Came across this interesting post from way back:
I don't usually respond to these threads, but the idea that Mr. Williams is a poor, defenseless man is so wildly off-base, I had to say something.
Did it ever occur to you that the experiences listed here come from the '70s and '80s, when Mr. Williams was the general director? If Mr. Williams was such an effective leader, why did so many people receive the Gohonzon, but not continue to practice in the '80s? It was because he treated the spread of Nichiren Buddhism as a numbers game, and he created an unsustainable, punitive and oppressive culture in which many sincere, honest people were hurt deeply, my family included.
He may have talked about President Ikeda with tears in his eyes, but it's never about what people say, it's about what they do.
I don't think he is/was "poor" and "defenseless." I think he ultimately reaped what he sowed (just like the members numbers game, members came and went, and so did he). As far his actions regarding the dear leader, I only ever saw him completely devoted, respectful and idolizing in behavior. He practically worshiped the ground "Ikea" walked on (his fatal mistake).
Wherever Mr. Williams traveled, he had the women's division members wait on him hand and foot. They were required to be on standby to make Japanese food for him at a moment's notice, served on their own china. I know this, because my mother was one of them.
I have to completely disagree with this. I saw this many times and they (the Japanese WD) all did it simply because it was what they wanted
to do. Once he was "officially" ostracized by "Ikea", they went 180 degrees in the opposite direction, practically ignoring him (on the telephone and in person).
He favored Japanese leaders and looked down on Americans as incapable of effectively communicating Buddhism. I know this, because my father was one of them.
No one would ever stand for that sort of arrogant behavior today. Why? Because since Mr. Williams stepped down in 1990, members were encouraged to deeply study Buddhism for the first time and develop a self-motivated practice. Mr. Williams was not a genuine Buddhist; he was a cult of personality. I may be Chudapanthaka, but he is, in my book, Devadatta.
For those of us who survived Mr. Williams' oppressive era, we understand how misled we were. People misunderstood President Ikeda's encouragement, because Mr. Williams taught members to fear him and treat him like a god. This is simply not Buddhism.
The oneness of mentor and disciple is not a hierarchical relationship, but rather a shared determination to accomplish the Buddha's vow—to make all persons equal to the Buddha without any distinction between them. It is a relationship in which the mentor and disciple advance the Buddha's vow side-by-side and in which the disciple surpasses the mentor in ability and understanding.
If people speak about President Ikeda as a god today, it's because of their NSA training.
I would never deny someone's experience; I can only share my own. But this e-mail thread feels stuck in a time warp.
The gakkai cult has always been a Japanese centric "organization." I think it is also one of their greatest flaws, outside of Japan. Your post honestly doesn't correlate much to anything that I experienced in nsa/sgi-usa. If anything, the cult was less Ikeda obsessed, in comparison to today. Regarding studying
, we were pushed all the time to study the gosho, independently, at study meetings and even officially take study department exams (and progressively move up to higher and higher levels of in-depth study). I remember it well, because I never wanted to, nor was I very interested in all the fairy tales, but I did, because I HAD to. Ikeda's insipid "Human Revolution" was merely a sideshow (although I do remember an occasional brainwashed Japanese youth leader going gaga over it trying to convince others, but not many people were biting).
The cult organization that I see today is far more shallow than what I grew up in, much more dumbed down, and the current general director sounds a lot like a Williams wanna-be (in his meaningless stereotyped speeches). There really is nothing new to see. It's just the same old game, tweaked to appeal to another generation, so that the cult goes on.