The Anti-Cult and Tsukimoto...thank you for answering my query. I also began thinking that because of the M/D hysteria mass, that objectivity has gone out the window. Of course, P.I. can afford to hire marketing consultants to tweak the medicine going down. One would think that a good marketing firm (If they are not members or have a major interest in SGI) could see and say, Hey....this cult of personality ain't gonna get the tickets for admission in the numbers you desperately want. Back off that. Back off now.
And you're right, Anti-Cult...Brimstone and Damnation will always be alive and well in the USA and it has worked.
From what I've seen at meetings I've attended over the last year, when guests are present, the M/D manifesto is toned down. P.I. is mentioned as part of the whole package, and there is a stronger emphasis on Nichiren's background and teachings.
No videos are shown at the local meetings, but of course, at KR Gongyo, the videos play on.
I remember in the early 1990's, when SGI split with the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, leaders spoke differently when guests were present. If there were no guests, the tone was very anti-priesthood, and especially hateful toward Nikken, the then-high priest. If there were guests...leaders often didn't even mention the split. It was all very positive, about the benefits of practicing Buddhism and the teachings of Nichiren. World peace, making a difference in your community, happiness, attaining your goals....all the lovely things that most people want.
So that's definitely one ploy of SGI: bait and switch. Prospective members are shown a much different view of SGI. Once you've joined, you will start seeing some different things.
As to why SGI continues this cult of personality? I think it's target marketing. Any product, service, or business has its target market: the people who will be the best customers. Much as a business might want to appeal to everyone -- a wise marketer knows that that's impossible. So why not use your advertising budget well -- and appeal to the people who will be the heaviest users of your product. Your most loyal customers. McDonalds isn't going to have much success advertising to vegans. Nail salons probably won't get many male customers, and you're probably wasting your time trying to get people in their seventies to go to rap or hip-hop concerts.
You could say that McDonalds would appeal to more people if they would sell both vegetarian fare and burgers. Or that the music company could promote many different kinds of performers. The trouble is -- diversifying like that can dull your focus and spread your company too thin. Consumers don't know who you are. The company can become "jack of all trades, master of none."
SGI, likewise, knows its "target market." It's the people who will accept Mentor/Disciple. SGI could change its ways and attract more people -- but too many of them would be people who think and question. SGI doesn't want to attract people like that. As things are -- they're attracting who they want to attract.
For years, I thought of SGI as a religion -- the truth is, it's a business, selling you a dream in exchange for your time, money and loyalty.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/06/2011 08:08PM by tsukimoto.