Okay, so certainly there is a difference and I am aware of it, but do SGI people know the difference? What does it mean exactly when they talk about a low life condition? What does that mean?
I think that "a low life condition" is a very general term, like "feel bad." If you feel "bad," you might feel any number of things --- tired, weak, nauseated, in physical pain, tense, guilty, sad, regretful, or afraid. A low life condition simply means that a person is feeling or acting "bad" -- angry, sad, clinically depressed, destructive, irritable, weepy, frustrated, discouraged, apathetic, lovelorn -- basically anything the person saying it wants it to. And if the person saying "You have a low life condition," is an SGI member --- they probably mean "And you need to chant more, do more SGI activities, and get guidance for your low life condition." I think if an SGI member says that you have a low life condition, they're probably trying to manipulate you into being more into SGI.
I was shocked to find that many SGI members advised against taking medication for conditions like clinical depression and anxiety. Certainly, there's the notion that if you do enough chanting, you should be able to fix anything, but there is less prejudice against taking medication for other reasons -- statins for high cholesterol, antibiotics for infection, etc. This is not limited to SGI, however. A Catholic friend of mine -- an educated professional woman -- surprised me when she criticized a relative of hers for taking antidepressants. "If she trusted in Christ, she wouldn't despair!" this woman exclaimed.
I said, "Oh, and you take Simvastatin for your cholesterol! Why don't you just ask God to lower your cholesterol!?" This kind of thinking irritates me! We're not living in the damn 1400's, where people thought you could get a fever because a witch put a spell on you because they had no way of knowing otherwise!
As for chanting....people chanted daimoku 600 years before there even was an SGI. SGI does not own the daimoku or Nichiren Buddhism; you can certainly chant and not be an SGI member. If chanting adds to your life, then chant...if it doesn't add to your life, don't chant and don't worry about it.
As Anticult said, many different religions chant. Buddhists chant, Hindus chant. Christians have their Kyrie Eleison, Gregorian chants, and saying the Rosary, (or any other prayer, or combination of prayers) is also chanting. The repetition of phrases and words regulates breathing and brain waves -- which can feel very calming. Chanting anything can also distract you from thoughts that may be upsetting you -- and if you believe that chanting works, you will interpret anything that happens as proof that the chanting works.
When I was a child, "troll"or "wishnik" dolls were popular -- those ugly little plastic dolls with colorful hair. My friends and I believed that this doll, and especially, stroking the troll doll's hair and making a wish, brought good luck. And we'd talk like that -- this one stroked her troll's hair and she got served the biggest brownie at lunch. That one petted her troll and then went out and scored a home run in kickball! I rubbed mine's hair and found a quarter on the sidewalk. We didn't think that people who don't have troll dolls also find change on the sidewalk, get a bigger piece of dessert, or score home runs in kickball.
We were kids, but I think it's human nature to have a bit of superstition, to think that if two things happen together, one must cause the other. Adults just come up with more sophisticated rationalizations....and create organizations that do so.
I quit SGI almost five years ago, after having been a member for years. At a certain time, I was a very loyal member who worked hard for the organization and tried to shakabuku friends and family. I began to question things like the Nichiren Shoshu/SGI split and the Ikeda worship -- and my leaders and fellow members could never give me any acceptable answers.
For awhile, I did gongyo and daimoku, but I have not done that for months -- and I feel fine. My life has its ups and downs, as everyone's does, but basically, life's pretty good. While I was in SGI, I started thinking that my life would go to hell in a handbasket if I quit SGI, and especially if I quit chanting. Not true at all. I have a friend who is still a member, and when I see what she goes through --- running herself ragged for SGI, feeling guilty because she isn't doing enough or chanting enough -- I just say, "Thank God I'm not doing that anymore!"