Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: July 24, 2014 02:09AM

The only disagreement I have with your last three posts, corboy, is that the only item for my altar that I actually purchased from sgi was the gohonzon itself. While I had a very simple butsudan - a very plain wooden box that sat on a chest of drawers - some members had extremely expensive and ornate ones though. We jokingly called them walk-ins. I actually bought mine online from a place called! Sigh . . . poor me, my practice was so crappy that I never had the money to spend thousands of dollars on one. SGI does sell cheap plastic ones in the bookstore and fancy ones online. No one ever questioned the disparate items on my altar - I had live potted plants, some nice candle-holders from Ikea, a small Tibetan singing bowl as a bell and some small items of significance to me. Of the latter, I had the six-month AA coin that my late fiancé had earned and his toe-tag from the crematorium . . . of all the nice (or at least interesting) things on my altar, those last two were what an unidentified member chose to steal during the social hour after a meeting.

I was never clear on who really owned the gohonzon; I was under the impression it belonged to the member. When I got mine, you had to make a donation of $35, and you also received a free year-long subscription to the Weird Tribune. I don't know of anyone who pointed out that "donation" implied a voluntary gift - I'd love to see someone try to get a scroll while insisting that they only wanted to donate $10.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 24, 2014 07:52AM

I was supplying quotes from other sources.

Thanks for clearing this up. I remember when there was a discussion
of G's on this thread -- and the picture of one of the fancier ones.

(Slow shake of head).

He he, maybe you were lucky you purchased a cheap one.

Because now you are out!

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: July 24, 2014 09:49PM

Haha! I am glad that I never invested much money on that piece of shit; after I left, I tried to figure out something practical to do with the magic box. I thought a spice cabinet would've been nice, but the investment of time on something that represented such an unpleasant part of my life? I figured it would serve best in a dumpster, and that's where it went, with everything else sgi-related I could lay my hands on. I wanted nothing around that would remind me of it . . . I had enough accumulated crap in my head and didn't need any physical evidence. And I didn't want to give any of it to anyone - I felt that I didn't want to make it any easier for someone to get their hands on that poisonous muck.

Plus. when I moved, a grandiose piece of furniture would have been just one more thing to tote and try to find a place for.

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Re: Getting the word out about the SGIcult
Posted by: Spartacus ()
Date: July 25, 2014 04:04AM

Hey Hitch! I've been spending most of my available reading/writing time over on our sub-reddits, SGI Whistleblowers and the new SGI Cult Recovery Room. I still intend to finish the book, just don't know when I'll find the opportunity to get it done, but thanks for your kind interest!

I've been fascinated by how hypnosis plays into cult methods and techniques, and have been doing some study on that subject.

Funny how the pro-SGI sub reddit is going nowhere fast with only a few threads, while our SGI whistleblowers sub has already garnished over 20,000 page views in a few months. Seems the mindless, dead-headed SGi bots can't find anything to discuss beyond the drivel that fills the empty space left after being cleaned out from all the brainwashing.

I think there's getting to be way too many brushfires for the SGI to put out - they just can't keep up with all the anti-SGIcult information that is flowing across the net.

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SGI Ikeda and Yoo Byung-eun Salvationists
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: July 28, 2014 01:26AM

Yoo Byung-eun and Ikeda are cut from the same cloth, religious swindlers turned into multimillionaire businessmen and investors using Other People's Money, then followed by using others money to promote themselves as 'artists" and even both calling themselves photographers.
Where are the investigations into SGI, and where have the Ikeda family put the SGI billions?
Has SGI used the same scam as below, getting SGI to buy Ikeda's "artwork" at inflated prices to funnel money back to the Ikeda family?


SEOUL, South Korea — After all the lavish galas in his honor at landmarks like the Louvre and Versailles, the tens of thousands of devotees following his religious teachings for decades, the hundreds of homes and businesses reportedly stashed around the globe, Yoo Byung-eun ended up alone, his body splayed on its back and rotting in the weeds, empty liquor bottles by his side.

The family used a sprawling group of at least 70 companies on three continents as a personal A.T.M., prosecutors say. In their own names or through companies that they control, family members own at least $8 million worth of real estate in the United States alone, including a condominium at the Ritz Carlton in Manhattan, and have the rights to be an American distributor of Debauve & Gallais, the French maker of luxury chocolates once favored by Marie Antoinette. In France, they own an entire hilltop village.

The family also spent tens of millions of dollars to lionize Mr. Yoo, a convicted swindler known best in South Korea in connection with the mass suicide of 32 members of a splinter group of his church more than two decades ago.

Hoping to reinvent him as a Zen-like artistic genius, a family business donated $1.5 million to the Louvre, which then etched his new identity — the pseudonym Ahae — in gold on a marble wall at the museum. The family inaugurated a worldwide tour of his photos at Grand Central Terminal in New York and spent nearly $1 million to rent space as part of a deal to exhibit his work for months at Versailles, the palatial former home of French monarchs.

A sumptuous affair to begin the event, catered by a Michelin-starred chef, drew ambassadors and celebrities like the mother of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the singer-model wife of the former French president, according to Le Figaro. At a separate concert at the end of the exhibition, the London Symphony Orchestra played, premiering a brand new piece: Symphony No. 6 “Ahae.”


Mr. Yoo’s grand ambitions started in boyhood. A sickly child, he dreamed of becoming “a sculptor greater than Michelangelo,” according to a collection of sermons published in 1981. But soon after high school, in the 1960s, he found a new calling: religion.

The source of his inspiration was an American Christian missionary, whose teachings led the young Mr. Yoo to evangelize as well, his church website says. A charismatic speaker, he soon had enough followers to help found a new religious movement with a fellow preacher — following a well-worn tradition in South Korea, the birthplace of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his Unification Church.

Mr. Yoo’s church, the Evangelical Baptist Church of Korea, now claims to have 100,000 members, adhering to a polarizing interpretation of how Christians reach salvation.

“They no longer have to repent, even if they commit such sins as adultery and thievery; they are lawless people,” said Jin Yong-sik, a Presbyterian pastor in Anseong and an expert on fringe churches in South Korea. “Yoo Byung-eun is a cult leader. He is deified as a Moses or a messiah among his followers, and they give him money as he pleases.”
As Mr. Yoo built his church, he embarked on a second career, as a business magnate. Starting in the 1970s, he turned the church into a source of cash, investigators and former and current Salvationists say, by persuading adherents to donate to or invest their savings in his growing number of companies.

Some of his businesses found a particularly captive market in his flock, selling to his followers. In recent years, they marketed products related to the church’s teachings such as green tea and even enema kits to cleanse members’ bodies of impurities.

This type of approach gave him a source of cash in an era when South Korea was still impoverished and was just beginning its so-called economic miracle. Money for investment was hard to come by, so by using church members as a source of capital, he was able to build factories and companies at the same time that Samsung and Hyundai rose to prominence, though he never matched their size.

By the 1980s, he had built a mini-chaebol, or family-run business group, that over the years has included a dizzying array of products, from a top-selling shark oil supplement and organic milk to cosmetics, auto parts and special paint for nuclear plants.

“They mixed religion with business, pooling donations from church members to use in buying and expanding businesses,” Lee Jin-ho, a prosecutor, said during a hearing in June. “Management, key shareholders and even internal auditors were all Salvationists, so there was no system of check and control. If the Yoo family demanded money, the companies complied.”

In a church sermon recorded in 2005, Mr. Yoo exhorted his followers to stick together against what he called continued persecution for their beliefs.

“Things are tough for us, and others treat us like rags, but we must remember: ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad,’ ” Mr. Yoo said, quoting from Matthew.

Prosecutors and financial regulators contend that Mr. Yoo and his family invented increasingly creative ways to enrich themselves. One way was by charging Yoo-controlled companies fees to use some of the more than 1,300 patents and trademarks that they claimed, many of which prosecutors say were a sham. In one case, investigators say, Mr. Yoo’s elder son, Dae-kyoon, 43, charged the ferry company, the Chonghaejin Marine Company, $1.45 million for the right to use the name of one of its own ferries. The other son owned the rights to the name Sewol, the ferry that sank, though it was unclear if he ever charged the company to use it.

At the same time, regulatory filings show, the Yoos owned no shares of Chonghaejin, at least not on paper. But the ferry company’s largest stockholder was a shipbuilding business, Chonhaiji Co., that in turn was controlled by I-One-I Holdings, an investment company where Mr. Yoo’s two sons are listed as controlling shareholders. The prosecutors also say that behind the scenes Mr. Yoo acted as the chairman and chief decision maker of the ferry company — which family representatives have denied — and earned a salary of almost $10,000 a month.

Mr. Yoo was able to operate behind the scenes so effectively, prosecutors said, because the ferry company’s chief executive, Kim Han-sik, was a loyal church member who followed Mr. Yoo’s orders and hid a 10 percent share of the ferry operator for Mr. Yoo under his name. Mr. Kim recently admitted in court that he embezzled $131,000 from the ferry company to pay consulting fees to Mr. Yoo’s brother.

Prosecutors say that Mr. Yoo and his two sons, or companies that they controlled, received a total of at least $3.82 million from the ferry company in recent years. On top of that, regulatory filings show, the ferry company spent $2.5 million to buy stakes in other Yoo-affiliated companies, including one that prosecutors say contributed to Mr. Yoo’s art exhibits abroad.

But as money was being funneled to the Yoo family, the ferry company was struggling financially, reporting a loss of $764,000 last year, regulatory filings show — leaving little left over for the kind of training and safety precautions that could have helped crew members respond to the emergency on the Sewol.

Artistic Alter Ego

Of all the family’s schemes, prosecutors and financial regulators say, the most elaborate involved the photographs taken by Mr. Yoo’s artistic alter ego, Ahae.

The Yoos and their associates forced their own businesses, including the ferry company, to buy his photos at inflated prices, pitching them as good investments, prosecutors say. Church members also bought photos, although some followers were skeptical that they would prove valuable in the future, according to Mr. Yi, the Salvationist who is a spokesman for the group.

Some supporters championed investing in Mr. Yoo’s photos in the hope that prices would spike. But others, despite their qualms, bought the photos to try to rehabilitate Mr. Yoo’s reputation — and, by extension, their church’s.

“It has been a long grievance for us all these years, the bias against our church,” Mr. Yi said. “We had expectations that if Ahae was internationally recognized as a photographer and if people learned that Ahae was actually Yoo Byung-eun, it may help dispel the misunderstanding and prejudices against our church in South Korea.”

Previously unheard of, Ahae — an outdated term for child in Korean — seemed to burst onto the art scene three years ago with the series of exhibitions of his nature photos held at famous locations around the world. The exhibit at the Louvre — in rented space in the museum’s gardens — was paid for by Ahae Press Inc., a company in New York. Ahae Press was run by Mr. Yoo’s younger son, Yoo Hyuk-kee, 41, who usually goes by the name Keith. The rental of the space alone cost more than a half-million dollars, and did not include the cost of a specially built pavilion.

The traveling exhibit, sometimes called “Through My Window,” featured photos taken every day for four years from a window in Mr. Yoo’s studio in a wooded church complex south of Seoul, according to church members. In a written statement in response to questions, the managing director of Ahae Press, Michael Ham, said that Mr. Yoo took 2.7 million photos from the same window in a project inspired by his prison stay, when he viewed the outside world through a prison window.

Mr. Yoo, who in his guise as Ahae cultivated an air of mystery by only allowing himself to be photographed from behind or the side, is described by the website of Ahae Press as a sort of renaissance man: “an inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, environmental activist, martial artist, painter, sculptor, poet, and photographer.”

“The exhibitions were a way to increase public awareness of the beauty of nature and need to preserve the natural environment,” Mr. Ham wrote. “In our view, a beautiful and worthwhile endeavor has been distorted and virtually destroyed by false statements and inaccurate media reports,” he said, in an apparent reference to the criticism leveled at Mr. Yoo since the ferry disaster.

The company that operated the Sewol ferry, Chonghaejin, was one of the companies that bought Mr. Yoo’s art. In an interview with a Korean magazine before his arrest in May, the company’s chief executive said Chonghaejin had spent almost $100,000 to buy 200 coffee-table books of Mr. Yoo’s photos. Prosecutors said the ferry company also spent $107,000 for seven photos.

Other Yoo-associated companies paid even more per photo, they said, with one spending as much as $21,400 each.

There is, however, little evidence that the photos have much market value. Art experts, dealers and auction houses said they were unaware of any of the photos’ being sold to serious dealers or collectors.

“My informed opinion as a museum curator for the last 15 years is there is no market for these works at any price. You couldn’t give them away,” said Christopher Phillips, curator of the International Center of Photography in New York, who has organized exhibitions of Asian photography. Speaking of Mr. Yoo, he said, “This guy has woven together all past Korean scams, both economic and religious, and he’s created a more universal one.”


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Re: Eagle Peak blog SGI and Gohanzon fear
Posted by: doubtful ()
Date: July 30, 2014 11:40PM

@corboy who wrote: SGI members are afraid. SGI members have been indoctrinated with a litany of fears: fear of visiting temples or investigating other forms of Buddhism, fear of not chanting enough or skipping gongyo, fear of contradicting the SGI, fear of listening to or entertaining criticism of the SGI, fear of chanting to the “wrong” Gohonzon, fear of leaving the SGI. SGI members fear that these things will invite severe “mystical” punishment such as financial hardship, illness, family strife, loss of a romantic relationship, getting fired from a job or a horrible, agonizing death.. Magical thinking and reward/punishment mentality is another way of summarizing this. I was an active member for over 20 years and a district leader for the latter part of this. I really did fear that if I left SGI my life would suffer. I also was downright nervous, arrogant, and judgmental around people of other faiths, especially ones who seemed happy and fulfilled by their beliefs. I know plenty of others who thought the same way and this mentality was definitely promoted at meetings (I do know this inevitably happens at meetings of other faiths too). I also remember harboring an expectation (or wish) that people who left the practice or organization would experience trouble--just so I could justify staying with the practice and organization. I would also be afraid to tell people when I missed gongyo and I did feel that if I did not chant as much or do the practice as I was told that I should expect trouble. If I saw someone's altar in a location or condition that suggested he didn't value this practice correctly, I judged the person, harshly of course. This was all ridiculous. I left over 4 years ago and a lot of the magical thinking and r/p mentality has dissipated but has not left me entirely. I'm sure it's because I was predisposed to think magically or punitively. As I have deprogrammed, I see how crippling it is to rely on magical thinking or reward/punishment.A lot of good and bad things happen to everyone, regardless of their religious faith or practice. No religion saves us from danger or leads to ___. For over 20 years I heard (& presented) experiences of chanting for things and getting them (but not about chanting for things and NOT getting them). However, along the way I was also aware that my non-SGI friends family members, colleagues, and other people in the world would also get great things with no reliance on practice that required so much time (& in a foreign language) everyday, not including the meetings. The MDM was the final straw for me. I simply would not accept that faith in Ikeda was central to my practice. My life since I left has been like the lives of all people: full of up's and down's. I do still do a brief gongyo and chanting practice to the Gohonzon (with silent meditation too) in the mornings but only because I do find it useful to focus myself in the morning. I also incorporate Christian and other prayers too--and guess what? I prefer this approach even though I used to condemn (& resent) other members--usually recent ones--who admitted to doing something similarly eclectic. Perhaps I am trying to cover all bases and they were too. I don't know. Since I grew up with religious beliefs, getting rid of them entirely probably won't happen. I choose to invest my life with meaning using religious faith but I don't fool myself into thinking this makes me special or right. Indeed, I wish I could be like those people I see who live free of the need to see their lives and the lives of others through magical thinking and reward/punishment. I know I am making progress though because I have gotten rid of ALL traces of SGI publications. I also have prepared a letter of termination for the organization. I was going to return my Gohonzon recently plus another one given to me by a former member who was going to throw it in the trash (of course I feared for him at the time). Then I realized I do not have to return them. I would not be afraid to throw them away either. SGI does not own those photocopied mandalas. If I send them a letter terminating my membership that's all I have to do. I will not let them control me into thinking I owe them anything but I don't want my name in their membership rolls. I was going to have the other former member send his own termination notice a while ago, but I didn't want to antagonize SGI. Wow. Isn't it amazing how that magical thinking and reward/punishment mentality is actually hard to shake completely?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/30/2014 11:44PM by doubtful.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: July 31, 2014 12:25AM

It sounds like you're doing all the right things, Doubtful. If your spiritual practice lifts you up instead of making you feel small, helpless and inconsequential, then it sounds like you're on the right path for you. That's all that matters.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: July 31, 2014 06:20AM

Just a little insight into how sgi invests its money in Japan. Since they own 10% of the Disney theme park there, they're probably thinking of re-naming it "The Magical Thinking Kingdom."


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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: shakti ()
Date: July 31, 2014 11:46PM

Hadn't thought about SG for awhile. Been following the sad story of Alex Nieto in SF. He was a young man with mental issues and restraining orders against him, who was still allowed to work as a security guard. A few months back he was threatening people with his work taser in a park in San Francisco. Police confronted him and shot him to death.

This is somewhat of a cause celebre for the most radical poltical fringe groups in SF who spin it as "cops just came up to Mexican activist in park and shot him", when it was really more complicated than that. They tend to leave out the part where he a) had restraining orders against him for violence and b) was threatening people in the park. This is not to say that the cops handled it right, I really don't know as I wasn't there! Until today I was unaware of the possibility that Alex was a SGI member. According to this post by his supporters he would say the chant "Nam Myoho Renge Ky" as part of his Buddhist practice. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that is an SGI chant! Could this have been part of his mental instability?

NOTE: By criticizing the "pro-Nieto" movement, in no way am I supporting the scumbags who've vandalized his altar, which is the subject of the below story. Whoever did that is an awful human being.


"The words on the banner “Justice For Alex Nieto!” and “Killed by SFPD on March 21, 2014”, as well as those on the mural board and a block with the Buddhist chant that Alex practiced Nam Myoho Renge Kyo were likewise sprayed over."

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: August 01, 2014 12:08AM

He could have been a member of sgi, although all followers of Nichiren chant. SGI is the likely candidate in my mind, just because they are so accessible.

I would suspect that Mr. Nieto probably had some mental health issues prior to joining the cult; they are highly predatory and have an uncanny knack for identifying those who are susceptible. That being said, rather than dealing with his problems, he would have been encouraged by his leaders and other members to chant long before anyone would suggest he see a mental health professional. If he did seek guidance from any of his leaders, he would have been told that his unimproved mental state was because his practice was insufficient in some way - this wouldn't have helped him either.

Whoever vandalized his memorial is beneath contempt.

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