(Taken from an old post on my old blog)
The SGI (Soka Gakkai International) is the lay organization for the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonen. I started practicing this Buddhism in 2004 and received my Gohonzon (a holy scroll that represents your life) in 2005.
Initially, I believed I had found where I belonged, but gradually, and especially since coming to SA and joining SGI SA, I realised that the organisation ain't really that organised. I began to grow very disillusioned with the organization altogether, and several events culminated and allowed me to make the decision to break ties completely.
I am not faulting the practice of Buddhism – Nichiren Daishonen’s or anyone else’s. It’s not the practice of Buddhism I have left behind: it’s the SGI.
In points, and no particular order, here are my reasons:
For a practice that is supposed to be about tolerance, I have seen a great deal of judgement delivered. I am openly gay and while I didn’t encounter any homophobia with the UK groups, I have in South Africa. I was waiting in line for a cup of tea at the end of a meeting, chatting to one of the ladies behind me. She was bemoaning the fact that she just couldn’t find the right man. I joked that perhaps she should be looking for the right woman. We both cracked up and laughed about this. The man in front of us, also a leader in the SGI, turned around and with venom spat out: “You people with your agendas. You come in and take our women from us. What’s the matter with you? Why can’t you just leave our women alone? Why do you always have to push your agenda in everyone’s faces?” He looked so angry, I was certain he would have hit me, if he had the chance. His tirade went on, saying pretty much the same thing in several different ways. Not cool. Another member in Singapore has told me that because she was gay, she was being ostracized by her family – all of whom are practicing Nichiren Buddhists with the SGI.
I was told that I need permission to practice healing modalities such as Reiki. Not a fucking chance. I don't have to ask anyone's permission.
The SGI discourages investigation into other schools of Buddhism. Nichiren Buddhism is promoted as the ONLY path. I like to think for myself and explore. If people are telling me not to look into other schools of Buddhism, I want to know why, and telling me that “those schools are wrong” isn’t a good enough reason. The SGI also discourages silent meditation. Again, the ONLY path is to chant. Stuff that – I have gained a lot of insight from silent meditation as well as chanting.
The SGI is infatuated with its lay leader, Daisaku Ikeda. Maybe I just didn’t get the lesson of mentor/disciple, but from working with Demartini’s Quantum Collapse Process, I know that I am no greater or lesser than another person. Yes, he has written great works and is a great leader, however, I am not going to view him as some kind of Buddhist Jesus. Nichiren’s Buddhism tells us we are ALL Buddhas. We all have Buddhahood. Then this man is no more enlightened than anyone else – we are both Buddhas.
Talking about everyone being Buddhas… We are told we are all Buddhas, but when we begin to think for ourselves and move away from the SGI, investigate other faiths and practices or meditate silently, you are labeled arrogant and ignorant.
The teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, the guy who started it all, are left a little on the wayside. The eightfold path is not discussed. Ever.
I engaged in SGI activities. When my schedule no longer permitted me to be as involved, I was given a series of phone calls and emails, bordering on guilt trips in order to get me to come back. The organization didn’t like NO as an answer. Even after leaving, I have been pursued with a cult-like enthusiasm to return.
Finally, I don’t need to have permission to do what I do, nor is it necessary to apologise for who I am. No one has the right to tell me how my spiritual life should be structured or what I must believe.
So I have started my own religion. I call it Hectic Eclectic and I embrace all things and nothing. In fact, I do a lot of embracing. I’ve named myself the Huru Guru and I am basking in my own glory.