The future of SGM is in the hands of all our leaders. Not just those at the top. We will not have a beautiful, dynamic and robust organization if our leaders lack the courage and wisdom to ask questions and demand accountability. Or worse, when our leaders simply couldn’t care less of what is happening today and insist on following orders from above blindly. Nothing is more frightening.
Buddhism is reason. And we must use ‘reason to win over your lord’ (WND-1, 839). General Director Koh, in the November 2016 All Leaders Meeting which was telecast live, stated that ‘opinions and contents written in the internet and blogs may sound true and logical, but they may not be correct.’ Indeed, we concur. So we invite top leaders to explain, to refute and to clarify what is correct and what is not. It would not be responsible for a General Director to issue blanket statement and not substantiate it.
We also invite our readers to read the content in this blog critically and if you disagree on any point, do feel free to share them. Educate us. We are certain we can learn from one another.
Now, what can we do? How do we go forward from here?
This is our suggestion.
Stage 1 – AWARENESS
Stage 2 – INTEREST
Stage 3 – DESIRE
Stage 4 – ACTION
Stage 1 – Awareness
Without having a good grasp of the issue at hand, there is little we can do. The task to seek understanding must not be left to others. Information can be obtained here and Daylight. Never listen to just one side, never read or listen without thinking, and always be aware of one’s own prejudice. [We all have it.] Also be careful of not allowing our emotions, position of the other person or friendship with others to cloud our judgments. Needless to say, it is absolutely crucial that we chant determined daimoku and read Mr Ikeda’s guidance.
- Employ strategy of Lotus Sutra – chant to for wisdom to grasps the situation
- Learn the different perspectives on the issue
Stage 2 – Interest
Create interest among our friends, members and fellow leaders. Ask questions and listen patiently to the answers. If your friends are willing to listen, then share your point of view and invite their critical thoughts. At all times, maintain cordial relationship. If we cannot agree, then agree to disagree. There may be those who label you, call you trouble-makers or trying to be a smart alec, or make nasty comments.
Don’t be intimidated or sidetracked. Also don’t fight with these people. They are not the real enemy here. Keep our focus on issue, not people. Apologise if we hurt or offend anyone. Not because we are wrong, but because we value the friendship more. We want to make friends, not enemy. It is the devilish functions that try very hard to make us fight among ourselves and destroy unity.
- Sharing our concerns and have sincere dialogues
- Objective is not to persuade or win an argument. Seek to understand why our opinions differ and subject them to objective and critical thoughts.
Stage 3 – Desire to take action
When we can get the consensus of several leaders, we can consider the next step. We can invite the General Director / ECC / General Council members, to have a dialogue. This is crucial because without getting clarification from the top, it is difficult to resolve the issue. If we only hear from one side or read blogs like this, our thinking may be bias. We need clear answers to our questions and doubts. Not just for ourselves, but also our members.
The dialogue can be base on the chapter or district level. It should be open to all leaders and not done in a hush-hush manner. The ECC often declared that they have nothing to hide and the General Director is willing to meet anyone for dialogue. So, organising dialogue to clear to air is the best thing to do. If not, this issue will remain a thorn in our hearts and people cannot go about doing their Gakkai activities happily. So, deal with it. Rush towards it. Not procrastinate, evade or be silent, hoping it to go away.
Prepare a list of questions that you wanted to ask. For example, you may consider categorising your questions into financial matters, governance, appointment of full member, leadership appointments, sacking, behaviour of top leaders, and attitude towards those who seems to be sympathising the NBA. Send them to top leaders one week in advance to give them sufficient time to prepare. Be fair to them.
During the meeting, respect each person as a Buddha and an equal. Positions don’t matter in front of the Gohonzon. Each of us is a Soka Gakkai Buddha. Be on the alert of top leaders using concepts like ‘trust’ and ‘faith’ to cover or avoid answering questions that pertain to governance and corruption. Don’t allow them to talk condescendingly or treat you like a kid.
Don’t get angry and don’t raise your voice. Be firm, and bring the discussion back to the questions you prepared.
Some districts in KL had done this and top leaders came to have dialogue, usually cordial. Usually. They did not get much answer from the first meeting. But it was all recorded in the meeting’s minutes and second dialogue is in the pipeline. They hope to get better answers during the second meeting.
- Request for small group dialogue with top leadership to clarify matters. If your group have people the skills such as lawyers, company secretaries, accountants, auditors, bring them into the meeting
- Prepare your list of questions, and send them to GD in advance
- Request to know specific actions being taken/planned by SGM, not high level direction/visions that are too general and vague
- be very clear of the differences between faith and administrative (running of the organization)
- be very clear that these stuff can be implemented in months, not years. Are there any specific reasons we needed years to implement? Lack of skills/expertise?
Stage 4 – Actions
Request follow up meetings to ensure all actionable items are implemented. These dialogues are healthy as it provides more information and address the various misconception, questions and doubts. We are not trying to destroy Gakkai. We want to make it better.
- Request bi-monthly follow up meeting with the top leaders to ensure the promises are implemented
- send questions/minutes one week in advance so top leaders have time to prepare
- if something can’t be implemented, request to understand the reason and ask/suggest alternatives
- Repeat meetings until your group is satisfied of the actions, remember that we want to see specific actions implemented, by certain date, not high level direction/visions.
Note: If you want to add in your ideas, or feel that certain things are not appropriate, please feel free to share with us. This is what we can think of.
Note: This is a crucial period for SGM. Who are the good guys and who are the bad are difficult to differentiate. We need to chant determined Daimoku to have the wisdom to see with the Buddha’s eye. both our own prejudice and misconception, and also those of others. In the end, we believe that it is only through sincere and open dialogue that we can resolve this and become stronger.
When we face a decisive challenge. we can chant strongly and courageously with the firm resolve to win. When battling the three obstacles and four devils, we can chant with the heart of a lion king, filled with confidence that we will vanquish those negative functions.
King Rinda, Daisaku Ikeda