Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why I am an Independent Nichiren Buddhist

(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.

63 comments:

  1. Great post, Tams.

    Unfortunately, when I practiced Nichiren Buddhism I was very intolerant of other religions. I said a LOT against Catholicism, and ironically, I'm now Catholic again. What I've learned is, being intolerant gets people nowhere.

    I think you would get on well with Ryuei Shonin, who's a Nichiren Shu priest, and Robin Beck, who's somewhat of a scholar of Buddhism. Though they're both Nichiren Buddhists, they don't dismiss other sutras, schools or practices.

    http://fraughtwithperil.com/ryuei/

    http://fraughtwithperil.com/rbeck/

    Great post!

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    1. That does not make sense. If you don't hold the Lotus Sutra above all others then you are not a true follower of Nichiren. He made it very clear that the practise is specific and not general.

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    2. I am curious - how long did you chant? Are you now experiencing transformation in the same way? I am doing Gregorian chant, but still resort back to Daimoku because I feel incomplete without it. I left Nichiren Shoshu because I can't stand terms like "this is the only way", this is "true buddhism" etc...

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  2. l lef the SGI when my chapter leaders here in South Florida privately discouraged me from taking my medications I use to combat my HIV infection. I was then accused of lacking faith when I diplomatically declined their advice. It even got to the point where I was asked to return my gohonzon when I disagreed to hed local leaders' advice on this subject. When I raised this issue publicly I was told that by bringing my same-gender partner with me to meetings in local member's homes, that I was making them uncomfortable.

    So much for a value creating society based on the Lotus Sutra's teachings...

    I practice very devotedly and privately on my own now. I certainly don't regret it!

    Nam-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo!

    Enjoy your blog immensely, keep up the awesome work!

    much love,
    a wanderer on the path

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    1. Dear Brian

      Thank you for your words. The best thing I did was practice independently. Thank you for your comments and much light to you.

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    2. Hi,

      I practice Independently! I have been practicing for decades, and finally I realized I couldn't make it fit anymore in SGI or NST.

      I became Independent for good, recently! Now, I am happy except when an SGI, KHS, or NST member tries to convince me I am wicked or stupid!

      Someone I used to chant with said "Why are you chanting to a non-SGI Gohonzon?" He was appalled I would do such a thing! He is SGI, and he has a Gohonzon that was not given to him by Nichiren Shoshu (but don't tell him...shhh!!).

      I had to laugh, I thought it was so funny that he was all mad at me that I would chant to a Gohonzon other than SGI's and then he says I am evil and he is not!

      I don't think "friends" or learning to believe TOGETHER works unless everyone is on the same page, do you?
      Meaning.... How can you have WP if you are finding faults in others, but you have faults yourself? Was this practice made so we could point out the faults of other people and yet think we are perfect? I don't think so!

      Can't everyone find common ground here??? Wouldn't it just be just DUCKY if we all TRIED to get along?? Well, who has done that yet? Any hands??? I don't see all the big organisations getting along! Do you??? I don't see Governments getting along, DO YOU? So, we are ALL human is what I learned! And that's why we chant, to get along BETTER and BE KINDER!

      I have been reading Independent blogs, and you guys are my kind of people. You realized that you can be who you are and chant! Thanks for the posts! Enightening1 I feel better too!

      Viva La Independence! No offense to anyone but "I" have no trouble saying I am Independent because I just can't "shut-up" and follow anymore! :X :)~~~~

      Dee





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    3. Dee, thank you for your comment. I feel better practicing independently too. And yes, it would indeed by just ducky if we all tried to get along.

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    5. Dear Sir, do they still do Gongyo or just chant. Thank You

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  3. Hi

    Thank you for your article. I was in SGI South Africa for many years.
    I still chant and recite the sutra it would be great to get in contact, if you want. I now follow Nichiren Shu which is very open. We chant and meditate. My priest is gay and married to his partner in the US.
    Regards On do, Sandton. My email address is buddhabrat@me.com

    With Gassho
    Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

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    1. Hi

      I am open to experimentation. Would like more info on Nichiren Shu. I will email you.

      T

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    2. I think that's wonderful Nichiren Shu is so open-minded and cares about ALL it's members. I hear they have women priests too.

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    3. I am curious, but I am in no way telling you to do so for me, or that's it's best for YOU. Use your own good judgement, but if you happen to go anyway, please feel free to email about it.

      I am Independent, like I said, but I am friendly with Nichiren Shu, in that they are very sincere and nice and so is KHS. In that everyone makes mistakes and we all chant sincerely, I would believe from what I see.

      I don't know about Nichiren Shu. I worked with a daughter of a member.

      You see I believe in many things. I don't know if I can ever reconcile with any Buddhist group and be honest with them because I myself and everyone I know does Yoga and Reiki yet they practice. Yet if I do it, somehow it's bad. ?????? I am clueless there.

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    4. Dee - I don't believe that doing yoga or Reiki is bad. It appears that different SGI leaders had different views on this.

      I have gone to the Nichiren Shu to chant. It was a lovely experience and I am incorporating their form of practice into mine. The chanting was a little slower than with the SGI and the practice seems more mindful.

      Essentially, Buddhism is what it is. Buddha himself encouraged us to question everything, not take it all on face value - even if he said it himself. It doesn't matter that some people have a problem with people doing Reiki/yoga/whatever - it is their problem, not mine or yours. They have their own path. I have my own path. And it's all okay.

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    5. Hi, did you like it there? Are there meet ups in this area for Nichiren Shu? Just curious, I have never been.

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    6. Hi Dee - what area are you in? I am sure there must be some. I am putting up a new post about the differences between the two modes of practice.

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  4. Good day,

    I trust you are well. Thank you for your article. I was an SGI SA member for many years. I became very disillusioned with the leadership, intolerance and personality worship of Mr Ikeda. After a long journey I am at home and have found the strand of Nichiren Buddhism I am comfortable with. I chant and meditate, as well as copy out the Sutra. I am part of a loose Sangha. It would be good to be in contact if you wish. I wish you well. Buddha's blessings.
    With Gassho,
    Ondo.

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  5. I have recently felt compelled to bring out my Gohonzon, dust off my Butsudan and set up my altar again. I received the Gohonzon from SGI in New York City in 2003. While I appreciated the support of practice and the community feeling from the meetings, I began to feel that I was being pressured to ascribe to a "belief system" hook, line and sinker and that any deviation from the party line was frowned upon. Looking back, I realize that what I wanted was to practice independently from the get go. I felt offended when I was asked to join in directing 'voodoo-moku' against another Nichiren organization, I was seeking a place of refuge, not to get involved in organizational politics.

    During this time, I was also embracing The Radiance Technique(R) /Authentic Reiki(R) as a healing art and science and exploring esoteric Christianity and Vedanta Philosophy - all of which promote the Divine spark or the concept of 'God' within everything - which I felt was complimentary to the Universal Law. When I shared these interests with others, the term 'slander' was pitched at me by a few - but not all members. Other members said they didn't see a conflict necessarily as long as I didn't 'mix' practices.

    Having been raised in an apocalyptic Christian religion (Jehovah's Witnesses) - where their way is the 'only way', it was all too easy to see similarities in the religious approach of SGI and the JWs and their focus on retribution for 'slander' or 'unforgivable sin' (little difference in the concepts of certain death at Armageddon or unending kalpas in an Avichi Hell) for any doctrinal deviation. Ummm, no.

    So here I am, years later giving the practice another shot - wanting to focus upon personal growth and peace of mind and hopefully achieving some additional balance and prosperity along the way. My life condition is already pretty good - but who doesn't want more of a good thing, right?

    I still practice TRT(R), and even belong to a 'loose' Sangha of folks who explore Transcendental Meditation and Vedic Science. I don't consider myself a religious 'pluralist' but I do recognize wisdom wherever and however it presents itself. Thanks to 'Urban Buddha' and Tamarai for reposting this blog. It's great to have a place to come share. Certainly, this is not the final word for me, but it's a good start.

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  6. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your journey. I too felt that by labelling something as the 'only' path was incredibly restrictive and intolerant. I don't feel there is anything wrong with exploration in meditation and in recognising the wisdom of other teachings. Ultimately, we are all striving for the same thing - understanding, tolerance and a connection with a part of ourselves that is not flesh, blood, bone and a cascade of chemicals.

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  7. http://ionbuddhism.org/ ION is the the Independent Organization of Nichiren Buddhists....it's a forum for independent Nichiren Buddhists.....no leaders or drama....just people who understand and who have been there.

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    1. Thank you, Kevin. I'll add it to my blog list.

      T

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  8. Tamarai,

    I'm in the process of starting a website for Independent Nichiren Buddhists and new people interesting Nichiren Buddhism. It will be called "The Daimoku Fellowship" and all the Bodhisattvas of the Earth are Welcome. I would also like to start informal meetings at some point. I'm also working on an Indy Gongyo Book that is Sect neutral which is almost impossible because SGI drops some of the syllables when they chant to keep beat. Hon ma' ku kyo to VS Hon matsu ku kyo to....etc Nam VS Namu...If you're interested I'll keep you informed.....BTW...My girlfriend is a Reiki Master here in Seattle..and you don't need anyone permission to heal...that's just Bogus...In Washington State Reki Masters are licensed to practice in hospitals and health care facilities and they're even paid by private insurance...my state is a little more progressive than most...Gassho,
    Kevin

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    1. Kevin, I would be most interested in the website. Please let me know when it is up and running.

      Thank you for your words. I had no idea that Reiki practitioners were allowed in hospitals... Awesome! We have a long way to go for that to be accepted here in South Africa.

      If there is anything you feel I can do to help in finding the neutral daimoku, please let me know. I use a fairly neutral set of prayers at the moment and I get those to you, but I don't have the expanded daimoku with the added syllables. I can find out, though.

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    2. Kevin, let me know too! My actual Gohonzon sponsor is lesbian. The guy who originally shakubukued me I never saw again. I am not lesbian, but I have learned to be friends with everyone and enjoy the openness and warmth I think is Nichiren's Buddhism.

      I have quite different problems with SGI/NST, but I have learned that Nichiren's Buddhism is about warmth, and a strong practice.

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  9. Great blog! I have practiced Nichiren Buddhism since 1996. Although, I am currently a member of SGI, for years now I have been more independent. As another gay guy, it saddens me to know that you experienced what you wrote about. Luckily, the members who I encountered have never treated me like that. I just wanted to say hello and thank you for writing your blog. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo! -Jonathan

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    1. Hi Jonathan. Thank you for stopping by. My experience with homophobia within the SGI is limited to SGI South Africa. When I lived in the UK, I was completely accepted.

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  10. Hi. I've been practicing Buddhism for about three years now, but as part of the Zen school. Recently I've been looking into Nichiren, as the demands of life, family, and work have really kept me from practicing zazen. After checking out things on the web, I've already become disillusioned with the various schools of Nichiren, and have considered independent practice, which I've actually only started a few days ago. It's good to know that I'm not alone in my feelings that Nichiren, and particularly SGI, have become nothing more than cults, but that the authentic practice of the teachings of the Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin are still alive.

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    1. Indeed,Matthew. I have found that practicing independently has also brought me a greater appreciation of Buddhism as a whole rather than getting bogged down on the agenda of an organisation. Thank you for stopping by.

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  11. Gosh, you know, I am really sorry to hear these bad experiences of SGI. I am an active SGI member here in Australia and have to say that although I can understand that these things do happen, we put a lot of effort into making sure every member understands the teachings of Nichiren and the the three founding presidents. What they never taught was the kind of intolerance and dogmatism that you all seem to have experienced. For me, the benefit of being involved in the organisation is that I always have support and I don't in any way feel like there is hero worship as we are all encouraged to seek and have that "stand alone spirit" I'm sure you've all heard about. Because of my engagement in activities, I have had opportunities to challenge myself personally and really work on that human revolution. I would never have done that otherwise.
    We have a multitude of members who also happen to be gay. I have never seen nor heard of that kind of intolerance here. You may be interested to know that Australia has been setting an example through the group movement that is quite different, yet more aligned with what Ikeda wants people to do (for their own sake).
    Nothing I understand about SGI is about intolerance or dogma and it's a real shame that people have suffered that in SGI. My understanding is that Daisaku Ikeda would be really upset if he knew that had happened. I guess the problem of leadership is that most people view it as a hierarchical structure and treat it as such. It's difficult for us in the west particularly to understand that organisation doesn't necessarily equate to corporate organisation. In Australia, all leaders are encouraged to have groups as well, so that we don't have a hierarchical structure. And we are constantly cautioned against arrogance, which is a common problem of leadership.

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    1. Liv - awesome that you have had such a great experience. Personally, I don't hold Mr Ikeda in as much high esteem, but it's all good at the end of the day. Our relationship with the practice is a deeply personal one, and one that needs to be in balance with what's right with our own lives and our own journeys. Thank you for sharing yours.

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  12. Hi Liv. Daisaku Ikeda can not even feed or toilet himself. The top Japanese leaders never NEVER side with members who are critical of their leaders regardless of the merits of their complaints and this went doubly with Ikeda when he was "whole". You are either mistaken or lying.

    Hi Tam. Hope you are well. The Lotus Sutra states, " World Honored One, be pleased to be without anxiety." -- Chapter 13 You too.

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    1. Thank you Mark. Thanks for dropping by.

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    2. Hi Mark,

      I hope you are well. I read up on my old leaders posts. However, I still believe that peace can be found in Independence. When you take people's fights into your heart, you become them. I am glad to hear from you. I hope Mark, Fred, and Marcin are doing well, also.

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  13. Hello there,

    Great blog and great post.

    I was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism by a very amazing American woman up in Byron Bay (Aus) about 6 years ago. I was so bowled over by her innate happiness and determination and good fortune. She gave me her little SGI prayer book and prayer beads, taught me gongyo and strongly encouraged me to connect with the SGI back in Sydney. For the first couple of years I didn't want to connect with a 'religious organisation' so I instead just practiced what my friend had taught me and was rewarded with significant benefits.

    I eventually decided it was time to receive Gohonzon. I didn’t know there was another way other than through SGI. I attended my 6 months of group meetings (a requirement here in Aus to receive a SGI Gohonzon) but honestly I was kind of disappointed at the attitude of the people who were attending these meetings. I was expecting to meet other Nichiren Buddhists and have them smile warmly, want to get to know me, want to listen to my story - I was there for those reasons – to get to know other people on the same path, to support them and hear about their journeys, to accept them and give them love straight up before I got to know them, just because I knew they were practicing Nichiren Buddhism. I love this practice that much that it was enough of a ‘referee’ for me. But instead, I found a group that was pretty clicky and tight. It was hard to make an 'in' with them. I even tried another meeting with another group, but in the end figured it was me getting it wrong. And so I kept attending and never really walked away from a meeting feeling empowered and inspired.

    About 6 weeks before my conferral ceremony at SGI, I happened to show someone at a SGI discussion meeting my 'igongyo' app. It basically had recordings of gongyo, slow and fast and a little gohonzon you could chant to. It also had the full sutra (parts A, B & C in full - wow it's long!). In any case, I was really vilified by the group for thinking it was OK to have this app. Did I not understand the significance of the Gohonzon? They were horrified. It went on and on until I was almost in tears. I


    So, I received an SGI Gohonzon, and yes, it has changed my life. Personally, I feel more equipped to deal with anything life throws at me. My determination is strong and getting stronger each day, my ability to reflect before responding (reacting) is strong. I feel more compassionate, more able to make decisions that serve me and others best and more capable of taking action towards my goals. I have met my soul mate and we are getting married this year. I am living in the part of the world I always dreamt of living and the list goes on....yes, there are still huge struggles and again, this practice helps me see these as opportunities to further myself rather than setbacks.

    So I have felt disheartened by the organisation side of it. But it doesn't mean I will give up my practice. And it doesn't mean that I will stop drawing 'fairy cards' or using flower essences or meditating or listening to guided shamanic journeys.

    I haven't been to many more SGI meetings and I really don't feel a deep need to. But I am not strongly opposed to it either. I guess I don’t like the obligation part of the SGI. It takes away from the practice for me. I love to connect with like minded people. People on a path to being the best 'them' that they can be.

    I will continue to subscribe to Indigo – the monthly SGI publication. And I will continue to buy and read Daisaku's writings or any other writings by Nichiren enthusiasts, but I also enjoy reading the Dalai Lama's work, Louise Hay, Wayne Dwyer, Caroline Myss - they're all amazing. They all have awesomeness to offer. I do practice silent meditations (I was never told not to).

    I was really happy to read about all these people practicing independently. I thought I was a complete stand alone and it’s just so heartwarming to know that others have had a similar journey.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Pegasus. The SGI is not the be all and end all of Nichiren Buddhism. Explore other Nichiren practices and see what resonates with you there. Learn about the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha and understand the Dharma, because Buddhism is not solely the Writings of Nichiren Shonin (nor the writings of Daisaku Ikeda, for that matter)

      I personally have no issue with the app you describe. I think it's fantastic! We live in an era of technology - let's use it. It doesn't mean that because an electronic gohonzon isn't enshrined and printed in paper that it is less significant. What it means is that it's portable.

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  14. I may not be able to post for awhile! I hope you will all prosper and be happy!

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  15. Tell me how your new Spiritual journey goes. I really want to know.

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  16. As an ex sgi member I would like to ask Ikeda to return my
    donations. Just saying.

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  17. Hi there,
    I once was SGI as well, the only good thing is that they introduced me to Nichiren and his Buddhism.
    I left after about 2 or 3 years when i couldn't attend the meeting that much due to work schedules.

    I then hooked up with Kempon Hokke Shu, at first it felt okay , but within a year , i found that corruption doesn't have any prejudice, at some point, lectures were submitted that had absolutely nothing to do with Nichiren, nor his teachings anymore.

    I now am independent as well, i have contacts with people who do likewise.

    I am trying to set up a community, of some sort, where people can be introduced to Nichiren without being obliged to attend meeting, without the obligation to raise funds or donate to me personally ....

    All i want is that the teaching sof the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren are being introduced in order to give every person the opportunity to attain the Supreme Enlightenment as Lord Buddha has promised to us all .

    I will add a link to your blog on my page :)

    I sincerely hope you are willing to link my blog onto your page as well.

    With Gassho,

    link:

    http://truenichiren.blogspot.nl

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    1. Excellent idea! I'll be visiting your blog.

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  18. Hello. I've been chanting for 20 years and an inactive member of SGI for 10. I want be apart of no organization. How does one leave SGI? I rarely speak to any members, I receive no communication from them (by choice) but my name is still active as a member, which I suppose means nothing. Altogether I would like to leave though.

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    1. Hi Chanting Buddha. In my case, I informed the leaders that I was leaving to practice independently. I basically faded out and stopped going to meetings. I was never asked to return my Gohonzon, although I have heard stories from people who were asked to do so. Gohonzon is yours. You're still a Nichiren Buddhist, you just no longer practice with the SGI. Do some research as well. Go take a look at the other Gohonzons online, have a read of the opinions of other independent practitioners. And good luck. I'd love to know how you get along.

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  19. Hi Tam,

    I just found your great blog a few days ago. Thank you for this. I recently began my practice again after 25 years away. The only way I thought I could get a Gohonzon (my old one was lost somewhere after four moves across the country) was to join the SGI. It didn't take me long to realize why that org turned me off all those years ago and I am now happily studying and practicing independently. However, I would really like to know what might be available for independent practitioners for sutra books. Every time I come to the prayer thanking the SGI and its leaders, I'm uncomfortable. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Saintchkn.

      Here is a different take on the prayers. Modify them as you please. I'll post them separately as well as a blog post

      Silent Prayers
      Chant extended (hiki) Daimoku: Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
      (ring bell five times)
      (chant Sansho)


      First Prayer
      Offering to Protective Forces
      I sincerely pray to the protective forces that are born from the harmonizing effect of the practice of the One Vehicle. I pray that I might add to those protective forces to protect anyone that practices this teaching.
      (insert individual prayer here)

      (chant Sansho)

      Second Prayer
      Offering to the Law
      I express my sincere devotion to the Gohonzon. The True Object of Devotion for the Observation of the Mind and the only Depiction of the Triple Bodied Tathâgata in the Fifth Five Hundred Years Period after the Tathâgata’s Passing over to Nirvana.
      (chant Sansho)
      (insert individual prayer here)


      Third Prayer
      Offering to the Lineage

      I offer my devotion to the Buddha, the first 25 lineage holders, Kumarajiva, Nanyueh, T’ien-t’ai, Changan, Miaolo, Dengyo, and Nichiren.
      (chant Sansho)
      (insert individual prayer here)


      Fourth Prayer
      Offering for Peace and Practitioner

      I sincerely pray for the Great Aspiration of the Buddha, the peace of the land brought about through the purification of the mind.
      (chant Sansho)
      I pray to eradicate negative karma in my life, and to continually purify and deepen my faith and practice so that I may attain enlightenment in this body.
      (insert Personal Prayers)
      (chant Sansho)


      Fifth Prayer
      Offering to the Deceased and all of Existence

      I pray that all my deceased relatives, all
      deceased Nichiren believers, and all others
      who have departed this life may attain
      Buddhahood through the power of MyohoRenge-Kyo.
      (offer special memorial prayers while
      sounding the bell continuously)
      (chant Sansho)
      May the impartial benefits of MyohoRenge-Kyo penetrate the far reaches of the
      Universe to allow all life to experience the silence and illumination of the Seat of the Law.
      (ring bell three times and chant extended (hiki) Daimoku)

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  20. Hi Tam,

    This is very helpful. I've printed it out and will read it more thoroughly, then put it into use. You seem to have eliminated all the troubling areas of the SGI version I've been using and added some additional things that I like very much. So far I've only altered one prayer - the first prayer - by adding, "as well as the natural world" at the end of it.

    Is this a Nichiren Shu version or your own construction or a combination? In any case, it's going to be very useful to me.

    I think it would outstanding if someone would print a complete liturgy book with the Hoben and Juryo chapters along with these prayers for those of us practicing independently.

    Thank you again. I am just making my way back into Nichiren Buddhism and I am mature enough at this point in my life to be very selective about my daily practice.

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  21. I do have a a booklet. I didn't prepare it myself, though. It was prepared by someone else who made it available on his website, however, he converted to Christianity and has subsequently taken his website down. I am happy to make it available to you. I have added you to my acquaintances on Google Plus. I can email it to you. The second prayer was prepared by me, the first one I found on another independent Nichiren site.

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    1. Hi again Tam,
      I appreciate your help with the prayers. After recently sorting out the ideological differences among the three Nichiren sects in North America - SGI, Nichiren Shoshu and Nichiren Shu (I was one of those who mistakenly thought Shu was shorthand for Shoshu), I've determined, with relief, that Nichiren Shu is the practice that suits me best in all respects. I've obtained one of their liturgy books, along with other study material, and am in the process of adjusting my daily practice. I've tried to contact the main North American Nichiren Shu organization to find out how and if I can obtain a Nichiren Shu Gohonzon (I would then return the one I'm currently using from SGI), but they have been unresponsive. Any ideas on this?

      I'm also trying to figure out a technical or stylistic aspect of reading the liturgy. I practice solo and am finding it a juggling act to follow the guidelines of ringing the bell at different points in the reading while still holding my juzu as I usually do. I've resorted to taking the beads from my right hand and letting them drape over my left pinky until the bell isn't rung as often, but that seems a little casual for a respectful practice. Any ideas on this one?

      (I've also been pleasantly surprised at the beautiful, meaningful prayers in the back of their liturgy. I'm using the first one currently.)

      Thanks, as always, for your thoughts and ideas.

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  22. Thank you! I would really like to have it. I'm don't regularly use google mail (yet...that's about to change after I return from a business trip). You can email me at cc@ccbarton.com, which goes through my website. You've been so very helpful.
    CC

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  23. I joined SGI very recently and I think after all the reading of at least personal experiences (I won't get into doctrinal debates about who's "right"), it seems like SGI is good in some places and not in others, and it seems like a lot of discontent in the district level where one makes contact with SGI at first.

    I did look at different Nichiren sects and tried to approach a Nichiren Shu priest to see if they could advise me on how to start practice and I got a pretty cold reception (I live in Arizona which is ... to put it lightly ... far from any Nichiren Shu or other Nichiren-based organization except for SGI).

    But in the end, I ended up joining SGI because there was a lot of hospitality and genuine welcome for me, and even acceptance that I live in an interfaith household. There was some pressure for me to receive the Gohonzon, but nothing that I would call "high pressure". I think part of this is due to the fact that I live in a "frontier" or "pioneer" district and there aren't a lot of members here and no entrenched clique which I think helps a lot.

    Just some thoughts to share.

    Peace.

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    1. Phosezoe - I am glad you are finding a space for yourself in the SGI. Personally, practicing independently works best for my lifestate. Connect with Gohonzon and the teachings. That is all that you really need.

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  24. Hi - I joined the SGI in 1979 in San Francisco, but left them in 1986. When the Nichiren Shoshu temple and the SGI separated in 1991, I transferred with my spouse and four children to the temple. While my wife continues to align herself with the temple, I do not. Nevertheless, I continue with my morning and evening prayers to the Gohonzon with my wife at home. My children still practice and occasionally, when they visit, do Gongyo with me.

    Below is a link to my silent prayers, which I hope everyone who reads this post will consider adapting as their own. They may not be for everyone but, for those who believe that enlightenment is possible without belief in the supernatural and want to free themselves of sectarian righteousness, they may be of great help to your practice.

    https://sites.google.com/site/buddhistrealism/home/silent-prayers

    Thank you,
    John Tate, Vallejo, CA
    jrtate1947@gmail.com

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    1. Thank you for the silent prayers, John. I have shared them on my blog.

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  25. Love your blog. I have been interested in Nichiren Buddhism for a while now. I have read all the stories about SGI good and bad. And i have looked into Nichiren shu. If i had my choice i would pick Nichiren shu to start but there is no Nichiren shu whatsoever in my area but there is SGI so maybe that would be a good place to start? Any help would be great. Thanks!

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    1. Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. SGI is a good place to start, however, I personally felt the need to leave them after a time. Have you tried practicing independently?

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    2. Excuse me if my English is not good, I am from a Spanish speaking country
      I practiced with SGI for over 20 years. I felt good and achieved some things, but I discovered that most of my goals were not realized. They tend to blame yourself for your failures. However Nichiren teaches that you should have a good friend. Practice alone is very dificult. When I check with them about my difficulties they told me: your goals are incorrect, not going to make it or they are not for your human revolution . they are repressive, especially in sexual and economics matters. They are not authentic Nichiren Buddhist.

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    3. Dear Alejandro -

      I noticed your post on Tamarai's website and wanted to respond.

      I agree, it is very difficult to practice alone but, at the same time, I believe it is something you can overcome with a good relationship with your Gohonzon. For me, breaking away from the SGI in the 1970s involved a lot of anger and finger pointing, but I stuck with the practice and found my own way without them. Fortunately, my family also practiced and, although they did not share my outlook about the SGI at the time, I was still able to do morning and evening prayers with them at our altar at home. In a way, therefore, I was never alone and I hope you are not completely alone as well.

      A similar situation developed for me when I migrated to Nichiren Shoshu. 20 years is a long time with any organization. For me, I could only handle about 5 to 10 years at each. It reached the point where I just could not take it anymore.

      When I look back on it, I realize that the separations had a lot to do with both their imperfections and mine. I have no hard feeling now and learned a lot from both experiences

      If you feel that you have developed a wholesome relationship with your Gohonzon and a daily practice and need some support, please feel free to contact me at the following email address: jrtate1947@gmail.com

      Also, you may wish to consider my secular views on the practice as expressed in my rather basic website: https://sites.google.com/site/buddhistrealism/home

      (Sorry Tam for repeatedly dropping links to my site in your blog.)

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    4. No problem. I value the input.

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  26. I think I will try independently.

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  27. I think I will try independently.

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  28. Hello, I am an SGI member in the US. I find this blog fascinating. I'm solid in my practice both as a Nichiren Buddhist and as a member of the SGI organization.

    To all those who endured attacks and abuse, I'm so sorry to hear that. It's truly unfortunate. And you're right, that's not the behavior of a Buddhist. Perhaps it would be dismissive to say people aren't perfect because I don't think that leads to deeper understanding (although we often talk of doing our human revolution in the SGI).

    No organization is above criticism, and your experiences and concerns are all valid. I have lived in various places in the US and have experienced many things, good and bad. I continued to be inspired by my parents and the pioneering members who continued to push through, regardless of the challenges. They demonstrated, to me, the concept of "turning poison into medicine." Because of them, I have endured the challenges myself, and have focused on the bigger picture, kosen-rufu. It ultimately means, creating unity with fellow members, our family, friends, and neighbors, regardless of their beliefs, gender, sexual-orientation, etc. Losing sight of kosen-rufu leads to these kinds of negative experiences. I'm sorry you were targeted, but I also hope you can forgive them. We're only human, after all (that's not dismissive, but the truth).

    The SGI is an organization to help unite us, to bridge the divides in the world. Outside of the SGI, this blog, too serves as an organization, where many of you are reaching out to support one another. The SGI is not perfect, but does it's best to accomplish this task: uniting people toward a common goal. There are all kinds of people, at different levels, different places from different backgrounds. We're bound to have a few bumps in the road, but that's why such an organization is key. Anyways, I just wanted to represent the SGI on this blog, if even just a little.

    Anyways, I could never tell you what to do, but, if it's any consolation: "I welcome you back to the SGI, anytime, whenever or never, with open arms, no questions asked."

    Hope you all have a great day!

    Sincerely,
    me

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    1. David - My position is that the SGI could be “an organization to help unite us, to bridge the divide in the world,” but I don’t believe it is, as you assert. For me it is not about the “attacks and abuse,” the effects of which lasted only a few years after leaving them long ago, but rather the content of their devotional faith.

      In this regard, you may wish to consider an alternative point of view as expressed in the following website post:

      https://sites.google.com/site/buddhistrealism/home

      If you have the opportunity to read this post, it is hoped you will find a way to embrace Nichiren Buddhism and the unity it offers without preference to any of its sectarian divisions.

      You will also notice alternative prayers for each of the Nichiren sects to be read along with Gongyo, including an alternative version of the SGI’s silent prayers. Although these prayers are incapable of greeting you with “open arms,” I believe you will find them to be a much more unifying upgrade to those you are reading now.

      My best,
      John

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