The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

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The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby OregonBuddhist » Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:27 am

Sorry if this has already been covered elsewhere. Maybe this should've been put in my other thread about the positive aspects of SGI. So, I'll understand if this gets deleted, or merged, or whatever....

Anyway, we probably all know that there is nothing more controversial about the SGI practice than the fact that they chant for material outcomes. This is mentioned in the opening of this -- in my opinion, very good -- article about SGI: http://www.sgi-usa.org/newsandevents/ne ... icycle.pdf

I've often heard it said that SGI is "not really Buddhism," and the main reason people say that it isn't is because they chant for material outcomes. But then I found this -- again, very interesting, in my opinion -- article on the Tricycle website: http://www.tricycle.com/special-section ... line-stone This scholar says that chanting for material outcomes has been a part of Buddhism for a long time, it's just that American "Buddhist modernists" don't like people to know about this because it too closely resembles the aspects of Christianity that learned men were trying to get away from in the 20th Century.

I am not a member of SGI. I'm attending a different type of Nichiren temple. But I've noticed that there is a place in the service where we offer prayers that "all people be prosperous." While this isn't as specific as what I'm told SGI members do (make lists of actual outcomes they want), it does have a similar underlying dynamic. So, I'm left wondering why people "bash" SGI so much for this practice, when in fact it is a part of many other Buddhist traditions as well. (Tina Turner, an SGI member, discusses it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs6z9VejQIk She says that, at base, this practice is just about changing your mind and perspective about something, and then you go out and get it for yourself because you've changed your way of thinking about something.)

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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby Sherlock » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:02 am

This is somewhat related to the Dharma and magic thread in the free-for-all section, you might like to go through that thread as well.

I know little about SGi but rituals for worldly aims have been common in most types of Buddhism for millennia and SGI really should not be criticised for that alone. Now if these worldly rituals become the mainstay of their practice then there is a problem IMO though.

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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby OregonBuddhist » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:00 am

Thanks for the heads-up. I think SGI is vilified for many reasons. I think chanting for worldly outcomes is one of them; I think it sounds "un-Buddhist" to many people. I think that chanting as the focal-point is strange to many Americans because they tend to think of Buddhism as meditative, that is, "quiet." Also, in Nichiren Buddhism there doesn't seem to be much emphasis on something that people tend to love about Buddhism: the idea that all life is suffering. Nichiren Buddhism seems much more optimistic than that. The vilification of SGI probably also has to do with its growth and proselytizing, which I think seems un-Buddhist to many people as well. Anyway, thanks for the heads-up.

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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby DGA » Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:29 pm


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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby Tatsuo » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:07 pm


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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby Queequeg » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:35 pm

“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

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Great for solving problems, after it creates a problem."
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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby Queequeg » Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:47 pm

By the way, in case its not obvious... I'm joking.

But serious.

Serious.

But joking.

Actually I am serious.

Not really.

Really.

Real.

Well. Maybe its an unfunny joke. Maybe its real, but funny.

Life is strange. When you figure it out, in all seriousness, please let us know what to make of it.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates a problem."
-Modest Mouse

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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby OregonBuddhist » Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:54 am


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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby Queequeg » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:37 pm

If it wasn't for the dead end Mentor-Disciple doctrines and Ikeda worship, I probably would have stuck with SGI despite their continued attachment to Nichiren Shoshu interpretations - as outlandish as Shoshu doctrines seem to me, they are better than the Mentor-Disciple nonsense. I would encourage people to practice with them if I knew who was going to guide their practice - but there are just too many people with very little understanding of Buddhism put into positions of authority who have absolutely no business guiding another's Buddhist training. In many cases, its the blind leading the blind and the best that can be said is the members of these groups flounder around together, rather than by themselves, seeking and trying to learn Buddhadharma through all the organizational nonsense.

With that said, if people want to check it out, they should. It seems to work for a lot of people. I'm just not sure its the best way to learn Buddhism.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates a problem."
-Modest Mouse

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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby OregonBuddhist » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:47 am

Thank you for all of the responses. I don't want to flood the board with my own questions, so I'll post this question here, even though it is only quasi-related to the topic at hand: When chanting, does it "matter" if one keeps one's eyes open or not? Thanks.

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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby Queequeg » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:13 pm

In my experience, it does not matter. We often practice in front of a mandala. I was taught to focus my gaze on the "myoho" "妙法" characters of the Daimoku, and that's what I do. However, I also chant the Daimoku to myself all the time - walking down the street, laying in bed, brushing my teeth, watching football games I have money riding on... just kidding about the last one. I stopped doing that a long time ago.

I've always thought it would be difficult for people who can't read the characters on the mandala to know what they are looking at. What good is staring at a bunch of calligraphy?

It might be good to understand what one is looking at when looking on the Gohonzon, and understand its symbolic meaning. This would be appropriate for another thread. Then you might find the answer for eye open or closed for yourself.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates a problem."
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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby DavidTTS » Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:09 pm

Nichiren Daishonin was very clear about all this, writing:
"More valuable than the treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. From the time you read this letter on, strive to accumulate the treasures of the heart!”

In a nutshell:
1. treasures of the storehouse – material wealth, possessions, tangible stuff
2. treasures of the body – health but this also means your skills and reputation, including fame
3. treasures of the heart – Buddha qualities such as courage, wisdom, compassion, joy etc...

Yes, Nichiren Buddhism is different in that chanting to fulfil material desires is regarded as absolutely fine. When Nichiren Buddhism began to expand quickly in the West, the media picked up on this angle and blew it up out of all proportion. I have found that by chanting for 'treasures of the storehouse' I have needed to develop 'treasures of the heart' such as determination, wisdom, courage and so on. As Nichiren says, these are much more important.

During my 27 years of practice, I have also learned that you build a fragile kind of happiness when you make money or fame, rather than Buddhahood, your ‘object of worship’. When you measure your happiness only in hectares and horsepower. When you make money your obsession or your raison d’etre. When you have the illusion that winning the lottery or adulation will definitely make you happy. When you forget that there are miserable people in mansions, from Birmingham to Boston to Brisbane and beyond.

Nichiren writes elsewhere: “Though you may move among the most exalted company of court nobles, your hair done up elegantly like clouds and your sleeves fluttering like eddies of snow, such pleasures, when you stop to consider them, are no more than a dream within a dream. You must come to rest at last under the carpet of weeds at the foot of the hill, and all your jewelled daisies and brocade hangings will mean nothing to you on the road to the afterlife.”

In other words, you can't take it with you. By contrast 'treasures of the heart' can never be destroyed, even by death.

all best, David

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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby OregonBuddhist » Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:10 pm

Thank you.

I've heard the term "Desires are enlightenment," but I'm not sure if I should trust that this comes from Nichiren himself. Does anyone know? Thanks.

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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby kirtu » Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:28 pm



"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby DGA » Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:28 am

Kirt is right. Chih-i (Zhiyi) produced a number of radical claims: that evil is, in a sense, precisely good (for instance). It's not an invitation to indulgence, hatred, or stupidity, or passivity for that matter. It means that awakening is to be found in everyday experience, inclusive of the afflictive emotions. Without ignorance, could wisdom ever emerge?

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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby OregonBuddhist » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:11 am


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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby OregonBuddhist » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:13 am


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Re: The SGI practice of chanting for material outcomes

Postby Queequeg » Sat Sep 29, 2012 8:36 pm

“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates a problem."
-Modest Mouse


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