Re: Former SGI members
Date: June 03, 2010 07:21AM
Regarding Ikeda and the mentor/disciple relationship:
Mentoring, or being a sensei (teacher) in the traditional Asian culture involves choice, on both sides -- and personal connection. Ikeda, for example, chose Josei Toda as his mentor, or teacher, and Toda chose Ikeda as his student. Toda taught and advised Ikeda not just about Buddhism and SGI, but about literature, human relations, business and the arts as well. The two men worked together daily for years, becoming closer than many fathers and sons.
Millions of SGI members cannot have the same relationship with Ikeda that Ikeda had with Toda. It's impossible; most members have never met Ikeda, and will never meet him. Ikeda doesn't know most of the members. When you say you admire him, what do you really admire? An image on a screen, words on a page? It's been well-established that Ikeda uses ghost-writers. What you are really seeing and reading and hearing is an image, carefully crafted by SGI's public relations department.
SGI's admiration for Ikeda is excessive. I was told by leaders that I would never attain enlightenment unless I accepted Ikeda as my mentor. That to me, just felt very bizarre and wrong. Is he a Japanese-Buddhist Jesus Christ? I find nothing in the Lotus Sutra or any Gosho to support this. Nichiren Daishonin said, "Do not seek this Gohonzon outside of yourself," and "Follow the law and not the person." SGI is advising members to follow the person and not the law, and to seek the Gohonzon outside of themselves.
Regarding the Nichiren Shoshu priests, SGI expressed outrage that the high priest said that you needed to follow him to reach enlightenment. Well, how is that different than SGI's claim that you need to follow Ikeda to attain enlightenment? It's not different -- it's two sides of the same coin! Why is the priesthood wrong for telling members to follow a man, when SGI is promoting the same principle, just a different man!?
Members keep telling me that Ikeda has done so much for world peace. Ikeda has approved an exhibit comparing himself with Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Please tell me what Ikeda has done that is comparable to either man? Gandhi and King put themselves in harm's way fighting for justice and equality -- and were killed for their principles. What has Ikeda done that is equivalent to that? He's a rich man who lives in luxury! Ikeda visited the United States in the 1960's. Surely he knew of Martin Luther King, but there is nothing on record to suggest that Ikeda said a word in favor of King at that time, when King was controversial -- even unpopular with many Americans. No, Ikeda didn't praise King until years later when the popular culture had made an icon of King.
King and Gandhi opposed the death penalty. Ikeda has never done so, despite Japan's heavy use of the death penalty. Japan has the highest rate of executions for first-world democracies, even executing mentally ill individuals who may not even understand the crime that they've been convicted of. Not a peep from SGI about this.
SGI's political party, the New Komeito Party, voted in favor of sending financial support for coalition military activities in Afghanistan and Iraq. How can this be, when SGI says that it's a "world peace organization."? Well, the Komeito's partner, the Liberal Democratic Party, was in favor of it...the Komeito felt that they had to support the more-powerful LDP to stay in power.
Tell me again what Ikeda has actually done for world peace. Written peace proposals? (Or paid his ghostwriters to do that?) All that those ever say is how we should have world peace. Who wouldn't say that, other than Dick Cheney? Almost everyone wants peace. Ikeda hasn't presented any new ideas of HOW to achieve that.
Sonique, you have said the following: "I will say that I have a hard time with the very concept of priesthood. How can someone claim to know more than anyone else? That's why I like the mentor/disciple relationship. Walking side by side, each learning from the other and growing through their dialog. I like the idea that we all work together and study together. No leader is "better". I would not have joined SGI if there was a priesthood. "
But SGI DOES claim that Ikeda knows more than anyone else. Otherwise, why would anyone say that you must accept him as your mentor to attain enlightenment? SGI members DON'T walk "side by side" with Ikeda...they follow him. At least when I was in, the whole organization was driven by Headquarters in Japan. We members had no say at all in what we studied, what meetings were held, how the organization was run, how our donations were spent. We did what Japan told us to, period. If members questioned that, they were told that they were being negative, that they didn't understand. As a member, you are NOT considered equal to leaders, especially not Ikeda. Try questioning the things that they tell you, and you'll learn that quickly enough. As an example, how many members really wanted this big "Rock the Era" show? From what I hear, not many! The senior SGI leadership is scrambling to fill the seats. Members did not want it, but had no say -- Japan said, "Rock the Era!" And the SGI general membership is voting with their feet.
SGI does have a priesthood -- Ikeda and his cronies. They're just wearing suits instead of robes.