the typical gakkai cult YWD trademark obligatory and feigned sign-off that you hear from all the automatons at the end of their "experiences
I learned early to do this - no one had to instruct me. It was just the norm. Finish the experience, then in a voice several notches higher and louder, as if you're excited to get out of there, "Thank you very much!!" Also, at meetings, if someone started rambling or was talking too long or about something you wanted to shut down, the protocol was to burst into applause and, again, in that higher, louder voice, announce "Thank you very much!!"
Something I observed early on still haunts me. I practiced for 5 years as YWD in Minneapolis, then married and moved to St. Thomas. After a few months there, I was too busy to do any SGI activities, so I practiced on my own. I was cut off from everyone I'd practiced with before. After 3.5 years there, we moved to my parents' home in Kansas for about 2 months before moving to North Carolina. It was in Kansas that I exchanged my Nikken Gohonzon for the SGI green-bordered one (which I really think is prettier, but that's the only distinction for me). While there, I met a woman who'd been practicing about 30 years. She was from Kansas, but was visiting for a coupla months, her visit coinciding with mine. She was living in this motel. When she joined the SGI, she was in her teens, a beautiful blonde swimmer and model. She was then living in Colorado, I think. How she met her husband was interesting - he was YMD, and she and another YWD were on their way to an activity when she realized they were passing by his apartment, so they knocked on the door to invite him to come along with them. At that moment, he knew he would marry her, because he had been chanting for a beautiful blonde to knock on his door. On her way to an activity, she was in a left turn lane preparing to make her turn, when this older man made a last-minute decision to turn left, and he ran right into her. She was injured, but didn't realize it due to being in shock. It turned out that her head was fractured in 7 places. You'll recall the part in Nichiren's writings where he says that anyone who betrays (him) will have their heads broken in 7 pieces. She tormented herself terribly over this - "What must I have done in a previous lifetime??" She was truly in anguish. From that accident, her life careened downhill. Her jaw "chalked" and had to be removed, and was replaced with one of her ribs. It was too big for her face and changed her looks - when I met her, she was a rather average looking middle-aged woman (about 45). I saw a picture of her when she was young - I wouldn't have known it was the same woman. She had trachea problems too and had to be intubated before anesthesia - I'm a little fuzzy on that part. She chanted *endlessly*. She was in chronic pain and completely disabled. When I met her, she was preparing for her final appeal. She had been given guidance early on to NOT take her case to court and sue for damages, because of some gosho where Nichiren says "Do not take this matter to court." One of the HQ leaders, in fact, came out with an announcement at a Kosen Rufu Gongyo (the largest monthly meeting) that that gosho thing was about a specific situation and not a blanket statement - where there is wrong, members should be free to seek redress in the courts just like anyone else. So many older members had been giving her "guidance" not to take it to court, you see, and citing that gosho. She was a wreck! Can you imagine, this kind of pressure when you are already in constant pain and having surgeries??
But at each trial (she's been through the original and then 2 appeals), the jury simply did not accept that so much damage could have resulted from that accident, immediately after which she appeared *fine*! She was laughing and wondering if they could still make it to the activity on time! She told me about how she'd gotten guidance earlier that year (this was the summer of '95) from a leader visiting from Kansai. Ever-victorious Kansai - you remember O_O
She said that, when she told him her story, he jumped to his feet and exclaimed, "You so inju-ed - no money????" He couldn't believe it!
Then she had her final appeal, her last chance to get redress through the courts. And she lost. That was the end. She would not get *any* reimbursement for having her health ruined.
Last I heard, she spent most of her time in bed, chanting.
I could never forget that glaring example that you do NOT get what you chant for. Even when, by all measures, you should be able to get it even WITHOUT chanting! What kept me in was the "promise" that you could get things normally unavailable to you by chanting for them, that you could "bend the rules" of life and the universe, get promoted to the front of the line or the head of the class without having to earn it. How seductive that "promise" was. And how false.