Welcome to the ex-gakkai-cult-org "member" community, "Sporatica" and "eyzopn."
Some random thought to your first posts:
I joined NSA in 1984. At the time, I was 19. I was told that they were open to dialogue. Being inquisitive by nature, I had many questions, about the practice. Most couldn't be answered. So I went to the temple and asked one of the priests. The answers he gave me, helped to tide me over for a while. But the organization continued to rub me the wrong way.
I was "in" during that same time period, already in the process of resurfacing for air after venturing deep down into the cult org. hardcore abyss (not a pretty picture, especially during that time period).
IMO, the priesthood was definitely much kinder, gentler and more respectful than any of the gakkai cult org. monsters. Don't be fooled, however, for if you were Japanese, it could have been a different story for you.
I didn't have much money, but I was hungry for knowledge. The "guidance" I received was to chant and to read/study. The books were out of my budget. The response to this was "chant" about it. So I did. It came to me that the bookstore should have a reading room, similar to a library where members could donate books, so that less-prosperous members could read them there or even check them out like a library. Needless to say, this did not go over well as there was no money in it. I was confused. My mom went to the temple and bartered the price down on some used books. You would have thought, by the reaction of NSA members, that she had robbed a bank!
The N$A-$GI Cult Org. only wants its "members" to read "approved" literature and buy its official books. It's just a scam to sell the books / publications, which are then "used" in cult org. discussion-"study"-meetings, as manipulation-time-killing-brainwashing opportunities. Ikeda puts out some "new" garbage, and all the members (especially the "YOUTH!") are obligated to pick it up, tote it to meetings, and pretend to be awe of the wisdom oozing out of it.
Ikeda's slippery verbiage was always a big yawn for me.
Anyway, the more the org demanded of me, the less apt I was to participate. I liked stage crew. Hanging out in the warehouse at night and creating things in an informal environment. But I was soon told that I had to join YWD. I had no interest in YWD. IMHO, they were all stuck up and reminded me of the girls I disliked most in High School. However, I joined drill dance and prepared for the big World Peace celebration in San Diego. What a nightmare.
Regarding YWD --> HAHA!!
I know what you are talking about. The YMD (when and where I was in), to me, all kinda knew that we were paupers. The YWD, however, many acted like their sh*t smelled like roses and were walking entitlement queens. (Sorry if my bluntness is too sharp for some.)
Btw, I TOO
was at that San Diego crazy farm event! Holy cannoli, what a farce of epic proportions that was.
As far as I was concerned, my time was my contribution. The concept of charging me to work and perform did not sit well with me. I was given more "guidance" and managed to hustle up the (I think) $100 for the trip and the money for a "uniform" that I would wear once in my life. I was not accustomed to being used or abused. That changed in San Diego. i am not going to whine about it now. Suffice to to say, the way we "grunts" were treated was less than optimal.
I felt the same as you. I've written before on here how they used to fleece uniform cleaning fees (despite not ever actually cleaning the uniforms) after every event (which were frequent in those days) out of us in the YMD Brass Band. Heavy handed pressure tactics, too.
I never thought of NSA as a cult. I'm still in a bit of shock, after reading about SGI, the temple issue, the rise of Ikeda, the fall of Williams, the meteoric rise of Matilda Buck and as much as I have been able to find over the past 30 hours, that I was a member of a cult. I contacted the temple via their webmail with regard to giving them the gohonzon. SGI has their new and improved gohonzon, so I didn't even bother contacting them. A part of me wants the temple to get back to me and another part is in fear of being sucked in by smiling faces and the comforting hum of chanting. I really am at a loss, and there is not a single person in my world that I would feel comfortable discussing this with. Any suggestions?
Just a small caveat, IMO the NS priesthood is just a cult lite version of the gakkai cult (which is a pseudo-buddhist cult or steroids in comparison).
There's probably some scientific basis to the comforting hum of group chanting - some resonance or frequency that makes you feel better. Why not explore music instead? Just break out into song! ; ) Greetings and much love to everyone here.
Meditation in general alters brain chemistry. It can help some (e.g., release serotonin for those with the blues) and / or even be harmful for others (e.g., cause panic or anxiety attacks in those susceptible / even cause full blow psychotic episodes in those with organic neurotransmitter imbalances - like schizophrenics). It all depends on the person and how it's ultimately done.
I personally never cared for what the magic chant tended to do to me, which was to make my mind numb.
Greetings and welcome, back at you (both of you - Sporatica & "eyzopen" --> open eyes, indeed!)