Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by enlightenment, Sep 17, 2009.
Might I suggest contrasting a group using the "Cult Evaluation Frame(?)" by Issac Bonewitz.
yeah, Soka Gakkai has a bit of a reputation internationally, and are considered in most buddhist circles as a "cult-like" organisation.
But, to balance that... a lot of religious converts proletyse and become fanatical... it's nature's way of imprinting.... the ultra-stuff usually wears off... if a person is a fanatic, and has been involved with an organisation for more than 2-3 years -- stay away from them! They have... issues... IMHO...
Don't you dare... You're loved the way you are
thank you for the post.
i should say here that the views expressed in this post are mine alone and may or may not reflect the views of other administrators or site owner.
with regards to ascertaining if a particular teaching is inline with standard Buddhist praxis its helpful to bear a few of the Buddhas own admonitions in mind in particular, for his conversation, his instructions regarding superstitions, their uses and how a being should behave in a world that has them. the Buddha unequivocally states that beings making a livelihood based on superstition (which was defined in ancient India somewhat differently that we understand today) is engaged in Wrong Livelihood which is a breach of one of the more fundamental sets of Buddhist precepts. thus i would conclude that any practice which advocated the idea of chanting a particular beings name to prevent bad luck from happening is a very superstitious practice indeed and one which, if i may, is quite at odds the general "eye of the work" so to speak of the Buddhas teachings.
the Buddha makes it quite clear that the Dharma talks and teachings are to be given freely without cost. of course in that time beings regularly made donations to the monastic order and as such it was possible for monastics and wandering mendicants to exist without having to charge for teachings. in a modern society where donations to monastics is not an established tradition the charging for teachings has more legitmacy but it is a topic of frequent discussion in various Buddhist circles. there is a magazine called Tricycle Tricycle Magazine | The Buddhist Review that often has authors write about just such a topic.
i'm not keen on membership fees and the Buddha makes no provisions for such ideas in the Vinya or in the Suttas so i'd have to say that such ideas are more reflective of the organization than anything to do with the Buddhdharma. indeed.. the idea of membership fees and dues seems somewhat contrary to the Buddhas teachings regarding Shunyata but it can be difficult to transpose cultural and societal norms from one culture to another and so on this point i'd have to say that it would depend on the specific manner in which they do so.
as for practicing "true" Buddhism you are correct to assume that it doesn't take any money.. indeed... just look at the Buddhas own example and the example of the bulk of the Buddhist luminaries throughout the millienums and you'll see that even if they had money, they gave it up to practice. not all did and giving up wealth isn't required to Awaken and attain Liberation. sometimes rigid rules are required but that is the sort of thing which is so individually based that we really can only speak of it generally. the Buddhist syllabus, if you will, has a pretty formal code of instruction such that anyone could, without the help of a teacher, start the practice and be successful following the written rules.
in my view, your concerns are legitimate. of course all concerns are legitimate if they are based on a desire for the wellbeing of another so that shouldn't be a worry. Soka Gakki and Soka Gakki International (which are legally differnet entities) are treated differently by different sections of the Buddhist community.
i have a good friend that was an SGI Buddhist for many years and it was only after i encouraged him to read some of the Suttas for himself did he realize the mistakes that he'd made in his practice. i'm never in favor of beings allowing others to read the Suttas and tell them what it means i think it is far, far wiser to read them for yourself to ascertain their meaning. i was shocked and appalled to learn that SGI and Soka Gakki discourage the readings of the Suttas. my friend didn't have any of the Suttas so it may be that they don't even have a set of them at their temples, he didn't recall seeing any.
Soka Gakki wasn't started by a monastic, it was started by a Japanese teacher and his friend in 1930 to help deal with the after effects of war in Japan. somewhat later on they incorporated a school of Nichiren Buddhism into their organizational ethos Nichiren Sh?sh? - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nichiren taught one Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, and he taught that devotion to it by saying the sutras mantra as the exclusive means to Awakening and Liberation. Daimoku - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia given that the Buddha specifically taught that there are 84,000 different ways in which a being can Awaken and be Liberated it would seem a difficult conundrum to reconcile. leaving aside Nichiren's own teachings, it is the teachings of his disciples that form the basis of the existing Nichiren schools.
if, as the Buddha taught, noumena and phenomena are empty then there could be nothing gained from the veneration of anything.. let alone a physical object as the SGI advocate. such teachings seem heretical to me.
Personally I see little problem with a non-profit-making charitable status organisation that has running costs simply to, er, keep running, requiring money. I do think it is acceptable to provide a facility for anonymous, unpressurised donations (dana). I’m thinking without this authentic sanghas may not survive (which would presumably not be good for the ongoing transmission of the teaching and practice?)
Indeed. But would you recommend a person unguided delve into the thousands of suttas and commentaries? Systematic structure and summaries are not the hallmark of the teachings; I feel safe in asserting this as Bhikkhu Bodhi says as much in his general introduction to “In the Buddha’s Words.” I’m not attacking or defending any school just wondering if an authentic guide to the bewildering array of such an eclectic body of work might not be worthwhile?
thank you for the post.
i don't disagree with you on principle.. indeed.. i see no other way of doing it in today society without something akin to what happened in ancient India where, essentially, wealthy people would give land or money to the monastic group to make such and such happen.. build a temple, translate the Suttas etc. i suppose the discussion is a fairly nuanced one and is often rather subjective in that there are reasonable fees and expenses and then there is selling Suttas specifically to make a profit. i suppose that, considerations notwithstanding, it is the situation we find ourselves in today as for the ongoing teaching and transmission i'm loathe to say but the Buddhadharma will disappear from this world system in the next few thousand years... and prior to that the Semblance Dharma will replace the True Dharma.... everything is in cycles, even the Dharma
an authentic guide is nearly indispensable for most beings however the Buddha makes the case that said authentic guide is a more senior Buddhist in the case of the Tipitaka, i'd tend to agree... just picking it up, presuming you could find a copy of it in all it's some 170+ volumes, would probably be overwhelming and...well... crappy. i doubt that much could come from it other than an abiding feeling that there are a lot of Suttas!
nevertheless, Buddhism isn't in a book and, though we've got a bloody ton of scripture, the teachings all point to the same thing from a staggering amount of vantage points and provide a set of instructions on how to navigate from where your vantage point is to the goal, so to speak, of the teaching. every being is unique so it can be difficult to be specific and thus we have to be general and, consequently, provide exceptions to nearly everything we say!
Oh of course, but unfortunately there's plenty of flaky moneymakers out there...
Very true, although casual browsing is just likely to lead to the conclusions you draw above (overwhelming, crappy and too many of them!) and so the purpose of it all may well be missed.
If I'm staying with you, in your temple, I have no qualms for paying for what I eat, the energy I use, the room I rest in. I do, though, have an issue with being asked to pay for teachings, talks, and commentaries on buddhism, especially when most of those talks, teachings and commentaries are garbled, and frankly, miss the mark. I do not mind paying an entrance fee if it has cost you a fortune to hire a room specifically for the event, and nor do I mind paying for the tea and coffee I drink or the biscuits I eat, but please let those costs be upfront, and obvious, and unashamed. Beyond that... You want to pay for monk robes? Get them jobs, they can buy their own. You want money to build big gold statues, I'm not giving you a penny for that.
There are several checklists out there. This one makes sense to me:
Isolates followers apart from old friends or reference-points;
Provides followers with instant acceptance from a seemingly loving group;
Keeps followers away from competing or critical ideas;
Provides an authority figure that followers acknowledge as having some special skill or awareness;
Provides a philosophy that seems logical and appears to answer all or the most important questions in life with a single principle;
Structures all or most activities so that there is little time for privacy or independent action or thought
Frames the world in terms of "us" versus "them";
Promises instant or imminent solutions to deep or long-term problems;
Doesn't this describe all organised religion?
no Brian, it does not. (you should be ashamed, man, ashamed!)
Some years ago we visited a Nicheren Buddhist temple around where I live.. anyway they were very nice and friendly and I talked to the priest.. I met some other Nicheren Buddhists as well..
I have no problem with the chant and the Gohonza..point of adoration and so on..
I see though an attempt to divorce themselves from the rest of Buddhism .. by not stressing the historical Buddha and they have their own political organization in Japan.. otherwise the people seem pleasant and easy to get along with.
There is a clear difference between the Nichiren/other buddhist sects and SGI. There are many Japanese who share and feel the same way about SGI. SGI is the only buddhist sect in Japan which TRULY understands globalism, this is a gift they have, hence outside of Japan in the west, one is likely to bump into SGI before any other form of buddhism. To get the entire Japanese package, one really needs to see that Shinto and Buddhism really go hand in hand towards most Japanese, despite what anyone would say. The philosophy in Aikido I think is a really cool place to start.
In Japan, SGI have finally managed to become a political force to be reckoned with, with their Komei political party. I believe they got kicked out from the Nichiren federation because they demanded to see other Nichiren institutions financials which is really none of their business (but they too probably had their reasons as some monks are very corrupt and are busy partying with Geisha's a lot), then again I wouldn't be surprised if those from J crime families were actually also SGI members. And also SGI started to claim openly that only the SGI form of Nichiren is righteous (we all think about a thing when one starts claiming the #1). To no surprise they have one charismatic leader, which seems some members of SGI will die for. SGI has universities, that regularly send out graduates with ideas of securing high government bureaucrat positions like for example the high courts, I heard. Some even rumor that that charismatic leader is an Illuminati (he certainly is well known and respected by all leaders in countries large and small with known problems), and chances of someone disagreeing with me intensely here are probably members, and if the damage is great, I think members will approach Interfaith with a bribe or threat, in order to get my info to track me down, so that I can get intensely harassed.
Despite all these bad rumors, which I frankly believe holds some truth, the Lotus Sutra, I recently discovered is a very significant piece of text helpful to all religious communities, although personally I think it contains a lot of mambo jumbo from the times of 300-500AD. Nam-myo.. that mystical chanting to begin with is not Japanese and ancient Chinese literature which, I think most people in Japan would be surprised if they heard that it actually meant something.. (at least the bible is in the local language and not in pre-Roman Greek or something..) I too found out recently through the English translations that those chants actually meant something, so personally I think a lot of buddhist sects have been slacking off as the Lotus sutra specifically states to spread the word (not chant Chinese mambo jumbo from more than a millennia ago).
So personally I would prefer if all from Christian traditions would generally steer clear of Nichiren and SGI until the meaning of the Lotus sutra can be explained in plain English. The Lotus sutra is really an amazing piece of literature, significant and powerful enough to boost SGI into a large religious arena, but please note that it is the sutra that is potentially great, and that SGI is really just really good and very aggressive at transmitting the fact that the Sutra exists.
Say if only one Christian church had the opportunity to introduce the bible throughout Asia and had a monopoly because no other Church was interested in going beyond their local borders. And if they were really good at marketing it by being International and starting Universities, with a desire to make money and become a political entity to be reckoned with, with a charismatic dictator at the core, and LOADED WITH CASH, with the entire world, wide open and not knowing about a possible insanely great proto-literature called the Lotus Sutra. What would you do? Try to take over the world? just jokin.. but I would certainly be tempted.
And would anyone fear and be cautious about SGI, no doubt. It would be very good if all the other buddhist sects shared the abilities in becoming global to introduce some competition to this SGI cult.
...simple minds are attracted to simple concepts. And that's the problem.
While some people may view chanting mantras to be a relatively innocuous practise, I believe that chanting mantras is a suspicious form of indoctrination that should be acknowledged as a brainwashing technique...
Brainwashing may be a loaded term, but... it suffices.
Repeated and excessive chanting, of anything, means you devote a lot of time thinking about "the organistion/the guru/the concepts", and that accelerates a person's identification with the group/its concepts. Once people begin to identify with the group their individualism is subhumed into the group, and group-think begins. Fanaticism bites, the cause becomes more important than individuals, and, unfortunately, Totalitarianism is just a short step away after that.
Your only hope, then, as a peasant, is that the wise King is also benevolent. If he is not... it could be Kool-Aid time.
"I see though an attempt to divorce themselves from the rest of Buddhism .. by not stressing the historical Buddha..."
--> Most forms of Japanese Buddhism -- including Nichiren -- do not have any pictures or statues of the the historical Buddha. (I was quite surprised when I found this out. I found myself asking to myself, "How can you call this a Buddhist temple if you don't have any pictures of the historical Buddha here in your temple?") The biggest Buddhist denomination in Japan is Nishi Hongwanji, and they, too, have no pictures or statues of the the historical Buddha in their temples.
Similarly, by extention:
Doesn't the above cited quotation describe all organised Criminals & Rap Music devotees & political Ethnic Seperatists & old-time colonialism and non-unionised factory labor?.
Yet, ironically, it does NOT describe all porn manufacturers, nor law abiding tax payers.
Anyway, how are you gonna form a cult, down on the farm, once the kids "see yea ole gay Paris"?
Intelligence = ability to descriminate properly between subtile differences.
IE: "Cheese & Butter & Milk are all the same" ---but, intelligence says "Cheese & Butter & Milk" are all different.
IE: 2 + 2 = 22 ---but, intelligence says 2 + 2 = 4.
Separate names with a comma.