The Ignorant mob’s”: animosity towards the Soka Gakkai

Nichiren Daishonin’s Humanism is met with a strong negative reaction from racial supremacists and dominative priesthood in Japan. The effect of these two groups on the media and rumor-spreading channels paves the way for a third group of negative reaction to SGI to appear. It’s a group of people, whose understanding of Nichiren Buddhism is either superficial or distorted. This category of the “ill-informed” appears also on the international level and shares the same sentiments of animosity towards SGI with the other two groups.

The basic character of this third group is ignorance. Many journalists and researchers in the West, willing to analyse the phenomenon of the world peace movement of SGI, inevitably “borrow” their information (using the “cut and paste” technique) from the Japanese media.

Other voices of criticism and negative comments on SGI come from traditional Buddhists (and also from non-Buddhist sources), which do not feel comfortable with Nichiren’s revolutionary concepts offered through SGI teachings. Additionally, this group of Soka attackers hosts ex- SGI members who left the organisation after their failing to impose their personal agenda on the organisation.

Attacks against SGI

Examples of ignorance about SGI appear in various media forms. Instead of an open dialogue to resolve any misunderstanding, some religious establishments employ the immature reaction of animosity and attack. Attacks of the ignorant sides stem out of fear from Nichiren’s revolutionary teachings (advocated by SGI). Websites such as Fraught with Peril express this fear from SGI’s teachings, wrongly perceiving it as a threat (to the “traditional” or “conservative” approach of religions). Traditional and conservative schools - Buddhist or otherwise - will always have people who are inclined to practice within conservative and closed circle beliefs. In the atmosphere of freedom of beliefs, SGI poses no threat to anyone when it presents Nichiren’s view on life.

Challenged by SGI, racists and authoritarian priests express hatred against SGI, and this can be understood, as the clash of values is evident and beyond compromise.  However, the ignorant mob’s attack on SGI is based more on unsubstantiated fear than on hatred to SGI.

The following shows an example of distortions and rumours against SGI:

Samples of ignorance and distortion of the “Ill-informed”

  1. Bullet   Bribing University Professors World Wide

In order to belittle the value of recognitions bestowed on Ikeda by various universities (over 270 rewards of acknowledgments) Soka critics claim that SGI “bribes” educators and authorities in the academia around the world (including Nobel Prize Winners) in order to receive from them acknowledgements for SGI activities for Peace!

When “Tricycle” Buddhist magazine published an interview with Ikeda, a commentator Buddhajones on that interview accused SGI of “bribing people in the academia”:

It makes me think Tricycle is impressed with and bought by the money SGI passes out to people in academia in exchange for endorsements and legitimacy”.

  1. Bullet   Pressuring people to chant

The following is a sample of “profound and intelligent” accusation against SGI:

Rickross Cult Education:

I told her that I love Christianity and I wasn’t going to change my beliefs; but she told me that I didn’t have to quit my faith. Now I know she is lying after everything you have posted here”.

  1. Bullet    Soka Gakkai a cult

The reason why SGI is considered as a cult is because it is a Buddhist organistaion. For the ignorant, “Buddhism is a Cult” as the following view presents:

Beliefnet / Spirituality:

Question: Greetings, I’ve heard that SGI is considered a cult to the average Japanese person. Is that true to anyone's personal experience? 

Answer: If you look up in the Dictionary the definition of 'cult' then not only is SGI guilty, but the whole spectrum of Buddhism itself should also be cast in with this accusation. 

  1. Bullet    Drug Trafficking

La Sala Mistica (post number 4)

Ethnic Korean cult leader, Daisaku Ikeda invests his followers' money in drug trade”.

Explanation: Daisaku Ikeda is of course Japanese, but he was referred to here as an “Ethnic Korean” in an attempt to accuse him of being “not Japanese”, a “foreigner”, and to “demean” him according to the racist accusers, because all ethnic origins are viewed by Japanese fascists as “inferior” to Japanese.

Various blogs, yahoo discussion groups and others (with Western reporters critical of SGI) depend in their criticism of SGI on views supplied by racist sources harbouring hatred to Soka Humanism. Example

The bizarrely incredible accusation

To accuse the Soka Gakkai International of being a “militant nationalist organisation” - while in reality it is attacked by the militant nationalist Japanese – such an accusation breaks the boundary of any reason.

In his 1994 Peace Proposal, Ikeda clearly states:

The goal of the SGI movement is nothing less than this: to instil an ethos of worldwide citizenry.  By defining ourselves as citizens of the world, we will be able to revitalise the now nearly faded virtues of courage, self-control, devotion, justice, love and friendship and make them pulse vibrantly in people’s heart “. (Faith into action, p296)

Despite SGI clear teaching of the concept of Bodhisattva as a “World Citizen”, Soka enemies attempt to portray it to the general public by bizarrely accusing its “World Citizen” concept as being “nationalist”.

It took an impartial non-Buddhist researcher / reviewer in a cultural-arts magazine of Ikeda’s book “For the Sake of Peace” to question this incredibly nonsensical accusation of critics of the Soka Gakkai:

Some critics, accusing it of being overly nationalistic and overly zealous in its missionary activities, do not even accept it as a Buddhist entity. The allegations of nationalism seem strangely at odds with the views expressed in For the Sake of Peace”.

Along the same logic in viewing the concept of ‘Global Citizenship’ as being “nationalistic” another example of the thinking of Soka critics is found in an essay “Engaged Buddhist, a Skeleton in the Closet”, by Brian Victoria, who expressed the opinion that the first president of Soka Gakkai who was imprisoned by the militarists was a “supporter to the militarists” . According to this “argument”, the militarists imprisoned Makiguchi, and charged him of being a “Thought Criminal” for refusing to comply with the policy of militarist authorities!

Soka University researcher explained that the first president, Mr Makiguchi, was charged by the militarists as being a “Thought Criminal”  for opposing the policy of the militarists, and not because he supported the militarists. Turning facts upside down reveals only the quality of arguments and logic through which the Soka Gakkai is criticised.

Failed hijacking of the organisation:

ex-members dismay of SGI

World Peace is a collective work. It starts from the individual’s cultivation of inner peace, facing in the process own fundamental darkness and ego. This is not an easy challenge. While some members accept SGI teachings at the beginning, they may find it difficult to continue, and may tend to ‘freeze’ their activities, preferring isolation.

But a certain group of ex-members, instead of challenging their own weaknesses and arrogance, express dismay and even hatred for the organisation they first joined.

The SGI was built by the immense hardships and efforts of pioneering members, out of their sincere conviction of being Bodhisattvas of the Earth, opening the way for World Peace. For some ex-members the priority in their motivation to join the organisation was their own ego and desire to dominate, and not the harmonious collective work for World Peace.

Turning against SGI:  

A typical event of why an ex-member turned against SGI can be found on a website called “Soka Gakkai Unofficial”. This is a discussion board which accommodates a variety of views, including a visible influence of Nichiren Shu members, criticising and complaining against SGI, as well as posts from some ex-members of SGI who failed to direct the organisation according to their demands.

The above mentioned site allows for spreading rumours, sarcastic and abusive comments against those who post their views in defence of SGI. Cyber bullying on the mentioned “discussion” board involves also deleting messages and finally blocking a poster’s access to the board to terminate poster’s expression of views.

The example here is quite clear: An ex-member who posted message nr. 84117 on that board, wanted to dictate to SGI his own views on “how to do Buddhist activities”. With a belief that people who are convicted and imprisoned are suffering more than of all others, the ex- SGI member wanted the organisation to focus in its activities first on helping people who are in prisons and to propagate Buddhism in detention centres, as a priority.

In his ignorance, the ex-member failed to understand that human sufferings of the Ten Worlds can be experienced everywhere, and that sufferings are not found just in one place e.g. prisons. Nevertheless, the ex-member was decided to dictate to leaders what their “mission” should be:

I contacted Danny Nagashima (SGI-USA president) about this many times and he and other leaders ignored this matter. If we are true Bodhisattvas of the earth, then the first place we would propagate the mystic law would be to those in prison”

Other ex-members criticise the structural foundation of SGI, and want to have leaders in faith appointed through “voting”, similar to the political process of obtaining positions. They also fail to understand that when a leader is appointed in SGI, it is not because of any “popularity” or “readiness” but through the trust in his/her inner potentials for growth and development, in an organisation where “the heart is what really matters”.

The negative information about SGI can be easily traced to one or another of the three groups of Soka enemies:

The Japanese fascists, the arrogant priests and the ignorant mob.


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