The effects are…
One – No time for dialogue and personal fostering
These situations are familiar and if we look closer, you will certainly find it. This is also the reason that many leaders today reject appointments to more central positions. They knew that the responsibilities is inhuman. Also, almost all Chiefs violate the guidance of 70/30 principle, 70 dialogue and 30 meetings. It’s a very good idea but impossible to implement for Chiefs. The reality is closer to 5/95. And that 5 is only on absolutely necessary basis, like interview for new nomination candidate.
Two – Alienated from the grassroots
This also creates another problem for SGM. In general, most top leaders are totally cut off and ignorant of what is going on at the grassroots. They also do not and cannot offer new ideas or solutions on how to break through the stagnation of the organisation for more than two decades. After many failures, we went back to one leader shakubuku one new member in one year. Same tune.
They also have little understanding of the grassroots and often make decisions that are unreasonable for them to follow. For example, a memo was out in KL that all general meetings must be held on 9 January. Why? Didn’t they realise that the few weeks before Chinese New Year is truly busy for many WDs? This is so inconvenient.
The ‘Group Adoption’ strategy is a good one. Each leader, no matter what your position is, is assigned to one Group. But the problem previously was that these ‘assigned leaders’ were passive and only wait for the front line leaders to call them and arrange home-visit for them to join. Include some of the authors here, not all. This round, it will probably be the same.
Three – big fish swimming in a small pond
Many of our top leaders dedicated their lives and almost all of their time for Gakkai activities. They neglected their work and career. It also made them weak and unable to compete in the society. It is safer to stay within the walls of SGM and seek employment as staff of SGM. Some chose to work as SGM staff, not just because they wanted to dedicate their life for kosen-rufu, but more likely that they are unable to compete in the real world. Not all of them, of course.
Four – New Chiefs have no idea what to do
It’s not hard to imagine if one were to be given two or three days notice to be a Chief in a Division. In fact, both the present YMD and YWD Chiefs were not even SGM leaders. They were Region level leaders and being appointed as national level Chiefs. Totally without exposure and yet given the task to lead the YMD and YWD organisation respectively.
In a nutshell, a gloomy future
With the present situation of appointing of Chiefs in SGM, it is sad to say that we feel SGM will continue to stagnate in the coming ten years. At the least. We are not popping champagne and happy at this. Not at all. In fact, we are profoundly sad inside. We are also powerless and can’t do much, except to write blogs here. We hope this can start some discussion and deep thinking into this very strategic area of our organisation. This is not a put down of the ability of our current Chiefs. But we can’t see how this is going to turn out all right.
Perhaps, we need a paradigm shift. SGM must be responsible and be genuinely concern for our Chiefs as a human being, with career, family, friends and health. Not a robot or a slave. SGM cannot demand too much time and use kosen-rufu as a reason to keep adding ‘hats’ for these leaders. We cannot and must not be fanatical. Our Chiefs need space to breath. They need some quiet time for themselves, time to care for their members and family members, and time to cultivate and maintain a larger circle of friendship.
Our Chiefs must also wise up. This is a bad system. What can you do? Learn to say no. Learn to set your own priorities and learn to discover joy in your own practice. Instead of parroting guidance and urging others to do shakubuku, share one’s own experience. But not do it because of pressure. Find the joy of sharing Buddhism. Only when your leaders and members can see with their own eyes the joy and benefit of sharing Buddhism to others emanating from your own lives, it can arouse their desire to imitate your action.
The entire process of preparing, fostering and training of new leaders at the top need to be more comprehensive and well thought out. It must not be a rush decision and done haphazardly, like now, with the new candidate being entirely unprepared. This will do much harm to the organization and certainly not good for the new Chiefs.
We would like to repeat here that this is not an attack on anyone in particular, and should never be seen as one. It is the system that is flawed and we need to analyse and look into ways of making it better.
p.s. Top leaders and Chiefs, youth in particular, are not all like what were being described here. There is another group of chiefs where they are totally free and without any portfolio. If they had, it was taken away in December 2016, replaced by new Chiefs. They were not allowed to visit states or be a part of any huge project. They were just put aside and no task assigned. Why? Because they had been vocal and considered rude in their manner of asking questions towards the General Director. Many were also pretty outstanding and influential in their respective divisions. Thus, they were seen as a potential threat, a bad influence for the juniors and certainly a risk to SGM. They were sidelined. It is only a matter of months where they will be unceremoniously removed to the MD and WD. Some already went. The rest in the pipeline.
Who is truly great? I hope you can develop the ability to discern true human greatness. A great person is someone who forges unity among human beings through sincere dialogue, armed with a solid philosophy, feet firmly planted on the ground. A great person is one who lives among the people and earns their unshakable trust. Fickle popularity and temporary fads are nothing but illusions.
Daisaku Ikeda, SGI President