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Switch to Forum Live View Seeking more insight on SGI Buddhism
8 years ago  ::  Oct 30, 2009 - 3:23PM #101
Dude_
Posts: 1

        songshand:


         I completely understand your concerns. 


         Your present dilemma brings to mind my own issues with the practice in my early days after I joined. I had always been skeptical about all religion and had up to then been able to find holes in every belief system I had investigated.  I was pretty sure that sooner or later I'd find something that didn't add up in this one too.  I felt that when I did, I couldn't believe in something that didn't make sense, but I didn't want to quit because, well, it works.


     It took about three years of study to conclude that that there were no holes in it, it's completely logical.


    First :  Many American members are ignorant of other schools of Buddhism and probably influenced by passages in Nichiren's writings which are intensely critical of other schools of Buddhism in the Japan of his day, which not only had errors in interpretation of the teachings but many of which were totally corrupt. 


   The Lotus Sutra states that "there is virtue in all good laws."  There is some partial truth in just about any religious belief system, as is often noted, such as how the golden rule of do unto others is stated one way or another in all the major religions now practiced. 


     A sutra states "If you exchange a pound of cloth for a pound of silver, you have made a gain, and you should do that.  If you exchange a pound of silver for a pound of gold, you have made a gain, and you should do that."


    There is benefit in sincerely following a non Buddhist religion, but when one encounters Buddhism and finds it superior, one should discard the one and accept the other.


    Even in the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha there are sutras which were taught in accordance with the hearer's capacity, and sutras revealing a deeper truth expounded when the follower was ready.  In the Sutra of Infinite Meanings is the statement "The truth has not yet been revealed."


    The other schools of Buddhism are superior to non Buddhist teachings.  Nichiren's teaching is superior to other schools, but that does not mean that non Buddhist teachings or other schools of Buddhism do not deserve respect.


     Second, on converting others to true Buddhism :  Introducing others to Buddhism is the highest form of altruism, and is a cause for good karma greater than saving many people from drowning.  The reason is that it not only enables happiness in this life, but good consequences for all future lifetimes.


    On the other hand, I share your concern.  Far too many believers when encouraged to teach Buddhism to others, talk others into receiving the Gohonzon but do not follow through with teaching the practice and providing support in working through difficulties.  This can lead to new members abandoning the practice and becoming more unhappy than ever.  Such actions are of no benefit to the one who converts others, and even leads to loss.  I share the pleasure of the others in hearing about you making it possible for someone to receive the Gohonzon, but I understand your confusion.  Sometimes just telling someone that you practice gets them interested with no further effort on your part sparks their interest, and sometimes strongly encouraging others to join only meets resistance and rejection.  Being pushy about it doesn't work, and people browbeaten into receiving the Gohonzon are likely to quit very soon, with the same results noted above.  The thing is, it doesn't matter whether people listen to you or not.  Telling others about Buddhism plants the seed, which will eventually sprout, and the benefit to you is the same in either case.


    It may seem that you didn't do anything, but you told another person about Buddhism.  The fact that she took interest is a matter of karma, and your action was very merciful, which will benefit you and her if you take care to support her practice.


     On President Ikeda.  It sounds like you have a deep relationship with Tibetan Buddhism from past lifetimes, and strongly feel that connection, not so much with Ikedasensei.  I understand your feeling about hero worship, as though President Ikeda were some kind of god or buddha.  I felt exactly the same way when I had been practicing about as long as you have now.  That has changed, but he is my teacher, not some superhuman being.  Sensei himself has said that the Gohonzon is the only ultimate authority.


    On the priesthood issue:  No religion is immune to corruption, and practicing does not magically destroy illusion and evil in the mind.  Devadatta followed Shakyamuni Buddha's teaching, but his ego led him to eventually declare himself his teacher's superior, and even try to kill him.  Shortly after Nichiren Daishonin's death, six of his seven top disciples distorted his teachings, and even destroyed some of his writings because they were written in Hiragana (phonetic Japanese), and not classical Chinese, the formal language for sacred writings. During World War Two, the priesthood wanted to compromise with the emperor and the military government to avoid persecution.   Only the Soka Gakkai stood up against this.  The president and his general director were imprisoned as "thought criminals," and the president died there, but the Temple was spared. 


     After being released from prison Josei Toda took over as president and rebuilt the Soka Gakkai from virtually nothing.  It grew and prospered.  The priesthood had a hierararchical and dynastic tradition in which priests from the same families were appointed to senior positions in the temple.  When the Soka Gakkai grew and prospered, the priests began demanding bigger and bigger financial contributions and claimed that priests were superior to President Ikeda and all other lay believers in direct contradiction to Nichiren's teaching.  Many of these corrupt priests do not even do gongyo regularly.


    It's not like all the priests sided with the temple and all the Soka Gakkai members with President Ikeda.   Many priests resigned in protest while many others are still trying to change the Temple from within.  Many Soka Gakkai members have left the organization and called those who did not apostates and traitors to the tradition.


     On your experience with the guy who abuses his wife:  As I have noted, practicing doesn't automatically make one a good person, but I strongly suspect that this guy's a fake.  I find it very hard indeed to believe that someone could do gongyo and chant daimoku every day and still be such a jerk.  I've seen it before with people who do a lot of activity in the organization and are respected for it, but do their own practice very little if at all.


    On practice :  When we are introduced to the practice, we are encouraged to chant "for" something we want, and of course it's a perfectly legitimate test to chant for material things or money.  On the other hand, it could be anything; better health, a change in living conditions or personal relationships.  Chanting daimoku does change karma, and this applies to material things just as much as to spiritual issues and physical ones like health or avoiding accidents. Physical and spiritual benefits are superior to material ones, but they all apply. Nichiren stated Treasures of the body are superior to treasures of the storehouse.  Treasures of the heart are superior to treasures of the body."  Chanting for "stuff" and nothing else is to take a very superficial view of practice, and ignores deeper gains to be made through practice.


    Corruption and bad people have shown up and will show up among both priests and lay believers, senior leaders and general members. As upholders of the teaching, we have the right and the grave responsibility to point them out for what they are, and oppose them.  If I ever conclude that the SGI is corrupt and cannot be reformed, I will leave it.  If I ever conclude that Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism is wrong, I will abandon my faith, though after years of practice and study I just don't see that happening.


     Why chanting works :   I am a very rationalist and non superstitious person.  At my first meeting, I was impressed by accounts of how people had benefitted from chanting to the Gohonzon and even thought there must be something to it, because people were so sincere about  it and didn't seem to be fooling themselves.  On the other hand, it seemed absurd; how could saying words in a language I didn't understand to a scroll with writing on it do any good?  It wasn't until my second meeting, when someone told about feeling exactly the same way at first that I decided what's to lose I'll try it.


     Nichiren Daishonin states : The Law [to which all Buddhas are enlightened] is [originally] nameless.  The True Buddha gave a name to the Law and thus enabled ordinary human beings a way to establish a relationship with it, cultivate the Buddha nature which exists in all life, and gain fortune (good karma).


    I'm not familiar with writings on the Lotus Sutra from the Temple or the other Nichiren schools, but translations of the text are available, as well as books on it by proponents of other schools such as the Pure Land and Nembutsu sects, some of which agree on the superiority of the Lotus Sutra.  I know that some of them are available at my local university library, though I've never seen them in bookstores.  There may be some where you are too. 


    There are also the the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin's predecessor, Tendai, founder of the school of the same name.  Nichiren Daishonin asserted that Tendai's teaching is correct and in the true lineage of Buddhism.  He added nothing to it in terms of theory, but established the Gohonzon as the embodiment of ichinen sanzen, the core principle of the Tendai school.

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6 years ago  ::  Aug 31, 2011 - 8:13AM #102
FriendofDaishonin
Posts: 3

Try a different Nichiren sect or go independent.  I have been tossing the idea around for a while now about joining the Kempon Hokke(and I think I still want to).  I feel free because I can have my Gohonzon any way I want it(size, small, large, laminated, scroll, etc) as long as I respect it-it is also a Nichiren Gohonzon, not one made by a high priest of the Nichiren Shoshu.  I feel more at peace doing Gongyo from the Kempon book than I did doing it from the SGI book.  When I denounced SGI I went back and forth on a lot of things(and I still do from time to time) but the one constant is that this practice works, period.  I have never found anything that works as well as Nichirens teachings.

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6 years ago  ::  Aug 31, 2011 - 2:16PM #103
Jupiter6208
Posts: 2,483

Aug 31, 2011 -- 8:13AM, FriendofDaishonin wrote:


Try a different Nichiren sect or go independent.  I have been tossing the idea around for a while now about joining the Kempon Hokke(and I think I still want to).  I feel free because I can have my Gohonzon any way I want it(size, small, large, laminated, scroll, etc) as long as I respect it-it is also a Nichiren Gohonzon, not one made by a high priest of the Nichiren Shoshu.  I feel more at peace doing Gongyo from the Kempon book than I did doing it from the SGI book.  When I denounced SGI I went back and forth on a lot of things(and I still do from time to time) but the one constant is that this practice works, period.  I have never found anything that works as well as Nichirens teachings.




 


I mean you don't have to belong to SGI to follow  Nichirens teachings right? personaly i never heard of a Buddhist School where you go to meetings regulary unless I'm wrong.

"A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."  Dave Berry
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 31, 2011 - 10:33PM #104
FriendofDaishonin
Posts: 3

Correct.  I was an SGI member for almost 5 years(not entirely sure but as far as time this is pretty close I think).  I had joined the Nichiren Buddhist Association of America, and I am probably going to join the Kempon Hokke exclusively.  NBAA's beliefs about what constitutes slandering the Law make a lot of sense, NBAA just like the Kempon would blatantly rebuke Christianity for slandering the Law, SGI won't.  Nichiren would rebuke Christianity(if he were living today).  But the Kempon teachings show how Nichikan's teachings(which SGI gives the Nichikan Gohonzon as NBAA agrees with, but the Gohonzon from the Kempon is a Nichiren Gohonzon) weren't accurate(Dai Gohonzon being the supreme object of devotion for instance).  I have a long way to go to understand everything, but I can say that I feel so much more peace and have so much more understanding about reality and the practice doing Gongyo from the Kempon Gongyo book.  I felt peace in SGI, but I didn't like the Ikeda worship.  I didn't feel whole.  I feel whole AND at peace doing Gongyo from the Kempon book.  None the less, there are people who go independent.  A lot of independents it seems look at Nichirens teachings as a smorgasbord to pick and choose what they want to believe.  Kempon teachings are to be in strict accordance with the Gosho.  I guess the question comes down to what do you personally want to follow?  Nichiren came up with the practice, and I fixed most of my problems by listening to his teachings, not by listening to the way I think things should be done.  But this is something that I think for anyone who chants, it is a lifelong process of choosing which way we go with our practice and what we do with it.  I left because I had no use for Ikeda this, Ikeda that.  Many SGI members have never even read the Lotus Sutra, and that really bothered me.  I encourage you in your journey and may the Buddha guide you to your happiness.

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6 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2011 - 10:00AM #105
Jupiter6208
Posts: 2,483

I hear that SGI is for World peace, what exactly have they done for World peace? and what do they do for the Community?

"A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."  Dave Berry
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