Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

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gohonzon
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Re: Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

Post by gohonzon » Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:40 pm

Good.

And what comments do you now have for longtime "Pioneer" SGI members who have since transferred their membership from Soka Gakkai to Nichiren Shoshu Hokkeko since the dismantling of the Dai-Gohonzon tenet in 2014? Westerners and Asian transferees alike.

It is apparent that much of SGI members no longer consider the Dai Gohonzon (the object itself, not the one inside your T-shirt), to be relevant in their spirituality, and the Tozan pilgrimage is dismissed as a personal "emotional" struggle within one's life since they cannot set foot to the Head Temple Sohonzan in Japan. As it is also tolerated to have statues on the Butsudan by the abundant proof of SGI Butsudans across public social media, since no strict guidance is implemented as of this date.

For a long time, we have assumed that President Ikeda will issue his own Gohonzon after his death though we are getting reports NOW that they want to re-enshrine the Joju Gohonzon issued by High Priest Nissho Shonin in 1951 as their "own" Dai-Gohonzon, being the one closest to President Ikeda's life. Its like that gift that keeps on giving. The Nissho transcription of 1951, which is also a transcription of the Dai Gohonzon of 1279 Koan.

SGI community centers do not have statues because it dismisses the Gohonzon scroll instituted by Nichiren Daishonin, and there is no point in having wood gohonzons either because Nichiren Shoshu priesthood will be quick to call them out for that seven Joju Gohonzons they confiscated back in the 1970s for falsifying the authorization by High Priest Nittatsu Shonin. It is a careful game that Soka Gakkai is not willing to play. HOWEVER, since present SGI leadership is tolerant of all spiritualties today, it makes no criticism of SGI members who want to put religious statues of Shakyamuni or any religious figure of that matter inside their Gohonzon in their own private homes. The proof is always in the pudding (Social media).

Nichiren Shu is so generous in handing out their Gohonzons, having direct lineage from the other disciples, why not take one of theirs? The Shutei mandara looks cute.
The Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teachings is Legally owned & cared for exclusively by the Nichiren Shoshu Orthodox Temple Priesthood. — vowed Temple members are called "Hokkeko". :applause:

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Re: Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

Post by Queequeg » Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:06 pm

gohonzon wrote:Good.
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narhwal90
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Re: Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

Post by narhwal90 » Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:15 pm

I see what you mean Q- that more formal scholarship definitely is not present around here and anywhere else I've heard. I've occasionally heard of other examples such as you cite of sketchy DIY interpretations by leaders though I have not observed it myself to date. In the old NSA days a local study department operated and made its presence known in meetings, in the local SGI around here any sort of operation like that is not prominent if it exists at all. I hear occasional references to individual sorts of efforts by some of the NSA old-timers in collaboration with other schools- thru personal relationships I imagine, so there is initiative, but I think that really just proves your point; a lack of emphasis in formal study in SGI-USA.

In reflecting on this thread I note that I am here because I do want to venture outside the SGI walled garden. As usual with such things its a much bigger world than it looked like, personally I'm having a great time. I'm thinking of doing a Theravadan retreat in a month or so, don't know if I'll pull the trigger on a 10 day but they do offer weekend versions.

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Re: Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

Post by Queequeg » Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:43 pm

narhwal90 wrote:In reflecting on this thread I note that I am here because I do want to venture outside the SGI walled garden.
I think there are a lot of people who are interested in what else is outside but don't know where to look. At the heart of Nichiren's message is a warning about the danger of false dharmas. On one hand it is something to be concerned about - false dharmas do have dire and serious consequences (Exhibit A: samsara). On the other, it can be a paralyzing message. A more robust study program could inform the basis for identifying false dharmas, giving people the tools needed to explore the broader world. Removing that wall can be a scary proposition.

For some people, they will never venture out, one way or the other. Out of compassion for them, SGI ought to develop their study program - to offer members a more complete Buddhist education without putting them in the position of having to brave the world and learn by trial and error. The close minded approach presently in place is actually cruel, and as best I can figure, serves to protect the interests of a few, timid, spiritually impoverished spiritual misers.

SGI needs to realize that it is established. It is an organization made up of multiple generations with varying needs as practitioners. In particular, they need to be more attentive to people who have a deeper interest in Buddhism as well as the children who are born into it and grow up identifying as Buddhist - which is a very different experience than someone who comes to that identity later in life. People have varying relationships to dharma. SGI's least common denominator approach leaves much to be desired.
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Re: Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

Post by narhwal90 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:55 pm

I think things will be changing after Mr Ikeda passes away, but not before. For my own part I can see strong arguments for both dissolution into factions and for survival (if not revival) as a form of Lotus school. I'd like to see a prominent study department as well, the raucous auditorium events are fine yet widely circulated notices of scholarly presentations of SGI-internal or external topics are not seen- nor are they scheduled in the community center where I sporadically volunteer (in the NSA days the study dept met a couple times/month developing material & lectures for local meetings). The Florida Conference Center seems to be the place where SGI people go for deeper study these days. I've spoken to a few members who have gone and its not clear to me how much deeper the study actually goes. I missed the men's conference (in progress now), theres another in September, I will go if circumstances permit.

As far as false dharma goes I'm not concerned. Theres plenty of mainstream material out there. Though I value learning about them I'm not attracted to deeper esotericism or tantra/vajrayana but theres plenty to be had on the theravadan side of things to which I am.

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Re: Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:12 am

narhwal90 wrote:I think things will be changing after Mr Ikeda passes away, but not before.
I'm not sure. The the Three Mentors doctrine seems to me an attempt to establish a crystalized orthodoxy. The quiet editing There have been quite a few individuals over the years who showed potential to offer various options for leadership and they were marginalized. Soka Gakkai seems to have lost vitality in Japan. It will be a test for them to pull out of this stagnation. We will see.

There was a guy who tried to make the US organization independent from Japan and he was unceremoniously caused to disappear. He had his faults, but nothing as great as trying to gain more independence for what is now SGI-USA.
For my own part I can see strong arguments for both dissolution into factions and for survival (if not revival) as a form of Lotus school. I'd like to see a prominent study department as well, the raucous auditorium events are fine yet widely circulated notices of scholarly presentations of SGI-internal or external topics are not seen- nor are they scheduled in the community center where I sporadically volunteer (in the NSA days the study dept met a couple times/month developing material & lectures for local meetings)..
NSA wasn't all bad. Some of it was bat sh*t. Some of it was on point.
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Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
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Re: Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

Post by narhwal90 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:37 am

You could be right of course. There are a lot of SGI folks that really key on Mr Ikeda as sensei, other regular leaders are down the list a ways. If the SGI is seen to operate smoothly "post-Ikeda" then I would generally bet SGI USA won't have a big issue. OTOH I am also inclined to bet there are a number of factions in operation trying to take the SGI in different directions and all that will come into play. It might end up being a rare public airing of gakki internal politics. The relative invisibility of the SGI presidents since Mr Ikeda does leave me wondering how much the SGI is fossilized. I note here that I had written another conclusion to this post wondering why Mr Ikeda was still president but while fact checking I realized there have been 3 presidents since he held the position... and I'm an SGI member in some contact with the organization, get the pubs, go to the meetings etc.

I do miss the old NSA in some ways, and in other ways I much prefer the modern SGI.

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Re: Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:51 pm

Follow the $. Can SGI-USA sustain itself? If not, decisions are made in Shinanomachi. Someone tried to make NSA financially independent. Those conventions raised money for operations. That sort of enterprise was not appreciated.

Soka Gakkai will need to extricate itself out of the ruling government to have any chance at reform. Until then, political expedience will weigh heavily on decision making. That's the dirty laundry.
“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 the problems."
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Re: Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

Post by narhwal90 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:44 pm

Yeah the NSA then SGI involvement in politics over in Japan was sketchy from the get-go, still is in my view. NSA members back from tozan occasionally talked about how people in Japan responded towards them when their membership in NSA/SGI came up and I didn't get a good vibe- a good bit of us vs them and NSA/SGI was "them". Back then we were sometimes exhorted to chant for komeito's success and I really didn't care for that either.

Nowadays Japanese politics inside the SGI or outside do not come up at all, which is nice OTOH it also means the organization is not informing us about the other things the SGI and related folks are up to. I could take a charitable position on it, that NSA/SGI was trying to bring buddhist values to government, but then I think about mandatory school prayer and Bible scenes in gov't buildings over here and my flesh starts creeping. I tend to include more vs less gov't involvement as one of the factional divisions inside the SGI that will come into play.

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Re: Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:08 pm

Komeito doesn't come up in SGI-USA for a very simple reason - and your reaction sums it up.

Komeito is still a major activity of Soka Gakkai - arguably, their most active activity. The local district meetings in Japan - not the ones for foreigners living in Japan, often have Komeito announcements. The local Komeito rep will say a few words about this or that, particularly around election time, and invite/exhort people to help out. There supposedly was a clear break between Komeito and Soka Gakkai, but everyone knows its nothing more than a formality.

I know I sound very negative on Soka Gakkai, but that's just the way this thread has gone. I'll cop to taking it there. Soka Gakkai has potential and promise, but its also got MAJOR issues that will obstruct the development of those positives.

What I'm trying to point out is that beneath the shiny facade of SGI is serious realpolitik. The average member, especially outside Japan, is not going to know about this stuff without independent effort. There have been, and continue to be major power dynamics playing out in SG - the schism with Nichiren Shoshu was just the most visible one. I agree with you that something might happen when Ikeda passes - even in his limited capacity, he at least provides a figurehead for various factions to unite under. I don't anticipate an all out power struggle, but there are going to be major maneuvers when he passes. There's simply so much raw spiritual and political power at stake. Soka Gakkai International - and that means all of the organization outside of Japan is along for that ride, whatever it will be.

In the scheme of things, Komeito is about as good a religiously propelled political party can be - they're center right, generally more traditional than progressive, but not conservative. They are known for advocating on behalf of basic local and more broadly, middle class concerns. If you want a stop sign in your neighborhood, Komeito is probably who you want to talk to.

As I think you agree, politics is an inherently dirty business and there is no way that you can get involved and not come out stained.

As for a more political criticism of Komeito - they are acquiescing to the amendment of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution that presently precludes offensive acts of war. This is what the right wants so that they can build up the military again and take offensive actions. I can't imagine Toda approving of that. They are selling out what they purportedly are supposed to be standing for at the most fundamental level. Its shameful.

SGI members ought to be aware of what is really going on. Its not all bad or terrible. On balance, its well intentioned and generally "good." Its just real life.
“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 the problems."
-Modest Mouse

"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world!"
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dharmapdx
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Re: Why doesn't SGI use statues of Buddha?

Post by dharmapdx » Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:13 am

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this thread. The discussion is kind of "over my head" at the moment. But I just felt like adding the following: I don't know why it took me so long to remember that Shakyamuni Buddha is actually ON the Gohonson. So, SGI may not have statues of Buddha, but they do have a character of him on the Gohonzon.

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