Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

dharmapdx
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Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

As I posted before, I practice Nichiren Buddhism, but largely independently. After trying Nichiren Shu, Nichiren Shoshu, and SGI, I simply gave up trying to be a part of any Nichiren organization. It’s a real paradox for me that the practice works for me but the organizations (which promote the practice) don’t.

The only thing I can think of is that it may be because Buddhism is new to this country. I think this may result in what one forum member here referred to as “the blind leading the blind.” Because Buddhism is new to this country, maybe there aren’t many seasoned veterans to lead the way.... It recently occurred to me, for example, that SGI’s strength may also be its weakness: the monthly community meeting. It’s a great way to get a lot of people involved, but it leaves leadership in the hands of complete amateurs (which is what alienated me).
mansurhirbi87
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by mansurhirbi87 »

All organizations have problems. Look for one which is better to you. It's not an obligation participate in something is nor ok to you. For me, Gakkai is great because without it Nichiren would not be known in the west and it emphacize buddhism as something interwoven with reality, society, not something for monks. By the otther side, i miss more profound studies. Buddhism is hard for an western mind understand
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

I have no problem understanding Buddhism, and in fact that was part of the problem: my understanding — and childhood experience in Japan (see profile picture and link in signature) — incurred the jealousy of others. At my first SGI meeting, the group leader, aware of my background, asked me if I would like to lead.

I suppose it’s true what you say: belonging to an organization isn’t a requirement. Also, not all are were the same. I’m sure SGI meetings in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, etc., are very different from meetings in rural Oregon.
dude
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dude »

SGI-USA is still an infant that hasn't even learned to crawl. The only reason it has taken root, even a little bit in western countries, is because it works.
No, we don't know what we're doing. That's the thorny path awaiting any pioneer.
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

dude wrote: Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:02 am SGI-USA is still an infant that hasn't even learned to crawl. The only reason it has taken root, even a little bit in western countries, is because it works.
No, we don't know what we're doing. That's the thorny path awaiting any pioneer.
Wow. Thanks. An actual answer to the question, not a personal attack. Refreshing. 🙏
narhwal90
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by narhwal90 »

Since the 1960's, SGI has opened and operates community centers in every state I can think of, sometimes several, plus meetings in member's homes all over the place, there are organized publications online and the most organized collections of Nichiren gosho available anywhere in English. The community centers hold many meetings per month with a variety of focuses, most have bookstores stocked with various materials which are usually open at least once a week. Sounds pretty functional to me, if you don't like one meeting there are others- or get involved and start one yourself.
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

narhwal90 wrote: Wed Mar 11, 2020 11:59 am Since the 1960's, SGI has opened and operates community centers in every state I can think of, sometimes several, plus meetings in member's homes all over the place, there are organized publications online and the most organized collections of Nichiren gosho available anywhere in English. The community centers hold many meetings per month with a variety of focuses, most have bookstores stocked with various materials which are usually open at least once a week. Sounds pretty functional to me, if you don't like one meeting there are others- or get involved and start one yourself.
Yes, and there are endless stories from former members about all the dysfunction within SGI: https://www.reddit.com/r/sgiwhistleblowers

And in SGI publications there is constant talk about the dysfunction between SGI and Shoshu.

Again, I’m not bashing the practice itself. I’m wondering about the organizations.
narhwal90
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by narhwal90 »

The organization is nothing other than the people in it, thus a variety of perspectives exist. As far as I'm concerned I focus on what I'm interested in and leave the rest. I see a lot of community centers open with many people going to meetings and likewise in their respective districts, I see a variety of leaders older and younger in rotation attending them. I also see a lot of newcomers come and go, some stay.

Since the schism, the Shoshu/SGI issue is not something that people care about in any of the meetings I've attended.

Then again, if you look for problems you will find them, same with solutions and relationships.
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

narhwal90 wrote: Wed Mar 11, 2020 9:09 pm The organization is nothing other than the people in it, thus a variety of perspectives exist. As far as I'm concerned I focus on what I'm interested in and leave the rest. I see a lot of community centers open with many people going to meetings and likewise in their respective districts, I see a variety of leaders older and younger in rotation attending them. I also see a lot of newcomers come and go, some stay.

Since the schism, the Shoshu/SGI issue is not something that people care about in any of the meetings I've attended.

Then again, if you look for problems you will find them, same with solutions and relationships.
I look for solutions, which is why I left the organizations when I realized they were hindering my practice. My practice was working; the organizations weren’t. At the Nichiren Shu temple, the priest told me she sometimes wondered if the Buddhist path actually works, and few people there were actually interested in the practice … and it was starting to rub off on me. I was becoming more concerned about the rummage sale and whether people thought I drove a nice car, rather than with Buddhism. That was a problem, so I found the solution: I left.

I considered it a problem when the local SGI leader was obviously stoned (high on drugs) while leading the group, and so I found the solution: I left.

May I ask what area you are in? It is entirely possible they you are in a much more cosmopolitan setting than me. Portland, Oregon, is still quite provincial, and the rest of Oregon is about a decade or two behind the rest of the country. (I’m originally from San Francisco, CA.) Maybe you are in a region where Nichiren Buddhism is better established.
narhwal90
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by narhwal90 »

Washington DC metro area, lots of 1st gen members started here and we have 3 regional community centers. OTOH while on travel I visited the community center in Colorado Springs, and another in Maui. Both were well-attended in the occasionally somnolent way SGI tends to do things. I've not been to the LA or San Francisco centers, or others on the east coast as of yet, but I'm sure they are pretty organized and busy.
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

narhwal90 wrote: Wed Mar 11, 2020 9:45 pm Washington DC metro area, lots of 1st gen members started here and we have 3 regional community centers. OTOH while on travel I visited the community center in Colorado Springs, and another in Maui. Both were well-attended in the occasionally somnolent way SGI tends to do things. I've not been to the LA or San Francisco centers, or others on the east coast as of yet, but I'm sure they are pretty organized and busy.
Well, there you have it. You live in the second biggest region in the US, with about 50 million residents: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_megalopolis

By contrast, Portland’s population is only half a million, and the state of Oregon is only 4 million.

I think things are a bit more cosmopolitan in your area. Therefore, there are probably more people qualified for SGI leadership positions, more opportunities for mentrosbip, etc. more of everything…. More, more, more.
narhwal90
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by narhwal90 »

Sure wrt DC. There was also plenty of evidence of leadership in Maui and Colorado Springs and those are fairly remote. I've not been to any of the really small centers however. I'm not proposing all centers are equal, some may well be toxic.

From looking at the pics online, the Portland SGI center is bigger than my local one in Baltimore- or at least the main hall is. Definitely larger than Colorado Springs... how many meetings a week are held in that location- or perhaps how many did you attend before abandoning SGI?
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

narhwal90 wrote: Thu Mar 12, 2020 12:26 am Sure wrt DC. There was also plenty of evidence of leadership in Maui and Colorado Springs and those are fairly remote. I've not been to any of the really small centers however. I'm not proposing all centers are equal, some may well be toxic.

From looking at the pics online, the Portland SGI center is bigger than my local one in Baltimore- or at least the main hall is. Definitely larger than Colorado Springs... how many meetings a week are held in that location- or perhaps how many did you attend before abandoning SGI?
It’s not just an issue of numbers. Cosmopolitan and multicultural is more what I’m talking about. I know that Hawaii is the only state in the country that has an Asian plurality, which means that Buddhism is a familiar concept there. I know that the Washington DC area is very multicultural. Oregon by contrast is one of the whitest states in the country, and I believe that Portland is the whitest major city in the country. This simply gives this area I live in a different tonality. This is a very clicky, closed community in this area. Ever hear of the Seattle freeze? It is a name for the phenomenon of how difficult it is for outsiders to make friends when they move to Seattle. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Freeze) . Portland is not that different.

What I’m trying to say is that the provincial attitude in the Pacific Northwest may not be very conducive to something so international and multicultural as SGI. Or, maybe, when planted in this clicky area, SGI becomes like everything else around here — basically a closed community that is difficult to break into. In other words, maybe it is a regional dysfunction as well. ( everyone in Oregon speaks openly about the fact that native born Oregonians don’t like Californians, for example. This is a relatively cold area, and i’m not just referring to the weather.)

I think I gave it about two months. That was time enough to interact with many angry hostile self absorbed people and attend meetings led by a man who was obviously under the influence of a substance . Another problem I noticed with SGI is that it doesn’t seem that it ever gets beyond a beginner stage. It seems that the whole organization is geared toward introducing this type of Buddhism to people, but what are you supposed to do after this practice is well introduced into your life?
narhwal90
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by narhwal90 »

Sounds like you only went to a few meetings. I think you gave up way too easily. I practiced by myself for about 10 years.. it didn't amount to much. SGI is a mixed bag, but I want the good parts so I participate and pursue it.
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

narhwal90 wrote: Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:52 am Sounds like you only went to a few meetings. I think you gave up way too easily. I practiced by myself for about 10 years.. it didn't amount to much. SGI is a mixed bag, but I want the good parts so I participate and pursue it.
If you went to a few meetings over the span of two months, and the people at those meetings were hostile and angry and sometimes outright aggressive and attacking ( not to mention intoxicated), would you go back? Frankly, I’m surprised that I lasted that long.

And in terms of my own practice, there was no incentive to stay because I had already been studying Nichiren Buddhism for years (gongyo memorized) and yet I was thrown in with people who are just learning about it. I was an intermediate thrown in with beginners moderated by hostile and neurotic SGI representatives. The meetings simply had nothing to offer me. The only thing they had to offer me was hostile people who condescending to me or insulted me, and I am certainly not a masochist.

If SGI in your area is working for you, that’s wonderful. If I ever relocate to the DC area, I will give it a try over there. But I really don’t think I have anything to justify about having gotten the hell out of the situation over here, and I am certainly not alone in witnessing this dysfunction: https://www.reddit.com/r/sgiwhistleblowers/
tkp67
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by tkp67 »

dharmapdx wrote: Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:23 am What I’m trying to say is that the provincial attitude in the Pacific Northwest may not be very conducive to something so international and multicultural as SGI. Or, maybe, when planted in this clicky area, SGI becomes like everything else around here — basically a closed community that is difficult to break into.

Another problem I noticed with SGI is that it doesn’t seem that it ever gets beyond a beginner stage. It seems that the whole organization is geared toward introducing this type of Buddhism to people, but what are you supposed to do after this practice is well introduced into your life?
You bring up more than one point.

First about cliches. Look to the assembly of the LS for the answer. The world honored one himself sits Brahman to his closest disciples as well as those in other stages of development and sits them down describing their states. This is the center stage for the whole of the Lotus teachings. To me it speaks of dispelling ignorance among them through compassion. What ignorance was being dispelled?

Nichiren teaches that the buddha of the ten directions and three times wish the doors of buddhism to be open to all sentient beings, here and now. The SGI has taken the teaching and brought it to the lowest reasonable common denominator which is all willing human beings.

Perhaps the beginning stage is so apparent because they are paying back their debt through introduction of dharma, most importantly earthy desires are enlightenment. I do believe the later is a most powerful for those who lack belief and are so attached to the material world they can't see past it. Taking ownership of this in one's mind may facilitate understanding the causation involved leading to deeper understanding.

I have heard of a number of SGI practitioners who wanted to delve deeper in the teachings and some took their own initiative in doing so. I don't think social practice and private practice need be mutually inclusive/exclusive. Rather which ever is most productive/fruitful would seem the wisest choice given time.

Removed extraneous sentence
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by Queequeg »

A lot of counting other people's money in this thread.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

Queequeg wrote: Thu Mar 12, 2020 1:20 pm A lot of counting other people's money in this thread.
What does that mean? :shrug:
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Minobu
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by Minobu »

Shortly after Nichiren passed away the sect started to split and split and become other things as well..

that happened in japan...

what you are witnessing here is just the same karmic/ sansho shima/ nightmare as in the beginning.

According to the Lotus sutra all that is left in mappo is counterfeit Dharma..

From what i have come to see,all Buddhism's on the planet have skeletons now...you can find fault everywhere. It's the nature of the beast during mappo.

thats why faith in it and a continual practice is so precious. In any of the Buddhist schools the same prerequisite of knowing it is fraught with peril helps. I don't get disappointed in my teachers , they are human.

Stick to the teaching and not the persons teaching ,is the order of the day. for people change but the teaching remains the same.

look at this place...arguments galore, meanness abounds , trolls at times....and this is a Buddhist site !

we still learn here though so we stay.
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

Minobu wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 5:04 pm Shortly after Nichiren passed away the sect started to split and split and become other things as well..

that happened in japan...

what you are witnessing here is just the same karmic/ sansho shima/ nightmare as in the beginning.

According to the Lotus sutra all that is left in mappo is counterfeit Dharma..

From what i have come to see,all Buddhism's on the planet have skeletons now...you can find fault everywhere. It's the nature of the beast during mappo.

thats why faith in it and a continual practice is so precious. In any of the Buddhist schools the same prerequisite of knowing it is fraught with peril helps. I don't get disappointed in my teachers , they are human.

Stick to the teaching and not the persons teaching ,is the order of the day. for people change but the teaching remains the same.

look at this place...arguments galore, meanness abounds , trolls at times....and this is a Buddhist site !

we still learn here though so we stay.
Thank you for this. Interestingly, I had just come to the same conclusion last night: Nichiren Buddhism isn’t dysfunctional for me; in fact, it’s highly successful for me. It’s just that participation with a Nichiren Buddhist organization didn’t work for me. I suppose I really wanted it to work. I may have given up with SGI after only two months, but that was likely because I was burnt-out from trying to make it work at Nichiren Shu for almost two years!
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