Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Rokushu » Fri May 09, 2014 11:33 am

Oh Illarraza, somebody on another thread said you are a member of Kempon Hokke Shu and you could tell me about this group, are you a priest? Please do tell, what are your teachings? Who are some famous enlightened masters in your school? If someone practices Dharma according to KHS, can they attain enlightenment quickly? I'd appreciate any response, thanks so much!
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby illarraza » Mon May 12, 2014 3:08 am

Rokushu wrote:Oh Illarraza, somebody on another thread said you are a member of Kempon Hokke Shu and you could tell me about this group, are you a priest? Please do tell, what are your teachings? Who are some famous enlightened masters in your school? If someone practices Dharma according to KHS, can they attain enlightenment quickly? I'd appreciate any response, thanks so much!


Thank you for your questions. I was a member of the Kempon Hokke and I still follow the teachings of Nichiju, the founder of the Kempon Hokke [The Succession Through the Scrolls of the Sutra and Writings of Nichiren, and no one sole heir apparent] and I admire the martyr Nikkyo and his followers who was thrown out of the Kempon Hokke and then "rehabilitated" after 150 yrears. I'm not a priest but I perceive myself as akin to a lay priest or a nominal bhikkshu. My masters are The Master of Teachings Lord Shakya of the Original Doctrine and Nichiren Daishonin. If you have faith in and practice the Lotus Sutra as taught by Nichiren, you will obtain Buddhahood quickly.

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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Osho » Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:46 pm

Rokushu wrote:If Dogen were alive today, would he teach Zazen "just sitting", or maybe join Kempon Hokke Shu and become a zealous follower? Guess it depends on who you ask. So funny to think about!


WWDD?

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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Queequeg » Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:16 pm

Nameless wrote
I have heard that the SGI in Japan is falling apart and faction-izing, I do not know whats going on in Japan, sounds like it could be worse.


I'm not sure where you heard this... maybe from me? The threat of fracture was about 25-30 years ago. If you're really interested, go to the Nanzan University Journal of Japanese Religions archive. There are some very informative articles there about some of the disputes over the decades by scholars. That doesn't mean you will get unbiased accounts, but its certainly much better than most of the sensational nonsense you find on the internet.

Some people know my background, but for those who don't, this is probably important to know where I am coming from in offering the opinions below - I was 3rd generation Soka Gakkai and grew up in NSA/SGI-USA. I quit for good about 7 years ago for two reasons - I don't agree with their doctrines and maybe more critically, I can't stand the culture they have developed in SGI-USA. If I was in Japan, I might not have quit. I have been practicing mostly independently with a loose association with some priests of the Kitayama lineage since.

I'm not current on what's happening with Soka Gakkai in Japan, but I would not say that Soka Gakkai is falling apart. Not at all. Their political party is once again part of the ruling coalition. When you turn on the TV, you will regularly see commercials advertising the organization - I would compare it to the ad campaigns the Mormons run in the United States. They don't mention anything about religion, let alone Buddhism, but make you feel warm and fuzzy and good about yourself.

I would say that they've matured into a significant cog in the establishment. Speaking to non-SG friends in Japan, the bad reputation is softening, especially as Japanese see that Soka Gakkai's political party propels a center-right, pacifist agenda, with a strong tendency to social safety net programs and quality of life. To the extent that there might be factions, they've achieved a stability and sense of permanence that they can accommodate differing opinions. But keep in mind - its Japan, and dissent generally looks very different than in the US or the West in general. Dissent is subtle - more like people dragging their feet and refusing to agree, insisting on further discussion on points of disagreement. They deeply revere Ikeda, but not in the abstract way he is conceived outside of Japan. He's out of public view, but he's still a flesh and blood person that many in Soka Gakkai have a real personal relationship with - if not directly, then through a family member or close friend or associate.

We are all terrible. I am not overly smart and I do not have any solutions other than senior members need to realize that they should put aside hissy fits from yesteryear because its all nonsense now, those days are over.


The nonsense stops with us if we want it to. Do a little Jesus martyrdom - let the sins die with us.
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:32 pm

Queequeg wrote:I'm not sure where you heard this...

I want to say I heard it from Rev. Ryuei....however the neural pathways are hella rusty. something from months ago.

Queequeg wrote:The nonsense stops with us if we want it to. Do a little Jesus martyrdom - let the sins die with us.

Sometimes I wonder if people want it to....
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby JonJay » Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:00 am

Yes, this is one of the reasons I left SGI recently. I joined almost three years ago because it was the only "buddhist" sect in my area. I enjoyed it at first because of the diverse membership, the stress that was put on studying, and the teachings regarding persoanl responsibility.
The local members are great, and caring individuals. But the more I delved into the SGI history, and found quotes from President Toda about all religions being the enemies of Soka Gakkai, the continuous focus on a person (Ikeda) rather than the law, the non-disclosure of SGI-USA finances, etc. I just could not take it anymore. It was just getting too "culty" for my taste.
I understand that the SGI has helped many members and has many good qualities. I harbor no ill will. I have even met recently with the area leaders to discuss the reasons I decided to leave. All have been friendly conversations. I still consider them good people.
However, having studied further, I have come to the conclusion (although I'm always learning) that the Lotus Sutra has to be considered within its academic context. It was likely compiled long after the Buddha's time, by Mahayana devotees to defend their teachings.While it should be considered a valuable sutra, I don't believe at is necessarily THE sutra. I prefer to study with Tibetan Buddhists in a more traditional teaching. I like the sutra studies, the meditation practice, etc.
I'm still on the fence about rebirth, prophecies, and some of the esoteric teachings. But I prefer to concentrate on the practices designed to relieve suffering and attain Buddhahood in our lifetime. For me, this is the important point of Buddhism. I'm really not big on "doctrinal" issues. I think this is a really great philosophy, and one that can propel us into the next century. If human wisdom can advance on a par with technological achievement, we will all be better off.
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Masaru » Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:43 am

JonJay wrote:Yes, this is one of the reasons I left SGI recently. I joined almost three years ago because it was the only "buddhist" sect in my area. I enjoyed it at first because of the diverse membership, the stress that was put on studying, and the teachings regarding persoanl responsibility.
The local members are great, and caring individuals. But the more I delved into the SGI history, and found quotes from President Toda about all religions being the enemies of Soka Gakkai, the continuous focus on a person (Ikeda) rather than the law, the non-disclosure of SGI-USA finances, etc. I just could not take it anymore. It was just getting too "culty" for my taste.
I understand that the SGI has helped many members and has many good qualities. I harbor no ill will. I have even met recently with the area leaders to discuss the reasons I decided to leave. All have been friendly conversations. I still consider them good people.
However, having studied further, I have come to the conclusion (although I'm always learning) that the Lotus Sutra has to be considered within its academic context. It was likely compiled long after the Buddha's time, by Mahayana devotees to defend their teachings.While it should be considered a valuable sutra, I don't believe at is necessarily THE sutra. I prefer to study with Tibetan Buddhists in a more traditional teaching. I like the sutra studies, the meditation practice, etc.
I'm still on the fence about rebirth, prophecies, and some of the esoteric teachings. But I prefer to concentrate on the practices designed to relieve suffering and attain Buddhahood in our lifetime. For me, this is the important point of Buddhism. I'm really not big on "doctrinal" issues. I think this is a really great philosophy, and one that can propel us into the next century. If human wisdom can advance on a par with technological achievement, we will all be better off.


One of the things I've thought about a bit lately is the degree that Nichiren placed the Lotus Sutra in a primary position due to his extensive research of sources of the time that presented the Lotus as being a teaching, however figurative in its semiotics, that originated from the historical Buddha. (It's entirely possible that he suspected otherwise and didn't care - that his reforms needed expedients to carry out a desired objective of unifying Buddhism and the nation - but that's a big conjecture to make.) Our best scholarship now tells us that the Lotus Sutra was compiled centuries after the Buddha's lifetime and that there are differences in the existing Chinese translations and versions found in different languages from earlier periods.

It seems that, at best, we can take the Lotus Sutra as a kind of commentary on the distilled, perennial import of the Buddha's teaching. This would maybe put the Lotus and other influential Mahayana sutras on the level of doctrinal interpretations communicated via very dense symbolism. Kind of like my BS post about why I chose Nichiren Buddhism over other forms of Buddhism. Almost none of the s### in that post ever happened, but it does actually communicate important aspects of my initial inspiration for choosing Buddhism as a religious practice. And the answer to the "why Nichiren" question did actually end in Killeen. Lol.

I admire Nichiren, so despite my current doubts or desire to take up another kind of practice or emphasis that fits my life and situation, lately I find myself thinking about how Nichiren was wrong about certain things as an imperfect mortal and what that means to my practice in the here and now. Ultimately, I think that's where a lot of "Independents" end up. When I look at these kind of scriptures, I see the work of people who were good at essentially using the skill toolkit of suggestion and manipulation to communicate the gist of complex ideas to people unlikely to understand the technical minutiae of their teachings. The Lotus seems to be "this is what we think the Buddha ultimately meant," as presented by its ancient authors and later embedded commentary. Then the rest of our tradition goes from there.

SGI seems to accept that the Lotus is one part of an evolving tradition of ever more clearly refined religious truth, and I can accept and agree with that. It's just their Nippon-centric, Ikeda messianism that is too much wasabi for my palate.

One idea I've been mulling over though is that Buddhism was ultimately a kind of art and science. The Buddha rejected things from his native tradition that he thought to be superstition and used what he viewed as the best contemporaneous understanding of the world to explain his inner transformation and bring about that transformation in others. But what we also have a record of is the Buddha changing his teaching in various ways according to the people he taught in order to achieve a desired result. If Gautama was alive today, I imagine he'd have delved deeply into the sciences and yet still use a lot of religious metaphor for some, or many people.
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:46 pm

Before people had the Sutras, they had Shakyamuni in person. Someone (Madgulyayana?) after his death and after the compiling of the sutras said something like "its good that we have the sutras, but for me I will always remember the Buddha as an example".

As far as authenticity, the Lotus is in the exact same position as the Pali canon, or more importantly, the Pali canon is in the same position as the LS, ditto for the other sutras.
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Masaru » Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:29 pm

Myoho-Nameless wrote:Before people had the Sutras, they had Shakyamuni in person. Someone (Madgulyayana?) after his death and after the compiling of the sutras said something like "its good that we have the sutras, but for me I will always remember the Buddha as an example".

As far as authenticity, the Lotus is in the exact same position as the Pali canon, or more importantly, the Pali canon is in the same position as the LS, ditto for the other sutras.


The canons used by the Mahayana and Theravada were both changed, but in different ways, and it's the quality of the changes made in the Mahayana that give me pause. Mahayana sutras represent a tradition focused on common people, and so feature more mythological symbolism. They also passed through China, where commentary and scripture was often given equal weight, and where it appears that the Lotus and other Sutras were altered by embedded commentary. It also gives me pause that Mahayanists reinterpreted the admonition to follow sutras that are "complete and final" to mean "Mahayana" rather than "unaltered in content.

What are we getting with the Lotus sutra?" Is it "wrong" or "false?" It certainly doesn't contain, in any surviving form, any word ever uttered by the historical Buddha, that much is certain. To what extent is it faithful in communicating a profound teaching (1) from the Buddha or (2) about Buddhism? Moving in either direction gives us reason to hearken still to this inspiring, and maybe "inspired," document. But neither leaves much ground for Nichiren's arguments about the supremacy of the Lotus.

SGI has it's answer to the questions and dilemmas that arise from these considerations, and that answer is mentor-&-disciple "Ikedaism." Illaraza has his personal answer; it's what I teasingly but respectfully will call "righteous copypasta-ism." Queequeg, from what I can tell, seems to still be developing in his understanding of what implications the Sutra's history has on his faith, generally falling on the idea that "all truth is Buddhavacana," or something like that. To an extent, I'm just sort of venting my thoughts here, but in another sense I'm bringing this up because I see that this newly released Lotus seed from the SGI greenhouse will come up against this question too if they stay with this tradition.

I can't discount the practice because by internalizing it I have seen significant positive changes in my life. I've also experienced other, less positive things, some self-created and some aided by the influence of superstition. So I have to consider in what sense the Lotus sutra is true, and in what sense is it simply metaphorical? What is that metaphor saying, and thus, what are we upholding and what is it asking us to bulwark against to protect this profound "something?" The Nichiren practice seems simple enough with just chanting and making good causes, but we're also admonished to spread and protect the teaching. Not only do I consider that admonition a significant and even an unavoidable part of correct practice, but sometimes a tall order to uphold.

The appearance of the treasure tower seems to admonish us to always follow and uphold the highest truth as great people in history have always done, but it also puts the votary in a class of people that is constantly reviled. But if I told you to live to the fullest and then told you a story like the experience I posted, what would you think?
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
-- The Hagakure

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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:54 pm

When I say "authenticity" in relation to the sutras, I mean that we have just as much reason to believe the Buddha spoke the Pali cannon as we do the LS. Which is none, other than people have said he said it. I too have some "negative push back" in my Buddhistness recently, Buddhism and those things we discussed briefly on the other forum before it asspl0ded are not always easy to reconcile, human beings have had so much built upon idealist notions and when you have to be honest with yourself and they fall apart what then? I suppose I am with (your understanding of) Queequeg's view that "if its true, its Buddhism". I guess we are lazy, we don't stuck to just writing our own scriptures, if its true, its ours. Yoink.

Well, I can't pull any actual quotations out of my head, but to my knowledge some discourses in even the Pali Cannon are actually attributed to people other than Shakyamuni, and after said discourses are given Sidh even said "I could not have put it better myself". He did not even consider himself a founder of a new religion, or sect, or order (other than the Sangha?). Buddhism then, perhaps should not be constrained to a series of teaching attributed to the historical Buddha. By his teachings people have been led to varying degrees of awakening, and they also wanted to teach people, and did so according to their ability and understanding, different from the historical Buddha, but the same perhaps as the eternal Buddha. I guess I see it like evolution, evolution is a tinkerer, not an inventor. it works with what it gets, new things are placed upon old things, when you move one of your fingers, actually the first thing to happen in your brain is a signal to move all of your fingers goes out, however some newer part of your brain fixes that so only one moves, because we had an ancestor who could not at all move only one finger. The idealist idea that all of this was said by the historical Buddha, that he established and taught everything we need to know about the Dharma and ergo we should only rely on what he actually can be said to have said, that is falling apart and this too is hard to reconcile for some people. But why? Think of it like science, there was not one person who handed us science. Newton was into alchemy and prophecy. Its not a perfect analogy because Sidh was likely not insane like that, but science is an evolving and changing entity.

of course people can also tell themselves that "the Buddha actually taught this", I think the honorable MarkP believed this, and they have just as much reason to believe that, as people believe the Pali Cannon came straight from the horse's mouth.
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Queequeg » Tue Jun 10, 2014 4:40 am

Fellas,
You're getting too good of an exchange to leave it sullied in this thread. I'm starting a new thread for this.
Not the moderator here, so... just going to cut and paste... :smile:
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Queequeg » Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:04 pm

From the Lotus Authenticity thread:

Me:
The problem is that Soka Gakkai took a fairly well developed form of Buddhism and then adapted it for modern Japanese. They then exported these crib notes abroad thinking they would work for people whose character and world view was forged in completely different historical conditions. The problem is, people outside Japan are not Japanese, and they have different sensibilities. SGI screws up because they try to take these crib notes and then adapt it to the local people. You're trying to idiosyncratically distort what is already distorted to meet the needs of non-Japanese.


dude:
I don't understand. What is the distortion? How was the teaching "adapted"?


Me:
I don't know your level of knowledge of Soka Gakkai doctrines or Nichiren doctrines, so I really don't know where to start. If you're really curious, a google search is a good place to start and will turn up plenty of material exploring all the ways Soka Gakkai is wrong. If you want more scholarly quality stuff, a good place to start is the Nanzan University Journal of Japanese Religions archives which are available online. It includes many articles from the 60s, 70s and 80s on Soka Gakkai. I guess we can start with this: in the late 40s or early 50s, Josei Toda got together with Hori Nichiko, the Abbot of Taisekiji, the head temple of the Nichiren Shoshu sect of Buddhism to formulate a daily practice for Soka Gakkai lay persons based on practices at Taisekiji. That practice was then marketed heavily as a magical formula to get you whatever your heart desired; to put more polish on it, they would talk about world peace through individual happiness, with happiness being very heavily defined by the materialism of the post-war period. They pretty much took the doctrine, Earthly Desires are Enlightenment (Bonnosokubodai) at face value and sold that to a populace recovering from the material and spiritual devastation of the Second World War. The two presidents, Toda, and then Ikeda, did a lot of interpreting of Nichiren's writings, as well as the Lotus Sutra, to arguably make it more relevant and accessible to modern Japanese. Some of it was arguably harmless. Some of it good. Some of it was, in my opinion, bad.

Beyond that, I'm not sure where to go. Happy to discuss.


Dude:
Can't open the Nanzan articles and other sources don't look promising. Let's start with bonno soku bodai.
In what way were the teachings distorted?


Me:
Its like I wrote above, people in Soka Gakkai tend to take that concept at face value and equate pursuit and fulfillment of their desires as Buddhist enlightenment.


Dude:
If they do, I would say their understanding of the principle is superficial at best.
Not getting what you want is one of the eight sufferings inherent in temporal existence.
Overcoming suffering is the purpose of Buddhist practice.
Changing karma isn't magic. It's cause and effect.


nichirenista:
This article, which unfortunately is now off limits to non-contributors, is an interview with Jacqueline Stone of Princeton. She says praying for material gains has a long history in Buddhism and strong basis in Buddhist scripture. She said that historically Buddhists in Asia have always viewed the fulfillment of spiritual and temporal needs as being on a continuum. http://www.tricycle.com/special-section ... line-stone
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Queequeg » Thu Jun 12, 2014 6:17 pm

This has always been the basic Soka Gakkai pitch:

Chant for anything. Short on money to pay the utility bills? Chant for it. Having problems with an abusive relationship? Chant about it. Want a shiny new car or beautiful spouse? Chant for one. Got cancer? Chant about it. Whatever the problem - the answer is chant to overcome it. Chanting will bring you absolute happiness.

The positive:

Soka Gakkai teaches Buddhism in a way that makes it directly relevant, applicable and effective in daily life, not just in some rarefied sacred space where you commune with super beings with golden light shooting out of their pores, or where you sit around waiting for the waves of reified thought to subside so that you can pay attention to the minutest detail of each bite of food and find yourself completely "in the moment". They go straight to the only point that matters: Buddha dharma is about your life, as it is lived in this churning samsaric world, embracing it all, ignoring none of it. I don't know of any Buddhist tradition, even within the Nichiren tradition, that so directly addresses Buddha Dharma to ordinary, daily life.

The problem is that in pursuing this practice, they often turn it into a discipline in service of our desires grounded in ignorance and delusion. In slightly technical Buddhist terms, there is a wide tendency to define Buddhist awakening according to the logic of the desire realm, and then applying that logic to guide the practice. This can be disastrous.

Nichiren would consider this slander. This is tantamount to reading the Lotus Sutra through the lens of a provisional teaching - and not even a Buddhist teaching, but the teaching of non-Buddhists who have not even transcended the realm of desire.

I was picking up my son at my parents' house yesterday, and there was an issue of "Living Buddhism", SGI-USA's monthly magazine on the table. I started flipping through it because I was curious. I can't remember the exact words, but on the inside of the front cover was a short blurb about the teachings SGI promotes. It was something along the lines that their teachings lead to absolute happiness. OK. "Absolute Happiness" is such a vague concept, it could mean any number of things. Maybe even Buddhist awakening, although its a stretch. They go on to distinguish circumstantial happiness and absolute happiness, and then associate absolute happiness with something like a fountain of "joy". A picture of people smiling happily was embedded in the article. Typical new-agey, self-help stock photography, although this one didn't indulge in soft focus and was nice and crisp.

I probably sound bitter, but there is a problem with framing the goal of Buddhist practice as aimed to "Absolute Happiness" accompanied by Joy. This does not accord with the descriptions of the Buddha's awakening in the Buddhist texts, which is, for all its flowery language, quite technical, especially when you get into abhidharmic-type minutiae.

In the Lotus and Mahaparinirvana Sutras, the Buddha is characterized by the inverse of the things that are said to be defects of existence, the defects being impermanence, defilement, no-self, and suffering, while the Buddha is characterized by Eternity, Purity, True-Self, and Bliss. It is not accompanied by "Joy". Joy and Bliss in technical terms are different characteristics. Joy is a passing experience, something associated in traditional Buddhist teachings with experiences in the desire realm and form realm. Its the rush of happiness on the realization of some degree of accomplishment, or in the case of sutras, joy accompanies the celebration on hearing a new teaching. But in the formless realm and in awakening, joy has fallen away in favor of stability in ever more profound states of awakening. In the Lotus Sutra, Joy is associated with one of the the initial stages of Lotus Sutra practice - ie. Responding with Joy on hearing the Lotus Sutra, the first of the five stages experienced by people who hear the Lotus Sutra after the Buddha's passing (Chapter 17). My impression is that after you first hear the Lotus Sutra and the message sinks in, joy is replaced by the seriousness of the long, arduous task ahead.

This sounds like a minor point, but this is extremely problematic when you are framing the entire practice as aimed toward establishing a state of consciousness accompanied with Joy, especially when emphasis is placed on pursuing and fulfilling desires - the joy from such base accomplishments are by definition, suffering. Aside from Hotei, the fat laughing "Buddha" who is actually not even really a Buddha, have you ever seen a Buddha image with anything more than the hint of a smile? There is a reason for this. Its because the state of the Buddha is something that is far beyond such temporary pleasant experiences as "joy".

The result is that in my years of practicing with Soka Gakkai, I met a lot of people who, because they were led to believe that "joy" should be accompanying the zenith of their practice, actually ended up vacillating in a sort manic-depressive cycle of "joy" and disappointment, exactly what the Buddha says happens when pursuing goals in the desire realm. Tragically, when the disappointment phase kicked in, people often gave up dharma practice.

I can see in SGI's carefully crafted literature these days, they have a more sober description of the goal of practice. Maybe they are starting to get it. I don't know. I hope they do.

For all Soka Gakkai's warts and shortcomings, in practical terms, they are one of the most advanced groups of Buddhists in terms of outreach to people who have no Buddhist background. They have the deep pocket resources and infrastructure, and organizational unity to be a tremendous engine for the propagation of Buddha Dharma. Their good intentions are there. Unfortunately, they are hampered by limited understanding of Buddhism, and I frankly don't see that being remedied any time soon as they are doubling down on the emphasis on only studying Ikeda.
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby nichirenista » Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:57 pm

As usual, Queequeg, a wonderful post. You've expressed my thoughts on SGI as well. I see that SGI does a lot of good and reaches people who aren't within the scope of most Buddhist organizations. (I've only been to a handful of SGI meetings, but I really appreciated the fact that, in the midst of a very "white" area, a significant portion of the people at the group were "of-color." You simply don't see that in most other Buddhist settings.) But that shiny stock photo look of their magazines, and their slogans, and the Ikeda worship, just doesn't sit with me....

On to the issue of chanting for material gains. I hope I'm not committing massive copyright violation by uploading the below passages from the book Essential Buddhism. Hopefully, this falls under "fair use" rights. I love the enclosed passages because they articulate something that I think is very important about chanting for material outcomes -- "At the very least it is not a passive activity." I also think that it's interesting that apparently chanting -- in all religious traditions -- corresponds to the rhythm of brain activity.

I should also mention something that I found surprising here. Apparently, the tradition of chanting for material outcomes is not only found in SGI. A few months ago, at the Nichiren Shu temple we were doing "Odaimoku Copying," which, of course, is copying the phrase "Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo." Actually, it was "tracing." We were handed a xeroxed pieces of paper, one that already had the Odaimoku written on it, and we were told to color in the Odaimoku. Then, at the bottom, were a few lines reserved for us to "write our wishes." We were told that we could write what we wished for, and then turn the sheets in to the priest and the priest would pray for our wishes to come true. Virtually the same thing that I've heard is found in SGI. The only difference, I believe, is that in Nichiren Shu there was the intermediary of the priest who prayed on our behalf.
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I do not engage in pointless criticism of people. As a published writer and a student of psychology, analysis and description of human behavior and interaction is what my life is about. And I naturally consider my posts to be positive contributions…. viewtopic.php?f=59&t=17045
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby matteo_gioia » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:55 am

Hallo all, I am an italian SGI member since 86 and I just discovered this forum, I want to thank anyone for all the comments, it's very difficult to find any 'unfitting' comments here in Italy.
I am in profound crisis with my faith towards SGI because what happened in the last 3 weeks in Japan:
- the government passed a law to 'reinterpret' the pacifist constitution, leaving full power to participate to any war where any 'ally' is attacked
- the Komeito party sustained the vote
- there is been none whatsoever detachment or sentence from SGI
This is what I've found searching internet to better understand the situation:
Ikeda is part of Club of Rome: http://www.clubofrome.org/Index.php?s=++Daisaku+Ikeda" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
they knew about this intent of changing the constitution at least since 2008:
http://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/08TOKYO284_a.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
they also supported the law to send money to US in the war of Iraq:
http://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/27/world ... -role.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
and again, none of SGI has commented on it
I feel all the commitment of SGI toward the spreading of Buddism is not for Kosenrufu but to gain power, money and maybe worst, help Agenda 21.
This explains, in my opinion, all the weird things I have seen in all these years I am been practicing regarding leaders with uncompassionate behavior, they are chosen not by the hart but by the obedience.
Just my 2 cents for the conversation.

Matteo Gioia
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby joybringer » Mon Aug 11, 2014 5:15 am

As a current Rissho Kosei Kai member and as a former SGI member who was actually a district leader in SGI I find some of the comments here from Buddhist unusual to say the least.

It was simple to me, I left NSA/SGI because I didn't feel it was appropriate to attack or rather physically confront the priesthood even if they did something wrong with which we disagreed with; and this is in fact what was done without my participation in New York City. In my opinion pointing out wrong doing and attacking others are two different things. In the former case of wrong doing a Buddhist must act and in the latter case the Buddha never advocated behavior such as attacking another.

For me the essential issues are how are we being more compassionate by having these dialogues and how are we spreading the dharma by engaging in criticism of another Buddhist sect like SGI? I can see of no canon doctrine or words attributed to the Buddha that advocate such behavior and if this is the case why are we doing it?



With deep thanks to all the posters.

Namaste
Gassho
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby dude » Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:25 am

Are you telling me that there was a physical confrontation between SGI members and Nichiren Shoshu priests in New York City?
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby joybringer » Tue Aug 12, 2014 11:31 am

dude wrote:Are you telling me that there was a physical confrontation between SGI members and Nichiren Shoshu priests in New York City?



Yes there was a incident where members of the Young Men's Division were sent to physically yell at and confront the local Priest in Queens New York.

I was deeply disturbed by the incident since I was in fact a YMD leader and I was specifically excluded from being told about going. I believe that they knew that I would have said we should or could speak to the local Priest but to yell at or act in a way to convey physical intimidation is wholly at odds with Buddhism. My seniors in faith tried to convince me it is was all for theatrics and to send a message. I knew however at that time in the organization you didn't send YMD to convey a message. We were a very aggressive group at that time and sending those young men to confront the priest in that manner was clearly seeking to create a situation or "incident" that could be used later as a rallying cry.

In any event soon thereafter I had to go to grad school and when I came back I had not been removed from my position but no one ever contacted me about any activity or function. No one. I did in fact visit the Cultural center in Manhattan New York on my own and the environment was one of suspicions about everyone. The center really had the feeling of an armed camp. In any event that was my last significant experience though in order to support friends in SGI I did go to the center many years later and the members seemed very happy and the energy I felt earlier had seemed to dissipate.

The major change I see now from a distance is that almost everything is centered around President Ikeda's pronouncements and elucidation of Buddhism as opposed to a focus on Nichiren Daishonin as seen through the eyes of the understanding of the priesthood.

Namaste
Gassho
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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Masaru » Sun Aug 17, 2014 10:43 pm

joybringer wrote:
dude wrote:Are you telling me that there was a physical confrontation between SGI members and Nichiren Shoshu priests in New York City?



Yes there was a incident where members of the Young Men's Division were sent to physically yell at and confront the local Priest in Queens New York.

I was deeply disturbed by the incident since I was in fact a YMD leader and I was specifically excluded from being told about going. I believe that they knew that I would have said we should or could speak to the local Priest but to yell at or act in a way to convey physical intimidation is wholly at odds with Buddhism. My seniors in faith tried to convince me it is was all for theatrics and to send a message. I knew however at that time in the organization you didn't send YMD to convey a message. We were a very aggressive group at that time and sending those young men to confront the priest in that manner was clearly seeking to create a situation or "incident" that could be used later as a rallying cry.

In any event soon thereafter I had to go to grad school and when I came back I had not been removed from my position but no one ever contacted me about any activity or function. No one. I did in fact visit the Cultural center in Manhattan New York on my own and the environment was one of suspicions about everyone. The center really had the feeling of an armed camp. In any event that was my last significant experience though in order to support friends in SGI I did go to the center many years later and the members seemed very happy and the energy I felt earlier had seemed to dissipate.

The major change I see now from a distance is that almost everything is centered around President Ikeda's pronouncements and elucidation of Buddhism as opposed to a focus on Nichiren Daishonin as seen through the eyes of the understanding of the priesthood.

Namaste
Gassho
Joybringer


This is unprecedented. Who has ever heard of young men - especially in a place like New York - being driven to such violent, rabble rousing behavior? Why they would exclude you from these activities simply because of your graduate studies is inscrutable. Leave it to SGI and Shoshu to go around trying to control people's behavior with intimidation and threats of punishment in the afterlife. That just isn't done in religion. These guys are a cult, pure and simple.
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
-- The Hagakure

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Re: Soka Gakai (SGI) Criticism Thread

Postby Jechan » Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:19 pm

If there is one good thing about SGI (and it pains me even to think of ONE), it's that they introduce people to the O-Daimoku and the Lotus Sutra.
Through practise they soon realise SGI for the heretical cult that it is and turn to other Nichiren schools to follow. In this lifetime, or the next, they will encounter the correct Lotus Sutra practise.
Other than this, SGI is a cancer that is destroying Buddhism.
南無妙法蓮華経
南無妙法蓮華経
南無妙法蓮華経
南無妙法蓮華経
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