Holly_golightly's post has reminded me, the exact same kind of emphasis was placed on tozan-kai in the old N$A cult org. (Nichiren Shoshu $oka Gakkai of America). Although tozan didn't happen as often, the same kind of propaganda was fed to the members. "If you want to change your life or make a breakthrough, then you had to do tozan" and amazing miraculous things would happen. In reality, tozan with the $GI served the same purpose as these present day indoctrination cult retreat centers. In fact, that's *why* these cult retreat centers popped up right after
the split with the priesthood, to replace the necessary role that tozan once played. The focus also shifted away from the dai-gohonzon (which now is even being touted as a fake, I personally don't care either way) and towards The Dear Leader (The Master-Slave lectures, Ikeda owned-touched artifacts museum, etc.). I mentioned before that the gakkai cult org. in the motherland is doing the same kind of museum-type exhibits with their new cult HQ buildings in Japan, too. It's gotten really sick as hell, to be honest.
Shavoy, I have tried to convince gakkai members (in the motherland, too) that Ikeda's "degrees" are finagled, bought and paid for. It causes some to have temporary cognitive dissonance, but it is ultimately pushed aside into the denial corner of their minds eventually. Perhaps one day, some will be ready to accept it, if the dissonance keeps knocking on their mental door (if it is ajar). Most, are brainwashed to believe that The Dear Leader accepts the degrees on behalf of them, representing actual proof of the validity of the gakkai's cult practice in the real world and that The Dear Leader doesn't go seeking these degrees - they come to him, which he cannot turn down. In essence, a flow of benefits from his practice that just doesn't stop. It's absolutely absurd and all connections to reality have been cut when it comes to anything related to The Dear Leader.
At the end of the day it's never enough for the SGI.
Bingo! Truer words have rarely been spoken.
This was my exact "experience" in the gakkai cult org.. For a long time, I specifically tried to cultivate and find a happy balance that I could keep up and tolerate. A balance that would please a hardcore gakkai parent and certain "leaders", yet one that I could also accept. The more I gave, the more they wanted and expected. It was never enough. Eventually, I reached a breaking point and started stepping back. Things slowly started to get interesting from that point on and I regularly started to encounter the Mr. Hyde side of the "leaders" and certain members.
The $oka Gakkai Cult Org. is one seriously messed up, dysfunctional, destructive and abusive pseudo-buddhist cult.