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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: February 02, 2009 03:15AM

Quote
KittyLuv
I talked to a lot of people suffering from anxiety in the course of my healing, I noticed that isolation was a common theme, and I was no stranger to that. I can see why chanting would feed into this. I'm very grateful that I had people that were pushing me to get back out into life. There seemed to be a lot of anxious people in SGI and my SGI "mentor" would tell me stories about these various members of the group that I was in and their various conditions -- this one has depression, that one has anxiety -- and they had been in SGI for years. I said, wow, that's amazing. If they've been chanting all this time why haven't they gotten better? Her answer: They're doing it wrong. They don't attend enough meetings and they're not chanting with determination to overcome their fundamental darkness.

Kitty, good points. I think that isolation, anxiety, and/or some kind of loss got a lot of us into SGI, and similar groups. When you first start to go to the meetings, the members will love-bomb you (classic cult behavior), which can be VERY appealing if you are at all lonely. The chanting can take the edge off of the anxiety, and hearing "experiences" can make you feel more optimistic about resolving your loss or problem. This is all very appealing bait, and it's all too easy to see the bait, but not the hook underneath it.

Your leader's answer is classic SGI-speak. If you do solve a problem, or something good happens to you, then it's all due to chanting and SGI. If you can't solve the problem, or something bad happens, then you haven't chanted with enough determination or done enough work for SGI, and you need to do more. Well, if you are human, both good and bad things happen all the time. So for the devout SGI members, the answer is constantly increasing your chanting and efforts for SGI. You are never doing enough; you ALWAYS need to do more, more, more, whether your life is going well or badly!

This mindset is like getting sucked into a whirlpool. It just pulls in someone like my former friend. When I knew her, she usually chanted over two hours a day, and she was attending meetings, or planning them, several times a week. Occasionally, something good would happen to her, or she'd feel good, briefly. Then, she'd feel that she'd gotten a benefit. Which meant that she should be grateful to SGI and do even more for them. If she felt bad, or had a bad day at work, or something else bad happened to her -- she felt that it was because her faith and determination weren't strong enough. Then, she'd resolve to chant more and work harder for SGI. This is such a vicious cycle! You get to the point where you're doing little but SGI stuff, and this is what happened to her.

All she has now in her life is SGI, chanting, her job and her family. She used to cry to me that she wanted more friends, a relationship, more of a social life. Yet her SGI activities simply never left her the time for that. People would invite her out, and she never could go because she'd always have some SGI commitment. Naturally, people are going to quit inviting, if the answer's always no. By now, her friends are all hardcore SGI members. She's cut out anyone who could show her a different perspective. Even if she did start to question SGI at some point -- leaving would mean losing almost every friend she's got. Her family pretty much knows that they can't question her devotion to SGI, or she won't see them.

That could have been me. I'm grateful that I never entirely lost the desire to question. I'm also very thankful to sites like this one. Reading and writing about this helps so much.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: KittyLuv ()
Date: February 13, 2009 02:16AM

Here's an interesting tidbit I found in a comments on another site. I'll put the link to the entire thread about SGI here. It might be helpful to others wondering what might make SGI a cult. It made a lot of sense to me:

"I just wanted to say that I *did* hear that level of "cult speak" during my recent (and short) stint with SGI. I was told to regard any negative remarks about SGI as being something along the lines as tools of a devilish function.

And I didn't want to be a big fish...I just wanted something to give me hope in my life. Bitching incessantly about the temple issue and praising Ikeda for writing books and having tea socials really didn't make me feel like I was doing much to make the world a better place.

I can understand Lisa's anger and determination. On the cover, SGI looks like the perfect organization for folks who are looking for a way of creating peace in their lives and doing something to make the world a better place. It isn't until you get on the inside do you realize that it's nothing more than a self-supporting organization...but not until after one has already put a lot of hope and faith in what could have been."

[www.fraughtwithperil.com]

Hope you're all doing okay.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: February 13, 2009 09:06AM

Kittyluv,, I have seen Lisa Jones's earlier websites, Sokacult.com and Buddhajones.com. They've been archived or taken off the web. There is a Buddhajones.com that is online now -- that's a different site. If my memory is correct, the SGI sued Jones and forced her to take her sites down. She was a former SGI employee, and apparently, SGI put that in her contract, that she couldn't write unfavorable things about the organization, even after she left it.

Jones criticized the Soka Gakkai pretty strongly. She made some good points. The truth is, SGI is a very wealthy organization. And still, SGI leaders keep after members to donate money -- all the while, refusing to tell members where that money goes. Members cannot vote on policy, cannot choose their own leaders, have no grievance procedures if they feel that they've been wronged. Members are told that they will be cursed with terrible fortune if they criticize SGI leaders. President Ikeda has been deified to an insane degree --- and that is NOT consistent with the teachings of Buddhism, no matter what SGI may tell you. All these things are true; Jones was not making them up. Yet, the Reverend Greg didn't address her legitimate criticisms at all in his fraughtwithperil.com blog. He chose, instead to attack Jones. Which shouldn't surprise anyone who's ever tried to argue with an SGI loyalist.

As for his comment, why criticize SGI, when it's not abusing children or making people drink poison Kool-aid -- well, do things have to get that bad before you can criticize something? I can't complain that the local pizza place served me burned pizza; I should just be grateful that I didn't die after eating there? SGI has asked for a great deal of my money, time. commitment, loyalty. If an organization asks me for this, I that gives me the right to judge that organization. Just like when some business wants me to buy something from them. I can say, "You are worth/not worth my time and money because _____"

I think that SGI has the potential to help people live happier lives -- if the leaders would allow more democracy and open discussion, drop the hatred of other sects, stop the President Ikeda worship. Fine, nobody's getting killed, that's terrific. I'm thrilled -- but what about people like my former friend? If she had not had leaders telling her all the time that she just needs to chant more, maybe she'd have gotten real help for her anxiety and depression, rather than just being miserable for so many years. How many people are there like her in SGI? She's not dead -- but can you really say she hasn't been harmed?

There are those who feel that their lives are better for being in SGI. Fine, they have the right to their opinions. I too enjoyed some parts of my time with SGI in the early years. There were positive aspects of it, but in the end, the bad outweighed the good, for me. SGI members have their own websites, meetings and magazines where they can express their joy at being part of the Gakkai. Those of us who have seen some of the less than wonderful aspects of SGI have the same right, and obligation to share our experiences. If I had a friend who wanted to join SGI, I would tell him or her everything I've written on this thread. If the person still chose to join, well, at least they have heard both sides of the story.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Sparky ()
Date: February 13, 2009 09:41AM

tsukimoto, you seem to be the "go to" expert on this thread. What is it called when members host a "chanting party" where all they do is chant Nam Myoho Ren Gay Kyo? I was always a little freaked out because it looked like mental illness.

"Hey! Come over to my apartment and we can chant for world peace nonstop for 6 hours!"

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: February 13, 2009 12:15PM

web archive for Buddhajones.com
[web.archive.org]

There is a web archive of Sokacult.com
[web.archive.org]

but it appears by then, the website was already taken over by the SGI cult, to say that SGI is not a cult!

Lisa Jones gives up here, probably under "chill" threats from SGI
[web.archive.org]
"I have concluded that it is in my best interest to no longer comment on Soka Gakkai International. I have no further comment." Lisa Jones

She directs people to her attorney
"Press/media questions regarding Soka Gakkai International's dispute with me should be directed to my attorney." [web.archive.org]

So SGI went after her, that seems clear.
What is SGI so afraid of? Why are they afraid of open discussion and freedom of thought?
SGI presents as a chanting sect, but just behind the scenes it does get very nasty. They keep a lid on things with an iron fist, like Scientology. That is obvious. But they are able to keep most of that hidden.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda is the absolute ruler of his global corporation, and he knows how to handle his "enemies". This guy is not a Buddhist.


Here is a SGI info website.
____________________________
[www.toride.org]
"What is " Jiyuno Toride " ?
The Victims of Soka Gakkai Association was formed in order to inform the world about the reality of Soka Gakkai, its anti-social activities and infringements on human rights, and to provide assistance to those who have suffered or are currently suffering from the distres associated with membership in Soka Gakkai. "Jiyuno Toride" is the home page of the Victims of Soka Gakkai Association. We would like you to reconsider the reality of Soka Gakkai transcending differences of ideology or political affiliations.
_______________________

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Former SGI members, rampant greed, rape, fraud, tax evasion,
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: February 13, 2009 12:29PM

there are very serious allegations against SGI here...rampant greed, rape, fraud, tax evasion, politcal interference.
Its clear that Ikeda just used SGI for money and political power. Notice how he is the opposite to a real Buddhist.

[www.culthelp.info]

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Re: Former SGI members, rampant greed, rape, fraud, tax evasion,
Posted by: KittyLuv ()
Date: February 13, 2009 11:21PM

tsukimoto, experience with SGI mirrors what I and thousands of others went through with anti-depressants. For a little while you think everything is okay and life doesn't seem too bad (after the initial side effects wear off), but through a slow and insidious process things change, you change, and you are nothing close to the person you used to be -- and not in a good way. Then when to go to get off it, you find out how difficult that is because your body is addicted and your brain has been damaged.

SGI seemed to be my antidote for the misery of my withdrawal, but as I healed from the drug more and more I started to see things I didn't like and feelings that were not enjoyable, like the obligation to go to meetings and I was getting phone calls for people wanting to come to my house to chant with me. They were uncomfortably insistent. My gut feeling was telling me this is not good for me, especially when the guilt feelings started to come in if I didn't chant or I didn't chant long enough. I did not follow my gut feelings with Paxil, which were screaming at me do not take this drug. I promised myself this would be the last time I did not follow my gut instincts.

Not to mention the fact that I believe most people who are introduced to SGI are told nothing about Nicherin Buddhism, or any meaning of the Lotus Sutra, or indeed nam myoho renge kyo. I was just handed a card and told to chant and anything else I learned was very fragmented over months. The one thing that was made very clear in short order was A) chanting was good and it would take care of your problems, and then eventually B) if you didn't chant bad things would happen, or your life wasn't getting better you weren't chanting enough. I was susceptible at this period in my life to "magical thinking."

In reading your post about SGI having it's good points, tsukimoto, especially if they would drop the Ikeda worship. I don't think that's going to happen. Every meeting I went to Ikeda was center stage. And then there is the issue about the lack of transparency about the money and Nicherin sect fighting. Think about it, newcomers come in and they're basically indoctrinated that they're supposed to be against these other sects. They're not told why.

It's kind of like the Terrells and the Hannessys in the movie "The Big Country." Two old men who have an age-old feud and the younger generations indoctrinated into this hate, who never really have an idea why they're hating each other -- they just do. Now in that movie the two old men kill each other -- feud finally over, and the two factions learn to live together. I don't think that's going to happen in SGI. There is way too much money at stake.

What is it I read in one of the posts: Don't trust a religion where there is one person at the time who is very rich and very powerful. I also don't feel at all happy knowing that my "donations" are also supporting a political party in Japan, who if they did come to major power would probably try to make Japan into a theocracy. As an American that really goes against the grain. I'm an independent voter and I don't support parties.

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Re: Former SGI members, rampant greed, rape, fraud, tax evasion,
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: February 14, 2009 06:50AM

Quote
KittyLuv

In reading your post about SGI having it's good points, tsukimoto, especially if they would drop the Ikeda worship. I don't think that's going to happen. Every meeting I went to Ikeda was center stage.

Yes, I thought that the Ikeda worship was a bit much when I joined in the eighties -- but it got much, much worse in the nineties. The SGI members are obsessed with the man, and they're not going to stop, any more than North Korea is going to turn into a prosperous democracy anytime soon. It makes me curious, and a bit worried about what happens after Ikeda dies. After all, he's in his eighties. Much as I have hoped that SGI will decide to go back to Buddhist principles...I know it's unrealistic. How will the current members and leaders be capable of creating a truly democratic, open organization based on Buddhist teachings? Like the North Koreans, all they know is "Worship the leader." I sometimes wonder if there'll be suicides, members wanting to die to be with Sensei in some Buddhist paradise. This is probably way too far out and crazy; I HOPE that it is. And yet in the beginning, Jim Jones's group just seemed like a nice, harmless group of idealists who wanted to help the downtrodden of society. How do you really know when a group has crossed the line from different to dangerous?

Hopefully, SGI's New Komeito Party will not gain too much ground in Japan. SGI does not have a good reputation in Japan, where all the money-laundering, tax evasion, fraud, etc. has gotten great play in the Japanese press. Go to Japan, and ask the average Japanese what he or she thinks of SGI, and you'll get, "They're fanatics," "They're crazy," "Don't trust them." SGI's best chance of expansion is probably in the west, where most prospective members wouldn't know of SGI Japan's legal problems. They are heavily recruiting in Africa, and the countries of the former Soviet Bloc, the last I heard.

Anticult, thanks for finding and posting those links. I have heard so many SGI leaders say that SGI has suffered from so much persecution...it's proof that they are practicing correctly and the Devil King of the Sixth Heaven is causing this all to happen because he doesn't want people to become enlightened. How about "SGI is getting lots of negative press because it's doing negative things."?

Sparky, the hours-long chanting session is called a toso. Doing one is an experience...a test of endurance that can give you a rush of endorphins, as well as a sore throat and sore knees.

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Re: Former SGI members, rampant greed, rape, fraud, tax evasion,
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: February 14, 2009 07:49AM

It seems there are different SGI's.
The bottom rung of western folks who go and chant and give some money and hand out brochures, are not really SGI. These are the folks those in the west meet, and in my experience are decent people, who really think they are being a "Buddhist" and are quite naive, and highly suggestible to the persuasion methods of SGI.

But the highest levels of SGI, General Ikeda and his soldiers, that is completely different. Those guys are clearly after worldly POWER. Money isn't even enough for them, they want political power. Its nice to hear that in Japan they are seen as corrupt fanatics.

People who are extreme fanatics of an ideology, will do anything to further that ideology. They see themselves in a WAR, and the first casualty of war is the truth. Its entirely possible that those at the very top, the inner circle, actually have contempt for the pacifist Buddhists. For the outsider, SGI is the opposite to Buddhism, in most ways.

It would be a fascinating research project to try and figure out what the SGI inner circle around Ikeda really believes. I think people would be shocked.
Clearly, Ikeda is using the good mannered natures of most Buddhists to his own advantage, like in the Art Of War. They clearly use the folks at the bottom, as pawns in their masterplan.

Ikeda is a Buddhist, like Caesar was a Buddhist.
But when Caesar dies, Caesar II takes over. A new leader will just take over, and it could even get worse, like Scientology did after their leader died.

It would be fascinating, to find out what the core inner circle SGI really want. Did they want to try to seize power in Japan, as some have said? A new society?
This old nose smells totalitarianism hiding behind a fig leaf of Buddhism. Which is actually quite brilliant.

There was talk a few years ago about the new friendly fascists, who don't wear black-boots, but instead wear wool sweaters, and even hold "elections" from time to time.
Its definitely possible that the public SGI is really just a charade for a behind the scenes power-ploy. That does appear to be the case.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/14/2009 08:05AM by The Anticult.

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Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Sparky ()
Date: February 14, 2009 09:38AM

tsukimoto, thanks for making me remember (it's been over a decade now).

The Anticult, as always you are an encyclopedia of knowledge for us all on almost any subject.

You typed:
Ikeda is a Buddhist, like Caesar was a Buddhist.
But when Caesar dies, Caesar II takes over. A new leader will just take over, and it could even get worse, like Scientology did after their leader died.


Man, is that a fact. SGI is a "militaristic" org. They DO want to take over power in Japan and Americans are rich useful idiots (like american socialists are to militaristic communism). I have seen first-hand how SGI-USA has tried to "calm down" their crazy devotees. Many people (occidentals) would bow and shout "HAI!" (Nipponese for "YES!") in response to the slightest request by a leader. I have seen and heard leaders in NYC tell people not to do this "anymore" since it isn't necessary any longer. What? When WAS this necessary?

I am sure our mutual friend, tsukimoto, will attest to this.

I think this is part of the morphing of SGI-USA into a happier friendlier religion to attract more people. Japanese culture is steeped in warrior-honor(samarai) culture which the USA is not. "Toning it down" makes it more West-friendly.

No matter how you cut it, when Ikeda dies, there will be a money-struggle and some other abusive person will take the helm.

Is it any wonder that SGI is HATED in Japan?

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