The quote below is from the Soka Spirit Newsletter of SGM published by Soka Spirit Committee on September 25, 2016:
If you propagate it, devils will arise without fail. If they did not, there will be no way of knowing that this is the correct teaching.” (Letter to the Brothers WND 1 – pg. 501). Just as SGM embarked on the establishment of the South East Asia Training Centre – a center mooted by Ikeda sensei to develop capable persons for the kosenrufu of the South East Asia countries, the Johor incident arisen to disrupt the faith of many members and leaders.
President Toda once said, ‘the enemy exists WITHIN!’ (The Human Revolution, Book Two, p1869) SGM is currently facing great obstacles and challenges, coming from within. What confronts us now is actually a test that will distinguish the genuine disciples from the traitorous ones.
The Johor issue provides us with a real world, modern day opportunity to learn what is correct faith. It challenges each of us to realize that taking full responsibility for truth and justice is the path of correct faith. We should not view the issue as something of the past or of another place, something that is not our personal concern. To do so would mean missing an irreplaceable learning opportunity. We would also do a disservice to those who join the SGI in the future. We hope through this newsletter, we can highlight the lessons we can learn from the whole Johor incident. At the same time, to expose their wrongdoing and instill the spirit of refuting evil and imparting true.
The Johor incident
It is also an attempt to divert the attention of our members from the real issue which are incompetent leadership, poor governance and inability to resolve grievances or alleged misconduct amicably, but instead led to termination and mass resignations of grassroot leaders.
Let’s look at the allegations of the Soka Spirit Committee hurled at the NBA. Written in the same Newsletter:
Refuting NBA’s stance on reviving Nichiren Buddhism:
1) Nichiren Buddhist Association (NBA) held a study meeting on July 31, 2016, using the founder of Rissho Kosei-Kai, Nikkyo Niwano’s interpretation of the Lotus Sutra as study materials, and not Soka Gakkai’s version of interpreting the Lotus Sutra (which is based on the Daishonin’s Gosho).
2) Rissho Kosei-Kai does not base its teachings on Nichiren Daishonin’s Gosho, but on the interpretation of the Lotus Sutra by its founder Nikkyo Niwano, and his teachings.
3) Rissho Kosei-Kai is an offshoot of Rei-yu-kai, and its teachings and object of worship is totally different from Nichiren Buddhism.
4) Although believers of Rissho-Kosei-Kai chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, this does not reflect the fundamental spirit of the Daishonin’s teachings.
5) The Rissho-Kosei-Kai uses the Buddha statute as their object of worship.
6) NBA is using Nikkyo Niwano’s interpretation of the Lotus Sutra as their study materials, instead of basing on Nichiren Daishonin’s lecture on the Lotus Sutra – the Ongi Kuden (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings) or Sensei’s lecture on the Lotus Sutra – The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, so how could they be reviving Nichiren Buddhism?
Please note in the Latter Day of the Law, only the true Buddha Nichiren Daishonin , who, as the Votary of the Lotus Sutra, correctly read the Lotus Sutra with his whole being and established the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra for the enlightenment of the people of the Latter Day. All other interpretations do not teach the essence of the Lotus Sutra and could not lead people to enlightenment in the Latter Day.The NBAs leaders have doubt on this and believe otherwise?
Does Rissho Kosei-Kai or the teaching of Nikkyo Niwana has the heritage of faith of the Daishonin’s Buddhism? Will there be benefit and happiness? They have in fact disqualified themselves to be Nichiren’s disciples.
This is a classic example of distorting information to paint a negative picture of the NBA. Look, the argument can be simplified as below:
- Using study material outside Gakkai is wrong.
- Therefore, it is not reviving the Daishonin Buddhism, but distorting it.
- This sect even uses Buddha statue as their object of worship, so confirm wrong.
What is wrong with this argument? First, Soka Gakkai never forbid anyone from studying Buddhist material from outside sources. To the best of our knowledge. Great religions do this all the time. It is call comparative study. Only religions that want to control their believers forbid them from reading other sources, afraid that they may be confused. A sign of insecurity and lack of confidence in one’s faith.
What is so wrong about using material from other sources? Sensei also quote from various sources in his writings and his Gosho lectures, even from sutras other than the Lotus Sutra. If we understand the Daishonin correctly, we will understand that these teachings are all part of the truth, and Mr Ikeda never deny any of its validity. We only claim that it is not the ‘complete teaching’.
Is the committee now becoming like Jakim, that decree only materials with the ‘halal’ logo can be read? Perhaps, the committee is worried that SGM members might be ‘confused’.
Second, the entire argument rest on one single shred of evidence – using study material from another source. Did any of the Soka Spirit committee member attend the said study meeting? Are the points by Nikkyo Niwano shared in line with Gakkai’s philosophy? Or is it different? Did the speaker actually lead the audience away from the Gohonzon, from Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, and from Mr Ikeda? Or Is all these insinuations comes from the imaginations of the Committee members? Have you started imagining that the NBA members chanting to the Buddha statue now?
We [the authors] heard from the NBA leaders that they still regard Mr Ikeda as their mentor. They continue to use Mr Ikeda’s guidance in their meetings and for encouragement. They would not hesitate to stop anyone from bad mouthing Mr Ikeda in meetings. The reason why they left SGM was because of the top leadership refusal to investigate into their allegations fairly, and went to the extreme of terminating the pioneer leaders in Johor in order to silence them. They have no issues with the practice, the philosophy nor the mentor. Only the top leaders in SGM.
Is the Soka Gakkai claiming that we have the monopoly of truth? That only the Soka Gakkai, and no one else, have the answers? That we have ALL the answers? This way of thinking is very much like religious fundamentalists, e.g. the Talibans or terrorist groups, who uses religion to control and force obedience. A perilous path to take.
We suggest the Soka Spirit committee to google and learn the meaning of ‘comparative study’ and try attending the NBA study meeting to get actual confirmation, before declaring that they are evil and publishing half-truths that jeopardizes their own and SGM’s credibility in the process. Please try to have dialogue with the NBA leaders and listen to their side of the story before going out with all the guns blazing.
Please, put this Mr Ikeda’s guidance to heart and practice it.
Therefore, leaders shouldn’t accept at face value every report or piece of information that comes their way. It is important that they carefully substantiate everything, analyze the situation wisely, and exercise astute judgement. If leaders are easily misled or deceived, and end up sidelining members who are actually making sincere efforts, it will dishearten other conscientious members and disrupt our movement for kosen-rufu. I remind everyone that, in light of the Buddhist teachings, this is a grave offence. I hope all leaders, including our new chapter leaders, will be fair, impartial, warm-hearted, and wise leaders who can clearly discern the truth.
Labeling people as anti-Gakkai and identifying others as evil are actions that sideline members who are actually making sincere efforts. We must clearly identify what is evil and what is not. The most direct and basic action is to engage the NBA leaders and determine it on our own, not listening to third party sources, including this website. The problem is often that some of SGM’s top leaders are quick to identify so-and-so as anti-Gakkai and evil influences and must never come within a ten-feet pole. This strategy is call poisoning the well. Can we analyse a situation wisely and exercise astute judgement if we only listen to one side of the story?
We must be wise. Not because we want to cause trouble, but because it is only through more and more wise people appearing that we can truly protect the members and the weak.
Let us repeat this here…
We should not view the issue as something of the past or of another place, something that is not our personal concern. To do so would mean missing an irreplaceable learning opportunity. We would also do a disservice to those who join the SGI in the future. We hope through this newsletter, we can highlight the lessons we can learn from the whole Johor incident. At the same time, to expose their wrongdoing and instill the spirit of refuting evil and imparting true.
We fully concur with the statement above. Couldn’t have said it better ourselves. This is also the intention of this website. We do hope that the Soka Spirit Committee be fair, objective and clear. Is demanding transparency and accountability of top leaders pertaining to money matters an act of evil that disrupt kosen-rufu? If not, why do you label the Rescue as Evil? Or are you going to say that you did not mention specifically that you are referring to the Rescue group? Sigh… seems like the Rescue group need some rescue themselves under these circumstances.
So, the challenge to the SGM Soka Spirit Committee is this – meet the leaders from NBA face-to-face and bring them questions. Tell them in advance your intention of the dialogue and give them the questions for them to prepare. Listen to them and challenge them. Make a fair assessment of the issue and publish both sides of the argument, SGM and NBA in your newsletter. Be objective and avoid using big words like evil and sansho shima.
Only with more understanding, objectivity and clarity on the issue, we can identify clearly who is evil and who is not. Publish your findings, with fair coverage given to both sides, and allow your readers to draw their conclusions. This will be more effective in resolving the issue than using propaganda method like the newsletter mentioned here.
This, we think, is the true spirit of the Soka Spirit. Only through resolving this issue with objectivity and fairness, we can protect the organisation.
Note 1: We expect the SGM Soka Spirit Com to defend by saying that it is not right to discuss this matter in the internet [and how it is possible to be misused by the wrong people, conjuring up images of evil and the adverse effects it can have on certain people, bla bla bla…] and that the newsletter is only meant for internal circulation. This is a cowardly respond, avoiding the points raised, hiding behind SGI internet policy, and one that insult the intelligence of those who receive the newsletter. People in this internet age is not easily fooled. Maybe we are wrong. The com may actually respond by taking up the challenge with integrity and sufficient moral fibre.
Note 2: When Soka Gakkai was attacked by the tabloids in Japan, Mr Ikeda [as a disciple of Mr Toda then], took concrete action to set the record straight. He went to meet the editors of the publications, in person to present his case. This was written in the New Human Revolution. Please take note and follow the example set by our mentor.
Note 3: We don’t want to be accused of being partial and cherry pick the newsletter content. We attached the full newsletter here.