And why did so few leaders have anything intelligent to say? Ask them a question, and all they could do is spout the usual cliches.
Meetings, "guidance", everything, it all sounded the same after a while. I grew very weary of the same old tired predictable spiel, just being delivered by a different smiling gakkai cult "leader" face. Eventually, even the so-called "senior" salaried leaders failed to impress. I felt kind of bad, as if something were wrong with me, because I wasn't bowled over by what they were saying. Of course, if you dare utter any of this to anyone, then it would immediately be reframed as your own problem - your lack of seeking spirit, faith, or "ichinen", etc..
IMO, for many of the members that I remember, meetings were just excuses for glorified social events, nothing more. I was often practically bored to tears.
What about being dishonest to get people to go to an SGI meeting?
How does SGI coach their members, to get them to tell others its a "party" or a get-together, or it might be a dating singles get-together, or whatever?
How does SGI coach its members, to get them to convince new people to come to SGI meetings?
How does SGI rationalize the deception and outright lying that comes into this SGI recruitment process?
Shakubuku usually went something like this (warning: you might want to bang your head on the table or wall after viewing the entire clip, which is only ~6 mins. long.) -
She's lying, either intentional or out of ignorance, but she's lying.
It would usually start generic (like above) and if the prospective guest (which is what they were called) was interested, they'd just keep teasing out that same lure line until the hook caught. If they were hesitant, but receptive, they usually left with either a pamphlet or nmrk card that had somebody's name and phone number on it, with the implication that we were always here and available, your new best friends, if you ever needed us. And people would indeed later call, to the joy of the person who initially gave them the card. This was also invariably later framed as a "mystical" connection between the member and new member, as if it were destined by the stars and one's fortune to meet each other again in this lifetime, find the gohonzon and work together for Cousin Rufus.
If the generic hook didn't take, then they'd probe for some kind of discontent, problem or source of unhappiness in the prospective's life. If it were a student (university level), it might be finances, companionship, grades/studies, dreams or hopes. Want a girlfriend? Gently push the ywd forward to work her charms. Joining was the key to all of your problems. We were the friends that you always dreamed of, imagined and needed in your life. We are SO happy that we just have to share this magic, secret, happiness making machine with you!
If it were a borderline homeless or street person, then your karma and bad causes were the source of your situation. Only, and I repeat ONLY, the gohonzon could get you out of your circumstances. Just come out to a meeting, there MIGHT be some warm food, booze or cigarettes there for you, too, if it was meant to be (translation = if you are receptive and want to join).
Most normal, happy people just tossed the material into the garbage (I've seen it there and have also seen hardcore gakkai cult members later go trash can fishing to retrieve the reusable ones) or simply said, "No, thanks." They excelled at finding people who were vulnerable (had problems or were lonely) or very idealistic and naive. Say just about anything to get them into a meeting and then others (at the meeting) would take over by turning up the same pressure tactics. Once at the meeting, the guests fell into two camps: those that were still receptive (due to their new rock star status), or those who would sit there with a look on their face, like "WTF?!?" or "Holy Sh**, what have I gotten myself into?" (it was usually the chanting and gakkai songs that triggered such reactions).
Also, once at a meeting, it took a lot of self fortitude to be able to resist. Regardless, you never left without giving them your contact information (name, address, phone number, etc.) and you betcha there would eventually be more pressured follow-up, by phone and in person. Once their claws were into you, you weren't getting away unless you dropped the politeness and gave them a repeated, firm "NO."
This final point, is mere conjecture on my part, because I never joined in the more hardcore shakubuku'ing groups. It seemed to me that they only really wanted hardcore (deeply loyal, trusted and devoted brainwashed) members to be in these "select" groups. When they really
needed the guest numbers (due to higher up pressure/obligations/promises), it was these "expert" shakubuku groups that went out on their own and always came back with at least one person to save the day. IMO, I was expressly not welcome into these groups, even rudely discouraged, because I didn't fit the hardcore brainwashed, unthinking robot category. I imagine all of the manipulation that I described above, just got a whole lot darker and intense with these groups. Like I said, they always
came back with a guest. The members in these groups were always master manipulators within the cult.