Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: lthomas ()
Date: May 31, 2010 09:33AM

@Findingmyway I agree with Blue Lady, just mail it back to the community center where you got it from. You don't have to put your address or anything on it. Just mail it. That is exactly what I am planning on doing.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Nichijew ()
Date: May 31, 2010 01:00PM

Dear Blue Lady:


They are rather expensive but well worth it.

Martin Bradley, a Nichiren Shoshu member, has a highly erudite translation of several selected Gosho, some authentic and some considered not. Basically from the so-called orthodox perspective, Martin Bradley's commentary boils down to ornate rhetoric and meaningless talk. Yet, his translations, partisan though they may be, are useful for comparison and refutation:


Lastly, you can find some translations and a very interesting scholarly analysis of Nichiren's life and works on Dr. Jacqueline Stone's web-site. She is a professor of Japanese studies at Princeton and a former? member of the Nichiren Shoshu:


Her dissertation Some Disputed Writings in the Nichiren Corpus is a famous and interesting read.

Ruben Habito is an excellent Nichiren scholar.


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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: GwT ()
Date: May 31, 2010 01:35PM

You know, after reading many of these posts, I'm wondering a few things, and one of those things is "how much do any of you have really read the Gosho, how many of you have any real understanding of the cultural and historical context in which modern day Nichiren Buddhism is framed, how much do you know about the role of one mentor out of the three mentors, and if any of you know exactly how karma works and where is springs from?

First, let's talk about the 3 mentors and why they are important. The 3 mentors are the Law, the priesthood and the person. The first mentor, the Law of cause and effect, is to utilize the Law to YOUR greatest capacity. The only thing not making it work in people's lives is not the Law itself, it is the belief in the Law by the practitioner. Cause and effect are absolute, and governs every single phenomenon in the entire universe, right down to the quantum level. In quantum physics, for a phenomenon to exist, there has to be an intelligent being to observe it. Everything, and everyBODY, is subject to the Law, and every person on this planet is able to work with the Law to their benefit, it all depends on how they perceive things. Karma is the effects of causes, which for the individual, comprise words, actions and deeds, which all spring from the very nature of the THOUGHTS that people have. That means that the very nature of a person's thoughts determines what kind of causes they make, and also the effects, since cause and effect occur simultaneously. Therefore, to follow the Law is to understand that people make a peaceful world, as the world (and the universe itself) is the creation of infinite numbers of people thinking billions of thoughts simultaneously, and it is the responsibility of individuals to follow the Law to better control the very nature of their thoughts. Those that do chant for the happiness of others and themselves in the Saha world are following the mentor of the Law. Those that don't are contributing to the "negative balance" of Karma in the universe. That's how powerful we really are, and that's why we are all so important, as we are ALL, Buddhist or not, shaping the very reality around us for everyone around us in every waking moment in our lives with every thought. That's the "top floor" level.

The mentor of the priest is much more simple, but just as crucial. The role of the priest as mentor is due to their efforts to protect, understand, codify and explain the Law to lay believers. By following the example of the priest as mentor, lay believers strive to do the same to deepen their understanding. It also represents Nichiren and Shakyamuni. That's the "middle floor" level mentor.

The mentor of the person is for those of us as lay believers to have a "real" person to follow as a concrete "real world" example of how to actually practice this Buddhism. We are imperfect beings, all too human, and we need concrete examples to emulate. That's just how we work. Daisaku Ikeda is the current mentor of the person, because through his example, we can follow it to overcome all of the things in our life that we need to overcome. That's the "street level" mentor, in the mundane, everyday world, and in that way, every one of us that practices is a mentor equal to President Ikeda.

What exactly has he done? Starting out in post-war Japan, he followed Toda who had followed Makiguchi in following the example of Nichiren by not succumbing to the wishes of an oppressive government that wanted to stifle religious freedom and a philosophy of peace and security for the people. Nichiren was a rebel, and so were Makiguchi and Toda. They knew that the military mindset that had ruled Japan for centuries was wrong, and they both stood up to it. THAT is the start of the Soka Gakkai, the desire to fight oppression and insane policies based on control and dominance through arrogance, stupidity and greed, resulting in extreme violence.

After Toda died, he took on the dream of making people happy, and turned it into an international organization, which Nichiren foretold would be the case in the Latter Day Of The Law, where the spread of Buddhism would be worldwide in scope for the happiness of all humanity. Has that happened under Ikeda's leadership? Yes, it has.

What did he have to overcome personally to do that, and how did he do it? First, he had to assist Toda in rebuilding his publishing companies in post-war destruction. As a staff writer, Ikeda followed Toda's practice of serialization, which he employed in writing The Human Revolution in the same way that Toda did to encourage members. Next, he had to overcome tuberculosis, which doctors diagnosed would take his life before he reached the age of 30. He's 82 now. He's had to overcome a juggernaut of yellow journalism, which in Japan, makes Rash Lambaste look like the Walter Cronkite. Vicious, virulent and extremely profitable, these publications sell by the millions to a buying public that thrive on drama and scandal, even if it's totally and utterly contrived.

So, as a mentor, we can look at Ikeda's example of what can be achieved through the practice of Buddhism, as he's just another human being like the rest of us. But, he has successfully followed the first 2 mentors to bring it to the rest of us. So, in effect, Ikeda is not the only important mentor after all, he's just the one out of 3 that has a human face just like the rest of us, and we all fulfill the same function in society. We're just not as good as he is at it.

That's what he has done, but the rest of us, we mainly whine and bitch about things but still try to practice, grudgingly.

However, the existence of the function of the SGI must also be viewed through the cultural and national context in which it was conceived, and that's where I believe the perceptual disconnect happens for many Americans.

A little about me: My mother is Japanese (and not an SGI member), my father was an American serviceman, and living all over the world, I've come to understand that fundamental and crucial aspect of understanding the cultural context of others. One must see things from the perspective of its origins, and not through the prism of personal cultural mores and preconceptions.

That being said, the very language that is used is a stumbling block to understanding, as many concepts in Japanese culture get lost in translation, as the word in English has a different meaning or connotation. The words "master and disciple", in particular, has an extremely negative aura around them, as the word "master" means to many as "controller" or "one who subjugates". The correct term is MENTOR, not master. Please stop saying "master and disciple". That is incorrect. Ikeda is not our "master", he is one of 3 MENTORS. Jebus, get it right people!

In Japanese culture, history and society, the mentor and disciple relationship is deeply ingrained, and has a positive connotation, one that's more akin to "teacher and pupil". That's the true nature of the words and the concept from a Japanese perspective, and in many other Asian cultures. Anyone that's seen a Kung Fu or Samurai movie knows that, and I'm sure that many people can also see that the American organization is suffering from "culture shock".

But, that cultural and linguistic disconnect of a teaching that is thousands of years old and that has traveled from India, to Nepal and Tibet, to China and Southeast Asia, to Korea and finally to Japan, makes things incredibly difficult for us in the West to understand and equally difficult for those from the East to explain. So much of our practice is not just Buddhist, but Japanese, as they have been intertwined for centuries.

That's been my major stumbling block, even with a multicultural, multilingual and multiracial makeup, translating all of these concepts into plain old everyday English so that I can understand what it is that I'm DOING when I'm practicing. It's taken me 30 years to do so.

It's taken me all of these years to get past the laborious texts, the lectures, the negativity of people, to get right down to the nitty gritty of what this Buddhism is about. To sum it all up in a few sentences:

"Get the hell over yourself, start to believe in yourself, and chant like there's no tomorrow."

"It doesn't matter what anyone else says or does, the important thing is to believe that I can fight and be victorious another day."

"If my life sucks, CHANGE IT. BELIEVE that I can change it. KNOW that through the practice of the Law, making ever greater causes for my happiness and fortune in life, I AM contributing to a better, happier and more peaceful world. I AM creating a better life through the very nature of my thoughts."

And my favorite, stated by one of the women's division: It's time to stop the pity party and put your big girl panties on."

That last one always makes me smile and get over myself. Seriously, I can generate some major negativity, and if I let it get the best of me, life just sucks worse than a quantum singularity. Sometimes, just thinking to myself, "Dude, where's my benefit" is enough to bust me out of a funk. Other times, it takes the encouragement of pioneer members, their knowing smile, their quiet compassion. Sometimes, it's hard to understand their words, but if I get over myself and listen with my heart, I can feel what they are trying to say, and reignites my sense of appreciation for my own life and for the lives of others that have helped me.

Appreciation is the operative word. Many don't appreciate what others have done for them, and only focus on their own crud. Sometimes I get that way too, but I snap out of it eventually.

The bottom line is that cause and effect is absolute, applies to all of us, Buddhist or not, and everything in our lives is the result of the thoughts we have thought, the choices that we have made, and actions that we have taken. It's not the fault of the SGI that your life sucks, it's yours, and that's the thing that so many people can't take, including, sometimes, myself. Yeah, people do dumb things, even when they chant. Just because you practice Buddhism doesn't mean that all of a sudden, you're perfect. And, I know for a stone cold fact that I'm not.

This past week I've gone through a major trial of negativity, one so severe that Danny Nagashima is going to call me this week to let me vent. I've been so pissed off, my fundamental darkness so strong, my personal obstacles so severe that my senior leaders gave me the number to the national level to call, I talked with Jim Nobukuni, and he passed me to Danny to handle, as that's how crucial a point in my faith that I''m at.

He's going to hear about how I can't stand the constant negativity of members, the lack of passion, the lack of support and the years of trying to understand an incredibly complicated philosophy that has most of it couched in arcane language and too much metaphor with no current historical context that it makes the simplest concepts too difficult for us Americans to understand and grasp. He's going to hear that thousands of members are quitting because they can't grasp Buddhism and are not getting benefit. He's going to hear that we need a different kind of evolution in the organization, since the structure and practices that are employed now have resulted in epic fail for thousands of people. He's going to hear that the SGI-USA needs to be dynamic, vigorous, passionate and exciting and readily accessible and understandable if it stands a chance of surviving in America, where one thing we do very well is complain about anything and everything. He's going to hear that we have to be more "americentric" in the way that we conduct activities in this country, with clarification of concepts IN PLAIN ENGLISH, and not base things on an operational model that worked 50 years ago in another country and culture, one that is misconstrued, misunderstood and misinterpreted, because it's so foreign. SGI-USA really DOES have to be "Made The American Way" in order to be successful and for people to really get benefit. He's going to hear that Buddhism has ALWAYS evolved and adapted to the culture in which it was practiced in for centuries, and we DON'T have to have one universal methodology based upon Japanese culture. He's going to hear that we need more MALE voices in teleconferences and publications, and allow us men to stand up and fight to change our Karma instead of just supporting the other 3 divisions. Actually, those are all things that I personally need in order to continue on practicing, but I know that I'm not the only one that feels this way.

I'll be sure to let everyone know how he responds, and I hope that what he has to say can clarify a lot of things for you folks (and for myself). I hope that he says "be the leader to make the change", to which I'll reply "I'd love to, as our local leadership are all in their 60s and 70s. Can you please "retire" some of them so that I can chant at toso with a passionate, fighting spirit without being bogged down?"

I think that's the biggest obstacle: complacency and lack of spirit.

Time to take off the Underoos, and maybe go commando. ;-)

See? We all have something to complain about. The difference is that I'm going to practice this Buddhism to do something about it.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: May 31, 2010 08:31PM


SGI has been called a "cult" both in the United States and Japan, despite the cultural differences of the two nations.

Ikeda is seen as a totalitarian leader by both societies.

Frankly, he seems to fit the classic profile of a power-hungry "cult leader."

Many Buddhists see SGI as a fringe group that doesn't represent mainstream Buddhism.

The magical thinking inherent in SGI chanting has much in common with the so-called "Word of Faith" movement within Pentecostalism, which includes the belief that practitioners can pray for whatever they want. The leaders of this movement within Pentecostalism are often called "prosperity preachers."

The idea that people can control the world around them in this way may be an appealing message, but both Buddhists and Christians have denounced such teachings as essentially aberrational and/or heretical.

This belief can also lead to a form of victim bashing, through the insistence that circumstances are under the control of the believer and therefore when the practice doesn't net the expected results it is the believer's fault.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Rothaus ()
Date: May 31, 2010 10:59PM

@ GwT

I think hardly anyone here has something against the mentor/disciple principle. Its ancient old Buddhist tradition, but instead of telling people here between the lines that they are to stupid to grasps this as you put it “complicated” principle I would advise you to go back to the drawing board. Shove those SGI-publications aside at start looking beyond the rim of your own teacup. The mentor/disciple relationship is a extremely personal one i.e. one to one. To imply to a large number of Buddhists who their mentor is and who is not is therefore rubbish, worse than that doing so SGI implies that the teacher is above the teaching.
You mentioned that the Law, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, is the mentor. I know of quite a lot of Nichiren Buddhists who would subscribe to that – never the less I remember a “high ranking” member once saying that at a study meeting and he was trashed for that by the majority of those present.
What most are sick off is the PERSONALITY CULT taking place in SGI. And as you might have noticed there is quite a large amount of people here who like myself had been in SGI more than 20 Years. What it has become these days is hard to tell – its not about Buddhism anymore, its not about Nichiren Buddhism. For all the wealth this organisation holds due to the money given, also by those you criticise for being to thick to grasp SGI's 'greatness', SGI has not ACTIVELY contributed towards humanitarian issues, it has not ACTVIVELY ever spoken out on human rights issues. It has however ACTIVELY sought the limelight whenever possible, published books on issues where Ikeda is just recycling known ideas and concepts and this even incorrect at times. This actually something you should also look up in your 'complicated' SGI-philosophy – the term vanity or conceitedness. You may also want to look it up in other Buddhist schools – but that would be 'hobo' or not? If not just look up the three poisons ---- read the chapter about arrogance.
SGI even had the audacity to place Ikeda next to King and Gandhi who DIED for a cause that they fought for and I have yet to hear that SGI ACVITVELY supported those great mens cause while they were on the streets fighting for that cause.
One thing your message shows is that follows a great ancient Greek tradition – to silence the messenger of bad news.
You know GwT you can continue doing so … shut those up who will speak out you will have it nice and comfortable inside SGI-land everything in 'harmony', but do not be surprised that the noise form outside will eventually become louder. And you know what? Even then you won't be able to see what is going on.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Nichijew ()
Date: May 31, 2010 11:19PM

Dear Gwt;

First I am sorry for your misfortune. Next, I am joyful [more like radiant bliss] about the the SGI's misfortune. Nichiren says, misfortune comes from one's mouth and ruins one while fortune comes from one's mind to make one respectworthy. Your mind has become warped by the SGI teachings that throws out the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha and the entirety of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and for the sake of what, the three mentors and the corrupt SGI organization? It is ironic that you cite "cause and effect".

Then, taking SGI's teaching that you yourself are a Buddha, you run to another "Buddha" to help you resolve your problems. Never in the history of the universe has a Buddha received guidance from another Buddha. Either you are or you are not a Buddha. If you are a Buddha that is the end of the matter. If you are not then you had better seek guidance from the Buddha. Nichiren Daishonin writes:

"Since Sakyamuni Buddha is eternal and all other Buddhas in the universe are his manifestations, then those great bodhisattvas converted by manifested Buddhas are also disciples of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha. If the "Life Span of the Buddha" chapter had not been expounded, it would be like the sky without the sun and moon, a country without a king, mountains and rivers without gems, or a man without a soul. nevertheless, seemingly knowledgeable men of such provisional schools of Buddhism as Ch'eng-kuan of the Hua-yen, Chia-hsiang of the San-lun, Tz'u-en of the Fa-hsiang, and Kobo of the shingon tried to extoltheir own canons by stating: "The Lord of the Flower Garland Sutra represents the reward-body (hojin) of the Buddha wheras that of the Lotus Sutra the accomodative body (ojin);" or "the Buddha in the sixteenth chapter of the Lotus is an Illusion; it is the great Sun Buddha who is enlightened." clouds cover the moon and slanderers hide wise men. When people slander, ordinary yellow rocks appear to be of gold and slanderers seem to be wise. Scholars in this age of decay, blinded by slanderous words, do not see the value of a gold in the "Lifespan of the Buddha" chapter. Even among men of the Tendai school some are fooled into taking a yellow rock for gold. They should know that if Sakyamuni had not been the Eternal Buddha, there could not have been so many who received GUIDANCE from Him. " -- Kaimoku Sho p. 27 Translated by Kyotsu Hori, 1992

"Now , when the Eternal Buddha was revealed in the essential section of the Lotus Sutra, this world of endurance (Saha-world) became the Eternal Pure Land, indestructible even by the three calamities of conflagration, flooding, and strong winds, which are said to destroy the world. It transcends the four periods of cosmic change: the kalpa of construction, continuance, destruction and emptiness. Sakyamuni Buddha, the Lord-preacher of this pure land, has never died in the past, nor will He be born in the future. He exists forever throughout the past present and future. All those who receive His GUIDANCE are one with this Eternal Buddha." -- Kanjin Honzon-Sho (NOPPA) page 94

You don't have a clue as to the nature of a Buddha, the supernaturally divine and all pervasive power of the Gohonzon because the SGI Gohonzon derives from Nichikan and his warped "theology". The equally warped mind of Ikeda chose for you this man's Gohonzon because he knew it would foster co-dependency. It is time for you to wake up, take a step back, really study the teachings and readjust your faith, basing it on the Lotus Sutra and the authentic writings of Nichiren Daishonin. All the Daimoku in the world, even with one hundred million eons of effort, will not help you in the least if you don't perceive the true nature of your life [and the SGI]. We can help with the latter.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/31/2010 11:29PM by Nichijew.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Rothaus ()
Date: June 01, 2010 12:02AM

GwT I was not getting at you personally -- I believe your message is sincere ... I just feel that some in SGI do not know how much pain they are causing and got a bit carried away as I actually wanted to respond to you. sorry for that.

One thing though from a European perspective - I do not think that SGI needs to be American neither does it have to be European. It has to be what in its core already is as most Buddhist schols actually are - Univeral. Universal in the sense that it is about humans ... explaining what our lives mean in the context of the Universe.
The cultural backpack fromm their respective homeland is what many Buddhist traditions suffer from in the west. SGI has to overcome its absoluteness.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/01/2010 12:26AM by Rothaus.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: quiet one ()
Date: June 01, 2010 03:29AM

In Japanese culture, history and society, the mentor and disciple relationship is deeply ingrained, and has a positive connotation, one that's more akin to "teacher and pupil". That's the true nature of the words and the concept from a Japanese perspective, and in many other Asian cultures.

SGI made a mistake, then, in choosing these words. "Mentor-disciple" is very offensive to many when used to describe how one should think about the president of SGI. The word "mentor" to most of us means a person that teaches you something and may make suggestions about your life, such as a teacher or co-worker. It is NOT someone that you have never met or never will and that you were told you had to accept or you would never attain happiness or enlightenment. The word "disciple" is very disturbing when used in this context. To me, a disciple is someone who follows a deity and worships him.

I could not buy the "mentor-disciple" relationship at all. I looked at Ikeda as the president of the organization and that's all. When I was told I had to accept him and become "one with the mentor", I was very disturbed. When I was told I had to be a disciple, again I was disturbed. When I was told that the "mentor-disciple relationship" was the only way, I knew it was time to leave.

If "mentor-disciple" just means "teacher and pupil" as GwT says, then why did SGI choose the words that they did? No, SGI does want you to think of Ikeda as a deity, not just someone to learn from.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: wakatta1 ()
Date: June 01, 2010 05:30AM


You know, after reading many of these posts, I'm wondering a few things, and one of those things is "how much do any of you have really read the Gosho, how many of you have any real understanding of the cultural and historical context in which modern day Nichiren Buddhism is framed, how much do you know about the role of one mentor out of the three mentors, and if any of you know exactly how karma works and where is springs from?

With that lead-in, you're going to have an interesting career on these pages my friend. Please don't underestimate the grit of those silently lurking here, you may learn more about buddhism that you might expect.

I would advise that instead of attributing the things folks are saying here to "just griping" by a bunch of Taitan backsliders, you might consider that many of them have struggled long and hard with your organization and have simply decided it makes no sense to throw good money after bad.

Call whoever you like but in the end, SGI is SGI. All the hyperbole and savant arguments cannot camoflage the organizations core set of problems.


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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: DrJesusEsq ()
Date: June 01, 2010 06:07AM

Dear GwT,

I don't really know where you come off, but using canned gakkai-speak is not going to make anything clearer.

Believe it or not, and I speak for everyone here, nobody is putting on a pity party. In fact, if you have ever read the board a tad bit deeper you are going to find everyone of us is doing something to make our lives a little better each day. When new people come on the forum, expressing their hardship dealing with gakkai, you'll see that there are at least five going out of their way to help them out and make sure they can overcome it. In fact, this forum has done more than enough to get me out of my own pity party. You saying otherwise is a tad bit arrogant on your part.

Now just because you chant the daimoku doesn't make you any special. Speaking for myself, I was a member for 4 years and I had very little benefits. Recently I switched to Zen. Had a lot more benefits by the way. I became healthier, calmer, and have a lot more focus on my career goals. In fact, I found that I am getting more out of this than by Nichiren Buddhism.

That being said, I am not telling anyone to practice my path or preventing anyone from practicing yours. The important thing here is that we all, in our own way, do what is best for ourselves and we are all doing fine. Sometimes, even better. Some of us still chant, some of us don't. The important thing that you miss here is that we are all doing better because we are living our own lives and not letting gakkai live them for us.

To clarify on one thing here about mentor and disciple, there is a difference between mentor and disciple in kung-fu films and samurai movies and mentor and disciple as taught in the SGI. I have a 2nd degree black belt in taekwondo, by the way.

I have a master who was there for me when I first started in the martial art. He was there for me to teach me how to do a proper kick and form. He taught me the meaning of integrity and confidence. He was also there to admonish me for my youthful stupidity.

He was one of many mentors in my life. I don't need to do a song and dance to prove it.

Now just because he is my mentor, doesn't mean he is yours. It's obvious since you never met the guy and you never even had a talk with him.

Everyone in life has a mentor or two. The difference here is that we chose our mentors, we don't have our mentors chosen for us.

I do hope you will get that talk with Nagashima. He will teach you what is wrong with SGI more than anyone of us. If I am correct, he more or less will tell you what your faults are, perhaps even telling you that your thinking too much has made you stupid, afterward he is going to showoff how Japanese he is by drawing Chinese characters on a napkin.

Trust me pal, nothing will get done.

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