm us. My childhood was not tarnished by any excruciating sufferings and more or less I had a pretty normal and happy life… till I joined SGI.

Here I would quote my certain understanding about Hinduism not because I now favor it more but because I got answers to what I was searching for and truly it is quite a coincidence that I happen to be one too. And like all major world religion it too can be dogmatic and regressive if you follow the endless rituals but luckily for me and my family we had been ok on focusing on God rather than ways to reach him. Plus I have had a Christian education and have strongly believed in Jesus all my life and again without focusing on the methods to appease him but just loving him for his loving presence.

I joined SGI because my neighbor introduced it to me and I open mindedly entered it. I had no as such long list of unfulfilled desires that would compel me to seek answers and solutions. I was just a happy go lucky 20 year old taking life a day at a time.
I come from the place where Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment which is just a 2 hour drive from where I was born. However I encountered the practice in New Delhi.

The first thing that surprised me about the practice was that before I could decide whether to join or not senior members came to my house made me fill the form and formally got me in the group. They told me that you can chant for anything and everything and that is how all the sufferings started pouring in. I don’t know when I stopped believing in logic and started believing in the powers of prayers.( I still believe in the power of prayers but not on chanting for hours and definitely not on NMRK).

Before every major event in my life I would chant about it and be overly sure that it would come to me and if it did not I chanted even more believing it to be an attack from the devil of the 6th heaven (as they say) or I also bought their story that if it has not happened the way I wanted it to happen its probably a “PROTECTION” that I am getting . I became so sold out on the concept of protection that I started shuddering at a life without the Gohonzon’s protection.

I religiously committed my self to the 3 pillars of faith, practice and study compromising leisure for it. I barely had time to do things I liked doing like reading books other than SGI(because I was made guilty of not studying enough of their books), watching movie and meeting friends had become luxury for me and I conveniently denied myself such small pleasures believing that the mission of my life is Kosen rufu and come what may I must commit whole heartedly to this cause to relieve myself from the suffering of birth and death.

To be honest before practicing this philosophy I had no qualms about suffering because as a person I have been very open and truly enjoy living shamelessly no matter what. The whole philosophy disoriented me unnecessarily and turned me into quite a sad person.

The seed of doubt had always prevail because non of my material wishes were fulfilled I was not even close to them and I mindlessly endured thinking that “winter always turns into spring” and I would reap great benefits. They sold me the concept of conspicuous and inconspicuous benefits stating that at the moment I am receiving hidden benefits soon I will see their manifestation. I use to come back from these guidance meeting even more determined raising standards of my practice even higher and internally I would be extremely emotional and touchy. (when in actuality I am quite a stubborn mule I don’t cry easily) but the whole process had made me so emotionally unstable that everytime I use to watch SGI videos or see children perform I use to cry buckets of happy tears.

However last year became the turning point in my faith. My mother was very unwell and I had to go for a home visit. I took care of young children between the age group of 10 to 13 and this particular child had cancelled our previous attempts to meet her N number of times and I had to grab on this particular opportunity and I did not wanted to cancel my appointment with her. There was no one else at home so I left my mother who was under treatment for liver cirrhosis and was down with 103f fever alone and lock the door as I went. (Yes that was the kind of commitment I had even till date I feel so horrible about it).

But that meeting really made me think is this really worth the trouble. You work up your whole routine to fit into SGI demands, endless meetings and co ordinations and what not and truly for what really ? When I have to keep only my “STEADFAST” practice and put everything else behind. Ofcourse if you go to a leader with this question they would reprimand you and say it’s the family that comes first and you must do all that you can to love and protect them. But I want to then question how the hell are we suppose to fulfill our endless duties in the organization? O wait they will give You an answer quoting endless examples about how Sensei with ill health and practically no fortune fostered such a big spiritual empire and then you would think how lousy I am and how worthless my life is if I don’t “STRIVE” in faith.

Nevertheless the turning point came when I decided to leave a pathetic job which I had taken thinking that probably this is Gohonzon’s wish and it is a place for me to “CREATE VALUE” and improve my “KARMA” and went for a 3 months residential Yoga training in a very popular Ashram. All the members instead of encouraging me seemed quite unhappy at my decision and tried to argue that it was uncalled for, I went in spite of it.
The Ashram experience was a true eye opener for me because I experienced living with a Guru for the first time. Though I loved the ashram and enjoyed my stay I realized that these spiritual leaders might say something and do completely opposite of it. How much do I truly know about my mentor whom I have never met and his writings reach me in a very filtered manner. I have decided to dedicate my being to someone I don’t know in reality.
Also in the Ashram I realized that in India (I have no idea about other religion but in Hinduism) truly spiritually evolved souls (not shams) invariable die through a process called “Samadhi” (read about it if you want to know more) but if simply said it’s the process by which they leave their bodies but none die succumbing to critical illness so how come Nichiren Daishon, Makiguchi, Toda have all succumbed to their illnesses and to top it all Sensei continue to battle poor health till date. What sorts of spiritually evolved people they themselves are to relieve us from the sufferings of birth and death.
I also read about why Buddhism died in India, its because people realized its limitations and turned back to Hinduism. That actually made me think in the other directions that actually in reality I have not gained anything of crucial importance in my life through this practice I was still struggling with the basics.
What nailed me was that after I returned from the Ashram my fortune truly changed. While in practice my financial karma had become so bad that I remember I was left with just 2 pairs of trousers and after a meeting on one of the Sundays I realized that my only pair of jeans was torn. That day I felt so helpless because I was very tied down financially and even with the new months salary coming in because of prior commitments I would have practically nothing left to buy new clothes I felt so helpless that I started crying.

Can you imagine a women of 28 years with a decent family and all the family support, could have experienced this in faith. Where was the PROTECTION. Ofcourse it was through my father who always readily pitch in to assist me financially and he doesn’t believe in any outward expression of appeasing the Gods. Somehow he seems to have all the ‘PROTECTION” without the practice and the Gohonzon.

Anyways after I returned from the Ashram to my utter surprise my father transferred a huge sum of money in my account and since then even though I have not joined work there has been no issues with money plus I have a substantial amount in saving. Its been more than an year now.
Not only that I have been struggling with acne practically all my life but in the last 3 years the situation had become uncontrollably and surprisingly there was no medical cause for it all my tests came as negative.Yet my face use to be full of big horrible acne and nothing worked no amount of chanting helped me. Since the time I came back from the ashram the conditions has improved drastically even though I have not practiced Yoga since I have come back and continue to be heavier than what I was before and I smoke.(By it I don’t mean to say that if you pray you can treat yourself as badly as I do but truly aren’t we all trying to be better persons with better health I am still trying…)

What broke my heart was that it was my elder sisters wedding and I had prayed to have a clear face atleast till the ceremonies but to my horror the day before the marriage I had 3 very big (the size of peas) acne right on my cheeks and no amount of makeup could hide it. Only a woman can understand my trauma how low and self conscious I must have felt. How come the acnes are under control now when my lifestyle is just the same a little worse infact. When I had prayed about it I had not prayed to become like Angelina Jolie all I had prayed was to be given a few days off yet it didn’t happen.

Also all the problems that we experienced in her marriage in terms of arrangement and all where the ones against which I had asked for protection yet they were all there. Howcome?

The icing on the cake was I was made to believe that probably a greater karmic retribution was entail for me in the form of some gross illness and because of chanting it has manifested as just acne. Wow lucky me.

The third and most tormenting struggle of my life had been to overcome a relationship karma I experienced with a friend who too was a SGI member. He was gay and we had a very fun and unadulterated relationship. However overtime like in many other things in life issues cropped up and we went our separate ways.

But the trouble was I could not forget him. He continued to live in my memories which became stronger with each passing day. Subconsciously I knew very well that he had behavioral issues according to my standards of friendship and I would be better off without a friend than to have someone l doubt. No matter how much I chanted to forget and forgive him I could not do it. I completely gave myself to practice thinking that it would alleviate my sufferings and I would get all the answers one day.

Nothing close to it happened and I suffered 4 long years questioning each day. However since I came back from the Ashram I completely forgot about all this crap. I accepted it all as a phase of life and was good while it lasted that’s it and happily moved on. Now how this happened without chanting about it.

By all this I don’t mean to say that Buddhism is not good and Hinduism works better and blah blah. Though I am a hindu by birth before the ashram I had never ever done any ritualistic prayer in my entire life neither did anyone in my house. We did not know a single mantra to save our life yet I could feel the difference and actual proof.

SGI had kept me at such a tight rope that other than NMKY I had truly stopped believing in anything else. Lighting a lamp in front of our family altar was also a task I use to do half heartedly believing that its chanting to the Gohonzon thats most important. Ofcourse they will completely deny such things and say that I decided it not them but seriously how many spiritual and religious practice can you humanely keep up with in a day.
However why the Ashram was an eye opener in the true sense was not because of the benefits I got but the way things worked there that made me think.

This particular ashram is quite popular and has branches all over the world. I was at the headquarters. They run a program for “Sanyas training” a form of spiritual training to evolve as a person by renouncing certain things in life. I was shocked to see foreigners from all over the world there leaving behind career, families responsibilities etc etc.

It’s a 3 year course during which you have to maintain no contact from the world outside the ashram and completely give yourself to Karm Yoga. These foreigners had willingly given all they had to be in the ashram with their Guru working 13-14 hours in a day, eating simple food and living austere lives, happily tolerating Indian harsh summers and the course is quite expensive not free or anything.

It made me think that unless a person takes a conscious decision (and I trust he or she is a person who is reasonably well adjusted) decide to renounce the world and take complete Sanyas, leaving all behind to live in selusion for 3 golden years of your live and then to go back to normal life, will it actually make them any better and wiser human beings than you and me. What more do they want to learn hasn’t education system taught them enough and all the lessons of life is better off learnt while living that life rather then secluding yourself i.e if you truly hoping to become a sage that’s a different scenario all together.

If you ask me honestly majority of the students there seemed quite stressed and derailed in their respective lives and a lot of them had behavioral issues.

I realized people seeking excessive spiritual growth through these cults are not normal. I too was unconsciously on the path till finally by some fluke of luck I mustered the courage to question and analyze SGI and NMRK.

My questions are;

1) Mantras in reality are certain vibrations that resonates with the universe to give you certain benefit and knowledge it’s scientific to some extend. Now if Lotus Sutra is the teachings of Buddha at the end of day it’s a religious or spiritual literature that’s about it. Do we ever chant Bibble, Bibble, bibble or Quran, Quran, Quran or Ramayana, Ramaya, Ramayan then why are we chanting the title of The Lotus Sutra and have decided that this is the biggest mantra humanity know about. Explains why we have not received any conspicuous benefit out of the practice because it is not correct.

2) I have already shared how true worthies and sages die …definitely not succumbing to gross illness.

3) We have all been born to some religious group or the other whether we like it or not. In which of our other religions are we asked to chant or pray for hours at length to get the benefits . Infact in everything else in life we are told excess of anything is bad howcome not in SGI. Even in Yoga you are discouraged to practice too much but chanting is another ball game.

4) I personally believe God doesn’t have the time or inclination to constantly make us shuttle between high and low life condition. If your prayers are to be answered they will be without adhering to any cult or excessive spiritual practice and for some reason if they are not to be answered they will not be no matter how much do you pray.

5) Of lately SGI members say that 70 percent of our karma is fixed its just 30 percent of which we can change… really? and that 30 percent is surprisingly changeable only when you practice. I say to them please go get a life.

6) the reason I think why chanting does not work because slowly and steadily you start focusing on NMRK and nothing else, subconsciously blocking very other way of mystic assistance and you never even realize this and most of them still don’t

7) why are we so discouraged to have doubts , why should we not have them in the first place. When we go to a doctor for a treatment and if we do not get better shouldn’t we doubt his skills or rather we should hang around with utter faith that no matter how bad my condition is he and only he will treat me how funny is that.

I have started having immense amount of respect for my own religion now because in Hinduism there is no concept of conversion either you are born a hindu or you are not whats this whole idea about going on the road and asking people to become a member of your group.

Their excessive obsession for Gohonzon, how you should pray and what you should pray had slowly instilled in me so much fear that I have started fearing the whole process. My mindset had become that if I don’t chant I would not be able to make to my goals. I was so doubtful of the decision that I did not know where to find the answers.

Also personally I know a few horrifying stories about members who had given faith and had returned the Gohonzon which substantiates my horror. But truly where else do you hear that if you give up on practice something bad would happen. I lived in the fear for an year now till I started to search the internet. I was so blinded by their group that I had never bothered to research anything like this.

Also something very inauspicious had happened to me when I had received my Gohonzon. After My congregation ceremony which was much too hyped I dropped my Gohonzon. It just fell from my hands and honestly without exaggerating I am someone who rarely drop things or loose them. And an object of devotion is just out of question. That moment I had seriously felt that some supernatural thing had slapped my hand and I dropped it which I still find quite strange.

Neither was I very nervous that I could have been shaken and the likes. It just dropped from my hands and truly speaking for some reason I had never connected with the Gohonzon. Staring at it and chanting was quite troublesome for me plus when I use to stare hard at it in my imaginative mind I could actually see a very nasty looking creature like a witch with long nose and long legs right in the middle of it.(sorry but that how I felt I am just being honest)

I was blinded by my faith and ignored this but truly can you see the skeleton witch or its just my imagination.

After contemplating about all this for more than an year I decided to take a step back and decided to stop committing myself to SGI activities. Also in all their activities they glorify Japanese Buddhism, their folklore, their songs, their victory stories and Sensei sensei and more of Sensei. I suddenly started feeling very irritated about it. Are we making mini Japan’s in our society. If SGI is a global organization instead of talking about SGI and its victory and if we are truly hoping to manufacture world citizens why aren’t we inculcated in the youth a stronger identity of who there are and their own country. Victory in SGI is always about Sensei and Japan. Luckily I came across this site and a few other that made me realize I am not the only one.

Also I was quite a popular member in my district taking care of kids. Since I took over I was able to bring to attendance more and more children because I would like to believe that I had that kind of personality and sincerity and not because I prayed for it. Had prayers been so potent these kids would have been active since the time they or their parents became members.

I started questioning myself that am I truly doing the right thing by encouraging children to be a part of a practice where I myself feel lost. Also I became very worried for the kids who are politely being subjected to different leaders each with their own notion of right and wrong based less on logic and more on the cult knowledge.

My district wanted to promote me to further levels as YWD chief and a few other offers but I refused in spite of their innumerous efforts and encouragement. And thank God for it. Though they made me feel guilty like hell for it.

After I stopped attending meetings I would often come across members on the street asking me why they don’t see me in meeting and that they miss me terribly. (well I will like to again believe that I was well read, with good sense of humours and did score quite a lot in reaching out to people in these meetings…had a little fan following of my own heheheh…again these are qualities I was born with…SGI simply took the best advantage of it).These are the more recent members who still don’t have an iota of doubt as to what will happen and I feel very sorry for them. Their shinning eyes filled with questions makes me feel very sad for them.

You know what I have wasted enough time of my life in trying to figure out the fundamentals of this practice and I do not want to waste more years of my life criticizing them . I was thinking of forgiving them and moving on after all we are all humans trying to figure out life but what angers me is that I had not gone on their doorstep asking to be guided, they themselves had barged into my life telling me what to do or what not to do, should I really forgive their callousness or should I join the battle to break their pseudo realism so that at least someone else is saved.
I have so much venom against them that it really surprises me as a person because other than terrorist groups I am quite tolerant to people and their views yet I cannot stand this cult movement.

SGI though has saved me from further catastrophe because it was my faith in the practice that had stopped me from becoming a disciple of a yoga guru in the ashram and thank God for it because history would have repeated itself and I would have been once again caught between the devil and the blue sea. I never ever want to be a part of any group what so ever.

And what makes me most happy is that in spite of my sincere efforts I in my 8 years of practice have not been not able to shaka buku even one person. I have been saved by higher souls from bringing negative karma in my life in the literal sense.

As a person I still feel guilty of sharing such negative feeling about the organization. Because I did have good experiences as well. Meeting new people, engaging in activities that improved my Interpersonal skills, the deadlines, the fun times etc however on a larger picture it seems quite small for the amount of deception it caused in my life.

I want to share an Indian folklore. Once upon a time there lived a great sage outside the house of a prostitute. Every time a client would visit her, this sage would pick a pebble from the street and put it outside her house. Slowly and steadily the number of pebbles increased to almost resemble a very small hill lock. An inquisitive passer by asked the sage why he does that and what it means.

The sage very proudly said that this mass of pebbles denotes the amount of negative karma that the prostitute had accumulated by engaging is such heinous profession.

When both the sage and the prostitute dies after coming off age the sage was quite horrified to find that the filthy prostitute was assigned heaven while he a pious man was assigned hell. Angrily he approaches God and wants an answer to this injustice.

The God simply states that the woman was doing a job that was assigned to her as her karma but the sage instead of doing his own work was more interesting in judging and belittling her and therefore he deserves to go to hell not the filthy prostitute.

The moral my friend is that live a worthy life given to you in a positive manner that you deem is necessary. Learn all good things, by all means and from all sources. But never let these become the sole guidance. Nothing in this world is non transient . Truth till date remains very subjective and those who call it absolute are the biggest shams be vary of them.

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Re: Yes I have been there done that...SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: July 26, 2013 07:04AM

Wow, Tushita - thank you so much for the time and care you put into telling your story . . . it's very powerful.

Along with looking for a solution for what seemed to be a spiritual disconnectedness, one of the things that really attracted me to sgi was that they said that their mission was world peace. Who doesn't want that? As a former hippie (or wilted flower-child, as I like to call myself), this was hugely attractive. If I could solve all of my personal problems and achieve world peace, that seemed like quite a good deal!

"Confirmation bias" has been discussed pretty extensively on this mb; that's the phenomenon that occurs when you see what you're being programmed to see. A simple analogy might be what happens when you buy a new car; you may have seen a few of the same model on the road before you bought it, but once you're behind the wheel you start seeing them everywhere! It isn't that there are any more of them on the road, it's just that you're more conditioned to notice them now. The same thing happens when you start chanting; you're told that your life will change for the better once you do. All of a sudden, you start being more conscious of the good things that are happening for you . . . they would've happened anyway, but suddenly they're more obvious, and you begin attributing them to your practice. Something negative happens, and a leader tells you that you're either flushing out your karma or you aren't practicing hard enough. No matter what happens, a leader will tie it to your practice and, before you know it, you're doing the same thing.

And chanting most definitely sets up vibrations and puts you into a state of at least semi-trance, making you much more receptive for the baloney to follow, whether you're at krg or in a meeting. This is no accident on the part of the organization. By chanting, we put ourselves in a state of being ready to accept so very much of the rubbish - whether it was to contribute, practice harder (to further condition ourselves) or to pledge allegiance to the United States of Senseless. Once again, no accident, everything carefully worked out by the puppet-masters. We were being exposed to post-hypnotic suggestion at every single meeting or event we attended. And the magical sansho at the end of the meeting ended the trance.

I have a hard time being angry with the leaders - they were even more deeply programmed than we were, and I honestly believe that they acted based on at least 95% good intentions. At what level in the organization it transforms from good intent to good business I'm not sure.

The best answer to most of your questions, I think, is that this is the way the org wants us to think. If we buy into their entire realm of ridiculousness, we won't ask questions that they don't have sensible answers to. Shakyamuni Buddha himself encouraged his followers to question and not just blindly believe; that is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of how divergent sgi is from true Buddhism. And, with all due respect to Nichiren practitioners on this board, he himself was a bit of a whack-job, exhorting the Japanese government to behead those that disagreed with him.

Your last paragraph says it all, and I think that's why we're here on this earth. Namaste, Tushita.

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Re: Yes I have been there done that...SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: July 26, 2013 12:24PM

Wow, Tushita - that was a terrific "experience"!! HAHA - cultspeak FTW!!!

I think I could comment (in the positive) on every paragraph, but that would be too long and everybody already knows what I think anyhow. So I'll just congratulate you on your solid sense of self, your good judgment, and your sensible concern for others. That "little Japans" section really hit home - it's not like they're concerned with fitting into the local culture, but, rather, causing people to become little Japanese clones! No wonder their movement is fizzling!

Although, you know, white people in the USA being obsessed with Japan is a (rather accurate, at least in my case) stereotype independent of any religion...

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Re: Yes I have been there done that...SGI
Posted by: Tushita ()
Date: July 26, 2013 06:18PM

Dear Meh thank you for the car analogy. It really sums up the whole ideology. I so wish I could have found you guys a few years back I could have used those precious years of my youth being more focused on life. Everyone else I know is much better off than me now. And I have to run twice hard to catch up with the rest of the world.

I believe that as we grow of course life throws greater challenges and there are tough decisions to make. May be these failures in my life had meant to be this way. My anger towards NMRK is not that I didn't get any benefits but that had I not concentrated so much on these benefits I would have taken life with a pinch of salt and not feel so disheartened.

But the good news is that after coming across you guys and after liberating myself from the fears of misfortune that would affect me if I leave this practice I am well on the road to recovery with a greater sense of personal responsibility and common sense.

And I have not felt this light in years Thank you.

Dear TaitenAndProud you can't even imagine how much debt of gratitude I hold for you. You are God sent for me Thank you. Also I would still love to see your para by para comment on my experience ;).

Also my experience in order to make it an easier read needs some formatting in terms of paragraph spacing which I over looked . Is there anything that can be done about it, I will be very grateful if its possible.

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Re: Yes I have been there done that...SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: July 26, 2013 09:33PM

Tushita, you did just fine . . . your message was loud and clear, and that's what's important. And maybe you shouldn't think of those years as a waste - they brought you to the level of awareness that you have now. I wrote in another post that it's important we learn to forgive ourselves; we were human beings looking for something to guide us to being better ones. We can't beat ourselves up for making decisions that seemed right at the time. Years ago, someone told me that no one makes a bad decision on purpose - we make the best ones we can, based on the information we have at that moment. How can we possibly do better than that? You said yourself that not so very long ago, you would've viewed many of the postings here as slandering the mystic law. Me too! There's an old saying (I'm not exactly sure where it comes from) that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Hang tough, as we say here. The process of pulling away from sgi (or any other cult) can be difficult in many, many ways. Once I started forgiving myself, it became easier. Life will have its highs and lows, but it's only the normal cycle of life and has nothing to do with whether you're practicing or not. If you take a moment to look at the lives of others, you'll see that they go through good stuff and bad - regardless of whether they practice or not. It can go back to the old confirmation-bias thing again - once you start seeing negative events through the lens of being punished for leaving the org, those bad things are the only thing you'll notice.

There is life after sgi, and it belongs to you . . . every accomplishment will be your own (and you don't have to thank the mystic law) and, if something doesn't go very well, you don't have to blame yourself for not chanting enough - it's just life. You move on.

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Re: Yes I have been there done that...SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: July 27, 2013 01:23AM


My anger towards NMRK is not that I didn't get any benefits but that had I not concentrated so much on these benefits I would have taken life with a pinch of salt and not feel so disheartened.

Likewise. An introduction to Buddhism from a REAL Buddhist site, when I ran across it, struck me like a bell:

Most people have heard of nirvana. It has become equated with a sort of eastern version of heaven. Actually, nirvana simply means cessation. It is the cessation of passion, aggression and ignorance; the cessation of the struggle to prove our existence to the world, to survive. We don't have to struggle to survive after all. We have already survived. We survive now; the struggle was just an extra complication that we added to our lives because we had lost our confidence in the way things are. We no longer need to manipulate things as they are into things as we would like them to be. []
The whole 'chant for what you want' and "Buddhism is win or lose" (HA!) really just intensified our DELUSIONS - that we need *this* outcome to "win" and must chant endless hours of NMRK and do endless activities with the SGI in order to get it, to "change poison into medicine" and bend reality to our will. That is not Buddhism!

Earthly desires are *NOT* enlightenment. Not to unenlightened common mortals it's not. That's just a way of justifying grasping attitudes and a sucking black hole of need. Delusion wins. The SGI does not teach Buddhism, though it claims to be Buddhism.

To be quite honest, it's not really their fault per se. I know, I know - bear with me. Nichiren did not understand Buddhism. Nichiren was a grasping, greedy, ego-driven, self-important little nobody with a Napoleon complex and delusions of grandeur. Anyone who follows his "teachings" is going to be taken FAR from Buddhism and enlightenment, because Nichiren did not understand Buddhism OR enlightenment. A great light-bulb moment of realization for me came when I was reading this article about Nagarjuna: [] Don't be afraid - Zen is NOT "the work of devils" just because silly superstitious Nichiren says it was. He was like one of those terribly insecure women who can't acknowledge any other woman's beauty because she feels that, in doing so, she acknowledges that she herself is ugly and inferior.

Nagarjuna (I'm sure you've at least heard the name) is one of the greatest philosophers history has ever documented. He is easily the match of any philosopher of the Western traditions, and quite possibly stands alone, head and shoulders above the rest. An Indian, he ruthlessly challenged Buddhist doctrines and concepts, wielding the reductio ad absurdum approach like a katana sword.

In the article linked above, he explores the concept of "emptiness". And what he concludes is that, in the end, one must leave *EVERYTHING* behind and cling to *NOTHING*, else one can never attain enlightenment!

Emptiness is like a medicine: some people may have to take the medicine many times before their diseases are cured, but others may take it just once and be instantly healed. Also no matter how one obtains salvation, he should know that, as with medicine, emptiness is of use to him only so long as he is ill, but not when he is well again. Once one gets enlightenment, emptiness should be discarded.

However, ultimately no truth for the Maadhyamika is "absolutely true." All truths are essentially pragmatic in character and eventually have to be abandoned. Whether they are true is based on whether they can make one clinging or non-clinging. Their truth-values are their effectiveness as a means (upaaya) to salvation. The Twofold Truth is like a medicine;it is used to eliminate all extreme views and metaphysical speculations. In order to refute the annihilationist, the Buddha may say that existence is real. And for the sake of rejecting the eternalist, he may claim that existence is unreal. As long as the Buddha's teachings are able to help people to remove attachments, they can be accepted as "truths." After all extremes and attachments are banished from the mind, the so-called truths are no longer needed and hence are not "truths" any more. One should be "empty" of all truths and lean on nothing.

This means that, in the end, one must discard Buddhism in order to cling to *nothing* - as it is clinging that causes delusion and keeps one from enlightenment! The Buddha's approach was a way to teach people how to think, how to understand themselves and how they are interacting with reality, so that they will be prepared to step out independently and finish their journeys without a crutch:

“Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.”

No one can save us but ourselves.
No one can and no one may.
We ourselves must walk the path.
Buddhas clearly show the way.

This was all completely foreign and unacceptable to Nichiren's mind. He wanted crowds of followers. He wanted fame and fortune. He wanted the government to put HIM on a pedestal and *murder* the leaders of the other Buddhist sects and burn down their temples (yes, it's in his writings) so that HE would be THE ONLY ONE!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

So it comes as no surprise that Nichiren's teachings spawn an Ikeda. The seed produces a predictable crop.

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Re: Yes I have been there done that...SGI
Posted by: Tushita ()
Date: July 27, 2013 03:13AM

Wow MEh and TaitenAndProud thank you a zillion times for not only resolving my doubts but also sharing with me the true meaning of Buddhism. Also I now look forward to understand true Buddhism.Learn and research about it.

Before this I did not believe in any other form of buddhism and had consciously kept my mind blocked from any other school of Buddhism.

I remember once my dad had got me many figurine of Gautam Budh from his tour to BodhGaya along with a framed leave from the "Bodhi tree".I was flabbergasted. Thanks to SGI I thought any other way of understanding true buddhism was criminal. I had given away the idols to friends and family.

While I was at the ashram a fellow student gave me a beautiful Gold colored idol of Gautam Budh as a parting gift. I was again flabbergasted but politely accepted it because other wise it would have been very rude.

After coming back home I kept the idol in my family's Prayer room for the first time in eight years and I guess its the spirit of the true buddha that helped me question :).

But this time I will take even true buddhism with a pinch of salt ;). Also if any of my area members ask me one more time why I have stopped practicing with a very big grin I am gonna tell them "because now I believe in Buddhism" .......not in Nichiren and NMRK.

However one important answer still remains. What should I do with my Gohonzon. Should I keep it or should I return it with respect.(though I doubt I have any respect left for it). I don't want to bring upon myself excessive SGI attention or want me to be discussed in meetings and all.

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Re: Yes I have been there done that...SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: July 27, 2013 03:47AM

Although I'd read a great deal about Tibetan Buddhism before joining sgi, once I left the organization I decided to go back to the beginning and am now reading "Essential Teachings" by the Dalai Lama. He writes quite a bit about teachings by Shantideva as well as Nagarjuna. It's wonderful to go back to the lovely simplicity of true Buddhism. And Tushita, I love your proposed response to those who ask you why you stopped practicing. Eloquent, concise and truthful!

At the last discussion meeting I attended, we actually got into a discussion of Gautama Buddha - the leaders were visibly uncomfortable. There were a number of people from India in my district - although they were brought up in the Hindu tradition, apparently Buddha is taught as an historical figure in schools? I enjoyed the conversation greatly, and that may have been yet another subtle nudge towards leaving.

What you do with your gohonzon is completely up to you. It's your property . . . you can line a birdcage with it, destroy it, stick it in the back of a drawer. I'm mailing mine to the local kaikan, because I want to send a clear message that I'm done.

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Re: Yes I have been there done that...SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: July 27, 2013 04:00AM


with a very big grin I am gonna tell them "because now I believe in Buddhism" .......not in Nichiren and NMRK.
Congratulations - you *GET* it!!

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Re: Yes I have been there done that...SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: July 27, 2013 04:12AM


However one important answer still remains. What should I do with my Gohonzon. Should I keep it or should I return it with respect.(though I doubt I have any respect left for it). I don't want to bring upon myself excessive SGI attention or want me to be discussed in meetings and all.
As meh told you, it is *yours* to do with as you please. I don't know what country you are in, but in the US, there have been several court cases, all decided *AGAINST* the religious organizations, that made it clear that any member can leave without requiring any permission from the religious organization. So the SGI can't demand that you return your gohonzon. They might say, "But you signed a CONTRACT that blah blah blah." It makes no difference; once you make it clear that you are resigning, their rules no longer have any power over you. Their rules aren't secular law, and thus can't be enforced except by the agreement of the members, and, as you are no longer a member, nothing can force you to give that agreement.

I sent a formal letter of resignation because I want my and my minor children's personal information removed from SGI's records. I have not yet received the requested confirmation that it has been done, so I will be sending a followup letter soon. The text is below - it's long, so if you don't wish to waste the time, don't bother :) Under US legal precedent, from the moment they receive your written resignation, they no longer have any hold over you and they cannot attempt to bind you to their religious rules. If they excommunicate you after you resign, for example, you will be able to sue and get tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

If you wish to return your gohonzon, by all means do so. But if you do not want to have to have the face-to-face contact that would require, you might see if you can find an address to send it to. If that's too much trouble, feel free to hang it on the wall as art or do whatever you like, as meh described. Remember, it's just a xeroxed piece of paper on fancier paper with a coupla cheap wooden dowel rods and a bit of string. That's all.

Oh, and if anyone from the SGI tells you that you're morally bound to return it (or whatever), simply inform them that they are free to buy it from you - I'd say about $40 would be about right. Double whatever YOU paid for it! Now here's my letter:

SGI-USA Membership Department March 25, 2013
National Headquarters
606 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Dear SGI-USA Membership Department:

I hereby resign my membership in the SGI-USA, effective immediately, and request you to remove my name and that of my minor children permanently from your membership records. Your receipt of this letter acknowledges my notification that I no longer give my permission for SGI-USA to keep my personal information or that of my children on file at any SGI-USA location anywhere. I hereby withdraw my consent to being treated as a member and I withdraw my consent to being subject to SGI-USA rules, policies, beliefs and 'discipline' (if any). As I am no longer a member, I require that my name and those of my children be permanently and completely removed from the membership rolls of the SGI-USA.

The SGI-USA is no longer permitted to use my personal information or that of my children for any purpose or in any capacity.

I wish no further contact from representatives of your organization except to confirm that our names have been removed from your records throughout the SGI-USA organization. I expect to receive that confirmation within a reasonably short time.

My name: XXXX
My children’s names: XXXX, XXXX

I received my gohonzon in Minneapolis, MN, in August of 1987. I served as YWD group/district/chapter/headquarters leader in Minneapolis, MN.

I practiced in St. Thomas, USVI, from 1992-1995.

I exchanged my gohonzon in either Lawrence, KS, or Topeka, KS, in 1995.

I practiced in Raleigh, NC, from 1995-2001. My children received membership there as small children in 2000.

I practiced with Olive District in Vista, CA, from 2001 until I stopped attending meetings in about 2008. My last district leaders were Oliana Lutu-Topley and David Topley.

My resignation should be processed immediately, without any 'waiting periods'. I am not going to be dissuaded and I am not going to change my mind. There will be no discussion of this. This is my decision alone and the SGI-USA’s only course of action is to accept and respect my decision.

I expect this matter to be handled promptly, with respect and with full confidentiality. This is my official resignation.

After today, the only contact I want from the SGI-USA is a single letter of confirmation to let me know that I am no longer listed as a member of the SGI-USA and that the SGI-USA has removed ALL of my personal information and that of my children from its records systems. The SGI-USA is no longer permitted to use my name or my children’s names for any purpose whatsoever.

After much study, I arrived at the conclusion that what the SGI-USA is promoting is a significantly inferior deviation from the Buddha’s teachings. For example, SGI-USA members often hear about first President Makiguchi’s statement that “Buddhism is win or lose.” That Nichiren Daishonin wrote, ““Buddhism primarily concerns itself with victory or defeat, while secular authority is based on the principle of reward and punishment. For this reason, a Buddha is looked up to as the Hero of the World, while a king is called the one who rules at his will.” Second President Josei Toda said, “Society revolves around reputation. Governments concern themselves with what is right and wrong. But in Buddhism, the criteria is victory or defeat.”

Take a look at what the Buddha said, according to the Dhammapada:

"Winning gives birth to hostility. Losing, one lies down in pain. The calmed lie down with ease, having set winning and losing aside."

THIS is the correct Buddhist attitude. Everyone in the SGI-USA has it wrong, as they fail to recognize that “win or lose” is an expression of attachment, for all they acknowledge that attachments are the cause of suffering. Chanting for whatever you want or to attain a certain outcome is another expression of attachment; it is elevating the attachment to a priority. Where is the understanding that circumstances are to be accepted, that there is no need to bend reality to your will?

The SGI-USA is promoting voodoo Buddhism under a cult of authoritarianism. One of the last events that culminated in my finally giving up childish magical thinking and imagining that Nam myoho renge kyo had special power involved two gohonzons I bought off eBay. These are both old – over 100 years each – and are a different kind of gohonzon than the SGI-USA promotes as its devotional object.

[] <- (Each of these is, like, 5 feet tall!)

As you can see, they’re very beautiful, and they look wonderful on the tall wall in my vaulted stairway. The problem, apparently, was that they were from a different Nichiren sect and were, thus, technically “heretical objects.” Different leaders tried to convince me to first not buy them, and then to get rid of them.

The last leader to attempt to dictate my décor was Junko Cohenour. I asked her why I shouldn’t have these and display them if I wished, and she was unable to explain, finally declaring that I should chant until I agreed with her! Two weeks later, she collapsed and never regained consciousness. She died.

That should be the end, an unfortunate circumstance, and, of course, it’s very sad that she died so suddenly and so relatively young. What bothers me is that, if it had instead been *me* who died, she and the other leaders would have been wagging their heads and tongues, offering me up as needed as a cautionary tale about the dire calamities that await anyone who disobeys SGI-USA leaders’ orders. I’d certainly seen this happen often enough with SGI-USA leaders while I was a leader. But because she was a high-ranking leader, it apparently never occurred to anyone to suggest that perhaps she met her untimely end by presenting her own opinion as official Buddhist doctrine. Would that be a despicable thing to say? Perhaps SGI-USA leaders should think twice about exploiting others’ misfortunes to try and claim points for their opinions and for the purpose of manipulating and controlling the members.

The other issue I wish to bring to your attention is the rank hypocrisy in the SGI-USA’s rhetoric about being the “most ideal family-like organization”. From the SGI-USA’s District Leaders Handbook:

"The SGI is like a family, a living body in which each person is all-important. Although we should be well organized, the members should not be made to feel regimented or restricted."

That’s funny! Really, it is! I moved around several times while I was a member, and every time, I found that those who remained behind wanted *nothing* further to do with me. Once I was no longer around to do things for the organization and its leaders, nobody cared about anything that might happen to me. It was quite shocking, the disconnect between the organizational rhetoric and leaders/members’ behavior.

Here’s a news flash: Requiring the members to meet in small groups in somebody’s home does not make it “family-like.” When I stopped attending meetings, nobody contacted me except to invite me to a Womens Division General Meeting (how predictable). Several times I ran into members I knew well; they ignored me. Didn’t even say hello.

An intolerant organization divides the world into “us” and “them”, and severely criticizes anyone who leaves. Typically, an intolerant organization will forbid (to whatever degree and through whatever means) members from associating with apostates. This is exactly what I experienced when I left the “ideal family-like organization” of the SGI-USA. It’s quite a dysfunctional family, to tell the truth, but typical of every other intolerant religion and organization. No different from most Christian churches, truth be told.

For example, my last women’s division district leader, Oliana Lutu-Topley, used to tell everyone at the meetings, from time to time, in hushed, reverent tones, how “ohana” in her home culture (Hawaiian) means “no one is left behind.” And that was how she understood the SGI-USA’s directives about member care. Guess who never even called me once after I stopped attending meetings? That’s right, Mrs. “No one is left behind.” I guess if you aren’t showing up to make the meetings a success, you don’t count as a person. This letter, by the way, is my first official notice to the SGI-USA of my leaving. For the last five years, I have simply not been attending any SGI meetings.

Finally, the cult of Daisaku Ikeda is quite disgusting. As is the lack of financial transparency within the Gakkai. The way the SGI-USA pays for things to be named after Ikeda is appalling. What a colossal ego! That is one insecure, pathetic individual. I will leave you with a concept from the real Buddha:

"Don't blindly believe what I say. Don't believe me because others convince you of my words. Don't believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Don't rely on logic alone, nor speculation. Don't infer or be deceived by appearances."

"Do not give up your authority and follow blindly the will of others. This way will lead to only delusion."

"Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real. Discover that there are virtuous things and there are non-virtuous things. Once you have discovered for yourself give up the bad and embrace the good." – from the Kalama Sutra

Nichiren Daishonin would have done better if he’d understood the peacefulness and magnanimity, as well as the fundamental respect for everyone, of the Buddha, instead of relying on his own hateful intolerance, competitive nature, and desire for the spotlight. The SGI-USA would do better to study more of the Buddha’s teachings and less of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings. And to get rid of the cult of Ikeda entirely. His poetry is *terrible*, his photos are pedestrian and dull, his posturing and grandstanding are offensive and repellent, and the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Exhibit is a joke - more like "One of these things is not like the others!" Do you really think anyone would put Daisaku Ikeda, who has done *nothing* but amass an obscene fortune, into the same category as Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? The way Ikeda at the very minimum allows so many monuments with his name on them to be placed on display worldwide demonstrates a truly breathtaking hubris. The whole scenario is revolting. He should be embarrassed. A REAL Buddhist would not stand for it.

Also, the way Daisaku Ikeda's effectively anonymous son Hiromasa is being shoved into the spotlight tells me that this callow youth, who hasn't actually accomplished *anything* on his own, is being positioned to take over the International President-ship once Daisaku kicks the bucket. To take over what has already become a hereditary dynasty rather than what the gullible and easily deceived members think is a leadership position earned by merit. It's just gross.

Thank you for your attention. I await your confirmation of the removal of my name and my children’s names from all the SGI-USA’s organizational records. And the SGI-USA had better not have any of my husband’s personal information on file, as he never gave permission to the SGI-USA to keep his personal information on file!

Yours most sincerely,

(my name and address)

I must tell you, it felt TERRIFIC to write and send that!!! :D

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