I met someone recently who told me they were buddhist. Out of curiosity, I asked him if he refrained from intoxicants (i struggle with them myself). He said that he did not. he went on to say, "yeah well we don't really follow the eightfold path." this comment struck me as odd... both the "we" and the fact that he insisted he was buddhist but brushed off the importance of the eightfold path. He then said, "yeah, you know, get loaded, buy an expensive car, do whatever you want so long as it makes you happy!" which seems to me so totally opposed to buddhist thought that i wanted to know where he was getting this idea of "buddhism."
i asked him what school of buddhism he practiced and at first i couldn't really get a straight answer out of him. after a little prodding, he handed me a business card for Soka Gakkai International and started talking about it as if he was trying to recruit me. the business card had a website on it (sgi-usa.org). The website put me off from the start. It seems very commerical. The biggest thing on the page front and center is a link to the "bookstore" to buy a bunch of books or calendars or other stuff like that. There seems to be an exaggerated reverence for the leader Daisaku Ikeda, who also wrote all the books in the bookstore.
Does anyone know what the deal is with this group of so-called "buddhists?" it seems to me that it is a distortion of buddhist teaching in an attempt to make a buck. Anyone had any experience with them?