I found this fellow's comments to be accurate and worth sharing:
Firstly, Soka Gakkei is NOT a Buddhist sect it is the "lay" organization of Nicherin Sho Shu (sic) Buddhism.
Unfortunately, this lay group is more of a cult than a religious organization and has actually broken with the priesthood and the "religion" itself because of arguments over control. Their "leader" a guy name Ikeda is around 90 now, and still runs around with a gaggle of young women "assistants"
and "translators" and spends his time jet setting around the world spending his tax free billions. They require HUGE amounts from their members and here in Japan they are generally, shall we say "disliked" by non members because of their pushy proselytizing.. They run a political party and own huge amounts of real estate, including properties in Malibu and Irvine California where they have their "University". It is a huge money making empire, all under the control of one guy.
Their "religious practice" consists of repeating "Namu Yo Horenge Kyo" (sic) 1000's of times, the faster the better. If you say it enough times you will receive whatever it is you want. Money, new car, girl friend etc. There is NO philosophy, no study, except reading from the dear leader's books, which are rambling essays on "world peace", you know, if you give enough money and say enough magic phrases world peace will break out, that sort of thing.
It is popular with some celebrities and others not willing or incapable of putting any thought into religion. Say the words...........that's all that is required.
Their "gohonzon" is a small paper scroll with the words "Namu Yo Horenge Kyo" written on it. THAT is what they "pray" in front of.
I know this because my wife's sisters are members, and my wife was when I met her. She has since seen the error of her ways. They are like zombies, giving 25% of their income, working for the cult every weekend and donating time and money for their political campaigns.
They are required to sell so many subscriptions to the cult newspaper
, and on and on. Like all cults they prey on the weak and lonely. They are very friendly and encouraging until they get their hooks in and then they never let go.
A few years ago 10 million dollars was found in a suitcase thrown in a rice field. It is widely suspected that this was Soka Gakkai money that was "hidden" and disposed of for unknown reasons.
I would do NOTHING to encourage your friend's participation in this. It will damage him greatly in the end I'm afraid. This is SO not a religion, and will never lead to any peace for your friend."
"My "analysis" of Soka Gakkai is based on 30 years experience. Take it for what it is worth to you. They are not "affiliated" with Komeito, they own it. All candidates are high level members of Soka Gakkai. And NO they do not study the writing of Nicherin, the religion does, Soka Gakkai studies Ikeda's writings. Sorry, I live in the middle of it, I know how it works, at least here in Japan.
Their falling out with the priesthood was over control of temple properties and money....what else! Ikeda considers himself more important than their high priest. The high priest thinks he is the head of the religion, so they split and have nothing to do with each other. Soka members are PROHIBITED from even visiting the religion's temples by the dear leader.
To me it is a cult. Nicherin Sho Shu is NOT, Sokka Gakkai IS. Sorry that's my opinion after watching it and being around it as long as I have. I was married in their temple for goodness sake, so please do not assume my opinion is baseless and "uncharitable".
Actually their chanting means "hail to the Lotus religion (sutra)" in old Japanese. Their morning and evening prayers are in Heian period Japanese that NOBODY can read or understand, it is archaic and contains parts of the "lotus" sutra supposedly dictated by the buddha. None of the members that I know understand but a few words of it. They are far more interested in the "meat" of the meal so to say, the repetitive "gongyo", for hours on end.
Have they sold your friend his Soka approved "Budsudan" to house his scroll yet? You MUST buy it from them. Over here they cost anywhere from 2-10K for the wooden box with doors. They are very interested in the money side of things.
I am not trashing any religion here. Only Soka Gakkai, which is not a religion. Once again it is a group of laity founded by Ikeda, it is NOT a religion. It would be like calling the Knights of Columbus a "religion". I don't like them because I see my far from wealthy sisters in law giving them so much while the elites in the organization, ie; group leader rank and above, live quite a comfortable life with estates available only to them all over the country in the best resort areas. At one point my youngest sister in law was giving 50% of her income to the group while she lived off of the generosity of her mother. And they were pushing her to give more
. That is just wrong.
Ever seen their mansion in Malibu
, oh that's right regular folks can't go in. All the army of ants get for the price of admission is a promise of "changing their karma" and in so doing improve their material lives........yeah, that seems right. Sorry if I am biased, but there is just so much WRONG about Soka Gakkai that overshadows any good hidden in their message.
Good luck to you, really, and I am being totally sincere, with what ever you choose to do. It is not my life. I was only trying to share my experience with the group. Dismiss me if you choose. Others may have a different view, but I doubt they have been around it as long as I have."
Taken from [forums.catholic.com
Must say, I agree with much of the above. Bolded
remarks in particular:
1. You see this "gaggle" of young women's division all over inside cult HQ. buildings in Shinanomachi. Not WD, but Y
WD. They even push elevator buttons for you, hold doors open, pull chairs out for you to sit down and come running if you even so much as make a move to appear to be taking your coat off (so as to take it and hang it up for you). If unaccustomed to this kind of gender reversal of behaviors in Japan, it can be rather shocking for the uninitiated.
2. The amount you start giving regularly shall always be maintained, never decreased - lest your faith not be in the proper place. Subscriptions, activity preparation, Komeito campaigning (hitting the pavement, visiting houses, distributing literature on street corners) are all a matter of course and expected when the time comes. No thinking required. The word goes out and machine and members quickly hum into action following orders. It's very hard to pull back or stop once you start down the road of obligating yourself for such "practices." Again, if you do, your faith is questioned and you will be pressured back into the fold by home visitations, etc..
3. Again, there is heavy pressure to maintain the regular amount you give to the cult org., never decreasing. The more "fortune" and benefit your acquire (confirmation bias), the more you are pressured to ratchet up your gratitude in the form of $$$$$, time, commitment and more activities / meetings / taking care of other members.
4. The Malibu mansion is an incredible property located off PCH (Pacific Coast Highway / Highway 1) in California, right across from / near Pepperdine University. It was called "The Malibu Training Center." ("Training" is cult-speak, for manipulation.) Even as a kid / teenager, that property never failed to take my breath away - especially the grounds and view. Many
areas of the property were officially "off limits" even to members - and strictly
enforced. This property always had a different feel to it in comparison to all of the other gakkai cult buildings; more of a "mafia-don" kind of atmosphere, very plush, yet very unwelcoming, untrusting and one with a whiff of suspicion wafting in the air around every corner on the inside of the buildings. There were usually "Malibu Garden Parties" held there for The Dear Leader back in the 80's when he used to actually venture abroad. It's interesting to note that the general membership celebrations were held outside in the garden and only the hardcore high level cult leaders were allowed inside the buildings for other "guidance" meetings. If you weren't a trusted high level leader, you didn't gain access into certain areas. And once your "job" at the Malibu center was completed, you were ushered off just as quickly as you arrived.
Much of what the above fellow says resonates very well with my time in and exposure to the cult org..