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

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

Post by Shiva »

dharmapdx wrote: Tue Mar 10, 2020 7:08 pm 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).
How exactly do you see it as dysfunctional? I mean, I personally think that SGI and Nichiren Shoshu are hard deviations from Nichiren Buddhism (especially SGI) but I won't agree with Nichiren Buddhism schools in general as being dysfunctional (with the exception of SGI)
Gassho,

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

Shiva wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 8:57 pm
dharmapdx wrote: Tue Mar 10, 2020 7:08 pm 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).
How exactly do you see it as dysfunctional? I mean, I personally think that SGI and Nichiren Shoshu are hard deviations from Nichiren Buddhism (especially SGI) but I won't agree with Nichiren Buddhism schools in general as being dysfunctional (with the exception of SGI)
Please read earlier posts. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here.
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

Shiva wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 8:57 pm but I won't agree with Nichiren Buddhism schools in general as being dysfunctional (with the exception of SGI)
So, you don’t agree, but you do. Or, you agree … partially? 🤷‍♂️
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

Glad I started this thread, because it really got me thinking….

1. Soka Gakkai. A member of this forum wrote that when you get down to it what Soka Gakkai really teaches is spiritual triage. In other words, SGI is largely focused on helping people who are in difficult situations. I have even seen reference to many newcomers to SGI being in “dire straits.”

2. Nichiren Shu. The same member of this forum once described Nichiren Shu as being a Japanese cultural club for second and third generation Japanese Americans, people who are holding onto the last vestige of their Japanese identity. This person also said that it is a wounded Japanese identity, as Nichiren Shu is very preoccupied with the discrimination that Japanese people have experienced on the West Coast during World War II. I think it was at my very first Nichiren Shu function that I was told that some members had been born in internment camps on the West Coast, and the temple had actually been a place for them to store their belongings while their families were in internment camps. Suffice it to say that members of the temple had a wounded sense of their Japanese identity. There often seemed to be a sense of slight paranoia in the air, as though merely attending a Japanese Buddhist temple may make them vulnerable.

In other words, thanks to this thread I now realize that both SGI and Nichiren Shu cater to people who are marginal to mainstream society, either due to being in dire straits, or due to having faced discrimination. Both SGI and Nichiren Shu functions seemed to be filled with wounded, frightened, and therefore somewhat defensive, people.

So maybe the word I am looking for isn’t “dysfunctional.” Word I’m looking for is “marginalized.” Maybe the question really is: “why does Nichiren Buddhism focus on marginalized people?”

In contrast to the above, I have never really known a religious practice that has been marginal to the mainstream. I was raised in a Catholic family, in a Catholic area where members of the church were pillars of the community at large. And I was introduced to Buddhism while in Japan, where I was treated like the son of Takashi Ikeda, the man in my profile picture (and also in my signature below). He was a wealthy Japanese man living in Japan, highly respected and the owner of his own business. Suffice it to say the Japanese people that I knew in Japan — the context within which I became aware of the figure of the Buddha as a child — did not have a wounded sense of their Japanese identity. In fact, Takashi Ikeda sometimes went on rants to me about how Japan was superior to the United States — a Japan-centric perspective that I believe I see echoed in aspects of Nichiren Buddhism.

In short, because I have never had any experience with a religion that wasn’t mainstream to the country I was living in, and because the Japanese people in my childhood did not have a wounded sense of their Japanese identity, I was completely caught off guard by the woundedness I found in people at both SGI and Nichiren Shu. I think I dropped into both organizations expecting to meet people like I had known as a child in Japan, when I first encountered the Buddha.
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Shiva
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by Shiva »

dharmapdx wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:55 am
Shiva wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 8:57 pm but I won't agree with Nichiren Buddhism schools in general as being dysfunctional (with the exception of SGI)
So, you don’t agree, but you do. Or, you agree … partially? 🤷‍♂️
I just agree regarding Soka Gakkai. Also, regarding your comment on Nichiren Shu; it does not focus on the marginalized. Maybe the specific temple you visited does, I do not know, but Nichiren Shu as a whole does not focus on the marginalized in the way you describe it.
Gassho,

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

Shiva wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 7:27 am
dharmapdx wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:55 am
Shiva wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 8:57 pm but I won't agree with Nichiren Buddhism schools in general as being dysfunctional (with the exception of SGI)
So, you don’t agree, but you do. Or, you agree … partially? 🤷‍♂️
I just agree regarding Soka Gakkai. Also, regarding your comment on Nichiren Shu; it does not focus on the marginalized. Maybe the specific temple you visited does, I do not know, but Nichiren Shu as a whole does not focus on the marginalized in the way you describe it.
Just as there is a difference between Soka Gakkai in Japan, and Soka Gakkai International in the United States, there is apparently a difference between Nichiren Shu in Japan and Nichiren Shu in the US. The full statement said forum member made was: “I’m not interested in joining Nichiren Shu because Nichiren Shu in America is largely a cultural club for people of Japanese descent, and they are preoccupied with the experience of discrimination on the West Coast.” This was very accurate to my experience with the Portland temple. (In addition to that, the non-Japanese people who attempted to become involved with the Portland Nichiren Shu temple were almost always at the fringes of society, and occasionally homeless people were dropping in for a free meal after a service. So from what I witnessed the whole enterprise was made up of marginalized people who had fallen on hard times, or had suffered discrimination. This was a world away from the context within which I was introduced to Buddhism as a child in Japan.)
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by tkp67 »

dharmapdx wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:58 am 1. Soka Gakkai. A member of this forum wrote that when you get down to it what Soka Gakkai really teaches is spiritual triage. In other words, SGI is largely focused on helping people who are in difficult situations. I have even seen reference to many newcomers to SGI being in “dire straits.”
Existing suffering is a most potent cause for the effect of liberation. What was the buddha's reaction to human suffering? What was the solution? One point that is hard to contest is that he did not avoid the notion of others suffering, he dedicated his existence to planing seeds of liberation. He came to embrace it, understand it, transcend it and seed the same transcendence in others.

It does not seem that people who experience suffering of change/pervasive suffering do so very well, let alone remain compassionate to the suffering of suffering others experience. So ignorance of our own suffering leads to great perpetuation of suffering for others.

I do believe the SGI follows a lowest common denominator model to facilitate all causes, capacities and conditions. I could see this contrast requiring great patience for those who don't fit that designation of lowest common denominator when it comes causes, capacities and conditions. It seems this was a trait of the buddha however so it would make some sense that this model helps those in dire straights and those who have gained some traction in life and seek to help others with suffering through compassionate interactions. I imagine this dynamic strengthens both accords.
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by narhwal90 »

I find it entertaining that SGI receives so much judgement as to its constituency from folks that have spent so little time in it. A couple months ago an area leader who works as a microbiologist came to a home visit- he likes doing that for folks in his area- as he is of Chinese descent we spent a while talking about the history and evolution of the Chinese written languages. I know lawyers, engineers, teachers, office workers, construction workers, taxi drivers, secretaries, teachers, social workers, military and "military adjacent" in SGI. A wide variety of ethnicities are represented. I've met some marginizalized folks there too. I take exception to the general claim of the organization being filled with "dysfunctional" people, its plainly judgemental and inaccurate. As far as low denominators go, thats true- all you need in order to practice in SGI and transform yourself is a pulse.
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by tkp67 »

narhwal90 wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:56 pm I find it entertaining that SGI receives so much judgement as to its constituency from folks that have spent so little time in it. A couple months ago an area leader who works as a microbiologist came to a home visit- he likes doing that for folks in his area- as he is of Chinese descent we spent a while talking about the history and evolution of the Chinese written languages. I know lawyers, engineers, teachers, office workers, construction workers, taxi drivers, secretaries, teachers, social workers, military and "military adjacent" in SGI. A wide variety of ethnicities are represented. I've met some marginizalized folks there too. I take exception to the general claim of the organization being filled with "dysfunctional" people, its plainly judgemental and inaccurate. As far as low denominators go, thats true- all you need in order to practice in SGI and transform yourself is a pulse.
I hope my words did not come off as judgemental as they where not meant to be. The lowest common denominator imho is being a sentient human of any condition, capacity or cause. I think it is easy for people to assume different causes, conditions and capacities are simply dysfunction than it is to be compassionate to the developmental process for which we are all subject to and experience. Albeit relative to those factors. Does xenophobia exist among many demographics for the same reasoning. Could it be said that the boundaries of xenophobia are centric to capacity, condition and cause?

When the perception of difference is abolished in regard to specifics and we look to the nature of these phenomenon as expressed across the masses wisdom in this regards can be accumulated. Difficult to do being engaged in lay life but a seeming necessary in today's world nonetheless.

Seems part of the genius of this practice is it is designed to engage wisdom through observation.

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

Post by dharmapdx »

I knew this would happen, so I need to write the following:

MY POST ABOVE IS ABOUT DEMOGRAPHICS, NOT METAPHYSICS.

I have no problem with people who are marginalized, poor, have experienced racism, etc. Please see the link in my signature where I as a child appeared in an advertisement for “Colegio Cesar Chavez.” For the billionth time on this forum: the only father I knew while growing up was a Mexican-American man who was born in a migrant camp in Texas to a woman who swam the Rio Grande to get here, a man who worked in the fields as a child, which led to him being friends with Cesar Chavez. I can’t think of a better example of someone who was marginalized and had experienced racism.

The people I met at Buddhist organizations in the United States were very different from the people I met in Japan.

That’s the only point I was making.
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

narhwal90 wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:56 pm I find it entertaining that SGI receives so much judgement as to its constituency from folks that have spent so little time in it.
And I find it entertaining that people keep putting words in my mouth.

Who ever “judged” SGI? All I have done is describe my encounter with the organization, which I certainly have the right to do. I actually continue to read SGI literature, which I enjoy. The fact that I enjoy SGI literature, and think that overall SGI does a lot of good, made it quite perplexing that it didn’t work out for me when I attempted to join, and that’s all I’m attempting to sort out in this thread.

It’s so interesting that when I try to make a comment with regard to demographics, I get metaphysics thrown in my face. Look, I have no regrets for leaving SGI and Nichiren Shu, and I feel no guilt for giving the accurate descriptions I’ve given of the organizations as I experienced them.
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by narhwal90 »

Your previous posts, and the title are replete with judgement based on a few meetings over 2 months. Dysfunctional and marginalized are the words you used.

I have made no metaphysical argument, only that these judgements are hasty.
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

narhwal90 wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:30 pm Your previous posts, and the title are replete with judgement based on a few meetings over 2 months. Dysfunctional and marginalized are the words you used.

I have made no metaphysical argument, only that these judgements are hasty.
I was hand selected by Cesar Chavez himself to represent marginalized people when I was a child. See the link in my signature.

I have no problem with marginalized people, and if you are implying that I do, then YOU are the one making the judgment.

The people I knew in Japan were not marginal to their society.

The people I met at SGI and Nichiren Shu in the United States were indeed marginalized by the society they live in. ( I can’t think of a better word than marginalized to describe a segment of the population that had at one point been put in cages, that is, internment.)

Where did I ever say that marginalized people are bad?

I didn’t.

Click the link below to see that I represented marginalized people as a child.

But marginalized people are different from the people I met in Japan, who were rich and therefore not marginalized.
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dharmapdx »

narhwal90 wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:56 pm I take exception to the general claim of the organization being filled with "dysfunctional" people, its plainly judgemental and inaccurate. As far as low denominators go, thats true- all you need in order to practice in SGI and transform yourself is a pulse.
And I never said that. I suggested that SGI has organization dysfunction. I once worked at a highly dysfunctional church (CFO ended up in prison for embezzlement) where I met some wonderful individuals, some of whom — on a personal level — were highly functional.
Some of the group leaders at SGI seemed to be successful in their own lives and careers.

And let it be known that I am not the one who introduced the phrase “lowest common denominator” into this thread. I’ve never used that phrase in my life.
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by dude »

To expand on my previous comment :
The U.S. organization is very much a work in progress. It was not meant to, nor could it ever, be the same organization that blossomed in Japan after the war. I think this was intentional. Sure we had guidance from the top, but in my experience we were given some general guidelines and then allowed to run things in the way we saw fit. I've seen the districts and chapters in my immediate environment go through a lot of changes, good and bad. For all that, SGI is a living organization of human beings with all their strengths and weaknesses. Sure, there have been some areas of the country where what we called practice were looked on with disfavor by members from elsewhere who started elsewhere then came here. We're in a long process of evolution, and there will be mistakes, wrong turns, real conflicts; and yes, loose cannons. Sometimes there have been leaders, even highly respected ones, who were just plain wrong. It's a frustrating process, and at times it seems like the whole thing is in danger of falling apart, but this organization has a strange way of correcting itself over the long run. My first personal mentor used to tell me "This is not my organization; it's the Buddha's organization."
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by tkp67 »

lowest common denominator is not meant as a negative connotation but an all inclusive one.
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by illarraza »

dharmapdx wrote: Tue Mar 10, 2020 7:08 pm 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).
Question: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?
Answer: Because most organizations fail to practice as the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren teach.
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by Minobu »

dharmapdx wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:24 pm
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!
I have come to the conclusion that all has unfolded perfectly.

all your aggravation you went through is good for your Karma if you keep the proper intent.

Sure it's ok to point out your problems with various organizations, but there cannot be a perfect school here on earth due to the very nature of samsaric illness.

Keep Calm and chant Nam Myoho Renge kyo or for Illazzarra, one of the best Nichiren walking study material guy's here, "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo "
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by tkp67 »

:good:
illarraza
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Re: Why is Nichiren Buddhism (or at least its organizations) so dysfunctional?

Post by illarraza »

Minobu wrote: Sun Mar 15, 2020 6:26 pm
dharmapdx wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:24 pm
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!
I have come to the conclusion that all has unfolded perfectly.

all your aggravation you went through is good for your Karma if you keep the proper intent.

Sure it's ok to point out your problems with various organizations, but there cannot be a perfect school here on earth due to the very nature of samsaric illness.

Keep Calm and chant Nam Myoho Renge kyo or for Illazzarra, one of the best Nichiren walking study material guy's here, "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo "
You are too kind Minobu but as Nichiren described himself, I too am not a wise man and am strange, perverse, hated and have an ignorant outlook. Although I may be all these things, as Nichiren states, "the Lotus Sutra is still the greatest of all the sutras."

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