On the last day of 2017, we would like to reflect a little, with a positive note. We can probably sum up as a year of learning and realization.
- We learnt that is it absolute necessary to have strict controls and governance in SGM, particularly on money matters. The lack of transparency, lack of any specifics in how and what the money is to be used for, and stressing on superstitious faith of ‘money gokuyo’ as a means to accumulate good fortune are wrong. Though SGM continues with the multiple channels of drawing money from members [kofu funds, New Year gokuyo, Chinese New Year gokuyo, Special gokuyo twice annually] we will not give up on expressing our concerns and share our thoughts and reasoning as to why this is not right.
- We learnt that it is all right to question and demand better governance in SGM because these are sincere contributions belonging to the members, not SGM, and are meant for promoting kosen-rufu. There is no reason why the accounts should be kept secret. It is the duty and responsibility of the top leaders to ensure strict accountability, controls, and share this information and ensure that the money is being used for its intended purposes. Asking members to simply ‘trust us’ is not right.
- We learnt the meaning of compassion and had the opportunity to put it into practice. Compassion means treasuring each individual, regardless of positions or differences. We do not allow our friends and comrades who were sidelined, terminated or expelled to suffer alone. We support, we encourage and we lend them our ears, making their happiness and their families’ well-being our top priority.
- We understand the meaning of mentor and disciple spirit more succinctly. When we put it into practice, standing on the side of the weak and the oppressed, we are applying the teachings of our mentor. We read the Lotus Sutra not just in words, but with our lives.
- We learnt to respect even those who disagree with us. Their insistence to not wanting to look at the facts and keep trusting that everything SGM do is right is probably out of their strong love of SGM and willing to do anything to protect it against any act that they deem can harm the organisation. We harbor no hatred or anger against them. After all, the decision to chop and not implement good governance were not made by them. They probably do not even understand what it is or why it is so important.
In a nutshell, we can say that the organization had provided us an opportunity to learn, to grow and to mature in our faith, develop our humanity and understand what it is to be truly human. No sarcasm here, we mean it. Imagine, if none of these painful episodes occur, we would probably be happily doing gokuyo and totally oblivious of the internal problems in SGM. Painful as it is, at least now we know.
Respect is to be earned, not given. Through our years of sincere effort and concern of others as a human being. One should not expect respect to come with positions or titles.
We like to thank all our readers for supporting and encouraging the authors here. Some readers agree and some may disagree with our perspectives, we thank you all the same. We tried our best to remain true to our original objective.
A fresh beginning in 2018
Things will not turn to be better suddenly just because we have a new calendar. No knight in a shining armour will come to our rescue and wave a wand and voila! transforming everything back to the good old days. Instead, there will likely be more challenges and difficulties that push our patience to the limits and test our perseverance.
And we can only advance in small little steps. Yet, advance we must. Step by step, one by one. There can be no real transformation in SGM until a large proportion of our members are informed, possesses wisdom and courage, and speak up for what they see is not right.
A few things to take note.
- Treasure our youth. They are our future.
- Listen to the voices from the grassroots.
- Be earnest in every dialogue with our friends. Remember that what we are doing right now, right here, are building the future. Not today. Each dialogue is one brick.
- In dialogue, learn to ask questions and listen with an open heart. Be aware of our own biases and prejudices. [We are not always right, but we are always bias. That doesn’t mean we are always wrong.]
- Take action in reaching out to those who were terminated, expelled or sidelined by the organization. Sharing their suffering, tears, heartache, and encouraging and supporting them, never allowing them to fall by the side. When they triumph over these difficulties, we share their joys. This is absolute happiness. This is the practice of Buddhist humanism. Occasional season’s greetings forwarded through WhatsApp is not sufficient. It’s lazy. Better to meet face to face.
We resolute to continue in our effort to publish and inform of the development in SGM. This, we hope, can be used as points of discussion and shedding more lights and understanding.
No matter what, always be with Ikeda Sensei. The journey may be arduous and long, but we are at the pioneering stage of this great Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism and these are the growing pains. Be proud to be part of this history. This is the first banner of conviction in Mr Ikeda’s 2018 New Year message.
Also, the coming year will bring more opportunities for us to understand and deepen our understanding of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, the supreme universal philosophy of the Lotus Sutra and the heart of Sensei.
Happy new year, and have a great year ahead!