6 things we learned from SGM in 2017


Eight YMD SGM level leaders were moved to the MD. One became a vice-honbu, while the seven were without new leadership appointment. 

In the past, YMD transfer to MD would usually be appointed to new position in MD, two levels lower, like SGM level leader becoming a Honbu leader. This is strategic and make sense because we need to fill up ranks of MD with capable and youthful leaders, and who is better than those who had extensive experience and training in YMD? Wouldn’t this affect the succession of leaders in the future? transferring these SGM YMD leaders to members in MD would be a colossal waste and loss of capable people to SGM. Was there a reason for such a move?


New process in termination of leadership.

It will be done unilaterally and no notice will be given. One will never know when his name will be announced that he is no longer a leader. When ask about the matter, top executives will often say that position is not important and no need to care too much about it. Some tried to explain that they do this because they want to avoid these ‘terminated leaders’ from causing a ruckus, disturbing the meeting. Dialogue and notice to the leaders involved is deemed not necessary.

Before this, leaders would be interviewed, their opinion taken into consideration, opinion of other leaders will be taken and the appointment and nomination committee will deliberate carefully, before any decision is made. The leaders would then be given, hand delivered, a certificate of appreciation for their contribution. Good practice.

How we missed the old days.



It’s a new thing. Even many senior leaders have not heard of it and cannot wrap their heads around it. Unprecedented to the knowledge of the authors at QR. We try to explain what we understand here. Expel means to disown the member from the organisation. Something like a father disowning the son, and cut him off from any inheritance. ‘Letter to the Brothers’ – ring any bell? One cannot even participate in SGM meetings or events.

25 members were expelled from SGM. This is an act of total lack of compassion and opposite to the fundamental spirit of Buddhism. Why do we need to expel? What were their offences? Does it warrant such swift and cruel act? We only got scarce information that these individuals participated in an exchange meet with other Nichiren Buddhist sect. Their participation in other Nichiren Sect is seen as a most serious act of betrayal and justify their ex-communication from SGM.

This sounds childish, almost like a boyfriend decided to break off the relationship because the girlfriend were caught meeting with her ex. It is mind boggling and incomprehensible that the top executives in SGM are so unforgiving and cruel. Shouldn’t we try to understand why these 25 individuals attend the exchange meeting and what they learned from it? And then, slowly, we win them back to our fold? And also bring some friends from there, which we call ‘danto’, to join us? What are we afraid of? By expelling, isn’t SGM pushing these members into the hands of these other sects?

The Nikko Shonin’s admonition [here] would often be used to justified extreme measures. But we have to understand that the context and time is different. In the Gosho, Nichiren Daishonin were strict and uncompromising when he refuted and condemned the four dictums – Zen, Pure Land, Nembutsu, Precept. Nikko was also strict in his 26 admonitions. That was then.

Presently, Mr Ikeda stated clearly that our approach need to be different in our present day, we should not be going around and refuting other religions like the old days. Rather, we should find ways to work together with other religions. He explained this in the World of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings when he was discussing the Four Dictums. (Will find reference for this.)

It is even stated explicitly in the SGI charter bullet point 7 that we want to work with other religions, based on respect [here]. Why isn’t SGM following the SGI charter and instead acted in haste like a madman?


There is no room for dissent in SGM.

SGM leaders are often asked on their stand – whether they support GD or not. And saying that you support GD is insufficient. One need to prove that with action. Meaning to go into the grassroot and rally support for GD and bash those who raise questions and dissent. It will be best if ask everyone present in the meeting to raise their hands if they support GD. Then, follow this by shouting slogan – Die-die must do!!

Failing which you will be labelled as ‘sympathisers’ and no different from opposing GD. You cannot be trusted, and must be removed from the leadership. Afraid that you may feed ‘inside’ information to the other side, they will find an excuse to remove you.

Top executives in SGM is growing more narrow-minded and intolerant. In the past, our top leaders would say that the front/big door of SGM is always open and we welcome everyone, regardless of who they are. Our arms are wide open and we embrace diversity, we celebrate differences. We embodied the true spirit of ‘cherry, plum, peach and damson…’, striving to transcend differences and unite like ‘fish and water.’ That was before.

Today, we have a different organisation. If you disagree with top leaders, raise dissenting opinion, you will be silenced.


There is much less uproar in the recent terminations and removals.

SGM leaders in general simply accept this and move on. Either they don’t really care anymore or that they felt that there is nothing they can do. They just leave the top executives to do what they want. No point resisting or asking question. You won’t get good answers. We are not certain if this is good or bad. If we all keep our heads down and toe the line, will this make the top executives even more brazen and ruthless in their behaviour in future? If we speak up and get terminated, then who else is left to make noise in future? We don’t have answers.


Taking photo with members and/or priests with the other Nichiren Sects, like Nichiren Shoshu and Nichiren Shu, will get you expelled from SGM.

This is a change of strategy. In Selangor, they used to preach the idea of building friendship ties with the ‘Danto’ (members in the other sects) and slowly, persistently, gaining their trust and winning them over. It experience after experience, these sincere and earnest Selangor grassroot leaders work ceaselessly, never giving up and never stop believing in the Buddhahood of the ‘Danto’ members, and eventually, moved many and won them over with their sheer grit and genuine concern for their happiness and successfully brought them back. It was a winning formula.

Today, SGM seems to be burning all bridges hastily. Ex-communicate. Putting up the huge sign that say – Do not return and you’re not welcome. Not just ‘Danto’ but our own members who were associated with these other sects even minimally. What has changed? Why? Is this Nichiren compassion? Do we want these members, whoever they are, to be happy?

We can claim all we want about our legitimacy of inheriting the true spirit of Nichiren Daishonin, that the Soka Gakkai is practising in exact accord of Nichiren Daishonin and everything. The thing is, friendship matters, trust matters and we need to build stronger relationships before we can win them over. Our practice is about everyone attaining Buddhahood together. We must appreciate every single person.

By forcing the doctrine of ‘I am right and you are wrong’ and claiming superiority each time, labelling others as traitors and devils, this is not going to work. This is sheer arrogance. This is wrong.




We are very much saddened, once again, by the unfair and cruel actions of SGM’s top executives in expelling and removing leaders. Perhaps, the general leadership in SGM today would be more afraid to voice any disagreement, and some leaders would be even more fierce in their bashing of those who voice their dissent. SGM today has become an organisation of One in Body, One in Mind. Differences in opinion will not be tolerated. If you have any different opinion or independent mind, you will be shown the highway.

When Mr Ikeda was asked why he wanted to visit the Soviet Union in 1974, a country which reject religion. His answer was simply “I am going to the Soviet Union because there are people there.” [here] This reply captures the essence of Buddhist humanism. We must respect and treasure each and every person because they are human first, and religion/gender/age/nationality/race/etc second.





7 thoughts on “6 things we learned from SGM in 2017

  1. Can you please advise what should the leaders, who still have justice blood flowing inside them, should do now? If they continue to voice, it’s just a matter of time before they are being sacked. I think most of them, myself included, are already being sidelined now, having lesser and lesser responsibilities. Going to meetings, whether at our district or in BK, feels like a stranger stepping into an acquaintance’s house – the warmth and family feelings are all gone now. Do we just hang on and wait for the axe to come down, or do we take action and resign in protest? It’s definitely at the back of my mind and it might be a better choice to do now to save what little dignity I have left. Appreciate your advise.


  2. Hi Concerned,
    We understand what you feel. It is because we all love the organization deeply, that we are in such pain, witnessing the increasing hate and authoritarian actions of top leaders today. We, authors here, have discussed and thought over our reply carefully.
    These are some of our suggestions on what we can do. We are not sure if they are the right answers. Feel free to share with us if you, or any reader, have additional suggestion.
    1. One of the author feels that we need to show actual proof in our life, in our work and family. To do that, we got to be earnest in our study and chanting daimoku.
    2. Win over more and more friends through our character, respect for others, sincerity and persistence effort. If we have bad character, we cannot gain the trust of others. Thus, we will not be able to win anyone over no matter how right our points are. Build friendship, win trust.
    3. Leadership is only a position of responsibility, not power. The power is in each and everyone of us. We decide how much we chant, how much we study and how much we concern for the well being of our friends. Our actions define us as leader, not position.
    4. When we are being sidelined, it feels bad. It feels like we are not being trusted and not important. But this is the secular way of things, where rewards and punishment is used. Unfortunately, our top leaders today prefer the secular approach to Buddhism. In Buddhism, it’s about winning and losing. Unlike football, no draw. We must win. We continue to go about doing what we can and what we want. We read, seek and understand Sensei’s heart and act accordingly.
    We hope this help.


  3. Seems like QR has become Thelma of the Thestar.

    Talk about Sensei all over but going against Gakkai….

    I am 7 years old to Gakkai only but i can see what sensei has build to be an eternal organization.


    1) Do you think Sensei will go your way of doing againts Gakkai ? Ask yourself this basic question.

    2) What do you want to achieve ? GD position ? Having your capable team to run SGM ?
    I used to think that way, we should run SGM like corporate, but…. this is a global faith organization not a localize kampung temple with committee.
    We do not need a qualified auditor, accountant or lawyer to run a faith organization.
    GD is sensei’s choice and we should not question.
    If anyone is loyal to organization should have provided ideas and solution to make SGM a better organization and not criticizing to public.

    Protect Gakkai vow that you made when receive Gohonzon ?

    Reading from above post by concerned is like TVB movie scripted.

    We look forward to all ex SGM leaders & members for dialogues to see things thru.

    I will follow you if you can convince me…



    1. Hi MND,
      We thank you for your questions. We are forced to go back to the drawing board and review these fundamental questions that you raised. This is what we think. [Of course, do give us your feedback and counter argument. We are sure that we can have a mature and open dialogue here.]

      1) Do you think Sensei will go your way of doing againts Gakkai ?

      Yes, we believe so. Sensei has always wanted to create an organisation where each member is free to express themselves, free to voice out any disagremment and develop an independent mind. That’s the original intention of Buddhism. Unfortunately, organisations seems to do exactly the opposite, and institutionalised religious organisation, like the Soka Gakkai, is no exception. In fact, Mr Ikeda discussed about the evils of organisation in his dialogue with Bryan Wilson, Human values in a changing world. link – http://www.daisakuikeda.org/sub/books/books-by-category/dialogues/changing_world.html .
      So, again, yes, we firmly believe that Sensei will approved.

      Also, we would like to point out here – we are NOT against Gakkai, we only disagree with some decisions of the top executives, pertaining to handling allegations of fraud, unfair dismissal of leaders and lacking in compassion in their treatment of anyone they deem disagree with them.
      We are FOR Gakkai. If we see things are not right, we must speak up. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to say nothing.

      2) What do you want to achieve? GD position?

      We want to highlight the unjust and oppressive actions of the top leaders that are destroying the organisation, making many sincere leaders suffer and discuss the various arguments that deviate from the correct spirit of Buddhism and Gakkai (eg. Follow the GD because he is Sensei appointed. Do not take photographs or associate with NBA/expelled people). We wanted to put a spotlight on the various flawed arguments and points that we feel is incorrect and dangerous, and the various interpretation of Sensei’s guidance that were used to silence legitimate questions raised and garner blind support for the top leaders. This is wrong and we want to say that it is wrong.
      The reader can decide for themselves after listening to both sides of the arguments. If they feel we are incorrect, we respect their stand. It would be best if they can also point out where we are wrong. Like yourself, putting in some thoughts, taking the effort to ask questions here. We appreciate that.

      3) Having your capable team to run SGM?

      We are against team. There shouldn’t be any team. Nichiren Daishonin teaches many in body, one in mind. That means we can have differences, and we celebrate diversity, yet, we transcend these differences because we share the ‘same mind’ as Nichiren, to propagate this Buddhism, kosen-rufu. So, forming a Team A, and expelling Team B goes against the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin.

      4) ‘I used to think that way, we should run SGM like corporate, but…. this is a global faith organization not a localize kampung temple with committee. We do not need a qualified auditor, accountant or lawyer to run a faith organization. GD is sensei’s choice and we should not question.’

      SGM is a Buddhist organisation, a religious/faith org. At the same time, it has a secular part, in the administration. To administer such a large organisation without using qualified auditor and accountant would subject the organisation to abuse and corruption. It’s like have a motocycle brake in a ferrari. It doesn’t make sense. Regardless of whether it is an NGO, religious, or sorporate, large organisation need strict governance. The General Director, must be able to focus on faith matters, in faith organisation, and leave the admin part to a chief admin.

      Also, there have been many cases in the past, where top leaders were handpicked by Sensei, and yet, they changed and betrayed Sensei. In our opinion, to follow and trust Sensei’s handpicked GD, even when he is making unreasonable decision, is not only wrong, but dangerous.

      5. ‘If anyone is loyal to organization should have provided ideas and solution to make SGM a better organization and not criticizing to public.’

      We did. Many people did. There were numerous closed door dialogues and discussion. The solutions offered are similar. But the top executives did not agree. Instead, they did the very thing that many thinking and good leaders thought were wrong. They started making a list of ‘trouble-makers’ and find all means to silence and remove them. Which they did, swiftly.
      This cause much heartache and sufferings to these leaders. Thus, we, a group of youth leaders, felt that we need to bring this into the public to stimualte more constructive criticism and have more mature discussion on this problem. If we stay silent, and forget the entire episode, we will feel much better and less painful. But this will only means a repeat of the same problem in the future.

      6. ‘I will follow you if you can convince me…’

      Please, don’t follow us. Follow Sensei. Follow the Daishonin. Follow the Law. If you find that our interpretation of the spirit of Sensei, Nichiren and the Law, please point it out to us.

      Thank you, MND.


  4. “Taking photo with members and/or priests with the other Nichiren Sects, like Nichiren Shoshu and Nichiren Shu, will get you expelled from SGM.” — I am very much a gakkai member, and my mum is a member of the nichiren sect, so I guess I should not take photos or stay in the same house anymore with her?? Seriously, what is happening to SGM…


  5. I believe since SGM’s stand and explanation is so clear you should leave your mother and live by yourself. Otherwise, she would have a bad influence for your faith in protecting the Gakkai which is more important than your life.
    If you can’t afford to live on your own then, I believe SGM will surely welcome with open arms to live in the Kaikan.
    Your don’t have to worry a thing if you dedicate your life to Gakkai.


    1. Thank you Joe for your input. Interesting. I did asked a senior SGI leader for guidance about this when I was studying in Tokyo. Her reply (which till today makes my choice SGI and not other nichiren sects), was that i “be the best daughter that i can be, and love her fully without animosity”. I guess perhaps SGI and SGM are having different SOPs on this matter….


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