Re: Former SGI members
Date: July 02, 2010 08:18PM
(I apologize if this posts twice.)
Thank you all so very much for your responses. It really touched my heart that you would be so kind & take the time to respond.
What a strange feeling it is. Yes, before I joined I said "I practice Shin!" They responded I could practice Shin and chant too, that there were many people of many different religions who chanted. However, once I joined, I immediately experienced pressure to give up my Shin practice as SGI was the ONLY "correct" practice.
I found myself fearful of home visits, as there were always comments about my Buddha statues, and books about other Buddhist traditions, which I found confusing as they had always said I could continue my regular practice and chant too! When I tried asking them about it, they simply told me now that I had received my gohozon it was time to chant to change my karma, and the only "right" Buddhism was SGI. Which also really confused me, as still to this day, I have yet to understand where or who can comfortably & honestly say to me that the "first" Buddha ever stated that we should dismiss all his previous teachings.
I had many books on all different Buddhist traditions, as well as numerous other religious beliefs, including a bible, and self-help books. There were all very much frowned upon. I explained that I love learning about other people's beliefs as it helps me understand them better, and isn't understanding (or seeking to) a form of compassion and isn't mutual compassion a step towards Peace?
Also, I always was very confused by the idea of a Buddhist organization being run by a "President"???
What's particularly perplexing to me right now is one of the last home meetings I attended.
I was experiencing some health challenges, and was potentially requiring a surgery, when I lost my job and consequently, my medical insurance. I was told I did not need medical insurance or attention, as I had a Gohozon, and the only reason why I was sick was because I was not chanting enough.
This was confusing to me, as prior to receiving my Gohozon I did not have steady work or medical insurance and was told if I received my Gohozon and chanted enough, great fortune would come into my life and one day I would have full-time work and medical insurance!!!!!!!! Also, never have any financial worries again.
By this point, I was seriously considering washing my hands clean of SGI, as I was tired of feeling ridiculed for my beliefs, Buddhas, and books. ESPECIALLY for feeling pressured to go to these meetings that "would change my life." When in my own opinion, my life wasn't that bad?! A lot of members told me if I were to chant more, my life would become more like theirs. I tried to politely explain that my life was lived on purpose, and the ways it was different from theirs, is because that's the way I liked it, that is the way I prefer to live. They insisted I could not be really happy, and I tried my best to bite my tongue and politely explain that not everyone wants to live the same way. That just because I didn't go to meetings all the time and clap & sing & get all excited about their President, didn't mean I was an unhappy person. It simply meant that I don't feel the same feelings towards their President as they do.
So, I develop this medical challenge and lose my job, when I decide it just may be the right time to completely exit my SGI "membership." Things were becoming challenging, and I honestly wanted simple, silent meditation to keep my mind centered. For me personally, the more scary and challenging circumstances become, the more imperative silent meditation becomes for me. It's what gets me through.
I had promised one of the members that I would attend this home meeting, and although my heart was not in it, I try to always adhere to my promises, so I went, thinking it will may very well be the last meeting I ever attend. When the speaker begins to share her experience, my heart misses a beat and my jaw drops. She is sharing her experience, and it is strikingly similar to what I was currently going through, right down to the very same medical condition!!!!!!!!!!!! I absolutely was struck by the coincidence. She spoke of falling to the floor, lying unconscious, and her family gathering around her chanting her back to life. My intellect thought "how could that possibly be?!" But her account of her condition was so detailed, so real.
In that moment, it all seemed too amazing to be mere coincidence and afterwards I spoke with member attendees who explained to me it was simply the Mystic Law working, that I was meant to be at that meeting, and hear the experience so that it would renew my determination to be victorious and chant to be restored to good health.
It seemed so amazing & meaningful. I took it was a sign that I should stay with the practice and really give it more of a chance. Afterall, what an amazing coincidence/incident!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This amazing coincidence over-rided the "leave" feeling my gut had previously been speaking to me.
While reading your wonderful responses, I came across one which said (tsukimoto) that "If the guest has a health, money, or family problem, some member who has had that particular problem will share an experience of how they resolved it through chanting/President Ikeda's guidance/doing activities for SGI."
My heart sunk when I read that. That possibility never crossed my mind.
I'd like to believe it was some mystical sign from the Universe, but after reading that, I am rethinking everything.
I don't see how or why it could be, seems far-fetched. This speaker came a long way to share her experience at our meeting. Also, what if I didn't show up at the meeting? I only shared the specifics of my medical issue with one member, who is in a different district. So it seems crazy to contemplate that information was relayed. I just don't know anymore. I just don't know.