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RE: [SGI] Hi from a former SGI member

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  • jeannette
    HI Dave, I just wanted to comment on the way you shared your SGI experience. I was expecting the normal SGI bashing but was really taken aback by your honest
    Message 1 of 48 , Jul 1, 2006
      HI Dave,
      I just wanted to comment on the way you shared your SGI experience. I
      was expecting the "normal" SGI bashing but was really taken aback by your
      honest expression of your feelings and by the way it made me feel. So I
      wanted to thank you for sharing that with us! (The Buddhist " Jehovah's
      witnesses" made me spew my coffee all over laughing because I have had that
      cross my mind before as well) Anyway, I have been a happy SGI member for
      almost two years and to be honest if I had the same experience I really
      think I would have felt the same way as you and left. As I don't like things
      pushed on me and to me "encouragement" should be up lifting and with
      direction to help me in my practice, not harassment or guilt trips if I
      can't come to meetings. I am very fortunate that the members in my
      district/chapter are the way they are and I haven't been bombarded with the
      "other schools" being bashed or quilted or harassed about activities. I
      have been a group leader for a few months and your letter really has made me
      look at my self. I'm not a pushy kind of person but you letter highlighted
      how not to be to members and I found it to be encouraging as I believe your
      honesty will help others who are trying to share Nichiren Buddhism.
      Take Care,
      -----Original Message-----
      From: SokaGakkaiInternational@yahoogroups.com
      [mailto:SokaGakkaiInternational@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of David Salyers
      Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 8:32 PM
      To: SokaGakkaiInternational@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [SGI] Hi from a former SGI member

      Hi everyone,

      I am a former SGI member (and no this isn't the typical SGI bash, I
      hope). I did want to say why I left SGI and turned back in my Gohonzon.

      I was raised Mormon (LDS) and later was sort of a "nonsectarian"
      Buddhist. I have an acquaintance who is a Ch'an monk and I had some
      exposure to Jodo Shinshu (Shin) Buddhism. When I joined SGI about
      three years ago, I found a sangha with very nice people who were
      genuinely involved in their Buddhist practice. I thought the practice
      was very good and compelling. I liked chanting the daimoku and liturgy.

      But then I was "encouraged" (i.e. repeatedly called on the telephone
      and hard sell) into attending Soka Spirit meetings. At these meetings,
      I got to hear not only negative stuff about Nichiren Shoshu, but also
      about Shin Buddhism (being exposed to that school I was not very happy
      about the negative spin they were receiving) and other Buddhists. Let
      me be clear here. I do think that the practice of Nichiren Buddhism
      through a modern vehicle such as SGI is more accessible and
      potentially beneficial to most people including non-Japanese than
      other more "monastic" forms of Buddhism. Shin Buddhism is similar in
      some ways to Nichiren Buddhism EXCEPT that they have not been able to
      expand outside of their ethnic confine due to various issues. Their
      temples are primarily Japanese-American social and cultural centers.
      Basically, my point is that I do not think it is beneficial or
      attractive to put down (or attack which was my perception) and
      highlight the faults of other groups. It is far better to highlights
      the strengths of one's own practice (and not the incessant focus on
      material benefits such as employment, but how about serene peace,
      mindfulness, treating others with respect).

      This continued on for a little while with the focus on Soka Spirit
      meetings and how Nichiren Shoshu was going to end up in Buddhist hell
      or something. And then I noticed the emphasis placed on Ikeda's
      writings and Nichiren's writings. Don't get me wrong here. I think
      there is much wisdom to be found in both (although I question the
      value placed on Ikeda's photos and poetry). BUT I think the focus of
      Nichiren Buddhism is the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren's writings were often
      commentaries on the Lotus Sutra, so I think primary emphasis would be
      better placed on the Lotus Sutra with Nichiren writings as the
      inspired commentary and Ikeda's writings as further clarification. (Of
      course I also think the Fuji school distinctives as were taught from
      the Nichiren Shoshu school may be somewhat erroneous and perhaps part
      of the problem, but I see SGI starting to progress away from that.)

      Now let me discuss the positive things I liked about SGI. SGI has done
      more than any other Buddhist organization to promote cultural and
      class diversity in its sangha. There is not the "Buddhist elitism"
      that one can find in other convert Buddhist traditions in America. SGI
      also has children and youth programs which can be excellent. These
      programs are hard to find among other convert Buddhist traditions. SGI
      has more active groups and members (who are genuinely nice people)
      than other Buddhist groups. I do wish that members would stop the hard
      sell proselytizing approach though as it is very off-putting and
      reminds me of some form of Buddhist "Jehovah's Witnesses".

      I finally left when I got tired of the Soka Spirit stuff, certain
      members kept calling me and pestering me to come, and the negatives
      started outwaying the positives. If there had been some decrease in
      the negatives, then I would have stayed. In fact, I would like to be
      able to join and stay in an SGI which lives up to that potential. I
      think it would be great for myself and my children. Here's to hoping!

      P.S. I actually did turn in my Gohonzon when I resigned from SGI as I
      felt that was the ethical thing to do (I understand other people leave
      and keep their Gohonzon). I didn't feel that was right.

      After I left SGI, I did try practicing with Nichiren Shu (no, not
      Shoshu). They were very nice but they were too culturally Japanese and
      there seemed to be a mixture of some folk Shinto into the mix which I
      could not really relate to. So I went back to being a nonsectarian
      Buddhist. (Although true to my SGI influence, my primary chant is a
      six syllable "mantra" (Be One. Be Love. Be Peace. - this has the same
      rhythm as daimoku) and I use either a picture of a Dharma Wheel or an
      enso (circle in Japanese calligraphy) instead of a Gohonzon.

      I still actually think quite highly of SGI can become and of course of
      the individual members.

      In gassho,


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • dreemn Bear
      ... seem to ... the ... terms ... since ... the ... Thank you for the offer Gunther, if you were more local I would say go right ahead, or just
      Message 48 of 48 , Jul 8, 2006
        --- In SokaGakkaiInternational@yahoogroups.com, "catflap_ka"
        <leder_ka@...> wrote:
        > Hi Todd
        > I can certainly send it to you via traditional mail as I don`t
        seem to
        > have all the differnt chapters on file (It was done in 1998 - and
        > scanning part on an apple computer).
        > Its only about 30 pages long as we had to keep strict limit in
        > of words. Some parts I would write rather different today, but
        > it was extremly hard to find any literature on the subject so I
        > concentrated on the main developments in the times of the Nara
        > Buddhism (the six old schools of Nara), the pure land buddhism and
        > esoteric sects.
        > regards
        > gunther
        > --

        Thank you for the offer Gunther, if you were more local I would say
        go right ahead, or just drop it by my Kaikan. You seem to be
        in the Monet section of the world, where the skies are a different
        I hope you continue your practice as I would hope I might be
        encouraged to.
        I look forward to reading more of your posts, as I do for almost all
        our board members.

        Todd Evans

        -Todd wrote:
        > > This idea of dissertation on the influence of religion
        > > & Catholic) on architecture has been done. I would love to see
        > > you did in terms of oreintal experiences and effect on
        > > in architecture and building art.
        > >
        > > Todd Evans
        > > """"""//'\
        > >
        > > --
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