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old sangha...

zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifelessin a dry wasteland Veteran
edited August 2010 in Sanghas
i have expressed in other posts that my initial experience in buddhism was with the nichiren tradition. the soka gakkai international, to be exact. i know some other posters have had bad experiences with them, but honestly, i had a very good experience when i was with them. i do not consider myself part of them anymore for a few reasons (mainly, that i wanted to study a broader spectrum of buddhism), but i still consider myself very indebted to them as my introduction to buddhism.

a friend of mine from my old sangha recently contacted me. she had been forced to return to india to take care of her ill mother and has now just returned to the US. she has transferred to a different school and i have since moved, but she has contacted me through facebook to see how i am doing with everything and expressed that she wanted to talk over the phone.

it has been a while since we have last spoke, so i gave her an update and told her that i no longer considered myself affiliated with the SGI, but i was still very much into buddhist studies and told her my reasoning. basically, this is what nichiren did. it seems silly to me to ONLY read The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin or the writings of other nichiren buddhists, when this is not what the founder did at all. he read every sutra he could get his hands on. in his case, he did so and found The Lotus Sutra to be superior. in my case, i felt that it would be impossible for me to know if it was or not if i had not read the other sutras. i felt that i needed a broader base of knowledge than that. at least, that was my reasoning in the beginning...

her reply, was quite disappointing to me. she basically just said that she has learned that nothing brings greater happiness and victories than her practice and sensei's teachings (daisaku ikeda). she said that she would chant for me to soon experience this. :confused:

it reminded me of my experience with christian cults. their belief that there is only "one way" that is the "right way". their belief that through "prayer" they can affect your beliefs. i'm just not sure what to think at this point. this is someone whom i was very close to in our sangha. aside from regular meetings, we would meet weekly to discuss the dharma and have private study sessions. i attribute a lot of my knowledge and understanding to this person, perhaps, i just expected her to be happy for me.

so, what say you, good people of the forum? what would you do in my situation? i do not wish to return to the SGI and her comments have made me wonder about the intentions of the members from my old sangha that have contacted me. i used to think it was out of good will and a genuine caring for my well being, now i am wondering if it is just because i have "gone astray"... the SGI places a lot of importance on "shakubuku", that is, converting others. perhaps, in retrospect, i really shouldn't be so surprised... but i really am. it is disappointing to find someone who you used to consider a mentor, strengthening your resolve to leave their teachings. :(

Comments

  • cazcaz Veteran
    edited August 2010
    Everyone has a different way or method, Because one doesnt work for you it or fufill your need for more it doesnt mean that the next person wont find it as just what they need :)
    Never mind if SGI isnt for you then dont worry there are plenty of other groups out there, however you will find that most groups place emphisis on study within their own tradition there are a few So called non sectarian groups out there who practise a mismash of different traditional teachings and examine them but hey ho im sure you will find what you are looking for ! :)
    And yes when you challange someones view you can expect an adverse reaction many in Sanghas still suffer from afflictive delusions therefore it is better to rejoice in the happiness they receive from practising.
    I wish you well in your journey :)
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited August 2010
    zombiegirl wrote: »
    she basically just said that she has learned that nothing brings greater happiness and victories than her practice and sensei's teachings (daisaku ikeda). she said that she would chant for me to soon experience this. :confused:

    so, what say you, good people of the forum?

    Thank you very much good friend! How kind of you to chant for me! That is greatly appreciated! (bow)

    :)
  • edited August 2010
    [SIZE=-1]I think you are both entitled to your opinion. I wouldn't give it too much thought. The Buddha said that we have to find out everything for ourselves and that's exactly what you're doing now. You're not astray, you're finding things out.
    [/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]In this respect the first three of Thich Nhat Hanhs Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings might be interesting for you because it deals with the attitude that you do not like:[/SIZE]



    [SIZE=-1]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.
    [/SIZE]


    [SIZE=-1]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.
    [/SIZE]


    [SIZE=-1]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.
    [/SIZE]


    [SIZE=-1]A lotus for you,[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=-1]a buddha to be,[/SIZE]


    [SIZE=-1]Pieter
    [/SIZE]
  • edited August 2010
    zombiegirl wrote: »
    her reply, was quite disappointing to me. she basically just said that she has learned that nothing brings greater happiness and victories than her practice and sensei's teachings (daisaku ikeda). she said that she would chant for me to soon experience this. :confused:
    {snip}
    so, what say you, good people of the forum? what would you do in my situation? i do not wish to return to the SGI and her comments have made me wonder about the intentions of the members from my old sangha that have contacted me. i used to think it was out of good will and a genuine caring for my well being, now i am wondering if it is just because i have "gone astray"... the SGI places a lot of importance on "shakubuku", that is, converting others. perhaps, in retrospect, i really shouldn't be so surprised... but i really am. it is disappointing to find someone who you used to consider a mentor, strengthening your resolve to leave their teachings. :(
    Hi, ZG -

    My experience was similar to yours, with the exception that I was an NSA and then an SGI member for about 20 years. I don't have any specific probelms with SGI, but I also needed a wider spectrum of Buddhist study than was available there. People we thought were our friends had reactions that I found hard to believe at the time. I agree with you that it is disappointing, but I will tell you that moving on with your own practice and study is a very satisfying and fulfilling path to take.

    For whatever that's worth........
  • ThaoThao Veteran
    edited August 2010
    SGI was my introduction to Buddhism. It never really suited me, but I told myself to stay for at least for 6 months. This was something that I felt a need to do because I had been a Jehovah's Witness and after leaving I could not even sit in a church without bursting into tears and leaving.

    I saw the benefit in chanting, but I never understood the books. I wanted to learn meditation, so I moved on after 9 months, and when I did the friends I had developed while there lost interest in me. I suppose they chanted for me, but I do not know. (Out of respect I mailed back my Gonhonzon, and I gave the altar that my husband had built for me to one of the members.) But that is the way it is in most groups when you leave them; they leave you and/or pray for you. And that is okay. I can use all the prayers I can get, but prayers for my return never get answered for them. Still I was in their toughts in a good way. While my friends are now from various different religions, they are not so deep into a teaching where they would leave you if had joined their group and left. But I do have one friend who is still in the same yogi tradition that I had joined, but I met her and her husband after leaving. That is a rare friend.

    But like you, I desired to study in a broader sense. Even today I read books from various sects, whether Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist.

    And like you, I didn't have any negative experiences in SGI. I think now that no matter what religion you are in there will be those that have negative experiences in them. And some are actually traumatized by some religions.

    I really like this comment from Pieter: I think you are both entitled to your opinion. I wouldn't give it too much thought. The Buddha said that we have to find out everything for ourselves and that's exactly what you're doing now. You're not astray, you're finding things out.
  • zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifeless in a dry wasteland Veteran
    edited August 2010
    thank you everyone who replied to this! truly some good points here...

    pieter, your comments very helpful, thank you. i was more disappointed due to the friend aspect, but i need to put more focus on the respect aspect. i have many other friends with whom i don't always see eye to eye, and that doesn't bother me at all. it is wrong for me to change and then be surprised that she didn't change right along side of me, heh. when i think about it this way, i do think she is still being consistent to the person i always knew her as. i am not sure yet if our friendship will last this difference in opinion, but i guess i will find out.

    engyo, i think i remember you from the nichiren forum on e-sangha. :)
    in all actuality, she is the only one who has tried to maintain a connection with me. i stopped going to meetings even before i moved to a new city and the other members would usually only notify me of meetings and/or try to encourage me/guilt me into going. i remember being told that it is bad karma to miss meetings so much. but comments like that made me want to go less... haha.

    jessaka, thank you for sharing your experience. i practiced nichiren buddhism without the SGI and found it quite beneficial, but when i joined them... i was only with them for maybe a year or so before things started to bother me. i, too, tried to give them a chance... but the questions began to pile up and eventually i realized that they were just not right for me.

    i suppose it is always hard to find your own spiritual path. i appreciate all the comments and like engyo said, i think i will find another path to be more fulfilling and satisfying. i just have to remember that.
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