Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: writeforchange ()
Date: July 28, 2010 12:45AM

Hi, everybody I have been diligently reading this site everyday and checking to see how many others are also. It gets about 1000 views per day.

I needed to experience more from your writings and see if my experiences were on a parallel and how universal some things are.

I also decided not to reply to individual comments but to what I see as universal issues.

I am now going to provide more background about my experiences and where I am going.

First, I live in the hood of LA and all my initial contacts with SGI were with black people. I am the only white person in my area and I have lived here four years. While I believe I have experienced reverse racism, I believe my race earned it and I think I understand the dynamics. And much of that needs to be talked about but not on this platform.

But the one thing I think is an issue is that I have read a sociological study of the demographics of SGI that was actually commissioned by SGI. 18% of SGI is Black and it is the fastest growing segment and this is true only of the states and when I refer to SGI I am going to be talking about the US.

One of the reasons I initially posted my background is that since I am brain damaged with a permanent disability diagnosis, there are laws that are written specifically to protect people like me. While I hate putting my problem out there as one of my rehab counselors said to me if you fear being stigmatized get over it. You already are. By notifying people you have a problem and then they use that against you in any way they are violating the law.

What I experienced caused me to consult a lawyer and I will eventually explain his take on all this. To boil it down, no individual stands a chance against SGI but they might experience a big come down with a class action suit.

I am going to tackle one issue at a time and allow a couple of days to see what kind of responses it gets from you all.

The first issue I am going to talk about is being told not to follow the person but to follow the law. That comes up repeatedly everywhere. And I whole heartedly believe that should work. I personally function this way. I wanted to do due diligence as it is expressed. The first thing I wanted to do was to learn what SGI believed. And I was conned by the "leadership" that I needed to do this as fast as possible--get the gonhozon---and chant and I would then experience the reality of everything.

For the record, all people I have had much personal contact with have all been leaders and all claiming 25 or more years in practice.

I consider it my act of faith---that these people knew what they were talking about and I had nothing to fear by joining up with something I knew almost nothing about. However, based on my experience, I knew more than most people because I at least read three books---two by Ikeda and the other The Reluctant Buddhist all purchased at the West LA friendship center and recommended by staff. I also read several of the little dollar pamphlets stating what are supposed to be basic principles. To my way of looking at it --- all of those things are highly misrepresented to actual practice and belief to the point that they could be considered fraudulent.

They also have a web site which while it has a lot of information does not in fact say this is how SGI functions and this is what we believe.

The result is when someone like me actually asks what the law is---they get many different opinions. The law should be simple, simply expressed, and understood in plain English---any reason for that not to be true---all this secret stuff---what is it that they are hiding?

Now that I have done a lot of research---the personal consequences for people of the "law" as they see it. The truth as to how that "law" is practiced. That the practice of the law is not applied equally to all of SGI. And most of all the immorality of the leadership from top to bottom who believes the end justifies the means---when the reality is that the means are the end. This universal lying is why SGI will not achieve anything substantial worth having.

For me, the minute I read the 180 pages that Nichijew posted as being the historical record of the foundation and belief system of Nicheren, I got that this practice was not for me nor would it ever be. Unfortunately, I had to find it on this site and months after enduring what I consider slander, defamation of character, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract. There is no reason for these 180 pages to be out there for the public to read by a click on their site. And if these 180 pages are not what SGI believes and is practicing it should also be noted.

Now I am one of the ones that is being kicked out of SGI not by proclamation but by practice. One of the things I am really angry about is when I pay for and sign up for the gonhonzon I have to select a district etc. At the time I am doing this, I have experienced SGI less than a week. But I am making a choice by their rules that I know nothing about for life--unless I move. I have an email to this effect from a leader. So if I do not like the lying by the person who shakabuka me and I want to go to another district meeting I cannot without the consent of the "leadership" who determines that I would be dragging my karma with me wherever I go and therefore, request denied.

Now this is a pretty definitive choice that you are making that they feel they do not have to inform you about when you are making it. No church in the world does this. You can always go to another one.

SGI forms and dissolves districts and friendship centers and personal relationships between mentors and disciples at a drop of a hate when it suits them. They allow no input and give no feedback.

I now invite your feedback on two issues---the formation, devolving, and joining districts, and the ability to know exactly what the law is.

Peace to all

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: cyclops ()
Date: July 28, 2010 02:31AM

Chanter16 - For sure – I was a district leader for years – and I didn’t support the party line – that is I didn’t push FNCC – or contributions – and it was a no Ikeda DVD zone in my district - @ the planning meeting I asked about the DVD and it always got voted down – the members wanted to do Gosho or study – SO I would always get pulled aside by the guest leader and asked why – So on FNCC I would announce it to the district and move on – so a leader tried to give his argument on pushing FNCC – so I said where do you find your Buddha nature is it within you or @ FNCC? On contributions I would always say if you want to but don’t place yourself in a financial situation – always take care of your family and yourself first – leaders would always tell me to bring contributions up as often as possible – I told them once is enough I am not going to push people into giving monies that they might need for living! Lastly Ikeda mentor chatter – this is a sore spot for me! Both my Masters that I took, as most wise in Buddhist practice told me to always follow the law and not the person! And looking back this was the breaking point for me and I stepped down as district leader after talking with Sr. Leaders about this and got a gut feeling that they were on board with the Ikedanization of Nichiren Buddhism! Even today if a YD makes the statement “Ikeda is my mentor” I will always ask them why – and so far none have given me a good answer! I get foolish responses like – He the president – or because he been practicing for a long time! So I try to fight the good fight when I can. But the Ikedanization will go on until the end of his reign! I fear after that he will be enshrined as a Buddha or Enlighten Sage or some other title of grandeur!
Chanter16 - Blue lady - has some great insight - I hope Blue lady will return to give us some of her insightful thought on these issues. !

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: overthetop ()
Date: July 28, 2010 05:48AM

@ doubtful

I think me and you agree that we can be grateful to the SGI for bringing us Buddhism, but are happy that we realized SGI is practicing a strange form of Buddhism. It's not really up to me to judge if it's Buddhism or not. I am so much more at peace with everything in my life now after going through the SGI experience and knowing that I can stand up for what I believe is right. Being angry at them isn't worth my time, but I'm not going to go back to try to change anyone's mind that is still in the organization. I'm so glad I'm out of it, and not returning any of their phone calls, either. If you want to get an image of Shakyamuni I suggest it. I got a nice statue at one of the stores near my house and it's beautiful, peacefully guarding my Gohonzon until I figure out what to do with it. I think I'm just going to leave it like that for a while. I still light candles and incense on my altar, it brings me peace just to look at it. I'm actually studying other Buddhist writings and I feel like I'm actually learning about the teachings of Buddha, which is something you never hear about in the SGI. It's unfortunate that SGI has morphed into a sort of global corporate political power structure (if that makes any sense) that is corrupt at the highest levels and preys off the masses. Sad.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Rothaus ()
Date: July 28, 2010 06:39AM

Being angry at them isn't worth my time, but I'm not going to go back to try to change anyone's mind that is still in the organization.

I think that's an important message too. Certainly one can try and speak to those that one believes to be like minded, but having been members in cult does not makes us automatically experts on how to exit a cult. But its my observation that those who are leaving that are rather open minded by character, some of the 'intellectuals' and simply those who have an aversion to be talked down to. Those who stay sometimes have a very weak personalty structure in the sense that they need the affirmation of the group or acting on behalf of a greater cause which gives them the feeling of being superior. Those who travelled up the career ladder in my observation often neglected their own personal or even professional development – indeed even their families. Those on the other hand who engaged in an active social and professional life were always the same as those on the fringe of activities. It dawned to me just the other day (as one now an again things what people wrote in here) that those who actually did pay attention to their social and professional lives, those who said 'family first' were those who were at times looked down at by certain leaders as surprise, surprise they were quite happy to skip some meetings.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Rothaus ()
Date: July 28, 2010 07:06AM

And I must admit that during my active 'service' I too was one of those who would boast on how much meetings I would attend and got to as many Keibi services as possible (keibi is what it in Europe widely know as the week long or weekend long services at community centres, in Britain called lilac I think).

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: wakatta1 ()
Date: July 28, 2010 07:44AM

I have really enjoyed reading everyone's insights into the questions posed by the new arrivals. Certainly there is a lot to be shared amongst us both in regards to insight into the practice, but also to put form to the many concerns that each of those of long standing have had.

Someone mentioned about old members and their reasons for holding on to the SGI. I agree, there are those who will stay through thick and thin, and others that will fade away "like the morning dew".

To my recollections I think things basically broke down into a couple different groupings of generic member types - hopefully I can add a little insight.

Group 1 - People who wandered into or were drawn into SGI randomly.
Group 2 - People who were drawn into SGI based upon intellectual curiousity.
Group 3 - People who were drawn into SGI because of a family member
Group 4 - People who were drawn into SGI because they married a Japanese member

First off, although groups 3 and 4 seem to be the same thing, I differentiate between them because of an important distinction: In the late 60's and early 70's, many Japanese brides returned to the US on the arm of a GI. For them, SGI represented a lifeline home, and today, many of these women now make up the core of the WD. Back then they were strangers in a new land and they wanted to recreate Japan in the US, and the place they chose to do that was within the SGI. In some cases it was innocent, and in other cases it was abusive. In all cases it had more to do with recreating a comfortable and familiar environment than it had to do with chanting or pursuing enlightenment. Very few war-bride WD I encountered knew much more about Nichiren buddhism beyond chanting, doing gongyo and paying zaimu. These ladies and their husbands today still form the core of members who will remain no matter what Ikea does. Also, the Soka Gakkai in Japan was well aware of the shakubuku power of young attractive ladies, and as I recall, many of them were told that they got "benefits" for each "fellow" they brought in and were encouraged to cultivate relationships with American GI's. Proseletization through hormones.

Group 3 folks may also be inclined to stay with the organization, but usually, once their family member is out of their environment or distracted with other things they fall away. Again, in many cases there is little to do with buddhism in regards to their participation.

Group 2 people fall into a couple different sub-categories. (1) Highly intellectual folks who seriously want to pursue buddhism and believe they can do it successfully through sgi. (2) intellectual folks who do buddhism because it makes them seem intellectual and (3) intellectual folks who have become leaders and no have "skin in the game" either through reputation or a sense of "mission". This is the cadre of folks running district, chapter and hombu activities (unpaid). The people in (1) will hang on until they are shown the organization is not what they thought and they will become disillusioned and fall away. Those in (2) are a coin-flip as to whether they stay or go, and those in (3) will be with it to the bitter end.

Group 1 folks seemed to come and go. In my experience a small percentage ever grew into more than just random curiousity, and in many cases I heard that they joined to meet girls/guys or that something about the practice "felt" interesting and they wanted to experience it more. Usually organizational changes would force them out such as forcing them to do "pac-man shakubuku" or street shakubuku was enough to chase them off.

Now, I have left one category out, and that is both the paid leaders and those leaders who were "hand picked" by the upper japanese leadership (american leaders weren't allowed to do such "anointed" actions). These people are the core of the bureaucracy that is the skeleton SGI is attached to. Many are good at giving speeches, looking pious, chanting for long periods of time, and in general fawning over the next level of leadership up. They will always be there, no matter what SGI does - they are like "salary men" with mitsubishii, toyota or honda. They are in it for life. SGI is their mother and their father, and it is embodied in the "sensei".

In some cases I'm sad good people got side-tracked into this quagmire, and in other cases I think some of these people deserve one another. Watching the Japanese WD and MD interact (in Japanese) was really an eye-opener to see the depths of unhappiness that lurked between the couples practicing at the high levels. Besides slanderous words there is another type of Onshitsu which was the very deep passive-aggressive anger both groups had for one another. Perhaps that is they reason they favored being separate so they didn't have to interact. Wifey can be the high-muckety-muck WD leader and hubby can do the same with the MD.

So there you have it, an x-ray view of my experiences with SGI as a whole. Sprinkle onto that a few, sincere and caring people who I have had the good fortune to have encountered during my practice and that's about it.

And that is why I call myself Wakatta

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/28/2010 07:47AM by wakatta1.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Chanter16 ()
Date: July 28, 2010 10:35AM

Thank you Morgaine, it was nice to read your reply. I don't know quite how to respond to those that just want to get on here and criticize each other. I would rather we encourage each other. No one is ever going to believe the same way, the same things anyway. I began to chant back in the 80's - was inspired by a co-worker turned sponsor that was just so fun to be around. The chanting brought such relief to so many years of anxiety. So if anyone is turned off by the SGi (as I currently am too) I hope they will give chanting a fair chance. I, too, though, am in a transition time and didn't expect to be where I am now, but I am feeling a lot better about having this distance from the SGI. It really does help to read other's experiences. I am glad, however, that I don't live daily with the intense anger that some seem unable to let go of. Life is too short . . . .and when you know what suffering is all about, and have found a good amount of happiness, you usually wish good things for others too . . . at least I do.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Chanter16 ()
Date: July 28, 2010 10:47AM

Cyclops - I will go back and look for posts by Blue Lady.

So you don't lead a district but it sounds like you still attend sometimes and still chant? (not trying to get your infomation, just thinking we're in about the same boat). Do you ever look for other Nichiren groups? We've been so conditioned that all others are definitely on the wrong path and the Gakkai spirit is the 'only' way. Interestingly enough, I find that I am absorbing some of the study of the gosho now more than I did in the past; something is waking up, so that is positive. Without the SGI, if one wants to stay Buddhist, I'd say we only become a stronger Buddhist. do you agree?

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: doubtful ()
Date: July 28, 2010 12:22PM

Hey Wakatta1, your post is so funny with its numbered categories. I fit into Group 2 subcategory 1 (LOL) but I definitely had some Group 1 experience too. (LOL) The end of your post made me realize that paid SGI members (and those hoping to join their ranks) are in a really tough spot. They simply cannot criticize the organization and communicate any dissent, at least not in front of other leaders if they want to continue getting paid. I am not saying this with any kind of malice. It must be hard because I simply cannot believe that they all think that the orders handed down are good for the membership in their respective locations.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: doubtful ()
Date: July 28, 2010 10:46PM

@Chanter 16 You wrote, "It really does help to read other's experiences. I am glad, however, that I don't live daily with the intense anger that some seem unable to let go of. Life is too short " I agree with you. I have gained a lot from reading posts and comments on this forum. In fact, I have learned more about Buddhism and my own thinking process since I started here in May than in the past five years. Please understand that sometimes people are being humorous too. I suspect that the recovery process from years of SGI participation sometimes involves a whole range of emotions. Anger might be one at times but that is necessarily a bad thing if it helps people dissolve years of group think. I hope that you stick around and enjoy the healthy nature of this forum. I remain so grateful to Rick Ross for it. Since you were a long time member I am sure you can share some valuable insights and experiences. Welcome aboard.

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