Hitch: I'm just now realizing, SGBye, that we have walked very similar paths.
SGBye: Even if this stuff is beaten into your head from childhood, there's still hope of getting away relatively unscathed. I officially joined the SGI around 6 months old, learned gongyo (prayers) at 7, and can remember having a photo of Ikeda in my room around that same age. In fact, my first name was actually given to me by Ikeda. I believe it's a fairly common thing in Japan to request Ikeda to name your expected child. I've briefly considered changing my name, but it would be a hassle at this point since I'm well into my thirties.
Hitch: I remember doing gongyo before kindergarten and I grew up in a house with Ikeda's picture hanging up on the wall next to the family bustudan (in fact, it's still there). I've seen all kinds (and I mean ALL KINDS) of members come and go throughout my life and years in the practice. Some are still plugging away at it, no different in the their personal fortunes (some even worse off) and just getting drastically older.
SGBye: I was very active in the SGI: being in the brassband and doing gymnastics at conventions, shakubuku, various leadership positions. But, even after all of that, I had no problem walking away. It was a combination of seeing deception and corruption with my own eyes, reading plausible things on the Internet, and being turned off by the ever-growing worshipping of Ikeda (the guy who named me!). I don't harbor any ill feelings toward my parents. In fact, I feel kind of sad for them. They've given a lot of their time (and money) to the SGI but are far from living what I would call quality lives in their golden years. So where is all that good fortune they were supposedly building up by fighting for kosen-rufu?
Hitch: I was extremely active as well. My practice grew and grew, climaxing briefly around high school age, then slowly drifting off (with education and critical thinking). They tried to get me to be an HQ leader, but I just as quickly backed out of it, because it coincided with the same time that I was becoming increasingly wary of the organization. My bullsh** meter started to register more & more with time, until I finally called it quits. I just simply walked away and only reengaged when contacted or home v'ed. At one point, I had some things to get out of my system, so I went and saw Mr. Williams and did so. Although I had already been out for quite a while, it solidified everything. I could see things in an entirely different light. It was a like getting an unwelcome glimpse of Mr. Oz behind the curtain. I saw everything CLEARLY thru the eyes of a critical thinking adult; twas not a pretty picture, I'll just say that much.
SGBye: And then there's my sibling, who is a completely different story from me. My sibling is way into the SGI (and I mean WAY into it). We can't even have a conversation without the SGI or chanting or Ikeda being brought up. And this sibling gets offended if I even say the slightest negative thing about the practice.
Hitch: Like I said, reading things on the Internet was one of the things that helped me in my decision; a decision I am so glad I made. So I agree that posting this stuff is very important. And a lot of times I just post things straight out of the World Tribune - they aren't transcriptions from any secret SGI meetings. The SGI can't protest - it's all propaganda that they themselves regularly shove down the members' throats (and encourage you to share with others).
I've got a parent who is way beyond off the deep end with the organization, a stark raving nuts gakkai kamikaze soldier. I went thru hell and back growing up with the practice, as a result. I don't really feel too sorry for them, because they are happy and unsane with the practice; if it were removed, they would just become unhappy, unable to cope and probably go entirely insane. I've come to view it as a lesser of two evils, given what I know. So, it is what it is and such is life. Lots of wasted finances, I'll grant you that, but it's what they *wanted* to do and made them happy.
I knew what the cult was about long before the internet. The internet merely confirmed it all. The only thing that really surprised me was that there were so many others who had been thru the same ringer, especially so-called "fortune babies" who grew up in the practice. In a way, it's kind of refreshing to know that there are others out there who have survived, come out the other end and reclaimed their compass, sanity and lives.
On that note, a tip of my hat to all of you who managed to make it out, especially to fellow kids (now adults) who through no real choice of their own were *forced* to grow up and be brainwashed in the practice.