I am a SGI member Practising In India for the last 10 years. Its strange that some of you who claim to be such great students of buddhism understand so little of it.And then there are others who are ready to believe anything negative that is written about SGI.Our experience in India is totally at variance with what many of you are claiming and when we have similar Experience we understand the same thing in a way much different from what many you understand.I don't know if this forum will publish my comments but if it does, I will definitely write as much as I can to clear misconceptions about SGI.
Beststarsign, I have based my posts on study of the Lotus Sutra and the Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin, as well as eighteen years of practice with SGI-Japan and SGI-USA. My experiences with SGI-USA have convinced me that SGI-USA is NOT practicing in accordance with the Lotus Sutra and the teachings of Nichiren. Perhaps SGI-India is doing better in that regard. If you'd like to discuss study, we can certainly do that.
1. Our SGI-USA leaders have said that if we do not take Daisaku Ikeda as our mentor, we will not attain enlightenment. When I asked them, what Gosho, or section of the Lotus Sutra supports this statement -- nobody can ever tell me. Do you know? When I read the Gosho, I see statements like "Do not seek this Gohonzon outside of yourself," and "Follow the Law and not the person."
2. Our SGI-USA leaders have also said that Nichiren Shoshu is heretical because it teaches that members need the intercession of the high priest to attain enlightenment, citing Gosho quotes such as "Do not seek this Gohonzon outside of yourself," and "Follow the Law and not the person." How is this consistent with their statement that we will not attain enlightenment unless we become disciples of President Ikeda?
3. Chapter 20 of the Lotus Sutra discusses Bodhisattva Fukkyo (Bodhisattva Never Despise.) He encounters severe persecution as he travels about trying to teach Buddhism to people, being beaten with clubs, sticks and stones. He has to flee for his personal safety, but, as he runs, he calls, "I dare not slight you! You are all to become Buddhas!" If the Lotus Sutra teaches that everyone is worthy of respect because they have the potential for Buddhahood -- then why have some SGI leaders encouraged members to chant for the death of Nikken, the high priest of Nichiren Shoshu? Certainly, we can and should say that we disagree with his teachings. That's different than having such hatred and contempt for fellow Buddhists, and certainly violates the spirit of Chapter 20 of the Lotus Sutra.
4. Nichiren lived in poverty, and experienced frequent persecutions. He tells his followers that they can expect to be persecuted for practicing and promulgating the Lotus Sutra. What would he think of SGI members and prospective members being told that they can chant for anything they want -- cars, lovers, material wealth? What would he think of the fact that President Ikeda is wealthy and lives in luxury? Or that SGI owns millions of dollars of assets, from prime real estate to valuable artwork? Nichiren wrote many Gosho thanking his followers for visiting him, and even making small donations -- a robe, a basket of rice. SGI demands donations, and yet refuses to tell members where their donations actually go. Why?
5. SGI is connected with the New Komeito Party in Japan, and the Japanese Soka Gakkai members are expected to vote for, give donations to, and to work for free for New Komeito candidates at election time. America was founded on the belief that church and state should be separate. Do our donations to SGI go to support the New Komeito Party? Since SGI will not account to us for the donations we give, how do we know that we're not really supporting the New Komeito Party?
Nichiren was also offered government patronage and a temple of his own, if he would say that other sects of Buddhism were equal to his. He refused because he did NOT feel that other sects were even correct -- and because his aim was to spread the Buddhism of the Lotus Sutra, not seek worldly power.
6. An American writer and former SGI-USA employee, Lisa Jones, wrote articles on her website critical of SGI. SGI threatened her with a lawsuit, and she had to take her website down. Certainly, if SGI members and leaders disagreed with Jones's opinions or thought that her facts were incorrect -- they certainly have the right to debate her, and to point out her errors. They didn't do this. They refused to allow her to speak out at all. The United States is a democracy. As Americans, we have the right to freedom of speech. It bothers me, as an American, that SGI took away Lisa Jones's right to freedom of speech. How can the SGI senior leadership expect its American members to support SGI, when SGI does not support the most basic principles of American democracy, such as freedom of speech and separation of church and state?
Likewise, how can SGI-USA expect to retain members when the organization is not practicing in accordance with the Lotus Sutra or the Gosho?
If you can enlighten me about any of this, beststarsign, please do.