Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: March 02, 2013 10:12AM

His surname was Matsuoka.

All of this talk about hard practicing gakkai cult members meeting with doom and it all being swept under the rug by the cult org., reminded me of one.

A really nice (half-Japanese) YWD was an avid jogger (health nut) who early one morning at dawn went for her daily jog and never returned. They found her stabbed (and other terrible things) on some mountain road. It was only talked about in very hushed whispers in the cult org. and never brought up again. She was from a hardcore, deep faith, well-liked, model gakkai believing family, too. A very, very sad story. I never ever heard about that family ever again after that, either.

Shavoy said it perfectly, the gakkai cult org. hides terrible things, because those things just don't happen in the Gakkai-Disney-Fantasy-Land that they want projected to the world and membership. It's a form of cult organizational group denial. Don't talk about it, stop thinking about it and it basically never happened - just continue marching harder for Cousin Rufus.

- Hitch

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: March 02, 2013 10:25AM

You know, a lot of people who claim to be Buddhist may not really be. When was the last time you heard of Tina Turner attending a KRG or a discussion meeting? I remember reading an interview with her where she described herself as "a Buddhist/Baptist." That sort of two-timing certainly wouldn't be tolerated in a non-famous, non-figurehead-type member!

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: March 02, 2013 02:44PM

Speaking of celebrity members, did anyone else recognize John Astin on a big nationwide telecast around 1990-1991? I was shocked - and thrilled - to see him. He had starred in the original Addams Family as Gomez Adams, was on Twilight Zone and Outer Limits and Gunsmoke and even the Partridge Family, plus did voice work for Scooby Doo and others - an incredible filmography: [] My favorite film of his was a made-for-TV movie: "Evil Roy Slade" :)

Well, I never really *heard* anything else about him after that!

From his biography at the above site: He and his wife Val are leaders of a Buddhist group in Santa Monica.

They married in 1989.

One of his sons (adopted - wife's son) is Sean Astin, known for The Goonies, Encino Man, and playing Sam in the Lord of the Rings movies, among others.

The Wikipedia entry on him lists this: Religion: Theravada Buddhism

It also notes that he's a vegetarian.

I'm guessing that when he married Val, she was SGI and he was Theravada Buddhism, and after an initial flirtation with the SGI, they both decamped to Theravada Buddhism. Probably triggered by the priests' excommunication of the SGI, I'd wager.

This up-to-date site lists his religion as Theravada Buddhism: []

Apparently he joined in 1985: []

Hi Brian,
In the summer on 1985, we in NSA held our convention in Hawaii for the
third time. The first one was in 1968(?), then 1975 and now we were
preparing for 1985. John Astin was a new member having joined a few
months before that date.

Cleve Ford and I were in charge of plane seating arrangements and
hotel room assignments for LA Territory III. As I recall we had
upwards of 3000 members to assign seats and rooms for. The parade
alone, down Kalakaua Avenue, had over 13,000 NSA members carrying
American Flags right through the heart of Waikiki.

Cleve and I had little problem with the plane seating, and the hotel
paring was going along fine until we were left with one person who we
did not know who to room with - John Astin! After about an hour of
trying to figure it out, we both looked at each other and said, "let's
just put him in our room" (it's good to be the Cho!)

As we were standing in line at LAX waiting to board, I approached John
Astin who I did not know, and said, "I think were gonna be room mates
when we get there." Later he would give experiences about how "some
guy came up to him in line saying he was my room-mate, and how shocked
he was as he had never had a room-mate in his life."

All the members in our Territory were staying at the Sheridan Waikiki
(ah, paradise found.) The rooms had two double beds so we had to
order in an extra roll-a-way bed. Cleve and I were the Cho's so
naturally the roll-a-way was John's bed.
The whole weekend was one
joke filled, gag laden, slapstick laugh after another. There was no
air of John Astin the famous actor, as on that trip, we were all just
one of the boys.

I don't know him well but at that convention I came to respect him as
a great guy and a totally real person.

Take care


Oh gawd - the gakkaispeak! "Cho" indeed! And, yes, whoever was the "Cho" certainly took the best for himself! No sense of "making sacrifices" for the "precious members"!

WEST LOS ANGELES - About 650 people attended a memorial service Wednesday night for actor Anthony Dwain Lee, who was shot to death at a Halloween party by an LAPD officer investigating a noise complaint.

Packed into the auditorium of the Buddhist SGI-USA Los Angeles Friendship Center, friends and family remembered the 39-year-old as a ``brilliant spirit,'' dedicated to peace as a practicing Buddhist and excited about his career.

Among those at the service was actor John Astin, who played Gomez on ``The Addams Family'' television show and who has been a Buddhist for 17 years.

Astin, 70, said he didn't know Lee but wanted to attend the service in his memory.

Okay, 70 + 30 means this was from 2000. 2000-17 = 1983? He had supposedly only been a member for a few months in 1985 :/

Oh, and where were the "Buddhist Gods" that night for Anthony Dwain Lee????

Anyhow, that's all I could find for actor John Astin. He apparently had a buddhist group in Santa Monica (likely SGI) but is now living in Baltimore.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: March 05, 2013 08:57AM

The pseudo-buddhist gakkai U.S.A. cult branch marches on, ripping off music and creating their own hack performances for cult meetings.

Here is "I Got A Mentor - I Have Found" (to the tune of "I've Got A Woman").

I've got a mentor, I have found, he's good for me. Oh yeah!"
"I've got a mentor, way 'cross the sea, he's good for me. Oh yeah!"
"He gives me guidance, when I'm in need. He's a friend, a friend, indeed. Oh yeah!"
"Like the sun, rising in the morning, I feel so free. Oh yeah!"
"Like a wind, riding up the mountain, I feel VICTORY! Oh yeah!"

"I got a mentor, right beside me. Oh yeah!"
"With our mentor, we're gonna fight. As true disciples, we will unite, with our heart, we're gonna sing, ....
"I've got a mentor, so profound, he's good to me. Oh yeah!"


Oh my.

(Check out some more, if you dare [], I really recommend "He practiced what the buddha said." []).


- Hitch

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: opendoor ()
Date: March 05, 2013 10:39AM

I have read this thread from the first page to the last and I check in every few days to read new posts. There is no doubt that this forum has helped me tremendously in leaving the SGI. But my almost obcessive desire to keep up with this forum has me a bit worried.

I recently read a Buddhist story or parable about two monks, a teacher and his student, who are traveling together. They come to a swift moving stream where a young woman is trying to cross in the rushing water. The teacher picks the woman up and sets her on his shoulder and deposits her on the other side. His student is horrified, and dumbfounded at this because at that place and time, it was a great defilement for a Buddhist monk to touch a woman. The student wants to ask his teacher about it, but is afraid to mention it, and they continue on the journey. They walk in silence all morning and into the long afternoon. The student just can't understand-- how could his teacher, his master, have done such a thing-- actually lifted a woman onto his shoulder? Finally during a rest stop in the evening, the student gets up the courage to ask his teacher the burning question, and his teacher simply laughs and says, " I put that woman down on the other side of the stream, but you have been carrying her all day!"

I put the SGI down over two years ago, but I think that I am still very much carrying it around, and I would like to stop doing that. During my meditation practice, I often wander into imagined conversations with members in which I explain to them the point of a real Buddhist practice and the pointlessness of the SGI. And, as already mentioned, I am very attached (yes, attachment) to reading this tread.

Just curious how others feel about having a continued mental focus on the SGI-- through this tread or otherwise-- and some healthy ways to stop carrying it around. I already gave the SGI nearly 20 years of my time and mental space-- I'd like to clear it out completely!! I need to put this woman down!

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Date: March 05, 2013 11:55AM

To Opendoor: I too read the entirety of postings re SGI on this forum, spending a whole weekend digesting all of the information and perspectives. I had been practicing for 35 years, and held a leadership position for most of them. I found myself questioning my involvement over a year ago and began gradually disassociating myself from the organization and eventually the whole practice. Reading all the postings here was helpful, supporting my decision and reinforcing what I already suspected to be true. While leaving had been a choice I made very carefully and slowly I believe it has been one of the very best decisions I have ever made. I have taken my life in a totally new direction and feel much happier and emotionally healthier. I have not regretted this decision once. I too have checked in on this site frequently and have been observing my thoughts and how often they are focused on SGI stuff. I can only say that it's a process for me that I equate to detaching as you would from any unhealthy relationship with something or someone you "love" but doesn't love you back.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: March 05, 2013 03:09PM

opendoor, I wonder if your imaginary conversations have the purpose of getting the target to agree that you are right. If so, then you're seeking the validation and approval of those people, likely because you still hold them in special regard, in a place of respect and admiration. That's fine; I'm sure you knew a lot of good people. I did in my just-over-20-years with SGI (most of those in some leadership capacity or other - at one point, I held 4 leadership positions simultaneously!

Once I had a dream in which the checkout clerk at the grocery store I frequented (a creation of my subconscious, not a face I knew in real life) treated me rudely. I woke up from the dream, and was awake, steaming mad, for a half hour, thinking to myself what I should have said to her, how I should have told her off! And then I guess I woke up the rest of the way and realized that it hadn't ever been real!

Could the reason you come here be because you now have a community void in your life? If so, there's nothing wrong with that. I think the people who condemn those who socialize online are similar to what I imagine were those lamenting how telephones would bring about the demise of civilized society - why, people aren't even getting together in person to talk any more! How detached and unsociable it is! The fact is, though, that now, you can go online and find people who share your interests (and issues!). No matter how esoteric or bizarre your interests, you can find a community of like-minded individuals! There, you might have a conversation with someone from Italy, someone from Norway, someone from Japan, and someone from Bahrain - all at the same time! You don't even need to speak the same language any more, what with the online translation programs!

This is a very scary scenario to those who are accustomed to their tight-knit communities of neighbors, relatives, and friends. Some people live in the same town their whole lives - their social life is likely quite different from the person who has just moved to New York City!

For me, this thread provides the only place in my life where I can talk about my experiences and how weird it all was and how it affected me, with people who have been through it themselves. I just can't talk about it with people who've never been "on the inside" - they don't get it, and, further, it's embarrassing!

Once I realized I was leaving, I started writing a letter that I intended to send to Linda Johnson, one of the big national leaders whom I knew. When the letter ballooned to, what, 14 pages? I realized I could never send it. Plus, there is a sinister side to the SGI - I am frankly afraid to confront the organization per se. But just writing down all my observations and criticisms of the SGI helped - maybe that would help YOU. Think of a leader you like, whom you think is reasonable, and start writing a letter to that person, explaining why you are leaving. Maybe you'll send it; maybe you won't; but regardless, the first step is to get it written!

FYI - I put the SGI down early in 2009. I didn't discover this forum until just this year, but it's wonderfully refreshing to finally have a place to talk about the weirdness with people who *get it*.

During my final years in SGI, there was a pattern in my life (necessary to some degree - complicated) where I was having to be around people I didn't really like (at all) for the sake of my children's social circle. Like I said - complicated. And there I was, dreading the SGI meetings, going to the meetings that I never really enjoyed, going to activities where I would be surrounded by people who I could tell didn't really like me and who I couldn't consider "friends" in any meaningful sense of the world. It was truly esho funi! Once I really started pondering the cause and effect involved, I realized that the more time I spent around people I *DIDN'T* enjoy, the less time I had for people I *DID* enjoy; and the more "non-friends" I had in my social circle, the less room there was for people who might turn out to be REAL friends. So it was really up to me to start making better choices. It took some time to get used to *not* being around people I didn't like (just because they happened to be there) and to start making better choices about where I needed to be (vs. where I could *choose* to be instead), but I'm SOOOOO much happier now. The SGI was a nagging monkey clinging to my back, haranguing me to do things I didn't want to do. Interestingly, or perhaps sadly, I made THEM reject ME! It was in my purchase/display of "heretical objects" (5' tall minimalist gohonzon scrolls from Nichiren Shu) that really started the snowball rolling. The home visit from a Jt. Terr. WD leader (Japanese) and a HW WD leader (African American) really was the turning point. Where the Japanese woman was unable to explain why it was wrong to have them, unable to answer any of my questions, finally resorting to "You should chant until you agree with me." How much more obvious can it get?? And the other one didn't see any problem with my objets d'art!

But if you up and left without provoking a scene, all the more power to you. You've taken YOUR life back - now you are free to live it on your own terms. Problem is, the culty indoctrination makes it very difficult to see your own needs and preferences - they have imposed a set of filters that, for a while at least, you may continue to see events and feelings through, as a prism. Completely natural - just keep investigating your own mind. You say you still meditate - that's fine. When your mind starts running that wheel of the imagined conversations, perhaps you might instead think about what you might like to do this weekend. What's something you've always wanted to try? Is there something you might do that would be very satisfying to you? It doesn't have to be expensive or fancy - planting some seeds in a pot, or painting a wall, or writing a short story, or seeing a movie by yourself, or calling someone you know and inviting him/her to join you at the movie, or going on a hike...the list might be endless. It's all about YOU, though - that's the key.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: March 05, 2013 03:22PM

I can only say that it's a process for me that I equate to detaching as you would from any unhealthy relationship with something or someone you "love" but doesn't love you back. - Wayward Buddhist Woman

I think that's a really good analogy, WBW. When we're in a one-sided relationship (I'm speaking from personal experience here), there's a huge delusion component. We fool ourselves into thinking that the other person really *DOES* love us - it's just a bad childhood/distant alcoholic parents/afraid of intimacy-getting hurt/etc. etc. All those excuses for the fact that this other person is basically treating us like shit! A big part of getting over it is coming to terms with the various layers of delusion, to the point that we can stop making excuses for that other person's obvious bad behavior. Once we can acknowledge that we don't *need* that other, we can start being honest about what happened to us, because expressing the reality of our experience can't be used against us.

A lot of us learned early on that we had to make excuses for others, because if we pointed out how one of the powerful adults in our lives was behaving badly, we would be beaten. I'll just state it plainly - no need for those weasely euphemisms that are supposed to make beatings sound somehow trivial, minimal, and "normal". We learned that it was *dangerous* to be honest - at a point in our lives, we could not afford to be honest. And it can take an entire lifetime to come to terms with what's been programmed into us - some people never do! Why would we put up with bad treatment from someone who is supposed to love us and cherish us? Is it because we believe deep down that's all we can expect/all we deserve? I did. Is it because we believe that it is okay for others to hurt us, and that we must protect them, no matter what? That no one "on the outside" could possibly understand? There's a real sense of isolation that goes along with being abused. The Gakkai certainly used this.

For me, it was plain and simple greed that kept me going - the belief that I could get (unearned) goodies by repeating a magic spell while sitting in front of a magic scroll. Deep down, I had a bad case of "magical thinking", the belief that there was some sort of magical whatsit that, if one could only discover it, would enable one to be fabulously successful in life. There was no understanding of what it took to get from *here* to *fabulously successful* - it was like this was some separate plane that one could only reach through an invisible elevator that could only be detected if one had the magic key. That sort of thing. Deep down, I felt that I could not make it in life without external (supernatural) assistance, which I would have to access via trickery of some sort (because that's how it works - you can't earn it). That's a sad state.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: jlynneda63 ()
Date: March 06, 2013 07:51AM

Hey People,
I haven't posted in ages! Been doing well! This week got an email from a member I practiced with long ago. We moved away from there in fact.This woman always was on the outs with organization & she made it seem she wanted to share! I thought it was ok. I was told the she "respects my autonomy", she asked to send me a card. Yesterday I get a manila envelope & inside is a copied page of guidance from Living Buddhism! A letter that told me how my friend can chant for me now like I did for her.!! I am so mad! Should have seen it coming!! I sent her an email & blocked her. Never FORGET, ALWAYS AN AGENDA!!

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Shavoy ()
Date: March 06, 2013 07:56AM

@opendoor, it has been about the same timeframe that I started to question and pull away from the SGI after a quarter century of practice. Not that long, 2 years, to process something that was a vast part of our lives for that long. I am still trying to process the whole thing, and obviously it's still very much on the mind, as with you.

I think in time, it will take its proper place for what it was. We cannot be too hard on ourselves, as much as it drives us a bit nuts!

@Taiten, you have some great suggestions about this! And I agree with you about the magical thinking keeping us around. Add being afraid to stop giving zaimu for fear of financial collapse to that.

One of the issues I'm still trying to wrap around is the push for Mentor/Disciple. Why, why, in the last few years has this push gone mad??? All great minds here, I'd like opinions about this, please!

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