Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 14, 2013 09:19PM

Final rant for the morning (my coffee is strong today).

A public speaker in any capacity has a responsiblity to check the background and accuracy of his or her source material.

A responsible chef knows to avoid using meat that has been kept past a certain date and will discard it.

Ditto for selecting and discarding other foodstuffs.

A public speaker in any capacity could be said to cook with words and ideas and feeds his or her intended audience.

And the wiser ones know to check and make sure they are not unknowingly passing on sickly ideas from sickly groups or people.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: August 16, 2013 08:13AM

Wow, board's been jumpin!!

I wasn't aware that corporal punishment was permitted anywhere, TaP, so that's an eye-opener. I'll venture a guess and conjecture that most of the states permitting it are in the south and in the bible belt? That we still allow capital punishment in this country isn't exactly a mark of pride, either - yes, a true Christian nation.

It is so much easier to be a slave, isn't it? Lines are clearly drawn, you know what is safe for you to say or do . . . when you are directed in your actions and speech, you don't have to worry about mis-steps. You don't have to make decisions for yourself, and you don't have to take responsibility. You don't have to think for yourself, and you're told what to believe. You're isolated from those who don't think the way they're supposed to so that, in theory, you won't be contaminated by their dangerous ideas. You learn who to trust, who, who is dangerous to your belief-system. It is a very safe place. If you're brought up that way, I can't even imagine how terrifying it is to let go of those ideas and open your mind to the real world; for those of us who signed up for it, it's still pretty darn scary because we haven't had to think for awhile. That someone honestly believes that you have to make a choice as to what you will be enslaved to - I can't even get my brain around that idea.
I think it's that people can't imagine anyone else having a different reality/worldview/set of assumptions. Like the unhappily married person who declares that there are no happy marriages at all. Like my late aunt who, according to my father (not necessarily the most reliable source *ahem*), believed that female orgasm was a myth. Like my former coworker who had red-green color blindness and said he was certain that all men had it to some degree.

No back-of-the-mind "thank you" to the mystic law.
:D "Thank you, gohonzon!!!" LOL!!

You are poor and need help with meals. You gotta take whatever you can get.
You are poor and unexpectedly pregnant. You go to a nearby "Pregnancy Resources" office hoping to get a referral to a low-cost abortion. Instead, you find yourself bombarded with anti-abortion materials and attitudes. You didn't realize that the fundamentalist Christian "pro-life" crusaders would be so underhanded and dishonest as to label their crap so blandly so that the unsuspecting might wander in and find themselves caught in their nefarious web of pressure and guilt trip.

*You or an elderly person you love is in a nursing home. The local cult church has ties to the place and sends in people to proslytize you and you cannot just get out and leave. Rick Ross got into the cult education field because he discovered his grandmother, in her nursing home was being hit on by cult proslytizers.
Some years back, a man discovered that his elderly grandfather, a card-carrying Democrat, who was comatose in a nursing home, was being visited come election time by Republicans of the ultraconservative Religious Right. They would hold a pen in his hand, make his mark for the Republican candidates (which Grandpa would *NEVER* have done), and laughed about "getting out the vote." I believe there are now laws against that, but this is the reason the laws had to be set up in the first place. Anyone who would prey upon the vulnerable, especially the helpless, is a predator just as any cult is.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2013 08:14AM by TaitenAndProud.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: August 16, 2013 08:40AM


I think that the root of a cult's appeal is that it implies - or outright promises - that people will be able to get something for nothing. Chant for whatever you want! Chant for A NEW CAR!!! Chant for a better job! You've all heard the bullcrap. Well, I found myself thinking about this earlier this week.

I've mentioned before this young woman I met through the SGI. She is my main example because it was through interacting with her that I first was able to understand this phenomenon. She was in her mid-30s with two elementary school-age boys. When I first met her, she was staying in St. Claire's Home for homeless women. She got a fat child support check every month from her ex-husband. She moved out of the homeless shelter and right in with an SGI member (man) who she'd met when he was there volunteering by teaching basic computer skills to the residents. She went on and on about how abusive her ex-husband had been, and then told tales of how abusive the guy she'd moved in with was - he bore a strong resemblance to David Spade. He later confirmed to someone else that he'd become someone he didn't recognize while he was with her, but that's another story. As soon as she moved out from his place (living in her car for several weeks with the boys), she managed to find a cheap place and immediately went onto and got her another guy and moved in with HIM!

She had arrived at this point in her life with nothing more than a high school diploma (though she was highly intelligent) and no accumulation of work skills that would make her qualified for anything other than entry level. And she didn't want any entry level job! She wanted to ride bikes with her boys to their school then return to a Starbucks, buy a hot chocolate she couldn't afford, and nurse it while writing. She fancied herself the next JK Rowling (of Harry Potter fame).

She was chanting 4 hours a day to change her financial karma. I told her as gently as I could that even the pioneer members, those with the most experience, said it typically took 10 years to change financial karma. If you think about it, that's just common sense - time enough to complete a college education and accumulate enough job experience that you are qualified for higher-paying positions, right? She screamed at me, "I don't HAVE 10 years! I need it to change RIGHT NOW!" Then she told me I was a horrible person and a terrible mother and I haven't heard from her since! :P

Here's the thing - when people get suckered into one of these "magical thinking" supernatural-access cults, whether we're talking chanting, prayer, or really special dancing or whatever, they're believing that, by devoting themselves to *this*, they will be able to get what they haven't earned. They will get the results that other people have to work long and hard for; they will be able to reap the rewards without actually accomplishing anything. It's a "Go to the front of the line" kind of mentality, "Get a free pass" thinking. Someone or something else can just GIVE you these rewards - through what boils down to magic - so that YOU won't have to actually earn them the way everyone else does. YOU get a special deal - in return for your devotion and religious efforts, you get the same reward as someone else who actually gets the education and training and puts in the hours and effort to earn that reward!

The religious stuff is easy, though - ANYONE can chant NMRK! It's 7 freakin' syllables, for goshsakes!! ANYONE can read a gongyo book! ANYONE can go sit in a meeting! ANYONE get the picture O_O So this irrationality appeals to the people of a certain loser-ish persuasion, who feel, typically on a very deep subconscious level, that they *CAN'T* succeed the way others can, that they MUST have some sort of magical, supernatural assistance or intervention to get *ANYTHING* out of life. Perhaps they've watched the promotions go to others, maybe others who they thought didn't work as hard or as long as they did. Perhaps they've looked at the costs of college and given up. Perhaps they've gotten sick and tired of entry level jobs or dead-end minimum wage toil. So THIS promises them a magical "chutes and ladders"-style promotion - socially, financially, job-description-y, you name it! The Good Life can be yours - just do as we say! Yes, it's really that simple! Look at those yahoos working their tails off, putting off indulgent expenditures and accumulating fancy stuff while they lay educational groundwork and put in the hours and hours to gain work experience. What idiots! YOU are smart enough to realize that there's a shortcut! It's a money tree, and we can tell you exactly where it's growing - it's astonishing that more people don't realize how easy it can be!

Speaking of cult-type thinking, I believe I've mentioned that friend of mine who rather sneered at me because SHE and her husband owned FIVE expensive properties (4 rentals) while my husband and I, still just starting out though older (a PhD will do that to you) were still in our starter home and living somewhat hand to mouth (my husband just starting in his career). She said that the "Rich Dad Poor Dad" guy had all the answers - and she and her husband were taking the "Rich Dad" route, while my husband and I were taking the "Poor Dad" route. Well, guess what? Real estate bubble popped, while her junk adjustable-rate mortgages began ratcheting up. Turns out that she and her husband had yanked equity every time a property appreciated, via a home equity line of credit, and used it to buy more properties! She told me she'd realized that SHE didn't own a single penny of any of those properties! She couldn't sleep. One property alone was now costing $2,500 MORE per month than the rent they had contracted with the renters! She ended up short-sale-ing every property and buying into a little condo (1100 sq. ft.) in a nice development for herself and her family (three kids) before the creditors realized what shmucks they were. Where's your "Rich Dad" NOW?? Hmmm...??? Meanwhile, my husband and I, going about it the old fashioned way, are still in our starter home (moving's a pain and everything's too expensive!), we've got savings, and we're now at the place where we can feel secure. We've got money set aside for our kids' college educations and our retirement. "Rich Dad Poor Dad" is more cultic nonsense, that you can get "SOMETHING FOR NOTHING"!!!

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: sixtyseven ()
Date: August 17, 2013 04:02PM

More "deep stuff" about the cults propaganda campaign.
What is "The significance of the Aug 16 th "??? Find out on PNW Blog Home-run to Happiness and you are prepared for the TOTAL VICTORY.
Sounds familiar to you? We had that same campaign in Nazi Germany, Berlin 1943 when Goebbels delievered the sportspalast speech about Total War!

I have heard that there are handouts on the front desks of cc's about Sapporos Summer Campaign.
The three keys:
1. Unity
2.Making a dash at the start
3.Keen determination

In other words:
1. Don't be yourself, pull yourself together for unity!
2. Don't think, you will double the burden when you loose time
3. Don't feel, We cannot possibly win if we are swayed by the situation of those around us

Fascism pure.
And the three keys are TOTAL VERY REVERSE to Buddhism.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: August 18, 2013 01:33AM

Ugh. That's so gross. I always *hated* the various campaigns! Always felt pressured to put on my best face and participate as willingly as I could muster, but it was always a slog. Aug 16th - that's just a new name for the "August Shakubuku Campaign," I'm guessing *eye roll*

Say, did you see - months ago - where I told of my very first shakubuku campaign? Of course, everyone was told to set a number goal. I called it "body count". Well, I hadn't yet gotten my gohonzon - I was a REALLY new YWD. Had only been practicing 5 months or so. Well anyhow, this chapter YWD leader wanted to come over for a home visit. Okay, says I. Can I bring someone? she asks. Okay, says I.

She shows up with this Japanese young woman I'd never seen. Who spoke, like, 3 words of Engrish. So I explained that I thought it was icky to tally up a body count ahead of time, as this emphasizes quantity only and is completely cold and impersonal. So the Japanese young woman says, ""

Thanks honey. Now shut up and go look pretty somewhere. Sheesh.

I *didn't* like "doing shakubuku"! I have never felt comfortable trying to influence someone to change to be more like me, whatever the context. And the SGI's emphasis on getting more - ever more - converts made me so uncomfortable that even talking about my own practice felt awkward! Plus I never could get over how weird and culty it sounded - "Yeah, I chant secret words to a secret piece of paper! Sounds great, right??" Also the whole "I chanted therefore I got it" sounded weird, too, since all around me there were people who got it without chanting. So what was MY problem that I had to chant to get it??

You're right, though. It's fascism, pure and simple.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: simplify ()
Date: August 18, 2013 07:11PM

Interesting video by an ex-SGI English guy living in Japan about how SGI is regarded in Japan (particularly from about 4.20 mark).
Is SGI a Cult?

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

That's a very interesting video; we've discussed here before how sgi is chameleon-like, camouflaging itself to fit into the local culture. I've never been to Japan, but it always struck me as curious how so many of the Japanese members assume the position of being in a persecuted class. One of the ladies, in fact, works for a Japanese company here in Philly, and makes every effort to prevent her co-workers from knowing that she's a member. I never really "got" that, but this video clarifies that for me somewhat. I think my provincial US-attitude about religious freedom sort of blinded me a bit on that. Putting sgi into the context of being viewed in Japan as scientology is seen here makes sense to me now.

He really gets to the gist of where sgi went wrong; turning into the cult of ick-eda. He has encouraged others to view him as a living Buddha, and subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) fanned the flames to keep that idea alive. While toda (and honestly, I don't know enough about makiguchi to draw him into this) certainly set the stage for fat-boy's rise to power, ick-eda and his "handlers" have accomplished something darkly remarkable. They took a complete but slightly-charismatic nobody and turned him into what some view as a near-deity.

I always found him kind of oily and repellant - for a long time, I thought it was a failing on my part, or that it was a cultural thing somehow. I was put off by the militant music and the constant boasting on his part, how he always associated his ideas with some of the great minds of philosophy and history . . . there was always something slimy around the edges that I found off-putting. I could never bond with him on that mentor/disciple level that everyone blathered about.

While it seems like a "something for nothing" at the start, you wind up sacrificing your autonomy, your innate wisdom and your independence - it's a lot more like "an awful lot for nothing." It's all air, vapor and bullshit and you've paid dearly with the very person you were. When I was in, I felt a bit inadequate because I did nothing to build up the body count; now I'm grateful for being a crappy shaku-buku-er. I'd be carrying an awful lot of guilt had I brought others into this, and would be spending an awful lot of time on the phone trying to undo the harm.

Going on three months out of the flock now, and it seems like so very long ago. Nope, not missing that person at all.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 18, 2013 10:12PM

Meh wrote:

"...ick-eda and his "handlers" have accomplished something darkly remarkable. They took a complete but slightly-charismatic nobody and turned him into what some view as a near-deity.

I always found him kind of oily and repellant - for a long time, I thought it was a failing on my part, or that it was a cultural thing somehow. I was put off by the militant music and the constant boasting on his part, how he always associated his ideas with some of the great minds of philosophy and history . . . there was always something slimy around the edges that I found off-putting. I could never bond with him on that mentor/disciple level that everyone blathered about. "

Wow. How many of those seven years in SGI were you aware of the "icky" aspects of Ikeda?

Am asking because I have been in far too many long term situations where I kept things going by suppressing valid doubts and misgivings.

In my case, I grew up in a family with a lot of strange features. So from childhood I learned to ignore/normalize things such as Mom always keeping a bottle of Gordons Gin by the toaster.

So I grew up keeping secrets without being told to keep secrets, suppressing personal misgivings and not even aware of the energy this required from me.

As a result, I have been in just a few too many situations that I should have left much earlier--because I was used to suppressing misgivings.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: August 19, 2013 12:46AM

Corboy, I hate to admit it, but I had those doubts for most of the seven years that I practiced. Like you, I learned to "normalize" things early - besides, it was really my fault that I didn't "get" that whole mentor/disciple relationship, right? It was always very easy for me to believe that if things weren't going as hoped-for that it was somehow my own shortcomings that prevented the desired outcome. That was an sgi hook that sunk in very deeply for awhile, and I really felt that it was deficiencies in my practice that prevented me from making that connection. Manipulation via guilt was always a very effective tool on me, and the leaders were masters of it. And, like you, I've been in many long-term situations where I ignored my doubts and misgivings - I've always been a great little enabler.

The lack of connection, along with recognizing that my doubts and questions were legitimate, was what saved me. Once the daylight started to shine through, it was as if I was coming out of a very uncomfortable dream! I felt as if parts of my brain that I'd shut off and turned over to the org were suddenly switching back on and were in my possession again. The lights came on, and I could clearly see how I'd been worked.

I really felt so stupid for awhile, but the posts to this mb have convinced me that a lot of very bright people are taken in by this and other cults. I'm in very good company here!

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 19, 2013 04:07AM

We are not stupid.

IMO, most of us are intelligent but in various ways (such as certain patterns of family upbringing) we have been conditioned to use our intelligence to full capacities in some areas but never to use this same intelligence to examine areas deemed taboo, such as (in my case) the bottle of gin by the toaster.

Or...that there was this fellow who lived with us, ostensibly my father's long time cello student.

Turned out 'Jim' was my father's long time, live in male - companion. (How Mom put up with it, I will never know. But it did account for my mysterious feeling of famililariy and comfort when I encountered the gay community, years later. Felt like coming home--and it took 25 years to find out why)

And...a few years ago, I found out that Mom and Dad's claim that they had bought and owned the house was not true. They didnt. 'Jim' and Dad bought the house and then Dad signed his share of the house over to 'Jim'---before Dad married my mother.

So I grew up amid strange stuff and never directed my intelligence towards it.

I put up with the misgivings because I am accustomed to relationships were there is always a buzz of discomfort that must be ignored. For me, thats what normal is.

Rather like having lived so long in a war zone that one becomes used to sleeping on the floor surrounded by sandbags and cannot adjust to an ordinary bed with a good mattress.

This has consequences. Some years later, a professor who taught ethics and critical thinking at our seminary informed us that many students who had trouble with her class were persons who had grown up in scary, abusive situations.

"You all belong at this school and you did not get in here by mistake or as imposters", she told us. "If you find you are having trouble with this subject matter, come see me immediately. Over the years I have found that people who have difficulty with this subject matter have grown up in abusive situations where as small children you dared not observe clearly or reach conscious conclusions about cause and effect because it would have exposed you to conclusions that you would have found too frightening to cope with.

"In such situations, developing sustained, logical thought is difficult--it leads to conclusions about family power structures unbearable to contemplate.

"But one can often cope by developing a sort of divided or scattered attention where you can apply observation and insight that illuminates areas that are not frightening to contemplate while avoiding those areas you dare not perceive directly.

You can come out of such an upbringing with great talent in creative writing, but have difficulty with the kind of evidence based, logical thinking and writing we are doing in this class--because you dared not face evidence while growing up in your families of origin."


No one else ever mentioned what this one professor did. So am passing it on if others find it helpful.

And I am coming out of a situation where I ignored misgivings for 15 years.

Part of what woke me up was discovering the extent to which I could trust my perceptions.

And becoming old enough that I was less and less willing to be talked down to.

It also helped me that I spent so much time reading and writing on this message board that I learned a lot about boundary ethics and became able to recognize when things had gone too far in the situation I was in -- and the other party treated my concerns with condescension and then outright sarcasm when I stood my ground.

That was when I realized it was time for me to get out.

Plus, I was paying money and recognized I was no longer getting what I was paying for.


Truly amazing what one can learn by researching public records, such as property titles and marriage licenses. My father turned out to have married not once, but three times. It can be quite interesting to find out who signs as witnesses on a marriage license and even how much time elapses between when the license is issued and when the marriage is officiated. And--was there a wedding, or was it a furtive, hole-in a corner affair? Did they get married in their city and country of residence, or in a country far away? Newpaper announcements? Or not?

Must warn that if you want to do this kind of background research make sure to have excellent social and medical support. I reacted to my family discoveries by getting a six month bout of insomnia that nearly drove me nuts. Needed to get medical help to resume being able to sleep normally.

What I got was conditioning that led me to keep secrets without even being told to do so.

The son of my mothers best friend grew up with similar conditioning and sharing our stories helped us figure this out.

I said to Michael:

"Its amazing that neither of us wound up in organized crime. Both our families were that full of lies and cover-ups and disinformation.'

Long pause.

Michael replied, "I was in organized crime 30 years ago."


Michael: "I was a drug dealer. I was arrested. Went to jail for six months. Nearly got killed. Got out of it after that."

I paused. "Know what? I was in a form of organized crime. I was in a part of the peace movement. We would intentionally cross police lines and get arrested to protest US policy in Central America. I always pled guilty. I had this drive to do penance.

And my therapist actually asked me if my parents had ever done anything for which they could have been arrested. At the time, I thought he was nuts.

Turns out...I internalized their sense of shame and secrecy"

So that is one way one can be conditioned to gravitate towards stuff thats similar to the emotional texture of ones family of origin.

Its not that we want it. Its more like Velcro.

Its the sort of relationship that one is conditioned for. Before one develops a conscious sense of self and before ones is capable of self reflection.

Just muttering to myself. Hope this helps and has not been too much of a distraction.

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