Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Date: November 23, 2018 03:30PM
Hello Mark, I have been following this blog whenever I have the time. I am an ex-UK member who has done a couple of posts. Want to say something now about my own experience of how SGI treats members. I joined in 1985 after being introduced by a friend in Malaysia. I was living in Devon and members were few and far between at that time. I received Gohonzon at a Gojukai ceremony in 1987, from the priest and this was the happiest day of my life, very emotional, I was crying with happiness because I knew that in Buddhism, I had found my path. So, all seemed OK and we had Study meetings and Tozan's to chant for world peace and I never at that stage saw anything wrong, our leaders were mainly supportive and tried to answer any questions honestly, so far as I could tell. Bear in mind, that I don't think we had the internet then, and if we did, I did not have any access to it, or I might or might not have woken up a lot sooner.
In 1989, Pres. Ikeda aka Ikea, visited the newly purchased Taplow Court in Berkshire. His visit coincided with the imminent death of my father, so you can work out for yourself what my priority was. I was in London to say goodbye to Dad and went to the then Richmond Centre to chant and pray for him. That was OK, I did pray in front of the Gohonzon enshrined there, although the doors were not open. In early 1991, I left the organisation after the Priesthood Split for a couple of years. Only got to hear SGI version of events though and it was pretty virulent towards Priesthood. I can't believe even now, the rubbish we were being told. Now, in the light of all i have read, it makes perfect sense. A common feeling amongst a lot of members was it was like being the child of a divorcing couple and caught up in the slander. I left and for two years and practised the best I could on my own. I finally went back to SGI because I missed my friends in the organisation and genuinely wanted to work for Kosen Rufu. (love Cousin Rufus, BTW)
Later on, back in Devon, we had A Senior WD Leader who was Japanese (she is now deceased) but she was married to an English MD Leader. We were in this big-ish meeting and all the WD were gathered around and this leader asked us all to state why Ikea was our Mentor in life. I was the only person who said that I did not regard him as my Mentor; he had his mission, I had mine and I only followed Nichiren. She had, as we say here, a face like a slapped arse on hearing that!
I had also been asking a question about the Japanese Bathroom at Taplow Court. I was told that Japanese members had contributed money to pay for this installation. My question was: did they know they were contributing specifically for this? I personally thought it was a wicked waste of money but if people had no problem with donating their money for it, who was I to argue. My point was: Did they know? I then got shouted at in a Member's house by the same Senior Leader who asked me what business it was of mine? I was totally humiliated by her in front of other members, who were too embarrassed or intimidated to defend me. It was apparently, wrong to question anything. I think I began to change at that point. We were told we can go up to Taplow Court at any point to look at the financial accounts and I think SGI UK do their tax returns etc here, but that might be because they absolutely have to.
Fast forward a bit. All this time, I still had my original Gohonzon from NSUK and I attended a meeting which was at Chapter Level, and was told when I registered my attendance, by someone I did not even know, that Robert Samuels had brought my Nichikan Gohonzon with him to exchange. Bear in mind, I knew nothing about this;' the initial line was that a Gohonzon was a Gohonzon and if you wanted to retain your original Gohonzon, you could. Then I heard at least one member, a real IKedabot, say that the NS Gohonzon was evil.
I loved my Gohonzon, not least because of the happy memories of my Gojukai and the promises I had made. I found out that this had all been arranged, behind my back and with no reference to myself, by my Local WD Leader. When I unpicked what had happened and confronted this leader, she said she had used her wisdom! The real laugh is, this person no longer practices, that I am aware of anyway. To be fair, she was totally supportive when i had cancer in 2011. They were also very paranoid if they knew a NS Priest was visiting UK and issuing 'warnings', never worked out what they they thought the Priest would do.
Crunch time for me, was when they really started to push MDM here and that Gandhi, King, IKeda exhibition. I made NIL effort to go and see it, stopped buying Art of Living and cancelled my Direct Debit to SGI UK. Finally left last year and returned to Nichiren Shoshu. Without proselytising, I am now doing REAL Gosho study, which I love and this site supported me to leave SGI. Thank you everyone! I am going to repay my debt of gratitude by continuing to post and support others here.
LOST MY WAY