Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Buddha31 ()
Date: March 16, 2012 01:12PM

I am a former SGI member who left SGI in 2011 some time. I later joined the Kempon Hokke, but I eventually left them as well(can't swallow Nichiren's DOGMA anymore than I can swallow the DOGMA of the Bible or the Koran). The thing about SGI that really drove me nuts more than anything, more than Ikeda worship, more than the creepy leaders who spout off SGI slogans, etc etc, was the fact that they BLATANTLY ignore or reinturpret the Gosho like what many Christians do with the Bible when people critique the Old Testament, I mean if you are going to claim to follow a sacred "Holy Book" at least follow ALL of it instead of following what you are comfortable about and what happens to be convenient for you just making excuses for what makes you uncomfortable-but that is why I am a recovering fundamentalist also as fundamentalism is a mental illness in and of itself-Nichiren could have used a shrink I think despite the good things I learned from his teachings. I had one leader who I respected call me earlier today(and I hadn't talked to her for about 4 months, but it was pretty obvious this was a ploy to get me to come back which won't happen), and I pointed out how Nichiren had been blatantly crystal clear about denouncing ALL other forms of Buddhism. All other religions. According to the dogma-this is STILL the latter day of the Law, there is no such thing as a "Buddhist" country(whatever the hell that is supposed to mean-Japan was NEVER a "Buddhist" country as if you want to call it a country of ONE religion that would be Shintoism where Thailand could be considered a "Buddhist" country which seems about as pointless as saying that America is a "Christian" country), so true hard core in your face "Shakabuku" which IS offensive, which WILL invite persecution, and is OPPOSITE of Shoju which SGI practices, SGI wouldn't know how to truly practice Shakabuku which DOES apply in the US and Japan in 2012 according to the Gosho they claim to follow because there are still people who teach other sutras in the land and who slander the Lotus Sutra. He also went so far to say that if the Emperor supported those schools which IS slandering the Law, he should be overthrown and executed. They simply ignore how dogmatic and toxic beliefs like that are, and say things like "if people chant the Nembustu they become suicidal" ignoring the fact that maybe it's NOT the mantra, but what they believe ABOUT the mantra they chant. I can say that I overcame PILES of problems chanting in front of my old Gohonzon, but it was how I went about it. I never liked people telling me to just focus on a goal and let it happen(I was WAY too logical and rational for that, I needed a clear cut path to work on, not mystical up in the air stuff which drove me nuts). I have a better idea, why not focus on the problems WITHIN ME that hold me back from accomplishing the goal such as-I don't know behavior modifications ya think(attachments-wow, now there is something that SGI members ignore being a legitimate problem holding one back from accomplishing a goal despite the fact that Nichiren said crystal clear that if people practice from the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni gives them the same benefits he got by practicing the 8 fold path which is freedom from attachments) so I guess what I am saying is that I did not have unrealistic expectations. I also chanted 2 hours a day, and most people who chant will NEVER chant that much every day(I also believe that is why people don't go as far with mantra chanting as they could no matter what mantra they chant). I started thinking that the particular mantra has NOTHING to do with it, the particular sutra has NOTHING to do with the mantras effectiveness. I had to dump the dogma, and I created my own mantra and I downloaded a generic(but pretty) mandala that represents(to me) the law of cause and effect/God. I went through an Atheist phase and I created an Atheist mantra(Nam-why-logo). Nam-sanskrit word meaning devotion. Why-holy mother of Atheism. Logo(s)-sacred father of Atheism(this would make Ikeda howl in anger I am sure and Nichiren would roll in his grave but I don't give a damn, I had enough of the drivel and dogma and simply kept the mutual possession of the ten worlds, 3000 realms in a single moment of life, oneness of self and environment, Karma, and dumped ALL the rest of the dogma and said to hell with it) . I eventually found my way back into Alcoholics Anonymous and now consider myself a Deist(it's kind of funny that my beliefs are virtually identicle to how I thought in SGI as I never really was a "team player" so to speak). I never trusted Ikeda. Anyway, I changed the mantra to "Namahlooga" and now I chant that about two hours a day(with my cool colorful mantra that I had laminated and it is hanging in my old Butsudan on my old altar). I have felt TONS better than I did in SGI(that is until I started writing my fourth step which I am in the middle of-moral inventory so the person feels old resentments again while they are writing it) but I am totally confident that when it comes time to pray for the resentments to go away, I'll chant MY mantra as long as it takes, and they will go away. I caught glimpses of what I had continually this time around in AA back when I was in SGI and I could never maintain it in SGI due to my resentments. Anyone who thinks they can't chant without SGI or without their Gohonzon, do yourself a favor and create your own mantra and find a mandala that you like, create a custom made practice to suit YOUR needs and say "to hell with them". Find a picture of the mountains or the ocean, whatever brings you peace when you look at it(as the same mechanics apply with this that they taught in SGI). Hell, listen to music while you are chanting, I do that now, I love listening to "The Touch" by Stan Bush when I am chanting to overcome a problem(I know, I'm a child of the 80's)! "Fallen Angel" by Poison is another song I LOVE to listen to while I am chanting "Namahlooga":) Also, "Big City Nights" by The Scorpions!!!

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: rattyboy ()
Date: March 16, 2012 01:15PM

Don't worry about the train of thought , findingmywaytoday. Look at my nearly breathless quotes that Hitch reposted. It brought me back to that phase of realization and sharing, but I'm able to look at it a different way. And besides all the info we are sharing, the videos of SGI activities reveal even more than words can say after you allow yourself some perspective. I'm glad Hitch mentioned "Ticket to Heaven". It is not just a movie. It is a process of following the main actor through the cult indoctrination and recovery process. (And the main female sponsor type is a familiar T.V actress in her younger years!) This movie includes a chase scene similar to what I mentioned I experienced running from a few other YMD. I'd like to mention the external event that I think helped me snap and make a run for it. We had been walking past a gay pride parade. I was thinking that the celebration and striving for liberation in the form of a parade paralleled our mission. It made me smile. I didn't know what to make of the stoic ymd who were not reacting to any of the sometimes outlandlish displays. I think within 1 to 5 minutes after that I made my run.
In regard to other cognitive dissonances, I have mentioned being impressed by our power as a group of YMD to convince someone to shave his moustache, but I was also repulsed by that. I mentioned my "horror" at hearing a leader meeting Ikeda at the airport and P.I. saying "Your father is here". Yet after the meeting I was at, I beamed with pride that I was still awake and driving my fellow members home as they slept in the car. ("golden memories" under duress?)
I also saw that famous P.I. pounding the table video at a meeting and enjoyed laughing with my friend at the humourous side of our dear leader and almost started to like him. (but not as a leader?)
Its funny that the one time I felt I was really beginning to connect with Ikeda, at another meeting, after a video, one of the members said to me something like "Wow, that ikeda has really lost it, its like the madness of King George". I was almost going to disagree but then waited and thought and had some snacks instead. sansho shima or zenzishiki? (I hope I spelled those wrong!)

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: March 16, 2012 02:48PM

Quote
rattyboy
"Ticket to Heaven". It is not just a movie. It is a process of following the main actor through the cult indoctrination and recovery process. (And the main female sponsor type is a familiar T.V actress in her younger years!) This movie includes a chase scene similar to what I mentioned I experienced running from a few other YMD. I'd like to mention the external event that I think helped me snap and make a run for it. We had been walking past a gay pride parade. I was thinking that the celebration and striving for liberation in the form of a parade paralleled our mission. It made me smile. I didn't know what to make of the stoic ymd who were not reacting to any of the sometimes outlandlish displays. I think within 1 to 5 minutes after that I made my run.

After your post describing being chased, I definitely thought of you during that scene. There is so much in that movie that is so spot-on. This kind of stuff must be generic and universal to all cults. I never had to actually make a run for it, but I have had to stand strong in front of intense verbal intimidation (and I mean the right in your face kind), pressure phone calls and visits from high-up "leaders", attempted psychological manipulation, physical barriers (people physically blocking me from leaving) and I was once even physically hit by an irate WD who couldn't handle my non-sugar-coated bluntness nor reply substantively to cold objective critical reasoning and dissection of her lame arguments. AHHHH, the memories! That movie brought a lot back. Thanks again for the recommendation.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Date: March 16, 2012 03:55PM

Hey, I found that movie: Ticket to Ride on Youtube. Thanks for the reccommendation!

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Date: March 16, 2012 05:54PM

I have been doing a lot of reflecting this week, and I am trying to put all my thoughts into their correct places. I am just wondering if it is far-fetched to feel like some of my paranoia about stuff happening to me came from my participation in the SGI? I am saying this because there was this constant feeling of doom happening to me, that I never felt before the SGI. Yeah, stuff happened before the SGI, but I was much less afraid. Very early on in my practice, I had something happen to me that some member correlated to me having just had a big benefit. That was when this train of thought started happening. I also saw how many members seemed to have some major and scary things happen to them. I became very afraid. Can anyone relate to this type of paranoia? The feeling of leaving feels more and more freeing, but it is just taking a while to fully do it.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: March 17, 2012 06:39AM

"How Cults Work" [www.youtube.com]. So many parallels to sg.

A disturbing video, direct evidence as to how the cult of the gakkai works [www.youtube.com]. (The brainwashed members' testimonials, the cult speak, individuals, families, generations of families, deeply deluded leaders, kids sitting on the ground outside chanting, the quasi-deified pioneering members, the obviously very young man's voice towards the end dripping with indoctrinated cliches and the shout out to the cult of the personality leader "sensei" at the end.) Unsane, brainwashed and happy. The cult at work.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Date: March 17, 2012 01:14PM

Quote
Buddha31
I am a former SGI member who left SGI in 2011 some time. I later joined the Kempon Hokke, but I eventually left them as well(can't swallow Nichiren's DOGMA anymore than I can swallow the DOGMA of the Bible or the Koran). The thing about SGI that really drove me nuts more than anything, more than Ikeda worship, more than the creepy leaders who spout off SGI slogans, etc etc, was the fact that they BLATANTLY ignore or reinturpret the Gosho like what many Christians do with the Bible when people critique the Old Testament, I mean if you are going to claim to follow a sacred "Holy Book" at least follow ALL of it instead of following what you are comfortable about and what happens to be convenient for you just making excuses for what makes you uncomfortable-but that is why I am a recovering fundamentalist also as fundamentalism is a mental illness in and of itself-Nichiren could have used a shrink I think despite the good things I learned from his teachings. I had one leader who I respected call me earlier today(and I hadn't talked to her for about 4 months, but it was pretty obvious this was a ploy to get me to come back which won't happen), and I pointed out how Nichiren had been blatantly crystal clear about denouncing ALL other forms of Buddhism. All other religions. According to the dogma-this is STILL the latter day of the Law, there is no such thing as a "Buddhist" country(whatever the hell that is supposed to mean-Japan was NEVER a "Buddhist" country as if you want to call it a country of ONE religion that would be Shintoism where Thailand could be considered a "Buddhist" country which seems about as pointless as saying that America is a "Christian" country), so true hard core in your face "Shakabuku" which IS offensive, which WILL invite persecution, and is OPPOSITE of Shoju which SGI practices, SGI wouldn't know how to truly practice Shakabuku which DOES apply in the US and Japan in 2012 according to the Gosho they claim to follow because there are still people who teach other sutras in the land and who slander the Lotus Sutra. He also went so far to say that if the Emperor supported those schools which IS slandering the Law, he should be overthrown and executed. They simply ignore how dogmatic and toxic beliefs like that are, and say things like "if people chant the Nembustu they become suicidal" ignoring the fact that maybe it's NOT the mantra, but what they believe ABOUT the mantra they chant. I can say that I overcame PILES of problems chanting in front of my old Gohonzon, but it was how I went about it. I never liked people telling me to just focus on a goal and let it happen(I was WAY too logical and rational for that, I needed a clear cut path to work on, not mystical up in the air stuff which drove me nuts). I have a better idea, why not focus on the problems WITHIN ME that hold me back from accomplishing the goal such as-I don't know behavior modifications ya think(attachments-wow, now there is something that SGI members ignore being a legitimate problem holding one back from accomplishing a goal despite the fact that Nichiren said crystal clear that if people practice from the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni gives them the same benefits he got by practicing the 8 fold path which is freedom from attachments) so I guess what I am saying is that I did not have unrealistic expectations. I also chanted 2 hours a day, and most people who chant will NEVER chant that much every day(I also believe that is why people don't go as far with mantra chanting as they could no matter what mantra they chant). I started thinking that the particular mantra has NOTHING to do with it, the particular sutra has NOTHING to do with the mantras effectiveness. I had to dump the dogma, and I created my own mantra and I downloaded a generic(but pretty) mandala that represents(to me) the law of cause and effect/God. I went through an Atheist phase and I created an Atheist mantra(Nam-why-logo). Nam-sanskrit word meaning devotion. Why-holy mother of Atheism. Logo(s)-sacred father of Atheism(this would make Ikeda howl in anger I am sure and Nichiren would roll in his grave but I don't give a damn, I had enough of the drivel and dogma and simply kept the mutual possession of the ten worlds, 3000 realms in a single moment of life, oneness of self and environment, Karma, and dumped ALL the rest of the dogma and said to hell with it) . I eventually found my way back into Alcoholics Anonymous and now consider myself a Deist(it's kind of funny that my beliefs are virtually identicle to how I thought in SGI as I never really was a "team player" so to speak). I never trusted Ikeda. Anyway, I changed the mantra to "Namahlooga" and now I chant that about two hours a day(with my cool colorful mantra that I had laminated and it is hanging in my old Butsudan on my old altar). I have felt TONS better than I did in SGI(that is until I started writing my fourth step which I am in the middle of-moral inventory so the person feels old resentments again while they are writing it) but I am totally confident that when it comes time to pray for the resentments to go away, I'll chant MY mantra as long as it takes, and they will go away. I caught glimpses of what I had continually this time around in AA back when I was in SGI and I could never maintain it in SGI due to my resentments. Anyone who thinks they can't chant without SGI or without their Gohonzon, do yourself a favor and create your own mantra and find a mandala that you like, create a custom made practice to suit YOUR needs and say "to hell with them". Find a picture of the mountains or the ocean, whatever brings you peace when you look at it(as the same mechanics apply with this that they taught in SGI). Hell, listen to music while you are chanting, I do that now, I love listening to "The Touch" by Stan Bush when I am chanting to overcome a problem(I know, I'm a child of the 80's)! "Fallen Angel" by Poison is another song I LOVE to listen to while I am chanting "Namahlooga":) Also, "Big City Nights" by The Scorpions!!!

It is interesting to read about your path. I am trying to find my way, as my name states, but I know it applies to everyone. I don't know what the Kempon Hokke is, and I am curious. I can relate to the steps, and it is funny that you mention them, because I am thinking about returning to them as a way to help myself.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: wakatta1 ()
Date: March 17, 2012 07:01PM

Quote
Findingmywaytoday
I have been doing a lot of reflecting this week, and I am trying to put all my thoughts into their correct places. I am just wondering if it is far-fetched to feel like some of my paranoia about stuff happening to me came from my participation in the SGI? I am saying this because there was this constant feeling of doom happening to me, that I never felt before the SGI. Yeah, stuff happened before the SGI, but I was much less afraid. Very early on in my practice, I had something happen to me that some member correlated to me having just had a big benefit. That was when this train of thought started happening. I also saw how many members seemed to have some major and scary things happen to them. I became very afraid. Can anyone relate to this type of paranoia? The feeling of leaving feels more and more freeing, but it is just taking a while to fully do it.

I recall in my very early days with the SokaGakkai in Japan at age 20, I was having a very rough time of it (away from home, feeling isolated, coping with "adult" grade problems). The individual that was most responsible for getting me to accept a Gohonzon and I spoke one day when I was really down, and he said "you are being punished by the Gohonzon because you aren't chanting enough". He went on to point out that my life force was draining away and the only way I could get it back was to chant (along with a lot of equivocations about how it was a great blessing because I was changing "poison into elixir", etc. etc.). It was all so easy-peasy, just chant!

At that moment I think is when the "hook" was set, and it wouldn't be for years until I re-examined that thought process. Life has its ups and downs, whether you are "buddhist", buddhist, christian or a member of the Church of Bob. There are a lot of philosophical stretches you can make, but the whole "Divine Punishment" thing is probably the longest and most insidious.

At the time, the next questions were "what do I do" and what was dispensed back was that it was all "cause and effect" (i.e. you might have some influence if you knew what the cause was) and the only way to "solve" the problem is to open-endedly throw yourself into Gakkai (cult) activities. That is where the fanaticism comes from, it is totally open ended, and there is no way of knowing whether it would make things any better.

At the District meetings you now are hungry for examples of how it has really worked out, That is when you take a deep drink of the "kool aid" and start listening to other people's opinions (and of course "experiences" in which people, (singled out and under social pressure), stretch very hard to identify how their life has been "improved" by the practice. (In my many years of Gakkai, NSA practice I never heard one person say "I chanted and chanted and chanted and nothing happened", instead it was "I chanted and *holy smokes* I found a 5 dollar bill" instead.) In other words, cause and effect goes out the window and it becomes a "mystic reward" (Magical!) Essentially side-tracking things into expectations of some sort of "miraculous" event to occur instead. Implications being that if YOU don't see miracles happening in your life, it is because you don't chant hard enough and you must redouble your efforts, donate more money, join Kotekitai, do toban, carry flags in parades, do Pac-Man Shakubuku, revere sensei, etc. etc.) Surely it couldn't be the practice that is wrong....

Consider the case of someone with a life-threatening disease and the doctor tells them they can cure themselved "if only" they knew what cause would do it - and then they provide them with a list of a dozen, life-long tasks to choose from. Essentially, under the guise of providing direction and wisdom, you are instead given a shot of "cult" indoctrination with the goal of making you into a robot for that cause.

So that sense of "Impending DOOM" is pervasive in the group's guidance, literature, experiences and is the unspoken "boogieman" of the practice. (Possibly one of their trademarks I daresay) I recall reading guidance to the effect of "when you are worrying it is your life sensing that bad karma is appearing, and to avoid it you must do gongyo and chant tirelessly until that "impending doom feeling" goes away which will mean you've changed the karma. (And by the way, you sadly discover that the sense of impending doom never goes away, no matter how many times during the night you get up and look under the bed)

Wakatta1

"Better out than in I always say" -- Shrek



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2012 07:29PM by wakatta1.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: March 18, 2012 07:09AM

Quote
Findingmywaytoday
I am just wondering if it is far-fetched to feel like some of my paranoia about stuff happening to me came from my participation in the SGI? I am saying this because there was this constant feeling of doom happening to me, that I never felt before the SGI. Yeah, stuff happened before the SGI, but I was much less afraid.

That constant feeling of "doom" is classic cult psychological manipulation. It's also mentioned in the video I posted early "How Cults Work" (along with all the stupid activities - i.e., marching/parades - and a very humorous song for the leader - i.e., forever sensei). You're supposed to be afraid because your thoughts have been reformed (i.e., you're brainwashed, as were we all at some point).

Quote
Findingmywaytoday
Very early on in my practice, I had something happen to me that some member correlated to me having just had a big benefit. That was when this train of thought started happening.

As per wakkata's post, that's how it all starts. Confirmation bias, cherry picking the evidence to support what you want to believe, nothing more. Did you see my post earlier about the lady who wasn't actually chanting yet the members told her it was because she was? Even if she had told them she really wasn't chanting, they still would have come up with something else, like "well, it's because you've met the gohonzon/true law. You're so fortunate to even obtain such a benefit even before you start chanting!" Trust me, they can always come up with something. It's ridiculous at times.

I've grown up in the practice and have heard, literally, hundreds, if not thousands, of "experiences." There was never one, not a single one, that I remember that could not be explained as confirmation bias. 99+% of them were the usual silly things. Even the <1% that wasn't asinine, were vague and only appear as "miraculous" due to ignorance (of the personal, scientific or statistical variety). I've always laughed at Ikeda's making a big deal about him overcoming tuberculosis in his novel (HR). It's a perfect example of such ignorance. I can't count the number of times I've sat in gakkai meetings listening to members' experiences and had to suppress my desire to roll my eyes at what they found as an "incredible benefit."

Quote
Findingmywaytoday
I also saw how many members seemed to have some major and scary things happen to them. I became very afraid. Can anyone relate to this type of paranoia?

The confirmation bias works in both directions, positive and negative. This is in the negative direction. It's also an entirely different fallacy that has a name - "argumentum in terrorem" (an argument to terror/an appeal to fear) [en.wikipedia.org]. This kind of stuff is the basic ham & cheese of cult/religious psychological manipulation and delusional thinking. Know what is and recognize it for what it is. There is nothing mystical about it, except only for those who want it to be (or in the case of the cult, need it to be, to keep control).

Quote
Findingmywaytoday
The feeling of leaving feels more and more freeing, but it is just taking a while to fully do it.

It's always liberating to dump all the emotional and psychological baggage that one is carrying around. All of this baggage was placed there, without your knowledge, by the cult, too. They're not going to come and clean up after themselves, because they don't want it cleaned up. It's up to you to do it yourself. I personally don't recommend (in the words of anticult) "jumping from frying pan to frying pan and straight to the fire" by joining another cult/religion, but that's just me. As I've also said before, we are all different and have different needs. Best wishes to you. Keep doubting and thinking for yourself, it's healthy and should be done by everyone. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either ignorant and/or manipulating you.

Once you're completely free, on the other side, you'll look back in amazement as to how you ever fell for any of the nonsense. I do, now. It's also good for a good laugh for me now, too. If I hadn't actually lived it, I'd never believe that such ridiculous stuff was even possible in real life. Finding this mb, I realized I wasn't the only one.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: March 18, 2012 07:38AM

Quote
rattyboy
I also saw that famous P.I. pounding the table video at a meeting and enjoyed laughing with my friend at the humourous side of our dear leader and almost started to like him. (but not as a leader?)
Its funny that the one time I felt I was really beginning to connect with Ikeda, at another meeting, after a video, one of the members said to me something like "Wow, that ikeda has really lost it, its like the madness of King George".

The video of that infamous meeting is hard for me to watch because of Mr. Williams (Sadanaga). I can tell, Williams is extremely uncomfortable in that meeting, confused, hurt and just trying to cope. Then, and now. Ikeda eviscerated and gutted him, like squeezing all the water out of a sponge and tossing it aside to dry up and eventually crack and break. The man will never be the same again, ever. Whenever I ask myself how some of the leaders can ever live with themselves for some of things that they have done to people, there's the answer: just modeling/imitating behavior and example from the top down.

Quote
rattyboy
I was almost going to disagree but then waited and thought and had some snacks instead. sansho shima or zenzishiki? (I hope I spelled those wrong!)

LOL! Great sense of humor, it's always helped me, too.

I recommend the three great secret onigiri with mystical surprises inside (a bonus benefit toy that you can play with). The vending machine only accepts fortune bank tokens, so practice hard. HAI! (while bowing deeply).

:)

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