Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: July 26, 2013 12:22AM

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I do love a surprise, especially a nasty one for people I dislike!
Revenge being a dish best served cold, right? *wink*
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I'd point out, though, that nobody came into this practice (or any other) because they thought their life was going well; we were all looking for something to offer us a perceived control over whatever negative stuff that was going on in our lives. There will always be vulnerable, unhappy, lonely and somewhat-disenfranchised people who will be open to predatory cult tactics. 9/11 was one instance, the present economy may be another.
You are more correct than perhaps you realize. Your insight is spot on; from the research I've read, the most telling social indicator that predicts widespread religiosity is high rates of personal insecurity. To wit:
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If prayer and other religious practices had any effect, we would be able to see it. We would see that the devout of a given religion tend to live longer, healthier lives than unbelievers, for example. However, the many studies which have examined the demographics of various groups by religious belief show that, in fact, life expectancy drops when there are higher proportions of believers within society. Dr. Tom Rees analyzed data from over fifty countries and found that the more religious nations had higher rates of social disharmony (including higher murder rates), lower life expectancies, less peaceful interactions both within society and with foreign nations, and higher rates of personal insecurity. Rather than religion bringing “the peace that surpasseth all understanding,” Rees found that people who felt less secure within society were the more likely to cling to religion as a way of dealing with their anxiety. In fact, Rees found that personal insecurity was the most important factor in predicting whether a nation will have higher or lower rates of religiosity. The countries with the better social welfare systems all showed lower rates of religiosity, while the countries with inadequate social welfare systems (such as the US) displayed higher rates of religiosity. [www.humanism.org.uk]
THIS explains why the US, which is one of the richest countries in the world, displays rates of religiosity more consistent with 3rd World countries. Along with our riches, we have the highest proportion of our population living in poverty of any of our developed democracy peers, and we have more people suffering from malnourishment and homelessness than any of our peers. Also, we have the most people incarcerated in prisons of the entire world - no other country comes close, not even China, which has several times our population. We have the most people locked up.

So given how screamingly dysfunctional US society is, we can expect to continue to see high rates of religiosity. I just got back from a visit to a Bible Belt town; the casual observer driving around town might conclude that religion is the town's biggest (and richest) industry.

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I've started reading stuff on basic Buddhist practice again, and the gap between that and what sgi preaches . . . well, it's the difference between apples and golf clubs; no resemblance at all.
That's what got me out as well. Until then, I was stuck:
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ooking for something to offer us a perceived control over whatever negative stuff that was going on in our lives.
:)

Re: Former SGI members
Posted by: Tushita ()
Date: July 26, 2013 03:04AM

I almost cried reading this. I was so brainwashed that I have never bothered researching about all this. I wish I could have done this earlier it would have saved me for so much turmoil. Thank you so much. God I am normal.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: July 26, 2013 03:32AM

Believe me, Tushita - if I had found this mb six months earlier, I don't think I would've "listened" to what people were saying. It wasn't until I got pretty much bitch-slapped by the org that I actually started thinking for myself again and admitting the possibility that I had been sucked into a cult.

Normal? I don't know about that! ;-) ! Just kidding, my friend.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: July 26, 2013 06:28AM

My own feelings are that the "functions" of religion will merely "evolve" and adapt to fit the times. As long as people prefer its anxiolytic effects (thru superstition / ritual) and depend on it to derive meaning / purpose to their lives, I don't see "religion" ever going away.

*****

On that note: More of the chameleon cult org's evolution in America

The "gospel" version of $GI [www.youtube.com].

"I see a SHINGING STAR, I know it's not so far. It seems far away, but it shines here, today, in our lives. The joy we feel inside, The Hope, Courage, & Pride*, will forever be, with me." Chorus: "What a wonderful life, joyous life!"

*Cult-speak-slogan.

Shining star = Ikeda, no doubt.

*****

Btw, came across this gobbledygook and just had to share it:

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SGI-USA Men’s Division Monthly Suggested Study Material for July 2013

In 2013, the Men’s Division is studying “The New Human Revolution, Volume 24” In July, we are studying the third chapter:“Humanistic Education.” The excerpts below are provided .....
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The power of the Gohonzon may not be fully apparent overnight, but if you strive earnestly in your Buddhist faith and practice for 10 or 20 years, you will achieve clear and indisputable results. June 15 th ,2012 WT pg. B

i.e., give it lots of time, in order to cultivate your cognitive confirmation bias tendencies (It was supposed to be much more powerful, when I was in. I guess its magical powers have diminished with time.)

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I know that sometimes we just complain without really thinking about it, but the frightening thing about complaining is that every time you do, a dark cloud descends over your heart, the sun that should illuminate your spirit is obscured, and your inner hope, appreciation and joy gradually wane. As Nichirenwrites, ‘Misfortune comes from one’s mouth and ruins one’ (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1,p. 1137). June 15 th , 2012 WT pg. C

i.e., be a sheep

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Those who always take the initiative, in contrast, are much more vigorous. They inspire everyone they meet, make them feel like participating, and dispel feelings of stalemate or stagnation. June 15 th , 2012 WTpg. C

i.e., the "power of positive thinking", nothing more

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The beginning of the challenge of human revolution starts with identifying the ‘one evil’ in your own life, deciding to eliminate it earnestly chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and challenging yourself to succeed. June 15 th , 2012 WT pg. D

i.e., embrace superstition, ritual, and ignorance (especially The Dear Leader's version of hijacked pseudo-buddhism)

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Fresh advancement is only possible when youth are able to freely exercise their full potential. June 29 th ,2012 WT pg. F

i.e., complete gibberish that can mean anything you want or need it to (to manipulate others, in beliefs, actions, and behaviors)

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If you plant the seeds of Buddhism, eventually they will bear fruit. That’s why it’s important to speak about Buddhism to others, even if they don’t show an interest at the time. As the great teacher Miao-Lo(711-782) says, hearing the Law is the “seed,” while arousing faith is the “sprouting of the seed.” June 29 th , 2012 WT pg. H

i.e., shakubuku, shakubuku, shakubuku, always shakubuku (proselytise!) (It's how the cult org. sustains itself.)

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Faith in the youth is faith in the future, and fostering the youth is fostering the future – this is why Shin’ichi wholeheartedly devoted himself to believing in and supporting the youth. August 10, 2012 WTpg. C

i.e., love-bomb the "YOUTH!", this is the group the cult org. depends on most for its long-term survival and growth

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In the end, what counts are perseverance, determination, guts and courage. These are the keys to success, not just in education but in every endeavor. August 10, 2012 WT pg. D

i.e., common sense, just tweaked to fit the cult org. mind-set. Gives the appearance of being deep, but is really superficial in depth and reality. Shallow, vanilla-flavored, plain, standard cliche slogans.

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Suggested Questions for Discussion:

1. What can we do to “plant the seeds of Buddhism” and introduce the young people around us?
2. What can we do to ensure that “youth are able to freely exercise their full potential”?
3. How can we “dispel feelings of stalemate or stagnation” in ourselves and those around us?

i.e., use the above 3 talking points at "official" cult org. indoctrination meetings:

1. Shakubuku, convert, get more cult members
2. Cultivate the younger culties, so that they can move into your position and do the same for another generation; endlessly repeat this cycle for cult org. sustainment
3. Don't think for yourself, go to your "leaders" to be told what to think, what to do, how to act, and above all, spread this theme to all other cult members.

*****

That's all just some of my take on it all.


- Hitch

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 26, 2013 12:03PM

(Sad)

After the American Civil War and after the First World War, there were upsurges in spiritualism. So many were in mourning for loved ones who had been killed, either in the wars or the world wide 'flu pandemic which followed the Great War.

They were desperate to get some sort of contact with them.

Many of us in the US arrive because we left or were scared away from our home nations. Once here, there's disorientation. More of us are scattered and dont have kinship networks. Recent immigrants struggle to make sense of it all, and American and British society have both become more complex.

Even people whose families have several generations worth of acculturation in the US are feeling on edge.

Those are the times when the strongest of us will secretly, if we admit it, have times when we'd like to crawl into bed, pull the blanket over our heads and hope Mom or Dad will take care of it all.

After my mother died, (dad had died years earlier), an older cousin who had lost both his parents said, "You're facing a big one. When both your parents die, no one stands between you and death. You have to face the abyss, all by yourself. Sorry to depress the hell out of you."

I replied, "I'd rather hear that than bullshit." Still hurt, though.

So...those are the times when one wants Big Mommy or Daddy.

And the sneakiest times are when we are completely unconscious that we want someone else to tell us The Answer and Give Instructions.

Its when we are unconscious of that desire that we are so very vulnerable.

Its our glory and our danger as human beings. And it overrides intelligence, sophistication and education.

With luck we can find friends who can walk us through these rough patches.

Hope this board stays here and keeps the porch light on.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: July 26, 2013 12:17PM

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The power of the Gohonzon may not be fully apparent overnight, but if you strive earnestly in your Buddhist faith and practice for 10 or 20 years, you will achieve clear and indisputable results. June 15 th ,2012 WT pg. B
Having practiced for over 20 years, I can testify that this is absolutely true.

I achieved clear and indisputable understanding that the SGI is a cult, and a repellent one at that (although, to be honest, is there any other kind of cult??).

Is that what they meant??
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If you plant the seeds of Buddhism, eventually they will bear fruit. That’s why it’s important to speak about Buddhism to others, even if they don’t show an interest at the time. As the great teacher Miao-Lo(711-782) says, hearing the Law is the “seed,” while arousing faith is the “sprouting of the seed.” June 29 th , 2012 WT pg. H
Interestingly enough, I remember some years back seeing an article about some Jewish group (was it Kabbalah?) that was selling T-shirts with Hebrew characters on them. They believed that, when people in society saw these characters, even without having *any* understanding of Hebrew or Judaism, the *seeing* would cause a fundamental change in their lives. Whether they wanted it or not. More of the same woo-woo wave-the-hands-it's-magic kind of thinking.

And here I am, fine and fruity!! Do you think the SGI is delighted with my "sprouting"???
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1. What can we do to “plant the seeds of Buddhism” and introduce the young people around us?
2. What can we do to ensure that “youth are able to freely exercise their full potential”?
3. How can we “dispel feelings of stalemate or stagnation” in ourselves and those around us?
Am I the only one who finds this attitude of targeting younger people deeply creepy and stalkerish, even pervy?? I'm 53 years old. How would it look if I were attempting to "introduce the young people around" me?? First of all, I have a strictly hands-off attitude toward anyone under age 18. I do not want to be viewed as hostile to their family's beliefs or attempting to subvert their parents' authority. There's no two ways about it - if you are an adult and you want access to minors, you can't be surreptitiously attempting to indoctrinate or counter-indoctrinate them! Just NO!

Say, I was thinking about something I said earlier, about how despicable the SGI is for discouraging the members from providing charity to those in need. While I think the SGI's attitude is the most extreme, I think we find this in all the intolerant religions - I've seen plenty of Christians, for example, who boast of giving to aid organizations (typically affiliated with their religion or ideally their own sect), then clarifying how much more virtuous that approach is, because if you give directly to the needy, they'll only spend it on booze and drugs. How despicable is that?? It betrays such contempt and disdain for the needy! As if the only reason they're needy is because they make really stupid choices. When you give to an organization, only a portion of your donation makes it to those in need, and typically at the organization's discretion - you have no say in the matter. When you give directly to someone in need, s/he gets 100% of the donation - but you won't get a tax deduction for it. So what are our priorities here?? It seems, as is so often the case, the tax rules are crafted to benefit the organizations yet again. Instead of those in need.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: July 26, 2013 01:48PM

Great post, corboy. We all look into the abyss, though what prompts us in that direction differs. Fear tends to lurk in the subconscious, to drive us relentlessly because we can't see it. When we can get a grip on it, you know, turn on the light and trot it out and have a look at it, we discover it's either nothing at all or something so trivial that we can't believe it ran us in circles for so long. Self knowledge is the key...

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: holly_golightly ()
Date: July 26, 2013 02:39PM

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Hitch


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The power of the Gohonzon may not be fully apparent overnight, but if you strive earnestly in your Buddhist faith and practice for 10 or 20 years, you will achieve clear and indisputable results. June 15 th ,2012 WT pg. B

i.e., give it lots of time, in order to cultivate your cognitive confirmation bias tendencies (It was supposed to be much more powerful, when I was in. I guess its magical powers have diminished with time.)

Absolutely! After 20 years of practice I was a 'worn out shell of a person' (in my friend's words), desperately phoning national leaders for guidance due to feeling so depressed and hopeless, and shakubukuing complete strangers in a mentally unhinged manner. Do you think that's what they meant? ;)

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Hitch

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I know that sometimes we just complain without really thinking about it, but the frightening thing about complaining is that every time you do, a dark cloud descends over your heart, the sun that should illuminate your spirit is obscured, and your inner hope, appreciation and joy gradually wane. As Nichirenwrites, ‘Misfortune comes from one’s mouth and ruins one’ (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1,p. 1137). June 15 th , 2012 WT pg. C

i.e., be a sheep

Yes, and what a guilt trip! Encouraging people to repress any bad feelings and feel too frightened to complain incase they made everything worse. Which is exactly how I used to feel.

Great post Hitch, about the BS they come out with at these things. Often I feel it's like the Emperor's New Clothes syndrome (which I'm sure has been said here before). If everyone is nodding and smiling and making out they are hearing something brilliant and profound, the peer pressure itself causes people to join in and agree even if they haven't a clue what the person is talking about, so they don't come across as stupid. I certainly remember sitting there wondering why I found it so repetitive and boring but then saying how wonderful it was after - so lame!

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Tushita ()
Date: July 26, 2013 07:14PM

Dear Meh you are so right I would never have believed that SGI is a cult had I come across these forums while I was striving in faith. I would have in fact easily labelled all of these as "slander of the law'.

You know I come from a simple family and my parents have given us much beyond they could actually afford. Even though I was not born a princess I was turned into one because of the love and protection of my family.The only slander that I have committed is towards them. Its almost like doing drugs or other risk taking behavior.

I sacrificed all wisdom received from them, all simple appreciation for life and instead became a self righteous person who started judging my parents and siblings for not following any religious practice.

In hurting myself I have hurt the strong foundation of my family and abused the freedom of choice.

The very reason we seek spiritual gratification through other places than from the society we are naturally born in is because we do not believe in the over emphasis of rituals and the fear factor.

NMRK and SGI coins us just there.

You begin by chanting just for 5 minutes a day and gradually you realize that you end up spending much more of your time in their propagation efforts the very reason we hate our own traditional religion and its beliefs.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: July 26, 2013 09:18PM

Excellent posts, all.

I say this only in reference to myself, but I think I'm a better person because of my involvement in sgi. Certainly not in the way that they would like to see, but I've learned how important thinking for myself is, the value of my own opinions and views and, after leaving, compassion and forgiveness towards myself.

I think most of us joined sgi in the hope of becoming better people. While we separated ourselves from old friends and sometimes our families because of das org - we know better now, and hopefully have a deeper appreciation for them. This isn't a bad thing; any one we've ever loved has value and it's important that we recognize and appreciate that. We may have caused them sadness and concern over our involvement with sgi, but we're back from the dark side, a little sadder and wiser. And we are better people.

Much of what I needed to learn about myself (not that there isn't more), I learned during my last few months in sgi. I discovered that, truly, anything I thought I needed from them I had within myself. In a perverse way, they did empower me to take over my own life. It's tough, and it would be really nice to just hand things over to some other powerful being to straighten things out for me, but doing it myself (without thinking that chanting is going to resolve anything) is heady stuff.

We joined sgi because we were humans who were looking for something profound (once again, mis-fortune babies are a different story). My life was in shreds at the time; I'd left a very difficult marriage and had moved 2/3's of the way across the country looking for . . . something. My children were grown and living their own lives, my parents were long gone, no other family to speak of and I didn't have a whole lot of friends. I was lonely, scared (I was also unemployed) and in kind of a dark place. On a daily basis, I have to work on forgiving myself for being so vulnerable to the predators, and every day it gets a little bit easier. I see who I was then, and I see that I really was ripe for the picking; my inherent naivety made it that much easier.

And reading all these other posts helps me realize that I was in very good company. Every message here is intelligently presented, well-founded, kind and compassionate - we need to apply that same compassion to ourselves and not see ourselves as somehow flawed for believing that sgi could help us become the people we'd like to be.

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