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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: March 25, 2009 04:42AM

Quote
evergreen
I have felt like I was living a lie for many years. Sometimes I would listen to other members complain about the way President Ikeda is the be all and end all. I would stay silent because I didn't want to be responsible for anyone stopping their practice. I don't think I am ready to recruit others to stop - I'm not sure if that is what I really want to do. I DO want to find another group to practice with that honors Nichiren the way I do, but outside of the SGI. I tried to do this break away five years ago. I started again in 2005 despite my lack of agreement with the beliefs of SGI members. During this period when I stopped chanting five years ago, I looked into many other faiths and found nothing that I could connect with. My biggest fear is that I will not find like minded people. I feel like I have been exiled to Sado.

Evergreen, I can relate to much of what you say. I also left and came back and then left again. In the end, I felt that staying would be saying that I agree with how SGI is practicing, which would be a lie -- I don't. I too would love to have a sangha, a group to practice with, but for me, going along with SGI was just too high a cost for that. There isn't another religion that I feel a connection to, either, though I could possibly accept Nichiren Shu if there were any members near me.

When you say that you don't want to be responsible for anyone else stopping their practice -- do you mean that you are afraid of karmic retribution? We have been taught that stopping our practice and criticizing SGI will lead to bad fortune -- as will influencing others to stop. That's just superstition, but I was surprised to find myself worrying about that after I left SGI. I'd just heard it for so many years, that the fear worked itself into my mind when I wasn't paying attention. Reading this website made me realize just how common this kind of manipulation is. Many, many groups tell their members that -- criticize us, or quit, and terrible things will happen to you.

Now, I wouldn't tell another adult to stop practicing with SGI. Nor would I tell another adult to continue practicing with SGI, simply because this has to be his or her decision. I have no problem with telling anyone about the less-than-desirable aspects of SGI. How can telling the truth be wrong? People deserve all the information that is available, so that they can make informed decisions.

Have you found any good Buddhist sites on the Internet? While it's not as good as having people that I can actually meet and chant with, I appreciate finding information, ideas, and some like-minded people online. And who knows, maybe you could find someone close enough to where you live that you could actually get together to talk, chant and study occasionally. You never know. www.lioncity.net and www.nbaa.tv (website of the Nichiren Buddhist Association of America) discuss Nichiren Buddhism, as do fraughtwithperil.com and buddhajones.com.

Yahoo has two groups, Soka Gakkai Unofficial (both pro and anti-Soka Gakkai views are posted) [groups.yahoo.com] and Sangha For Independents, for Buddhists who are practicing alone, for whatever reason: [groups.yahoo.com]

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: March 25, 2009 02:13PM

Personally, I would happily tell people not to join SGI...because is it a cult!
Of course, people make their own decisions.
but I would also tell people to stay away from Scientology, or any other dangerous cult, that uses trickery and covert techniques on people.

Its hard, if not impossible to make a correct decision, when one is fed false information, and when all sorts of persuasion techniques are being used on people.
Telling the public the facts behind the lies, would certainly be good karma, in the everyday sense of the term.
People have a right, a human right, to know the facts of what is going on. To have full disclosure.

If anyone asks about SGI, I tell them the truth, that its a type of cult, and give them the reason's why, based on factual analysis.

Just giving a blunt outsiders perspective..again!
Of course, its more complex if a person's entire life is immersed in the thing. People get trapped in SGI, that's how is was designed by general Ikeda.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: March 25, 2009 05:01PM

also, if you think about it, its really terrible that SGI is so antagonistic to families.
A family member should be able to make up their own mind, and do what they think is right, and not have to worry about losing their family, just by rejecting the SGI process.

Why did Ikeda do this? He designed it, as he knows that social family pressure will keep more people in the tribe. Not many people want to get rejected by their entire family.

So SGI can ultimately really be a harmful thing. Even in western familes, it can drive a husband and wife apart.

So speaking out openly against SGI, could help people decide not to bother with it in the first place.
SGI forcefully recruits people, so a forceful anti-recruitment is essential.

But getting out on an SGI family, that is something else. Its similar in any group, like Christian Science families, or Mormon, etc. You reject the religion, often they reject you too.
The people who design these religions are not dumb!

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: March 28, 2009 06:33AM

Quote
The Anticult
also, if you think about it, its really terrible that SGI is so antagonistic to families.
A family member should be able to make up their own mind, and do what they think is right, and not have to worry about losing their family, just by rejecting the SGI process.

Why did Ikeda do this? He designed it, as he knows that social family pressure will keep more people in the tribe. Not many people want to get rejected by their entire family.

So SGI can ultimately really be a harmful thing. Even in western familes, it can drive a husband and wife apart.

So speaking out openly against SGI, could help people decide not to bother with it in the first place.
SGI forcefully recruits people, so a forceful anti-recruitment is essential.

But getting out on an SGI family, that is something else. Its similar in any group, like Christian Science families, or Mormon, etc. You reject the religion, often they reject you too.
The people who design these religions are not dumb!

Anticult, when I was considering leaving SGI, this guy who'd already left suggested that I read Eric Hoffer's book The True Believer. The book discusses mass movements, both religious and secular. Some groups just promote the mentality "You're either for us or against us." Now, I dislike Ikeda for turning SGI into his own personal fan club --- but even I can't blame him for the "For us or against us," mindset that has made some of our posters suffer greatly.

This attitude started with the founder, Nichiren, in the 1200's. He decided that only he knew how to practice Buddhism correctly. To him, every other religion, every other Buddhist sect in Japan was heretical, wrong, and harmful. He preached that Japan would be destroyed unless everyone converted to his interpretation of Buddhism; he spent his life fighting with all the other Buddhist sects. He was threatened, exiled, and nearly executed -- nothing stopped him or made him change his mind. To him, you were doomed unless you practiced his Buddhism. Many of his followers today believe this, and so are horrified when friends and family members quit SGI. The devout SGI followers feel as you or I would if a loved one deliberately ran into the path of a speeding Mack truck. These fanatical SGI members are simply being true to SGI's/Nichiren Buddhism's philosophical roots.

The Riverdale Press recently had a story of a present-day member who took this "Never say die," Samurai spirit a bit too far. The principal of PS 24 in the Bronx is an SGI member who allegedly led prayer meetings in his office, attempted to recruit school staff to SGI, and had a "hate list" for the staff to chant about at meetings. A parents' group is now calling for his resignation. [riverdalepress.blogspot.com]

Adding to the irony, Bill Aiken, the Public Affairs Director for SGI, says, "There are no Buddhist hate chants that I'm aware of." Well, no Bill, there are no specific chants that I know of that actually mean, "I hate you, drop dead." That doesn't mean that SGI has not directed its share of hate and discontent toward those who were considered, "Enemies of SGI." For YEARS, SGI asked its members to chant for the destruction of the Nichiren Shoshu sect. I went to SGI meetings and heard hateful language regarding the Nichiren Shoshu priests, and I personally know members who chanted for the then-high priest, Nikken Abe to die. There were many tosos (long chanting sessions) praying for Nichiren Shoshu's destruction.

Some of the comments on the Riverdale blog are quite interesting. Some say, "How could this be, Buddhists are nonviolent people, they don't do hate chants, it must be office politics, or someone with grudge out to get this principal." These people don't know SGi, do they? Two posters are SGI, or former SGI. They believe that the principal and his friends were hate chanting.

Having been away from SGI for a couple of years, I am not up on who the SGI currently considers an enemy of SGI. Given this principal's actions, clearly SOMEBODY is on SGI's naughty list. I think Hoffer wrote about this, too, that some groups create unity within by creating an external enemy. Maybe someone should donate a copy of The True Believer to PS 24's library. (And a second copy to our friend Bill.)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/28/2009 06:35AM by tsukimoto.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Sparky ()
Date: March 28, 2009 09:08AM

Quote
tsukimoto


Adding to the irony, Bill Aiken, the Public Affairs Director for SGI, says, "There are no Buddhist hate chants that I'm aware of." Well, no Bill, there are no specific chants that I know of that actually mean, "I hate you, drop dead." That doesn't mean that SGI has not directed its share of hate and discontent toward those who were considered, "Enemies of SGI." For YEARS, SGI asked its members to chant for the destruction of the Nichiren Shoshu sect. I went to SGI meetings and heard hateful language regarding the Nichiren Shoshu priests, and I personally know members who chanted for the then-high priest, Adding to the irony, Bill Aiken, the Public Affairs Director for SGI, says, "There are no Buddhist hate chants that I'm aware of." Well, no Bill, there are no specific chants that I know of that actually mean, "I hate you, drop dead." That doesn't mean that SGI has not directed its share of hate and discontent toward those who were considered, "Enemies of SGI." For YEARS, SGI asked its members to chant for the destruction of the Nichiren Shoshu sect. I went to SGI meetings and heard hateful language regarding the Nichiren Shoshu priests, and I personally know members who chanted for the then-high priest, Nikken Abe to die.to die. There were many tosos (long chanting sessions) praying for Nichiren Shoshu's destruction.


Tsukimoto, great post. I will let you know the pivital event that made my wife leave SGI, that was NYC 9/11/01.

She was in mid-town when it happened. She has more stories of escapees covered in white soot and glass shards on the "last train out" that she was able to get (for those who don't know, NYC is a nightmare to get into and out of if you don't know it. The city mainly friendly to mass-transit and not so much cars). All bridges (cars..Manhatten is an island) were shut so trains were the only way out until they too were stopped until that evening.

SGI's response...chant for peace and for the terrorists and their families and for the victims and their families as well and NEVER FOR REVENGE. As Americans, we both just wanted to use our military to extact revenge.

When you cut to the chase, you can be a buddhist and a pacifist or a vengeance-seeking human-animal. We were (and are) both guilty of the latter.


With that said, that gets me to my point...SGI can not have it both ways. I can absolutely vouch for tsukimoto's prior post. SGI has it's "panties in a bunch" about Nikken Abe, the High Priest. Yes, they chant for his destruction. They chanted in NYC chapter "Nikken OUT!" with signs saying that posted everywhere INCLUDING ON THE WALL INSIDE THEIR CHANTING/ALTER-ROOM (I forget what they would call that).

SGI-USA can claim they do not wish anyone ill (clearly they don't seem to wish terrorists ill) but they post a lot of nonsense in their 'temple' ("NIKKEN OUT!")

I guess that is the rapist (IKEDA) calling the kettle (NIKKEN) black.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/28/2009 09:10AM by Sparky.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: March 28, 2009 11:33AM

I remember the "Nikken Out!" days...the irony being that Nikken WAS already out, no thanks to all those daimoku tosos (chanting sessions.) He retired on December 15, 2005, at the age of 83. From the way the Soka Gakkai felt about Nikken, you'd think his retirement would be declared an international holiday or something, but no, not a word! Certainly the senior leadership knew, but they took their time getting the word out to the membership. So why would you have members chanting to get rid of a guy who'd already retired? Maybe because it kept our attention distracted from what our own leadership was up to?

I tried to discuss this with a member last year, and she said, "So what if Nikken retired? He chose his friend (Nichinyo Hayase) as his successor, so nothing has changed."

I said, "Well, what did SGI THINK Nikken was going to do, appoint a pro-SGI priest as his successor? Of course he's going to pick someone who thinks like he does -- didn't the SGI leaders realize this when they were making us do all those tosos, chanting for hours to get rid of him?"

Sparky, I agree, it's just insane to say that we should forgive the terrorists who took so many innocent lives -- while bitterly despising the Nichiren Shoshu priests. What exactly is Nikken guilty of -- ambition, greed, selfishness, egotism? It's not like Ikeda isn't guilty of exactly the same things.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: March 28, 2009 11:57AM

This bit about the hate-chant principal interested me, so I have been looking up things about the SGI and education on the web. SGI has had the "Soka Schools" in Japan for many years -- and is eager to expand the franchise to the United States.

Rick Ross's reference section has an article about the Soka Gakkai's university, Soka University of America, in Alisa Viejo, California. www.culteducation.com/reference/gakkai/gakkai26.html

I remember when Soka U was being built. We SGI members were told that it was to provide an excellent, rigorous academic education, but also be 'humanistic' in nature, educating the 'whole student' to be a 'world citizen.' The best-qualified students and faculty would be selected, regardless of their religion.

Well, it didn't quite work out that way. Many disillusioned faculty left after a short while, complaining that faculty who were SGI members were favored over faculty who were not members. They also complained about being made to teach what Ikeda wanted them to teach -- SGI doctrine, not the curriculum. One former Soka U professor, Linda Southwell, sued in 2002.

Now SGI wants to expand and have charter schools, middle schools and high schools, in the United States. I found an interesting article in the Massachusetts Department of Education website, an executive summary of SGI's plan to open the Spirit Of Knowledge Academy (Soka) in Massachusetts. [www.doe.mass.edu]

This school, if approved, would open in September 2010, with 368 students in grades 6-9. It would add a grade each year, until it is a grade 6-12 school. Students from the towns of Worcester, Oxford, and Leicester could enroll. The summary states: "The Soka humanistic philosophy is best articulated by Daisaku Ikeda, respected educator and prolific author." Not a word in this summary about Buddhism, or SGI! CAN a religious organization start a charter school in Massachusetts? Can Massachusetts taxpayers' money end up going to Japan to help Ikeda's New Komeito Party win more seats in the Japanese Diet? Are there going to be chanting sessions in that principal's office too -- and will the names of teachers who refuse to put a picture of Ikeda in their classroom and bow to it every morning be placed on a hate list?

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: KittyLuv ()
Date: March 29, 2009 01:41AM

As far as the Nikken sect goes, it's alive and well on the enemies list. Here's something from a flyer I got at the Queens center last year. This was set for May 18th, 2008 and it's titled:

"Declaration: Let's Prove the Justice of the SGI on May 18th

On May 18th, the Nikken sect (Nichiren Shoshu Temple) is planning to hold a large gathering of temple members and guests at Columbia University. We must not allow the temple to spread its distortion of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism at the very same university where our mentor shared an important message for humankind in 1996. As SGI members practicing Nichiren Buddhism correctly in the same spirit as our mentor SGI President Ikeda, each one of us has a responsibility at this critical time in our movement for kosen-rufu to pray and take action to reveal the true corrupt nature of the Nikken sect."

And then there's a Why? section. They list four whys and then explanations under each one. It's a whole page, but here are the four whys:

1) To Protect the Organization that is Correctly Advancing Kosen-rufu
2) To Proclaim what is the Correct Teaching of Nichiren Daishonin
3) To Protect the People with the Same Resolve as our Mentor by Defeating the Devilish Functions
4) To Awaken to the Truth that Fighting Evil Leads to Attaining Buddahood

So the fight goes on.

I would certainly hope as far as Soka U's expansion that the Massachusetts and any other state does not give taxpayer money of any kind to these institutions. One of the most disturbing things about SGI, at least to me, was the the knowledge that whatever money I gave this place was going to be supporting a political party in Japan that is totally antithetical to democracy in the United States, or anywhere else -- promoting a theocracy. Of course, the money also goes to support Ikeda's lavish lifestyle and monuments to himself, etc. I find it ironic and sad, though, that the only organization with enough $$ to build schools right now in the U.S. is Ikeda's SGI.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: jojaroyd ()
Date: March 30, 2009 10:45AM

I remember last year I went to an FNCC conference four four days at the end of June/Beginning of July. It was a Student Division meeting.

For those who weren't SGI members or don't know, FNCC is Florida Nature and Culture Center, a place SGI members go for four-day-long meetings. The Student Division is college-aged members.

Anyway, we had a HUGE session on Soka Spirit. They played a video from the protest outside the Columbia building that Nichiren Shu was having their meeting at. It was pretty weird. The first part of the video showed some members holding a poster (don't know what it said, it was in Japanese) outside of the hotel room the new Nichiren Shu high priest, Nichinyo Hayase, was staying. He came out and there was verbal conflict between them both. The SGI members kept asking to have a dialogue with him, over and over, and Nichinyo kept saying he won't talk to SGI members. The SGI members weren't really very aggressive, and they didn't say anything bad or negative, but it was still really creepy that they went to where he was staying and video taped it. Come on, if they really wanted a dialogue, or expected him to accept their invitation, why would they be recording it? It's very assumptive and invasive.

The next clip was taken the next day. Basically it had the SGI members outside the Columbia-building protesting. They would approach Nichiren Shu members and try to interview them, only to be threatened by a couple Nichiren Shu leaders. (Physical threats.) SGI members were selling their copy of the gosho, telling passing Nichiren Shu members or strangers who weren't even attending the meeting that their translation was more accurate, and that Nichiren Shu had an incorrect translation. I guess I thought it was really strange to approach people who knew NOTHING of SGI or Nichiren Shu, and just start letting them be aware of this conflict between the two. They interviewed Nichiren Shu members as they left the meeting. Anytime they tried to talk to a member, the Nichiren Shu members acted really pissed and said something bad about SGI. The only people who said anything meaningful were guests, who were shooed away when Nichiren Shu members realized they were talking to an SGI member.

I dunno, seemed pretty juvenile on the whole from both sides.

During the FNCC session, they also handed out a flyer that SGI members were giving out at this protest. It was horrible! Like a freaking tabloid cover, except with priests of the Nichren Shu sect. Pretty disgraceful. Said something about hiring strippers while in Brazil.

After the session, we were all divided into smaller groups to talk about what we saw. In the small group I was in, one guy kept voicing opinions somewhat to the point "What's with all the drama? Why can't we just leave them alone? That handout was really extreme." He basically was talked down and told why he SHOULDN'T have non-aggressive feelings for this sect. This is all because Nichiren said that if you see someone slandering "the law" you have to speak up, or you're slandering the law yourself (essentially.) I agreed verbally with the other SGI members, even though in my head I agreed with this guy who was speaking out. I felt way too pressured. Really sucked. Thankfully I'm past that now. :P

There was also a big toso going on in Chicago that day. Apparently Nichiren Shu sect was having some big meeting at their Chicago temple, and SGI members there decided to have a huge meeting and chanting session to pray the meeting was a failure (I guess.) At the FNCC conference, we were told to chant for the Nichiren Shu members to "wake up" and find SGI, chant against the Nichiren Shu leaders who were evil and corrupt, and to chant for the success of the Chicago meeting. I happen to know that I was missing a meeting with a similar toso in my hometown, and I also know that these meetings were all being held at the same time across the country.

Really now.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: April 01, 2009 06:14AM

Quote
jojaroyd
For those who weren't SGI members or don't know, FNCC is Florida Nature and Culture Center, a place SGI members go for four-day-long meetings. The Student Division is college-aged members.

Anyway, we had a HUGE session on Soka Spirit. They played a video from the protest outside the Columbia building that Nichiren Shu was having their meeting at. It was pretty weird. The first part of the video showed some members holding a poster (don't know what it said, it was in Japanese) outside of the hotel room the new Nichiren Shu high priest, Nichinyo Hayase, was staying. He came out and there was verbal conflict between them both. The SGI members kept asking to have a dialogue with him, over and over, and Nichinyo kept saying he won't talk to SGI members. The SGI members weren't really very aggressive, and they didn't say anything bad or negative, but it was still really creepy that they went to where he was staying and video taped it. Come on, if they really wanted a dialogue, or expected him to accept their invitation, why would they be recording it? It's very assumptive and invasive.

The next clip was taken the next day. Basically it had the SGI members outside the Columbia-building protesting. They would approach Nichiren Shu members and try to interview them, only to be threatened by a couple Nichiren Shu leaders. (Physical threats.) SGI members were selling their copy of the gosho, telling passing Nichiren Shu members or strangers who weren't even attending the meeting that their translation was more accurate, and that Nichiren Shu had an incorrect translation. I guess I thought it was really strange to approach people who knew NOTHING of SGI or Nichiren Shu, and just start letting them be aware of this conflict between the two.

I dunno, seemed pretty juvenile on the whole from both sides.

During the FNCC session, they also handed out a flyer that SGI members were giving out at this protest. It was horrible! Like a freaking tabloid cover, except with priests of the Nichren Shu sect. Pretty disgraceful. Said something about hiring strippers while in Brazil.

There was also a big toso going on in Chicago that day. Apparently Nichiren Shu sect was having some big meeting at their Chicago temple, and SGI members there decided to have a huge meeting and chanting session to pray the meeting was a failure (I guess.)

Really now.

Some of the members from my area have been to the Florida Nature and Culture Center (FNCC). They kept telling me how beautiful it was, and how I should go there for one of their programs. "President Ikeda really wants us to be happy, giving us this beautiful center," bubbled one lady.

My thought, even then, was, "With all the power and money Ikeda has, the money for FNCC is probably just crumbs to him. Toss the loyal little dogs some table scraps from the feast. And honestly, who donated that money in the first place, but members?"

It sounds like everything is the same in SGI-land. The accusations about strippers/hookers, big tosos chanting for the failure of Nichiren Shoshu activities, and the resentment, slander and bickering have just gone on forever. Do both groups realize how bad they make themselves look? How they're both turning off prospective members? SGI in particular cannot seem to let go. If Nichiren Shoshu vanished...SGI wouldn't know what to do with themselves.

Kitty, I certainly hope that SGI is not permitted to open its proposed Soka school in Massachusetts. I don't want taxpayers' money used to indoctrinate schoolkids into Ikeda worship. When I was an SGI member, I asked my leaders if my donations were going to the New Komeito Party in Japan. I was told no, that the American members did not even donate enough to cover all of our own expenses, things like salaries for the full-time American leaders, operating expenses for the American community centers. I was told that we members in the U.S. were subsidized by the Japanese members. As SGI does not disclose its financial affairs to members, who knows what the real story is.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/01/2009 06:27AM by tsukimoto.

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