Current Page: 3 of 747
Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Isabella ()
Date: January 06, 2009 04:05AM

Rangdrol & Anticult:

Thanks for your comments. I have by now read a book or two about Buddhist teaching (non-SGI books) and I am especially impressed by the sentence "follow the law, not the person" - something which Mr. Ikeda seems to forget... He seems to be putting himself on one level with Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King (I saw a promotion picture) and appears to be making quite a cult about his person. This does not appeal to me but I understand that this is the case in nearly all the cults.

I cannot quite believe that chanting a single line over and over again in front of a piece of paper shall lead to happiness, but well, everybody must decide for him/herself. I feel sorry for my friends - they have been members of SGI for such a long time. I will for now not attempt to "reconvert" them though - I feel that they are too "into" their belief that SGI is the right choice for them. They however will never stop trying to "convert" me you say? Well, I will just wait and see, and if this turns out to be true, then I can eventually break the contact. Right now I am not yet ready to do so.

I am amazed that here in Germany Buddhism has become so popular in recent years. We have a Buddhist centre near my hometown (I do not know what school it follows but I am sure it is not Zen), but I have not yet made up my mind to go there - I mean I am not a Buddhist and start only now sticking my nose into the Buddhist concept. I will find out in due time whether or not Buddhism is a pair of shoes I can walk in. On the Internet in Youtube I by chance saw a speech by Ajahn Brahm which left a great impression on me. Though although I am not very religious, I am ready to look into the Buddhist philosophy a little more and want to see another of his speeches. We'll see.

Isabella

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Sparky ()
Date: January 08, 2009 03:06AM

Buddhism is my favorite of Mankind's religions...No god-head. No need to believe in god(s). It doesn't get much better than that. Avoid SGI, however. It is not a true form of Buddhism.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: January 08, 2009 06:18AM

I may have overstated that, from actual experience, it seems to depend on the person.
SGI folks are coached to keep working on people to covert them to SGI, as they are told its good Karma.
But some SGI people with more common sense seem to lay-off, after you tell them 25x you're not interested.
Others seem to keep trying to convert their friends for literally years on end.

That must get coached into them on a weekly basis at their meetings, to keep trying to bring people in..."for their own good" of course. Like all these groups, they are very persistent.

Its like Amway. Anyone ever had a "friend" try to pitch you on getting rich selling Amway toilet paper at 3:00am after a social night out?

Its all cultic programming...they program them to recruit reruit recruit...that's the mantra.



Quote
Isabella
Rangdrol & Anticult:
They however will never stop trying to "convert" me you say? Well, I will just wait and see, and if this turns out to be true, then I can eventually break the contact. Right now I am not yet ready to do so.
...

Isabella

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: January 08, 2009 07:02AM

Quote
The Anticult
I may have overstated that, from actual experience, it seems to depend on the person.
SGI folks are coached to keep working on people to covert them to SGI, as they are told its good Karma.
But some SGI people with more common sense seem to lay-off, after you tell them 25x you're not interested.
Others seem to keep trying to convert their friends for literally years on end.

That must get coached into them on a weekly basis at their meetings, to keep trying to bring people in..."for their own good" of course. Like all these groups, they are very persistent.{end quote}

Exactly, Anticult -- SGI members are individuals, like people in any other religion, and some are more programmed than others. I have a relative who is an SGI group leader, and we have great discussions about Buddhism. He agrees with some of my criticisms of SGI, and disagrees with others, and we can debate respectfully.

I myself was an SGI leader at one point (of a small group.) And yes, my leaders knew that I disagreed with the official SGI positions -- pressuring everyone and his brother to join, the worship of President Ikeda, the war with the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. Still, they gave me the position, thinking that they could influence me to accept the party line (and if they kicked me out or replaced me, who else would they get to do all the work I did?) Oh, someone like me would never have been promoted to a higher rank within the organization (it's like the military -- all these ranks), but that was never my goal. Being a leader in SGI is basically an opportunity to work your butt off for free. I figured it would only get worse if I were to climb the ladder.

So why did I even accept the leadership position I was offered? I actually hoped at the time that I could help change the organization -- encourage my members to think more for themselves, rather than just follow official SGI positions unquestioningly. What can I say? I was naive! Many of my fellow members didn't WANT to think for themselves; they seemed to want to continue worshipping President Ikeda. THEY were happy, I wasn't, and finally I wised up and resigned my leadership position. I would still occasionally attend meetings. Part of me was fed up with it -- and yet I just couldn't make that final break for a few more years.

For the past two years, I've had no contact with any SGI members, other than my relative, who lives in another state. This was my choice. It was the right one for me, due to my history with SGI, and my issues with certain members in my local group. It doesn't mean that nonmembers cannot be friends with SGI members; many of them are fine people, and not all follow the party line. Some are even married to people who practice other forms of Buddhism -- even though the SGI discourages this.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/08/2009 07:04AM by tsukimoto.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: January 08, 2009 07:37AM

that's interesting.
It seems that SGI targets really "nice" people, who will happily work themselves to death for no money for "the SGI cause". (They always tell everyone they are "Buddhist" and then bow very nicely, and then hand you a SGI pamphlet for the 25th time).

Its true they promote the "hardest workers" and then they also play on those folks Vanity, by sending them to get photo's with local dignitaries, etc. It gives them a sense they are a big shot too. That is a "reward".

From what I have seen, to move up higher in SGI beyond the base level where you just chant and recruit, you have to live, breath, and crap SGI 24/7/365.

hey, SGI did come out of Japan, which is renowned for its relaxed work schedule!

SGI is a very carefully designed globally organization, and as you say, follow military ranking methods, rewards for hard work, and everything else.
They know what they are doing.

But they do seem to target really "nice" people, unlike some other groups who seem to attact aggressive "assholes" like Landmark.

One wonders if the higher level national and international SGI people are also "nice" or more militaristic and fanatical under the facade?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/08/2009 07:43AM by The Anticult.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: January 08, 2009 01:05PM

SGI targets and recruits really nice people? I don't know about that. A large number of members and leaders in SGI-USA are Japanese. In the Japanese culture, there is enormous pressure to avoid confrontation. Yet, under this "nice" surface, there can be a lot of anger and contempt for people who can't or won't fit the mold. Not aggressive aggression like Landmark, but a lot of passive aggression. The Japanese leaders in the United States then seem to expect and pressure the American members to fit this pattern -- women members must defer to the males, younger members defer to older members, don't question leaders, don't disagree, don't ever argue or get angry -- we must have consensus, we must have harmony.

This is the Japanese culture, and when I lived in Japan, I tried to be a bit less outspoken than I might've been in the States. My point is, these Japanese SGI leaders who are living in the United States should do the same -- try to understand and respect western culture.

American members who will not act like Japanese can find themselves ostracized or gossiped about behind their backs. And we couldn't discuss this openly. You just meet with silence and denial if you try. "The Jello Wall," people have called it.

I think that it may be worse in Japan. I have a Japanese friend who is a member; she and her husband went to an SGI meeting. While there, her husband had a heart attack and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. She was dismayed to find that her fellow members were angry with her and her husband, blaming them for disrupting the meeting!

It is very true that if you want to be an SGI leader you have to eat, sleep, crap, and breath SGI 100% of the time...but it seems if you are white, African-American, Hispanic, or an Asian American who is not Japanese, you will encounter a glass ceiling. You are welcome to stay at the lower and middle levels of the organization and work. There are a few token white or African-American leaders on the National level, but not many. Positions of real power? Headquarters in Tokyo usually sends a Japanese -- and usually a Japanese man, to fill them.

In my city, we had three individuals who were the mainstay of SGI for years -- an African-American man, a white woman and an African-American woman. These three were incredibly dedicated, working hard for over fifteen years to establish SGI in our area. And yet who got picked to lead our area? This very young Japanese man, an immigrant who just arrived, didn't know our area, didn't know us, and didn't even speak English all that well. We were appalled, but we had no say -- members have no choice, you just have to take the leaders that Japan sends. Sure, he was a nice guy, but what qualified him to be over others who had built the organization in our area? It seemed to us, only that he was Japanese and male.

But, white, black, green or Japanese, every high-level leader totally accepts the party line and worships President Ikeda, at least in public. I have heard that SGI-USA is losing members and really isn't gaining many new ones -- and I think that this control by Japan is a huge part of the reason why.

I think as time goes on, eventually just a small, fanatical core group of older members will be left...and I think that the SGI will further splinter and break down when President Ikeda, who is in his eighties, dies. In my opinion, the senior leadership of SGI does NOT know what it's doing. SGI-USA would have a greater chance of survival if the American members could run the organization in a way that is more compatible with American culture. I'm not talking about changing the teachings of Buddhism. It's about giving members more of a voice in how SGI-USA is run, rather than having everything imposed top-down by Japan -- which isn't Buddhism. Far as I can tell, the Buddha never said you had to belong to a particular organization to find greater wisdom, happiness and peace.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: January 08, 2009 10:54PM

just to clarify, the SGI folks I have known have all been westerners...and all really "nice" people in terms of how they behave. But they are all just bottom level chanters...they are the victims, they are the one's who believe the bullshit and pay their dues and recruit. They are "too nice" to even consider they might be getting used.

as far as SGI knowing what they are doing, all I meant was they are a global org, and they appear to run a political party, etc. Compared to most of these other culty groups, they seem to be far more organized.
Sadly, these groups just go on and on, and often there is a power-hungry person already running the org before the leader dies.
Look at Scientology, they got bigger after the leader died.

So one hopes SGI will start to crumble, but there is a lot of assets and money at stake. One assumes someone in the org is positioned to take over once the old man departs?

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: January 09, 2009 05:49AM

Yes, Japan's New Komeito Party is the Soka Gakkai's political party in Japan, and the Japanese SGI members are heavily pressured to contribute money, campaign for, and vote for New Komeito Party candidates. SGI-USA owns some pricey real estate in the United States -- and yet they continue to ask for contributions, even from members who are living paycheck to paycheck. What will happen after President Ikeda dies? He has not designated a successor, as far as I've heard. His son Hiromasa sometimes attends meetings if Papa Ikeda can't, so perhaps it'll be Hiromasa who ends up taking over. Or perhaps there's someone else pulling strings behind the scenes even now. Ikeda travels quite a lot -- can he also really be running everything and also writing all the books, poems and articles that appear under his name? I can't imagine how.

It's just, so many SGI members are so devoted to him -- like some Christians are to Jesus Christ. The SGI's official party line is that you cannot reach enlightenment if you don't take Ikeda as your personal mentor...how anyone can believe a thing like that, I can't even imagine -- but people do. What will those people do when Ikeda dies? Lose all desire to live? Kill themselves? Look for a new human being to turn into a god? Become Scientologists? Other leaders might try to take over, but I don't think that there's any other leader in SGI who has the charisma and popularity to truly draw the fanatical devotion that Ikeda has inspired. Some people I know suggest that this is the result of deliberate choices on Ikeda's part. It's rumored that this happened to George Williams, who used to be the SGI-USA leader. He was popular, worked very hard to develop SGI in the U.S. -- and then suddenly he was just gone, we had another SGI-USA leader -- and none of the leaders ever spoke of George Williams again. It was as if he never existed! Very Twilight Zoney. Some people say that George was simply becoming too popular for Ikeda's liking....we'll never know.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/2009 05:53AM by tsukimoto.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: January 09, 2009 10:32AM

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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/2009 10:39AM by The Anticult.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: January 09, 2009 10:37AM

Ikeda has figured out how to get people to follow him, and his organization.
Also, he would have a group of ghostwriters, or maybe just one super-ghost, to write most of the stuff, or maybe he just dictates it on the fly.

These types of groups never have a good succession, as when strong leaders come up internally, they get pushed out by the King. these "King" alpha male guys never give up the throne, even when almost dead in the hospital. Without fail, it not until after they die, that there is a power-struggle.

In TM, that is why they pushed Deepak Chopra out, he was too good.

But with all those assets in SGI, one can think its going to stay all in the family.

It brings to the phrase..."from my cold dead hands..."

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