Here is what some people have written to tell me. Most recent responses are at the top:Date: Sat, 1 Sep 2007 03:09:05 EDT
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006 00:27:46 EDT
I'm just reading your page and i think you need to update it. Soka Gakkai's members had been excomiunicated from NSA since 1991. Also Nichiren writed alotof Gohonzon, before writing the Daigohonzon, wich one you refer as a big stone, the Daigohonzon was actually wrote in wood.
Please, sorry for my English it's not that good.
I'm going to finish reading your page now.
Even when you critisize alot, I think is a nice lecture.
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 2005 11:27:52 +0800 (SGT)
Subject: your expose on Soka gakki
Dear Mr Pariser,
I write to you with regard to your expose on the Soka Gakki on the
internet. We are a production house and are in the pre production stage of
doing a short film on buddhism, soka Gaki. We request if your material can
be used as a resource material for our production. Do visit our web site
to gain further information on our company.
eagerly awaiting your reply.
From: "isadora" <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 11:49:30 -0700
I chant and I just wanted to tell you that even though you have a right for your opinion about the SGI, everything you wrote is not right. You do not need to pay $50-55 to be a member and chanting is not about greed. Unfortunately there are members who focus on that when they introduce people, but I think that has more to do with the person than with the organization, which is a lay organization so it is hard to monitor what everyone says. You can chant to a wall for years before you decide to get the gohonzon and it costs $20. In the past they would give away gohonzons, but they decided it would be better not to. Most buddhists should respect other religions and accept them. Actually if you go to SGI.org you will see that President Ikeda is in constant dialogue with leaders from all over the world and people of different religious preferences, so the orgranization does not stand for what you said in the last paragraph. If you really study the budist's texts and Ikeda and other materials about the organization you will see explicitally that the gohonzon is not endowed with magical powers, it is actually against the precept of Nichiren Buddhism. It is stated in one of the goshos that the gohonzon is "not magical incantation"! Criticism is valid and many members of the SGI accept criticism, but to say things which are not true to the core of the organization is not right. It is important for us as SGI members and critics to study and have founded questions so that dialogue can exist. Ikeda and the SGI members and leaders receive many honorable school mentions and work for world peace creating dialogue, there are actually many articles in books and magazines talking about Buddhism and Christianity and Buddhism and other religions standing hand in hand. Please read more, do research before coming up with opinions that are not based on the actual organization and chanting of Nam-Myo-horenge Kyo.
I think it makes no sense for me to keep discussing this since there would be no real dialogue without research. Unfortunately, all religions are complex and require diligent study and research. When we criticize our politicians we need to know what we are talking about, right? I think it is the same with "religion" and spirituality. It is easy to call all religion practices cults and say they steal money or the leaders are corrupt, but what is hard is to have knowledge and proof. The SGI's biggest leader is the gohonzon and the chanting, not Ikeda. Ikeda is not the first mentor of the SGI and there is another "sect" which relies on priests for enlightenment which stemmed from the same root and which has nothing to do with the SGI. Ikeda is actually against this mentality that we need to rely on anybody outside ourselves and that is why it is a lay organization with many leaders all over the world. I am originally from Brazil and I grew up with the understanding that it is important to ask questions, read and do research about everything before stating an opinion such as yours. I never wear uniforms when I go to meetings and the SGI is actually spread all over the world, not just in Japan. And members all over the world that do not wear uniforms represent the SGI as well. But once ignorance or lack of knowledge sets in, the discussion is over. Thanks anyway for inspiring me for further discussion and research.
From: "Joe" <****>
To: "'Harry S. Pariser'" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Great Article About SGI: CONSUMER BUDDHISM
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005
Thanks for writing back.
The book that you suggested looks good.
I am glad that I attended some SGI meetings. It gave me a new perspective on human behavior, but it also makes me feel sorry the others that can’t see above and beyond and that Ikeda is a shit head egomaniac.
I am surprised that they only charge $20.00 for the Gohonzon. Why don’t they raise the price to $2,000?
Have you ever thought about starting a religion of your own?
Here’s my attempt to get a Gohonzon for free:
This a letter I sent to the chapter leader
(Please don’t publish this on the internet. I am still wanting for a reply from the chapter leader)
Hi “Chapter Leader”,
I think that it is best if I first study the Gongyo on my own using the CD. After I get a handle on it, I can then reinforce it by practicing it in a small group in my home in front of the Gohonzon. I think this would make the meeting more spiritual.
I believe that I know at least one other person and maybe two that have an interest in Buddhism. I will ask them if they would like to attend the meeting on Tuesday.
Also I decided that I want to receive the Gohonzon. I can not make the recommended financial donation at this time. However I would be able to make a much larger donation at a later date. My uncle passed away and I will be collecting an inheritance, but I need to wait 6 weeks to collect it. It appears that good Karma can sometimes result from someone else’s bad Karma.
Let me know if I can receive the Gohonzon without making the recommended financial donation. It would be against my own personal beliefs to borrow money from the group to pay for it. I live a debt free life.
I think that it is important to practice the Gongyo while in front of the Gohonzon.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo,
From: "Joe" <****>
Subject: growing dislike for SGI
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 11:25:19 -0800
I feel enlightened by what I have learned. In fact I am now so enlightened that I feel a need to save other people from cults. Yes I want to become the leader of a cult that saves people from cults. With the money I’ll make I’ll buy out Harbin Hot Springs and fuck hippie women all day long.
Actually I would like to put more information on the internet about SGI. I have a growing dislike for the organization.
What can be done to reach more people?
Subject: The SGI Gohonzon for your archives
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 09:02:38 -0800
This is the official SGI Gohonzon. I thought you might like to have it for
your archives. I should have one of much higher resolution in a few days.
I went to the meeting last night for the free food. I don’t mind the chanting, but the testimonials were boring as hell. After munching down on some free food, I took home one of the girls from the meeting. I fucked her brains out in front of a Gohonzon that I printed myself from my HP Laser Jet. She said its bad karma to obtain a Gohonzon outside of SGI. I said it looks like good Karma to me. Then I had big orgasm and thank her for being a part of my Gohonzon receiving ceremony.
I can now say that I’ve finally had enough of this group.
The woman that I fucked last night has been a part of SGI for 20 years.
She has been living a lie for 20 years!!! This shit is amazing!!!
From: "Joe" <*****>
Subject: CONSUMER BUDDHISM
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 11:18:03 -0800
I still want to understand where SGI gets their big money from. They can’t make millions by selling $20 Gohonzons. (Just for shits and giggles I downloaded mine from the internet)
The average member doesn’t seem to contribute that much financially. ($20 for the Gohonzon and $20 for the cabinet to put it in)
The chapter leaders seem to do a lot more. They volunteer to work the book store at the community center and sometimes provide free food for the meetings.
Interestingly the chapter leader down here in San Diego was once a Born Again Christian. I guess she traded one cult in for another.
Harry, What part of the picture am I missing here?
How does SGI rank in the big buck?
Will they put a snake in my mail box? Has this group ever been known to be violent?
I’m finding this stuff fascinating.
Thanks for your help
From: "Joe" <*****>
Subject: RE: Or are they just nuts?
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 18:10:00 -0800
I have a couple techniques that work well with women.
I use the good old techniques in Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” for one.
However this book alone is not enough. I believe my experience selling timeshares has helped a great deal.
I know that all women will ask the same questions on a date. It is important to be quick with the “right answers”.
I also know that all women will come up with the same objections. It is important to quickly cover her objection and move on.
It is also important to express humor that shows intelligence and have an altitude like “I got other women that want to date me this is no big deal”.
It is never a good idea to spend a lot of money on a date. The last thing you want is to spend $150 on dinner just to have her tell you that the “Chemistry isn’t right, so lets just be friends” (real friends pay half). That would make any man feel ripped off and the woman gets always with it because it is customary for the man to pick up the check.
To maintain the relationship for 2 months or more I like John Gray’s book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”.
There is nothing shallow about the desire to have sex with women. Having sex with a woman that wants to be with you is 1,000% better than sex with a prostitute. If I could find the right women, I would certainly be in a long term relationship. In the meantime it is never good to go too long without sex.
I also find that women of different social strata, liberal or bible thumping republican all have sex by the second or third date.
Internet dating is the newest phase of the sexual revolution. It is easy to date 10 or 15 different women in a short time span. There are some clever ways to use Match.com for free and I found them. Craig’s List works great also. (The woman I was with last night was from Craig’s List). All personal ads should be combined with professional quality stunning photos. People spend more time looking at images than reading the text. So why not use the maximum amount of images.
Actually this woman I met from Craig’s List I like her a lot. She doesn’t wear makeup, clothes from the mall or high heels. I’m going to try to make this work, but then again I’ve seen a lot of things start out good and turn bad so who knows.
For the most part people are crazy.
My experience with SGI has done a lot to enlighten me about cults and world religions in general. Group type behavior is fascinating. I will have to do more research on this.
Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2002 12:36:25 +0200 X-Priority: 3 Dear Harry, My name is ---- , presently I am living in Italy and I am about to receive the Gohonzon from SGI. I came across your page while looking for the sanscrit version of Nam MyoHo RenGe Kyo. Here the organization is going throught rough times, a crisis that touches many people all over Italy, and is coming to the surfaceærecently.æThe description and experiences mention in your page are the same as the ones you can find here,æthere's lot of dellutioned people, and willing to leave the organization.æThere is a clear distinction though between the organization and the practice, while the organization is falling, the practice remains a highly appreciated act. It seems that it has happened in otheræcountries as well, my question is how things evolved in other countries. i.e. in the USA or the Bay Area. Do peopleæjust leave andæforgetæabout SG, is there peolple who can se beyond what they are told and then act upon within the organization? I noticed your page dates from long ago, but if your are still in this address I would appreciate your comments. kind regards ---
This recently appeared in the East Bay Express:
Ikeda is it ... run!: That sure was an uplifting display of humanitarian virtues at 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza last week. A few weeks ago, city officials granted a request from members of the Soka Gakkai Buddhist group to set up a photo exhibit in the lobby of the city-owned building as part of a national tour honoring heroes of peacemaking throughout history. The honorees included such renowned pacifists as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and ... Daisuke Ikeda? Maybe you've never heard of Ikeda, but roughly ten thousand Japanese citizens wish they never had. Back in 1995, after the deadly sarin gas attack on a Tokyo subway train, the government began investigating the influence of allegedly dangerous cults in Japanese society -- and after Aum Shinrikyo, the organization that executed the attack, the lay Buddhist group Soka Gakkai and its leader Ikeda became the primary target of the investigation. Soka Gakkai, which means "value-creating society," is one of several Japanese organizations that claim to draw inspiration from Nichiren, a thirteenth-century monk who coined the chant "nam myoho renge kyo" as a means to spiritual enlightenment. But the San Francisco Chronicle and Time magazine report that Soka Gakkai has been accused of a variety of dangerous practices, including browbeating its members into relentless fund-raising campaigns, forming phony political parties in order to surreptitiously influence the government, and beating and harassing members who try to leave. In 1991, dissident member Yoshiro Yahiro left the group with about a hundred others; shortly afterwards, he claimed, several hundred Soka Gakkai goons stormed into the new temple he had founded and beat him so severely that he was hospitalized for three months. In 1995, Tokyo Assembly member Akiyo Asaki was reportedly preparing to deliver a speech on the excesses of Soka Gakkai when she mysteriously fell to her death from the window of a five-story building. Not quite like marching to Selma, eh? That's what at least one city employee thought when she saw the display and contacted us. City officials explain that screening every display applicant for bizarre religious crimes is just something they never thought of doing -- besides, the display has already appeared at the International House at UC Berkeley. We asked Soka Gakkai member Bruce Nickelson, who organized the display, why Ikeda deserved the stature of Gandhi and King. "Since 1964, he has every year issued a peace proposal and submitted it to the United Nations," Nickelson says. "It's observations and recommendations to advance peace, nuclear disarmament, and address refugee status." Sounds lovely, but what about those pesky allegations of abuse and exploitation? "I'm unaware of those particular stories," Nickelson says, "But I know that any number of allegations have been raised, and without exception, Ikeda and his organization has prevailed. It comes with the territory of promoting peace around the world."
eastbayexpress.com | originally published: July 10, 2002
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2001 11:22:11 -0800 From: "www.hotmail.com"
Subject: response to Sgi article
I enjoyed your article very much and thought it was very good at describing this group. My own experience with Soka Gakkai involved being taken to a temple by a group of what I would call zealots, while I was still on psychotropic medication after being discharged from San Francisco General Hospital. They eagerly took me to recieve my Gohonzon at their temple in Pinole without my understanding of what it was all about. I was pretty much out of it The few meetings I did attend seemed very much like Amway or something like that. The stress was on attaining whatever you want as long as you chant. It was creepy. Looking at their literature you get the sense you're reading propaganda with the look of communist literature. Now looking back on my experience I'm really disgusted by their behavior.
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 02:48:21 +0100 (BST) From: Jyotika Menon
Subject: Ref :Article by HS Pariser
This has ref to your article on Buddhist Comsumerism. by Harry S Pariser I will not pretend to be an authority on religion or philisophy but what Mr Pariser has written about Soka Gakkai shows not only his lack of understanding of religion but also a narrow vision and an attitude to condemn everything he understands very little of, which I am sure covers a lot more than Buddhism . Its very easy to hide under the umbrella of Christian beliefs or Christianity and say that everything which does not conform is wrong. I am sure neither Christ nor the Church would be in sink here. I have studied in a Christian institution and no where have I ever learned to condemn or talk about anything in so derogatory a manner as Mr Parisor did in the article. Are you aware Mr Parisor that Soka Gakkai has higher schools of education for all students where everything from engineering to arts and science is taught.You do not have to be a Buddhist to join these colleges,you have to be like everyone else ,take a test ,get good scores and get a seat .The Dean and faculty of such a college could be from any community Christian ,Muslim,Jew ....incidently the Dean is an Islamic Professor. Buddhism as a religion is never propogated ,no one sits on your head and wants you to convert there is no such thing .......nothing but GOOD HUMAN VALUES ARE TAUGHT. Buddhism talks about nurturing people,building a global community of citizens who can work towards peace ,can understand why war is madness and also make their children realize that , once and for all. Buddhism talks about correcting stupid mistakes humanity has committed over the years,conflicts where human beings lose their lives and sanity and never never learn.(All religions talk about it) Soka Gakkai works for for people during disasters and calamities like the Earthquake in India.SGI works for the environment,it works for people. Yes as a religion there are ways to pray and there are prayers(as in all religions ) there is no hard and fast rule ,though Buddhism is a religion which unfortunately a lot of people have slandered..there are varous sects which are trouble makers(there is no other word for it )but that is so in all major world religions.Christianity is not removed form slanderous subdivisions.Neither is any other religion.There will always be people who will distort something for their own benefit,some people even believe they are God.You have so many people in insane asylums who believe they are the reincarnation of Christ. I feel sorry when this attitude to lump everything as a cult dominates so called writers today who for some obscure reason believe such things they write will give them credibility ,especially in a marketplace where dirt and bunkum find readers. I have gained a lot from Soka Gakkai,by applying true Buddhist principles thru my student life and now as a professional...I can respect human life and I can live a dignified existence and I can distinguish b/w right and wrong,I can achieve whatever goals I set out for myself time after time,I can make my parents and people around me happy ,what more can anyone want. Is it all not what religion should do for you? I wish to thank you for taking out time to read this mail.I will also take this opportunity to request you to publish stuff which has been reasearched and is not just the figment of imagination of a scoop starved writer.
Warm Regards Jyotika
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 17:30:23 +0100 (BST) From: Jyotika Menon
Subject: Re: Ref :Article by HS Pariser To: "Harry S. Pariser"
Daisaku Ikeda has never ever portrayed himself as God,and is not considered to be God by Buddhists. We follow the Daishonin's teachings or the Gosho.The Gosho is the religious text( like we have The Gita, The Upanishads and The Bible and so many others).This is not some newly formed fad ,but these texts are ancient original writings of the Daishonin. Buddhists do not pray in front of Daisaku Ikeda.If you have seen enlarged photographs of Mr Ikeda it is just probably a mark of respect people have for a true leader. There are no saffron or white robes or frenzied activity happening here...if you have seen it that ways you have not really encountered Soka Gakkai. In a country where depression and desonance has brought about the dangerous cult culture(which can even massacre or brainwash desperate people under the guise of religion)it is not difficult to get swayed and or have fixed ideas. I feel an open mind is necessary,and when you have gone to the depths of things and researched completely you may be in a better position to judge.
Wish you all the luck
Rgds Jyotika -
I am so saddened to read your article about my religion but I cannot disagree with your evaluation of NSA. I studied sokka gakkai in Japan and Okinawa and it was there that I became a member. When I returned to the United States after four years in Japan, I was shocked and saddened to see what the Americans had done to this religion. My opinion matched yours: I felt that I was attending a Amway or Herbalife meeting and the entire focus was on chanting for material gain. This is not the way of this religion in Japan. There is a deeper, spiritual meaning in the chanting for those who have taken the time to study the religion and read the major writings. I recommend that if you want to gain the true meaning of this Buddhism, travel to Japan or Okinawa and study the religion there. What you have seen in American is not the fault of the religion, but an alarming statement of our own society in America.
Chong Kien Keong
>>On Mon, 11 Mar 1996, bruno cipolat wrote: >> >>> I'd like to print your article on S.G, if possible (personal use: for my >>> own curiosity and to show a friend involved in S.G.). Drop me a line. > >well, there was an exhibition here in Milan on human rights sponsored by >S.G. in which this friend of mine felt pretty much involved, so I submitted >"sokka gakkai" to Alta Vista and there popped up your article, hyperlinks >and all. I thought it was interesting to hear a dissenting voice (the other >items were rather official ones, and that would have been no news to my >friend). Her faith remains unshaken, though... >Were you aware that the SGI was excommnuicated from Nichiren Shoshu in 1991? >It is it's own religion today. > >I agree with your article with respect to its portrayal of the SGI ,but as >all of us who left to stay with Nichiren Shoshu have found, NS is very >different. > >Please let me know if I can answer any questions.
> >Kurt Triffet
Thanks for the note back!
First of all the Gohonzon in the Potrero Hill condo did not cost $3,000. While a donation is asked of members who recieve the Gohonzon, that donation NEVER, NEVER exceeds $25. What you are probably refering to is the Bustudan (a japanese word that literally translates as Buddha House that refers to the alter where the gohonzon is enshrined. The later consists of a cabinet in which to hang the Gohonzon, a table to keep it at eye level, an insense burner, candles, water cup, fruit and greens. When I was a new member I used a white shirt box to function as a Butsudan. the other items, candle holders, bwl for fruit and other items were all gathered from around my house. No one in the organization ever suggested that I should spend any money on these items or purchase them from the organization. After a few years of practice I wanted to purchase an alter that reflected the increased importance that Buddhism had in my life. I purchased a wooden alter and matching alter items from a shop that supplies buddhist religious articles to the asian community in my area. The store has no relation to the SGI and was the sole beneficary of the profits from my purchase. Your statement was misleading in that it implied to readers that the organization required members to make these purchases. the japanese term Shakubuku does not translate into "break and subdue". it means to "refute heretical teachings" In the context of Buddhism which teaches that most people suffer becuase they seek happiness or fulfilment in transient phenomena or misleading life philosphies. In practice this does not mean criticizing or pointing out other peoples faults or religious beliefs. It means teaching them about the Buddhist practice as a valid methodology for dealing with the difficulties in thier lives and attaining a greater degree of happiness.
You also refer to the Gohonzon originally inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin as being carved in stone. actually it was carved in Camphor wood.
You mention that ."it is not at all difficult to become a member of the Soka Gakjkai. One has only to attend a meeting, fill out the application . . . pay the required sums. . ." To become a member you must make a signifigant commitment to the practice of Buddhism including: 1) attend meeting regularly
2) learn the morning and evening prayers and recite them daily
3) Set up an alter in your home
4) Have an informal visit from a senior leader to ensure the applicant has:
a) basic understanding of Buddhist concepts and theory
b) the support of their spouse or family if they are the only individual in the houshold taking faith.
c) that the alter (however simple) is correctly set up.
In a very rare instance this process might take as little as four months. More commonly it takes 6 months to a year. The organization will not accept an applicants $25 donation or confer a Gohonzon and membership until all the above have been met.
I realize (and maybe even agree) that some of the above corrections may seem minor. Perhaps individually they are minor but there were literally dozens of such errors in your presentation and taken as a whole these errors really detract from what you have to say.
There are things within the SGI organization that merit criticism. The same could be said for any large organization (our goverment) run by people with all faults and failings that are part of the human experience. Fortunately the SGI organization is now one which allows for it's members to voice their criticisms and to be a force for change. Even unpopular opinions are welcome to be expressed openly and discussed.
Most of your criticisms may have had some validity in the 80's when the organization was called NSA. The organization did more than change it's name to SGI-USA in 1991. It changed much of it's leadership. It's day to day functioning is directed more by the members upwards than from the "leaders" down.
This page last updated: Sat, Sep 15, 2007