Sunday, December 8, 2013

The definitive analysis on why SGI is a cult [author unknown]

SGI is a Cult


Authoritarian leadership, deception and destructive mind control are the main ingredients in a cult, and SGI fits the bill. That may strike some as an unkind or unfair assertion, but I plan to back it up with examples and explanation. SGI is a cult.
Am I saying that SGI members are bunch of brainwashed zombies? No, I'm not. If mind control were so cartoonish and obvious, it wouldn't be a problem. Internalized beliefs and phobias aren't usually obvious, yet they nonetheless have an enormous influence on a person's behavior and emotions.
Am I saying that SGI members are horrible, stupid or consciously manipulative people? No, not at all. Some of the most wonderful, smart, sincere people I have ever met are SGI members. It's because of our sincerity and idealism, perhaps,that we uncritically accepted "training" that made us dependent on the SGI, and we faithfully passed this training on to others.
I don't think that most SGI members are deliberately trying to hurt anyone. It's more like we're passing along a virus because we have no clue that we have been "infected."
You'll notice that I'm saying "we." I include myself. I joined SGI almost 14 years ago. I've worked for the SGI as a paid propagandist — first as a staff writer for the World Tribune and more recently as a freelance ghostwriter for SGI-USA's Middleway Press. SGI is on my professional résumé. I've defended the SGI in print. I've tried to explain away charges from friends, family and strangers that SGI is a cult. I've tried to convince myself that SGI might one day change.
But cults like SGI change only in the sense that they become more sophisticated or perhaps more subtle in their workings. They may take Ikeda's photo down from the wall in the Gohonzon room, and stop making members wear white uniforms — they may look less cartoonishly cult-like. But the goal remains the same: to make members believe that they will suffer without the group, and whatever happiness and success they have is attributable to the group, and they owe everything to the group. This is *not* Nichiren Buddhism — this is SGI-ism, and it's precisely what makes SGI a cult.
SGI members proudly state, "I am the SGI," despite the fact that members have no voting rights, no control over the SGI's policies or finances, no grievance procedure for resolving disputes, etc. "I am the SGI" means that SGI members have assumed total personal responsibility for an organization in which they have zero control. So when I criticize the SGI, I know that many SGI members will feel that I am attacking them personally and they will respond with personal attacks on me.
But this isn't about personalities. It's about becoming aware of the methods and content of SGI cult indoctrination.
There are many SGI members who will refuse to read what I have to say. That's fine with me. Many will dismiss my views as "negativity" or "complaining." So it goes. But there are probably a few people who are ready to read this. It took me a long time to get to the place where I could even write it. If what I say resonates with you — if you say, "Yes, exactly! That's true for me!" — then that's cool. If you think I'm full of crap, that's cool too.
For many years I have been a member of a cult. I have contributed my money, time and talent to the perpetuation of a cult. I have been a cult apologist, leading other people into the cult.
No more.

Nobody Joins a Cult

"SGI is a cult? No, certainly not,” I would tell my concerned friends and family members. “Do I seem like the kind of person who would be in a cult?”
No, certainly not, they had to concede. I was fairly smart and educated, fairly well off, and from a loving, stable family. I had a job, a mortgage and friends. "I know it may seem like a cult in some ways,” I would tell people. “But it’s not. Trust me.”
No one had kidnapped me and forced me to join SGI. Rather, I was willingly persuaded. I heard the chanting of the Nichiren Buddhist mantra at a meeting in Los Angeles. I loved the sound and was intrigued by the practice. I wanted to know more about the philosophy. SGI members were quick to inform me that the mantra and practice were under their stewardship, and they alone were charged with the duty of telling all humanity about Buddhism to bring peace to the world. I didn’t really care about proselytizing or world peace. I just wanted to chant.
My new friends told me that there was no true Buddhism outside of SGI. I believed them. I didn’t know any better. I knew nothing about Nichiren’s teachings. Besides, the members were completely sincere, friendly and knowledgeable. They spoke a language that I wanted to learn — “doing human revolution” and “shakubuku.”
SGI members seemed convinced that they had a special mission in life. They were also very hard on themselves, talking about how they needed to overcome their arrogance, or saying that they were too stupid to understand some crucial Buddhist lesson, so they had to “substitute faith for wisdom.” They deferred to the wisdom of their “seniors in faith” as they called their leaders. And they all spoke glowingly of “Sensei,” SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, even though most had never met him.
I liked almost everyone I met in SGI, and still do. I had no reason to doubt what they told me. They were relaying what they had been told by other people who were equally earnest and sincere. I trusted them, just as they had trusted their seniors in faith. So it hurt my feelings when people called SGI a cult, even in jest.
“SGI used to be a cult, maybe, back when members wore uniforms and aggressively recruited people,” I would explain. “But that has all changed. We don’t worship President Ikeda. We learn from him and try to emulate him. Besides, my life has improved since I joined SGI. President Ikeda always talks about freedom and the importance of the individual. I’ve learned a lot from him about standing up and speaking out. You’d never learn that in a cult.”
In SGI, cult allegations are usually dismissed as amusing paranoid fantasies manufactured by people who are jealous of SGI or intolerant of religious plurality, or who “just don’t get it.” I have heard SGI members proudly say that being called a “cultie” by an outsider is a badge of honor, and makes them feel even more committed to the group.
But it really bothered me. My brother and I got into a loud argument about it one time, which really upset me. We deliberately avoided the topic at future family gatherings. Still, I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t more supportive of me. My SGI leaders encouraged me to “chant for him.” As if he was the one who needed to get a clue.
In retrospect, I think I was upset because I was afraid. Not just afraid that my brother might be right and I might be wrong, but afraid of something more fundamental and threatening that I could not articulate. I knew that something felt very wrong, but I didn’t know what or why. I felt I was in danger somehow.
SGI members are programmed to believe (whether we are aware of it or not) that we will suffer if we get crosswise of the SGI or part with it voluntarily. Only cowards, weaklings and corrupters leave the SGI voluntarily, we are told. We are convinced that the correctness of our Buddhist practice is dependent on our SGI affiliation, even if that affiliation is loose or sporadic. Being an absentee member for a few months is fine, but leaving SGI will invite the wrath of all the Buddhist gods and our lives will become nothing but misery.
During my years as an SGI member and as the editor of BuddhaJones.com, I have observed the extreme fear and superstition that SGI members feel toward their own organization. Many write to tell me about some crappy thing that happened to them in the SGI, but they beg me not to publish their letter, or to post it under an assumed name — and some ask me not to tell anyone that they were even reading my web site. They are afraid of being in trouble with SGI, of being shunned, of having misfortune rain down upon them because they dared to displease "the org."
One of the reasons why I say SGI is a cult is because it instills in members this irrational fear that harm will come to them unless they remain members in good standing. It’s not as if some leader says: “OK, now we’re going to indoctrinate you with fear and irrational beliefs.”
Instead, we are indoctrinated with what it means to be a noble soldier of Soka:
...You are the SGI. If you are not happy with SGI, you must work harder to make it better. Leaving the SGI is the same as trying to escape your karma, which can’t be done. The people who quit are deluded traitors. Those who betray the SGI are betraying Nichiren. They will experience retribution. Those who leave come crawling back to SGI begging for forgiveness....
There is nothing in Nichiren’s teachings to support the notion that correct practice is dependent upon compliance with or commitment to a particular religious corporation. It’s utter nonsense…unless a group of people you trust tells you repeatedly that it’s absolutely true, and you chant with all your heart to internalize the lesson.
It didn’t start to dawn on me that SGI is a cult until I tried to leave. I felt overwhelming anxiety and uncertainty. I would talk with friends who were also trying to leave (and a few who had already left) and we would talk for hours at a time. We spent months trying to come up with excuses and explanations for why we should stay in SGI, even knowing what we knew about the organization’s finances, fibs and noxious fundamentalism. We weren't interested in quitting our practice or joining any other Nichiren group, we just wanted to stop giving our tacit approval to SGI.
There are many in SGI who scoff at the notion of mind control. They shrug and say that every religion instills some measure of fear in its practitioners. Even Nichiren had his fire-and-brimstone moments. Yeah, to an extent. But I’m talking about indoctrinating people with a fear that serves to benefit the religious corporation rather than the practitioner -- a fear that is not instructive or helpful, but is destructive and manipulative.
By contrast, I had been a confirmed Catholic for more than ten years before I decided to join SGI, but I never gave the Pope a second thought. I just moved on to a religion that I felt was better for me. Leaving the SGI, on the other hand, was difficult and terrifying. It took me years of chanting, months of talking, and a day of reading Steven Hassan’s books to understand why.
In Combatting Cult Mind Control, Hassan cites an anonymous quote that says it all: “Nobody joins a cult. They just postpone the decision to leave.”

The SGI Cult BITEs

Some may take issue with my using the word “cult” to describe SGI because they see it as unnecessarily pejorative. They’re comfortable saying that SGI has “cult-like aspects,” but calling it a cult is going too far. That's sort of like saying, "It looks like a duck and quacks like a duck but it is not a duck."
Many of these members are the same ones who express dismay about SGI’s seeming refusal to become less cult-like. They don’t understand why SGI’s leaders and members “deliberately” allow the organization to maintain financial secrecy, adulate Daisaku Ikeda and obsessively demonize the priests of Nichiren Shoshu, to name three common complaints. In my opinion, acknowledging that SGI is a cult helps to explain a lot.
Cults characteristically exert control over members’ behavior and the information members receive about the cult, as well as members’ thoughts and emotions. This is referred to as the “BITE” model of cult influence: Behavior, Information, Thought, Emotion.
Until around 1990, SGI leaders made no secret about telling members who to marry. They used to tell gays to chant to be straight. Men were told to shave their beards and mustaches if they wanted to be good members. Members wore uniforms. In other words, behavior was overtly controlled in SGI. But the organization is no longer so obvious in its influence on member behavior.
Members still receive “personal guidance” from leaders and are taught to behave cheerfully, subscribe to the publications, recruit new members and participate in as many SGI activities as possible to “create good fortune.” And, of course, SGI gets people to sit down and chant twice a day. But if this is behavior control, some may argue that it’s ultimately benign because chanting is unquestionably always a good thing. Plus, what’s wrong with being cheerful?
Instead of making members follow strict rules of behavior, SGI influences members’ thoughts and emotions, which in turn influences behavior. For example, many SGI members are afraid to visit a Nichiren Shoshu or Nichiren Shu temple because they have been told that temples are infested with demons and slanderers. This serves to keep members from shopping for an alternative to SGI or discovering first-hand information about other sects. So with just this one phobia, SGI can control both behavior and information.
In cults, there’s a common phenomenon known as “thought stopping,” a learned response to information and ideas that threaten or contradict the group’s teachings.
In SGI, all criticism is dismissed as negativity. The moment we hear criticism, we label it “negativity” or “anger” and immediately discount it and stop listening. If a member cannot maintain a cheerful, grateful attitude toward SGI, that person is having a “karma attack,” an obstacle to their happiness that they must overcome so they can be positive and cheerful once again. One must be positive and cheerful to “get benefits” from chanting — or so goes the conventional SGI wisdom.
Is our training to “put on a happy face” an example of thought stopping? I guess it’s debatable, but that’s how I’ve seen it used: to get members to squelch their own critical faculties.
Alternatively, when someone has a problem with something in SGI, we say: “Chant about it.” Instead of fully discussing criticism and thinking things through, we are advised to chant. Chanting is a wonderful practice, certainly. But when chanting is employed as a “remedy” for free thought and inquiry — or is used to rationalize the group’s deceptions (or make us forget about them for the time being), chanting becomes nothing more than a thought-stopping technique.
The BITEness in SGI is pretty obvious, I think. This is how it goes: You start to chant and you like it. Members, leaders and publications keep telling you that SGI is the only legitimate venue for your Buddhist practice, the best and only sangha sanctioned by Nichiren.
You are "encouraged" to read the SGI publications, which continue to reinforce the group’s messages. (In SGI, "encouragement" and "guidance" are often ephemisms for peer pressure and reinforcement of cult-approved views.) You are discouraged from seeking out "unauthorized” information or putting credence in anything that you read on the Internet. Uncomplimentary views of Daisaku Ikeda and SGI are explained away in advance by telling members that SGI has many enemies who are all jealous of the organization’s vast wealth, success and millions of members.
Members may have persistent questions about doctrine, organizational policy or how to apply Buddhism in daily life. They may find that their questions are not adequately answered. Even so, many do not search for a more fulfilling sangha because they have been conditioned to make excuses for the SGI’s failings. From the very beginning of our membership, it is impressed upon us that we must protect the SGI, preserve the unity of the members above all, and “be the change we wish to see” in the organization. If there is a problem with the SGI, the fault is with the person who recognizes the fault, or with common human failings, or with the “low life-condition” of the group. The organization itself, at its core, is not to blame and should not be scrutinized or criticized.
Even if we allow ourselves to admit that there are fundamental, systemic problems with the SGI, we most likely believe that these problems are remediable. We honestly believe that the SGI’s stated aims are it’s true aims. We assume that everyone is working in good faith toward the same goal of helping people to practice Nichiren Buddhism. The last thing we think is that SGI is a cult and is therefore not playing by the same rules as an open, progressive organization.
Some members say, “So what if it’s a cult? SGI has helped me, given me structure and a sense of purpose. Besides, I don’t care about organizational stuff. I just care about practicing Buddhism correctly.”
This is the most insidious thing about SGI, in my opinion: the organization distorts Nichiren Buddhism to undermine members’ autonomy and increase their dependence on SGI, and promotes this as “correct practice.”
For example, consider the fact that members do not own the SGI-issued Gohonzon enshrined in their homes — "your" Gohonzon is the property of SGI. For a one-time fee, SGI will loan you a Nichikan Gohonzon, the “banner” of SGI. Leaders and members spread rumors that other Gohonzon are “demon infested” or “don’t work.”
Some members think, “Great! We have more unity in SGI because we all embrace the same ‘edition’ of Gohonzon.” Conformity is often praised as unity in SGI. But what’s more insidious is that SGI inserts itself into the most sacred and central aspect of Nichiren Buddhism: the relationship between the practitioner and the Gohonzon.
If SGI owns your Gohonzon, it’s not such a leap to say that they own your practice. And if they own your practice, it’s not such a leap to say that they own a large share of your mind and heart. After all, the Gohonzon is not just a paper scroll, Nichiren teaches, but the very essence of our life itself.
To be a good SGI member, you must have a Gohonzon that is approved by SGI. Leaders may rationalize this as “protecting the members,” but even Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren himself are not approved by SGI. Perhaps many members are relieved that they do not have to choose from the dozens of Nichiren-inscribed Gohonzon available for free. But my point is that SGI pays lip service to freedom of choice and diversity, yet there is no choice with regard to the most essential and personal aspect of Buddhist practice.
Granted, most SGI members do not believe that the teachings of Nichiren have been manipulated to serve the self-enriching interests of a cult. We have been told for so long that SGI serves all humanity. Serving SGI is wonderful, we are told, because SGI alone is fulfilling the Buddha’s decree. In other words, the group itself perpetuates a belief in the unquestionable greatness of the group.
Most destructive of all, SGI members are indoctrinated to "never give up.” In Buddhism, “never give up” means never give up on your own life and practice, and to be persistent in your quest for liberation for yourself and all living beings. This is a great Buddhist attitude.
But in SGI, “never give up” is often invoked to mean never give up on the organization. No matter if participation in SGI requires you to compromise your personal integrity, never give up. No matter how you have to rationalize and make excuses, never give up. No matter that leaders and members consistently insult or ignore you, never give up. Keep begging, keep pleading for change, keep smiling. Hold on to SGI, no matter how humiliating or intellectually dishonest it may be for you. After all, we are told, Nichiren never gave up.
To me, that’s the poison in SGI’s BITE: convincing members that an abject, cringing dependence on SGI is really something noble, brave and Buddhist. I think Nichiren would be appalled.
SGI is like a cage that members carry inside themselves. To my shame, I spent years helping SGI members build and reinforce this cage. I feel obligated to say unequivocally that this cage may feel safe but it's really no more than a trap.
The good news is that no BITE control is 100 percent effective or 100 percent permanent. There is a way to practice Nichiren Buddhism free from Soka cult programming. The hard part is figuring out for yourself what that means. ...Or, as Buddha might say, work out your own enlightenment
Manipu-Mentoring in SGI
SGI is emotionally manipulative, yet somehow SGI President Ikeda — leader of the organization for more than four decades — is never held accountable. He's painted as the hero.
As members and leaders tell it, Ikeda Sensei is good, right and incorruptible; he wants only for you to be happy. This is pretty funny, because if you look at who benefits from SGI, Ikeda undeniably does, in terms of wealth, adulation, luxury, fame, dozens and dozens of buildings named after him, etcetera. In fact, he and his top lieutenants are the only ones who indisputably, materially benefit from the Soka organization. Yet they are believed, by organizational lore, to be the most selfless and worthy contributors to SGI. Leaders who are corrupt or jerkish just "don't know Sensei's heart."
How does one come to know Sensei's heart? Leaders have advised members privately that one way to know Ikeda's heart is to read his writings and pray daily for his health and happiness. What really helps is to cut out a photo of Ikeda and keep it near your Buddhist altar or hang it up on a wall in your home. You should then have "conversations" with your photo of Ikeda, telling him all your troubles, hopes and dreams. You don't even need a photo, leaders will tell you — just open up a "dialogue" in your mind and heart with Sensei. Sensei is mystically psychic of course, so he will hear everything you say (or pray) to him/his photo, and soon you will come to know his heart.
Obviously the purpose is to get members to project their own fantasy of a perfect, wonderful "spiritual father" onto Ikeda. So I guess it's no wonder why most members have a hard time thinking critically about him. After all, the Ikeda they know is an Ikeda of their own creation/projection, an Ikeda about whom they have heard only wide-eyed fables of praise from trusted leaders.
One of Ikeda's recent speeches provides examples of some of the manipulative messages that are communicated to SGI members. Most of Ikeda's speeches follow the same pattern and say mostly the same thing, time after time. But the speech I refer to here was published in the February 27, 2004, World Tribune "special insert." It's SGI President Ikeda's address at a nationwide executive leaders conference held in Tokyo, November 25, 2003.
The paper says,"In this speech commemorating 12 years of the SGI's spiritual independence, SGI President Ikeda discusses the intense growth and development of our organization in accord with the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin."
Right from the start, we are told, as always, that the SGI and its activities accord with the teachings of Nichiren. And of course "spiritual independence" is a big fat euphemism for excommunication from Nichiren Shoshu.
Ikeda begins: "Who are the worthiest of respect? It is those working for the happiness of others, those firmly dedicated to truth and justice. This describes our noble Soka members, each of whom is a priceless treasure."
So he begins with flattery, an example of what cult critics call "love bombing." According to Sensei, if you are a Soka member, you are dedicated to truth and justice; you are working for the happiness of others. ...All of this just by virtue of your membership in Ikeda's organization! How wonderful!
Ikeda continues: "It is imperative that we change the state of the world in which good-hearted ordinary people are oppressed and forced to suffer. This is an age of democracy, an age where people are sovereign. Those in even the most powerful positions of authority are there solely to serve the people. It must never be the other way around. Our second Soka Gakkai president, Josei Toda, strictly taught us this point."
This is the classic Ikeda mixed message. Yes, democracy is a great thing, but Ikeda fails to mention that there is nothing even remotely approaching democracy in SGI. Leaders are not elected, and leadership appointments are not reviewed by the membership. There are no term limits. The membership is not polled or consulted regarding organizational policies. SGI finances are kept secret. Ikeda pays lip service to democracy and rails against authoritarianism -- yet he himself is not accountable to the membership. Say one thing, do another.
The next section is under the heading "We uphold true friendship." This imparts the familiar SGI message that SGI members are your real friends, your comrades in faith whom you should trust without question. In this section, Ikeda says: "The courageous German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht, who vociferously opposed the Nazis, called out to the people, "It's yourselves you'll be deserting / if you rat on [betray] your own sort."
Hmm. Ikeda name drops a famous poet, suggesting a kinship between the two of them, and invokes the Nazis -- emotionally loaded in any context. Then he uses Brecht's words to send a strong message about "betrayal" (interesting editorial insertion by the World Tribune of the word "betray" for "rat on," by the way.) The implication is obvious: those who leave SGI are betrayers and deserters, akin to those who betrayed their neighbors to the Nazis.
Ikeda continues: "As comrades, family, brothers and sisters, fellow human beings, we will fight all our lives for kosen-rufu. This is our mission. This is what unites us. We are a fighting force, a fighting fortress."
What is kosen-rufu exactly? The SGI defines it in different ways, usually having something to do with world peace. Kosen-rufu is a vague goal, as is "world peace," a broad generalization, yet Ikeda declares that "this is our mission." There are no objective measures of progress, no benchmarking. So members are "united" by fighting all their lives for a non-specific goal. And how many peace organizations would brazenly declare themselves a "fighting fortress," I wonder? This rhetoric speaks to the siege mentality inculcated into SGI members: we are surrounded by enemies and we are the only ones who can save the world.
But now Ikeda returns to flattery and a show of humility, saying: "Allow me to deeply commend and thank all of you for your tremendous efforts this year. Our repeated triumphs in 2003, the Year of Glory and Great Victory, have indeed been significant."
He cites no examples of what has been accomplished, but goes on to say, "We have never before received such a flood of praise and congratulations from our friends, supporters and leading figures around the world."
What accomplishments? Which leading figures around the world? Ikeda does not say, but the message is clear: whatever vague things SGI members are doing, they are glorious, significant, global and widely celebrated. This is another example of flattery, with the added boost to member self-esteem of being "special" on the world stage.
Ikeda says: "The only way we can accumulate lasting and eternal benefit is through our Buddhist practice. Striving earnestly and humbly for kosen-rufu, without airs or pretensions, is what matters."
Hear that? Without your Buddhist practice as defined by SGI, you'll never have "lasting benefit." Also, you are profoundly special...but don't get a big ego about it. Meanwhile, Ikeda names buildings after himself and ranks himself alongside Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the traveling SGI-sponsored Gandhi-King-Ikeda exhibit...
The exercise of critiquing one of Ikeda's speeches is exhausting...and there are three more text-crammed pages of this speech to analyze, including a section titled "To betray the SGI is to betray Nichiren Daishonin." Ikeda's long harangue is enough to make me turn off my brain and nod my head in passive agreement. Which may be the whole point...
Ikeda reportedly once said at a meeting that he didn't care if people fell asleep. People cannot close their ears, he said, and even when they are asleep his words will still penetrate their subconscious.
Yikes.
Who's In Your Head?
Hypnosis is little understood by most people, writes Steven Hassan in Combatting Cult Mind Control: "When the term is mentioned, the first image that may come to mind is of a bearded doctor dangling an old pocket watch by its chain in front of a droopy-eyed person. While that image is certainly a stereotype, it does point to the central feature of hypnotism: the trance."
Hypnosis applies to a hot topic du jour in SGI: the re-writing of the silent prayers that members read twice daily during sutra recitation or "gongyo."
Hassan writes: "People who are hypnotized enter a trance-like state which is fundamentally different than normal consciousness. The difference is this: whereas in normal consciousness the attention is focused outwards through the five senses, in a trance one's attention is focused inwards. One is hearing, seeing and feeling internally. Of course, there are various degrees of trance, ranging from the mild and normal trance of daydreaming to deeper states in which one is much less aware of the outside world and extremely susceptible to suggestions which may be put into one's mind."
In Buddhism, the word "samadhi" means a state of absorption attained through intense concentration. It's a type of trance that is beneficial and integral to Buddhist practice. When Nichiren Buddhists recite the sutra and chant daimoku, we enter, more or less, a trance. In this state, we participate in the "ceremony in the air" and commune with the Gohonzon. In my view, there is nothing wrong — and everything right — with entering a trance-like state as part of Buddhist practice.
Hassan continues: "Hypnotism relates to unethical mind control practices of destructive cults in a variety of ways. In many cults which claim to be religious, what is often called 'meditation' is no more than a process by which the cult members enter a trance, during which time they may receive suggestions which make them more receptive to following the cult's doctrine. Non-religious cults use other forms of group or individual induction. In addition, being in a trance is usually a pleasant, relaxing experience, so that people wish to re-enter the trance as often as possible. Most importantly, it has been clinically established by psychological researchers that people's critical faculties are diminished in the trance state. One is less able to evaluate information received in a trance than when in a normal state of consciousness."
You can see where I'm going with this: The silent prayers during gongyo are the best time to indoctrinate members with an unquestioning belief in the greatness and righteousness of SGI and its leaders.
So you can see why many people were alarmed when, without notifying members, SGI-USA suddenly changed the third silent prayer to read:
"I pray that the great desire for kosen-rufu be fulfilled, and that the Soka Gakkai International develop in this endeavor for countless generations to come. I offer appreciation and pray to repay my debt of gratitude for the three founding presidents -- Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda, and Daisaku Ikeda -- as eternal models of selfless dedication to the propagation of the Law."
Some SGI leaders have defended the new prayers, saying that the wording of the prayers is not important — rather, what matters is what's in one's heart. Which begs the question: Then why print up and distribute a canned set of prayers in the first place?
Do I think a nefarious plot is afoot, or that a mind-control strategy is consciously being applied by diabolical leaders in SGI-USA to convince people that they owe a debt to the SGI? Or that the SGI is deliberately distorting the concept of gratitude as taught by Nichiren to manipulate people into enriching the fortunes of a religious corporation?
No, I don't think this is happening consciously on the part of most leaders and members. But lack of conscious intent does not mean that mind-control techniques are not being used.
And who truly stands to benefit from the doctrines now stated in the SGI-USA silent prayers? The corporation itself and its top leaders.
It is not known whether Nichiren prescribed any sort of silent prayers during sutra recitation. All we know is that he urged people to chant and recite portions of the sutra, and he did not specify how often his students should do this. So silent prayers are not necessarily an orthodox element of Nichiren Buddhist practice.
Another interesting wrinkle to prayergate is that the new prayers announced in the official SGI memo were adopted in other English-speaking countries such as Canada. But in the United States, the prayers were changed yet again to underscore the message that SGI members must "repay their debt" to the eternal SGI leaders. SGI-USA leaders have explained away this discrepancy, claiming that the newer new U.S. prayers are a "better translation."
Perhaps the leaders of SGI-USA believe in all sincerity that SGI members should embrace the doctrines expressed in the prayers, for our own good. They only want to help us. Perhaps these leaders are not consciously aware of the power of suggestion during a trance, and these silent prayers just feel "right" to them.
That may well be. No group says: "Hey, we're a cult! We employ techniques to indoctrinate and manipulate your mind! Come on in!"
Cult mind control often relies on lack or suppression of conscious awareness. All the more reason to raise these issues for public discussion.
Plausible Cult Deniability
For years, I told myself that SGI wasn’t a cult, yet the functional reality of SGI was plain to see. For instance, President Ikeda would say that we should all speak our minds freely. But members would censor themselves out of fear of disrupting the group, keeping in mind that President Ikeda also often said that disrupting the unity of SGI was a grave offense against Buddhism. (He is, after all, a master manipu-mentor.) Top and mid-level leaders would frown on dissent, even going so far as to issue a memo saying that only “pertinent” dialogue would be permitted in official SGI meetings and publications.
In other words, SGI is a cult that pays lip service to the value of free speech and dissent – just enough lip service, perhaps, to make people doubt the applicability of the word “cult.” Even so, members who express criticism of the organization are demoted, marginalized, ridiculed, insulted or defamed.
Simply, SGI’s stated goals and values are not its functional goals and values.
If you’re an SGI member, you are probably aware of the dichotomy between stated values and actual values in the organization. You may have learned to rationalize this dichotomy as a conflict between “ocean” and “village” cultures, or a conflict between “American” values and “Japanese” values, or the difference between those who “know Sensei’s heart” and those who don’t.
By rationalizing the dichotomy in this way, members can be persuaded that the “heart” of the organization is in the right place and that somehow, eventually, the organization will become the type of open, supportive sangha that it claims to be. It's easy to believe this when you want to believe it -- despite all evidence to the contrary -- to preserve your sense of having made a free, informed and correct choice in committing to SGI.
Over the past 15 years, things have changed for the better in the SGI, many members tell themselves. This is what I call the Myth of Substantive Change in SGI, the belief that the SGI used to be a cult but is no longer. People point to the fact that inane songs are no longer (routinely) sung at meetings, and SGI members no longer stand on street corners trying to recruit new members. In other words, the SGI leadership has come to realize that these activities scream "cult" to most observers, thus necessitating a change in window dressing.
Many SGI members tout the apparent acceptance of gays and lesbians — and the active recruitment of new members at Gay Pride celebrations — as a jaw-dropping miracle of positive change in SGI. For decades, gay SGI members remonstrated with SGI leaders about organizational hostility toward gays. Did these sincere efforts finally bring about a major change in SGI?
I think not. After all, this “change” benefits the organization by opening up a new constituency of eager recruits, many of whom are idealistic and have felt alienated from traditional religion and are seeking a spiritual “home.” Many have significant disposable income and often fewer family obligations. Plus, gays are a demographic group renowned for loyalty to organizations and advertisers who reach out to them (as many marketers have learned so lucratively over the past decade.)
In my opinion, informed by the fact that I'm a lesbian: “Acceptance” of gays is not a fundamental change in the SGI. Rather, it’s a sign that SGI recognizes a cult-recruitment jackpot when they see one. So don’t hold your breath waiting for the SGI to take a stand against the Federal Marriage Amendment. (SGI claims to be apolitical, despite their history of hiring lobbyists in the U.S.) Besides, discrimination against gays has always been and always will be indefensible in light of Nichiren Buddhist teachings. So with social attitudes toward gays becoming more accepting, SGI had no doctrinal leg to stand on, and was quickly losing it's social excuse for discrimination. Welcome to SGI, homos!
When I worked for SGI-USA in 1998, I requested that they expand their health insurance policy to cover the same-sex domestic partners of their gay and lesbian employees. The proposal was rejected by the SGI-USA Board of Directors. Gays and lesbians can get "married" in SGI, sure. But the SGI doesn't put its money where its mouth is and actually recognize these relationships as equal to heterosexual marriage.
So. Read newspaper reports about Soka Gakkai going back more than forty years. You'll see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Since 1963, when Daisaku Ikeda first came to the U.S., Soka Gakkai has been interested in expanding its political power in Japan and throughout the world. Since the very beginning and all the way up to the recent lawsuit and trouble at Soka University of America, Soka Gakkai has proven itself to be an aggressive, deceptive organization concerned with wealth, political power and secular influence.
Who Benefits?
Who benefits from the SGI? Members have been told time and again that they themselves benefit, and that society benefits. But the members and society do not control the purse strings on SGI’s billions. They do not make the organization’s policies. They are not on the organization’s payroll.
Who controls the money? Who has final say on organizational policies and activities? Who benefits from being able to say that he has profound influence over millions of people across the globe, including more than 300,000 people in America? Who benefits from a billion dollars worth of real estate in the United States? Whose name is on buildings and auditoriums and monuments built with SGI money?
SGI members have been trained to dismiss these questions as destructive innuendo. They’ve been programmed to think that any criticism of Daisaku Ikeda is unfair and motivated by anger or jealousy.

It’s not unreasonable to hold the leader of an organization responsible for its failings. Even the Pope takes heat from Catholics. It’s not unconscionable to suggest that a Chief Executive Officer has a self-interested involvement in his own corporation. In fact, it’s common and customary for shareholders or members to demand accountability from the top dog of an organization. Dictatorships and cults are the exceptions.

273 comments:

  1. Lisa speaks from personal experience and thorough research. Well written (as is all of her work).

    ReplyDelete
  2. nst and sgi don't really study the teachings and both have made up much erroneous buddhism. this article above is very good and all true. however, she has left out the most damaging and tragic part of it all which is slander of the lotus sutra and using buddhism for personal and selfish gain. no one in the sgi or nst will attain buddhahood. they only compound their karma. sad and tragic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may be referring to comments like "We receive the benefits of 6 Paramitas without having to practice them." SGI is guilty now of 'stealing precepts' which Nichiren warned against. The 'cult' word could be applied to all who proclaim Nichirenism!

      Delete
    2. Hello! First, I'd like to point out, I have no desire to defend or argue with your views as you are entitled to express your own
      experiences and opinions. I simply felt the need to share mine as well...which happen to be different than yours! My Mother has practiced SGI my entire life while my Father practiced Southern Baptist avidly. There was never a conflict in our home and we (myself and my siblings) were exposed to both but never pressured into one or the other. They always told us if we were good people and if we did good things our after lif would be fruitful. I did end up years later practicing SGI as well although, I had then, and still do have an interest in other practices around the world. You stated in this article: "they may look less cartoonishly cult-like. But the goal remains the same: to make members believe that they will suffer without the group" this has me questioning your view on religion as a whole. Is it not the teaching of all Christianity, with out the faith and belief in "God" specifically THEIR God you will also suffer eternity in Hell when you pass? Also you stated: "Those who leave come crawling back to SGI begging for forgiveness...." This, while in your experience is true, sound fairly identical to Catholicism. Do they not repent and confess their sins followed by begging for forgives to save their spot in heaven....sins that go against the teachings of THEIR religious group? Another here that has me confused (I'm almost done. ..I swear!) "SGI used to be a cult but is no longer. People point to the fact that inane songs are no longer (routinely) sung at meetings, and SGI members no longer stand on street corners trying to recruit new members." Inane songs sound extremely similar to the Church Hymns in every church I have experienced, and recruiting members seams familiar as LDS members walk door to door to share their beliefs with their communities,it also could be compaired to Christian Missionaries traveling the world sharing their beliefs and while I really dislike this word "recruiting" people to their religion so they don't suffer eternally. The greatest aspect of religious freedom is just that the freedom to choose what makes you happy. Clearly, with these points, organized religion in general could be considered a "cult". The reality is, in my opinion if being an SGI member makes you happy, and pushes you to fight to better yourself and your morals then allow that happiness and positivity to radiate and share it. If it doesn't keep searching until you find it else where. Reguardless of what religion, if any you choose, it seams wrong and imoral to me to label something that works for so many negatively because it didn't work for you. I suppose this is why we are each entitled to our own opinions...Thank you freedom of speach!

      Delete
    3. Before I end my rant, I've read thousands of views like this one on the internet and I know this wasn't in your article but it is brought up on the subject so I feel I need to address it as well (selfish, I know): SGI members belive simply chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo will magically grant them wealth, great health, materialistic things...each in their own words but you get the gist. My mother always taught me, when I meditate to use that calming highly focused time to place the negatives in and around my life in an order that makes sense to me and allow myself to see the solutions. Meditating doesn't give you material possessions, although it is important to you're health to allow yourself that time, it allows you the opportunity to see solutions to your typically stressful issues in a non stressful state. You are able to see the finish line and after your goals are set and you go for them. Of course that is just what I was taught! I am very happy with the path I've chosen and I wish you the best of luck on yours. I felt your article was very well written and well thought. I also want to say that I appreciate the research and time you must have put into not only the writing, but the fourteen years you spent practicing. I just feel as I said before, what works for one may not work for another....this should mean that it's wrong, just that the chosen path was wrong for that individual. There are plenty of others to walk down.

      Thank you for your time,
      Ashleigh Nikolakakis
      Hot Springs, AR

      Delete
  3. Hello author. I started reading this post looking for a fresh perspective but I did not have to reach 10 sentences to figure out that you are grossly misled. I would not waste my time invalidating your ridiculous post, but I would say this. SGI DOES NOT allow any kind of monetary transaction to be taken place between members or leaders.
    The SGIs mission is to spread and propagate the Lotus Sutra. Now, understand this. You are a leader. You are given the responsibility to propagate Nichiren Buddhhism as you are very well fond of it. Can you explain a valid, free, self-sustaining method? If you can I would suggest, you contact Dr. Daisaku Ikeda for he's in need of a successor.
    As far as I have understood, the model of the SGI is the best possible model to propagate the Lotus Sutra as nowadays people have lost all forms of faith. And if SGI is paving the pathway towards it, I don't understand your deep dissatisfaction with it.
    You are right in what you say about SGI but they are wrongly interpreted. for example when you say "chanting becomes nothing more than a thought-stopping technique", you are right. But do you realize that at the core of the Lotus Sutra, this is what it says. You cannot be worried. But nobody can ever tell you to not think good things. Do you do that. Do we all think good good things all the time? I'm sure of that answer and I know so are you. I hope you understand what I'm saying even if its a fraction.
    I can go on and on commenting on this infuriating post, but I would stop here as I can understand that you are grossly cruely misled. I would suggest you chant and chant your life away.You have been taken advantage of and I would tell you to reach out and try to understand the true motive behind SGI.
    Thanks
    With Regards
    Anirban Shaw
    India

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was taught, when I pray, to pray for others happiness and poitivity...whether friend or foe because when the people around you are happy you will be too. I don't care what you follow, practice or believe in, I'm actually dissapoinTed in the majority of these responses aND yours has dearly hit home. Does it matter that someone doesn't believe what you do? I strongly believe in accountability, you read something you felt to be negative...because you can't relate, but it didn't infuriate you, you had a choice to walk away, meditate, and be thankful that you are no longer searching for your happiness. Instead you chose to bash someone for simply expressing their rightful opinion based on their own personal years of experience. I guess I am just having a hard time understanding, either way when I pray this evening I'm going to include you for a more positive outlook. You have no power to judge another...you're only in control of your own peace. Im not perfect and I do get upset, I have a TON of learning left to do but I do know two wrongs don't make a right....this is still taught right?

      Delete
    2. Ashley Haratman, you write: "I don't care what you follow, practice or believe in,..."

      This too is not Nichiren Daishonin's Lotus Sutra Buddhism. i suggest you cease and desist calling yourself a Nichiren Daishonin Buddhist along with your other SGI heretics.

      Delete
  4. Hi Anirban. I understand your perspective and I appreciate your courage coming here. We who have left the SGI and who continue to chant the Daimoku, worship the Gohonzon, and revere the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren, and the Eternal Buddha, have tens of thousands of man/years in the Soka Gakkai. There is little you can tell us about the Soka Gakkai. The Soka Gakkai spreads Ikedaism, not Nichiren Lotus Sutra Buddhism.

    You tell us to chant "our lives away". Is this the behavior of a Buddha or is this proof of the depraved life conditions of the members of the Ikeda cult? You have no mirror. Your Nichikan no-Honzon has no power to transform people into Buddhas. The Lotus Sutra transforms one thousand out of one thousand people into Buddhas. This is proof that what you spread is not the Lotus Sutra but the machinations of a warped teacher. .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark -
      I have been attending sgi meetings for about 4 months in the Detroit, MI area. As a result of issues I was having re receiving the Gohonzon (intrusive over-site by "leaders"
      trying to convince me that they needed to meet my wife - to assure that she was "ok"
      with having the Gohonzon in our house - and their needing to determine the best site
      for the Gohonzon. My argument is that I'm not 5 years old and I'm not concerned about
      "the wind blowing out a window where the Gohonzon is placed" or my wife "getting
      angry and vandalizing the Gohonzon" (their words) - "I don't really know you people
      and I'm not sure I want you in my house". I have determined that it would be hypocritical to accept a Gohonzon from the sgi because I don't believe in, or necessarily
      agree with it's agenda and some of the practices.

      My question is based on a post of yours that I read. What, or, where does a person do/go who wants to chant to the Gohonzon and maintain a butsudan and have connections with other like-minded, non -Ikeada oriented Buddhist want-to-be's? I really like chanting because it allows me to create my own little corner of the multiverse, and I want to continue it.

      Thanks for your response.
      mark r.
      mreynolds08@wowway.com

      Delete
    2. I am on vacation. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you Anonymous. E-mail me and I will send you a high definition copy of The Gohonzon for the Transmission of the Dharma. You may print it out on fine acid free paper or parchment paper and place it in a hard acrylic "indestructible frame" or mount it on a blank wall scroll. Or, if you send me a blankwall scroll, I will mount it for you. I have 14 already printed copies. I can send you one of them and if you send me $20 dollars I will frame it for you in a nearly indestructible and protective frame from Hobby Lobby. If you don't have the money, don't worry about it. Let me know and keep chanting.

      Delete
    3. Response [Pt. 1]

      So...Mark. Let me get this straight. You:

      - publish a nail-biting critique of the SGI as an organization, the points [many of which I agree wholeheartedly with] made by use of employing really some very impressively astute psycho-babble and fear-speak,

      - you rail against many of your commenters with accusations of being summarily deluded, even commenters who have either identified themselves as ALSO having parted ways with the organization, or acknowledge your grievances but disagree with you on various points of how this is "occurring" to you [because context is created in language, of course, and yours, as is similarly throughout the duration of this article and subsequent comments, is increasingly suspicious and (perhaps) justifiably yet unapologetically hostile],

      - and NOW you yourself are taking personal, fiscal, and karmic responsibility for the transmisson of the True Object of Devotion for Observing One's Mind, the most sacred of objects, the GOHONZON [!!], and making it available for digital download?????????????? :-o Are you going to make up your own Buddhism while you're on a roll, because you're already behaving so insidiously shockingly that it seems like the next and most obvious outcropping? :-/

      I GET why, in so very many instances, you are put off by the organization and I AGREE WITH YOU on many of these points. I am not one to pursue blind faith; if I was, I'd have never have strayed from my mother, the Jehovah's Witness MINISTER. :-(
      I have always maintained that I would only ever continue this practice if it MADE SENSE, and I have many years of actual proof of how this practice WORKS, even from a quantum physical perspective. There is absolutely something to the claim that this is the ULTIMATE practice, religion, etc., and there is doctrinal directive to seek out actual proof on one's own.

      PLEASE UNDERSTAND that I am not talking about the SGI as having this ultimate power, the practice does, the gohonzon does, NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO DOES, but who is exactly in a position to steer newcomers in the most "correct" method of the 3 ways of faith/practice/study...you???

      Mostly because of my odd schedule [I work nights], I rarely attend group meetings anymore when I USED TO host them in my home, great ones, moving one, transformative ones! NEVER have I been told that I was not going to "receive benefit" for having missed these meetings. NEVER have I been told that I was "going to the hell of eternal suffering" for missing gongyo, not paying zaimu, voicing my concerns/opinions/disdain regarding Pres. Ikeda, or any of the other myriad things "good SGI Buddhist kiddies" are supposed to do or not do. I have been in this organization for 28years. I have heard the George M. Williams-era horror stories. I [by choice] never took part in street shakubuku, although I can absolutely understand and appreciate the character building that sort of undertaking is bound to produce. Only someone so far out of their comfort zone can crash their inner mechanisms so fundamentally and open up a space for newfound ways of self-expression. Good on them, (although I spent a fair amount of time laughing at them when I was a teenager). My mother [aforementioned JH MINISTER!!) sent my brother to "look for me" at this "culture center" place to make sure I wasn't “joining a cult”. Oh, the irony. He got shakubuku'd and came home with a gohonzon. More. Beautiful. Irony.

      Delete
    4. Response [Pt. 2]

      I am mentioning all of this because what you are doing, saying and experiencing is the product of YOUR OWN very specific and fingerprint-like karmic equation. Your experiences with the SGI, whereas not unique, do not express the organization as a whole and I would not trade my history with them for anything. I have a very clear picture in my mind's eye about where my life would be if it had not intersected with the SGI, then NSA. The author got 'indoctrinated'. I got a deeply ingrained sense of personal responsibility. The author got a paid position. I got flack for criticizing the "old vibe" of organization activities as 'the young Hitler youth movement". No one EVER ostracized me, criticized me, insulted me, forced me in any way/shape/form or, heavens forbid, asked for my gohonzon back [!!!], which (by the way) you could not pry from my cold, dead hands. How laughable and sad that someone would suggest such a thing. I am sincerely and profoundly disturbed by the notion that there might be leaders so misguided as to infer that someone should return their gohonzon under any circumstance except maybe the fear that they were liable to do it damage in some drug-fueled rage or something. But I am equally floored and horrified that you have developed your own system for the wholesale distribution for the ‘True Object of Devotion’ via online order/request. The irony that you are throwing around the term “no-honzon” for anyone possessing of a Nichikan gohonzon and then procuring an acrylic protective shell for it from [Christian organization] ’Hobby Lobby’ is not lost on me for one moment. That is sheer comedic brilliance, right there, btw.
      I am not programmed. I am not brainwashed. I already said I agreed about much of the feudalistic-style herding tactics and training. It's very old-world Asian. It doesn't work in a Western culture; I get it. It feels insidious. We resent it. Culturally, it's incongruous with our nature. But what you are also doing is equally as damaging as the movement for street-shakubuku in the 80’s. They made that into a numbers game and that was just awful. Know why? WHO could possibly mentor all of those people in simple faith, in the correct ways of practice, on accurate understanding of authentic doctrine. There was so much misinformation, so much member care not happening, so much fury and flurry and spinning of the non-stop activity wheel, that you know who REALLY suffered? All of the people who had this precious new jewel [the gohonzon] in their lives and NO IDEA what to do with it. Sooooooo many stopped practicing. Sooooooooooo many made terrible causes to mistreat or neglect their gohonzon. The gohonzon is the mirror of one’s life, one’s enlightenment. What happens if you “smash the mirror”, do you think? I’m speaking metaphorically, of course, but my point is simple: a gohonzon conferral ceremony is a beautiful rite-of-passage into this practice, and you do NOT have the authority - not karmically, not doctrinally, nor spiritually, and essentially what you are offering is the equivalent of wanting a Rolex but attaining a cheap Asian knock-off on eBay and expecting your experience with it to be anything remotely the same. So misguided, and I really hope anyone [else] who doesn’t know any better doesn’t take you up on your offer.

      Delete
    5. Response [Pt. 3]

      From a doctrinal standpoint, you may want to closely reflect on the gosho, “On Omens”, and the revelation of ‘esho funi’, or ‘the oneness of life and its environment. While life and its environment may seem to be two independent phenomena, but fundamentally they are one and inseparable, you could stand to chant to unravel why your experiences with the SGI have been what they are and what internal darkness you are manifesting that led this to be so. This is not a pissing contest, my dad cannot beat yours up in the schoolyard, and I’m not ‘better than you’. I’m saying that even though I’ve made similar observations about the org, my experiences have taken a very different path and you have forgotten that EVERYTHING possesses the “10 worlds”. The same knife that can stab you to death in an alley can be used surgically to save your life. The same organization you blanketly demonize is responsible for some of the dearest lifelong friends that I hold dear, and for imparting to me much of the most profound knowledge and wisdom I have to offer. Nothing in and of itself is possessed of good or evil, per se. That’s for Christianity to sort out endlessly. Your experiences with the SGI, everyone’s experience with EVERYTHING, is a product of whatever karma they are here to sort out. Why does a 2yrs old get leukemia and die? Is it a tragedy? Is it unfair? No, it is KARMA. Is it profoundly sad for the parents? YES. IT IS THEIR KARMA to suffer the loss of a child in this lifetime. The child lived quickly and died because it is something THEY CHOSE to come here to do; IT WAS THEIR KARMA. The parents suffer the loss because that experience is SOMETHING THEY [collectively] CAME HERE TO DO. They are not being punished; again, that is a Judeo-Christian world view. If you understand this principle at its most fundamental core, it is immensely and profoundly comforting. Nichiren Daishonin himself in the Gosho, “Happiness in This World” said, “Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever.” EVERY circumstance of one’s life, everyone they know, the era in which their life has manifest, every talent, impediment, minutiae of their lives is what they CAME HERE TO DO. THAT is the definition of karma. Karma is mutable; even CHANGING IT is what you came here to do. EVERYTHING in life is unfolding PRECISELY as it was meant to. If you have forgotten that, then you’re not actually practicing Buddhism, but perhaps that self-made philosophical creation I suggested you might be constructing for your own purposes.

      Delete
    6. Response [Pt. 4, and final]

      Buddhism 101, so to speak - “On Attaining Buddhahood” [N.D., Major Writings] - ”If you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of birth and death you have endured since time without beginning and to attain without fail unsurpassed enlightenment in this lifetime, you must perceive the mystic truth that is originally inherent in all living beings. This truth is Myoho-renge-kyo. Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo will therefore enable you to grasp the mystic truth innate in all life.”

      Perhaps start chanting for SINCERE appreciation for every single facet and wonderful, awe-inspired, gut-wrenching, horrendous, elated, disillusioned, mountain-moving, etc., moment of your life and chant to stop complaining about the experience you chose to have with the SGI to the point where you are using it to make excuses for taking Buddhism into your own hands and delivering a watered down experience to others new in faith. It is their karma to choose to chant the true experience of the gohonzon into their own lives. Perhaps you can to manifest your own karma that chooses not to deliver this counterfeit experience for your own reasons of bitterness and self aggrandized authority. Anyone can say “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”, but still take actions to lead someone down the incorrect path. It’s astounding to me that you could possibly not see that. I believe it is the EXACT thing you are accusing the SGI of. Are all of their actions, tactics, ‘strategies’, etc. “value-creating” even though it supposedly their intention to be? Not at all, IMHO. Is their execution on various matters seemingly mis-guided, perhaps even begging of criticism? Absolutely. Can all of those things be said of causes YOU, YOURSELF are making, actions YOU are taking as well? Undoubtedly and positively. See? No difference. Esho funi…oneness of life and its environment.
      I will chant for your happiness. (Gosh, how you must hate it when people say that now. That’s kind of a shame, given the immense generosity and Bodhisatva cause implied.)

      Study up, chant harder, and re-think it.

      Delete
    7. Rio Ventura: Response [Pt. 1]
      So...Mark. Let me get this straight. You:

      - publish a nail-biting critique of the SGI as an organization, the points [many of which I agree wholeheartedly with] made by use of employing really some very impressively astute psycho-babble and fear-speak,

      Mark R.: Which of course, you never cite nor address [Lisa Jone's "psycho-babble and fear mongering"

      Rio Ventura: - you rail against many of your commenters with accusations of being summarily deluded, even commenters who have either identified themselves as ALSO having parted ways with the organization, or acknowledge your grievances but disagree with you on various points of how this is "occurring" to you [because context is created in language, of course, and yours, as is similarly throughout the duration of this article and subsequent comments, is increasingly suspicious and (perhaps) justifiably yet unapologetically hostile],

      Mark R.: If my criticisms are justifiable, it goes without saying, they are unapologetic. As to being hostile, many said the same exact thing about Nichiren Daishonin.

      Rio Ventura: - and NOW you yourself are taking personal, fiscal, and karmic responsibility for the transmisson of the True Object of Devotion for Observing One's Mind, the most sacred of objects, the GOHONZON [!!], and making it available for digital download?????????????? :-o Are you going to make up your own Buddhism while you're on a roll, because you're already behaving so insidiously shockingly that it seems like the next and most obvious outcropping? :-/

      Mark R.: Exactly as did Nichiren. Were you too a Bodhisattva of the Earth, you could also take responsibility for the Transmission of the True Object of Worship. What do you think, Ikeda himself transcribes the Nichikan Gohonzon for the thousands of converts to the SGI every year? They too are digital downloads [as I bite my tongue in order to refrain from calling you a moron].

      Rio Ventura: I GET why, in so very many instances, you are put off by the organization and I AGREE WITH YOU on many of these points. I am not one to pursue blind faith; if I was, I'd have never have strayed from my mother, the Jehovah's Witness MINISTER. :-(

      I have always maintained that I would only ever continue this practice if it MADE SENSE, and I have many years of actual proof of how this practice WORKS, even from a quantum physical perspective. There is absolutely something to the claim that this is the ULTIMATE practice, religion, etc., and there is doctrinal directive to seek out actual proof on one's own.

      Mark R.: Were that true, then you would have no qualms about entering into a rain challenge, debate, or similar actual proof challenge with me. By all means, you may bring along, Danny Nagashima, Ted Morino, and Linda Johnson to help you. Nichiren teaches that many make such claims but who is actually encountering the Three Obstacles and Four Devils? I am and this is another reason that I can take responsibility for transmitting the Gohonzon.

      cont...

      Delete

    8. Rio Ventura: PLEASE UNDERSTAND that I am not talking about the SGI as having this ultimate power, the practice does, the gohonzon does, NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO DOES, but who is exactly in a position to steer newcomers in the most "correct" method of the 3 ways of faith/practice/study...you???

      Mark R.: Me and all those who have the same mind as Nichiren.

      Rio Ventura: Mostly because of my odd schedule [I work nights], I rarely attend group meetings anymore when I USED TO host them in my home, great ones, moving one, transformative ones! NEVER have I been told that I was not going to "receive benefit" for having missed these meetings. NEVER have I been told that I was "going to the hell of eternal suffering" for missing gongyo, not paying zaimu, voicing my concerns/opinions/disdain regarding Pres. Ikeda, or any of the other myriad things "good SGI Buddhist kiddies" are supposed to do or not do.

      Mark R.: Were you in the SGI YMD? If you were, you are lying. The other possibility is that you are one of those rare individuals like David Aoyama who are not exhorted to attend the countless SGI meetings and activities. David Aoyama was the top SGI senior leader who died in one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.

      Rio Ventura: I have been in this organization for 28years. I have heard the George M. Williams-era horror stories. I [by choice] never took part in street shakubuku, although I can absolutely understand and appreciate the character building that sort of undertaking is bound to produce. Only someone so far out of their comfort zone can crash their inner mechanisms so fundamentally and open up a space for newfound ways of self-expression. Good on them, (although I spent a fair amount of time laughing at them when I was a teenager). My mother [aforementioned JH MINISTER!!) sent my brother to "look for me" at this "culture center" place to make sure I wasn't “joining a cult”. Oh, the irony. He got shakubuku'd and came home with a gohonzon. More. Beautiful. Irony.

      Mark R.: I suggest you go the George M. Williams memorial facebook page and see the accounts of the George Williams "horror stories" for yourself and the top SGI leaders like Dave Baldshun, Mike Kikamura, and Ted Morino who were all teary eyed at the departure of Ikeda's most faithful disciple EVER!.

      Rio Ventura: I am mentioning all of this because what you are doing, saying and experiencing is the product of YOUR OWN very specific and fingerprint-like karmic equation. Your experiences with the SGI, whereas not unique, do not express the organization as a whole and I would not trade my history with them for anything. I have a very clear picture in my mind's eye about where my life would be if it had not intersected with the SGI, then NSA. The author [of The definitive analysis of why SGI is a cult] got 'indoctrinated'. I got a deeply ingrained sense of personal responsibility.

      Mark R.: Your viewpoints belie your assertion. You reek of SGI indoctrination ["George Williams Horror Stories"].

      Rio Ventura: The author got a paid position. I got flack for criticizing the "old vibe" of organization activities as 'the young Hitler youth movement". No one EVER ostracized me, criticized me, insulted me, forced me in any way/shape/form or, heavens forbid, asked for my gohonzon back [!!!], which (by the way) you could not pry from my cold, dead hands. How laughable and sad that someone would suggest such a thing. I am sincerely and profoundly disturbed by the notion that there might be leaders so misguided as to infer that someone should return their gohonzon under any circumstance except maybe the fear that they were liable to do it damage in some drug-fueled rage or something.
      cont...

      Delete
    9. Mark R.: Perhaps you were too insignificant to receive an SGI Letter of Excommunication and I notice, you didn't criticize the mentor or demand financial accountability. Also you never started a group such as the Independent Reassessment Group [IRG], all of these things actionable offenses that have lead to excommunication. As far as your cold dead hands, you don't have to wait. You are already cold and dead in the eyes of Nichiren, a walking dead man destined for hell:

      "The other type are people who have slandered the correct teaching in their previous existences, slander it in their present existence, and for existence after existence go on creating karma that will condemn them to the hell of incessant suffering. These people, even though they may curse, will not have their mouths stopped. They are like men who have already been sentenced to execution and are awaiting their turn in prison. While they are in prison, regardless of what evil acts they may commit, they will receive no further punishment other than the death sentence already passed upon them. However, with regard to people who are eventually to be released, if they commit evil acts in prison, then they will receive warnings.

      Rio Ventura: But I am equally floored and horrified that you have developed your own system for the wholesale distribution for the ‘True Object of Devotion’ via online order/request. The irony that you are throwing around the term “no-honzon” for anyone possessing of a Nichikan gohonzon and then procuring an acrylic protective shell for it from [Christian organization] ’Hobby Lobby’ is not lost on me for one moment. That is sheer comedic brilliance, right there, btw.

      Mark R.: Sometimes online, sometimes in person. Always with the greatest respect and due diligence. You had better throw out your food, shoes, shirts, pants, appliances, pens, books, and house that were manufactured and assembled by Christians. If it disturbs your sensibilities to procure a fine protective frame for the Gohonzon from Hobby Lobby, I suggest you procure one from Michael's.

      cont...

      Delete

    10. Rio Ventura: I am not programmed. I am not brainwashed. I already said I agreed about much of the feudalistic-style herding tactics and training. It's very old-world Asian. It doesn't work in a Western culture; I get it. It feels insidious. We resent it. Culturally, it's incongruous with our nature. But what you are also doing is equally as damaging as the movement for street-shakubuku in the 80’s. They made that into a numbers game and that was just awful. Know why? WHO could possibly mentor all of those people in simple faith, in the correct ways of practice, on accurate understanding of authentic doctrine. There was so much misinformation, so much member care not happening, so much fury and flurry and spinning of the non-stop activity wheel, that you know who REALLY suffered? All of the people who had this precious new jewel [the gohonzon] in their lives and NO IDEA what to do with it. Sooooooo many stopped practicing. Sooooooooooo many made terrible causes to mistreat or neglect their gohonzon. The gohonzon is the mirror of one’s life, one’s enlightenment. What happens if you “smash the mirror”, do you think? I’m speaking metaphorically, of course, but my point is simple: a gohonzon conferral ceremony is a beautiful rite-of-passage into this practice, and you do NOT have the authority - not karmically, not doctrinally, nor spiritually, and essentially what you are offering is the equivalent of wanting a Rolex but attaining a cheap Asian knock-off on eBay and expecting your experience with it to be anything remotely the same. So misguided, and I really hope anyone [else] who doesn’t know any better doesn’t take you up on your offer.

      Mark R.: Little of substance has changed in the SGI. Pure window dressing. As explained earlier, I do have the authority karmically, doctrinally, and spiritually to bestow Gohonzon because I have the same mind as Nichiren regarding the Gohonzon. As I have proven a thousand times, it is SGI whose mind differs from Nichiren. The Gohonzons that I confer all have had their eyes opened by Nichiren Daishonin. Yours have had their eyes opened by the slanderer Nichikan. The Gohonzon itself is the Great Ceremony in the Air. What other ceremony is purposeful?


      Rio Ventura: From a doctrinal standpoint, you may want to closely reflect on the gosho, “On Omens”, and the revelation of ‘esho funi’, or ‘the oneness of life and its environment. While life and its environment may seem to be two independent phenomena, but fundamentally they are one and inseparable, you could stand to chant to unravel why your experiences with the SGI have been what they are and what internal darkness you are manifesting that led this to be so.

      Mark R.: Talking about omens, the exceptional drought on the doorstep of the SGI headquarters in Santa Monica and the Great Earthquake in Japan that killed thousands of SGI members tells us all we need to know about Esho Funi.

      Rio Ventura: This is not a pissing contest, my dad cannot beat yours up in the schoolyard, and I’m not ‘better than you’. I’m saying that even though I’ve made similar observations about the org, my experiences have taken a very different path and you have forgotten that EVERYTHING possesses the “10 worlds”. The same knife that can stab you to death in an alley can be used surgically to save your life. The same organization you blanketly demonize is responsible for some of the dearest lifelong friends that I hold dear, and for imparting to me much of the most profound knowledge and wisdom I have to offer.

      Mark R.: If this missive is a reflection of the lifelong most profound knowledge and wisdom that you have accumulated, your SGI faith and practice has been a total failure. I suggest you send me your Nichikan Gohonzon from your "cold dead hands" and I will send you the beautiful Nichiren Gohonzon for the Transmission of the Dharma. Myo is to revive. You will be revived with a correct faith and practice and especially with a correct object of worship.

      cont...

      Delete

    11. Rio Ventura: Nothing in and of itself is possessed of good or evil, per se. That’s for Christianity to sort out endlessly. Your experiences with the SGI, everyone’s experience with EVERYTHING, is a product of whatever karma they are here to sort out. Why does a 2yrs old get leukemia and die? Is it a tragedy? Is it unfair? No, it is KARMA. Is it profoundly sad for the parents? YES. IT IS THEIR KARMA to suffer the loss of a child in this lifetime. The child lived quickly and died because it is something THEY CHOSE to come here to do; IT WAS THEIR KARMA. The parents suffer the loss because that experience is SOMETHING THEY [collectively] CAME HERE TO DO. They are not being punished; again, that is a Judeo-Christian world view.

      Mark R.: Certainly there is tragedy but the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren teaches us how to overcome tragedy. Writing to a believer who just lost her teenage son. Nichiren teaches, "Now you must shun and abandon this heartless world, entrusting yourself to the Lotus Sutra..."

      In another letter he writes:

      "Tien-t’ai Chih-che propagated his teachings for thirty years. During the first twenty-nine years, expounding the doctrines contained in Profound Meaning, Words and Phrases, and other works, he explained the five periods and the eight teachings as well as the hundred worlds and thousand factors. He not only refuted the erroneous doctrines of the preceding more than five hundred years, but also clarified matters that had not been fully explained by the Buddhist scholars of India. TheGreat Teacher Chang-an states: “Even the great scholars of India were not in a class with him, and the Chinese teachers—well, one need hardly mention them. This is no idle boast—the doctrine he taught was indeed of such excellence.”9 How pitiful that T’ien-t’ai’s successors allowed those thieves, the founders of the Flower Garland and True Word schools, to steal the priceless gem of three thousand realms in a single moment of life and then, ironically, became their followers! The Great Teacher Chang-an was fully aware this would happen when he remarked in sorrow, “If this teaching should be lost, it would be a tragedy for the future.”

      As far as your insipid view of punishment, Nichiren makes more than 200 citations for "punishment, punish, punished" but you throw out this vital Buddhist principle for expediency and [again] because it disturbs your fragile sensibilities. God is not the agent of punishment, it is our thoughts, words, and deeds. Again, as far as "tragedy" is concerned, Nichiren is very clear what is the greatest tragedy, "if this teaching should be lost".

      SGI by throwing out the principles of punishment, slander, and especially Shakyamuni Buddha, for example, is creating the environment for the teaching to be lost. This is the real tragedy of the SGI teachings.

      Rio Ventura: If you understand this principle at its most fundamental core, it is immensely and profoundly comforting. Nichiren Daishonin himself in the Gosho, “Happiness in This World” said, “Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever.” EVERY circumstance of one’s life, everyone they know, the era in which their life has manifest, every talent, impediment, minutiae of their lives is what they CAME HERE TO DO. THAT is the definition of karma. Karma is mutable; even CHANGING IT is what you came here to do. EVERYTHING in life is unfolding PRECISELY as it was meant to. If you have forgotten that, then you’re not actually practicing Buddhism, but perhaps that self-made philosophical creation I suggested you might be constructing for your own purposes.

      cont...

      Delete

    12. Mark R.: Was Daisaku Ikeda born into this world to lead people into the evil teachings of the Nichiren Shoshu? This is what he did for over forty years. Was Nichiren born to recite and propagate the Nembutsu? This is what he did for more than ten years. Then, they had a revelation, an epiphany. Unfortunately, Daisaku Ikeda's was a partial revelation, a false epiphany at the expense of the Law while Nichiren's was a perfect revelation wholly based on the text of the True Sutra. " It is stated,

      "The Nirvana Sutra says: “[World-Honored One, today I have learned the correct view for the first time. World-Honored One, up till today] we all have been people of mistaken views.” Miao-lo explains this by saying, “They themselves referred to the three teachings [they had practiced until that time] as mistaken views.” And Great Concentration and Insight says, “The Nirvana Sutra says, ‘Up till today we all have been people of mistaken views.’ ‘Mistaken’ is bad, is it not?” The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight” says: “‘Mistaken’ is bad. Therefore, let it be known that only the perfect teaching is good. There are two meanings involved here. First, what accords with the truth is to be accounted good, and what goes against the truth is to be accounted bad. This is the meaning from the relative viewpoint. [Second,] attachment [to this viewpoint] is bad, and transcending it is good. [This is the meaning from the absolute viewpoint.] From both the relative and absolute viewpoints, we should abandon all that is bad. To be attached to the perfect teaching is bad, and to be attached to the other [three] teachings is of course even worse.”

      It is only after hearing and continuously recollecting the true Law that we can freely choose to be born in a particular circumstance. Even the Buddha changed his mind, "In these more than forty years I have not yet revealed the truth."

      Rio Ventura: Buddhism 101, so to speak - “On Attaining Buddhahood” [N.D., Major Writings] - ”If you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of birth and death you have endured since time without beginning and to attain without fail unsurpassed enlightenment in this lifetime, you must perceive the mystic truth that is originally inherent in all living beings. This truth is Myoho-renge-kyo. Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo will therefore enable you to grasp the mystic truth innate in all life.”

      Mark R.: Certainly this truth is not the oneness of Daisaku Ikeda and disciple.

      Rio Ventura: Perhaps start chanting for SINCERE appreciation for every single facet and wonderful, awe-inspired, gut-wrenching, horrendous, elated, disillusioned, mountain-moving, etc., moment of your life and chant to stop complaining about the experience you chose to have with the SGI to the point where you are using it to make excuses for taking Buddhism into your own hands and delivering a watered down experience to others new in faith.

      cont...

      Delete

    13. Mark R.: Then Nichiren should have continued to praise the Nembutsu. SGI is watered down. It is not the Lotus Sutra Buddhism of Nichiren:

      "And the ninth volume of the Nirvana Sutra, speaking of the propagation of the Lotus Sutra, states: 'After I have entered nirvana, in the last eighty years before the correct teaching has passed into extinction, at that time this sutra will be widely propagated throughout Jambudvīpa. In that age there will be evil monks who will steal this sutra and divide it into many parts, losing the color, scent, and flavor of the correct teaching that it contains. These evil men will read and recite this sutra, but they will ignore and put aside the profound and vital principles that the Thus Come One has expounded in it and replace them with ornate rhetoric and meaningless talk. They will tear off the first part of the sutra and stick it on at the end, tear off the end and put it at the beginning, put the end and the beginning in the middle and the middle at the beginning or the end. You must understand that these evil monks are the companions of the devil....

      “For example, milkmaids sometimes add a great deal of water to their milk. And these evil monks do much the same. They mix in worldly sayings, thus presenting an erroneous version of the sutra and making it impossible for large numbers of living beings to expound the sutra correctly, copy it correctly, apprehend it correctly, pay it due honor, praise, offerings, and respect. Because these evil monks are concerned only in gaining profit and support, they are incapable of widely propagating this sutra. Few are the places they reach in their various preaching excursions, and these are not worth mentioning. The impoverished milkmaids go from place to place selling their watered milk, but although one may make gruel with it, it lacks the real flavor of milk. And this great vehicle scripture, this Great Nirvana Sutra, is like this. As it is passed from place to place it becomes increasingly thin and insipid until it has no flavor at all."

      SGI pluralism and interfaith is to water down Buddhism. Removing Shakyamuni Buddha and replacing him with the SGI mentor is to water down Buddhism. Adding and abiding by the commentaries of Ikeda at the expense of the Lotus Sutra and writings of Nichiren Daishonin is to water down the Lotus Sutra.

      Rio Ventura: It is their karma to choose to chant the true experience of the gohonzon into their own lives. Perhaps you can to manifest your own karma that chooses not to deliver this counterfeit experience for your own reasons of bitterness and self aggrandized authority. Anyone can say “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”, but still take actions to lead someone down the incorrect path. It’s astounding to me that you could possibly not see that.

      Mark R.: A Freudian slip? Yes, I choose not to deliver a counterfeit SGI experience and to promote a bodily reading of the Lotus Sutra in the manner of Nichiren.

      Rio Ventura: I believe it is the EXACT thing you are accusing the SGI of. Are all of their actions, tactics, ‘strategies’, etc. “value-creating” even though it supposedly their intention to be? Not at all, IMHO. Is their execution on various matters seemingly mis-guided, perhaps even begging of criticism? Absolutely. Can all of those things be said of causes YOU, YOURSELF are making, actions YOU are taking as well? Undoubtedly and positively. See? No difference. Esho funi…oneness of life and its environment.

      Mark R.: I relay the teachings as the print matches the print block. I am guilty of no fault, hoping to save people such as yourself from falling into the great citadel of hell. My Esho Funi matches perfectly the text of the Sutra. Does yours?

      cont...

      Delete

    14. Rio Ventura: I will chant for your happiness. (Gosh, how you must hate it when people say that now. That’s kind of a shame, given the immense generosity and Bodhisatva cause implied.)

      Study up, chant harder, and re-think it.

      Mark R.: As long as you made this into a guidance session, here is my guidance to you:

      You see what you want to see and believe what you want to believe. You have not delved deeply into the truth of even your own own teachings. Perhaps I can help you.

      Nichikan wrote:

      "We recite the Hoben Pon (2nd chapter) to smash the provisional sutras, we recite the Juryo Hon (16th Chapter) to smash the Hoben Pon, and we recits the daimoku to smash the Lotus Sutra".

      Nichiren wrote:

      “Nowhere in all the five thousand or seven thousand volumes of sutras listed in the K’ai-yüan era catalog do we find a single scriptural passage that expresses disapproval of the Lotus Sutra and advises one to discard it or to cast it aside, nor any passage that says it is to be classified among the sundry practices and abandoned. If you disagree, you had better find some reliable passage from the sutras that will support your view, so that you may rescue Shan-tao and Honen from their torments in the hell of incessant suffering."(Coversations Between a Sage and Unenlightened Man).

      Yet you do Gongyo and chant the Daimoku every day to this slanderer's Gohonzon. Why would you ever think for a moment that you too could escape the torments of hell?

      In the "Toke Sanne Sho [On the Three Robes of Nichiren Shoshu]," Nichikan Shonin cites Nikko Shonin and Nichimoku Shonin as the Treasure of the Priest when revealing the Three Treasures of Nichiren Shoshu, and then states, "I say that all the Masters, the successive direct successors to the bestowal of the Law, are in this way included in the Three Treasures." (Seiten, p. 971)

      Nichikan's Six Volume Writings" (Rokkan sho) is composed of the following:

      1)."The Threefold Secret Teaching" (Sanju hiden sho): In this writing Nichikan exhorts us us to abandon the Lotus Sutra and only embrace Namu Myoho renge kyo. This is bizarre since Namu myoho renge kyo means devotion to the Lotus Sutra (Myoho renge kyo).

      2)."The Meanings Hidden in the Depths" (Montei hichin sho). In this equally bizarre writing he changes the Great Secret Law of the Object of Worship in terms of the person from the Original Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni to Nichiren Daishonin.

      3)."Interpretations Based on the Law" (Egi hanmon sho). In this equally strange writing, Nichikan teaches that the Lotus Sutra was preached by Shakyamuni to explain Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism rather than Nichiren Daishonin explaining the Lotus Sutra through his commentaries.

      4)."Teachings for the Latter Day" (Mappo soo sho). In this writing, Nichikan attempts to overturn the use of statues as Objects of Worship despite the fact that Nichiren utilized and revered a Statue of Shakyamuni Buddha as an Object of Worship throughout his life, praised both Dozenbo, Toki Jonin, and Shijo Kingo for fashioning statues of Shakyamuni Buddha, and wrote about both "wooden and painted" images.

      cont....

      Delete
    15. 5)."The Practice of this School" (Toryu gyoji sho). In this slanderous writing, Nichikan says we chant the Daimoku to smash the Juryo Chapter and chant the Juryo Chapter to smash the Hobenpon.


      (6) The "Toke Sanne Sho" (The Three Robes of this School) explains the origin and significance of the traditional gray robe, the white surplice and the prayer beads of the Nichiren Shoshu priests. Here, he also goes on to overturn the Three Treasures of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren by asserting that Nichiren is the Treasure of the Buddha and that the heritage of the Law, the succession, is through the bequethal to one sole individual or the successive High Priests of Nichiren Shoshu (the Treasure of the Sangha). On the Juzu, he wrote:

      "The Juzu is a means to guide persons of inferior capacity and force them into ascetic practices."

      "Juzu require an eye-opening ceremony before use. This can be done at your local temple." (Six Volume Writings," Rokkan-sho, p. 225)

      The Ryokkan Sho, far from being an Enlightened writing, is a bizarre writing.

      Nichiren Daishonin, on the other hand, writes:

      "When the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai applied the simile of ghee to the Lotus Sutra, basing himself on a passage in the Nirvana Sutra, he declared that among all the sutras the Lotus Sutra is worthy to be compared to ghee. The True Word teaching was introduced to China from India two hundred years or more after the time of T’ien-t’ai. How then could T’ien-t’ai possibly have stolen the ghee of the True Word teaching and called it the ghee of the Lotus Sutra? Of all strange events, this would be the strangest!

      What evidence is there then for calling persons who lived two hundred years or more before the True Word teaching was even introduced to China thieves? Are we to put faith in these writings of the Great Teacher Kobo? Or are we to put faith in the Nirvana Sutra where the Buddha likens the Lotus Sutra to ghee?

      If we are to regard the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai as a thief, then how are we to interpret this passage in the Nirvana Sutra? And if we accept the passage in the Nirvana Sutra as reliable and conclude that the writings of Kobo (Nichikan) are incorrect, then what are we to think of people who put faith in such erroneous teachings? All I can say is that one should compare the writings of the Great Teacher Kobo (Nichikan) and the pronouncements of the Buddha, and then put one’s faith in the one that proves to be correct." (On Prayer).

      "But those who follow the teachings of Nichiren honestly discard the mistaken doctrines of the provisional teachings and the incorrect theories of the mistaken teachers, and, with all sincerity, put their faith in the correct teaching and the correct doctrines of the correct teacher. Accordingly they are able to gain the lotus of the entity and to manifest the mystic principle of the entity of the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light. This is because they put their faith in the golden words of the Buddha indicated in the “Life Span” chapter of the essential teaching and chant Namu-myoho-renge-kyo."(Entity of the Mystic Law)

      Since the SGI fails, on this one vital criteria of putting "their faith in the golden words of the Buddha indicated in the “Life Span” chapter of the essential teaching", their land is the land of devils and hardships and not the Land of Eternally Quiescent Light. Wherever the teachings of the SGI spread, the people suffer and more tragedies and calamities occur. On the other hand, even one true practicer of the Lotus Sutra in a city or a country will bring good fortune and peace to the people.

      cont....

      Delete

    16. Nichikan also wrote:

      "The three groups of shomon disciples
      accumulated good fortune since sanzen
      jintengo [before being guaranteed
      enlightenment), and those who received
      the seed and reached enlightenment on
      hearing the first chapter of the Lotus
      Sutra accumulated good fortune since
      Gohyaku jintengo. How possibly could
      those who first received the seed during
      the lifetime of the Buddha all without
      exception achieve enlightenment in a
      mere two-thousand years? [They
      couldn't!] The reason is this: the
      effectiveness of Shakyamuni's teachings
      begins at Kuon Ganjo, but ends with the
      two-thousand years of the Former and
      Middle Days of the Law. ... Therefore
      the people of the Latter Day of the Law
      all innately have yet to possess the seed
      and so are of the capacity to receive the
      original seed of enlightenment directly."
      (Rokkan-sho, p.110)

      Who can understand such nonsense? He is like SGI leaders. Nichikan just makes things up out of thin air. What ever pops into his head he writes and calls it the True Teachings. Nichiren says about such men who fail to preach with Sutra in hand, even though they be great bodhisattvas, don't listen to them. Nichikan wasn't even a Bodhisattva. He was a madman and he inscribed the Gohonzon to which SGI members fuse. How could every last member of the SGI fail to become a madman? Here is more proof.

      Nichikan writes in his Montei Hichin-Sho ["The Teachings Hidden in the Depths of the Text"]:

      "Therefore know this: *"One of Perfect Freedom"* is His true state (honchi). Bodhisattva Jogyo is His transient reflection. And Nichiren is the manifestation of His true state (kenpon).

      Nichiren Daishonin never revealed it and he never held back anything. Nichiren Shonin teaches that his true identity is that of Jogyo and hidden in the depths of the Juryohon is that he, as well as we, are Three Bodied Tathagatas, one with the Original Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni, our original teacher.

      The Juryo (16) and Jinriki Chapters (21) of the Lotus Sutra and the Goshos, the Entity of the Mystic Law (Totaigi Sho), The Opening of the Eyes, The True Object of Worship, and Repaying Debts of Gratitude, explain why the Nichikan Gohonzon is a demon infested condition for the ruin of the individual, the nation, and the world.

      'I likewise am the Father of the World,
      The One who saves
      from the various sufferings and travails" (Lotus Sutra Chapter 16)

      "At that time the Buddha spoke to Superior Practices and the others in the great assembly of bodhisattvas, saying: "The supernatural powers of the Buddhas, as you have seen, are immeasurable, boundless, inconceivable. If in the process of entrusting this sutra to others I were to employ these supernatural powers for a immeasurable, boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of asamkhya kalpas to describe the benefits of the sutra, I could never finish doing so. To put it briefly, all the doctrines possessed by the Thus Come One, the storehouse of all the secret essentials of the Thus Come One - all these are proclaimed, revealed, and clearly expounded in this sutra. (Lotus Sutra Chapter 21)

      cont....

      Delete

    17. Nichiren comments on this passage:

      "Answer: In this passage, Shakyamuni Buddha explains that he is entrusting to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, his original disciples, the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo, which is the essence of the Lotus Sutra. Shakyamuni, who attained enlightenment countless kalpas in the past, says elsewhere, "By now the original vows that I made have already been fulfilled. I have converted all living beings and caused them all to enter the Buddha way." Thus, he has already fulfilled his earlier vow. Then, intending to charge his disciples with the task of accomplishing widespread propagation in the fifth five hundred years after his death," he called forth the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and entrusted them with the heart of the sutra, the lotus of the entity of the essential teaching. This passage represents the ultimate purpose for which Shakyamuni Buddha appeared in the world, the secret Law that he attained in the place of meditation. It is this passage that gives proof of the lotus of the entity that, for those of us who live in the Latter Day of the Law, assures the attainment of Buddhahood in both the present and future."

      Accordingly, at the present time in the Latter Day of the Law, other than the envoy of the Thus Come One, there can be no one who understands and produces this passage as proof of the lotus of the entity. Truly it is a passage of secret meaning. Truly it is a matter of great concern. Truly it is to be honored and admired. Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, Namu-myoho-renge-kyo!" (Entity of the Mystic Law)

      "Answer: 'One: Japan and so on to the whole of Jambudvipa should uniformly take the Master of teachings Lord Shakya of the Original Doctrine as the Object of Worship." (Repaying Debts of Gratitude)

      "Now, when the Eternal Buddha was revealed in the essential section of the Lotus Sutra, this world of endurance (Saha-world) became the Eternal Pure Land, indestructible even by the three calamities of conflagration, flooding, and strong winds, which are said to destroy the world. It transcends the four periods of cosmic change: the kalpa of construction, continuance, destruction and emptiness. Sakyamuni Buddha, the Lord-preacher of this pure land, has never died in the past, nor will He be born in the future. He exists forever throughout the past present and future. All those who receive His guidance are one with this Eternal Buddha." (Opening of the Eyes)

      "In the same chapter, another passage reads: ‘The duration of My Life, which I obtained through the practice of the way of bodhisattvas, has not yet expired. It is twice as long as the length of time stated above: 500 dust-particle kalpa.’ This reveals the bodhisattva realm within our minds. The bodhisattvas described in the fifteenth chapter, ‘Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground,’ who have sprung out of the great earth, as numerous as the number of dust-particles of 1,000 worlds, are followers of the Original Buddha Sakyamuni who resides within our minds." (The True Object of Worship)

      Nichikan asked us to abandon Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra. This is the purport of his Object of Worship. The Nichikan Gohonzon is neither based on the Lotus Sutra (Myoho renge kyo) nor on Shakyamuni Buddha of the Juryo Chapter of the Lotus Sutra. It is not based on the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin. Chanting to this Gohonzon is as if you were to take and revere the offering of a sumptuous meal from the murderer of your parents or praising the one who has kidnapped your child. You along with the offender (Nichikan) will both fall into the Lower Realms and the Sutra's promise of peace and security in this life and a fortunate birth in the next will allude you.

      cont....

      Delete

    18. Further Proof of my assertion is the fact that SGI would take up this Gohonzon as their banner of propagation in the first place; the bizarre worldview of the SGI where Daisaku Ikeda is revered and praised at the expense of the Sutra, the Buddha, and Nichiren Daishonin; the misfortune that invariably befalls its leaders; and the lack of insight of the general members.

      If you send me your Nichikan gohonzon, we will see to it that it is burned respectfully as an offering to Devedatta, the Ten Demon Daughters, the Lotus Sutra, and Shakyamuni Buddha or you may burn it yourself while reciting the Daimoku and the Jiga-ge for the repose of Nichikan, the greatest destroyer of Buddhism in human history.

      Delete
    19. Mark,
      My issue is not with the SGI; I have already AGREED that I do not fall in line with their tactics nor their business model, so using my come-uppance to you as a thinly-veiled opportunity to spew more of your vitriolic diatribe is pointless and transparent. Also, debating me in matters of doctrine is useless and not at all impressive; I have access to all of the same texts as you do and have a nearly 30 year practice in them to draw from.

      My response had NOTHING to do with the SGI. It had to do with YOU, and by your own hand you have helped to prove my point. You have:
      1. vaguely admitted that you would see nothing shocking or slanderous in starting your ‘own’ brand of Buddhism because you have the “same mind as the Buddha [Nichiren]”, so the presumption (I suppose) is that everyone who asserts that they also do gets to make up it up as they go along (which justifies your gohonzon sideline), even though “some people” are not Bodhisattvas of the Earth [which is nonsense, as ANYONE who chants daimoku IS],
      2. passive-aggressively called me a “moron” in words you ‘held at your tongue’ (very enlightened of you…mind of Nichiren meets schoolyard),
      3. taken your less-than-thimbleful of knowledge about my life and experience as a YWD AND WOMEN’S DIVISION LEADER [thank you very much], and dismissed it out of hand calling me [and I quote] “insignificant” and “a liar”, simply and I suppose because my experiences don’t support your position, (very calculated, btw), and
      4. positioned yourself as a high priest of this faith instead of even directing members to one of the myriad Nichiren Shosho temples across the United States, thus masquerading yourself as some self-imposed authority figure with the power to confer gohonzon, as if you know what that responsibility even means. I have at times regarded that avenue as the most unfortunate path I could imagine, intersecting with this incredible faith through a lineage of Japanese High Priests who assert themselves as intermediaries between a believer and the gohonzon, which ultimately lies in the core of one’s life and not in “a piece of paper”. I was wrong; this is far worse. Due diligence? Laughable. Oh, the terrifying arrogance.

      I think you have fought so hard to discredit my position, not because in some Bodhisattva manifestation you actually are moved to ‘protect’ me from some programming you are espousing the evils of. I think you just cannot grasp that anyone with a clearly higher life-condition than yours of Anger could ‘escape the grasp of the “evil empire”’ and yet look upon it with grace and deep appreciation for the opportunity and training it has given them to practice in this lifetime. I think you are just angry with me, railing against the notion that I didn’t “fall for it”, that I never let the SGI tell me how to act or who to be, buy publications I didn’t want, or take part in drives for membership or financial support that I wasn’t motivated to get behind. I HAVE NO “mentor-aka-Ikeda/disciple relationship”, nor have I ever, and publicly so. I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. No one harassed me; no one “cut me out”. I am sincerely sorry these things sound like they happened to you and it’s currently driving your behavior, but this is your path and all I can do is chant for your happiness and hope you don’t do too much damage whilst continuing to tumble into this abyss of bitterness and self loathing. For someone making the claims you are, even in our dialogue you have taken some pretty cheap shots, been simply caustic and nasty, unbecoming of the ‘enlightenment’ you supposedly possess. (I realize that I am just fueling your technique for the ‘next time’ you get into this with someone, helping you to ‘sharpen your tools’, so to speak, but after all, I AM NOT the one claiming to have “the same mind as Nichiren”, worthy of being a priest of this faith, which is what you’re essentially doing. I am certain this will not even live on the page long enough for the masses to read and decide for themselves, but if it reaches even one person, I will consider that enough.)

      Delete
    20. The words that were removed from the original Nichikan gohonzon were simply “Daigyo Ajari
      Honshobo Nissho”, which was the language of conferral to one specific individual. In order to make it more universal, the name of the intended recipient for THAT SPECIFIC PIECE OF PAPER was omitted. That is the grievous slander the SGI is guilty of, thus rendering them “no-honzon” in your quippy and cleverly disparaging language? *rolling eyes* By your definition, these recipients could not chant to these Gohonzon and attain benefit because they weren't 'intended' for anyone besides the original recipient? Nonsense. On the other hand, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood has asserted that gohonzon transcription is a ‘secret transmission based on the bequeathal of the lifeblood received by only a single person’, in other words, only the high priest has the authority, by right of lineage. (I guess he forgot to check with you first.)

      Whereas this is ALL superstitious nonsense, of course, and no more in my opinion than a doctrinal tug-of-war between the SGI and the priesthood, my problem is simply with [now PAY ATTENTION] your decision to make gohonzon available to anyone for any reason, regardless of your ability to mentor them in continued faith. You have no bounds. I doubt you have the ability, the commitment, hell, even the infrastructure it would involve to make a lifelong commitment to mentoring each one of these individuals you are granting this solemn privilege to, regardless of their lack of understanding of the significance. If someone wants “to create [their] own little corner of the multiverse”, they don’t need a gohonzon to do it, because that’s not the solemn, lifelong oath they are taking to protect and propagate this faith in receiving one of your Hobby Lobby knock-offs. This is a grave slander and you should know better. What do you think will happen to these individuals, never taught how not to slander the gohonzon, never supported when their practice gets tough and inevitable challenges arise, when you have helped to facilitate Nichiren’s gravest [and as you said, “punishable”] fear, that this practice might be LOST because the bonus gift they receive by shopping at your gohonzon store is the mere cliff notes version of this practice?? What you are doing is tantamount to gifting them a lucky rabbit’s foot and wishing them good-luck-and-godspeed. You, nor any support of ANY organization or community of believers, regardless of which we decide to align ourselves OR take exception with, will not be on deck to help them not abandon their faith at their crucial moments. They’re on their own with YOUR “object of worship”, not Nichiren’s. That is the difference I have a problem with.

      Delete
    21. As Nichiren Daishonin put it, “…since the Law is respectworthy, the Person who spreads the Law is also worthy of respect.” In that, I have the deepest respect for your efforts in expounding the True Law far and wide. In the 26th Admonition of Nikko Shonin, he states: “You should treasure those practitioners who are skilled in difficult debate, just as the late master did.” We are both treasured in the eyes of Nikko Shonin, who is ALONE, ‘the Treasure of the Priest’. But in Article #1 of those same Admonitions, he states: “The doctrines of the Fuji school must not differ in the least from the teachings of the late master.” To that end, NO WHERE in Nichiren’s teachings have I ever read that one should just go ahead and inscribe their own gohonzon, or just have a friend provide them with one… I would be [rhetorically] interested in knowing where you got the notion that it would be ok for YOU to start doing it, for all the reasons I have previously stated and that Nichiren Daishonin himself intended. You are simply not qualified, and either dangerously deluded if you believe yourself to be or willfully distorting the teachings for your own purposes, which is even worse if you ask me…but no one was asking, really, so I will say this in closing:

      Arguing with someone who is clearly not of sound mind is tantamount to being oneself insane. I will simply leave THIS here for you in case you perhaps one day experience a moment of lucidity:
      Your delusions of grandeur and megalomania are out of control. I implore you to seek the guidance of a medical professional. Mostly, I will chant for the people whose karma led them to you as an access point for this beautiful and profound practice, and for the happiness of those you might infect in the future. You spoke of there indeed being “tragedy” in this world; in this I stand corrected. Your adept distortion of the sutra and the Major Writings for your own gain in the pursuit of that warm feeling of self-righteousness is indeed tragic. You and your counterfeiting are the worse type of charlatanism, even more alarming because I think you actually BELIEVE IT, and that actually trumps the priesthood and their atrocities towards the practice in my book. I never even considered it could get worse than that; there I go, being wrong again. You are your very own Devil King of the Sixth Heaven, and that’s impressive in the most unfortunate of ways. I wish you better things.
      Sincerely,
      Ms. Rio Ventura

      Delete
    22. Ms. Ventura, do you realize you are quoting from apocryphal writings of no study value whatsoever outside your sect, and that puts you in a really sticky position?

      First you quote from "On Attaining Buddhahood", not a Nichiren text by any credible scholarship standards and now from the 26th Admonition of Nikko Shonin?

      Sorry, but you could chant less and get some facts straighten up before entering a discussion like this.

      Yours, P.

      Delete
    23. Part 2a of my response to you Rio. Please refrain from rebuttal until I post part 2b, later tonight or tomorrow.

      Rio Ventura: Mark, My issue is not with the SGI; I have already AGREED that I do not fall in line with their tactics nor their business model, so using my come-uppance to you as a thinly-veiled opportunity to spew more of your vitriolic diatribe is pointless and transparent. Also, debating me in matters of doctrine is useless and not at all impressive; I have access to all of the same texts as you do and have a nearly 30 year practice in them to draw from.

      Mark R.: Good luck Rio but all the texts or years of SGI practice at your disposal will not help you in the least.

      Rio Ventura: My response had NOTHING to do with the SGI. It had to do with YOU, and by your own hand you have helped to prove my point. You have:

      1. vaguely admitted that you would see nothing shocking or slanderous in starting your ‘own’ brand of Buddhism because you have the “same mind as the Buddha [Nichiren]”, so the presumption (I suppose) is that everyone who asserts that they also do gets to make up it up as they go along (which justifies your gohonzon sideline), even though “some people” are not Bodhisattvas of the Earth [which is nonsense, as ANYONE who chants daimoku IS],

      Mark R.: My brand is Shakyamuni Buddha's and Nichiren Daishonin's brand. "My teaching" is Shakyamuni Buddha's and Nichiren Daishonin's teachings without adding or subtracting a dot. From the writing, The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings, I am the third type of messenger, the extremely foolish one who would not think of adding or subtracting even a dot of the teachings because of my foolishness.

      "The third type, being extremely foolish, will not presume to insert his own words and, being honest, will relay his lord’s message without deviating from it. Thus he is a better messenger than the second type, and occasionally may be even better than the first."

      In another writing of Nichiren we read:

      "In the same way, one who chants the daimoku as the Lotus Sutra teaches will never have a twisted mind. For one should know that, unless the mind of the Buddha enters into our bodies, we cannot in fact chant the daimoku."

      The Buddha has entered my mind because I ceaselessly chant the Daimoku. Similarly, the term "Buddha's mind" signifies the Lotus Sutra itself or the Gohonzon. Since the Gohonzon I embrace not only has the physical aspect of a Nichiren Gohonzon but the nature or spiritual aspect of a Nichiren Gohonzon [Nichiren's abiding reverence for Shakyamuni Buddha for example], how can I possess anything less than the mind of the Buddha? On the other hand, the Gohonzon you embrace, its spiritual aspect, does not accord with the mind of Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren. It accords with the mind of the great slanderers Nichikan and Daisaku Ikeda who reject The Master of Teachings Lord Shakya of the Original Doctrine,

      cont....

      Delete
    24. Part 2a continued...

      Rio Ventura: 2. passive-aggressively called me a “moron” in words you ‘held at your tongue’ (very enlightened of you…mind of Nichiren meets schoolyard).

      Mark R.: Why don't you address the point? Let me refresh your memory:

      Rio Ventura: - and NOW you yourself are taking personal, fiscal, and karmic responsibility for the transmisson of the True Object of Devotion for Observing One's Mind, the most sacred of objects, the GOHONZON [!!], and making it available for digital download?????????????? :-o Are you going to make up your own Buddhism while you're on a roll, because you're already behaving so insidiously shockingly that it seems like the next and most obvious outcropping? :-/

      Mark R.: Exactly as did Nichiren. Were you too a Bodhisattva of the Earth, you could also take responsibility for the Transmission of the True Object of Worship. What do you think, Ikeda himself transcribes the Nichikan Gohonzon for the thousands of converts to the SGI every year? They too are digital downloads [as I bite my tongue in order to refrain from calling you a moron].

      “This great portent [great earthquake] is a sign that our country is about to be destroyed by some other country. This will happen because the priests of the Zen, Nembutsu, and other schools are attempting to destroy the Lotus Sutra. Unless the heads of these priests are cut off and cast away at Yui Beach in Kamakura, the nation will surely be destroyed.”

      Today the Great Earthquake is a portent that it is the priests and leaders of the Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai who are attempting to destroy the Lotus Sutra.

      Nichiren had many choice words for his abusers and ignorant critics and how about the choice words your mentor and his leaders have for Nikken and those "Taiten" critics of the SGI? You are very selective and you are very hypocritical. Your argument about digital downloads is moronic.

      Rio Ventura: 3. taken your less-than-thimbleful of knowledge about my life and experience as a YWD AND WOMEN’S DIVISION LEADER [thank you very much], and dismissed it out of hand calling me [and I quote] “insignificant” and “a liar”, simply and I suppose because my experiences don’t support your position, (very calculated, btw), and

      Mark R: If you say so.

      Rio Ventura: 4. positioned yourself as a high priest of this faith instead of even directing members to one of the myriad Nichiren Shosho temples across the United States, thus masquerading yourself as some self-imposed authority figure with the power to confer gohonzon, as if you know what that responsibility even means. I have at times regarded that avenue as the most unfortunate path I could imagine, intersecting with this incredible faith through a lineage of Japanese High Priests who assert themselves as intermediaries between a believer and the gohonzon, which ultimately lies in the core of one’s life and not in “a piece of paper”. I was wrong; this is far worse. Due diligence? Laughable. Oh, the terrifying arrogance.

      Mark R.: Au Contrair mon ami. I am saying that anyone can bestow a Gohonzon on another or bestow a Gohonzon on oneself. It all depends on thinness or thickness of one's faith. It is the opposite of authoritarian, something I believe you can not understand being so enmeshed in the authoritarian Soka Gakkai. I also believe in diversity, unlike the SGI which only allows for the distribution of one sole Gohonzon and not even a Nichiren Gohonzon I might add. Any Nichiren Gohonzon is a valid object of worship and even any Gohonzon inscribed by a disciple of Nichiren who shares the same faith as Nichiren is a valid object of worship. A Nin-Honzon [statue arrangement Gohonzon] too is a valid object of worship since the Gohonzon exists in [correct] faith alone.

      cont....

      Delete
    25. Part 2a continued...

      Rio Ventura: I think you have fought so hard to discredit my position, not because in some Bodhisattva manifestation you actually are moved to ‘protect’ me from some programming you are espousing the evils of. I think you just cannot grasp that anyone with a clearly higher life-condition than yours of Anger could ‘escape the grasp of the “evil empire”’ and yet look upon it with grace and deep appreciation for the opportunity and training it has given them to practice in this lifetime.

      Mark R.: I think you discredit your own position. Since you lack a mirror [a valid object of worship] you fail to see yourself. You apparently aren't even aware of your Sensei's guidance on "righteous anger", let alone the Buddha's and Nichiren's. Rather than praise the SGI, have gratitude for the SGI, you should rather censure the SGI for leading you down the path of delusion and your inability to see yourself and to see clearly.

      Rio Ventura; I think you are just angry with me, railing against the notion that I didn’t “fall for it”, that I never let the SGI tell me how to act or who to be, buy publications I didn’t want, or take part in drives for membership or financial support that I wasn’t motivated to get behind. I HAVE NO “mentor-aka-Ikeda/disciple relationship”, nor have I ever, and publicly so. I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. No one harassed me; no one “cut me out”. I am sincerely sorry these things sound like they happened to you and it’s currently driving your behavior, but this is your path and all I can do is chant for your happiness and hope you don’t do too much damage whilst continuing to tumble into this abyss of bitterness and self loathing. For someone making the claims you are, even in our dialogue you have taken some pretty cheap shots, been simply caustic and nasty, unbecoming of the ‘enlightenment’ you supposedly possess. (I realize that I am just fueling your technique for the ‘next time’ you get into this with someone, helping you to ‘sharpen your tools’, so to speak, but after all, I AM NOT the one claiming to have “the same mind as Nichiren”, worthy of being a priest of this faith, which is what you’re essentially doing. I am certain this will not even live on the page long enough for the masses to read and decide for themselves, but if it reaches even one person, I will consider that enough.)

      Mark R.: You offer more proof that by abandoning Shakyamuni Buddha you can not distinguish black from white. I am not angry at you in the least and no life could be fortunate than mine. I just don't believe you but if it were true, you will never be an SGI leader and therefore, you will never have the ability to influence others within the SGI. Perhaps for this reason, you are left to your own devices. I also believe that you are treading on dangerous grounds for excommunication. Just don't be too vocal if you wish to remain SGI. One need only see, read, and hear the SGI guidances, videos, and lectures to know that you are not in the mainstream of SGI thought, let alone the thinking of the SGI mentor and his leaders. In fact, were you to blog or widely disseminate your beliefs about the SGI, you had better boldly declare that they are not the views of the SGI [a disclaimer] if you wish to remain SGI. Let me say something about SGI financials. Go to the SGI USA official website [http://www.sgi-usa.org/] and at the bottom of every page there is a bold exhortation, Financial Contributions Support our Buddhist Movement for Peace, not an exhortation to deepen one's faith, study the Lotus Sutra or the teachings of Nichiren, nor an exhortation to demonstrate against Nuclear Weapons. Burying your head in the sand won't change the reality of SGI, their partnership with Mitsubishi Heavy Industrials and the LDP, for example.

      Cont....

      Delete
    26. Part 2a continued...

      Rio Ventura: The words that were removed from the original Nichikan gohonzon were simply “Daigyo Ajari Honshobo Nissho”, which was the language of conferral to one specific individual. In order to make it more universal, the name of the intended recipient for THAT SPECIFIC PIECE OF PAPER was omitted. That is the grievous slander the SGI is guilty of, thus rendering them “no-honzon” in your quippy and cleverly disparaging language? *rolling eyes* By your definition, these recipients could not chant to these Gohonzon and attain benefit because they weren't 'intended' for anyone besides the original recipient? Nonsense. On the other hand, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood has asserted that gohonzon transcription is a ‘secret transmission based on the bequeathal of the lifeblood received by only a single person’, in other words, only the high priest has the authority, by right of lineage. (I guess he forgot to check with you first.)

      Mark R.: You are so off the mark that I believe you have not read one thing I wrote about Nichikan or the Nichikan Gohonzon. This is the weak Nichiren Shoshu argument, not our argument. I could give a rat's patootie that SGI removed the specific conferral on the slanderer Nichikan's Gohonzon. It is the heart of Nichikan that is rotten and by the principles of Esho Funi [Oneness of Person and the Environment] and Shiki Shin Funi [Oneness of Body and Mind], so is the Nichikan Gohonzon.

      Delete
    27. Part 2b....

      Rio Ventura: Whereas this is ALL superstitious nonsense, of course, and no more in my opinion than a doctrinal tug-of-war between the SGI and the priesthood, my problem is simply with [now PAY ATTENTION] your decision to make gohonzon available to anyone for any reason, regardless of your ability to mentor them in continued faith.

      Mark R.: Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin are the only mentors. Perhaps you are not aware that Nichiren was a scriptural Buddhist? Here is what Nichiren teaches:

      “Now , when the Eternal Buddha was revealed in the essential section of the Lotus Sutra, this world of endurance (Saha-world) became the Eternal Pure Land, indestructible even by the three calamities of conflagration, flooding, and strong winds, which are said to destroy the world. It transcends the four periods of cosmic change: the kalpa of construction, continuance, destruction and emptiness. Sakyamuni Buddha, the Lord-preacher of this pure land, has never died in the past, nor will He be born in the future. He exists forever throughout the past present and future. All those who receive His GUIDANCE are one with this Eternal Buddha.” -- The True Object of Worship

      “Since Sakyamuni Buddha is eternal and all other Buddhas in the universe are his manifestations, then those great bodhisattvas converted by manifested Buddhas are also disciples of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha. If the “Life Span of the Buddha” chapter had not been expounded, it would be like the sky without the sun and moon, a country without a king, mountains and rivers without gems, or a man without a soul. nevertheless, seemingly knowledgeable men of such provisional schools of Buddhism as Ch’eng-kuan of the Hua-yen, Chia-hsiang of the San-lun, Tz’u-en of the Fa-hsiang, and Kobo of the shingon tried to extoltheir own canons by stating: “The Lord of the Flower Garland Sutra represents the reward-body (hojin) of the Buddha wheras that of the Lotus Sutra the accomodative body (ojin);” or “the Buddha in the sixteenth chapter of the Lotus is an Illusion; it is the great Sun Buddha who is enlightened.” clouds cover the moon and slanderers hide wise men. When people slander, ordinary yellow rocks appear to be of gold and slanderers seem to be wise. Scholars in this age of decay, blinded by slanderous words, do not see the value of a gold in the “Lifespan of the Buddha” chapter. Even among men of the Tendai school some are fooled into taking a yellow rock for gold. They should know that if Sakyamuni had not been the Eternal Buddha, there could not have been so many who received GUIDANCE from Him.” -- The Opening of the Eyes

      I too am a scriptural Buddhist.

      Rio Ventura: You have no bounds. I doubt you have the ability, the commitment, hell, even the infrastructure it would involve to make a lifelong commitment to mentoring each one of these individuals you are granting this solemn privilege to, regardless of their lack of understanding of the significance. If someone wants “to create [their] own little corner of the multiverse”, they don’t need a gohonzon to do it, because that’s not the solemn, lifelong oath they are taking to protect and propagate this faith in receiving one of your Hobby Lobby knock-offs.

      Mark R.: It is a great slander to call the Nichiren Gohonzon a "Hobby Lobby knock off". Perhaps it is because you are a slanderer that you diminish the Nichiren Gohonzon or perhaps you don't really believe the teachings that "I am Myoho renge kyo" or "I am a Buddha". Were you to really believe these teachings, of course you would KNOW that you too are eminently capable of bestowing Gohonzon.

      part 2b continued....

      Delete
    28. Part 2b continued...

      Rio Ventura: This is a grave slander and you should know better. What do you think will happen to these individuals, never taught how not to slander the gohonzon, never supported when their practice gets tough and inevitable challenges arise, when you have helped to facilitate Nichiren’s gravest [and as you said, “punishable”] fear, that this practice might be LOST because the bonus gift they receive by shopping at your gohonzon store is the mere cliff notes version of this practice??

      Mark R.: And you accuse me of being presumptive! SGI gives out Gohonzon like Las Vegas escort fliers. I have given out fourteen Gohonzon in the last three years and mounted several more. The average length of time that these believers have practiced is SEVEN YEARS with the SGI, the Nichiren Shu, or as an independent and I insist that the new new member practices for at least 90 days, day and night and that he or she demonstrates a faith of "Not sparing their bodily lives" and all must sign one or both of the following oaths:

      A DECLARATION OF FAITH IN THE HOKKE SECT

      I, __________________________________, declare my faith in the doctrine of the Hokke sect:
      1. I believe and accept the Hokkekyo or Lotus Sutra to be the Supreme Teaching of Buddha (The Jewel of the Dharma).
      2. I believe the Eternal Buddha, Shakyamuni, revealed in the sixteenth Chapter of the Hokekyo, to be the True Object of Worship (The Jewel of the Buddha).
      3. I accept the teachings of the Messenger of the Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, the Earthly Manifestation of the Bodhisattva Jogyo, just as they are stated in his own writings (Jewel of the Sangha).
      4. I accept the Direct Succession of the Dharma through the Scrolls of the Sutra. Having sincere faith in these teachings, I request that a Gohonzon Mandala be bestowed on me and I solemnly undertake to treat it always with proper reverence and, should it become damaged or worn, I will return it to a priest for burning in the proper way.
      Date: ___________________ Signed: __________________________


      A DECLARATION OF FAITH IN THE HOKKE SECT


      I, ______________, do hereby affirm the following:
      “I am a member of Hokke Sect of Buddhism, I am chanting the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra (the Primary Practice), as well as, chapters 2 and 16 of the Lotus Sutra (Secondary Practice) on a regular basis (daily).”
      “I believe that the Mandala Gohonzon represents the land of Shakyamuni Buddha, the Eternally Enlightened Original Buddha, at the time of His transmission of the Law of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth (Ceremony in the Air).”
      “I also make the following renunciations:”
      “I hereby completely reject the teachings of all non-Buddhist religions. I hereby reject the teachings of non-Hokke Buddhist religions.”
      “I hereby also reject all heretical teachings that have infiltrated Nichiren’s Buddhism, such as the belief that Nichiren is the Eternally Enlightened Original Buddha; belief in the so-called Dai Gohonzon; worship of various supernatural entities as independent beings, etc.”
      Signed and dated:

      part 2b continued...

      Delete
    29. Part 2b continued...

      Rio Ventura: What you are doing is tantamount to gifting them a lucky rabbit’s foot and wishing them good-luck-and-godspeed. You, nor any support of ANY organization or community of believers, regardless of which we decide to align ourselves OR take exception with, will not be on deck to help them not abandon their faith at their crucial moments. They’re on their own with YOUR “object of worship”, not Nichiren’s. That is the difference I have a problem with.

      Mark R.: SGI has done such a fantastic job. Of the nearly 600,000 people who received the SGI/NSA Gohonzon, at most 40,000 continue to practice [according to the inflated World Tribune circulation figures]. Not one of the people to whom we [not I alone] have bestowed Gohonzon have stopped chanting. You are wrong. You are deluded and blind [to the truth].

      Rio Ventura: As Nichiren Daishonin put it, “…since the Law is respectworthy, the Person who spreads the Law is also worthy of respect.” In that, I have the deepest respect for your efforts in expounding the True Law far and wide. In the 26th Admonition of Nikko Shonin, he states: “You should treasure those practitioners who are skilled in difficult debate, just as the late master did.” We are both treasured in the eyes of Nikko Shonin, who is ALONE, ‘the Treasure of the Priest’.

      But in Article #1 of those same Admonitions, he states: “The doctrines of the Fuji school must not differ in the least from the teachings of the late master.” To that end, NO WHERE in Nichiren’s teachings have I ever read that one should just go ahead and inscribe their own gohonzon, or just have a friend provide them with one… I would be [rhetorically] interested in knowing where you got the notion that it would be ok for YOU to start doing it, for all the reasons I have previously stated and that Nichiren Daishonin himself intended. You are simply not qualified, and either dangerously deluded if you believe yourself to be or willfully distorting the teachings for your own purposes, which is even worse if you ask me…but no one was asking, really, so I will say this in closing:

      continued

      Delete
    30. Part 2b continued...

      Mark R.: You would do well to read Pedro Ramo's criticism:

      Ms. Ventura, do you realize you are quoting from apocryphal writings of no study value whatsoever outside your sect, and that puts you in a really sticky position?

      First you quote from "On Attaining Buddhahood", not a Nichiren text by any credible scholarship standards and now from the 26th Admonition of Nikko Shonin?

      Sorry, but you could chant less and get some facts straighten up before entering a discussion like this.

      and Dr. Jacqueline Stone's Thesis, Some disputed writings in the Nichiren corpus:
      http://www.princeton.edu/~jstone/dissertation.html

      More importantly, the transmission is through the scrolls of the Sutra and authentic writings of Nichiren Daishonin. not the edicts of the corrupt preists of Taisekeji.

      Rio Ventura: Arguing with someone who is clearly not of sound mind is tantamount to being oneself insane. I will simply leave THIS here for you in case you perhaps one day experience a moment of lucidity:

      Your delusions of grandeur and megalomania are out of control. I implore you to seek the guidance of a medical professional. Mostly, I will chant for the people whose karma led them to you as an access point for this beautiful and profound practice, and for the happiness of those you might infect in the future. You spoke of there indeed being “tragedy” in this world; in this I stand corrected. Your adept distortion of the sutra and the Major Writings for your own gain in the pursuit of that warm feeling of self-righteousness is indeed tragic. You and your counterfeiting are the worse type of charlatanism, even more alarming because I think you actually BELIEVE IT, and that actually trumps the priesthood and their atrocities towards the practice in my book. I never even considered it could get worse than that; there I go, being wrong again. You are your very own Devil King of the Sixth Heaven, and that’s impressive in the most unfortunate of ways. I wish you better things.
      Sincerely,

      Mark R.: Your SGI cult nature is coming out. Bull baiting a votary of the Lotus Sutra is cause for regret.

      Delete
    31. Mark you are a opportunist. Even Vivekananda and other philosophies emerging from the land of Gautam Buddha says when you pint at someone, you point three fingers towards yourself.
      Why don't you do 1% of what Mr. ikeda, did with a war atmosphere during his childhood to tuberculosis in those days, and do not follow SGI.
      That should be enough to lead you to a great life... Without Ikedaism.
      Would love to see your name in wlkipedia with 1% PhD. As that of Mr. Ikeda's 340! From round the world..

      Delete
    32. Honorary degrees are often rubber stamped. For example, never has the City College of New York tabled any honorary degree. It is well known that benefactors are often awarded honorary degrees, people like your mentor who donate thousands of books to the various university libraries. It has been rumored that many of Ikeda’s degrees have been bought and sold for a lot more than books. Here is another example:

      “The PM News of Sunday, 19 June 2011 also reported that President Goodluck Jonathan had approved N3 billion for the development of the University of Port Harcourt. The news was announced by Vice President Namadi Sambo who represented Jonathan at the 27th graduation ceremony of the university. The news came on the same day and in the same event in which Mrs Jonathan received the honorary doctorate degree awarded by the institution. Formally, Jonathan serves as the official visitor to the University of Port Harcourt.”

      Some examples of evil men, monsters, tyrants, and dictators who have received honorary degrees:

      “The most morally grotesque academic elevation was perpetrated in Spain, in 2005, when the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid conferred a doctorate honoris causa on Santiago Carrillo, former leader of the Spanish Communist Party. As chief of police in Madrid in 1936, he had presided over Cheka death squads that murdered huge numbers of people (2,800 in one weekend) for the crime of being ‘bourgeois’. Benigno Aquino; Robert Mugabe; President Sukarno; Adolph Hitler, Robert M. Gates; Billy Graham; Sonia Ghandi, Jessie Jackson, Harry Laughlin eugenicist, the list goes on and on…

      “The free distribution of honorary degrees, always a possible source of evil, is especially dangerous in the case of professional degrees, since the latter indicates the completion of an apprenticeship rather than the attainment of learning and confer priveleges of practical commercial value and subject to abuse.” — A.L. Benedict MD

      “…in these days when men are angling for titles, pulling wires for “honorary degrees,” — George Kulp from the Calloused Knees

      Delete
    33. By the way, Vivekenanda's head split into seven pieces as has Ikeda's.

      Delete
    34. http://study.com/articles/Whats_the_Value_of_an_Honorary_Degree.html

      "Long Island University's Southampton College. In 1996, the school awarded an honorary Doctor of Amphibious Letters to Kermit the Frog for his work in education and in raising environmental awareness."

      Delete
  5. To Mark and Lisa with deep respect.

    http://pramos76.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/reply-to-unknown-author/

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have popped in on the BuddhaJones website over the years, and was recently dismayed to find it no longer exists. This is indeed a terrible loss to the world of dialogue and open discourse. (I like to throw as many SGI buzz words in as possible, but I think you catch my drift.)

    I left the SGI-USA in 2008 after 21 years of practice, doing leadership to the point of being a YWD HQ leader in one headquarters - that means I got to see it all. Now I wear an anti-cult activist hat some of the time, with the SGI as my target. Time to bring down the house of cards.

    So thank you, Anonymous, for your wonderful article - every point rang true for me, except perhaps for the SGI-owns-your-gohonzon thing. I never had any awareness of that - at what point did it enter into the picture?

    Everybody should be aware that, as soon as you deliver your WRITTEN resignation to the org, from that moment forward (heh heh), NONE of their rules or regulations apply to you. US legal precedent has established that members can resign unilaterally - they don't need anyone's approval, they owe no one an explanation, and they don't have to return their god damn gohonzons! If anybody had had the nerve to demand MY gohonzon "back", I would have told them they were welcome to buy it back from me for $40. But nobody brought it up :/

    Look up "GUINN V THE CHURCH OF CHRIST OF COLLINSVILLE" and "THE NORMAN HANCOCK LAWSUIT (Mesa AZ 1985)".

    I can really relate to the whole "fear" angle - in one of the gosho, Nichiren says to not visit any other religion's shrines (of course he focused on "heretical Buddhism" - meaning "not his sect"), not even to sightsee! Because if you do, DEMONS WILL FOLLOW YOU HOME!!

    IamSOnotkidding.

    Aha - it's from the "26 Admonitions of Nikko" - that's Nikko Shonin, Nichiren's truest and onlyest real disciple (according to the Nichiren Shoshu school):

    Article 6: “Lay believers should be strictly prohibited from visiting (heretical) temples and shrines. Moreover, priests should not visit slanderous temples and shrines, which are inhabited by demons, even if only to have a look around. To do so would be a pitiful violation (of the Daishonin’s Buddhism.) This is not my own personal view; it wholly derives from the sutras (of Shakyamuni) and the writings (of Nichiren Daishonin).”

    ReplyDelete
  7. I joined the SGI-USA (then known as "NSA") back in 1987, well before the excommunication by Nichiren Shoshu. I was a YWD HQ leader when Nichiren Shoshu excommunicated Ikeda and the Gakkai.

    What happened was that, at that point, the Soka Gakkai and affiliates were in deep doo-doo. Because Nichiren Shoshu held the copyright to the religion, essentially, Ikeda and the Soka Gakkai had to scramble to change things enough to not be charged with violating Nichiren Shoshu's copyright. See, as a lay organization, SG/SGI could claim religious exemption on the basis of being an arm of established religion Nichiren Shoshu. When NS excommunicated SG/SGI, NS yanked SG/SGI's basis for claiming to be a religion and thus getting all those meaty tax and oversight breaks.

    This was kept very much under wraps, but now that I look back, I can see its genesis: The "master and disciple" relationship became the "teacher and disciple" relationship until it finally evolved into the "mentor and disciple" relationship. That, plus the Three Presidents, as a new focus. Now, hatin' on the priesthood is a permanent SGI doctrine, no doubt because Ikeda was publicly embarrassed and humiliated by the excommunication.

    Before the excommunication, much was made within SGI of how chummy Ikeda and the SG were with High Priest Nikken and the NS priesthood. But after the excommunication, Ikeda and the SG did an about-face so drastic that they probably all got whiplash.

    Ikeda and the SG used to say that the SG's rapid growth and spread was the "actual proof" that Nichiren Shoshu was the correct stream of the Nichiren school. That sure went away quickly!

    I collected some of the doctrinal differences over here at http://www.reddit.com/r/sgiwhistleblowers/comments/21k712/when_ikeda_sgsgi_got_excommunicated_by_the_temple/

    Anonymous mentioned the change to the silent prayers; the SGI also whittled the recitation of the sutra ("gongyo") down from 4 short recitations and one long to just a single short recitation. We'd been asking for that for YEARS, but had consistently been told that shortening it would be wrong. Until the excommunication - then the time was right, obviously! Perhaps you guys can add some more.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I was at an SGI friendship meeting in a hall packed full of SGI members on October 13th 2013 (the anniversary of Nichiren's death) he didn't even get a mention but instead they were singing songs praising the three presidents and raving about self development, friendship, courage, Joy etc. Their state of mind is so obvious, judging from their thoughts and actions, it doesn't get much clearer than that. Really sad to see what the Gakkai has become when you consider what it could of been if it had based it's faith on the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin and the 28 chapter Lotus Sutra revealed by Shakyamuni Buddha. This same behavior is a Pandemic sweeping throughout the SGI throughout the globe and the epicenter is the Sokka Gakkai - Japan. It is like it has become the Fukushima of Nichiren Buddhism

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Since the excommunication of SGI by the Priesthood in 1991 they have been following the person Daisaku Ikeda and not the Law, although it been happening for a long time before the excommunication.

    Nichiren Buddhism follows the Law and the person that is one with the Law such as Shakyamuni and Nichiren. In becoming aware of SGI's problem I learnt to distinguish between the SGI cult and Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism. Before I couldn't distinguish forest for the trees as I was in the thicket, thinking that I could change things rather than just seeing it for what it is 'Ikeda Forest'

    Because this cult mentality has become so serious and growing by the day I have had to cancel my 25 year membership registration with the SGI and download a complete Nichiren Gohonzon for the transmission of the Dharma. Nichikans Gohonzon is incomplete, in that it doesn't contain the worlds of Hell(Devadatta), Anger(Asura) and Learning(Sharihotsu) which is another serious matter concerning faith

    Hell (Devadatta)

    + Really understanding what the state of hell feels like can lead to the desire and wisdom to help others.

    - Ultimately is a life state of suffering, illustrated by depression, despair and self-destructive tendencies.

    Anger (Asura)

    + Passion to fight injustice and create a better world; a creative force for change.

    - A state of egotism and self-righteousness, in which we cannot bear to lose. This will inevitably result in conflict.


    Learning (Sharihotsu)

    + Striving for self-improvement by learning new concepts through studying the teachings of others. This is the basis for realization.

    - The tendency to become self-centred, to cut off from the daily realities of life or develop a dismissive attitude towards others with less knowledge.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Fantastic! Congratulations and best wishes, You made my day, no month!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Because the cult mentality had become so serious I had to cancel my 25 year membership registration with the SGIA 6 months ago.

      one month later we enshrined the Denpo Gohonzon ,after taking down SGI's Nichikan Gohonzon. After we did that a serene atmosphere has pervaded throughout the house hold and in our daily life and many benefits have been flowing like what the SGI Gohonzon was supposed to do.

      The 3 great secret laws is definitely working through this Gohonzon. I told this to 2 senior SGIA leaders today who came to our house to take back their SGI Gohonzon before excommunicating my wife that had been a member for 55 years. The first half was in Okinawa the 2nd here in the land down under Australia

      Mark, you were right when you said this would happen.

      Fancy being excommunicated over having an authentic complete Nichiren inscribed Gohonzon, how bizarre is that

      They were insistent that it is more important to have faith in the Ten world Gohonzon that is within than the outward image of Gohonzon and that the other worlds that are missing in the Gohonzon exist in the worlds that are there in the Gohonzon. Mutual possession of the ten worlds kind of thing but with a few of the worlds missing, if you know what I mean


      They said Nichikan was a great Priest who made right the wrongs of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood that's why they chose his Gohonzon

      They did sansho before the Denpo Gohozon when they arrived and before they left, they said all Gohonzon's are equal.

      We have faith in the ten world Gohonzon within but not in their Gohonzon without, If they say all Gohonzon's are equal why should it matter to them what Gohonzon we have. This would have to be the height of their hypocrisy.

      It's really all about the flag of the organisation not Nichiren and Shakyamuni

      Nichiren said on first day of the tenth month of the second year of Kōan (1279) "Buddha fulfilled the purpose of his advent in a little over forty years, the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai took about thirty years, and the Great Teacher Dengyō, some twenty years. I have spoken repeatedly of the indescribable persecutions they suffered during those years. For me it took twenty-seven years, and the great persecutions I faced during this period are well known to you all." (On Persecutions Befalling the Sage)


      If you look at the charts of the progression of the Gohonzon there was a significant change on the second year of Kōan (1279) , in that for the first time Devadatta appeared in the Gohonzon. The true presentation of the oneness of good and evil is now complete and ready for transformation by Myoho Renge Kyo

      Delete
  12. Very interesting points both in the main article and responses. A minor quibble; I think the initial definition of a cult needs to be refined, because I think the Roman Catholic Church falls within that definition.
    Reading the article, I felt that I must live in a different country - then realised that I do! SGI-UK has not asked me for any money, has not insisted that I follow any rules, has not told me how much chanting I must do, has not kept a record of meetings I attend, has not told me I cannot leave now I have joined, and has not mentioned ownersip of my Gohonzon. I have been told that the answers to my life issues lie within myself, and can be found by chanting, with faith, in front of the Gohonzon. I have also found truth, to date, in the assertion that the purpose of a religion is to serve the people, and not for the people to serve the religion; I have been in many workplaces and religions in my life to know the difference, and am happy to state that SGI serves and supports me.
    There are, of course, aspects of SGI religion which I find hard to take - largely that Japanese culture does not travel well. However, disagreements are not uncommon where I practice, even amongst experienced leaders.
    Is this a case of different countries interpreting the philosophy differently, or something more sinister?

    ReplyDelete
  13. "A devout believer in the Buddha's Law who is also a wise man is truly obliged to point out to his students any false doctrines, even though they be principles of his own sect. He must not lead the students astray. If, on the other hand, he finds a correct doctrine, even though it is a principle of another sect he should adopt and transmit it." -- Dengyo the Great

    SGI has been teaching distorted doctrines since its inception and leading others astray. Even if SGI-UK leaders and members are all touchy feely sweet, sincere, nice, and kind, one can't get around SGI's false teachings.

    "Men shall make the right religion prosperous, but the right religion shall not make men prosperous." -- Dengyo the Great

    Is it because SGI has replaced "truth" with "gain" that seek benefit from the religion and sangha rather than benefiting the manifest truth [Namu Myoho renge kyo and sangha of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth?]. If that is the case, you are nothing more than a beggar at the gate. Also, would you like to hear some experiences of ex-SGI-UK members which mirror the authors observations? Are your observations valid and their's illegitimate?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Meeting on August 1, 1999:

    On August 1 a meeting was held for headquarters level leaders and above from throughout the SGI-UK. Mr. Kaneda from Italy was appointed "special advisor to UK." During the meeting there was no mention of the practice of the Daishonin's Buddhism. The overall theme was "back to basics; you naughty children, you have gone off the rails." "Back to basics," in this case, means fight the Nikken sect, contribute to the kosen-rufu fund, and get more members.

    Mr. Kitano (SGI advisor to the SGI-UK, similar to Mr. Wada for the SGI-USA) talked for one-and-a-half hours about the temple issue. It was, according to one Reassessment Group attendee,

    "…dismal, depressing, uninspiring, and with no talk of vision, future, and joy. He kept on repeating that it was always people from within the organisation that tried to destroy it, which I realized he was aiming at all of us in who took part in the Reassessment Process (which is well over 500 people!)"

    There has been no mention of Focus Groups since. It is like it never happened. It was announced that a restructuring of the SGI-UK leadership would take place, with another level of leadership to be added at the top, including the re-appointment of many older leaders, some who had previously resigned. It many cases those against the Focus Groups have been rewarded with Directorships. Ricky Baynes, who had been supportive of the process all along, was silent, as were Kazuo Fuji and Sue Thornton.

    No one has contacted those involved in the process. Since then, various members have asked questions and received the following answers:
    Question to Mr. Kitano: Why did he come to England and only meet with and listen to those who complained about and opposed the Reassessment?
    Answer: I was not swayed by what they said, because I already had made up my mind before I came.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Kosen Rufu is the widespread propagation of the Lotus Sutra. It is not spreading Ikedaism, unshakable happiness, social or political activism, or even world peace. The Lotus Sutra chapter 16 teaches, “It is not as the Three Worlds [the people of the past, present, and future] see the Three Worlds. In such a matter of this the Tathagata sees clearly and is without error.” This is the Eternal Pure Land of the Buddha where the Buddha goes about spreading the Lotus Sutra. Unshakable happiness is the Buddhism of the True Effect [Buddhism of the Harvest]. We practice the Buddhism of the True Cause, sowing the seed of Buddhahood whether we are happy or sad. Only a Buddha with a Buddha can exhaustively penetrate the reality of Namu Myoho renge kyo.

    Accordig to SGI-UK, kosen rufu is spreading anything and everything other than the Lotus Sutra:

    The Kosen-rufu Movement -Soka Gakkai International:

    “Daisaku Ikeda became the third President on 3rd May 1960 when he was 32. Under his leadership the organization grew rapidly and expanded abroad. In 1975 Soka Gakkai International was established and he became its first president. There are now more than 12 million members in 188 countries and territories, and Daisaku Ikeda has conducted dialogues with scholars, cultural and political leaders around the world. He also founded the Soka University and the Soka Schools, the Min-On Concert Association, the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum and the Institute of Oriental Philosophy. The SGI continues its development as the organization of ‘human revolution,’ the individual’s inner reformation, and establishment of Buddhahood as the core life state, based on Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings.”

    ReplyDelete
  16. "Ok, first, and I dont care how this sounds... but I'm not interested in any replies, "advice", quotes or "guidance" from SGI members that may follow this post.

    SGI have become a very real problem in my life.

    I am not a member of any other sect.

    I have no experience of any other form of Buddhism but this one, that of Nichiren, and that only via SGI (UK).

    After being part of SGI for three years, I only managed to distance myself from them by moving away, geographically, from the SGI circles I knew. Where it not for this happening, I might not have seen what it was doing to me.

    I am glad to have had the opportunity to see this.

    I will not pass comment on whether they are a cult or not, because society is full of cults, the cult of the car, christianity, sports fan groups, all could be said to have some elements of cult-like activity at some stage or other, so the label is not important.

    To anyone who can't decide in the face of so many conflicting viewpoints are valid or not, I will offer my opinion, but it is an opinion based on direct experience from within the SGI organisation. Be very wary of this group.

    In my experience, there is no evil agenda practiced in private that makes SGI a subversive sect. The danger lies with the very subtle and gradual brainwashing that takes place, I do not know if this is due to decisions made by the high leadership, or if because it has become a self perpetuating ideal. Whatever the ideal is, it is not open minded, it does not tolerate members thinking for themselves and not towing the Ikeda party line, and it alienates those that do. I see the org. as a very cynical sect now, oh so ready to re-mold itself to whatever culture it is in purely in order to increase its membership. I have wasted three years with SGI. These are my feelings and my experiences. It is dangerous to manipulate people who have chosen to trust and base their spiritual goals on such an organisation. It gets under your skin. I am so very glad I have left, all that remains is a near-Catholic guilt for having left - after being told by a Japanese member I will definately "go to hell" if I return my Gohonzon. To those that might say "oh but there are idiots in every organisation", I would just reply that this Japanese sentiment is merely repackaged to suit the English members, but the pressure remains the same. I agree with France, who have had great distrust of SGI, they are a subtle, subversive and insidious group whose methods are becoming more cunning. Stay clear, is my closing advice." -- Former SGI cult member

    ReplyDelete
  17. When you squeeze it, in the United States, in England, in Italy, in Ghana or in Japan, it whispers cult:

    "Vibrant gongyo and daimoku gave the SGI-UK Student Division kick-off meeting a great start, writes Tarun Khetarpal. Sensei’s response via his message and gift of refreshments were received within a day of us informing him of the meeting, showing the concern he has for each of us. The new Student Division members were welcomed and we sang the European Student Division song, Shining Stars of Hope. New appointments were announced for Student Division representatives across the UK and the theme for the meeting, Youth, Let’s Open a Great Road to Victory, was introduced. The 42nd Headquarters Leaders Meeting was screened; Sensei did not attend, indicating the importance of his disciples taking full responsibility for Kosen-rufu from this moment on. It is now time to live true to the guidance that he has given us all his life and make his dream of achieving world-wide Kosen-rufu come true. The two experiences shared at our kickoff showed the true spirit of a disciple, the spirit of being a lion’s cub. The perseverance shown by members in their academic lives moved the hearts of one and all. A group photo was also taken to be sent to Sensei. Lisa Cowan, SGI-UK Young Women’s Division leader, lectured on The Three Kinds of Treasure. We learned that the heart of the Buddha or the mentor, is the heart that constantly seeks the happiness of self and others. We were all encouraged to report magnificent victories. The kick-off ended with a lion’s roar gongyo. Straight after the meeting, we reported to Sensei on its success."

    ReplyDelete
  18. "You are SGI" -- SGI-UK leader...

    http://www.vocaleyes.org/vocaleyes/group/view/id/10247

    Of 117 proposals ["ideas"] offered by SGI-UK members, 2 [TWO] were adopted.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "In the November 9, 1992 World Tribune (WT) p. 5, the late Richard Causton, former general director of the SGI-UK, stated,

    "We must deeply understand that the heritage of the Universal Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can only be transmitted through organizations joined in unity, based on faith in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism and the principle of the oneness of master and disciple." (emphasis added). Mr. Causton also explains his reference to "the oneness of master and disciple" as follows:

    "All of us who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which our ultimate master, Nichiren Daishonin, taught us, can develop the eyes of the Buddha; but it is President Ikeda, our master in life, who guides us through the rocks and shoals of this life, with pride and gratitude. President Ikeda has taught me everything. "The article also states: "Hence, the master gives his guidance based on his interpretations of the Gosho in contemporary terms and his
    experience of action, both for his own human revolution and for guiding the movement for kosen-rufu. We as disciples, must then set out to prove its validity for ourselves . .

    An editorial in the WT of November 16, 1992, p. 2, stated:

    "One way [of making 'sincerity' real in our lives] is to constantly renew our determination to live with sincerity by putting President Ikeda's guidance into action every day . . . It's important to study Nichiren Daishonin's writings and the guidance of President Ikeda, but unless we put all these words into action, they are meaningless."

    In the January 11, 1993 WT, p. 4, Mr. Ikeda stated:

    "Since the Buddhist way of mentor and disciple is the ultimate way for
    humanity, it is impossible to grasp even the tiniest fragment of it if your efforts are only half-hearted. How faithfully did Mr. Toda follow and protect Mr. Makiguchi? And how faithfully did I follow and protect Mr. Toda? To a degree nearly unimaginable by people today. I could not hope to serve that great leader of Buddhism, Mr. Toda, without a determination to give up my own life if necessary. In that fierce determination we find the very essence of what it is to be human."

    In the November 16, 1992 WT, p. 5, Mr. Ikeda stated:

    "Those who think that the times when the SGI is facing terrible persecutions has nothing to do with themselves will receive no benefits.
    They have nothing to commend themselves; they have no faith. But those who fight with the conviction that they are personally being persecuted possess truly great faith. Those who can maintain their faith until the last moment of their lives --even if they are thrown in jail because of their faith for 20 or 30 years -- are true Buddhists, true 'revolutionaries' directly linked to the Daishonin."

    In the September 12, 1994 WT, p. 5, Senior Vice General Director David
    Kasahara stated:

    " . . . The more we strictly follow the Law, including, in my mind, President Ikeda's guidance, the more capable we become at being flexible in our awareness of what others need for their happiness. . . ."

    In the May 3, 1996 WT, p. 10, Mr. Ikeda stated:

    "Ultimately, Buddhism comes down to the person. I did not wait to place my trust in President Toda until I had learned about the Daishonin's teachings. Rather, I came to trust Buddhism because I first believed in the person, Josei Toda."

    ReplyDelete
  20. SGI-UK/SGI-USA... 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. Who are you trying to kid anonymous? You are a brainwashed cult member who will say ANYTHING and I mean anything to deflect criticism of the Soka Gakkai. No one believes you because the manifest reality of SGI is not as you would have us believe. We are wide awake from chanting 10, 20, 30 or more years of Daimoku, the correct Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, We listen with the ears of Shih K’uang and observe with the eyes of Li Lou.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Here anonymous is another experience from a former SGI-UK cult member. Enjoy!

    "My goodness you have put my feelings so much more clearly than I can, thank you Spamster. I too have about 20 years of practice in the UK (more recently as a leader in London), but unlike you can no longer sustain my leadership responsibility. I tried for sometime, but am unlucky that my 'superior' leaders are so completely sucked-in to the closed-loop of Ikeda worship that I couldn't stomach meetings where they were present any longer. Maybe I'm a wimp, but they seem so brainwashed about 'Sensei' that it feels pointless, even cruel, to try to debate this with them. I also found it impossible to bring guests to meetings and then keep a straight face as all the rubbish about the mentor and disciple stuff is relentlessly spewed out. Was it better when they attempted to hide this from 'guests'- no, just an example of how underhand the whole SGI-UK thing/think can be.

    Like you, I had quite kind feelings towards SGI-UK because most of the people I have met (including Robert Samuels the UK general director) are undoubtedly sincere in their thinking that they are practicing and teaching others Buddhism and that SGI-UK exists as a benign organisation to support this practice. Sure there is a diverse range of people and some I didn't get on with, but that will happen in any area of life - so this didn't put me off being a part of the organisation. The pointers you give to your members are along the lines that i tried to encourage members too.

    However, my attitude changed after I started researching into SGI in Japan and talking to people who had practiced recently in the USA (shocking stuff). My eyes were opened to the fact that our 'parent' organisation in Japan is nothing less than a multi-billion dollar money making business cleverly using (parts of) a genuine Buddhist practice as a front. This business also seems to successfully use incredibly sophisticated mind-control techniques to keep the whole multi-level scam going. Encouraging the use of chanting to put people into a trance state so that they uncritically accept whatever rubbish you tell them (however ludicrous) is actually a nasty and evil tactic. Hence the increasing number of what Spamster refers to as gakkai-addicts - and yes there are more Ikeda-bots in the youth divisions because the youth division are persuaded to give most of their lives and free time to gakkai activities (where these mind control techniques are continually refined and reinforced).

    continued...

    ReplyDelete
  22. Former SGI-UK cult member experience continued:

    "Also the realization of Ikeda's almost psychotic egomania makes me almost nauseous. There is no question that he knows and even encourages his 'disciples' to lobby for all those fake degrees and naming of monuments after him (while he is still alive!). After all he could easily ask those "disciples" to stop lobbying for these things if he wanted to demonstrate what an enlightened, modest and non-egotistical human being he is. But does he ask for this to stop - not on your nelly!

    So however much I respect the leaders of SGI-UK as sincere human beings who have had the wool pulled over their eyes for many years (as had I), I cannot be part of an organisation (SGI-UK) that supports this manipulative and hypocritical cult from Japan, however innocent those in charge in the UK organisation may be. I just can't turn a blind eye any more to the 'bad' bits, because the 'bad' bits are too awful and ignoring them is in effect supporting and encouraging this awful behavior. And if you think about it, taking something as beautiful and valuable as Shakyamuni's and Nichiren's teachings and twisting them and USING them to perpetuate a marketing scam is just truly disgusting - I can't be any part of that!

    I am reeling from the realization that I have been a member of a cult (and even worse have introduced others to it!), so am still processing my feelings about the whole thing. However I do know the difference between Ikedaism (or SGIsm) and Nichiren Buddhism and am trying my best to continue with as untainted a practice as I can. I do miss the exhilaration of chanting with a group, but hopefully that will pass. Joining in with SGI activities is too high a price to pay just for a momentary feeling of exhilaration!

    I'd like to thank everyone who contributes to this forum for the support I have felt whilst becoming aware of all this. Thank you so much!. I did post a few pages back but then disappeared to read the whole thread (300+ pages) from the beginning, so have been quiet during that time. I can't express how much this thread has helped me keep my strength whilst being 'home visited' (and undergoing other unwelcome consequences of withdrawing from SGI). I would recommend any newcomer to the forum to go to the beginning of the thread and read as much as they can!"

    ReplyDelete
  23. I became a member in the 80's and thought it was great at first, then I saw how the Shakabuku system worked and poor families buying four of the same book and getting a daily paper for each member of the family...in 1992 I had had enough and quit, but my wife was worried she would be disowned if she did, so she acted as if she still believed for the sake of keeping her family close. Her mother would offer to take her to a restaurant for lunch or a trip to the spa only to be fooled into going to the kaikan. My wife was diagnosed with cancer a little over a year ago and all my in-laws told my daughter she had to get a Gohozan or she would be killing her mother, my wife died two months later. My wife told me at the end she did not really believe in any religion and to have a small Soka Gakai type ceremony with a twist , only flowers in her coffin and no SGI flag, she was only doing it for her mother.
    This past week we had her Ishuki and our family did it the way my wife wanted which upset my in-laws and I called the next day and told them next year they could hold their ceremony someplace else and we would do ours at home where my wife passed and where her urn rest. My daughter who also dislikes Soka Gakai, told them she is returning the Gohozan, because she was pressured into it in a time of despair, only to be told that they would now be disowning our whole family!
    What my wife feared the most happen, and over what? A difference of opinion!

    ReplyDelete
  24. There is no benefit in the Soka Gakkai cult, only deception.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Namu Myoho renge kyo for your wife.

    ReplyDelete
  26. As a former member, I will have to disagree about there being no benefit. People who have had bad experiences in the Soka Gakkai can't speak for everyone. I've had both good and bad experiences, just like I've had both good and bad relationships in life, and there are millions of people who seem to be benefiting from the organization significantly. Since I was born into the practice, the members in my area are my family, however, as an artists, I'm not as conservative as the organization asks for and I'm trained to think outside the box.

    Further, as a Nichiren Buddhist, I'm trained to think outside the box. This is the key. Knowledge is power, but the truth will set you free. SGI is made up of human beings that have unfortunately created a machine that is not always well oiled but if we shoot missiles at our fellow human beings, we're missing the point of the philosophy completely. Nichiren Buddhism is meant to empower us and so long as we feel trapped inside the mindset that SGI is some kind of evil, we're merely victimizing ourselves. I don't know how Nichiren would feel about the organization, but personally, for my own human revolution, I realized that I needed Soka Gakkai in order to overcome my victim mindset, and that's when I decided that my co-dependency on almost every relationship in my life, including that with Soka Gakkai's, was holding me back, and all I had to do was lift the lid. Nobody was holding it down. That's the beauty of the organization. And the beauty of this practice is that it has been realized and handed down by brave men who have either died or risked their lives for the betterment of mankind through the ages. That's so amazing to me.

    I recently came to this personal philosophy and I'm only 26 so my views will inevitably change. But the reason for me coming to this breaking point and "human revolution" was because of how little support I was receiving due to the lack of training from my fellow leaders, which in turn was the reason why I needed to find the answers within myself. I overcame some of the worst suffering out of any of the youth in my region. That's what accomplished this "transformation" if you will. Currently, a lot of members think that I'm riding on the back of the Devil King Six right now, but I see things differently. I like to think of DK6 as a comrade. Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is found in everything, including the bad, yet the transformations are what are important. Think of the miraculous story of Devadatta. His enlightenment wasn't because of the workings of God or some kind of destiny set in stone. It was because Shakyamuni never gave up on him and took action. And we must never give up on ourselves or our fellow practitioners (including practitioners-to-be, others will join whether or not you have anything to with the practice), even if we have to separate for self-preservation. That being said, I don't think anyone who's left should feel bad about sponsoring anyone. You didn't do anything wrong. The Gohonzon is awesome! But just like the organization, it's a stepping stone. The true Gohonzon is inside you, not to make this sound like Buddhist pedagogy.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Also, I know what it's like to feel bitter about not getting anywhere but the benefit that I gained from being what I like to call a now 'alumni' is the realization that we can't be students forever. Ikeda as our mentor, is looked up to the way he is because in this day-and-age it's uncommon for people, especially in Western culture to place high importance on our teachers or parents and when that changes society too will change drastically. Look at their salaries. Cable installers get paid more than teachers. We live in a backwards society and that's why an organization like SGI exists in the first place, which is to set a moral Law through the direct access to Nichiren Buddhism and if we're smart, we'll remember individually that Ikeda still sh*ts and feels depression and will someday die just like the rest of us. Of course Ikeda can do wrong, and he has. It would be foolish to think that he's never in his life committed an error. But he respected his mother and is kind to his wife. But he's also a senior, Japanese man so of course, conservative and from a different culture. So as you can see, SGI is there to help break down these barriers and if we fail to see this, we're not getting it and perhaps it is best to move on. Now it's our duty to be kind and considerate to those in front of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  28. Hi Maya. All well and [not so] good Maya but what does the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren say? As far as the Gohonzon being "only" within, Ichinen Sanzen teaches that there are Three Realms and one realm is the Realm of the Environment.

    From my perspective and experience, the reason SGI members are nice to you, possibly even your own family members, is because they believe that you will return to the fold. If you tell them that you will not return under any circumstance, I am certain their true nature will come out and their Worlds of Animality and Anger will manifest, especially if you care enough about them to correct their wrong thinking, practice, and behavior.

    ReplyDelete
  29. 'No honour was left for the gods, when Augustus chose to be himself worshipped with temples and statues, like those of the deities, and with flamens and priests.'

    ReplyDelete
  30. This was thought out but there are many other things that are left out. I had the opportunity to obtain guidance and did not realize that SGI was a cult because I was young and not thinking much about tit. I had never been raised in a religious way to not accept other religions that call themselves such. I read much material interacted between members and such. I watched my mother be forced away from me as well as other family members in order to increase my dependence on the other members. from 1993-2001. Really after my mother passed I received on last guidance from my a nameless wd leader. In this guidance I was basically told my family were a bunch of cowards and that it was up to me to change this karma.
    I never thought of myself as a coward for not standing up for myself or those that I love. However, I see that many others may have thought differently. To me this ment that I spent a life time pleasing others and that it was deserving of me to be radically emotionally verbalized roughly, agressively and emotionally harshly which made me fear that I needed to leave quietly for safety reason. .
    In thinking about their prescription to health from where I sit and study multiple religions . I don't understand the nature of the karma that they prescribe or perceive in this land. I have forgotten about the people. It is a shame and particularly thoughtless that Sokka Gakki spends time breaking down the religions beliefs that one comes in with and not really seeing the bigger picture of the importance of this group of people. I have heard many of soka gakkai friends laugh and poke fun of and even hold lectures on the wrongness of Christianity. Ive seen and heard other religions described as a cancer. In this vein the Soka Gakkai has become no more than a cancer itself. It is a shame and an embarrassment to know that there is no true sanctity of life unless you kill it as it appears from their perspective I guess.
    It is much like an eco system in which we have multiple religious beliefs in people.The world denomination theme.
    I believe that in my hardest of hearts the lack of desire to be worldly and truly embrace the diversity in this world stems from people who have had little power in their life.By taking away that interaction one tends to fail to thrive as a way for that person to gain power over another. It is no different than all of the blood being splattered today between our youth who are being recruited for isis and our youth who are being recruited for the united states army. It is thoughtless mind control of the people that are involved in and out of this religion.
    I know and remember much of Ikedas guidance about psychics and other healing properties and wonder if you find for some reason when they lack of ability to THINK before going to these places to control people because they have why do they not just let people go on. They will never be anything more than a cult . Every cult lacks the ability to discern and discriminate truth when they infringe on others ability to think for themselves. It is important to use words that thoughtful, intelligent, necessary, and kind when discussing this with those who feel differently and have been programmed to believe the way that they do. The group as a whole is sick, I cant control it I cant cure it, and I didn't cause it. Therefore I go back to the root cause of my pain and suffering and say that when and if I ever speak about them or think about them I do not feel freedome or know peace without conflicted feelings.

    ReplyDelete
  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  36. As a former member of SGI-UK for almost nine years, I can recognize both negative and positive aspects of being a member as outlined by many contributors on this thread. However, in the long run, the negative far out-weighs the positive. Here I have outlined some of the reasons why I have chosen to liberate myself from SGI.

    I can confirm that members are endlessly encouraged to be fearful in many ways, especially fearful of not chanting. It’s typical to hear members say: “If I don’t chant today, bad sh*t is going to happen!”, and this negatively charged and fear-full attitude is routinely being celebrated and encouraged at events. No-one seems to take any notice of Nichiren’s words about chanting, about being honest with oneself, that chanting is personal, and that comparison is meaningless: “Chant to your heart’s content. Sometimes one Daimoku is enough, other times ten thousand is not enough.”

    Suspension of critical thinking combined with self-censorship is a requirement, and one quickly learns that using a normal functioning enquiring mind is viewed as “negativity” and “disrupting the unity”. Fear of spiritual retribution caused by “slander” is used to keep members in line.

    The wrathful demonization of the priesthood is ongoing and much is being made out of how far the priesthood have gone astray with “perversion of Nichiren Buddhism”. The priesthood excommunicated SG/SGI mainly for two reasons: SG/SGI’s inclusion of apocryphal texts, which the priesthood would never allow; and not upholding the admonition to “Follow the law, not the person.” Members are being strongly discouraged to hear both sides of the story.

    When you move to a different area, do not expect ever to be contacted. SGI’s definition of “friends” only reaches as far as you being an active and local member. In fact, friendships (as understood the normal way) between members is actively discouraged.

    Members with mental health issues or emotional problems are routinely given the highly irresponsible “Guidance” to chant more and to do more activities, instead of seeking professional help. This is contrary to Ikeda’s advice that: “If you’re sick, go see a doctor” and “Taking good care of your health is an important part of correct practice.” Surely, that extends to mental health and emotional issues!

    Supreme importance is given to studying Ikeda’s writings, the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin as a close second, and as a distant third, the Lotus Sutra itself. This is reinforced with a relentless barrage of emphasis on the so-called “Mentor-Disciple relationship”, which is not mentioned in the Lotus Sutra and barely (if at all) touched upon by Nichiren.

    An important doctrinal text Nichiren often refer to is T’ien Tai’s “Great Concentrations and Insights”, which is regarded as little more than legend by SGI. It is not made available to members and because SGI is not using the commonly used title, it is extremely difficult to track down.

    Why the order of importance of the writings? The explanation I have heard from SGI many times is that one shouldn’t bother with the Lotus Sutra because it is too difficult to understand anyway, and even Nichiren’s writings are quite difficult, so no need to worry too much about that either. Just stick to Ikeda’s writings, because as the supreme authority on Buddhism he is, he understands it all to perfection and can explain everything in the most correct and easy to understand way.

    SGI is clearly using a combination of fear and blind allegiance to Ikeda in a number of ways to control members’ emotional and spiritual lives, and in extension every other aspect of their lives. It is done in subtle and gentle ways, but eventually creeps in and takes over your life.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi Free! I agree with 90+% of your observations and analysis. The only thing I would caution is the equal reliance of the Nichiren Shoshu on apocryphal tests such as the 106 Comparisons, On the True Cause, The First Bath, and the Ongi Kuden for example.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hi Mark, good to know I'm not alone. I saw a statement from Nichiren Shoshu about why they excuminicated SG/I with those specific reasons, but I have not verified it from other sources. Everything else I wrote is from my own personal experience.

    It is difficult to realize just how much of a cult SGI really is when you're in the middle of it. I feel violated and betrayed, and I'm still suffering from anxiety from leaving, but at the same time so incredibly relieved.

    One great resource I used was the warning signs list on culteducation.com; SGI fails on every single point and that says it all really.

    Thank you again Mark for this thread! :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. As long as you continue to chant Namu Myoho renge kyo, your future will be bright.

    Since the Nichiren Shoshu source is fouled so too the SGI stream.

    ReplyDelete
  40. The chant is so beautiful. And the physiological/mental/emotional/spiritual effects of chanting, (not necessarily the daimoku) can be phenomenal. This is what drew me.

    Virtually all SGI folks I have met are powerful emotional manipulators. They seem to assume that everyone is in need of spiritual guidance, especially the fatherly kind. They don't seem to realize that they are energy vampires. They seek to control, not to support and guide.

    Maybe "cult" is in the eye and experience of the beholder. My experience with SGI people has involved feelings in me of wariness, discomfort and a sense that I am considered spiritually inferior because I decline - politely - invitations to accept Ikeda as my lord and master.



    ReplyDelete
  41. Evidently, SGI thinks they own the rights to the chant. I wanted to include the chant in an art piece that involved sound, and was told by a long-time SGI member that I was not allowed to use the chant this way!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you can do what ever you want to express your self. i really thought they would be happy you were showing your appreciation with art. again just an ignorant person making Buddhism look bad.

      Delete
    2. But the member's attitude shows the fear of authority instilled over many years in the Ikeda cult.

      Delete
    3. Acid Mothers Temple used it.......

      Delete
  42. I am so very grateful for this stunningly clear article, and for the blog. The SGI model of relating with others - top down - plays out in all relationships, extremely painfully at times.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thank you anonymous. Thank you very much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank-you, Mark Rogow, for this forum. For quite some time, I looked for information online regarding the cultish aspects of SGI. Finally, this blog appeared and I feel relieved to hear of the experiences of others who have been spiritually railroaded by SGI members. I am relieved in the sense that my serious concerns about this organization are confirmed, and I know I am neither the
      only one to feel abused by SGI "friends", nor am I crazy.
      Trust that feeling of craziness, I say, because there is a good reason for it. I feel it most often when controlling and manipulative influences are close by.
      I have had people I have met for the first time tell me they are Buddhists, then make the SGI pitch. They do not wish to befriend you personally; they want you as a feather in their recruitment cap.

      Delete
  44. I can relate a concrete example of a district leader I know who put the principle learned from Buddha Never Disparaging on its head, to use against me.

    Buddha Never Disparaging would bow to everyone in respect of their Buddhahood, regardless of how much he would be disrespected, insulted, etc. The lesson to be learned is that every human being is worthy of respect because they have the potential to become a Buddha.

    However, when I arranged to have a dialogue with the district leader about not respecting me, he responded by using Buddha Never Disparaging’s example to tell me that he could treat me whichever way he wanted, because I would have to respect him regardless.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A friend of mine in the cult was behaving in what I felt was a disrespectful way towards me. I communicated this to him and he told me that if I had more confidence, I would not care if he was disrespecting me.

      Hard to argue with this because it is true. However, the relationship suffered as I no longer wanted to be around him.

      It was a painful lesson, and I still mourn the loss of unconditional respect between us. Ironically, I am more confident about who I choose to be with. And cult members are disqualified.

      Delete
    2. Nichiren speaks at some length on how and to whom to assign blame. Since you were blameless, the consequences fall on your friend. That is why I can admonish them with impunity.

      Delete
  45. I guess he doesn't care if he passes 1000 kalpas in the Avici Hell as did those who disrespected Bodhisattva Never Disparaging.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Here's a thing you guys might like!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP2-D0UHPpI

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hiya, as a member of the sgi for nearly 30 years, i have to agree with the cult label, i stepped back from responsibilities a long time ago and the only reason i have stayed a member is the vain hope that things will change. Ive come to the conclusion that they are only getting worse lol.

    Is there a sort of organised group of independent nichiren buddhists in the uk. I love my practice, but am fed up of being viewed as the disciple of a japanese businessman, and a member of an organisation that has no accountability whatsoever. :)

    ReplyDelete
  48. Thanks for your note Anonymous. In a sense, it is an oxymoron [organized group of independents]. However, on the deepest level, as Nichiren taught, "If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you are a Bodhisattva of the Earth." Therefore, having the same mind of Nichiren assures you of belonging to the astoundingly great organization of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

    ReplyDelete
  49. This article is dead bang on. I was married to a well respected member of 40 years. I became a member 17 years ago.. Made the big mistake of asking questions about finances..Was told that I would loose all my fortune if I questions (based on critical thinking) continued. I never let up..to this day! My wife filed for divorice several years back and that's when the fun began! I went to a National Leader (James Herman) for quidance, something that is encouraged. Was told that the SGI had be plans for me? I took that as a positive thing ..was I wrong! After my papers were served to me, I received a call from our district leader..5 minutes after I was served! This was the beginning of the harassment campaign. They were talking to my neighbors, creating slander campaigns, ID theft, Vandilsm. Having my tires on my SUC and Motorcycle slashed! Only hitting the tip in the iceberg but will tell you all this. SGI is first and foremost a Business..a corporation that does nothing less then take your money . Its become an organization of thiefs, criminals and mindless idiots that have no sense of right from wrong. DO the research, Organized stalking is part of their business plan... Bunch of coward lowlifes all trying to get on the payroll..and yes the money goes around..and they will lie about it. Beware, be well and stay away from SGI.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. omg this comment is making me sick. and to be honest its so hard to believe. im Buddhist and have been since i was 9. even after addiction, jail and a teenage pregnancy SGI was there for me. in my opinion those people you are talking about were in no way Buddhist no matter what organization they belonged to. they were as you said criminals and lowlifes. and there karma will catch up.

      Delete
  50. Damn, I never thought I'd find someone who I could relate to until I stumbled upon your post. I was a 'fortune baby' of a very happy SGI family--they are amazing people and I love them-- but around my teenage 'rebel' years I started questioning my beliefs.
    During a retreat where they openly denounced NSA as evil, I stood up and asked why we were not allowed multiple interpretations of the same text. The speaker could not answer properly.
    I tried to reclaim my faith with the SGI despite that disappointment and joined the campus club when I went to college and became VP. I chanted often to focus on my academic goals. But soon the club goals took a turn. They wanted us to focus on nuclear abolition. They wanted to set up an exhibit on nuclear abolition and for us to volunteer to rally for the cause in our school. I told them that firstly, they had just assumed that we were pro-abolition because we were Gakkai and that should not be the case. We should bring up both sides of the debate and educate ourselves before we go out and try to rally for a cause. Secondly, shouldn't we *Acutally* believe in a cause for ourselves, not because our religious leader believes in it? However, I was horrified to find that my fellow students, who knew jack shit about nuclear abolition, were extremely eager to jump on the train. I also wondered why nuclear abolition was such a huge issue when there were so many other issues that were clearly more pressing.
    I started researching more on the projects of SGI, and was disgusted to find a Gandhi-King-Ikeda exhibit. To think that he would go around putting his name at the end of monumental characters like that, was milking for attention. People who recognized Ghandi and King would pause and think, 'who is Ikeda'? It was a shameless marketing plot and make me question his ego. Then I wondered, does anyone know who his successor is? How long he has been in power? What the process is to elect a new leader? When does he plan to step down?
    No one fucking knew. And no one had a problem with it, either.
    Except me. I left the club and renounced the philosophy I'd grown up with. I was scared and uncertain because it was all I knew. And the community was so welcoming.
    But now that I look back, I can *see* it. It's like when you walk out of a messy room for a while, and come back and notice its stench. The fanaticism, the emphasis on "grinning-it-and-bearing-it" especially amongst women since "Kaneko is always smiling". Which I always found kind of creepy, since she was this personality-less figure that appeared and smiled 24/7. The 'just chant' ways of solving issues. The dismissal of legitimate criticism as 'negativity'. The marching band songs, the vagueness, the hyper-emotional word usage like 'glory' and 'burning suns' ...
    I do believe there is power in chanting the Nam-myoho-renge-kyo mantra, but SGI is definitely Ikeda-ism.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Thanks for sharing anonymous. Nuclear weapons are indeed a major problem but they aren't going away any time soon. Also the means to rid the world of Nuclear weapons [and pollution, and climate change, and overpopulation, and hunger] are not strategies to rid the world of them, as laid out in Ikeda's peace and Sustainable development proposals. It is only the strategy of the Lotus Sutra as outlined by Nichiren.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark after reading your blog I must say I am confused. I just started attending SGI meetings about a month ago everyone I met seems great, though I am concearned with all the cult talk I am finding on the internet. How do I practice chanting and buddhism correctly without SGI?

      Delete
    2. Self-produced/ self-generated sound is powerful in shifting brain waves, mood, the whole of you. We can chant whenever and wherever we like, it does not have to be the daimoku. In fact, many consider that the Ikeda cult co-opted the daimoku for their own purposes of mind control - and it works if you accept Ikeda as your guru. Let us chant for the pleasure and benefits of allowing the body to make sound, and wash the scammer, Ikeda, and his cultish puppets out of our consciousness.

      Delete
    3. Great idea Jonah. However, those in the cult for five, ten, twenty, or even thirty years can be likened to uncontrolled diabetics for five, ten, twenty or thirty years, Even when they do all the right things to regain their health, they didn't become sick in an instant and they won't get well in an instant. It may take years of a proper diet and correct medicine to reverse the ravages of the disease. Likewise it may take years to regain one's spiritual health after being exposed to the ways of the noxious cult for many years.

      Delete
  52. All cults employ the technique of "love bombing". Everyone "seeming great" is not a valid criteria to ascertain the correct faith and practice of the Supreme Law. Some of the nicest people in history were among the most deluded, causing others interminable suffering despite their good intentions. It is said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren speak of those who the world looks up to as "Arhats possessing the six transcendental powers" who are in fact the greatest enemies of the Lotus Sutra.

    I suggest that you return your Nichikan Gohonzon, continue to chant the Daimoku and the two chapters of the Lotus Sutra and seriously study the Lotus Sutra and the writings of Nichiren Daishonin. Then, if you really want a Gohonzon, I suggest you either ask someone who is a disciple and believer of Nichiren if they would bestow upon you a Gohonzon or you can procure one on your own. I as well as others are more than happy to assist you on your journey of faith.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Thank You Mark, I do not have a Gohonzon yet I havent even joined SGI I have just been checking it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps you already know that according to the dictates of the cult, the gohonzon, even though you pay the cult for it, never belongs to you. They claim they own it and it is supposed to be returned to the cult if you dare to leave.

      Delete
    2. I received Gohonzon 3 years ago when I joined Sgi-uk... I didn't have to pay for it. Do they demand payment in the U.S for one?

      Delete
    3. Some sponsors in the US shell out the fee for their shakubuku. Still you only possess Gohonzon as long as you remain in the SGI. Should you leave you will be expected to return it even if you continue to chant.. Did you have to subscribe to the publications? Maybe the fee was covered in your subscriptions?

      Delete
    4. I have subscribed to the Art of Living in the past which is the UK's publication but haven't done so for many, many months now as I don't like to accrue "things" due to lack of space & a desire to try to live simply (besides, I have copies of the Gosho & Lotus Sutra anyway) Of course we are encouraged to subscribe & it can be a life line for many who live in the isolated areas out here on the far flung borders (put it this way; no-one from London seems to know where we are). It is certainly not mandatory & I don't receive any flak for not doing so. I've always considered myself as a bit of an "edge worker" in regards to practice & don't like to be fitted into any boxes or labelled in any way. I will certainly be putting some thoughtful questions to my district leaders about the nature of Gohonzon ownership but I will not needlessly leave the SGI without perfect reason to do so, nor without doing some very intense research & even more intense Daimoku first! Not until I am fully satisfied with the answer. What makes it difficult for me is that I know of many great things that the SGI do on a daily basis, that without this organisation it would've been highly unlikely that we would have had the great fortune to encounter the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin here in the West...yet I also personally know of cases of ignorance & hypocrisy that have angered me over the years. Fundamentally we are all living human beings & therefore subject to the principle of ichinen sanzen, as long as we have faith in Nam Myoho Renge Kyo & live by its teachings & take action as a parent/teacher/sovereign to all living beings, everything else is just ornamentation & mayonnaise (it disguises the true flavour). . I thank you for provoking such an insightful discussion here, we should not be scared to ask questions...ESPECIALLY awkward ones (^-^ )... it is the only way for essential Mahayana Buddhism to progress. I will ask you though: why the deleted comments around here, surely both sides should be represented without censorship in such an important issue about the validity of a worldwide organisation. Please, I am not having a go but am merely curious as to the reasons why.

      Delete
    5. They are rarely deleted. Occasionally they are deleted by accident and occasionally for actively promoting SGI. To my knowledge I nevet deleted any of your posts.

      Delete
    6. Don't worry, i didn't mean it about my posts in particular, sorry if I didn't specify that. I also looked closer after I posted & realised most had been removed by the authors themselves so please ignore that last question.

      Delete
  54. You would do well to check out all the Nichiren sects, the Nichiren Shoshu, the Nichiren Shu, the HBS, the Kempon Hokke and compare all of them to the Lotus Sutra itself and the authenticated writings of Nichiren, particularly, his Five Major Works. It is our contention that all the sects faith and practices deviate from the teaching of Nichiren to a greater or lesser extent. The reasons for this are myriad but the most important reason, I believe, is that it is difficult to practice as the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren teach [to accomplish a bodily reading of the Sutra as did Nichiren]. Very few can practice with the same faith and intensity as Nichiren knowing that they are sure to encounter The Three Obstacles and Four Devils in this very life, The obstacle of The King Devil of the Sixth Heaven or the obstacle of persecution by the authorities, is particularly severe. I am unsure whether I have or continue to encounter this obstacle but I am striving to develop a similar faith and practice to the Master.

    ReplyDelete
  55. My name is laurent Boer (laurentfreetheSS@hmamail.com), and I have been harrassed and manipulated by an unknown hidden cult organization
    They drugged me insidiously, hypnotized me, they programmed my mind with hypnosis and several different kind of drugs, and they didn’t hesitated to do many illegal things including:
    - Under hypnosis, mental conditioning to make me feel terror to talk about them and what they do
    - use some addiction drugs to enforce the power of the hypnotizer on me
    - At work, air spray some kind of GHB drugs to train me to work harder
    - Under hypnosis, format my personality to fit their needs
    - Follow me in shops and coffee places to make me feel paranoid, harassed and under their control
    - Under hypnosys make me watch horror and homo movies every day under addictive drugs to get addicted to this
    - Installed software on my computer so they can remotely send subliminal trigger images
    - Under hypnosis make me hear for hours daily their speech teaching me that what they do to me is great and usefull

    How to get rid of this kind of secured powerfull worldwide organizations?

    Best Regards,
    Laurent

    ReplyDelete
  56. Hi Laurent. Chant Namu myoho renge kyo and read and study the Lotus Sutra and writings of Nichiren. One of two things will happen: These human devils will leave you alone immediately or they will change to become your allies.

    ReplyDelete
  57. shame on you! devdattas trying to kill shakyamuni! biting the hand that fed you!

    ReplyDelete
  58. "Beside them [Daisaku Ikeda and your leaders, for example], evil men such as Devadatta and Kokālika are as nothing. In fact they are in a class with Mahādeva and the Great Arrogant Brahman. And those who put faith in the teachings of such men—they too are a fearful lot indeed."

    Please note that your confused mentor Daisaku Ikeda lavishes praise on Mahadeva and his movement in his book, “Buddhism the First Millenium.”

    ReplyDelete
  59. As far as killing off Shakyamuni Buddha, why would you care? Nichikan, the transcriber of your Gohonzon has already killed him off with the words, "Shakyamuni is a cast off husk Buddha." Besides, Nichiren teaches that one who confuses the general with the specific, even in the slightest, will fail to attain Buddhahood. I reiterate, send me your Nichikan Gohonzon and I will send you a copy of a Nichiren Gohonzon that will last for centuries.

    ReplyDelete
  60. While I do agree with some of your critiques of the SGI-USA, I think you are just being inflammatory by describing it as a "cult".

    I've been a member for 13 years now. The actual practice has been incredibly life changing for me, and I have no issue with the egalitarian and life affirming philosophy underlying it.

    Like you, I have struggled with some aspects of the organization, or perhaps the mind set of some more old school members who approach the practice in a very superstitious and dogmatic way and try their best to pass their way of thinking on to newer members.

    Well, I've just come to a place of acceptance about all of that. I can agree to disagree with some other members and have learned to appreciate the diversity within the organization. After all, diversity means there's going to be people who see things and do things differently and sometimes in ways we don't like. I have a right to my own opinion and way of practicing and so do they. For example, I don't believe this is the one true buddhism. I think all practices have their own benefits and this is just the one that works best for me. I also don't feel like I have to constantly be involved in activities to be a good buddhist and get benefits. I have a strong practice and faith, which is what matters most and I am constantly showing actual proof of this practice as a result.

    In the past, I thought about leaving because I didn't resonate with the mentality of some other members, but in actually it's ended up being a growth experience trying to find where I fit in this organization and how much involvement I want and need. I've learned to hold onto my own ideals in the process while respecting those of others. In the end, it's really about the practice, which is where most SGI members can find common ground.

    Basically, I hear what you are saying and I get it, but I think you might want to reconsider the term "cult" because it technically doesn't apply. You might want to get really clear on the criteria for what makes an organization a cult, because I think you'll find it doesn't quite fit and is certainly inflammatory.

    As for the SGI being hard to leave, well I can see how it might be on a psychological level, probably as would be true of leaving any faith you have devoted yourself to, but there are no external barriers to leaving the SGI.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi anonymous. The SGI is a destructive cult by definition:

      1). Destructive cults actively recruit new members, often through deceptive “front” organizations.

      The SGI has the Boston Research Center, the Institute for Oriental Philosophy, Human Rights Education Research association, 7/11 [hehe] and others where their affiliation to SGI is rarely if ever mentioned.

      2).Destructive cults claim to offer absolute Truth. Their teachings are not (to them) mere theory or speculation. The most effective cult doctrines are those which are unverifiable and unevaluable.

      The SGI claims that their believers are the only Nichiren Lotus Sutra believers capable of obtaining Buddhahood, going so far to claim that all SGI members are Buddhas while those of the Nichiren Shu and Kempon Hokke, for example, are “deluded Shakyamuni worshippers”.

      3).Destructive cults reduce everything to a bi-polar attitude: “for us, or against us.”

      Anyone who criticizes the SGI, no matter how wise, is a fool and anyone who praises the SGI, no matter how foolish, is wise. Daisaku Ikeda writes, for example:

      “Seven years have passed since then. The outcome of the struggle of good and evil and the workings of the law of cause and effect have been strict and uncompromising. The decline of the crazed and destructive Nichiren Shoshu is clearly apparent. The victims, unfortunately, are the lay believers who practice with the temple, who are not aware of Nichiren Shoshu’s evil and have been deceived by the priests.”

      4).Destructive cults generate some kind of external “pet devil” with which to threaten their members if they should doubt, or fail, or ever leave the group.

      The SGI has dozens of “pet devils”. Those who leave will have misfortune on their jobs, in their families, in their social lives, have accidents, fall into hell, etc. President Toda stated: “If you keep this up, you’re going to come to a pitiful end in life.” and “Betraying the Soka Gakkai is betraying the Daishonin. In the end, they’ll receive the punishment of the Buddha, you’ll see.” Ikeda says, “To take action to fight against whatever forces appear as the enemies of the Soka Gakkai is our most noble mission.” Matilda Buck says, “How tragic it would be for even one person to have found the great means of bringing forth Buddhahood only to be diverted to another, seemingly similar, path that is incapable of leading that individual to his or her deepest happiness.” This is the jist of the Gakkai’s attempt to chain the members to the Gakkai way of life. The Biggest ”pet devil” is Nikken of the Nichiren Shoshu:

      "When Buddhism speaks of “devilish functions,” what does that really mean? These represent whatever tries to prevent us from advancing in our Buddhist practice. In a sense, they are frightened when we expand the Buddha’s forces, because the realm they want to control will then be changed into a pure land. In our case right now, this function is being manifested in the current high priest of Nichiren Shoshu."

      Delete
    2. 5).Destructive cults lead their members to believe they are somehow superior to all other humans on the earth.

      In many of Daisaku Ikeda’s speeches we see how the SGI members are to view themselves:

      “Sons of the Gakkai”,
      “Inheritors of Myoho”,
      “Lions of the Mystic Law”,
      “The sole group of true believers”,
      “Truly praiseworthy are you who resolve to work hard for kosen-rufu and the SGI. You are the most noble of all people.”

      6).Destructive cults put the will of the group above the will of the individual. This is often reinforced with simplistic games or rituals of some type designed to make the individual subservient to the group.

      If you search, you will find such quotes from the eternal Soka Gakkai mentor, “The Soka Gakkai is more important than my life.” We also see the special Soka Gakkai holidays like May 3rd, day of mentor and disciple, and such slogans as, “reaffirming the prime point of the Soka Gakkai”

      We see inordinate references to Soka Gakkai, SGI, and Ikeda in nearly every experience given by an SGI member. There used to be dress and hair (short) and beard (none) codes for the SGI Young Men’s Division and on saturdays everyone had to dress in white pants and white tee-shirts.).

      7).Destructive cults teach that the end justifies the means.

      How they misuse upaya (expedient means) is a travesty. Flirtatious shakabuku by young women’s division, telling peoplethey can get new cars and even drugs if the chant, teaching people that they will immediatelybecome Buddhas if they join the SGI, and the list goes on and on how they utilize the ends justify the means philosophy of Machiavelli, the antithesis of the Buddha’s teachings.

      8).Destructive cults teach strict obedience to superiors and encourage the development of behavior patterns that are similar to those of the leader.

      Is there any doubt why the Soka Gakkai is known throughout the ten directions as the Ikeda cult? Guidance division, never criticizing leaders, “follow no matter what”, this is so apparent to everyone but the brainwashed SGI member himself. Lately, the SGI has abandoned any subtle pretense with such overt youth division guidelines as, “Reveal your true identity as Shinichi Yamamoto” and “I want to be Shinichi Yamamoto”

      9).Destructive cults offer acceptance by the group for good performance, and conversely,withhold it for poor performance.

      Moving up the ladder from Jr Group Chief, to Group Chief, to District Chief, to Chapter Chief, to Area Chief, to Territory Chief, to Joint Territory Chief and so on.Busting people from their position or moving them at the leaders will.

      10).In destructive cults, fear is a major motivator. Guilt is a close second, and shame is third. Only the cult leader is perfect, so everyone below is fearful that those above wil lfind out their shortcomings. Cult members feel constantly guilty for having those real or imagined shortcomings, and are ashamed that they haven’t worked harder to get rid of them.

      “Never talk about your problems to the members until they are resolved.”

      “Did you know that so and so got hit by a car and is paralyzed.

      "He should have stayed with the Soka Gakkai.”

      “She turned in her SGI Gohonzon and lost her job and her house.”

      “He committed suicide not soon after joining the Nikken sect.”

      Delete
  61. 11).Destructive cult members swing from emotional highs, to emotional lows regularly. Lows are not long tolerated, and result in more indoctrination, or even ejection from the group if they last too long.

    Here are some examples of SGI speech used to control their members: “You have weak faith.”. ‘You had better go for guidance if you want to resolve that problem”. Rumors to stay away from depressed individuals. Not inviting less than enthusiastic members to certain meetings or not telling them about “important” meetings. Lectures about “emotionalism”, [unless the emotion is rapture about the SGI and the mentor]. Every last former SGI cult member will attest to this.

    12).Destructive cults tend to re-write their members’ past, manipulate their present, and distort their future. Disrupting time orientation is an honored technique of all such cults.

    Human Revolution, New Human Revolution, New New Human Revolution. Need I say more?

    13).And, finally, there is never a legitimate reason for leaving a destructive cult. The only reason members leave a perfect system, is because they are imperfect in some respect and will be punished for it.

    “He was angry.”
    “He was jealous.”
    "He couldn’t get along with his leader.”
    “He had weak faith.”

    (even if "he" continues to chant three hours a day and does shakabuku with the Nichiren Shu or the Kempon Hokke). “No matter which destructive cult you choose, the above 13 items will almost universally apply".

    The author of these 13 points [whose name escapes me] then goes on to conclude: Study the methods of est, LaRouche, Transcendental Meditation, Truth Station, Soka Gakkai, The Way International, Children of God, Temple of Set, Synanon, Scientology ®, The Peoples Temple, Unification Church, Hare Krishnas, House of Judah, Ramtha, Garbage Eaters, Rajneesh, ECK, Church Universal and Triumphant, Elan Vital, Posse Comitatus, or any of the others…. they use the same techniques, even though each of them claims unique and absolute ownership of the “truth.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your thoroughness in providing evidence that SGI is a cult. It's methods may vary slightly from those of other cults, but you have identified the commonalities. Most people claim that their lives have been changed by being SGI members, and so do members of other cults say the same. SGI is a destructive cult which preys on members minds and discourages independent thought.
      Members are even encouraged to have Ikeda's picture right by the gohonzon, so they chant to him! What's that about?

      Delete
  62. I was tricked into joining this cult when I lived in Japan. It was one of the most brainwashing, horrifying experiences of my life that I endure over many years. http://www.gregpercifield.com/oops-i-joined-a-japanese-cult/

    ReplyDelete
  63. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to your future installments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mark! Thanks for sharing this wonderful blog. I totally subscribe to your point of view about SGI being a cultist, closed and deceptive organization. I joined this practice willfully nearly 3 years ago in India. Though i sincerely believe in the power of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and Gosho's view of karma/ cause & effect/ esho funi/ ichinen Sanzen & others. But there are a lot of things at organizational level i totally despise such as:
      1) Guilt induction about not chanting enough daimoku / not doing enough home visits / not doing shakabuku / not connecting with mentor’s heart / not understanding the gakkai spirit etc. I believe that any spiritual practice you do, should be able to set you free, not bind you. What if you can’nt chant for longer durations daily, not available for every relay /alliance session in your block, fail to participate in every meetings due to time constraints or different priorities / don’t share your experience in meetings either because you are not ready or you fail to see it as an experience yet but still subscribe wholeheartedly to this philosophy of creating good causes/ overcoming your negativity / respecting the goodness in every human being.

      Delete
    2. ) Chase for good fortune and Good fortune accounting ~ SGI members tell you often that attending meeting is good fortune, studying Ikeda’s writing is good fortune, doing home visits is good fortune, contributing money is good fortune, doing gakkai activities ~ singing / presenting / bringing guests to meeting is good fortune. And everyone here is playing to increase their good fortune score. Call /chase people constantly if they are slipping in their practice or not attending zadankai’s to increase your good fortune & eradicate your karma. What I fail to understand is, in this mad chase for good fortune, is it ok to derelict your duties & responsibilities as a wife, human being & professional. SGI members marker “gakkai activities “ as the only authentic source to earn good fortune brownie points. The whole concept is: more we are struggling to take time out for activities(only sgi), more we are earning good fortune. Those who are opposing your practice (even if they have valid logical points) are devilish functions. If your husband wants to spend a Sunday morning with you then this is your test of Faith to struggle and come to meeting. Is this “good fortune “restricted only to SGI sphere? What If I am devoting my spare time in bonding with family , developing new skills, doing workout or yoga for fitness which will bring happiness to me & my family members. Will my good fortune score decline? And what if instead of contributing to gakkai twice a year , if I am donating my money/resources towards animal welfare societies/ ngo or sponsoring a meal for old age home would nt that be a good fortune too? Why are they so insistent on creating an emotional dependency on the group. In my understanding every good act you do is good fortune whether for gakkai or outside gakkai. The actual test or proof of Faith is how much your own life is getting better so that you can influence and happily impact the lives of everyone around you. It begins with personal effectiveness. It begins with taking control, action & taking responsibility, making tough choices. True Faith means the courage to take action, make firm decisions and ability to reflect on our own tendencies. Faith is not about hiding yourself behind the big concepts of kosen rufu and shakubuku and escaping away from what you need to do right in your life. Why do members/leaders use faith as escapism, waiting for some mystic phenomenon to happen without taking the right actions in their life.

      Delete
    3. 3) I find it very strange when people brag about the number of hours they have chanted , the numbers of home visits done
      4) Why practicing members are placed on a higher pedestal than the non-practicing members? We gain good fortune by showing the other members the same respect as we would show to a Buddha. Why differentiate between a practicing and non-practicing member? I have stayed and worked in many different cities in India & abroad. Met people with diverse backgrounds and outlooks in life which has made me more perceptive of the human nature and its frality. I have known some very wonderful, humble, pure hearted and kind people in gakkai but at the same time I have been able to sense the insincerity and vanity in many leaders and members. Some of them see gakkai as a social club and are trying to fill an emotional gap in their otherwise lonely and vacuous life, for some gakkai leadership gives them a false sense of superiority or power which eludes them in their real life. I have known people apart from gakkai circle who exhibit Buddha qualities of compassion, courage & wisdom while I have also seen leaders who have been technically practicing for 2 decades but are not really very fine people. There are members who are given a mini celebrity status in the group because of their social standing. I find it all very shallow & repulsive.

      Delete
    4. Mark & all other erstwhile SGI members, I need your help. Could you please give some clarity / insights on following :

      a) What am I supposed to do with SGI Gohonzon ? Keep it / Return it? And is ok to chant facing a wall without any organization Gohonzon (SGI / Nichiren Shoshu / Nichiren Shu )?
      b) From where can I buy Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings? Is SGI Gosho good to read & follow? Or is it also diluted like the organization? And what about the Lotus Sutra 6 volumes written by Ikeda?
      c) And what has been you personal experience with ND Buddhism after leaving the gakkai ?

      Many thanks in advance!!

      Delete
  64. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  65. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Hello Priya. You may return it or burn it while chanting the Daimoku and the Jiga-ge. Nichiren faced the Sun. A clean plain wall will do. You may also place the Lotus Sutra on the altar and a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha [only if you placed a copy of the Lotus Sutra on the altar along with the Statue]. When you are ready and your faith is strong, I will either bestow upon you a copy of a Nichiren inscribed Gohonzon or you may procure one for yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  67. My personal experience is great exhilaration to be practicing Buddhism as the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren teach. Nichiren, despite the difficulties declared, "No life could be as fortunate as mine."


    ReplyDelete
  68. Thanks for your reply Mark.Need to discuss/ understand a few things.I was wondering if would be possible for you to share your email address.

    ReplyDelete
  69. illarraza@yahoo.com. Look forward to your your thoughts and queries.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I started practicing with this organization a couple of years ago and have recently decided to pull myself away. While I find no fault with the philosophy itself, I am struggling to accept things within the organization that I sometimes find to be disturbing. I guess the first thing that raised some red flags for me was when I received my Gohonzon. Upon receiving it, I was educated about the other Nichiren sects and their "wrong" ways of practice. I was told to avoid them at all costs. I thought that the discussion was inappropriate for the time (I had just received my Gohonzon minutes earlier and did not want to pollute this joyous moment by entering into a discussion disparaging others.) Frankly, I thought that subject being brought up was just plain weird, but I decided to ignore it and figured I was just being judgmental. Then I started noticing that Ikeda's name was being brought up A LOT. In meetings, in the World Tribune, Living Buddhism (you literally can not get through one page in the magazine without his name popping up or him being referenced in some way), having to sit through 20-minute videos about him during WPG meetings... I started to wonder why it was necessary for others to bring his name into discussions all the time. In my opinion, it was unnecessay because we were supposed to be studying Nichiren, NOT the life of Daisaku Ikeda. Initially, I joined SGI to familiarize myself with the teachings/philosophies of Nichiren. I slowly began to realize though that I had joined an organization not centered around the philosophy of Nichiren, but centered around Daisaku Ikeda. Once I made this realization, I was horrified to say the least. I didn't really know who to turn to, so I began reading forums and experiences of former SGI members which has been very comforting. I was still on the fence until I read about this supposed King/Gandhi/Ikeda exhibit. I mean, wow... For people to think that Ikeda is even on the same level as men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi is just ridiculous and honestly, delusional. That really hit the nail on the head for me and now I am done. I would like to thank Mark and all of the other ex-SGI contributors for sharing your stories and helping people like me find the courage to leave a disturbing situation.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Thanks for your comment Anonymous.You are always welcome to share your thoughts here..

    ReplyDelete
  72. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  73. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  74. If you would like to continue with your practice of morning and evening prayers to the Gohonzon, after taking time away from or completely cutting ties with the SGI or Nichiren Shoshu, please consider adapting the Silent Prayers available through the following link: https://sites.google.com/site/buddhistrealism/


    This site is focused exclusively on "secular" versions of the Silent Prayers. If you are not familiar with "Secular Buddhism," here is a link to a site that explains the movement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_Buddhism

    ReplyDelete
  75. Really John, the DaiGohonzon has been successfully repudiated and why would anyone ever consider returning the slanderous cult or Nichiren Shoshu? Better to recite some passages of the Gosho and Lotus Sutra.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry Mark, there must be some misunderstanding. I don't know what it is about the Secular Silent Prayers that indicates obliviousness to the arguments against the validity of the Dai-Gohonzon or furthers fallacious arguments about it. As for the Lotus Sutra, the Silent Prayers are meant to be read in conjunction with reciting from the 2nd and 16th Chapters. And I have no problem with reciting from the Gosho, but it has been my understanding that the chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, reciting from the Lotus Sutra, and focusing on the Gohonzon is a practice that essentially does that same thing.

      Also, I had no idea that the Secular Silent Prayers could be interpreted so as to encourage anyone to return to the SGI or Nichiren Shoshu. My intention is to help people continue with the practice, if they choose, so that they might obtain supreme enlightenment. I am practicing independently and hope others do as well, but everyone is different. There are some people who are very attached to their respective organizations. It may take them some time to adjust, but I was hoping these prayers might help them adjust, see their situations more clearly, and overcome their suffering.

      Secularization is here to stay and will only expand. If it can expand within the SGI and Nichiren Shoshu, that would be a good thing. I'm not optimistic, however, about this happening in either organization anytime soon. But for anyone who would like to begin a more rational approach to their practice, these Silent Prayers offer an easy fix.

      I believe we may be able to come to an understanding about this, but I don't know if posting back and forth about it here is the best way to do that. Your blog seems pretty focused on the post-SGI venting stage and, judging from your reaction, I would not want to disrupt it further.

      Delete
  76. you are so wrong and probably so unhappy!

    ReplyDelete
  77. I am unhappy and may be wrong, but I do not consider your comment as a refutation of what I have proposed.

    ReplyDelete
  78. "after taking time away from", indicates a return to. Something I find untenable. As far as silent prayers, no where does Nichiren advocate such a practice and therefore i suggest all prayers should be recited out loud. I also suggest that rather than promoting prayers formulated from arbitrary sources [ie: the mind of the common mortal], our prayers should derive from the Lotus Sutra and Gosho [the mind of the Buddha]. Citing "DaiGohonzon", referring to the Ita Mandala, in the prayers, for example, immediately discounts the prayers as valid.

    Similarly, by discounting the literal, ie: a bodily reading of the Sutra, you diminish the very real actions and accomplishments of the founders, Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin who lived the very words of the Sutra. I cite the following as proof:

    What are some of the benefits of having faith in the Lotus Sutra? Parking Spaces? No. When we receive merits from Lord Shakyamuni Buddha we receive the merits needed to become a Buddha. In the Lotus Sutra Chapter Twenty-five, The Universal Gate of Kanzeon Bosatsu Fumonbon, we learn through fantastic imagery the promises of benefits that we inherit from Kannon or Kanzeon Bosatsu, literally, He Who Observes the Sounds of the World Bodhisattva. The Buddha describes the perils from which Avalokitesvara will save the people who have faith in the Lotus Sutra and these perils are repeated in the verse section [although they do not exactly match those in the prose section]. Please note how Nichiren Daishonin validates the Lotus Sutra by living the promises of the Sutra

    Those who have faith in the Lotus Sutra and Lord Shakyamuni Buddha, in the following situations will be free from harm like Nichiren who lived nearly every line of the Lotus Sutra literally:

    PROSE SECTION

    1. If a man falls into a great fire, he will not burn. [unlike High Priest Nikkyo of the Nichiren Shoshu]

    2. If he is carried away by a great wave, he will find a shallow place. [exactly as Nichiren Daishonin during the Izu exile]

    3. If he enters the sea in search of riches and a black wind carries the ship to the realm of the Rakushasa, he will be saved. [Nichiren Daishonin on his voyage to Sado]

    4. If he is about to be murdered, swords and weapons will break. [Nichiren Daishonin at Tatsunokuchi]

    5. If hordes of yakshas and Rakushasa try to do him harm, they will not even be able to see him. [Nichiren Daishonin as he escaped from Seichoji and Matsubagayatsu]

    6. Regardless of guilt, if he is in fetters or stocks, they will be broken. [Nichiro in prison]

    7. If he is full of lust, he will be cured of it. [Nichiren remained a true celibate priest throughout his life]

    8. If bandits find travelers with precious gems on a dangerous road, the travelers will be saved. [Nichiren Daishonin at Komatsubara]

    9. If full of anger, he will lose it. [Nichiren towards his faithful disciples]

    10. If full of folly, he will be cured of it. [Nichiren Daishonin having chanted the Nembutsu]

    11. If a woman wants a son, she will bear one.

    12. If a woman wants a daughter, she will bear one.

    continued...

    ReplyDelete

  79. VERSE SECTION

    1. If a man is pushed into a Pit of fire, the pit will turn into a pool. [Nichiren Daishonin's escape from his burning hut during the persecution at Matsubagayatsu,]

    2. If he is afloat on a great sea in which there are fish, dragons, and ghosts, waves will not drown him. [Izu exile]

    3. If he is pushed off the peak of Mount Sumeru, he will dwell in space like the sun. [Nichiren's (Sun Lotus') repeated exiles and banishments]

    4. If he is chased down a diamond mountain by an evil man, he will not be harmed. [Nichiren Daishonin's escape from Tojo Kagenobu on mount Kiyasumi]

    5. If he is surrounded by bandits waving swords, their thoughts will be transformed to kindly ones. [Tatsunokuchi persecution]

    6. If he faces execution, the executioner's sword will break. [Tatsunokuchi]

    7. If he is in a pillory with his hands and feet in stocks, he will gain release. [Nichiro]

    8. If someone harms him through spells, curses, or poisons, the victim can send them back to plague their authors. [A). Nichiren was given food laced with poison. Before he ate it, he laid it down on a tree stump. A dog came by, took a few bites, and became violently ill. B). Those who suffered untoward deaths for persecuting Nichiren Daishonin]

    9. If he encounters Rakushasa, dragons, or ghosts, they will not harm him. [Nichiren encountering evil men on a daily basis, many of whom became his disciples]

    10. If he is surrounded by beasts with sharp claws and teeth, they will flee.

    11. If confronted with snakes or insects breathing fire, the sound of one's voice will dispel them.

    12. If threatened with thunder, hail, or lightning, he will remain dry. [Nichiren in his many dilapidated huts].

    13. If one has misfortunes and troubles, one can be rescued. [Nichiren on a daily basis]

    14. If one’s destiny is the world of hells, ghosts, or beasts, it can be changed. [Nichiren, according to Nichiren himself, in the Opening of the Eyes, The Selection of the Time, and Letter from Sado, for example]

    15. The pains of birth, old age, sickness, and death can be alleviated. [Nichiren Daishonin as our example].

    16. Darkness will be dispelled by the light of wisdom, which also subdues winds and flames. [Nichiren Daishonin subduing the Mongols with the Great Wind]

    17. The agony of civil disputes on the battlefield will be avoided. [Komatubara persecution]

    In the verse section, perils thirteen through sixteen are written in a different form from the earlier ones and are more comprehensive and general.

    The seventeenth peril is written in the same manner as the earlier ones but contains two distinct perils, as does the sixteenth.

    Between the prose and the verse section's lists of dangers, is a question by Aksayamati Bodhisattva about how Kannon moves within the world. The Buddha replies that the bodhisattva takes many different forms, as does Fine Sound Bodhisattva, described in chapter twenty-four. Kannon (Avalokitesvara) can appear as a Buddha, pratyekabuddha, or Sravaka; as Brahma, Indra, Lsvara, Mahesvara, Mahesana, or Vairsavana; as a minor king, rich man, householder, official, Brahman, bhikshu, Bhikshsuni, upasaka, Upasaka, wife of a householder, wife of a rich man, wife of an official, wife of a Brahman, boy, or girl; or as a god, dragon, yaksha, gandharva, Asura, garuda, kinnara, mahoraga; as a human, nonhuman, or Vajrapani. Aksayamati then presents a necklace to Kannon, who accepts and divides it, giving one part to Prabhutaratna and the other to Sakyamuni. The chapter ends with a statement that eighty-four thousand of the assembly embarked on the path to enlightenment.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Although I disagree with your position, thank you for taking the time to express it.

    ReplyDelete
  81. I was a victim of the oganization for 7 years. It has taken so much time, money, and my health away from me, all for the promise of the shining "benefit" that actually never happens because spending your time chanting doesn't fix any of your daily problems. When I went through their internal "complaint" system, I unfortunately found out that the victim is considered the criminal and their voice is muzzled.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Anonymous - I am so sorry to hear you had to go through something like that. If you would like to communicate with someone on a more personal basis, I'm available.

    I'm more interested in your insight on the current condition of the SGI, than advancing my secular perspective on the practice. My email address is available through the above link to my website.

    If I don't hear back from you, please know that I hope you can put this experience behind - as soon as possible.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Oy! So much heavy stuff. I have been a member of the SGI for 11 years and have "drunk the kool-aid" a time or two. What I really want is to be able to breathe. Seriously, take a deep breath and celebrate my life instead of having to worry about losing my fortune (as I've been told would happen many times). My time with SGI has been reflective of my time in my own life, reflective of my karma. I have chanted for things that I wanted, and have gotten them. I have chanted for things I wanted and not gotten them. I have made "friends in faith" and realized that their devotion and affection in me was as a project, not a person. I have been shown great compassion by people who I didn't give a shit for. I have been sexually harassed (by an 80 year old woman, golden stage member!). It took a couple of years but finally "leadership" addressed the issue. I had to fight for that to happen...but I did it. In my past it has happened before and I was unable to do so, so that's...um...good. I have been a leader and quit. My mother has died. My brother has died. My beloved friend in the practice has died. It is all so messy and so very human. I'm still here. I'm still fighting. I'm still laughing. I'm still me.
    Though I tease about things being heavy, I am grateful for all of the things I've read. I've nodded my head at both the criticisms of the SGI and the support. For me, it's all infinitely more complex than I could ever articulate. Horrible and beautiful, because it's gotten me here.

    ReplyDelete
  84. Practicing with the same faith as Nichiren, one encounters the Three Obstacles and Four Devils, naturally as the shadow follows the body. The faith and practice to realize Supreme and Perfect Enightenment is hard enough without the construct of a false teaching and bad spiritual friends. My advice is to get out while you still can in order to realize the fruit of Buddhahood.

    ReplyDelete
  85. also, there is no need to drink the kool-aid even once.

    ReplyDelete
  86. You all are awesome! 32 yrs.a member. Still chant. No more "activities". Instill guilt. Ikedaism is revolting. Ikeda teaching instead of Nichren. Sad. It's the best philosophy I still follow but higher ups exploit it for their own gain and power. Nichren must be screaming...

    ReplyDelete
  87. Good points Goose ikedaism is revolting, Nichiren is turning in his grave.

    ReplyDelete
  88. Interesting set of comments. I joined SGI late in life (47), have been a leader (district through region), have stepped down from leadership (over policy issues) and continue to see that certain directions the organization is moving in are likely to be less than constructive. In spite of all that I continue to practice and support local activities (it is still the only game in town and if I resigned I would need to invent something like it). We are a lay group and as such are prey to many of the problems that lay groups, no any group, are subject to. We select our leadership from a pool of human beings frequently not having the background, either in personal skills, leadership or doctrinal knowledge to accomplish the tasks allocated to them (anyone who thinks Kosen Rufu is easy hasn't done it). We frequently confuse the culture in which the organization was born with the "culture" of the organization. We are moving away from that confusion. In my 26 years of membership I have seen massive changes in this organization, some for good, some not so good. It is hard believe that those changes will not continue. Makiguchi founded SG on the pragmatism of John Dewey, and as we say "actual proof is the most important," which I take to mean, "if it is not working, discard it and try something else." I am sure that as we continue our personal revolutions we will also see that reflected in the SGI, how could it be otherwise? One last point: I don't recognize the organization some of you describe. I have only practiced here in the hinter lands. My son moved to a different part of the country for many years and had to give up his engagement with the organization due to difficulties with local leadership. He has recently moved home and resumed organizational activities. He tells me the atmosphere here is very different then the one he had encountered. The "culture" of the local organization is very much dependent on people who lead it. The way to change that culture is to take ownership, responsibility and work to change it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suggest that if you feel SGI is the only game in town you have failed to study the depths of the teachings. Why settle for rubble when you can possess gold? You can spread the teachings in the same manner as Nichiren Daishonin and join the organization of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth without the baggage of SGI. It will take courage, insight, and a radical change in your flawed thinking.

      Delete
  89. Ashley Hartman: "They always told us if we were good people and if we did good things our after lif would be fruitful. I did end up years later practicing SGI as well although, I had then, and still do have an interest in other practices around the world."

    1). This is pure provisional Buddhism...."I have made bad causes since the beginningless past and in order to secure a bright future I have to make infinite good causes from now until the far distant future.
    2). Since you uphold such an erroneous view, I assert that you have little to contribute to the understanding of Nichiren Daishonin's Lotus Sutra Buddhism and therefore should not call yourself a Nichiren Buddhist.

    ReplyDelete
  90. Hi Mark and Lisa. Thank you for publishing this. I have been tentatively trying to practice Buddhism since 2008, and this grew into discovering Nichiren Buddhism and chanting since 2012. My experiences with SGI have been very limited mostly due to the fact that I have been based in places where they have had limited presence. I've really only had one direct contact with the organization, and then some interaction with members. However, after reading this article a lot of small things clicked into place, things that didn't sit quite right about those past experiences. Most recently, the person who introduced me to Nichiren Buddhism has been saying that if I don't attend SGI meetings or try to convert people, that I am not really practicing Nichiren Buddhism correctly, and this could even be the reason for not getting what I might want in life. This really bothered me on a spiritual level.... Because of your article, I think now that I will stay clear of SGI.

    Mark, I started reading through the comments (not too much haha) and noticed that you'd offered to email a copy of "The Gohonzon for the Transmission of the Dharma" to this other person. Can you please tell me how to email you so I may also get a copy?

    BTW that was another thing that didn't sit right. Receiving the Gohonzon from SGI as a pledge of allegiance...

    ReplyDelete
  91. Please e-mail me @ illarraza@yahoo.com. Tell me about yourself, your practice, your altar, and sign one or both of the Declarations of Faith and I may send you a beautiful Gohonzon in a virtually indestructible frame.

    ReplyDelete
  92. Please e-mail me @ illarraza@yahoo.com. Tell me about yourself, your practice, your altar, and sign one or both of the Declarations of Faith and I may send you a beautiful Gohonzon in a virtually indestructible frame.

    ReplyDelete
  93. Wonderful article and furthermore reading comments from people following their instincts rather than the group pressure and tricks used to keep people on Ikeda's plantation provides hope that more members will develop the courage to exit Gakkai.

    I was once a member who out of natural curiosity sought out the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren writings and opening up mainstream Buddhism and the myriad of sects and schools of thought. SGI's Ikedaism cannot withstand the wealth of information when viewing it from a sincere perspective free of shame or guilt that is drilled into people's heads. SGI's defense against a member opening up greater understanding is through group pressure rallying around books and articles that view Nichiren and the Lotus Sutra through the corporate lens of Ikeda and company.

    Reducing the Lotus Sutra to "its about the heart"and other painfully simple abstract concepts..creating a blocking pass from a trend of discovery free of the Gakkai intellectual leash. They don't want members freely accessing non organizational publications and research materials, let alone craft different interpretations at district meetings. Leadership obtained their own private study videos from headquarters to control the study narrative at meetings in which to control the content.


    What's most profound is Nichiren's writings if viewed with a clear head, go directly against the grain of SGI. Deepening one's understanding of Buddhism will set one naturally on a journey away from the stifling feudalistic confines of the SGI. The great fear for many beyond punishment and retribution by the law for leaving the SGI (Absurd nonsense) is losing friends, community and practicing alone. The greater fear is feeling used and discovering that the network was largely artificial and the result of pressures to conform.

    Leaving and ignoring the constant pleas to return, emails and holiday cards going on over 2 years, with mailed materials after returning the gohonzon, which by the way isn't a kami worship object (shinto practice) but an object representing the ceremony in air where one can in a timeless way enter and make a vow...not obtain things like a beggar kicking a vending machine....anyways, SGI knows it's seductive element for members who have left...the community and will continue to show interest.

    Which leads to practicing alone. For some a desperate proposition. Many stay in the SGI for Sangha or fellowship even if rejecting the ideology. This is no different than a slave remaining on a plantation doing very little work while knowing of a hole in the fence. Not trying to help others break out or liberating oneself.

    In total, there is nothing sweeter than developing a sincere, integrity filled practice with a Nichiren Gohonzon (google they can be downloaded across the net) and study the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren free from the Ikeda-esque perspective. A whole world of Buddhist thought opens up and one's practice becomes golden. Not the frenzied Gakkai Marching fanaticism, but the ageless and serene connection and deepening. Of course once a personal practice deepens and ripens, it's only natural to share with others in an organic way, purposely focused on the key content...Buddhism, not all of the noise hammering on about "organization, Ikeda and legacy of the presidents", things that have little relation to the beauty of the Lotus Sutra.

    Have no fear, wonderful things await those that seek the unfiltered and pure relationship of themselves, their Gohonzon, the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren's writings, free to study all of Buddhism to gain greater perspective and sense of it all...the fears will evaporate in a timely way. Appreciation and patience will deepen. A practice that has been perfectly crafted for your own pace, in your own organic way. Not some template in which the speed is dictated by people who want your energy for their purposes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, beautifully said, thanks for sharing

      Delete
    2. You're Welcome.

      Delete
  94. To add: Regarding Ikeda's "hundreds of honorary degrees" google Rev. Moon of the Unification Church and his hundreds of honorary degrees, many coming from the same South American universities...

    Yeah, SGI is the Japanese version of the Unification Church. Both bizarre creations piggy backing on traditional long standing religious systems, twisted to promote personality worship and grandiose ideology in a manic footprint based on "save the world only through us" mantras.

    ReplyDelete
  95. Congratulations, it's very rare we see criticism for his religion on the Web; even it seems that it is really a positive religion.
    But it is not!
    It is a religion that expects us to do beautiful things, we pretend to be happy just to converncer others that SGI is the only hope of mankind.
    They wanna Convinced people que only there anyone can find happiness.
    They say they know everything about the human being, but it is a lie, they can not cope with the problems if you tell one to Them.

    ReplyDelete
  96. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  97. If you want to become enlightened ,practice Zen! practice mindfulness and become familiar with the writings of Pema Chodron ! there is a reason all compassionate and serious buddhist refer to SGI and NST as "Mc Buddhism". A EX MEMBER OF BOTH SIDE OF THE MEANINGLESS CONFLICT!

    ReplyDelete
  98. you got one thing right, HOBOdisatva. You threw out the baby with the bath water and now cuddle a mutant called Zen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well there you go, it doesn't matter if you are in the SGI or the NST or the Hokeko , ALL and I mean ALL you nichiren "buddhist are the same , everyone else is wrong , everyone else is going to suffer in the hell of there karma only you nichiren B. are going to be enlightened . Well Bullshit ! you all have the arrogance of fucking Catholics and the sense of humor of Jahovah witnesses . you know nothing about Buddhism, if you did you would quit that awful nichiren sect !

      Delete
    2. Spot-on mate!

      "you all have the arrogance of fucking Catholics and the sense of humor of Jahovah witnesses"

      So true!!

      Delete
  99. my opinion on these issues are only one; all religions have errors in their doctrines, but not in its essence, is wrong every religious thread that says that their religion is the only true and that people depend on it for salvation.
    I can create a very different Buddhism, it is not wrong, wrong is if I say that it is only true religion, the only one that leads to salvation, it is a religion that I may have created.
    The same thing happens in Christianity; people say to have the truth and only they will be saved, others will be condemned; It is a lie.
    If they follow what is written in fact, it would be very different, and there is the fact that Buddha or Christ taught was a bit lost, and some texts may be altered in the past....I think that wrong are those people saying to the world to obey them no matter what....

    ReplyDelete
  100. Double sorry. One need only open their eyes and take a look at the state of the world under the predominant prevailing religions to know that they are false. One need only open their eyes and take a look at the sublime Dharma of the Lotus Flower Sutra and its non-violent practitioners to realize its superiority over the Bible and Q'uran.

    ReplyDelete
  101. You can't repeat yourself ad infinitum Anonymous. For anyone interested in responses to Anonymous, see http://markrogow.blogspot.com/2016/04/sgis-bizarre-meaning-of-extortion.html?showComment=1460381436626#c7098594679979534153

    ReplyDelete
  102. In my 3 yrs of Nichiren Buddhism practice, no one has forced me into anything. I got my gohonzon after 1yr and i initiated it myself, no one told me to. There is no supreme leader here and all are equal. I have attended numerous discussions meetings, study meetings and only benefited from them. I am not sure what many of the "critiques" of this practice experienced but its not Nichiren Buddhism.

    ReplyDelete
  103. We have literally hundreds of man year experiences with the Soka Gakkai. Careful anonymous. Too much koolad is bad for your health.

    ReplyDelete
  104. OOOOOHHHHHHHH. i'm sooooooooooooo scared..........we are responding to this post and we're going to break it down piece by piece. coming to a theater near you. There is nothing scholarly about this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps not scholarly but for the most part true.

      Delete
  105. I have written a complete refutation of this article. Your blog doesn't allow me to enter it. Please forward me an email to send to. thanks

    ReplyDelete
  106. How come you could enter your above statement but couldn't enter your "complete refutation"? Anyway, I'll look it over. My email is illarraza@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  107. "We" are responding to this post. Who is "we", SGi Headquarters? This should be fun.

    ReplyDelete
  108. Still waiting for your complete refutation. I will post it in full along with [presumably] a rebuttal.

    ReplyDelete
  109. What kind of Buddhism does you friend practice?

    ReplyDelete
  110. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  111. She is Soka Gakkai. She is in a cult. SGI's thought control and brainwashing techniques are formidable. You can refer yur friend here and on Reddit SGI Whistleblowers... https://www.reddit.com/r/sgiwhistleblowers/

    ReplyDelete
  112. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  113. Nichiren teaches:

    "If someone is about to kill your father and mother, shouldn’t you try to warn them? If a bad son who is insane with drink is threatening to kill his father and mother, shouldn’t you try to stop him? If some evil person is about to set fire to the temples and pagodas, shouldn’t you try to stop him? If your only child is gravely ill, shouldn’t you try to cure him or her with moxibustion treatment? To fail to do so is to act like those people who see but do not try to put a stop to the Zen and Nembutsu followers in Japan. [As Chang-an says,] “If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct him, one is in fact his enemy.”

    ReplyDelete
  114. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  115. SGI is a Cult
    CRITERIA in claims of an organization representing the characteristics of a cult - Many academics and observers of cult phenomena, such as psychologist Philip G.Zimbardo of Stanford, agree on four criteria to define a cult. The first is BEHAVIORAL CONTROL, i.e., monitoring of where you go and what you do. The second is INFORMATION CONTROL, such as discouraging members from reading criticism of the group. The third is THOUGHT CONTROL, placing sharp limits on doctrinal questioning. The fourth is EMOTIONAL CONTROL -- using humiliation or guilt. Yet at times these traits can also be detected within mainstream faiths. So I would add two more categories: financial control and extreme leadership.

    Authoritarian leadership, deception and destructive mind control
    SHOW YOUR EVIDENCE!
    are the main ingredients in a cult, and SGI fits the bill. That may strike some as an unkind or unfair assertion, but I plan to back it up with examples and explanation.

    BACK IT UP WITH EVIDENCE NOT EMOTIONAL EXAMPLES AND EXPLANATIONS

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Authoritarian leadership, deception and destructive mind control are the main ingredients in a cult, and SGI fits the bill. That may strike some as an unkind or unfair assertion, but I plan to back it up with examples and explanation.

      "SHOW YOUR EVIDENCE!"

      Are you blind?

      BACK IT UP WITH EVIDENCE NOT EMOTIONAL EXAMPLES AND EXPLANATIONS

      Chanting, one day to the Nikken or Nittatsu Gohonzon and the next day [by authoritarian proclamation] exchanging these Gohonzons for the Nichikan Gohozon. Reciting the Sutra 5 times in the morning and 3 times in the evening and the next day [by authoritarian proclamation] everyone without a single exception, reciting the sutra once in the morning and once in the evening.

      Similarly, changing the silent prayers at the President's pleasure.

      There was no diialogue or discussions regarding these significant changes to the faith and practice... They were all changed by the authority vested in Daisaku Ikeda.

      In 1966, the SGI by-laws [which remain in effect] were further changed so that:
      - The president is also the “official representative” of the Gakkai.
      - He is manager of all its affairs.
      - He has the power to convoke the Leaders Meeting (of all 21 responsible officials).
      - He appoints and dismisses all the other responsible officials.
      - He appoints and dismisses all the vice-general directors, the directors and all “other necessary officials.”
      - He holds office for life.
      - He chooses his own successor.

      RESULTS OF THE SPECIAL ZAIMU CAMPAIGN:
      MEMO # CJT-69
      DISTRIBUTE TO - TERR/HQ
      INFORM TO - HQ CHIEFS
      MEMORANDUM TO ALL TERRITORY AND HQ CHIEFS
      FROM CHICAGO JOINT TERRITORY OFFICE
      DATE: OCTOBER 9, 1989
      SPECIAL CONTRIBUTION WEEKLY REPORT - AS OF 10-8-89

      CHICAGO TERR 1 -------------$106,821.87
      " " 2-------------$39,132.89
      " " 3-------------$128,991.81
      " " 4-------------$240,519.73
      Heartland terr.--------------------$111,964.62
      Tennessee Terr-------------------$51,102.06
      ---------------------------------------------------------
      $678,514.98

      We are at 1/3 of our goal at this point. This month, October is the originally scheduled month for the Special Contribution, and we have to do our VERY BEST! [sic] The most important point is "Promotion of Significance." There are so many members to reach and explain this historic campaign.

      $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

      The Ikeda auditorium in Chicago was never built.

      Chinberg responds: The new Chicago Culture Center was built instead, Craig.

      Response:

      AT A COST OF 1/5 OF THE 3.5 MILLION COLLECTED. What happened to the other 2.8 Million?

      The members who dared ask the question "Where'd all the money go?" were sent personal letters of expulsion via certified mail. Six in all.

      The list goes on and on. Son thoroughly trounced are you on this one point

      Delete
    2. Anonymous, since you were so easily and thoroughly refuted on the one point, "authoritarian leadership", why would you think you would fare any better with your other false and irrational statements defending the indefensible SGI cult? Why should I allow the rest of your shallow and easily refuted rebuttal to be published.

      Delete
    3. The bright mirror of the Lotus Sutra and Gosho illuminates the darkness of SGI. SGI members are the last to know about changes in SGI doctrines and practices. It is very bizarre that when others have known for years about the direction to which they were going, they denied each and every change with every fiber of their being. But once the changes are affirmed by their Sensei, they not only readily accept and laud the changes but state that there are no changes, we have always believed thus. It is actual proof [that SGI is a cult] their lack of awareness.

      Delete
  116. You are a fool Anonymous:

    What kind of training????

    that made us dependent on the SGI, and we faithfully passed this training on to others.

    AGAIN WHAT TRAINING????????????????????

    Pick a season fool...Spring, Autumn and Summer training courses, SGI Cambodia-Laos-Thailand Youth Training Course, SGI Russia Youth Training Course,and dozens more. Al these courses designed to strengthen the bond of mentor and disciple through thought control and subtle brainwashing.

    You either think that we are stupid or you are stupid and uninformed.

    ReplyDelete
  117. More lies from Anonymous...

    INCORRECT, WE’RE ALL SENIORS IN FAITH…. HELLLOOOOOOOO!!!!!

    What are you Anonymous, a Group Chief? A YMD District Chief? When you go for guidance do you go to your Junior Group Chief or to your seniors in faith, a Chapter, Territory, or Zone Chief [more proof of the authoritarian nature of SGI]?

    ReplyDelete
  118. Anonymous, you may falsely believe that you can refute the votaries of the Lotus Sutra, but this unrealizeable idea of yours is nothing but a dream within a dream. I don't even really care if this is the definitive analysis on why the SGI is a cult. Let us debate the following and not only will I publish the results but will post them in the body of the blog:

    1). The identity and significance of the Original Eternal Buddha

    2.) The nature of the Master/Disciple relationship in Nichiren Buddhism

    3.) The significance of the Gohonzon

    4.) The significance of the Lotus Sutra (Myoho renge kyo).

    5.) The true meaning of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra.

    6.) The true meaning of the Nichiren Faith

    7.) Shakabuku versus Shoju in the Degenerate Age

    Spreading Myoho or The Wonderful Law is the whole purpose of Buddhism. Is that what the SGI spreads? Nichiren Daishonin writes:

    "The Lotus Sutra states, “Medicine King, now I say to you, I have preached various sutras, and among those sutras the Lotus is the foremost!” Here the Buddha is referring to all the teachings that he has expounded and stating that among these the Lotus ranks in first place. The Buddha’s preaching and the writings of the Great Teacher Kobo are as much at variance with each other as are fire and water. We should investigate and clarify this matter."

    Since the SGI's teachings are as much at variance with the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Daishonin as was Kobo's, that which the SGI spreads can hardly be called Myoho. The real delusion is denying the importance of a correct faith and doctrine.

    ReplyDelete