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.