The important thing is that you're taking responsibility for your life, you're owning and trying to expiate your karma
For me, this was an incredibly destructive concept. For example, when my asshole of a boss told me that "There are anonymous complaints about you," I should have said, "Identify them so that we can address any problems together, or let's go talk to your boss right now." Instead, I "self-reflected", imagining all the possible scenarios where I let someone down or failed to meet someone else's expectations. In other words, I was my own worst enemy. Instead of confronting the assholery I was being hit with, I colluded. Instead of identifying who had complaints and what, specifically, they were and with regard to what particular project I'd been working on, I just offered up more fuel to the fire.
In retrospect, she was just using the "anonymous complaints" dodge as a way to criticize me HERSELF without taking responsibility for any of it. I should have called her ass onto the mat right then and there, but the whole SGI thing had me automatically internalizing that I'd failed and finding scenarios that fit.
it seems like chanting works because lights stay green for you and you can find parking spaces.
Yes, on mornings that I was running late, when I hit all the green lights and made it there in the minimum amount of travel time, I was all "THANK YOU GOHONZON!!" But I haven't chanted in years, and I *still* hit all greens some days. Plus, I've found that, if I simply leave a few minutes early, the color of the lights really doesn't make any difference *ahem*
This sort of nonsense isn't just in the SGI, though. My devout Christian mother once told me about a "miracle" she personally experienced. She and my grandmother were driving to the monthly Christian Women's Club luncheon. And they were late! There was NO WAY they could make it there on time! So she said, "Mother, pray!" They both prayed and they got there on time.
That's it. That's the "miracle." It wasn't as if the *nice* ladies at the Christian Women's Club luncheon wouldn't let them in if they were late. It wasn't as if there wouldn't be another CWC luncheon the next month. My narcissistic mother no doubt thought that the shame of walking in late would kill her. So, therefore, she needed - and was granted - a "miracle." Some years later, when she was dying of ovarian cancer, where the 17% odds of making it into remission stubbornly eluded her and all those nice church people who were busy thinking *special thoughts* and imagining they were helping somehow, I wondered if she thought back on that "miracle" and if its miraculousness and specialness were now tarnished and cheap, considering there was a perfectly good chance for her to overcome her cancer (17% should be child's play for a god, right?) and yet she was not. Despite her lifetime of devotion, despite all her bible study and forcing her children to go to church activities they hated and the pressure she put on her family to look *perfect* so that her fancy church friends would think she was exemplary. None of this got her diddly squat. When push came to shove, there were no miracles to be had.
There was a question a while back somewhere on this site about only counting the hits and ignoring the misses - it's called "confirmation bias." Anything that confirms your belief counts; everything else is dismissed as irrelevant. See it all the time in any belief system that includes some variant on prayers-being-answered.
It's the same in the SGI - that mom I've mentioned, chanting endless hours for her spine-injured young son to be restored to full health and him remaining crippled for life. At least she got millions of dollars in settlement, so she can now live without financial concerns in a great big house with a pool (that she could only have dreamed of before her son was crippled). Worth it? That woman I used to like talking to after meetings, stricken with stomach cancer and dying from it within months. Hell, Culture Department Chief Pascual Olivera getting cancer, stopping treatment midstream with the ecstatic announcement that he was "cured", that the doctors had said there wasn't a single cancer cell left within his entire body (no doctor would say that), dancing the flamenco with his lovely wife for Senseless at a New Year's Gongyo party, and then, 9 months later, he's dead. From cancer. Cancer comes from *within* your own body, you see - so there's nobody who can say there's none of it in there, because it can start up again at any time. Such an observation of "not a single cancer cell left" would be worse than useless. Shin Yatomi, Study Department Chief, dead within months of an aggressive and invasive cancer. David Aoyama dying in one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. Ikeda's son dying at the ripe old age of 28. National leader Guy McCloskey's son (age mid-to-late 20s) dying in a motorcycle accident. I could go on and on.
If all these high-level leaders (and their offspring) couldn't manage to overcome these obstacles, why should anyone think that this practice works in any sense that is not just random chance?