Monday, June 13, 2011

Doctrinal Dispute

I became a member of Soka Gakkai International, better known as just S.G.I., and there have been difficulties for me along the way. At first, I clung to whatever they told me, although I was told to be skeptical. I took that serious and when I questioned something, they looked at me like I had a penis growing from my forehead. Some members got angry and but most just looked at me as if I was brain damaged and acted rather condescending and arrogant. All I asked was about how this worked, how come meditation was not only not endorsed, but seemed to be frowned upon. One friend of mine kept trying to tell me that chanting IS active meditation, but they believe chanting is practicing Buddhism. Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is practicing Buddhism. Some members told me that Nichiren Daishonin is the Buddha of the latter day and that Daisaku Ikeda is the modern day Buddha. These are the opinions of S.G.I. district leaders that I really take issue with:
1) S.G.I. is the "correct" or "true" Buddhism.
2) Everything other than the Lotus Sutra is merely a "provisional teaching" and not worth studying.
3) Everything Daisaku Ikeda writes is more important than the Lotus Sutra.
4) If you have a problem you can "Take it to the Gohonzon" to get the solution.
5) Japanese language and customs are Buddhism, not Shintoism.
6) Even though Nichiren called Shakumuni Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) the "Lord of teachings" the things that the historical Buddha taught are not worthwhile today since we are in the fifth 500 year period.
This is MY TAKE on the Lotus Sutra: It said that all other vehicles lead to the same thing. It is all inclusive of other forms of Buddhism and not EXCLUDING ANYONE, since the middle way was made to adapt to anyting as an addition, not a "One Thing Only" type of thinking. My analogy is that even though today we have street traffic signals at major intersections in large cities that have a red "Stop" light, a yellow "Caution" light, a green "Go" light, a camera in them, photo radar attached, a left turn only arrow and/or a right turn only arrow attached, and is the most modern signal, there are still places in the world where the closest thing they have to a traffic control signal is a two or four way stop at intersections. This works just fine for the people who live in those places and no one would start ignoring them just because they are the "Older" form of traffic control. Just because they came before and are considered somewhat antiquated, they still do their job and merely require slightly more thinking, knowledge of how they work, and courtesy/responsibility towards other drivers.
I have started reading and practicing the mindfulness trainings of Thich Nhat Hanh and going to the Order of Interbeing type Buddhist meetings. I really enjoy the meditation and the first five mindfulness training are, "...1. The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for.

2. The Second Mindfulness Training: Nonattachment from Views
Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We shall learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to others' insights and experiences. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

3. The Third Mindfulness Training: Freedom of Thought
Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others, we are committed not to force others, even our children, by any means whatsoever - such as authority, threat, money, propaganda, or indoctrination - to adopt our views. We will respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through practicing deeply and engaging in compassionate dialogue.

4. The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Awareness of Suffering
Aware that looking deeply at the nature of suffering can help us develop compassion and find ways out of suffering, we are determined not to avoid or close our eyes before suffering. We are committed to finding ways, including personal contact, images, and sounds, to be with those who suffer, so we can understand their situation deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace, and joy.

5. The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Simple, Healthy Living
Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom, and compassion, and not in wealth or fame, we are determined not to take as the aim of our life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying. We are committed to living simply and sharing our time, energy, and material resources with those in need. We will practice mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs, or any other products that bring toxins into our own and the collective body and consciousness. ..."

These are what I feel Buddhism, as I read it, is meant to be. This may only be MY OPINION, but since I have one and this is my blog, there it is. This is NOT the exclusive, narrow minded, leader deifying, sensai worhipping, tunnel visioned, NON-Activist doing but activism talking, mind numbingly boring incessant chanting of a perverted sutra title that I experienced at S.G.I.
If I was trying to learn how to speak English, I would have to practice by using the English language over and over. If I sat all day saying, "Devotion to The Dictionary through using my own voice.", then, I wouldn't be practicing the English language, I would be merely saying an affirmation that was personal to me, but not practicing the principals behind the book I was chanting the affirmation about.
If, like I did at first, one uses the method of practice to learn what there is inside you, determination to move along, and then finding the principles contained in the sutra to go out and use as a guide to learn more, do more, be actively involved in something besides sitting at an altar and chanting, then I would say, it is working for you. The positive things I learned from S.G.I. is that one must never give up, despite what things may come up as a deterrent, we must persevere to have faith in our own Buddha nature. Like most religions, the members, not the book or the religion, are more flawed and cause grief than one should have to respect.
I do want to say one thing about faith. One can have faith in anything, but as I learn to have faith in my own natural connection to the earth, other people, and even every speck of dust in the universe, then, I feel more enlightened.
Arizona Mildman

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